Friday, May 31, 2019

    Cameron joined me for an evening trip and caught this 12 pound halibut, our only bite. Gage and his friend Mason ended up with two halibut (6 and 8 pounds) and several shorties and missed bites. I heard that this morning someone in a kayak caught a white sea bass by Hog Island among about 40 boats. FYI, there's halibut all up and down the bay so you don't need to fish the scrum in order to catch. The area around Hog is prolific because of all the edges (of channels and eelgrass beds). Those edges exist in other places, too. I guess that if fishing in the middle of a fleet of other boats is your happy place then good on you. Enjoy. But if accidental bumper boats and being pushed off of your drift is not your idea of a good time then go look around.
   Eddie Kim sent me a picture of what my fish would have looked like if they had a chance to grow up. I assume that he caught them in among the fleet of vessels at Hog but I don't know that for a fact.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

    Here's the halibut to go with the striper in the previous post. Nick Nichols reports:"Fished Sunday in the bay. Caught some nice jacksmelt then went for Halibut. Both fish were caught down by Marshall. Greg's striper was 17 pounds. My Halibut was not big but legal (26”)"

    Mike Mack and Tim Nelson did an afternoon trip on Monday and landed these two keepers while trolling on the flats South of Hog Island. 

    I caught these three halibut this morning by 8:00 AM trolling around Marshall. No big ones but I missed a couple of other bites and shook a shorty. I heard the commercial salmon guys on the VHF complaining about all of the silvers that moved in, so if you're thinking about salmon fishing in the weather window we have this weekend and you aren't sure which one is which, look here. Those white gums will be expensive. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

   It looks like we have photographic evidence of a bass of some sort caught in Tomales Bay. This one came from the South end but there were a couple reported near Tom's Point and at least one in the surf last night. There's been schools of pinhead anchovies moving in and out of the bay which would probably account for stripers and halibut (and maybe something else?) showing up in a variety of locations. From the sound of things we may see some sardines and mackerel soon, as well. Then the live bait action will get very interesting.
    The rockfishing should be getting more interesting as well. Starting on June 1st the limits for black rockfish, canary rockfish and lingcod increase by 1 each:

Recreational Canary Rockfish, Black Rockfish and Lingcod Bag Limit Increases Effective June 1, 2019

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced increases to the recreational canary rockfish (Sebastes pinniger), black rockfish (S. melanops) and lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) daily limits.
Within the statewide Rockfish Cabezon Greenlings Complex daily bag limit of 10 fish, the sub-bag limit for canary rockfish will increase from two to three fish, and the sub-bag limit for black rockfish will increase from three to four fish. The daily bag limit for lingcod will increase from one to two fish for areas south of 40°10’ N. lat (near Cape Mendocino), returning the statewide bag limit for lingcod to two fish. The changes are effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 1, 2019.
Limited retention of canary rockfish in California’s recreational fishery began in 2017 as a result of the stock being declared rebuilt. Because retention of canary rockfish had been prohibited in recreational fisheries off California for more than a decade, incremental increases to the daily sub-bag limit are being implemented to balance fishing opportunity while keeping catch within harvest limits.
Less optimistic stock assessment outcomes for black rockfish in 2015 and lingcod in 2017 resulted in a reduction to both the harvest limits and bag limits for these species. A review of the most recent recreational catch information showed that less catch for these species occurred during 2017 and 2018 than anticipated. This prompted the current increase in the statewide black rockfish sub-bag limit and lingcod bag limit south of Cape Mendocino to better achieve allowable harvest.
Catches of several important groundfish species, including canary and black rockfish, are monitored weekly to ensure harvest limits are not exceeded.
Pursuant to California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.20(e), CDFW has the authority to make in-season modifications to the recreational fishery, including adjustments to bag and sub-bag limits.
For more information regarding groundfish regulations, management and fish identification tools, please visit the CDFW Marine Region Groundfish webpage.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

   Gage won't go surf fishing, so I found some better fisherpeople to go give it a try. The answer is yes, there's surfperch out there and they are biting. They ended up with seven fish yesterday.

    This 18.5 pound halibut ate a live shiner perch just below Hog Island today. The wind and swell kept most of the boats in the bay today. While most people had a hard time finding a few keeper Dungeness there was one guy this morning that caught a limit before 10:00 using a snare just North of the pier. 

Friday, May 24, 2019

     There's some salmon out in 300-330 feet of water but they're down so deep you need a downrigger for your downrigger. The commercials are catching with their 50 pound leads but I don't think my Scotties will take that. Some sportfishermen are catching using 12 to 15 pound balls or pancake weights to get the depth. The New Sea Angler caught a few by dropping leads but he's got a school of baitfish under his boat that we lack. This weekend's wind will likely shake things up again and with luck some of those fish will end up someplace catchable.
      At least the halibut are playing ball here in Tomales Bay.  I haven't heard of any caught on the bar but almost every where else seems to have a few hungry flatties. Live bait, trolling, jigging, whatever you're comfortable doing will probably get you dinner. I haven't seen any jumbos this week but there were a good number of halibut caught in not too many boats out fishing.
     The crabbing has been slow but they're still catching some. The snaring has been pretty productive around the turns of the tide. My surfperch guy has been distracted by halibut fishing, so I don't know how good or bad the surf fishing is. Halibut gets a thumbs up, though.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

    No takers on salmon from here this weekend. The commercial guys got to start on Thursday and found that the bait and whales in closer didn't have the most important thing, salmon. They eventually found them out in 50 fathoms or more (which is 300+ feet of water to you and me). Not many big 'uns but they're throwing back a lot of fish you and I could keep (between 20" and 27"). The word is that there are anchovies all over but no krill to be seen, at least on the meter. The fish are still pretty red, though, so there must be some krill somewhere. There's a few mackerel in with the salmon. I'm not sure what that means, except that the smaller ones make great bait for almost everything. There were a few more halibut caught by Hog Island on Friday but I didn't hear of any over the wet weekend. Anybody boating should be aware that the rain and the high tides have added a few logs floating around. Try to go around them.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

    Brittany Young sent over this report from the weekend:"Brittany Young captained but her husband Morgan young caught this 29.5 lb Halibut just north of hog island Saturday evening on the incoming tide. The three boats in our group brought in over 35 Halibut in just a few days. 

