Saturday, October 27, 2018

    Nick Bauer caught two halibut on the bar while jigging with Zach Liddle on Thursday. Conditions were a little spooky with thick fog and almost-breaking waves making this location probably not my first recommendation, but Nick and Zach made it work and made it home safe. I found a 12 pound halibut further in the bay, right across from the Landing. Mine bit a frozen anchovy. I also caught a keeper salmon at Abbott's and lost two other salmon. It was hard to find the feeding birds (if there were any) in the thick fog, so it was literally blind trolling. They're still there, though. My prediction is that the salmon bite will go off, wide open, on Thursday. (Wednesday is the last day) Dungeness opens on Saturday at 12:01 AM , which also means that crab traps can't go into the water until 12:01 AM Saturday. You can still crab for reds but with snares and ring nets only. Everybody change your cottons. You have been warned. Not my fault if your pot opens up and you spill your crab. Commercial crabbers change their cottons twice a season. You should probably do it at least once. While you're at it, make sure your GOID number is still legible on your buoy. Fish and Game will.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

   Here's a report from David White:"Willy- We fished the bar on the incoming tide Sunday morning and got these halibut from 23 to 35 inches. Thanks for the good advice from Lawsons—I suspect it was one of your sons.  Polite and very helpful!   Frozen herring and live mudskippers worked equally well. Thanks again!" Nicely done, guys. The advice didn't come from Gage, as he was out catching salmon Sunday morning. The anchovies are on the move and as long as the water conditions allow we should be able to catch a few halibut in the channels and on the bar (NOTE: Larger swell late this week means the bar is probably off limits). The last two evenings I fished across the bay from the Landing between 6:00 and 7:00 PM for one halibut (Gage caught it) that ate a frozen anchovy and a jig. The salmon bite continues with mostly smaller fish being caught from Bird Rock down to the Keyholes in 50 to 100 feet of water. Watch for the birds feeding. A couple points of etiquette:

Don't net a fish you're going to release. There are special nets made to do less damage to the fish but not putting them in a net in the first place is probably better.

Even when you're careful, some of those short fish you released will die. Hooking less short fish ultimately means killing less short fish, and if you aren't eating them you shouldn't be killing them. That said, I've left my own trail of dead and dying fish this year. I just try to keep the trail short.

Here's a rule: Don't drive through diving birds. Just don't. The feeding frenzy that the birds are marking for you will break up and the birds and salmon will leave. And it'll be your fault. Circle around the edges where the salmon are picking off the baitfish away from the school. If you drive through the birds and someone yells at you or throws weights at you, well, they're right to do so. Stop it.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

 Here's the salmon report from the guys that were catching :"12 salmon total, all over 20 (23-25in) biggest about 8lbs Still allot of fun even though they were not monsters hit 3 within an hour then played catch and release until around 3pm before we got hungry and reeled in the last one and called it. elephant rock to the key holes 70' of water at 40 pulls" The salmon are biting again today, same size as yesterday but a little bit shallower water. By noon we already had two boats return with their limits. Still waiting to see a flatfish.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

   There were a couple more halibut caught on the bar today, along with a striper. There was a good salmon bite at Elephant Rock in 70 feet of water, mostly smaller fish but hey, it's the second half of October; any salmon is a damned good one. Look for the diving pelicans.  Then fish by them.

Friday, October 19, 2018

   How about two limits of halibut to 17.5  pounds? Plus a couple of small keepers released. Plus a bunch of sand sole. It sounds pretty good to me. These guys did it today on the bar, which hopefully will be calmer for the next few days. Today was kind of sketchy, where it didn't quite break but it was definitely thinking hard about it. The swell is predicted to be smaller tomorrow and the weather guys are always right, so.... There were a couple of other halibut caught in the channel near the pier with a lot less drama and worry, so maybe that might be a better recommendation.
   I received this report yesterday from Rick Murphy:"Hey Willie

