May 01, 2016    Headlines

 Solid Rockfish action, Crab Limits
Scratch Salmon

After a week plus of hard wind the weather laid down on Sunday 5-1. Rick Powers had a great day. His 24 anglers took easy limits of quality rockfish mostly coppers, browns, china and gophers adding 13 lings to 12 pounds. As a bonus Rick pulled through his crab gear and sent everyone home with 190 crabs or about 8 per anglers. Rick said the weather was great with winds under 5 knots most of the day over a lazy 5 foot swell. He has lots of room open this week.

Rick Powers on the New Sea Angler had a group of 17 anglers looking for crabs on Friday 4-29. Despite the 20 to 25 knot winds Rick was able to make it out to part of his gear gear he has set in the Outer Bay with windy weather in mind. They pulled through 20 pots and sent everyone home with limits of quality crabs. Rick said it was white and rough on the outside and there was no option of fishing (even on the 65' Sea Angler) outside of the outer bay.

 A very brief weather window opened on Wednesday 4-27 morning allowing Rick Powers on the New Sea Angler to slip out and get 11 anglers into good action before the window slammed shut. Rick reported 11 limits of rockfish and 5 lings. The weather started off great with just 3 knots of wind over a four foot swell at first light. By 11AM the winds were ramping up but Rick was pulling their crab gear so it wasn't a real issue being just a few miles from port. They wrapped up the day with 11 limits of quality crabs to 3 pounds.
Here on Wednesday evening winds are out of the NW at 25 + over a 12 foot swell. The forecast calls for high winds through the weekend. Water temps have dropped to 50 - 51 degrees at the weather buoy and the resulting upwelling will make for great salmon conditions in the weeks ahead.

Editorial to Following Story
The California Department Fish and Wildlife hatchery on the Feather river is planning on releasing their final stock of 1 million into the Feather river instead of trucking them around the river and Delta pumps to the Suisun Bay.
The Federal hatchery on Battle creek released 4 plus million salmon fry this past week and will dumping an additional 1.9 million fall run fish into Battle Creek this coming Friday.
The Golden Gate Salmon Association is opposed to these releases due to the current lower flows and clear water. With high numbers of spawning stripers and low / clear flows most of these fish will never make it as far as Sacramento. Past studies have shown that 94% of hatchery salmon released on the upper Sac never make it to San Pablo bay in these conditions.
GGSA is asking both the Feds and the State to either truck the salmon from the Feather river and release a "pulse" flow for 3 to 5 days to speed the Battle Creek salmon down river and to color the flows. This would allow out migrating baby salmon to quickly travel down river and predation losses would be much lower in the turbid flows.
Under similar circumstances in 1985 USFW and Coleman worked with water contractors to add pulse flows to Sac river while curtailing water diversions for a few days as the salmon swan past. The result was that in 1988 we saw one of the best sport and commercial seasons on record and huge returns of spawning salmon to the Central Valley rivers. Its amazing what can happen when both fishery managers and water contractors work together.
Somehow this lesson has not been passed on to current fishery and water (mis) managers.
The following is GGSA's press release from today opposing in-river releases until more natural spring like conditions are met and to have the Feather river fish trucked around the predators and Delta water diversions.
Mike Aughney

State Decision to Dump Salmon Opposed by Salmon Fishermen
Reversal of highly successful trucking program means fewer salmon will survive

San Francisco -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is abandoning a highly successful program that greatly increases salmon survival and is instead dumping valuable Feather River hatchery baby fall run salmon into a predator laden waterway starting Monday, April 25.  Most will die. The Golden Gate Salmon Association opposes the move and calls on CDFW to instead restore transport of these baby salmon via tanker trucks to safe release sites downstream of the danger zone.  Releasing baby salmon at safe sites in the western Delta and Bay greatly increases their survival and has kept the ocean fishery for both sport and commercial fishermen alive.  This practice has proven especially critical during the drought.  Without it, there almost certainly would not have been enough salmon to continue fishing.
In 2015, Feather River hatchery fish made up 76 percent of the hatchery fish taken by commercial salmon fishermen and 63 percent of those taken by sport fishermen.  