Leila Smith was casting the surf and managed to bring in this beautiful striped Saturday mid day."

   Some final pictures from Eddie Kim's visit. Mr. Kim and his various crew fished hard during his stay and they all took home some halibut. I think Eddie needs to rest up for his next visit. 

   Here's the photo of Nick Bauer's fish from the other day. I'm guessing that the halibut are officially in. Commercial salmon season opens here tomorrow but we probably won't get any reports on salmon until Saturday at earliest due to gale warnings and small craft advisories for the next couple of days. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

    Eddie Kim and his crew caught four halibut yesterday while live baiting by Hog Island. Although I haven't received any pictures, I heard that Nick Bauer may have done the same. Another group of three boats has been quietly slipping halibut into their boats around Hog and points north of there. The anchovies have been moving in and out of the bay and the fish are likely following them, so don't plant yourself in one place trying to make fish bite. Those hungry fish could be almost anywhere. There was some decent surfperch caught yesterday afternoon/evening and at least one striper pulled from the surf.

Friday, May 10, 2019

    Eddie Kim returned with his brother and they did a one-day slam for limits of clams. Dungeness, rockfish and ling cod on Wednesday. I believe they spent Thursday cleaning all of those critters.

   Rumor has it that there's a few more halibut coming in. I don't believe it, but Nick Bauer keeps sendng me pictures, so maybe it's true. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019


Kyle Riffle sent in this report:"Did good on crab in the outer bay, limits of commercial quality crabs the first pull after an overnight soak. Then ran down the bay and caught a 33 inch and a 26 inch halibut on live bait drifting past the channel split by hog island. Good day overall!" Nice job, gentlemen. There were a few others caught there yesterday as well. For those looking for live bait, Gage saw big schools of anchovies out in 160 feet of water in front of Bird last evening. There were whales, dolphins, pelicans and fish splashing as well. Gage didn't drop a line in the water, though, because "I didn't want to have to make a difficult decision." He's right, the splashing fish probably weren't bluefin. Any bets on this weather holding until salmon reopens?

Monday, May 6, 2019

   Here's Kris Gaiero with her second halibut from off of Tomales Point. Remember when I said that inside the bay would be better for halibut? Well, it is, but Kris is making a pretty strong argument for the Point.
    Here's a nice Hog Island halibut. This one bit a trolled anchovy. I heard of a couple of others caught yesterday as well. There were a couple of guys that caught some decent numbers of Dungeness in the outer bay (half limits or better) but they worked hard for them. Inside the bay it was pretty slow for the Dungeness but part of that could be the strong currents around the new moon. Rockfishing was on the slower side as well. Surfperch fishing was okay on the incoming tide but if anybody caught any stripers they weren't telling me. No bluefin here. On that note, as abfish mentioned in yesterday's comments, bluefin are extremely boat shy. Should you be lucky enough to find a school of feeding bluefin you need to either cast from a distance or troll a way-way back line round-a-bout over the fish. How far back? If you have to ask, it ain't far enough. When you're sure it's enough, add a little more. And if all you've got is salmon gear it almost doesn't matter how far you put your lines back, since bringing a knife to gun fight generally ends poorly for the blade wielder. Also, don't drive over a school of boiling bait and birds. Just don't. Ever.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

    This report from "atfsac" was sent in on Wednesday night :"First drift of the year on Friday night rewarded two keepers those were the only bites. We came back Saturday morning and got a seventeen pounder in the first ten minutes and that was all she wrote we got out of there before low tide made us stay and USCG was checking boats at the ramp which left us circling waiting for the ramp to open for forty five minutes barely squeaked her into the trailer with a black stream of mud coming out of the tell tale on the motor. Decided to go to Frisco on Sunday for nine keepers  and Monday for another six. Not a bad first run of the year. The count is at eighteen. " The pictures above are the Tomales Bay fish. Here's the comparison shot.
All of those fish look pretty good to me. 
    Gage clobbered the surfperch this week but declined to provide a "hand" picture. At least there's fish in the surf. Possible grunion run the next couple of nights (grunion season is closed) so there may be a few stripers in the foam the next couple of evenings. The strong northwest winds are supposed to give us a break for a bit, so things should start looking really good for salmon before the wind comes back and wrecks it all, probably right around the 18th. Just a guess. I guess we'll have to go bluefin fishing. Looks like they caught a few out of Santa Cruz today and a Monterey whale watching boat filmed tuna boiling yesterday. Check out this video at about the 54 second mark.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

   Geoff McNew sent over this photo and report from yesterday:"Caught on crow bars with herring at the 3 mile line off the trees, this last day of 24"" Also the last salmon fishing day until May 18. Nice work, Geoff. It looks like those fish just found the krill. Let's hope that they stick around for a while, even though a lot can change (and probably will) in the next three weeks.

     Nick Bauer found another halibut back by Hog Island yesterday. He's been getting a few back there. It's a far cry from the limits they're catching in San Francisco Bay but it's a lot more cozy.