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DELTA

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

 

July 14, 2018    Headlines

Spring Stripers

Delta Report
By Dave Hurley

The frog bite is turning on just in time for the two big frog tournaments in the upcoming weeks. The team of Kris Huff and Kenji Nakagawa took 2nd place on Wednesday during the elite Wednesday Night Turkey Shoot in the south Delta. Nakagawa said, “We found a good frog bite in the heat along with Senkos and Poppers.”
There are still striped bass in the Delta, and Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, found great action running shallow Yozuris or Angry Eye Predator Minnows with Dave Houston of Livermore outside of Eddo’s Marina with stripers at 29 and 18 pounds released along with several other stripers. Wands said, “People don’t belive that the stripers are here, but you have to look around for them. The big one was a great fighter and it took me across the river.”

This writer is sneaking off to our vacation home on the Kenai peninsula. We will be chasing kings and sockeye on the local rivers and hopefully join good friend Captain Steve Smith for at least a day or two of halibut and ling cod. We will be leaving the laptop at home and will return with full reports here on July 29th
In the time being please contact our sponsors or visit their websites for current reports, information and bookings.
Until then... good fishing!


The Sacramento-Delta has moved well into the summertime doldrums, but there are a few locations kicking out some large striped bass and legal sturgeon. The combination of wind or triple-digit temperatures continue to be a deterrent, but there is action in the evening hours in the sloughs. Smallmouth bass remain an option for those willing to work the northern sloughs with a variety of flies, plastics on the drop-shot, live crawdads, or deep-diving crankbaits.

Chris Vu of Sacramento has landed several large striped bass this season out of Montezuma Slough, and he caught and kept a limit at 37 and 39 inches on live splittail along with a 50-inch sturgeon kept and a 41-inch sturgeon released on grass shrimp. Few fishermen are targeting sturgeon, but they are still out there for the taking.
Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait said Monday July 9th, “Everyone in our area is looking forward to the river salmon opener on July 16th, and we get calls every day from fishermen who are under the mistaken impression that the season is open as they are asking, ‘How’s the fishing at 1st Street?’ We anticipate a very good year for river salmon based on the tremendous action in the ocean since the opener. Most fishermen around here are soaking anchovies or grass shrimp from the shorelines for small stripers, and the winds have been constantly blowing from the northwest.”
New regulations for river salmon include a one-fish daily bag limit and a six-foot leader restriction.
Undersized stripers are also the story in the north Delta, and sardines coated with garlic spray or pile worms are the top baits along with drifting live jumbo minnows around Liberty Island.  Catfishing is best in the main river or in Lisbon Slough with chicken livers or nightcrawlers. The Delta Loop is still kicking out bluegill and red ear perch on jumbo minnows.
Dave Houston of Livermore trolled between Three Mile Slough and the Antioch Bridge at week’s end in shallow water, and he said, “There were a few small schools of fish, and I landed almost 20 fish with 6 being keepers to 10 pounds.”
Stan Koenigsberger of Quetzal Adventures out of Bethel Harbor said, “We took the McDaniel boys out for a day of fishing for two limits to 8 pounds on the San Joaquin River trolling deep-diving Yozuri Crystal Minnows in chartreuse, red/white, or fire tiger.”
Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service has been targeting largemouth bass and smallmouth bass in the north Delta, and he said, “Striper fishing is pretty slow as the fish are scattered and not plentiful. I am targeting topwater bass during the months of July through September on day trips.”
Heavy herbicide spraying continues to take place on a daily basis in the east Delta as the elimination of invasive weed growth authorized by the federal WIIN Act is having an effect on the ecosystem for all Delta warm-water species that require structure to thrive. There have been sightings of dead sturgeon and beavers in the San Joaquin-Delta within the past several weeks, leading to speculation from many anglers over the effects of increased herbicide spraying.


The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Tuesday reaffirmed its approval of an $11-billion investment in a massive water delivery project with a vote that highlighted a deepening division on the agency’s board.

The re-vote followed a complaint that some board members had violated California’s open meetings law when they engaged in a series of phone calls and text messages prior to the board’s April 10 decision to finance two-thirds of California WaterFix
While denying that the communications amounted to a violation of the Brown Act, MWD scheduled another vote. The funding package passed with 59.57% of the vote, compared with 61% in April.
Representatives of MWD’s two largest member agencies, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the San Diego County Water Authority, again voted against constructing two huge water tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The Los Angeles delegation also criticized the behind-the-scenes communications, which MWD released in response to a Public Records Act request filed by two groups that challenged the April vote.
Transparency and “civility was lost,” said L.A. representative Mark Gold, who complained of “lies” by some fellow directors.
“It’s not our finest hour today or this April,” said L.A. representative Lorraine Paskett, who had made copies of the records and distributed them to board members.
“Just a handful of our board members were much better informed of what the vote would be. This is very disappointing,” she said.
She added that the politicking reflected an overall lack of openness about board matters.
The communications show board member Brett Barbre of the Municipal Water District of Orange County taking the lead in counting votes and rounding up support for the tunnels investment.
Metropolitan’s decision to shoulder much of the $17-billion bill for the twin tunnels kept the project alive after big agricultural districts in the San Joaquin Valley declined to pay their expected share of the long-planned project.

