te or federal incidental take permits



Captain Steve Smith of the Bay Area "Smith" fishing clan has been fishing Alaska's Kenai Peninsula for 30 years. 800.567.1043


September 24, 2018    Headlines

Summer Blues / Water Grab Issues

Delta Report
By Dave Hurley
Salmon are the big story throughout the Delta along with more and more striped bass rushing in. The heat wave over the weekend slowed the salmon bite a bit in the north Delta, but there have been some incredible scores of up to 30 salmon off of Benicia shorelines and all points in between on the Delta including the Antioch piers, Freeport shoreline, and in the Old Sacramento River from the mouth to Walnut Grove on Sunday 9-21. The salmon limit on the Sacramento, Feather, and American River is one fish per day with two in possession, but the limit on the Mokelumne River is 2 fish daily with 4 in possession. The Department of Fish and Wildlife will clarify the regulations on the Mokelumne with an upcoming press release.
Benicia Bait reported continued excellent salmon action off of the shorelines with Vee-Zee Spinners, and there have also been striped bass to 26-inches landed on the Vee-Zees off of the Dillon Point State Park by fishermen targeting salmon.
In the Rio Vista area, Captain Stan Koenigsberger of Quetzal Adventures out of Bethel Harbor has been making the run north of the Rio Vista Bridge to troll his custom salmon spinners. They have been working the past few days with a number of salmon landed after a few empty trips earlier in the season. They put in limits by noon on Thursday, and the custom double-bladed chartreuse spinner has been the top producer with at least one fish taken every trip within the past week.
In the Old Sacramento River, Sylvia Vieira of Vieira’s Riverside Bait near Isleton reported the parking lot was completely filled on Sunday morning by 7:15 p.m., and prior to the weekend’s resurgence in heat, all of the action occurred prior to 11:00 a.m. She said, “It was different on Saturday with all of the fish taken in the afternoon into the evening as the heat is pushing the water temperature back up. The action has been very good over the past week with many anglers returning with one-fish limits. Our fishermen are getting used to the one-fish limit, and after limiting out early one day, they are coming back the following day where they used to wait two or three days before launching again.”
Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport has been texting pictures of salmon landed from the shoreline on Slammer Spinners or jigging with Slammer Minnows. Salmon to 24 pounds have been landed out of Freeport. Live mudsuckers along with sardines coated with garlic spray are working for striped bass in the main river and near Liberty Island while smallmouth bass are found around rocky structure in Miner Slough, Steamboat Slough, or around Walnut Grove with deep-diving crankbaits or plastics on the drop-shot.
Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, reported one of his friends launched out of Sherman Island and ran up as far as Liberty Island in search of striped bass. He said, “He burned an entire tank of gas running up north, but he found great action along the West Bank and Winter Island with Fish Traps for 75 stripers to 22 pounds released while the action at Liberty was slow.”
The 71st Rio Vista Bass Derby and Festival is only a few weeks away on the weekend of October 12/14, and there will be target-length competitions for striped bass and sturgeon with another category for the largest salmon weighed. A Kid’s Derby for striped bass or catfish is als on tap with a $5.00 entry fee. Information on the West Coast’s oldest fishing derby is available at www:bassfestival.com.
Out of Korth’s Pirates Lair at the confluence of the San Joaquin and Mokelumne Rivers, Captain Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sport Fishing has returned to the Delta from a summer stint on the Cook Inlet in Alaska, and he said, “We have kicked off our 2018 fall/winter striper trips. The summer that just ill not end has to as folks couldn’t wait a day longer to go. With fall officially here as of September 22nd, we booked our first trip for the following day, and it was a great first day with over 50 stripers caught and released consisting of 10 keepers and 40 shakers using a combination of live bluegill and jumbo minnows. Bryce Tedford of Bryce Tedford’s Fly Fishing Guide Service joined us on Saturday for a salmon spooning trip on the South Fork of the Mokelumne River, and he was rewarded with an 18-pound hen on a 2-ounce P-Line Laser Minnow. It was cool to see a fly guy hook a nice king salmon on his first-ever spooning trip. We will be running salmon/striped bass combination trips through December along with full day striped bass trips until the end of the current year.”
Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, was in search of striped bass this past week, and he reported a solid bite for 20 to 50 linesides per day using a combination of techniques including topwater with the ima Big Stick or Little Stick, subsurface with the Optimum’s Bad Bubba Shad in white with a chartreuse tail or Shiny Shad, or down deeper with the 2.5-ounce P-Line Laser Minnow on blue/chartreuse. He said, “Nearly all of the fish we are landing are keepers with most fish in the 2- to 5-pound range, and the fish are found shallow from 12 feet to the surface. For largemouth bass, the ima Flit 120 is working with the cooling water temperatures, but you have to keep the bait in the strike zone as long as possible. The fish do not want to chase the bait very far. The ima Rock N’Vibe Suspend is also effective as it has a larger profile, and when I am fishing the ima Little Stick, the key is to ‘pop’ it, let it sit, and ‘pop’ it again. The big largemouth bass are not playing right now, but every once in a while, you can find a good one. Our Best Bass Tournament’s Tournament of Champions is coming to Russo’s Marina on the weekend of October 13/14.”
Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch said, “Keeper stripers are coming from everywhere right now. You name it, Discovery Bay, West Island, Sherman Island, Broad Slough, Pittsburg, and Frank’s Tract as the stripers are throughout the Delta. Plugging, drifting live jumbo minnows or mudsuckers, or soaking anchovies, sardines or fresh shad are all working. Sturgeon are also hitting fresh shad off of Decker Island, Chain Island, and in Broad Slough, and we are getting in quality fresh shad regularly right now. Salmon are taken off of Compy’s Pier in Antioch, and one angler picked up salmon at 14, 17, and 18 pounds on consecutive days using Perry’s lures which have a higher profile than a Mepp’s Flying C. Bluegill are coming from the normal locations in the south Delta, and there are schools of crappie in the 1.5- to 2-pound range taken in Sandmound Slough, Locke Slough, and inside of Frank’s Tract on the south end in the weeds. A group of fishermen have been working over the school in Frank’s for three weeks after finding them on wax worms while targeting red ear perch. Crappie are the one species that no one wants to give up their spots.”


