Captain Steve Mitchell

April 25, 2017    Headlines

Halibut Showing in South & East Bay Flats

The Bays:

By Dave Hurley
The striped bass action is red hot with the Happy Hooker out of Berkeley posting 32 limits of stripers in the central bay by early Sunday 4-23 morning. Captain Chris Smith of the Happy Hooker said, “We even arrived late on the scene, but we still hammered them. They are all solid schoolies on live bait. After putting in 9 halibut and limits of bass on Saturday, we ended up with one halibut on Sunday. The water is clear in the south bay, and our halibut action has been south from Oyster Point to nearly the Dunbarton Bridge. “
Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael really is excited about the series of minus tides starting by mid-week, saying, “We have blockbuster tides for anchoring but drifting will not be so good during this time. We have shiners back in the shop. Fishing has been good for sturgeon for the few people who can find a calm day. It is blowing a gale right now on Sunday afternoon as my birdbath even has whitecaps. There are a lot of small legal bass in the bay in the 18 to 20-inch range, and they are already spawned out. Bank fishermen are catching sturgeon from China Camp to Sonoma Creek, and overall, things are good around here.”

Captain James Smith on the repowered and renovated California Dawn lined up 15 limits of striped bass on the deck for a photo opportunity this Thursday 4-20 afternoon along with 6 keeper halibut to 26 pounds. They also released an unheard of amount of shakers estimated at over 70 small halibut.
Papa Jim Smith on the Happy Hooker will be going out on both Saturday and Sunday with open loads, and he is optimistic about the clear water in the south bay. He said, “I am out in front of the Richmond Rod and Gun Club this afternoon, and the water is muddy, but it is gin clear in the south bay.”
Ed at Bay Tackle in El Cerrito confirmed the improvement in the halibut bite, and the number of short halibut is impressive. The striped bass bite is starting to take off in the bay as well as evidenced by the younger Smith’s score on Wednesday.

Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle reported Thursday 4-13, “There hasn’t been a day this week where your hat wouldn’t get blown off, but the shoreline fishermen are still doing well for both bass and sturgeon. Anthony Hampton, one of our regulars, caught and released his 23rd sturgeon from the shoreline this year, a 7-foot/4-inch oversized off of Sonoma Creek on mud and ghost shrimp combo platter. When you land this many sturgeon from the shoreline, you are having a ‘very good year.’ There are lots of shaker sturgeon coming from the shoreline. The wind has muddied up the water the past few days, and this weekend’s tides are ‘not terrible, but not great.’ The next good series of tides is coming at the end of the month. The good news is the arrival of live mud shrimp in the shop on Friday along with plenty of live ghost shrimp and pile worms.”
The water of the bay has turned muddy from the week of wind, and Ed at Bay Tackle reported a slowdown in both the striped bass and halibut action due to the off-color water. The colder weather also didn’t help the bite. Before the arrival of the cold front, lures such as Slab Zone’s swimbaits, the Reaction Innovation’s white Swim Fish, or the new 5.5-inch Rod Glove swimbaits that look like a cross between a Keitech and Reaction Innovations swimbait, were all working for striped bass in the 23 to 30-inch range. The muddy water has also effected the halibut bite, but sturgeon fishing remains strong in San Pablo Bay with a variety of baits. He said, “The fresh water inflow is pushing down food from up above, and the bite is going to stay good for some time.”
Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker has an open load on Saturday 4-15, and he is interested in how the off-color water has affected the halibut bite, particularly with the excellent quality of the live bait available. As the tides have slowed the halibut bite has improved on Thursday 4-13 to nearly a keeper halibut per rod along with 2 to 3 X that action on undersize fish. As the water clears the scores will only get better.
In the Napa River, Sweeney’s Sports in Napa reported sturgeon fishing is slowing down a bit, but there are still diamondbacks to be had from Highway 29 south to the Highway 37 Bridge. Small stripers to 22 inches are the rule, but the larger fish are still waiting to move into the river. The recent inflow has left the river muddier than it’s normally muddy state.

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Upcoming Events:
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Party Boat Information and Reservations Around the Bay

The Happy Hooker will be running potluck trips from the Berkeley Marina +1.510.223.5388

California Dawn will be running halibut and striper trips from the Berkeley Marina +1.510.417.5557

Emeryville Sportfishing Center is booking potluck trips on their fleet of 8 boats +1.510.654.604

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