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September 26, 2016    Headlines

 Salmon Bite Hit & Miss
Rockfish Limits


Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker went south to Pedro Point on Saturday 9-25 for rockfish, and his group was treated to a spectacular whale show in addition to limits for those still working the rails. Smith said, “I have been on the water for over 50 years, but I have never seen a show like this. The whales came within 30 feet of the boat, and they were working the squid schools, jumping completely out of the water and blowing out squid. There was live squid coming out of their mouths and falling on the surface as these whales were on a feeding frenzy. The entire coastline from the Pedro Point to Montara is loaded with squid in the shallows, and there was one squid boat working offshore during the daytime. We ended up with 17 lings and limits of rockfish for all who wanted to fish. Many of the fishermen were content to sit in the cabin and eat. Fortunately, the Legend and Pale Ale stayed on the rail and helped out with rockfish limits for the group.” Smith has plenty of room for the upcoming crab opener as many of the Bay Area boats are already filled for the opening weekend.  The best time to get the crab is the first two weeks before the commercial season opens, and although the going rate is between $125 to 130 per angler, a 10 crab limit is worth all of that, not to mention rockfish and possible ling limits.
James Smith on the California Dawn went to the Farallon Islands both days over the weekend, and they returned with heavy ling cod counts. T
Out of Emeryville Sport Fishing, the Sea Wolf, New Huck Finn, and New Salmon Queen combined for 610 rockfish and 101 ling cod  to 16 pounds for 66 anglers on Sunday after the same boats posted 726 rockfish and 94 lings to 19 pounds for 74 fishermen on Saturday working the islands.
Salmon action was decent on Friday for Captain Roger Thomas of the Salty Lady with a respectable score of 9 salmon to 18 pounds for 10 anglers trolling a mile above Duxbury Buoy in flat, calm conditions. He said, “The fish bit after the week of wind, and it should get better from here on out.” He is running open load salmon trips throughout the week.
Two boats out of Emeryville went salmon trolling on Sunday with the Sundance coming in with over a fish per rod at 7 salmon to 18 pounds for their 6 passenger while the C Gull II returned with 9 salmon to 15 pounds. The scores were similar for the C Gull II on Saturday with 4 salmon for 11 anglers.

High winds over the past two days have put a damper on the catches. On Wednesday 9-21 Jared on the Salty Lady reported "high winds and little action". His six man charter landed one 8 pound salmon fishing is 20 plus knots of wind along the Marin Coast. Most party boats saw similar action of less than 5 fish per boat due to the very sloppy conditions. It's unusual to to see high W to NW winds this time of year but the good news is that this drops water temps. The result is lots of feed and the possibility of a solid close to the salmon season after a very slow start. The forecast calls for improving weather over the weekend. The Salty Lady has space all next week.

The salmon bite slowed down considerably over the weekend with three Sausalito boats picking up 19 salmon to 25 pounds for a combined 53 fishermen on Sunday 9-18 trolling from south of the main shipping channel north to Double Point in excellent weather conditions. Saturday’s scores weren’t much better with 50 fishermen returning with 21 salmon to 23 pounds along with a 12-pound halibut in the same general locations. The Sundance out of Emeryville is generally one of the highliners in the Bay Area salmon fleet, scored 3 salmon to 24 pounds for six fishermen on Saturday. From Emeryville the Tiger Fish went out with 13 anglers for a pair of salmon to 10 pounds before switching to rockfish for 65 rockfish and a pair of lings to 6 pounds.  It was similar action on Sunday with the C Gull II and Sundance combining for 14 salmon to 25 pounds for 23 fishermen. The best score came off of the New Salmon Queen with 9 salmon to 23 pounds along with a 10-pound ling. The Tiger Fish really struggled for salmon on Sunday with a single 12-pound salmon for 26 fishermen before switching over to rockfishing for half limits along with a pair of lings to 10 pounds.
Rockfishing remains solid with Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker heading up the Marin coastline for 3/4th limits of rockfish along with 13 ling cod to 15 pounds for 17 anglers on Sunday. He said, “There has been an excellent quality of black rockfish, but there was a minimal drift today, limiting the willingness of the fish to bite.” Smith is running open load trips this week from Wednesday through Sunday for rockfish with the possibility of a salmon trip on Thursday depending upon interest and the weather.
The Emeryville boats have been heading to the Farallon Islands with 98 anglers returning on the Sea Wolf, New Huck Finn, New Salmon Queen, and C Gull II for limits of rockfish and 40 ling cod to 14 pounds on Saturday. Sunday’s scores were similar with 56 combined rockfish limits along with 38 lings to 13 pounds.

