Captain Tom Joseph 408 348-4866

Captain Dennis Baxter 650 726-6224

March 12, 2019    Headlines

Salmon to Open April 13th
Rockfish Opens April 1st

 Salmon Options
Salmon Options
We heard some great news from the Vancouver PFMC meeting on Tuesday 3-12. All three of the season options are very similar. The first two options call for an April 13 through October opener with a 24" minimum size limit through May then dropping to 20" in June. The third option has a three week closer in early June but with the first two options being virtually the same, the odds of a full season are in our favor. This year does to look to be the best since 2012 and anglers should find plenty of opportunities for limits.
Party boats are now booking trips for the opening weeks of the season. Prime summer dates during the peak of the run will likely be selling out fast.
We will have regular reports available soon. The rockfish season opens on April 1st.

Good Salmon Forecast for 2019 Suggests Plentiful Fishing

Good rainfall two years ago pays off

Santa Rosa, CA  -- Today officials forecast 379,632 adult Sacramento Valley salmon are now in the ocean off the West Coast, compared to 229,400 a year ago at this time.  This suggests a return to relatively plentiful salmon fishing in 2019 is likely.  In the month ahead, officials with the Pacific Fisheries Management Council will use this forecast and other information to set times and areas open to both sport and commercial ocean salmon fishing for 2019. 

The reason for the uptick in this year’s salmon forecast is directly linked to the better Central Valley river conditions during the very wet spring of 2017.  Increased natural runoff from rivers in the Central Valley always boost salmon survival, as measured two years later when the fish return to spawn as adults. 

“We are looking forward to a good salmon fishing season this year,” said GGSA president John McManus. 

In addition to the Sacramento salmon forecasts, more salmon from other Central Valley rivers and hatcheries, as well as from the Klamath and other north coast rivers, will add to ocean numbers.

“We could see the best season since 2013, which was a really good one,” said GGSA director and publisher of USA Fishing.com Mike Aughney.  “Then as now, the good times came two years after really wet winters and springs in the Central Valley.  If water managers would leave more water in the rivers during some of the drier years, we’d always have more salmon.” 

Since baby salmon are considered one year old when they leave the Central Valley in the spring, and most return as three year old adults, you can always count on good fishing two years after lots of rain and snow.  (Yes, with this year’s rain and snow, 2021 should be a good year too!)

The less good news is that the number of adult salmon that returned to the Sacramento Valley to spawn in 2018 fell short of targets for the fourth year in a row.  After three years of missing the target, the National Marine Fisheries Service increased the so-called minimum escapement target from 122,000 to 151,000 fish in 2018.  They may do the same again this season which could result in a shortened season or some areas being closed.  These decisions will be made over the next month but no matter what, most expect good fishing once the season finally gets under way. 

In spite of the relatively rosy 2019 forecasts, the entire Central Valley is still recovering from the last great drought which greatly reduced salmon in various Central Valley tributaries.  A few years of good returns to help rebuild the natural spawning stocks is welcome news. 

“Drought could revisit us almost anytime, in fact it’s probably just a matter of when.  We need to build and fortify in the good years so we don’t get wiped out again in the bad,” said GGSA secretary Dick Pool.  “That’s why GGSA is working overtime to get salmon recovery, habitat improvements, and hatchery improvements on the new governor’s radar.”

Over diversion of the Central Valley rivers in years with less rainfall is a major reason for declines in the salmon population.  The State Water Resources Control Board is currently trying to rebalance how water is shared in the Central Valley.  GGSA is working to make sure the needs of salmon are heard in this process.

The Golden Gate Salmon Association (www.goldengatesalmon.org) is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants and chefs, a native tribe, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon. GGSA’s mission is to restore California salmon for their economic, recreational, commercial, environmental, cultural and health values

Currently, California’s salmon industry is valued at $1.4 billion in annual economic activity in a normal season. The industry employs tens of thousands of people from Santa Barbara to northern Oregon. This is a huge economic bloc made up of commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen (fresh and salt water), fish processors, marinas, coastal communities, equipment manufacturers, tackle shops and marine stores, the hotel and food industry, tribes, and the salmon fishing industry at large.  Salmon are a keystone species that reflect the health of both their fresh and salt water environments.