That refusal had prompted a move to settle for a less expensive, one-tunnel version, a change that Barbre argued would fatally delay the project by triggering another round of environmental reviews.

The texts also revealed state officials’ concern that if a final decision wasn’t made before Gov. Jerry Brown’s term ended this year, his successor could kill WaterFix.

Brown, a staunch supporter of the twin tunnels, phoned MWD board members before the April 10 meeting, urging them to vote yes.

In one text, Barbre told MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger to “make sure the Governor reminds Leticia [Vasquez-Wilson] that they took a selfie together at Jensen last year…Could be enough to flatter her into a YES vote.”

Tuesday, Vasquez-Wilson, who represents the Central Basin Municipal Water District and supported the tunnels in both votes, said she found “that comment very offensive.”

MWD’s financial backing does not ensure the tunnels will be built. Opponents, which include delta interests and environmental groups, have filed a number of lawsuits challenging the project.

WaterFix also still needs key state permits that could reduce the volume of tunnel deliveries.

The battle over the tunnels is the latest in more than two decades of conflict over the environmental impact of delta deliveries to San Joaquin Valley agriculture and urban Southern California.

The huge tunnels would transport Sacramento River water 35 miles under the delta to the government pumping operations that send supplies south. That would reduce withdrawals from the southern delta that cause harmful reverse flows in delta channels.

Opponents contend the tunnels will inevitably be used to rob the failing delta ecosystem and its crashing fish populations of more fresh water.

Proponents, including many of the state’s biggest water agencies and San Joaquin Valley agricultural districts, say that without the tunnels, delta deliveries that make up an important part of their supplies will continue to decline.


As fish disappear, Trump administration seeks to pump more California water south

BY DALE KASLER AND RYAN SABALOW

dkasler@sacbee.com

The Trump administration, teeing up a fight with California regulators, is trying to pump more water through the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the southern half of the state despite fresh evidence of the estuary’s shrinking fish population.
A proposal by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to “maximize water deliveries” represents the administration’s first concrete effort to make good on a promise Donald Trump made while campaigning for the presidency in Fresno, where he vowed to deliver more water to San Joaquin Valley farmers and derided protections for endangered fish species.
Trump’s water plan is likely to meet stiff resistance from California officials, who relish fighting the president and spent much of 2017 battling his administration over air pollution, climate change, immigration and a slew of other issues. Experts said the state’s Endangered Species Act and other laws should provide California with ample ammunition to complicate Trump’s efforts to move more water through the Delta.
Reclamation’s proposal, outlined in a regulatory notice last Friday, would bring long-lasting changes to the Central Valley Project, the water network built during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration. The notice said various state and federal regulations have “significantly reduced the water available for delivery south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.” As a result, the bureau said it will “evaluate alternatives that maximize water deliveries.”
Agricultural districts in the San Joaquin Valley, which comprise the bulk of the Central Valley Project’s customers, welcomed the proposal as a long overdue counterweight to years of stifling restrictions on water pumping.
“In the end, what’s being discussed is ensuring that people and farmers and farmworkers have water,” said deputy general manager Johnny Amaral of the influential Westlands Water District in Fresno and Kings counties. “Pretty simple concept. After all, that’s why the CVP was built, to do that very thing.”
Fresno City Councilman Steve Brandau, who has rented billboards in his city urging Trump to scale back fish protections, said he’s optimistic the president is going to bring more water to the Valley.
“I think the president is hearing from people from the Central Valley,” said Brandau, who grew up in a farm town near Fresno. His billboards featured a picture of Trump and the message, “Mr. President, we need: 1. Water 2. Dams 3. Fish.” The word “fish” is crossed out in red.
Change won’t occur overnight. Reclamation spokeswoman Erin Curtis said the bureau will spend the next year conducting environmental reviews and will “start a dialogue with all of the stakeholders,” including state and federal environmental agencies.
Environmentalists quickly objected to the bureau’s plan, saying it violates a federal law that requires the agency to give equal weight to fish and wildlife when it operates the Central Valley Project. “The science says we need to reduce diversions (from the Delta) and increase protections,” said attorney Doug Obegi of the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco. “The Trump administration is saying damn the fish and damn the rivers and let’s get more water to Westlands.”
The Trump administration’s plan comes at a crucial moment for the Delta, the nexus of California’s complicated north-to-south water delivery system.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17 billion plan to build twin tunnels beneath the Delta is in jeopardy because of funding problems. Brown says the tunnels, by rerouting how water flows through the estuary, would help solve never-ending conflicts between fish and water supplies. As it stands now, the pumps are often restricted in order to protect Delta smelt and other endangered fish species, allowing more water to flow out to the ocean.
Fish populations are dwindling in spite of those restrictions, and there are fresh signs that the problems are getting worse. Last week the California Department of Fish and Wildlife disclosed that its regular fall survey of the Delta’s waters turned up a total of two smelt, the lowest in the survey’s 50-year history. The survey is further evidence that the smelt, which once numbered in the millions, are nearing extinction.
Many valley farmers have long argued that the government’s operations in the Delta favor fish over agriculture, and some have little sympathy for the plight of the smelt. Trump, while campaigning in Fresno in 2016, belittled efforts to “protect a certain kind of 3-inch fish,”and some farmers are celebrating the proposal to increase pumping.


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