The salmon bite continues to be mostly up and some days down with the Salty Lady out of Sausalito returning with 9 salmon for 19 anglers on Thursday 9-15 after posting a fish per rod at 15 for 15 on Wednesday. The three other Sausalito boats also returned with less than a fish per rod on Thursday with 33 salmon to 18 pounds for 47 anglers trolling in a 10 mph northwest wind. The bite has been very, very early, and second captain Jerad Davis of the Salty Lady said, “We didn’t hook a fish after 9:30 a.m. on Thursday.”
Rockfishing remains solid with Captain Chris Smith of the six-pack Defiant heading out for limits of quality ling cod and near-limits of rockfish before putting in some time on the salmon grounds for a few salmon on top of the lings. He said, “My son, Jonathan, worked the deck, and this was a big help. We concentrated on the lings, and we had limits by noon.” He is filled over the weekend, but he is running rockfish, salmon, or bay halibut/striped bass trips on future dates.

The good action continues out of the Golden Gate. The party boats fleet has been working the Duxbury to Middle grounds area and seeing solid fish per rod to limit action.
On Wednesday 9-14 the boats that got on  the fish early and made their opportunities count saw the best scores. Jared on the Salty Lady reported 15 fish to 25 pounds for 15 anglers. They were trolling from Duxbury to the Middle Grounds and Jared said all fish were caught by 9:30. After that the bite shut off. Private boats and party boats with lighter loads saw limits and near limits of salmon with most seeing a fish to one and a half per rod. The Salty Lady has room on Thursday and walk-ons are welcomed. They are full for the weekend with lots of space open next week.

On Tuesday 9-13 Jared on the Salty Lady reported lots of hookups and lots of lost fish. They ended the day with 9 salmon for 7 anglers with fish to 15 pounds. They were trolling at Duxbury and lost as many or more fish than they boxed. Jared said the weather was fine they just had trouble holding onto some of the bigger hot salmon hooked today. The Salty Lady has room all this week. With late running fish pushing down from the north we should see good action in the weeks ahead.

On Monday 9-12 the salmon bite picked up a notch and there are many more fish moving down that are currently off the Sonoma coast. Jared on the Salty Lady reported 6 early limits to 15 pounds fishing off the Marin coast. He says that there are fish from the Towers to the Middle Grounds and there are pockets of action over a wide area. Readers can expect more good action to come as the fish to the north push towards the Gate in the coming days and possibly weeks.

 The salmon bite was good for some over the weekend, and Captain Bob Wright of the Happy Hooker returned with over a fish per rod at 18 salmon to 24 pounds for a light load of 12 anglers at Double Point on Sunday 9-11. Dave Marquardt, aka ‘Pale Ale’ contributed to the total with 3 of the fish to 15 pounds. They are planning an open load salmon trip on Wednesday of this week.
Three Sausalito boats went to the same region on Sunday with 47 anglers for a combined 28 salmon to 21 pounds trolling from Muir Beach north to Double Point. On Saturday, the scores were nearly a fish per rod with 45 salmon to 26 pounds for 49 anglers from south of the main ship channel to Double Point.
The Sundance and the C Gull II out of Emeryville Sport Fishing put in 16 salmon to 26 pounds for 20 anglers on Sunday after scoring 26 salmon to 25 pounds for 24 anglers on Saturday.
Rockfishing remains outstanding with the California Dawn running to the Farallon Islands on Saturday and Sunday for limits of 18 limits of rockfish and 28 lings on Sunday after posting30 limits of rockfish and 19 lings on Saturday.
The Sea Wolf, New Salmon Queen, Tiger Fish, and New Huck Finn out of Emeryville ran out to the Islands for a combined 98 limits of rockfish along with nearly two lings per rod at 187 lings to a whopping 28 pounds on Sunday.
Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker is back from Alaska, and he is planning on working the beaches and small coves along the Marin coastline with live bait on Friday for halibut.  His grandson, Jonathan Smith, picked up a 20-pound halibut along the edge of Duxbury Reef this weekend while running the Flash II out of San Francisco, and Papa Smith will be looking for bait along the beaches to target big halibut along with incidental catches of quality rockfish and lings.

Party boats continue to see good action along the Marin Coast. Boats started the week fishing up in Drakes bay and they have been following this school of fish down the coast. The hot action on Friday 9-2 was of Duxbury and Stinson beach. Overall boats saw a fish per rod to a fish and a half with a couple with lighter loads like the Sundance reporting limits. Jared on the Slaty Lady reported 15 fish for 16 anglers with fish to 15 pounds. The fish are a mix of 2 and 3 year olds. Most of the three year olds are Sac bound and the two year old 6 to 10 pounders will be spending the next year on the coast. With lots of feed and cooler water (thanks to the past few days of wind) we could see a strong finish to the season. This makes this writer much more optimistic of what kind of a season we will see in 2017. The Salty Lady has lots of space available in the coming week.

Nearly all the fish currently on the coast are there thanks to the Golden Gate Salmon Association. If not for their efforts to push both state and federal hatchery managers to truck fish over the past three years of drought we would have likely NOT had a season this year or next. I encourage readers to support this great organization and their efforts to return our salmon fishery to it's past glory. You can visit their website and see all that they are doing to make that a reality.