2019 Salmon Season Outlook
The 2019 salmon season setting process is under way.
With the high numbers of two year old fish last season we do expect an above average but constrained season again this year. The reasons we could see a shortened season are that adult returns to the Central Valley rivers (Sac, American and Feather) have not meet minimum escapement goals for four straight years. After missing the minimum goal again in 2017 the ocean seasons were cut on average by 40% and in river sport anglers saw a halfling of their usual two fish limit in 2018. Despite the constraints minimum escapement goals of 150K fish were not meet.
In February the Pacific Fishery Management Council will release their three options for the coming year. I am expecting that these options will each include a shorter ocean season and a possible one adult / one jack limit in the rivers.
One of the MANY reasons that goals are not being met is reeds being dewatered and too warm of flows on the upper Sac that have wiped out as much as 98% of the upper Sac naturally produced fall run fish.
The winter run has dropped perilously low as well due to drought and losses of out migrating juvenile salmon due to predation and water diversion in the Delta.
To make matters MUCH MUCH worse is we have word that the Director of Fish and Wildlife, Chuck Bonham has signed off or at least indicated that he is willing to overlook and give the Feds at the Bureau of Reclamation a pass on State authority to overlook the salmon biological opinions to increase pumping in the Delta. The Feds can only increase pumping if they get a pass from the state and if they use the Sate Water Project pumps.
The main push of out migrating winter run salmon are just beginning to arrive in the Delta NOW. Increasing pumping at this time can serious impact the winter run and in turn impact our future seasons.
Yes I just wrote that "the DIRECTOR OF FISH AND WILDLIFE SIGNED OFF TO ALLOW INCREASED PUMPING AND THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE IS OK WITH THE TAKE OF ENDANGERED WINTER RUN SALMON. Unbelievable!  These pumping rates were put in place after years of litigation and are designed to protect salmon as they migrate towards saltwater.
I attended the December 12th State Water Resource Control meeting. After ten plus years of studies, meetings and trying to find ways to stop the decline of salmon the board adopted a flow rate of 40% of unimpaired flows on the tributaries on the San Joaquin river to support salmon and the ecology of the Delta and SF bay. I listened while Chuck tried to sell the SWRCB that volunteered agreements with water diverters was the way save the rivers. He delivered 30 minute presentation that was mostly snake oil. He tried to claim that volunteer agreements were a much better way to protect fish than the 40% unimpaired flows that the SWRCB ended up adopting later that day. (big ag in the Valley immediately sued the state)
The Golden Gate Salmon Association has been directly involved in these discussions and fighting hard to stop this tragedy.
Under "Captain Chuck" Bonham we have seen ever decreasing salmon runs. If you were to look at his background posted on the Cal Fish and Wildlife home page you would see a background with Trout Unlimited and conservation. The current Chuck doesn't give a damn about species protection much less rebuilding our most important fishery.
Again folks this is the DIRECTOR OF FISH AND WILDLIFE. If you fish for salmon or make your living from salmon as a guide, commercial troller, party boat captain or a business  you got hosed by the guy who's job it is to protect our public trust resources.
While Chuck's bio posted on the F&W website is a storied past his reputation within the department and with NGOs and conservation groups is a bit more telling.
Since Chuck took the helm at Cal F&W we have seen just one decent salmon year. That year was 2012 and he can't take credit for that as that was a result of decreased pumping from the south Delta in 2009. Since 2012 we have seen mostly constrained seasons and or well below average returns.
Even more telling of a Bureaucrat losing control is that many within F&W mid management speak that they have not seen Chuck in months and that there has been no communication or direction from him in months. Talk about demoralizing for all the great people that work for the department.
I always say you cant complain unless you have some solutions. In the short term I suggest that readers contact the Governor's office and express their views about the direction of F&W and ask him to NOT BE REAPPOINTED. Also contact your local Congressional representative or senator to telling them to tell Newsome "NO more Chuck"!
If we don't speak up in the next couple of days you can expect more failing runs in the future. This story will be updated in the coming days.

Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat is planning sand dab/crab combination trips this Saturday 2-2, and Mattusch is limiting his loads to 16 anglers due to reducing tangles in the deep water.

Coastside Fishing Club will be holding its annual Swap Meet march 2, 2019 in the Pillar Point Harbor, Upper Parking lot, from 8am to 3pm.  Dust off all that old, unused or unwanted fishing and boating supplies and bring it down to Pillar Point Harbor for a day of horse trading and story telling.  The legendary Grill Crew will be cooking up hamburgers and hotdogs on a donation basis.  Space is free to members of Coastside Fishing Club.  Non-members will pay a $25 fee to display that will also get them a 1 year membership in Coastside Fishing club with access to the bulletin boards and hot fishing information.



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