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November 29, 2015    Headlines

Crab Tests Show Dropping DA Levels
Rockfish & Lings

 Over the long Thanksgiving weekend the weather has laid out and the sacks are stuffed. On Sunday 11-29 Rick on the New Sea Angler reported 25 limits of rockfish to go with 49 lings to 16 pounds. Rick said they had a cold NE wind of 10 to 15 knots that usually lays back but today did not until late in the afternoon. Weather permitting Rick is running trips daily this coming week.
On the private boater front Billy G reported four limits of mostly blacks and blues today. Jerry A of Sacramento reported limits of rockfish and limits of lings to 20 pounds fishing off Ft Ross for the past three days He booked a local vacation rental for the long holiday weekend and said while they couldn't crab they had lots of great fish dinners and and turkey leftovers to enjoy on the boat.
Crab tests are being done this week off the Bay Area coast and we will post updates as soon as the results come out.

On Saturday 11-28 Rick on the New Sea Angler reported 38 limits of rockfish and triple digits or 111 ling cod to 24 pounds. Rick said they had some offshore wind in the morning but by late morning the weather was flat and the lings were munching.
On Friday 11-27 Rick reported 46 limits of rockfish adding 84 lings to 18 pounds. He has been working the northern reefs around Timber Cove to Salt Point and south to Ft Ross this past week.

On Monday 11-23 the weather was clam with just 5 knots of wind over a 4 foot swell. Rick on the New Sea Angler ran up the line to Ft Ross  / Timber Cove for 24 limits of lings to 18 pounds adding limits of mixed, blacks, blues, and some reds. The ling bite was slow in the morning but Rick said they found a couple of spots or possibly they lings found them where they bit like hungry dogs.
I got an invite from Billy G and we worked his "secret holes"  off Mummy Rock, the China Hole, and the Trout Farm for limits of blacks, blues, china cod and four lings to 10 pounds. We released several small mostly legal lings with most hitchhiking on the many small blues we were hooking.

On Saturday 11-21 the winds laid down to just 5 to 10 knots over a 4 foot swell. Lots of private boaters were out chasing rockfish and lings. Hunt Conrad who writes the Healdsburg fishing report was out with a couple of friends. They took lings to 20 pounds on top of limits of quality rockfish off Salt Point. Darrel J. of Santa Rosa also reported three limits of lings to 15 pounds and limits of mostly blacks and blues. Billy G reported three limits off Mummy Rock in less than an hour.
Rick on the New Sea Angler had 30 clients on board. They took limits of lings to 19 pounds and limits of mixed rockfish.
On board today was nine year old Henry Schroeder of Oakland, pictured right. Henry hooked five lings and everyone on board was surprised at how talented this young angler was. Henry shows off a 12 pounder when I came by the boat this afternoon. Notice that he is wearing his PFD as well as that pirate smile.

Rick on the New Sea Angler snuck up along the beach to Salt Point on Friday 11-20. Working the shallows their 27 anglers took easy limits of mixed reds, blacks, blues and browns adding 51 lings to 27 pounds. Rick said the winds were holding offshore most of the day. Rick has lots of room this weekend and through Wednesday, they are taking Thanksgiving off and will be back out the following three days weather permitting.

Crab Update: November 21st
There is some good news on the Dungeness crab domoic acid (DA) levels results posted by the CDPH. Tests this past week show dropping DA levels out of all ports south of Ft Bragg with some ports testing "clean".
 In a nutshell federal guide lines call for a DA level of 30ppm or lower to be considered safe. They take 6 to 12 sample crabs and use both an average of all samples and the percentage of the combined tests for their final results.
The most recent tests were conducted off Half Moon Bay, Monterey Bay, San Francisco, Bodega Bay and Crescent City.
Off Monterey bay tests conducted on November-12 showed an average DA level of 21ppm but 14% of the crabs still tested above the action level of 30 ppm. In comparison test in Monterey on October-31 showed an average of just 17ppm with 9% being over the action level. A slight increase with most crabs testing safe.
Half Moon Bay saw great results on the November 16th test with an average DA of just 11ppm and 0% above action level.
San Francisco also saw safe results with an average of 10.7ppm and 0% above the action level.
Off Bodega Bay they took samples in two locations on November 16th, Point Reyes and the Russian river. The six samples taken off the Russian river showed an average DA of 25.8 with 50% testing above the action limit. In comparison tests on October 31st showed an average DA of 45ppm with 83% of the crabs tests above action levels.
They also tested off Point Reyes (I believe this was a new tests site and we don't have any earlier results) and here they found an average DA out of six samples of 51pp or 66% of the crabs testing above the action level.
Fort Bragg was last tested on October 30th and showed safe levels with an average of just 6.5ppm and no crabs testing above 15ppm.
Test results from this past week off Crescent City have not been released likely due to bad weather keeping the test boat in port. The most recent tests off Crescent City, Trinidad and Eureka in late October showed DA levels averaging 66ppm with nearly 100% of the crabs testing above the action level. We expect that tests will be conducted off the North Coast ports this coming week. We will post results as soon as they are available.
With the exception of Brookings all Oregon crabs have tested well below action levels for tests conducted in October but apparently they have closed their season until further testing is done.
Shellfish warnings have been lifted off the Central coast so it looks like the toxic algae blooms that caused this have died off.  This algae sinks to the bottom and becomes mixed with the sediment. In turn it is consumed by clams and worms and other things that crabs eat and the reason it takes longer to flush out of the crabs.
The current plan (I believe under the guidelines of the CDPH) calls for testing to be conducted every two weeks until all ports test below 60ppm. Once that happens there will be weekly tests until all ports see a DA level of 30ppm or below (federal safe standard for the viscera 20ppm for the meat). Once the CDPH declares the crabs safe to eat then it will be up to the Director of Fish and Wildlife to open the season. It's a big ocean and with just limited testing being done I'm sure that the CDPH will be conservative before they declare "safe crabs".
The commercial fleet has asked for a state wide opener with a 7 seven day recreational season followed by a full opener for the commercial fleet. There will be some politics in the decision making process especially if crabs off the Central coast show safe DA levels and levels remain high on the North Coast.
All in all good news as DA levels are dropping out of most ports. If tests this coming week off the North Coast show improving DA levels we could all be dumping gear by mid December. We are doing our best to understand and report on this very important issue but are too learning about something that we (and many biologists) don't fully understand how and why this algae puts off DA.
Until the crab season reopens party and private boats are reporting great rockfish and ling action with sponsors like Rick Powers in Bodega and the Smith family in Berkeley and the Emeryville Sporting seeing big sacks and in many cases LIMITS of lings. Come out and enjoy a day on the water and support those who make this site possible. This site would not be possible without their and many other's support.