GGSA has been busy working to bring you more salmon. Here's a thumbnail sketch of what we've been working on lately.

GGSA Efforts Lead to Creation of State Salmon Stakeholders Group
A group of salmon stakeholders led by GGSA held a high level meeting with California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) brass on June 3 to push for input over future releases of hatchery fish.The Salmon Hatchery Release Stakeholders Group will work to develop common sense, in-river release strategies that minimize losses to predation. It will also provide input on decisions affecting bay and coastal net pen releases of hatchery fish. This group will convene again in early November.

 GGSA meets former Interior Secretary to talk twin tunnels
In mid-July, GGSA Executive Director John McManus met with former Clinton White House Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to discuss Governor Brown's twin tunnel project. Babbitt has been brought in by Governor Brown to get his twin peripheral canal/tunnels project back on track. 
McManus shared GGSA's view with Babbitt that current state efforts to determine how much water must flow through the Delta to keep it and salmon alive first need to be concluded. Only then can an informed decision be made as to how much excess water, if any, might be available for export. McManus also told Babbitt that salmon fishermen are skeptical of the state's claims that they can be trusted to restrict flows into the proposed massive tunnels.

Federal Salmon Restoration Fund Selects GGSA Salmon Recovery Projects
Managers of a federal salmon restoration fund have selected several GGSA salmon rebuilding projects for implementation. One is GGSA's call to dim night lights on the rivers during smolt migration. The lit areas are known predator hot spots where baby salmon halt their migration under the lit areas, making them easy targets for predators. A second GGSA project adopted by the managers calls for testing of in-river structures which would allow baby salmon to catch a break from high-velocity flows. These structures would resemble tree root wads, and would provide shelter to baby salmon from larger predators. Yet another project, calling for the removal of deep predator-filled scour holes under levee breaches, is slated for work.

GGSA Safeguards 2016 Spawning Flows
GGSA has been working to make sure Sacramento River salmon (winter and fall run) get the cold water needed to spawn this year (unlike the last two years). We are now cautiously optimistic the threat to winter and fall run spawners this year is under control after GGSA spent most of May and June working with federal water and fish officials to ensure the needs of salmon were taken into account.

Action continues against federal bills that authorizes more Delta diversions
GGSA can't catch a break from this year's battle to stop bad federal bills that would hand over what little salmon water exists to water users south of the Delta. We won't know the outcome until Congress wraps up for the year after the elections. Even then, we're likely to only get a temporary break before we have to face similar threats again in the next Congress. 

GGSA Leads Effort to Get Bond Money Directed to Salmon Restoration
In the state legislature, there's a move afoot to put a bond on the November ballot that would make money available mostly for urban parks, climate change adaptation projects, wildlife habitat and possibly salmon habitat restoration. GGSA is working to get fall run salmon habitat restoration projects qualified for some of the bond money. The bond measure has passed the state Assembly and is now at the Senate. If it is approved there, it will go before the voters throughout the state on the November ballot. Stay tuned.

GGSA Board Member Marc Gorelnik Picked to Serve on Pacific Fisheries Management Council
GGSA board member and founder of the Coastside Fishing Club Half Moon Bay net pen project, Marc Gorelnik, has been named to be a member of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council. Marc will replace Dan Wolford who served for nine years on this federally sanctioned body that sets seasons and manages our ocean fisheries off California, Oregon and Washington. Congrats to Marc!

GGSA Investigates Salmon Rearing Area Restoration Projects
In addition to enduring the hardships of low river flows and numerous predators bent on eating them, Central Valley baby salmon often don't have the strength and size needed to survive. Many of the natural rearing areas along the river edges where they'd eat and put on weight have been destroyed by dikes, levees, rip rapped banks and the like, although plenty of them could be restored fairly easily.
On the Feather River, GGSA is studying a former floodplain in the Oroville Wildlife Area near the Thermalito Outlet and another at the confluence of the Bear and Feather rivers.  
In the Sacramento, an area near the convergence of Battle Creek and the Sacramento River shows great promise for fish from both the Sacramento River and Battle Creek. 

GGSA works to Strengthen Oroville Dam Biop for Salmon
GGSA is working to get the National Marine Fisheries Service to add tougher requirements that will restore much of the Feather River below Oroville Dam to a strong salmon-friendly river. The NMFS requirements are being finalized as part of the relicensing of Oroville Dam, a once-every-50-years opportunity to improve conditions for salmon.

GGSA Organizes Chefs and Restaurants for Salmon
GGSA has been working with a group of top Bay Area chefs organizing in support of salmon and against Congressional efforts to shift more Delta water south. You'll hear more about this soon. 

Although under gunned, GGSA is fighting back.  You can help us by donating to GGSA - Donate HERE!

John McManus
Executive Director
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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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.

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5-day plot - Wind Speed at 46026

5-day plot - Wave Height at 46026



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