“Just last month at a salmon information meeting CDFW presented evidence that trucked Feather River fish were the major contributor to salmon caught by sport and commercial fishermen in the 2015 ocean fishing season,” said GGSA chairman Roger Thomas.  Thomas is also president of the Golden Gate Fishermen’s Association which represents charter boat owners and he holds a seat on the Salmon Stamp Committee.  “We can’t understand why they now want to take these fish away from us when we need them badly to stay in business.” 
“The Feather River provides the greatest single contribution of hatchery fish to ocean fisheries even though it is not the largest hatchery operation. The reason is that these fish are trucked past man-made hazards that decimate fish released upstream. Abandoning trucking, even in part, will hurt fishermen, related businesses, and consumers,” said GGSA board member Marc Gorelnik.  Gorelnik is also chairman of the Coastside Fishing Club.  
“If the state insists on dumping these fish into very dangerous waters where they’ll be lost,  then the state should also release water from Lake Oroville to speed these baby salmon down the Feather River past the danger zone so at least some survive,” said GGSA board member Mike Aughney.  Aughney is also the owner of website. “Before the dams were built, high snow melt runoff would keep the rivers turbid and rapid in the spring. These are conditions baby salmon need to safely move from the Central Valley to the Bay and ocean.  Now with the dams, the rivers have less natural flow and sediment mixing and predation of baby salmon is much higher. There is plenty of water and snow now to allow for three or four days of water releases needed to help these baby salmon survive.”
In recent weeks fishing guides have documented high concentrations of predatory fish in the Feather and Sacramento rivers.  CDFW is reversing its proactive trucking practice because of theoretical concerns related to hatchery born salmon degrading the genetic purity of Central Valley fall run salmon and concern that trucked fish will lack the knowledge to keep them from straying into neighboring streams when they return from the ocean in two years.
Salmon fishermen puzzle over the stated attempt to establish a genetic distinction between Central Valley fall run salmon bred in hatcheries and other Central Valley fall run salmon that largely share identical genetics.  Hatcheries have functioned in the Central Valley for over 100 years and in that time hatchery born salmon have returned as adults and recolonized virtually every Central Valley stream and river that will still support salmon. 
“Study after study demonstrates there’s no such thing as a master race of Central Valley fall run salmon.  All Central Valley fall run salmon show interbreeding with hatchery stocks going back over 100 years,” said GGSA board member Dick Pool.
Once one of California’s greatest salmon producing rivers, the Feather was largely destroyed by construction of the Oroville dam.   State engineers refused to put a fish ladder on the dam when it was built, thus denying the salmon access to hundreds of miles of their historic spawning habitat now lost above the dam.  Adding insult to injury, they diverted most of the Feather River downstream of the dam into a man-made, shallow pond called the Thermalito Afterbay.  Here the water warms to temperatures lethal to salmon spawning and then flows back into the river.  This largely destroys another 15 to 20 miles of otherwise good salmon habitat downstream and forces returning adult salmon to veer into the colder Yuba River to spawn. 
The state should first fix the thermal pollution destroying the Feather River caused by the Thermalito Afterbay.  Then maybe we can talk about how to address the straying of Feather River fish into colder nearby rivers,” said GGSA executive director John McManus.
“We call on CDFW to truck the rest of this year’s Feather River fall run and resume a dialogue with key stakeholders on the future of trucking and hatchery management actions,” said GGSA founder Victor Gonella.  “Our future is being decided by theorists who are out of touch with the families that rely on these salmon to make a living.”
Earlier this year fishermen watched as state officials dumped federally protected hatchery spring run salmon into the Feather River upstream of a known predator hot spot rather than truck them a few miles further downstream to a point below the predator concentration. Most were probably lost.
“There’s disagreement over whose fish these are,” said GGSA board member Tim Sloane.  Sloane is also executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, a group representing commercial fishermen.  “The state is simply a custodian for these salmon, which belong to all Californians, but whose numbers are dwindling because dams and other development are blocking their historic habitat.  If the state chooses to act in a way that reduces the salmon we need to make a living, we think it only fair to be invited to partake in this decision that is so fundamental to our economic survival.”
The Golden Gate Salmon Association ( ) is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants, a native tribe, environmentalists, families and communities that rely on salmon. GGSA’s mission is to protect and restore California’s largest salmon producing habitat comprised of the Central Valley river’s that feed the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the communities that rely on salmon as a long-term, sustainable, commercial, recreational and cultural resource.

In a normal year, California’s salmon industry produces about $1.4 billion in economic activity and about half that much in economic activity and jobs again in Oregon. 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, the hotel and food industry, tribes, and the salmon fishing industry at large.

Rick Powers checked in on Sunday 4-24 to give us his "weekend fish wrap". On Saturday 4-23 the winds were light with an 8 to 10 foot swell. On the New Sea Angler Rick had a charter from Panasonic made up of mostly entirely of a group of novice anglers from Japan. (I always thought to claim  Japanese ancestry you would have to be an angler). Fishing off Ft Ross they took limits of rockfish and one ling. Rick said everyone had a real good time and had fun hooking fish instead of just ordering from the chef.
Captain Dana ran Rick's other boat the Surf Scooter. Dana had a ten man group who were on their second day of a bachelor party. It took them awhile to actually make it out of bed and to the boat but they did eventually arrive at the dock some with more than a slight hangover. Dane ran north to Ft Ross where he reported 5 quick limits of rockfish as only five of the group could make it to the rail. On the way home Dana spotty some promising sign outside of Jingle Bells and decided to put in the salmon gear. Trolling over two hours they hooked 6 or 7 fish and landed 2. They were just two miles W to SW of Jingle Bells in 120 feet of water.
On Sunday 4-24 Rick had a light load of 10 anglers. With the salmon just two miles out of the harbor Rick decided to give it a try despite the 15 to 20 knots of wind at the weather buoy. Rick said they ran out to Dana's numbers and put the gear in and trolled south. It took Rick three hours just to locate some feed but pretty soon they were picking away at singles and doubles. They ended up with 8 salmon to 14 pounds for 10 guys losing several others in about two hours time. By 12:30 the winds had ramped up into the mid 20 range and it time to call it a day.
the forecast calls for hard wind through Wednesday. This report will be updated once the weather window creaks back open later this week.