Late Report, my buddy Hugh got this 27lb trolling off McClure's yesterday. Fish came at 70’ otw in 85’ of water. Right at first light then 3 scratched baits in the next 30 mins, nothing after that." It looks to me like your buddy needs to buy a larger ice chest if he's gonna continue catching fish like that. It's a good problem to have.
    There's still a few salmon being caught from Elephant down to the first parking lot on Ten Mile. Unfortunately the large swell this week has given the ocean rocks a nice bikini wax and all that surf grass is floating right where you want to troll. The swell has also made crossing the bar at the mouth of Tomales Bay a bit sketchy, sketchy meaning potentially fatal. Storms in the Gulf of Alaska will send a long-wavelength swell down here and apparently it has been stormy in the Gulf. At least there's still a few halibut in the bay.
    As far as the sport Dungeness crab season opener, my guess is that it will happen on schedule with a possible "clean before you cook" warning. Lobster has a lower "action level" than crab (20 ppm lobster, 30 ppm crab) and have had higher domoic acid levels than the crab over the last few years, yet sport and commercial lobster opened without being tested beforehand. A recent test has shown the lobster to have some domoic acid, so the State has closed the commercial fishing in the area of the test and issued an advisory to sport fishermen. The season remains open for sport guys. More crab have been sent in for testing and there's a good chance that they could come back clean, but if not, we will probably still get our chance to go.  Maybe.

     In completely unrelated news, it looks like the CDFG Commission is considering reopening abalone in 2021. That's my glass-half-full take on the new regulations under consideration. It could also be that abalone won't even be considered for reopening until at least 2021. I like the first one better.

Monday, October 15, 2018

    David Woodbury sent in this report Saturday night:"Here is a photo of my son DJ with a 16 lb ling he caught just south of Bird Rock this morning." The ling bit a small anchovy. You always hear that big bait equals big fish, but often the fish aren't aware of that rule. Not too many other fish caught over the weekend. Divers took a look at the bar yesterday but didn't see any halibut. Apparently Gage and his buddy caught the last fish there. Or, maybe the red tide and two-foot visibility just made it hard to see them. The first domoic acid test results are in and the results aren't what we were hoping for. Out of 24 Dungeness crab tested from Bodega Bay, three were over the "action level" of 30 parts per million. That's the bad news. The good news is that they were only just over the threshold and the samples were taken at the end of September, so there's time for the crab to clean up.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

    Casey Smith of Loomis went fishing with Gage today, trying to catch a halibut. They tried by Marshall for five hours and finally gave up, heading out to the bar where a boat earlier in the day reported catching lots of sand sole. No sand sole for Casey and Gage, but Casey did catch this 28 pound halibut as a consolation prize. The fish bit a drifted dead anchovy. Casey is dealing with his disappointment as well as can be expected.
    Not too many other fish today. There was one 22" salmon brought in and a few small halibut from Hog Island. There were also a couple more silvers caught near Hog, so be careful back there. It's not impossible to catch a king in the bay but it is way, way more likely that you caught the wrong kind. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

   So here's the picture that had Gage fishing until after dark last night. Matt Shapiro sent in this report:"Hey Willy
I got supremely lucky and happened into (and landed) a WSB double this week on the kayak while trolling for halibut. 15 and 20 poundsish." Yes, a double. Luck probably helped with hooking them, Matt, but it takes more than a bit of skill with that luck to get them both in the boat (especially a kayak). Very nice work. All I caught yesterday was a barely legal and two short halibut by Marshall.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

   For the seven people that don't follow Gage on Instagram or Facebook, here's a picture of his salmon that he caught on Wednesday. For the record, 23 and 25 pounds, green splatterback hootchy behind a green splatterback dodger, 2 lb ball, 30 pulls, 70 feet of water at Tomales Point.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

   While the wind blows today and the boats all remain on their trailers, here's a pic from earlier in the week:"I went out on Friday to take my son (18 month old) Dante on his first fishing trip. He coached me through an intense solo landing/netting adventure for one 27 inch halibut on live anchovies at hog island. Fish was the same size as the kid! 
Mikkel Libarle" It's good that you're starting him early, but it will be harder and harder to catch fish larger than he is. You've got a little time left, though. I found a picture from a few years ago with Cameron, Gage's older brother:
  Dante is cuter, though.