Crab Update: Friday 11-13
We received some more information on the crabbing front, in a nutshell it's going to be "awhile" before sport or commercial boats will be setting any gear.
Currently crabs are being tested bi-weekly out of all ports. Testing was done this week in Morro Bay and Monterey (we are still waiting on confirmed results)  and weather permitting tests pots will be pulled in Half Moon Bay, the Golden Gate, Bodega and Crescent City next week between November 16 -18th.
Bi-weekly testing will continue until an average domoic acid count of 60 or lower is achieved out of all harbors. Once that happens there will be weekly tests until all ports see a DA level of 30 or below (federal safe standard for the viscera 20 ppm for the meat).  Once that happens a final test will be completed one week later to confirm that the crabs below the federal guideline of 30 ppm.
Tests over the past three weeks show that all Oregon ports but Brookings  are safe. Tests results in Crescent City climbed from 37ppm on September 15th to 66ppm on November 2nd. Tests off Ft Bragg in early November showed that crabs were safe. In the rumor department (but still not ones we can confirm until results from testing are published) is that Morro Bay and Santa Barbara were both within federal safe levels and that 9 out of 10 tests from this past week in Monterey bay were safe.  Again this was passed along by a good source but UNCONFIRMED.
On the November 2nd published tests showed Half Moon Bay had a level of 56 ppm. We will likely not hear of lab results from Bay area harbor until a week after next week's test crabs are brought in on November 16 to 18th.
In Washington state where levels in some ports were in the triple digits last June the crabs did not clean up for four mouths or late September. Dan Ayers who is the top
Washington state researcher on domoic acid in Dungeness crabs says that water quality does not seem to play a role, it's what crabs are feeding on that determined how much DA acclimates in the viscera.
Cal state biologists say that the algae bloom has now dissipated off our coast so hopefully we are a couple of months into this cycle.
That said the California commercial fleet is pushing for a state wide opener and not a piecemeal or harbor by harbor approach. Crabs do migrate and if anyone was to get sick it would cause great harm to a sustainable commercial fishery worth $60 million dollars.
From the info piece I received it looks like the commercial fleet was supporting a 7 day sport opener ahead of any possible commercial start. 
That said I foresee squabbles where some ports have "clean crabs" and sport or commercial anglers want to fish and those ports unable to open due to still too high DA results. Lets all stick together and await clean safe crabs for sport and commercial consumers alike.
We are doing our best to understand and report on this very important issue but are too learning about something that we and many biologists don't fully understand how and why this algae puts off DA.
We will continue to pass along any info as it comes in.

Rick on the New Sea Angler had another great day on Thursday 11-12. Fishing off Fort Ross they landed 30 limits of lings to 23 pounds adding limits of mixed blacks, blues, reds, gophers and china cod. The top stick of the day was long time reader Joe Cascaras of Tahoe City. Joe landed a dozen lings to 17 pounds and lost at least 5 others and filling sacks of other anglers. The beauty of boat limits! Rick said conditions were calm in the morning with the winds ramping up in the afternoon.
On the crab front we are still waiting for word from F & W on when they or the department of Public Health will have the most recent Dungeness crab demoic acid results up. This week we have heard is that Ft Bragg crabs have the lowest levels and that Monterey Bay has seen a big decrease with the majority of test pots (10 of 11 but I have not been able to "officially confirm this)  testing below federal guidelines of 30 ppm. Again, with only limited testing being done the state will want ALL tests results to come back clean or below federal standards before they open the fishery. Recent results are promising but still need to improve.  

Catch Em Products

Catch Em Products has a full line of sport crab blocks including the "Brutus Ace Line Haulers along with a full line of crab pots and gear. Dave is a long time Bodega angler and is a great source of info and more than willing to help sport anglers on what is the best for their particular boat. He offers very competitive pricing for those looking for "everything crabbing" He can be reached at 707 538-5440 or at davengman@

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