Sunday, November 28, 2021

    Mostly good weather here over the last week with only a couple of days you couldn't (breaking bar) or wouldn't want (windy) to head out to the ocean. The crabbing situation remains about the same; Ten Mile very good, Outer Bay good depending on location, and inside Tomales Bay good to bad depending on who you ask. Some insiders limited out pretty easily and some had a hard time catching a couple of reds. By and large, almost everybody had crab to eat but most would have liked more. No word on when traps will open yet but the state testing of crab for domoic acid has finally come up entirely clean now, so if you like the "butter", I guess you can "enjoy" it. 

    Rockfishing has been a bit slow near the mouth of Tomales Bay but definitely better when to get away from where everybody else has been fishing. Gage and I took a couple of buddies out for rockfish on Thanksgiving morning and we caught 40 rockfish and 5 lings to 15 pounds. We only dropped on schools of fish instead of blind drifting and probably spent as much time looking for schools as we did fishing them, but when they were decent fish (w e also stopped over a couple of schools of tiny ones) they were on the hook as soon we got to the bottom. Small jigs and shrimp flies for the rockfish and 8" swimbaits for the lings. 

   My lack of reports (and the boring ones I make when I do write something) correctly inspired Branden Mendoza to send over this report:

   "Hey willy late report from Friday. Went down to 10 mile for 2 limits of crab and a few rockfish and 2 lings. Proceed to make crab and salmon raviolis on Saturday was a great weekend." That looks and sounds spectacular. If your goal was to make me jealous, you succeeded. 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

 The crabbers in powered boats have mostly been doing okay in the bay for Dungeness. I have heard of very few limits but even less skunks. Mostly boat are returning with four to sixteen Dungeness between Sand Point and Pelican Point. The usual spots, as usual, have had the most crab and the most pressure. The water around Marker 5 isn't solid buoys but it wouldn't take too many more to get there. The current has been running pretty hard in the afternoon and stealing gear. Don't let your rings linger in the channel too long. The Outer bay has been better on average but no guarantee of success. Don't be afraid to move around some. Ten Mile has definitely been more consistent but also has blank spots. 

    The official notice about no traps here (We are in Area 3) was released yesterday:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program Update
November 19, 2021
CDFW Director Bonham has completed an assessment of marine life entanglement risk for the recreational and commercial Dungeness crab fisheries under the Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program (RAMP).

The commercial Dungeness crab fishery will open on Dec. 1 in Fishing Zones 1 and 2, north of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line to the Oregon state line. The recreational fishery for Dungeness crab is open statewide (all Fishing Zones) with a temporary crab trap restriction for Fishing Zones 3 and 4 (from the Sonoma/Mendocino county line to Lopez Point in Monterey County). The commercial fishery will also continue to be delayed in Fishing Zones 3 and 4 due to the presence of high numbers of humpback whales in the Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay. 

In early December, CDFW will re-assess entanglement risk in Fishing Zones 3 and 4. CDFW staff and collaborators have scheduled additional surveys in the next two weeks that, weather permitting, are anticipated to provide the data necessary to reassess whale presence. It is anticipated that the next risk assessment will occur on or before December 15. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

     Amanda Rocha schooled Gage on lingcod yesterday and especially hurt his feelings with this 20 pounder. His feelings weren't hurt enough that he wouldn't share the picture, at least. This ling, and the rest of the ice chest full of rockfish, were caught between the Keyholes and Abbott's Lagoon in about 120 feet of water. The lings liked the brown 8" swimbaits from Pitbull. 
   Today Gage and I made a run on flat water to the far side of Cordell Banks to look for bluefin. I think we saw a couple on the fishfinder but we had no takers for our slow-trolled live jacksmelt and huge sardine. We did see quite a few whales, especially in about 300 feet of water on the way in where there were over a dozen "bird-nado" spots with clouds of birds feeding on bubble-netted bait (anchovies?) while humpbacks lunge-fed . I wish salmon season was open because it looked like easy limits. It also didn't look good for traps.


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

     Good news first. While the crabbing is far from red hot inside the bay, it ain't bad, either. I only spoke with two of the returning boats today but one had nine Dungeness and the other, sixteen. The snare-throwers are still catching some from the bank. The outer bay has more crab but you still need to work to find them. They ain't everywhere. Nobody has been down to Ten Mile since the weekend but nobody that went then complained about the crabbing or fishing. The crab aren't a thick carpet down there, either, but there's probably more good spots than bad spots. Run the gear and move it until you know you're in a good spot. Then consider rockfish. 

    The bad news: It looks like no traps until at least mid-December. There are still whales. Hey, at least most of us don't have house payments that depend on us catching crab. For those that do, sorry. Here's the link to the Assessment, and here's the link to the data. If you've been on the fence about buying rings, just know that it's not just this year for the restriction. Consider your purchase an investment towards your future. And if you look at the data, page 6 shows the largest concentration of humpbacks to be at Cordell Bank. What does that mean? Concentrations of baitfish, maybe? Big, fat whales gotta eat. So do big, fat bluefin. Correlation is not causation, as they say, but the next largest concentration of Humpbacks is just west of where the Santa Cruz boats are still catching tuna. Well. Cordell isn't far....

Saturday, November 13, 2021

    I'm not sure of these folks' names but I believe that they're part of the Carl Rhodes group here. It sounded like the first couple of days of crabbing they caught a few, but by today they were limiting on crab and rockfish and they even caught one of Gage's fish. Gage says it wasn't big as his big one but it looks bigger than the one I caught. Not everybody did as well, but it mostly wasn't sadness today. Even the beach-bound snare-chuckers caught pretty decent crab today. I even heard of a young man with four commercial-sized crab from the surf side of the beach today. The beach fishing is kinda meh right now. But the crabbing from shore isn't bad.