Friday, October 5, 2018

   Well, maybe the bite isn't completely dead. John Brezina caught this 25 pound salmon today, along with a 12 pounder. The few other boats trolling between Buoy "02" and the Trees had some fish (or at least chances at them; sorry, Gage). No magic bullet but hootchies usually seemed to be involved. Some kind of hook glue to keep them attached would be good. Tomorrow looks like a good day to not go fishing with gusts to 40 knots probably scattering the fish. Oh well.
   So that bite died. The bait moved. The weather turned, too. It could all come back, and the bait didn't just evaporate, nor did the salmon. The fish are moving through in little groups on their way to the river and if you and they meet, good (or frustrating) things can happen. As of 10:30 today Gage's on the water report is two hookups on reel screamers that came off.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

   Here's another report from yesterday:"Hey Willy,
  Shortly after talking with you on the beach around 5pm, we hooked into our first salmon right in front of Bird Rock at 24 pounds.  Later found out that it was Katherine's FIRST FISH EVER (picture attached)!  She's never caught a fish before!!!  Had 2 more hookups after that.  One BIG fish that broke the line (never saw it), one smaller 10 pounder that made it all the way to the boat then popped off (poorly hooked).  Headed in at 7pm.
-Brian (in the red RIB)" Nice work, Brian and Katherine. Unfortunately though, Brian, now she may think that this fishing is easy. Hopefully you'll keep making it seem that way.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

    I had my Gage moment today, going out and catching my limit in 50 minutes. The fish were about 40 feet down in 60-ish feet of water at Tomales Point. I saw Rich Chapin fighting one as I left but from the radio it sounds like the bite died. As there has been an sporadic bite there for a few days, my guess is that we'll see a few more fish from there before it's over.
   Teo Lally's big one weighed 23 pounds today. The boat had limits. Actually, we only launched four boats today, three limited and one had one limit for two fishermen. Bird Rock was the afternoon bite, although Elephant Rock worked well for one boat. Gage has one in the box as I write this. I'd write more but my wife wants to go fishing, so.... now I can write more. Nicki caught a 20 pound salmon and Alec Bennett (of the Shrimp Boat) caught a 15 pound salmon. The water off of Bird Rock is full of anchovies getting randomly molested by gangs of salmon. Gage pulled a Gage and caught 23 and 25 pound salmon before I could get back out there and is now, as the English say, insufferable. It was kinda rude, as Alec had been fishing there since the early afternoon and hadn't managed to land one (he had hooked a few) and Gage rolls in, puts two in the boat in 90 minutes, and leaves. For the record, Nicki and I waited for Alec to land a salmon at last light before we put one in the boat. The other boat still on the water were yelling at the same time, so I think the fish had gone back on the bite. We didn't stay to find out. Everybody knows the bogeyman comes out at night and I don't want to meet him at sea. For the record, though, best October salmon fishing here that I can recall. Too bad it will surely change with the weather.

Monday, October 1, 2018

    Here's a report from the weekend from Steve Georgis:"Hey Willy. Got these on Friday. Caught a few miles north of the point and Abbots. Got in a half a day on Saturday. Hooked up with 4 nice ones at McClures in 40 and 60 feet. "

    These fellows rent a boat here about once a month. There may have been a trip they made in which they didn't catch a halibut, but I can't recall it. Today they caught one each by Hog Island on live anchovies.

    The word today from the salmon grounds was that the deep water bite fizzled. There were still some caught out off of the Head but it wasn't hot. The Shut Up and Fish gave up on the deep water and came back to Tomales Point, where Teo Lally caught these three salmon to 20 pounds. Will they be there tomorrow? They weren't there yesterday. Chances are not that good for a repeat, especially considering the weather forecast for tomorrow is kinda breezy.