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

Captain Steve Mitchell

Captain Stan Koenigsberger

February 18, 2017    Headlines

Winter Stripers & Sturgeon

Delta Report
By Dave Hurley
Between the Sacramento, Feather, and American Rivers on Friday 2-17– a total of 159,000 cubic feet per second are flowing out of their reservoirs, and all of this water has to go somewhere while traveling through the Delta. This doesn’t include the Calaveras and the Mokelumne Rivers that come straight into the Delta, and I passed the Calaveras near the University of the Pacific in Stockton this afternoon, and it was as high as I have seen it is several years with heavy releases out of New Hogan. Debris is the story throughout the Delta, and boaters have to be extremely cautious wherever you are traveling. |
The East Delta is being stressed to capacity by high water conditions from increased water releases out of Millerton, Don Pedro, and Lake McClure along with inflow from the Calaveras and Mokelumne Rivers. The Tyler Island levee on the Mokelumne River has required emergency repairs in order to avoid the largest levee breech since 2004 on Lower Jones Tract. Many launch ramps are currently out of commission due to high water, and anglers will need to check local conditions before attempting to launch. |
Alex Breitler of the Stockton Record reported, “The high flows raise some concerns. First, farmers and local water officials believe that mud is accumulating on the bottom of the San Joaquin, reducing the capacity of the channel, which reduces the amount of water required to cause a flood. They believe a 1997-style disaster could still happen this year.”|
Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, gave this following advice regarding the Delta. He said, “I am not fishing in the Delta with clients right now, and the number one reason is the safety due to the elevation of the water with the inflow and the high tides along with the debris. Operating a boat in the waterways is not helping the fragile levees, and I will relax and wait. The past few days of warm weather has brought up the water temperature, and the bass are ready to go. If I was out there, I would be tossing a 10-inch Berkley Power Worm since the big tail gives plenty of wobble along with scent. Vibration and scent are the keys to getting bit in the dirty water conditions. Other productive options are chartreuse spinnerbaits with big thumping willow-leaf blades or chatterbaits. When the conditions are tough, you have to cover a lot of water for success.”
Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service reported on Lost Coast Outfitters, “The Delta water is high, off-color in many sections and hovers around the 55 degree mark.  I fished last Saturday and Sunday and only managed three fish each day.  We will just have to wait until the conditions return to some degree of normalcy.  We need a couple of weeks of no rain to better our situation. San Luis on the other hand is shaping up with great fishing conditions.  It has clear water, much structure because of “filled to the brim” elevation, and has increasing water temperatures.  I hope to fish San Luis this week.”
Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento has been going out in the east Delta and finding excellent action for largemouth bass in the sloughs adjacent to Lodi. “We have been able to land largemouth bass to 6 pounds using chartreuse spinnerbaits with a willow blade, and the visibility in the slough was a foot and a half. If we get a week of clear water, watch out because the bass bite will be off the hook.”
Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing out of Pittsburg will be heading out on Saturday while making his debut on the California Sportsman 1140 AM at 6:25 a.m. He said, “I plan to check out the area above the Benicia Bridge, and if we can’t get any sturgeon to go, we will head into the flats in San Pablo Bay. Salmon roe and eel have been the top baits, and the sturgeon are moving with the larger tides. I think they will be holding in the flats since the water movement is less, and the sturgeon must be getting tired of fighting the inflow.
Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Fishing out of Martinez said, “The sturgeon fishing has been good the last few trips. There has been a lot of debris in the water and short flood tides due to all the water coming down river. The temperature is 53 degrees, higher than normal. The sturgeon are more active during the warmer water. And with the large water flows the tides are not as important. All I am using now is just eel. I have been fishing deep water from the Benicia Bridge to the green can outside Benicia. Most of the fish are biting on the ebb tide in 40 to 65 feet of water I had a very light yesterday. In fact I only had one paying client. I decide to run anyway as I needed to send some sturgeon to a friend of mine in Wyoming. And my deckhand, soon to be captain has not landed a sturgeon yet. We bagged what we needed in just a few hours.
Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker added, “My grandson Jonathan went across the river from Martinez to Benicia to fuel up the six-pack Defiant, and he said it was difficult to get through the debris in the main channel.”

 Coast Guard urges mariners to be cautious of debris in San Francisco Delta Region

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Coast Guard urges mariners in the San Francisco Delta Region to exercise caution as river levels are expected to rise Wednesday evening.

