Sunday, April 28, 2019

    You really never know what you'll catch when you're rockfishing. This halibut, caught by Kris Gaiero off of Tomales Point, weighed 15 pounds. I would recommend the bay over the reefs at the point for halibut, but, hey, you never know.  

    Dmitry Varakuta sent in this photo from last year with just about the prettiest salmon I've seen. It's not quite a lit up dorado, but it'll do. The couple of boats that went out looking for salmon today have returned with nothing but a few shorties hooked and released. Reports from south of us are that they're tearing 'em up down there. Our time will come, and when it does, the fish will be larger (and the minimum size will be smaller). 
    There's still a pretty good number of Dungeness crab out there. I actually had a live keeper get washed up on the beach at my feet while fishing for stripers in the surf yesterday evening. I'm not sure if that means there's a bunch of crab right off of the beach, but there's at least one. It looks like the sand crabs are molting, judging the number of shells on the beach, but if they are the stripers don't know about it. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

    Nick says you don't need to go looking for that halibut by Hog Island because he caught it. There may be another fish around, though, as he had a couple of other bites on his live jacksmelt. Looks like you don't have to go all the way back to catch, but I'd still think about Marshall and the Inverness flats. We're also getting to the time of year when might see a couple caught in the "clam channel," just down from the pier. I might even have to try it. 
    The crabbing has been slowish but the snares are still bringing in (usually) enough for dinner. There was a small group today using a drone to drop their snares farther out. I don't know if it helped but it looked cool. The weather has been pretty nice on the beach but outside has still been pretty sloppy. The water temp is a pretty good indicator of past wind and it is currently at 49.1º. Upwelling? Check.

    Now I wish that this was a picture from this year, but I've been forced to beg for old photos (The begging was before you sent your picture, Nick). This was sent in by Guy Kilburn of Vallejo with a note:"As you requested, here is a photo from August of last year of a nice fish caught just off Kehoe Beach.  These are the memories of fine fishing and flat water that keep us coming back. " It was nice to meet you, Guy, and I thank you for sharing your memory with the rest of us. If anyone else has a nice fish picture from this or last year, send it over to with a note and I'll post it up for all 20 of us to see.

Friday, April 19, 2019

   Those salmon that were in 150 feet of water in front of Bird are somewhere else now. All it takes is me getting on the water to scare them off. There were some salmon caught in 260 to 300 feet of water from Bird Rock to above Bodega Head, anywhere from 40 to 160 feet down, depending on the report. Most hookups resulted in shorties but I heard about a few keepers and even one over 20 pounds. I had a very peaceful couple hours of trolling during which the fish were kind enough not to bother me. The weather was nice, even though the breeze when running gave me an ice cream headache from the 50º water temp. Hopefully we get a couple of more chances at the salmon before the season closes on May 1st. As far as that closure goes, here's the press release:"

2019 Ocean Salmon Seasons Finalized for the California Coast

salmon anglers
King salmon caught off the San Francisco coastline.
CDFW photo

Ocean salmon anglers across the California coast will be able to spend more time on the water this year chasing after King Salmon (also known as Chinook Salmon). At its meeting this week in Rohnert Park, the Pacific Fishery Management Council finalized and adopted ocean salmon seasons beginning on or after May 1 through the remainder of the year.
Sport fisheries in the Klamath Management Zone will open from late May through early September. Fort Bragg and San Francisco areas are currently open; they will close for the first half of May, then reopen and continue through the end of October. The Monterey management area is open now and remains open through late August.
Despite an increase in fishing opportunity this year, ocean salmon season lengths were cut short in certain areas to limit harvest of Sacramento River fall Chinook, the main stock supporting California’s ocean fishery. Under the terms of the federal Salmon Fishery Management Plan, this stock has been classified as “overfished” following low returns of spawning adults in recent years. In an effort to hasten the rebuilding process, the Council made the decision to limit the fishery so that a greater number of adult fish return to the river to spawn this fall.
The 2019 recreational ocean salmon season dates for the California coast are as follows:
  • In the Klamath Management Zone, which is the area between the Oregon/California border and Horse Mountain (40°05’00” N. latitude), the season will open May 25 and continue through September 2.
  • The Fort Bragg and San Francisco areas, which extend from Horse Mountain to Point Arena (38°57’30” N. latitude) and Point Arena to Pigeon Point (37°11’00” N. latitude), respectively, opened April 13. Fishing will close on April 30, then reopen on May 18 and continue through October 31.
  • The Monterey area between Pigeon Point and the U.S./Mexico border opened on April 6 and will continue through August 28.
The minimum size limit is 20 inches total length in all areas north of Point Arena. In the San Francisco area, the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length through April 30, then 20 inches total length thereafter. In the Monterey area the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length. The daily bag limit is two Chinook Salmon per day. No more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. Retention of Coho Salmon (also known as Silver Salmon) is prohibited in all ocean fisheries off California.
In addition to protecting Sacramento River fall Chinook, the season dates and size limit restrictions in combination also serve to minimize impacts of the ocean salmon fishery on ESA-listed Sacramento River winter Chinook and California Coastal Chinook stocks, as required by federal law."