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On Friday 4-22 the weather was sloppy with sporadic rain cells and wind moving through the coastal waters. Rick on the New Sea Angler ran north and worked the shallows for 21 limits of rockfish and 8 lings to 10 pounds. On the way home Rick ran through most of his crab gear and sent everyone home with full LIMITS of crabs or 210. Rick said the lings were not cooperative as they have been due to the weather change but said the water color and bait sign was good so he sees good action ahead when Ma Nature cooperates. The forecast calls for hard NW winds later this weekend and private boaters will not be able to run outside the confines of the Outer Bay this Sunday through Wednesday.

On the Salmon front Captain Chris Monk with Monk Charters was out on Wednesday 4-20. Chris ran north and scouted a huge area and finally found some sign in 240 feet on the 27 line off the Russian river. Working along a very prominent rip line with brown water on the west side and colder green water on the east side he put the gear in. They hooked their first salmon within five minutes and then after landing that one, hooked a double and then lost a couple and then shook two and lost another. After the tide topped out the bite died and they had three salmon in the box. From there Chris ran up to Ft Ross for a handful of lings and half limits of rockfish. Chris said the weather was beautiful. Chris is a new sponsor to the site and we will be featuring his reports and that of his second captain Perry over the coming season. They run a top of the line 29 foot Radon that offers all the amenities one would expect. Please support those who make this site possible.

Salmon, Crab and Rockfish
On Wednesday 4-20 the weather was flat and the lings were biting. Rick on the New Sea Angler reported 68 lings to 17 pounds for 29 anglers. They added 213 rockfish and on the way home yanked up 160 crabs out of the crab gear. Rick said the weather was great with light winds of 5 knots over a 4 foot lazy swell. Rick has room for combo trips all this week.
On the salmon front Daryl T reported two limits of rockfish off Ft Ross and one salmon hooked and lost at the boat. The rockfish came in the Ft Ross area and the one hooked salmon was off Goat Rock in 220 after "many hours of trolling".

On Monday 4-18 Rick on the New Sea Angler ran south to Point Reyes. He reported 19 limits of rockfish plus 9 lings to 10 pounds. They wrapped up the day pulling through the crab gear for a bonus of 19 limits of crabs. With crabs going for $6 a pound off the dock at Porto Bodega it's a MUCH better deal to spend a day rockfish and crabbing on one of the local party or six pack boats.
On the salmon front a few very scattered salmon were caught off the River on Sunday in 240 to 300 feet of water. It was mostly ones and nones with a couple of boats reporting 2 fish all on the troll.

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 Brand New House in Irish Beach with 2 bedrooms and a huge loft. Sleeps 6. Blue Water Ocean View to the Point Arena Light House and great local fishing. The house is located on a private court with access to the Members only Irish Beach.


Upcoming Events:
USAFishing proudly supports the many fishery and wildlife organizations that benefit anglers and hunters throughout Northern California. Does your organization have an upcoming event? Contact us at and we will gladly post the information on our reports pages.

California Waterfowl Dinners and Youth Events Calendar

Golden Gate Salmon Association Events Calendar

 Party Boat Contacts:
The Bodega Bay Sportfishing  Center is currently booking trips on the New Sea Angler. They also book the six pack Sandy Ann, Profishn't and during the summer the Predator. Reservations can be made at 707 875-3344.

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5-day plot - Wind Speed at 46013

5-day plot - Wave Height at 46013

Marine Weather
With the Point Arena, San Francisco and Bodega Bay buoys all out of service it's been tough to judge conditions. There are some land based weather stations, wave rider and even webcams that readers can use to assess current conditions.  The Point Reyes wind observations or wave conditions at the San Francisco wave rider buoy are good tools for Golden Gate anglers.  For Bodega Bay anglers you can use both the Point Reyes wind observations and the Bodega Bay Marine lab web cam at Horseshoe Cove and conditions at the Point Arena light house. For Monterey based anglers looking for conditions inside Monterey bay can use the Monterey Bay Aquarium buoy.




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