The National Weather Service forecasts rain through the week causing river levels to rise and creating higher tides and more rapid currents than usual.
Boaters should watch for debris in the water as swift currents can quickly turn adrift vessels and gear into hazards.
"It is very important that mariners remain cognizant of the hazards in their areas," said Lt. Marcia Medina, acting chief of Sector San Francisco Waterways Management Division. "Mariners should stay informed and aware of weather conditions and monitor the progress and strength of currents through their local television, radio and internet."
Owners of boats and small crafts, including canoes, kayaks and paddleboards, are encouraged to secure their vessels properly and ensure they are marked with contact information in the event they break free.
Boaters who observe marine debris, please contact the Coast Guard on VHF-FM channel 16 or at 415-399-3520.
For further boating safety information, please visit www.uscgboating.org.

Tyler levee holds; SJ River rises
 Alex Breitler   

While crews kept up emergency levee repairs on Tyler Island on Tuesday, the San Joaquin River woke up and stretched her arms, finally reaching flood stage after languishing for several years as a weed-choked, drought-diminished trickle.
In Lathrop, at Mossdale Crossing Regional Park, the San Joaquin was running higher than any time since Jan. 9, 1997. One low-lying ramp had been dunked, though the river remained at a monitoring stage only and well within its banks.|
Things were more interesting farther south, near Vernalis, where the San Joaquin topped 29 feet about 8 a.m. Tuesday, marking an official flood for the first time since 2006.That's still nowhere near the top of the levee, but it was high enough to spark some excitement at the private San Joaquin River Club, where water began bubbling through a fist-sized hole in the levee early Tuesday.
Residents of the community of about 400 homes sprang into action, filling sandbags and launching around-the-clock levee patrols. Their well-coordinated efforts, with the help of dozens of sandbags stacked like bricks, stopped the flow of the boil long before it could cause any damage.
"This is nothing like 1997," said a shirtless Jeff Wagner, one of about half a dozen volunteers who were shoveling sand through construction cones into plastic sacks. "We're not really that nervous. We're just making sure everything is tight and right."
Indeed, it was nothing like 1997, when the San Joaquin levees were breached in multiple places. Fast and strong as the river is compared to recent lean years, it is flowing at less than half the peak volume of two decades ago and is about 5 feet lower as well.
But that didn't prevent people from stopping along the Airport Way bridge to take a look on Tuesday, as the muddy waters carried enormous branches and other debris downstream.
Flows were high enough to allow water to seep through the levees onto adjacent farmland, and on one low-lying property a truck and two recreational vehicles had been swamped.
"There's a lot of water out there," said farmer Jim McLeod. "Kind of different after seeing all of that hyacinth."
While not causing catastrophic damage, the high flows raise some concerns. First, farmers and local water officials believe that mud is accumulating on the bottom of the San Joaquin, reducing the capacity of the channel, which reduces the amount of water required to cause a flood. They believe a 1997-style disaster could still happen this year.
They are also warily eyeing upstream reservoir releases. While there is still plenty of room in the river's largest reservoir, New Melones Lake, it's a different story at Don Pedro Lake, which was 99 percent full on Tuesday. Releases from Don Pedro, Millerton and other reservoirs are the primary reason flows are so high on the lower river.
The Turlock Irrigation District, which operates Don Pedro, issued a statement Tuesday saying that the reservoir is expected to drop about 2 feet before the next storms move in, which will put the reservoir about 4 feet from the top.
But the same concern that haunts dam operators at Lake Oroville and around the state is true here, as well: There is a large snowpack in the Sierra, lots of winter left on the calendar, and a dwindling amount of space in Don Pedro and most other reservoirs.
"They should have dumped water earlier," Wagner said as he filled sandbags. "Now we're going to pay the price."
No news was good news at Tyler Island, in the north Delta, where a severely damaged levee that officials believed was in "imminent" danger of failing on Monday was still holding on.
Sandbags and rocks were used to stabilize the levee, and material was being brought in Tuesday to reconstruct the portion that was so severely damaged that one levee engineer said it 
looked like it had been struck by a meteor.
The work may be finished by this weekend. Until then, some risk remains, which is why evacuation warnings for the sparsely populated island remained in effect Tuesday.
If it floods, Tyler Island will be the first substantial Delta island to fail since Jones Tract in 2004.

— Contact reporter Alex Breitler at (209) 546-8295 or abreitler@recordnet.com. Follow him at recordnet.com/breitlerblog and on Twitter @alexbreitler

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