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


October 15, 2018    Headlines

Summer Blues / Water Grab Issues

Delta Report
By Dave Hurley

The high winds were the big story last weekend, and after several days of calm, the wind arrived once again by mid-morning on Sunday 10-14. The fact that the winds stayed down until Sunday was a boon to the participants in the 71st Annual Rio Vista Bass Derby and Festival. Salmon fishing has slowed considerably in the entire stretch of the Delta from Suisun Bay to Freeport, but the salmon are still trickling through on their way to the Sacramento, American, and Feather Rivers.

Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “Salmon are still going, but the catching has slowed a little. Trollers are doing best with Brad’s Cut Plugs behind an 11-inch Pro-Troll E-chip flasher with Good Day Flasher releases along with Slammer spinners. Bank fishermen are still catching fish with Mepp’s Flying C’s, and in addition to the Sacramento River, the Mokelumne is producing some very good fish. Striped bass are found near Liberty Island, the Sacramento Deep Water Channel, and around the Rio Vista Bridge with live mudsuckers. A few sturgeon are showing up, and a 47 incher was landed in the Deep Water Channel and another near Courtland on an eel/pile worm combination. Smallmouth bass are all but done, but there are still a few smallies in deep water near the rockpiles.”

Sylvia Vieira of Vieira’s Riverside Bait near Isleton confirmed the slowdown for salmon with a number of smaller jacks in the 6- to 8-pound range showing up last week. She said, “It is not as busy as it has been in the past week, but the 40 mile per hour wind gusts predicted for Sunday may have something to do with this. The water temperature has dropped to 65 degrees, and the fishing should be good.”

The salmon bite out of Benicia has also slowed down the past few days with an average of between 4 to 5 salmon taken daily off of 1st Street and 2 at the State Park. There has been dredging occurring in Glen Cove, and the dredging has turned the water very dirty, but it is starting to clear up. The salmon need to be able to see the lure in order to attack, and the stained water keeps them from getting hooked up. Kelly at Benicia Bait said, “A few of our regular customers landed three legal sturgeon in Montezuma Slough, and they released an estimated 52-pound striped bass on salmon roe, and another 48-pound striper was caught and released on a splittail this weekend.”

Andre Fontenot, regular Western Outdoor News contributor, landed his personal-best 23-pound striped bass on the main Sacramento River near Decker Island on chicken livers, a bait that is wholly underused by striped bass anglers. He tried to release the big fish, but after a half-hour of effort, the striped bass succumbed.

The Rio Vista Bass Festival was a success with the good weather on Friday and Saturday, and the slot-limit for striped bass was 30.5 inches with the sturgeon slot at 53 inches. Carleton King took first in the striper division with a 30.21-inch lineside weighing 11.2 pounds while Don Syengchanh came in second with his 29.90-inch striper tipping the scales at 12.4 pounds, and Michael Parker placed third with his 29.77-inch striper. In the sturgeon division, John Woodring came in first at 46.10 inches followed by Jim Francis at 43.28 inches. The salmon category was won by Brian Lazlo with a 16.1-pound salmon.

Sturgeon six-pack boats are returning to the Delta, and Captain Steve Mitchell of Hook’d Up Sport Fishing out of Pittsburg Marina fought the wind for limits of sturgeon for brothers Daniel and Brian Vidrio of San Jose soaking a salmon roe/eel combination in the Big Cut. He said, “I went in the Big Cut to stay out of the wind, and we also missed a few shots before I decided to set the hook and hand off the rod on the first fish since hooking a sturgeon is one of the most difficult tasks for a first-time angler. After they saw what I did, the brothers were able to set hook on the second legal fish.”

Striped bass continue to move into the San Joaquin-Delta, and as the water temperature continues to fall, the action will improve as we reach the optimal 55-degree mark for bait fishermen. Largemouth bass are holding on with limits in the 15- to 17-pound range good enough to win most Delta tournaments, but a change in technique is necessary for success. Salmon have also been landed in the San Joaquin River, but this river is restricted for the take and possession of salmon.

Pringle is the tournament director for the Best Bass Tournament’s Tournament of Champions starting with Friday’s banquet, and he expected a two-day weight of around 34 pounds to take the top spot out of the 160 boats. The first day results were ahead of the prediction with a 20.23-pound limit including a big fish at 9.83 pounds leading the 160-team pack, but Sunday’s winds should have brought the limit size back to Earth.

Dan Mathisen of Dan’s Delta Outdoors in Oakley is gearing up for his circuit’s Tournament of Champions out of Russo’s Marina this coming weekend, and he said, “Salmon fishing remains good, and there have been a number of salmon landed incidentally on the San Joaquin River while the lower stretches of the Mokelumne River have been outstanding for trollers pulling Captain Stan’s double-bladed chartreuse spinners. There are still salmon taken off of Compy’s Pier in Antioch with Perry’s jigs. Striped bass fishing has been good around Brown’s Island with swimbaits or topwater lures, and largemouth bass are holding near current in deeper water at 10 to 12 feet. A few anglers are throwing Pencil Poppers with some success.”

Captain Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sport Fishing, ‘live bait specialist out of Korth’s Pirates Lair on the San Joaquin River,’ said, “The cooler days and nights are just what we have been anticipating with 65-degree water on the San Joaquin side. We have been able to find our preferred smaller grade of live mudsuckers, and the bite busted out during the middle of the week with keeper-sized limits along with numbers of shakers. However, as soon as the warm weather showed back up, the bite slowed down. We were still able to provide limits for our clients, but it is not the action that we have been finding previously. We cancelled our trip on Sunday due to the north winds, but we plan on being back out on the water on Monday.”


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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