Delta tunnels cost soars to nearly $20 billion when accounting for inflation



August 16, 2018 12:56 PM

Updated August 16, 2018 03:02 PM

The estimated cost of the Delta tunnels project, Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial plan to re-engineer the troubled hub of California’s water network, has jumped to nearly $20 billion when accounting for inflation.

Tunnels backers say the higher cost reflects the impact from inflation over 16 years, not cost over-runs or design changes, and isn’t expected to hurt the project’s ability to move ahead.

The latest $19.9 billion price tag represents a 22 percent increase from the estimate of $16.3 billion, released by state officials last year. That $16.3 billion figure was provided in 2017 dollars.

It’s disclosed in a July 27 letter to the federal government from the recently-formed Delta Conveyance Finance Authority, an agency set up by the south-of-Delta water agencies that are attempting to finance the massive project. In the letter, the finance authority expresses interest in applying for a $1.6 billion water-infrastructure loan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in order to jump-start the long-awaited project.

The letter says the new estimate includes “anticipated cost inflation from the time the initial cost estimates were developed in 2014 through the expected 16-year construction period.” Project proponents assumed inflation would increase the tunnels’ costs by 1.5 percent a year.

“Over time, as with anything else, there’s inflation,” said Brian Thomas, the finance authority’s interim executive director.

“It doesn’t really affect the financial feasibility, if you will,” he said. “People have accounted for this in their long-range planning.”

The assumed 1.5 percent inflation rate “was just an estimate,” Thomas said. “We could be wrong.” Inflation ran at 1.8 percent last year and so far this year is running at an annual rate of 2.1 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Money remains an issue, however, for the project. Although the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has agreed to spend $10.8 billion on the tunnels’ construction, some other potential contributors haven’t finalized their commitments.

Metropolitan spokesman Rebecca Kimitch said her agency, which serves 25 million Southern Californians, isn’t bothered by the new figure. “There’s nothing that’s changed in the actual cost of building WaterFix,” she said. The project is officially known as California WaterFix.

Besides the financial issues, the project is still without crucial water-rights permits and fending off lawsuits from environmentalists and Northern California local governments that oppose the tunnels.

Brown’s administration says WaterFix would shore up reliability of water deliveries to the southern half of the state by improving water flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The massive Delta pumping stations that move water south are so powerful that they can draw Chinook salmon, Delta smelt and other fish toward predators or into the pumps themselves. Because the fish are protected by the Endangered Species Act, the pumps sometimes have to be shut off or throttled back at critical times.

When that happens, water flows out to the ocean, to the frustration of Metropolitan and other south-of-Delta water agencies expecting deliveries. By re-routing a portion of the Sacramento River through the twin underground tunnels, Brown’s aides say WaterFix would protect the fish.

Opponents say the project would actually worsen conditions in the Delta, in part because the tunnels would divert fresh Sacramento River water from the heart of the estuary, degrading water quality.


Restore the Delta Submits Comments on Bay-Delta Plan Updates; SWRCB Prohibits Discussion of Plan Updates at WaterFix Hearing

SWRCB Prohibits Discussion of Plan Updates at WaterFix Hearing

STOCKTON, CA – Today, Restore the Delta submitted their comments regarding the proposed updates to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan in a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).

As outlined in their recent policy statement on the Water Quality Control Plan, Restore the Delta maintains that the Plan does not examine water quality impacts on the Delta’s environmental justice community, nor does it protect salinity standards for south Delta agriculture. In addition, the Plan fails to establish the 50-60 percent flow criteria needed for salmon population and habitat restoration in the San Joaquin River and its tributaries. Finally, the Plan does not guarantee that new inflows to the Delta will not be exported to south of Delta customers; nor does it guarantee that these through-Delta flows will be used for San Francisco Bay outflow.

