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September 15, 2014    Headlines

Salmon Bite Heats Up
Rockfish and Lings on Marin Coast

Salmon fishing was pretty solid over the weekend with averages around a fish per rod for the party boats along the Marin coast. Out of Emeryville Sport Fishing, the Sundance, New Salmon Queen, and Superfish combined for 30 salmon to 26-pounds for 31 anglers on their trolling trips on Sunday 9-14. Mooching action was  slower with the New Seeker checking in with 3 salmon to 10-pounds for 10 anglers. The Sausalito boats were also trolling, and they returned with 49 salmon out of three party boats.
Scott Sutherland of Berkeley Charter Boats reported an average of a fish per rod throughout the week with most trips north along the Marin coast between the Channel Markers and Duxbury, and earlier in the week , the boats were south off of Mussel Rock. The fish in this area were much smaller, consisting of next year’s spawners, and the bite disintegrated quickly. Straight bait has been the top offering with flashers less effective during the past week.
Rockfishing remained outstanding, and the big lings are chomping. On Saturday, Captain Jim Smith on the Happy Hooker loaded up with 31 limits of rockfish and 31 limits of ling cod with six of the lings over 20-pounds. Bill Seidel of Sacramento boated the jackpot at 26-pounds, and Travis Bogart from Reno landed a limit to 18-pounds. The Legend was on fire with 8 lings towards the boat limits. Sunday’s score was similar with 13 limits of rockfish and ling cod to 16-pounds.
Out of Emeryville Sport Fishing, a few boats went to the Farallons over the weekend while others stayed along the Marin coast. The New Huck Finn, Sea Wolf, and Wet Spot combined for near limits at 615 rockfish for 63 anglers in addition to 69 ling cod to 29-pounds and 4 salmon to 16-pounds.

Rockfishing up the Marin coast remains outstanding with Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker taking out a charter of 25 construction workers on Thursday 9-11 for 25 limits of rockfish and 44 ling cod to 17-pounds. Smith said, “We had a number of quality ling cod, and I lost a real toad at the boat when it ripped off the rockfish it was hitchhiking on a final run that tore off line.” He added, “Rockfishing couldn’t get any better, and there really wasn’t any drift, and I had to keep bumping the boat into gear to make up for a drift, but they still bit hard.” Smith continued, “We should have had limits of lings, but there plenty of lost fish during the day.” The Happy Hooker is wide open this weekend for potluck trips.
The New Huck Finn out of Emeryville went up the Marin coast on Wednesday for 21 limits of rockfish and 21 limits of lings to 17-pounds. The Sea Wolf stayed on the coast on Thursday for 10 limits of rockfish and 14 ling cod to 14-pounds.
Salmon fishing took a bit of a hit on Thursday with the scores dropping to below a fish per rod. Second Captain Jerad Davis on the Salty Lady out of Sausalito reported 8 salmon to 27-pounds for 11 anglers on Thursday after boating 16 salmon to 22-pounds for 12 fishermen on Wednesday. The Salty Lady will be taking open load salmon trolling trips on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday of the following week. This was a typical Thursday score with the New Seeker out of Emeryville mooching up 12 salmon to 22-pounds for 14 fishermen while the C Gull II and Sundance put in 12 salmon to24-pounds and a 31-pound white sea bass on trolling trips. The word was the bait dissipated along the Marin coast after being very thick over the weekend.