   For the guys rockfishing, 22" minimum on lingcod with a limit of one per person. North of Cape Mendocino they are allowed to keep two. It looks like it will change to two everywhere later in the season (Date to be determined). Until then, try to be gentle when returning your extra lings. Sticking your fingers in their gills isn't quite like sticking your fingers in someone's lungs, but it's close. Same goes for halibut and salmon. When possible, take the hook out while they're still in the water. Treat them right and you've got a chance to catch them again. Or even better, maybe I'll catch 'em.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

   The weather forecast for the salmon opener kept most fishermen off the water, but the few guys that chanced it found quite a few fish among the whitecaps. The New Sea Angler reported 42 salmon from about 250 feet of water off of the Head and a couple of the other party boats with smaller crews caught limits. I heard of one sport boat catching two salmon in 150 feet of water off of Bird Rock, 70  feet down. The weather forecast for later this week (Wednesday-Friday) looks optimistic so there may be better opportunities coming up. As for halibut, I haven't heard of any more caught but Gage reports 63º water and some schools of bait in front of Heart's Desire Beach, so it'll happen. Depending on who you ask, the crabbing inside the bay is either good or slow. One boat returned at 11:00 with "all the Dungeness we want." Another boat spent all day looking for their first one. Somewhere between the two seemed average. The commercial guys have had to haul their gear but the sport season will continue until the end of June (unless something else happens). On Friday two fold-a-boats flipped near Miller Park but everybody ended up okay. Hopefully they were wearing their PFD's. Speaking of PFD's, in light of the recent issues with boating safety the CDFW has been issuing citations for lack of Personal Flotation Devices along with the usual tickets. Avoiding a ticket is not the best reason to wear your life jacket, but if it helps you wear it, good.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

     Good news for the salmon smolts on their way to the ocean; the upwelling machine just got turned on "high". The wind is supposed to howl all week, then lay down for the weekend salmon opener because, of course, it always lays down for the opener. Those salmon you heard about in 200 feet of water will likely have relocated by the time this week's gales have passed, but it would sure be cool if a few stayed put. Usually I'm not that interested in the early season but current events have changed that.
   The upwelling machine very likely was a factor in the death of a boater on Tomales Bay today. Very few facts are available about what happened and reports have somewhere from two to six persons involved in the incident. What is for sure is that the wind was really strong and gusty today. Some of the clammers reported their inflatable boats blowing over with the clammers aboard. With lower tides and more winds forecast for tomorrow and Thursday, one hopes that the clammers give it a few days off. The clams will wait.
    Hey, what if salmon fishermen and whale lovers (I'm both) got together and jointly advocated for more salmon?  Hatcheries, better river management, etc.? Dam eradication seems like a no go (it is clean energy, isn't it?) but if what we both want is more fish, isn't that a problem we have a few answers for already? I realize this doesn't involve a lawsuit (at first glance) and the group pushing for the killer whales works almost exclusively by lawsuit, but hey, learning new things and having varied experiences  are good for you. Well, my mom said so, so it's probably true.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

   So the good news is that Gage caught a halibut yesterday evening back by Inverness in the water I said wasn't salty enough (Turns out, it is salty enough). He was trolling and it bit a green hootchie. Game on.
     Here's a better article spelling out the bad news for salmon fishing:   Get your salmon this year, because who knows what's coming? The government may find a sensible way to allow salmon fishing in California after the killer whales have returned to Washington, allowing the take of fish that the whales didn't eat. Or, likelier, they'll just close salmon period. No salmon fishing might make it easier to suck more water out of the Delta. And who wants that? Oh yeah, the guys getting sued. I guess the no salmon fishing option is the more sensible option.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

   Hey, remember those endangered killer whales in Puget Sound? The ones that we might be forced to not fish for salmon so that they don't starve? Because they only eat salmon? They're in Monterey Bay.   At least, some of them are. The people trying to get our salmon fishing curtailed are very likely using their current location as evidence to support their agenda. Please be polite and, perhaps, a bit more specific (whalehuggers is a good term) in the comments. I'm looking at you, abfish.

Monday, April 1, 2019

   Mitch Hamilton sent in a report from yesterday:"Managed to scrape 9 up back by Hog Island, more importantly my youngest grandson is on board now. Heard of a halibut hooked and lost by one of the kayaks." Notably, not the only halibut I heard of yesterday. There may have been a second one lost and another halibut caught near Marshall. I guess that I know now how much salt needs to be in the water to keep halibut happy.
   PS- The one boat that went rockfishing from here yesterday caught 12 fish for two fisherpeople (fisherpersons?) in 50 to 80 feet of water off of Tomales Point. From the usafishing report, it sounds like there may be a few salmon around out deeper. I guess we'll find out on the 13th, weather permitting.