The SWRCB will close their public comment period for Phase I of the Water Quality Control Plan by the end of today (July 27) and will deliberate the adoption of the proposed Phase I Plan amendments at its public meetings on August 21 and August 22.

As the Board begins their review and response period of these comments on the Plan, the Board will also resume the change petition hearing for the Delta tunnels project, also known as the “California WaterFix” on August 2.

However, the CA WaterFix hearing team claimed that, “The merits of the WaterFix project, however, are not related to the Board’s consideration of the proposed Bay-Delta Plan amendments and are not appropriate topics of discussion at the Board meeting,” in an email sent to the tunnels hearing service list on Wednesday, July 25, ultimately restricting the discussion of the Plan updates during this stage of the hearing.

Policy Analyst for Restore the Delta and author of the comment letter, Tim Stroshane said,

“Long-awaited updates to Plans like this one [Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan] should be completed before projects like the Governor’s ‘California WaterFix’ tunnels break ground, but the Governor would never let that happen. His tunnels, the proverbial elephant in the room, dictate the Plan and its updates. But the Board has not and will not allow any public comments on WaterFix related to the Plan because the Board cannot violate ex parte communications rules for the project’s water rights hearing; ironically, the WaterFix project will undo the Board’s ultimate plan to revive salmon populations. The Governor forced the Board into this predicament. If the Board has an endgame for this catch-22 world in the Delta, they won’t or can’t say what it is.”

Yesterday, Restore the Delta signed on to a comment letter written and submitted by The Bay Institute and Friends of the San Francisco Estuary on behalf of a coalition of 58 environmental, tribal, fishing, Delta, and business communities invested in healthy Central Valley Rivers and a thriving San Francisco Bay Estuary, including the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.


A week after visit to New Melones, Department of Interior blasts state water plan



July 28, 2018 10:26 AM

Updated July 28, 2018 12:03 PM

The Department of the Interior late Friday afternoon issued a blistering attack against the state’s proposed water grab, saying it would “cripple the Central Valley’s economy, farms and community.”
The comments came a week after Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke visited Don Pedroand New Melones reservoirs at the request of Congressman Jeff Denham, R-Turlock.
Earlier this month, the California State Water Resources Control Board issued a final proposal that would require 40 percent unimpeded flows from February to June on the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers, which are tributaries into the San Joaquin River that feeds the San Joaquin Delta. The move, in what it says is an effort to save the Delta’s failing ecosystem, angered farmers, politicians and many others throughout the Central Valley.
Opponents of the state’s plan pointed to what they say will be massive negative impacts on the valley’s economy, agriculture and land values, among other things.
The Interior’s comments Friday were part of an eight-page letter to board chairwoman Felicia Marcus, and stated the proposal appears “to directly interfere with the New Melones Project’s ability to store water. The Board amendments essentially elevate the Project’s fish and wildlife purposes over the Project’s irrigation and domestic purposes contrary to the prioritization scheme carefully established by Congress.”
It also pointed to the effects on New Melones’ water storage and the potential to diminish power generation, as well as issues surrounding the area’s recreational opportunities. Water from New Melones, which also provides water for the Central Valley Project, flows into the Stanislaus River.
Marcus, in an article she wrote for The Sacramento Bee defending the plan, said “Yes, leaving more water to flow into the Delta from both the San Joaquin and Sacramento watersheds will be challenging for water users, which is why the proposal sends more water but still less than what is optimal for fish and wildlife. Water users can adapt – by switching crops, becoming more efficient and storing more water in wet times. In contrast, species pushed to the brink of extinction have few options.”
Meanwhile, Denham recently added an amendment to keep federal agencies from depleting New Melones as part of the Interior’s appropriations bill. His amendment passed through Congress. 
“Under Sacramento’s plan, the Valley will suffer skyrocketing water and electricity rates,” Denham said in a statement released Saturday. “After a decade and millions of our money spent on a study that they required, the board ignored the science based proposal that would save our fish while preserving our water rights. We will not allow them to take our water and destroy our way of life.”
On the day of Zinke’s visit to Don Pedro and New Melones, Dennis Mills, a member of the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors, sent a letter to President Trump imploring his administration to step in. He, too, pointed to the impacts the plan would have on New Melones.
“Simply put,” he wrote, “this proposal places a higher value on fish than people!”
Friday’s letter to Marcus from the Interior Department came on the same day public comment on the issue closed. The department also asked that the Water Board postpone its scheduled Aug. 21-22 meetings in Sacramento, where it will consider adopting the plan.

On Aug. 20, a rally to “Stop The State Water Grab” will be held at noon on the north steps of the Capitol building in Sacramento. For more information or to RSVP, contact Assemblyman Adam Gray’s office at 209-726-5465.pyright @2014

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