Salty Lady Fishing Boat Hooks Green Sea Turtle While Fishing For Salmon
A recreational fisher hoping to land a chinook salmon for dinner, instead hooked an endangered Pacific green sea turtle, (also called a black turtle), while fishing off the coast of San Francisco (near Buoy 1, just outside the Golden Gate).
Turtle Island Restoration Network (, based in Marin County, received a call from the Captain of the Salty Lady charter fishing boat, Roger Thomas reporting the unusual catch. Thomas has been fishing these waters for decades and though he has seen his share of the giant leatherback sea turtles off the coast, this was the first hard-shell turtle he has ever seen get hooked off his vessel.
The animal was netted, unhooked and returned to sea unharmed thanks to the quick thinking of Captain Thomas. In addition to the sea turtle, anglers on the Salty Lady have been catching lots of big salmon on recent trips leaving from Sausalito, Calif.
Pacific green turtles are mostly found in Mexico and south, though there is a small population that resides near the power plant in San Diego Bay. The nearest significant nesting population is found in the Mexican State of Michoacan, more than 2,000 miles south of San Francisco. They are listed as ‘Endangered’ under the U.S. Endangered Species Act due to overharvesting of adults and eggs. Green turtles are long-lived, reaching sexual maturity between 20-50 years of age with adult females returning to their natal beach to lay their eggs.
“Finding an endangered green turtle in the cold waters off San Francisco is extremely unusual, even during warmer water temperatures during an El Nino event,” said Todd Steiner, biologist and executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network. “While Pacific leatherbacks are known to feed off the coast here in summer and fall, green turtles prefer much warmer waters of the eastern Pacific.”
According to the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service Recovery Plan for U.S. Pacific Populations of the East Pacific Green Turtle (1998), “As late as the 1960s the East Pacific green turtle was still abundant in its major nesting grounds in North America; that is the beaches of Colola and Maruata Bay, Michoacán, Mexico. It is estimated that in the late 1960s, 500 – 1,000 females nested nightly in Colola during peak season… In the northern Mexican feeding grounds East Pacific green turtles were first heavily fished at the turn of the century, when an estimated 1,000 East Pacific green turtles per month were shipped from the Pacific side of Baja California (Magdalena Bay, Scammon’s Lagoon, Tortugas Bay) and Gulf of California (Bahia de los Angeles) to San Diego and San Francisco in California, United States (O’Donnell 1974 in Cliffton et al. 1982). By the 1930′s, the market for sea turtle meat had decreased in the United States, while in Mexico – especially in the border towns of Tijuana, Mexicali and Nogales, and the major cities in Baja California and Sonora – the demand for turtle meat grew steadily. From 1956 to 1963, East Pacific green turtles harvested in the northern Mexican feeding grounds were the most important component of the Mexican turtle fishery, with a total live weight production of 3,430 metric tons (Groombridge and Luxmoore 1989). In the early 1970s large numbers of overwintering East Pacific green turtles were discovered near Tiburon Island in the Gulf of California. The torpid turtles were lying motionless at depths of 10-30m (Felger et al. 1976). Intensive hunting of the easily caught overwintering turtles began in 1975, when five boats were landing 4-5 metric tons of turtles per week from late November to early March (Cliffton et al. 1982). Overwintering sites were successively decimated and the East Pacific green turtle was “virtually extirpated” from the Gulf of California by the late 1970s (Cliffton et al. 1982). According to Cliffton (in litt. to J. Woody, 5 May 1991) who conducted a 30-day exploration of the Midriff Islands region in the summer of 1990, adult East Pacific green turtles were extremely scarce. Cliffton quotes native informants as stating that most of the East Pacific green turtles remaining in the Upper Gulf of California are juveniles weighing an average of about 20 kg.”
More photos available here.
Looking about 7 weeks ahead I suggest readers start making their reservations for dungeness crab combo trips. The season starts on Saturday November 1st and this gives sport anglers a full two weeks of fishing before the commercial season begins. Easy limits should be the rule during this time before the big boys set their gear. Emeryville will have at least three boats available. Out of Berkeley James on the Cal Dawn says he is already half booked for the first two weeks of the season. His dad Jim on the Happy Hooker fresh back from Alaska says he has lots of room and is looking forward to another solid year of crabbing and "crab dinners".

Close to Home: Intervention needed to save salmon from drought
Many will remember the extra distance fish agencies went this past spring when they moved baby salmon in tanker trucks from the hatcheries down to the Delta and San Francisco Bay for release.
This was done because drought conditions made Central Valley rivers deadly to migrating baby salmon. It will be 2016 before we know whether it worked.
In the meantime, drought conditions persist, threatening adult salmon returning to spawn now through early fall. Salmon are encountering river temperatures in excess of 70 degrees, weakening them and the fertility of the eggs and milt they carry.
In salmon-dependent communities on the coast and along the Sacramento River and its tributaries, there’s deep concern for this parent generation of salmon. Salmon eggs incubating in river gravel die if river water temperatures exceed 56 degrees for more than three days. By October, when fall run salmon spawning usually peaks, most of the rivers and tributaries could be over 56 degrees. If we’re lucky, a small section of the far northern Sacramento River might be cool enough to support some spawning. But miles below it won’t be, meaning we could be facing the threat of no fish and no fishing in coming years.
This doesn’t have to be. There is something can be done. The Golden Gate Salmon Association has proposed to capture adult fall run salmon, take their eggs and milt and temporarily incubate the fertilized eggs at a hatchery. The fall run is the usually numerous run that supports the commercial and recreational salmon fishery off California and most of Oregon. As fall turns to winter, and Central Valley rivers cool, the eggs could then be injected back into river gravel. They’d hatch out months later and live as wild salmon.
The Coleman National Fish Hatchery, located on a cold-water tributary of the Sacramento River called Battle Creek, might be a place where the work could be done prior to re-injection into the river. Coleman can reportedly handle 30 million juvenile salmon but produces only about 12.5 million juvenile salmon annually, which should leave room to temporarily harbor millions of drought-threatened eggs.
Egg injection back into the river could likely be done during November when river temperatures have cooled to tolerable levels. This same action could be done on other Central Valley rivers with hatcheries including the Feather, American and Merced rivers.
Injection involves poking a hard plastic pipe into river gravel using water pressure from a portable pump, creating a cavity in the gravels, flushing out sediments and carefully pouring the fertilized eggs down the pipe into the riverbed where they’ll rest until they hatch.
Injecting fertilized salmon eggs into river gravel isn’t a new idea. It’s been done in Alaska, Oregon and elsewhere. This is probably the right year for California to join the list of states that have used this proven technology. This proposal doesn’t require more water, since there is none, but it would help save salmon jobs and keep coastal and inland river communities economically vital. That’s why the Golden Gate Salmon Association is calling for this extraordinary measure to sustain salmon, which is needed in this extraordinarily dry year.
John McManus is executive director of the Golden Gate Salmon Association.

Regulations for the MLPAs are now in effect from Pt Arena to Pigeon Point. Anglers need to know which areas are affected and the regulations and the boundaries of the different zones. Please use this link and be sure to print a map for these areas to carry with you.

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Golden Gate Salmon Association

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Party Boat Contacts:
The Emeryville Sportfishing Center is currently booking salmon and potluck trips begin in late April. They have a great promotion that when you take six trips your "lucky" seventh trip is free. This is good on any of their boats. Reservations can be made at 510 654-6040.

The California Dawn / Berkeley 510 773-5511  

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5-day plot - Wind Speed at 46026

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