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


November 01, 2018    Headlines

Summer Blues / Water Grab Issues

Delta Report
By Dave Hurley
The salmon action in the Sacramento-Delta has slowed considerably, although there have been bright days here and there. The Mokelumne River has been the bright spot, and many fishermen are taking the ‘Moke’ due to the two-fish limit on the body of water and the good late-season action.
Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said Monday 10-29 , “Salmon have slowed down, but anglers are still picking up fish to 25 pounds trolling Brad’s Cut Plugs behind an 11-inch E-chip dodger with a Good Day release or Slammer Spinners. Jigging for the fish has slowed, but bank anglers continue to find a fish or two with Mepp’s Flying C’s or similar heavy spinners. Striped bass fishing has improved in Liberty Island with live mudsuckers or jumbo minnows and in the Sacramento Deep Water Channel of Cache Slough with sardines coated with garlic spray. A few sturgeon have been landed in the north Delta in Cache or Prospect Sloughs on live grass shrimp, ghost shrimp, or eel/nightcrawler combinations, but the majority of sturgeon are taken further east by the Sherman Island Power Lines. Catfishing has slowed down with the cooler water, but bluegill and red ear perch are located along the Delta Loop with jumbo red worms or red worms.”
Alan Fong, manager of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento, was in the north Delta this week in Snodgrass Slough, and they landed striped bass in the 3- to 5-pound range using big chatterbaits. He said, “There was a lot of bait there, but there weren’t many stripers as we only landed four before leaving at 11:00 a.m. The salmon fishing in the Mokelumne has been very good, and it has been crowded with both private boaters and guides.”
Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch confirmed the good salmon fishing in the Mokelumne as one customer has been bringing home two-fish limits with regularity using Perry’s lures.
Off of the Benicia shorelines, Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait said, “There were 4 landed off of 1st Street on Saturday morning with another 4 in the afternoon, and two more were landed on Sunday morning. Vee-Zee spinners have been the top lure. Earlier in the week, 10 salmon were hooked off of 1st Street on Wednesday, but the sea lions got 4 of them on the way to the bank. The sea lions have moved in, and you have to reel in hookups as soon as possible. Big striped bass over 20 pounds have been taken from the region from the top of the Mothball Fleet to the Firing Line, and live splittail are the key bait for the big striped bass. Ron Reisinger of Chico went out for two limits from 15 to 20 pounds on the live bait. Shore fishermen are picking up larger stripers, but the bait-stealing crab are driving up their bait bill. We have been selling plenty of bullhead, and this is an indication of a much-improved striped bass bite.”
Sturgeon fishing remains very good in Suisun Bay, and Captain Steve Mitchell out of Pittsburg said, “The bite is on fire! WE have been catching sturgeon on every trip working the deep water off of Pittsburg towards Chain Island with salmon roe or eel, and Fresley Santos of Sao Paulo, Brazil landed his first-ever sturgeon on Saturday. The deep water is loaded with sturgeon, and they are biting. It was a bit slower on Sunday, but we still ended up with a couple of keepers. Saturday’s trip produced two slot-limit fish along with a host of shakers and one sturgeon was so large that it stretched out one of my new snap-swivels. We have been finding all of the action in the world.”
Mike Pipkins of Gotcha Bait in Antioch said, “There have been a lot of striped bass with some taking limits to 30 pounds on live mudsuckers or fresh shad around West Island. One group brought back limits, and they were all over 30 inches. This is the time of year when the shad is worth freezing, and I am starting to freeze up some of the shad as the quality of the bait is the best when the water temperatures are just starting to cool off. The shad start grouping up when the water is cooling, and they are easy to net. Sturgeon action continues to improve, and one angler released 5 green sturgeon and 5 slot limit white sturgeon on live grass shrimp. There have been a number of green sturgeon in the 2- to 3- foot range caught and released recently, and it is important that fishermen know to release the green sturgeon without taking them out of the water. Crappie fishing is good in Sandmound and Piper Sloughs along with the back of Big Break with live small to medium minnows along with wax worms.”
Clyde Wands, shallow-trolling expert, found striped bass to 6 pounds both days during the past week working the San Joaquin River and False River. He said, “One of the days the wind was so bad that we had to stay in False River, but there were stripers there. The big tides and the full moon made for difficult conditions for trolling, but we did end up getting them.”
The Port of Stockton is loaded with shad, and boaters have been releasing a number of undersized linesides to keepers to 22-inches with either jumbo minnows or spoons in the shad schools. Andre Fontenot, regular contributor to Western Outdoor News, was back in the Delta in Broad Slough for limits of striped bass to 22 inches using chicken livers.


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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