SACRAMENTO RIVER
 

 

November 04, 2017    Headline
Scratch Action on Feather
Sac Salmon Picking Up
 

 

Sacramento River/Metro Area:

J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing has been finding good action on the Sacramento River using Brad’s Cut Plugs behind an 11-inch Pro Troll E-Chip dodger, and he put his clients onto 3 limits of salmon on Thursday 1-2 with two over 25 pounds and another 18 pounder. He said, “It has been good, and we will see what this rain does.”

 

 

Feather River:
Johnson’s Bait in Yuba City reported slower salmon action on Thursday 11-2 on the Feather with most fish taken around Boyd’s Pump or the Live Oak ramp with Kwikfish on the back-troll, spinners, and a few on salmon roe. Steelhead fishing in the low flow section of the river above the Outlet has been good. Sturgeon are starting to move up into the upper Sacramento River.


Fish out of (normal) water: Rare sturgeon seen in Stanislaus River

Alex Breitler
  

A prehistoric fish that looks like it dropped straight out of the dinosaur age has found its way back to the San Joaquin River watershed. Biologists have confirmed the presence of a green sturgeon — a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act — in the Stanislaus River near Knights Ferry.
That’s a long way from where you would expect to find one. Green sturgeon are known to migrate and spawn in the Sacramento and Feather rivers, but this is the first time one of the bony, pointy-nosed bottom-dwellers has been confirmed in the more polluted and heavily diverted San Joaquin River region upstream of Stockton.
Fishermen have long reported catching sturgeon in the San Joaquin area, but it was unclear if they were confusing the green sturgeon with their more common cousin, 
the white sturgeon. “We’ve never seen a green sturgeon (in that area), and it’s not like we don’t try. This is really exciting,” said Laura Heironimus, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Lodi.
Kyle Horvath, a fish technician for a firm that consults on river ecosystems, was doing some personal fishing of his own when, standing on the bank of the Stanislaus in early October, he saw what he believed to be a green sturgeon. He estimated the fish at 4 feet to 6 feet long.
Horvath called his boss that night and was given permission to dive the river with a GoPro camera. The images he returned with seemed to confirm his report.
But officials wanted to be sure. So Horvath dove a second time, towed from a kayak against the strong current. This time the fish couldn’t be found, but Horvath took water samples that were later confirmed to contain DNA from a green sturgeon.
“There has been anecdotal evidence for years,” said Joe Merz, president of the Cramer firm. “Of course these rivers had sturgeon in them back in the day.”
But you just didn’t find them in the San Joaquin system. Or so everyone said, despite a place called “Sturgeon’s Bend” and old fishermen’s stories like the one about how a team of horses supposedly once hauled a monster sturgeon from the stream. What does the recent sighting mean for the species? It’s hard to say. So far there is only one known fish; experts said there is no evidence that the fish was able to spawn.
It does raise hopes, however, that amid 
all of the bleak news about endangered species in the Central Valley, that some species have the potential to rebound and return to places they haven’t been spotted in generations.
Joe Heublein, a federal biologist who coordinates a multi-agency green sturgeon recovery team, noted that sturgeon were seen in the Yolo Bypass for the first time in 2011. “The fact that there are adults in some areas that have never been reported in the past is a good sign,” Heublein said.
This was also a very wet year, with flows on the San Joaquin higher than they’d been in decades. So it’s quite possible that the sturgeon, migrating into the Delta from San Francisco Bay, simply made a right turn up the San Joaquin instead of a left turn up the Sacramento.
“The Stan has cold, relatively high quality water below New Melones (Lake) so is a reasonable place for a green sturgeon to be,” Peter Moyle, a U.C. Davis expert on native fish, said in an email. If he or she hasn’t already, the fish will likely soon begin heading downstream, back toward the bay and the ocean. It’s a trip the fish might make every four years or so over its life span of up to 80 years. (Unlike salmon, sturgeon don’t die after they spawn.)
It’s possible that the sighting may lead to more resources for biologists to carefully study the area, Heironimus said. It also highlights advances in technology with the DNA identification. And maybe most importantly, it teaches the public about one of the region’s most distinctive yet little-known fish.
“It’s cool, and it’s right in our backyard,” she said.
If you go: 
Learn more about the Stanislaus River’s latest resident, and other fish and wildlife, at the Stanislaus River Salmon Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 11 at the Knights Ferry Recreation Area east of Oakdale.
Contact reporter Alex Breitler at (209) 546-8295 or 
abreitler@recordnet.com. Follow him at recordnet.com/breitlerblog and on Twitter @alexbreitler.

Sacramento River/Metro Area:

J. D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing said Friday 10-27, “It definitely has been tougher this week for salmon in the Sacramento area, and it is a struggle right now. We are catching fish every day, and I don’t think it is over yet. We had a good push of fish the day that it rained, but the bite tapered off quickly after this.”

Uncle Larry Barnes of Sacramento Pro Tackle said, “It is like August out there right now, but I think there are still big fish coming through the system similar to last year. Right now, the bite has slowed down, but if you remember, there were some big salmon caught up until November 28th. The bite is not over, but it won’t be red hot anymore this season. There are still a few salmon moving through the lower American River.”

 

Feather River:

Johnson’s Bait in Yuba City reported there are still salmon in the Feather River despite the flows dropping to 1800 cfs and the section 200 yards above the Live Oak launch ramp being closed. It isn’t a hot bite, but there are still salmon taken by back-bouncing Kwikfish or trolling Blue Fox spinners with a few salmon taken by jigging spoons. Striped bass have yet to move into the Feather in numbers, but there is some good striper action on the Sacramento around Colusa and Knight’s Landing for those tossing swimbaits. These are primarily resident fish.


A grand compromise for the Delta outlined
Sac Bee

Conflict over water allocations from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is the most intractable water management problem in California.

The sources of contention are many, but three interrelated issues dominate the debate: whether to build two tunnels that divert water from the Sacramento River, how much water to allocate to endangered fish species, and what to do about the 1,100 miles of Delta levees that are essential to the local economy.
All of these issues need to be addressed to reduce unproductive conflict and litigation and resolve our water problems.
Here we outline a potential “grand compromise” for the Delta that meets the co-equal goals of water supply reliability and ecosystem health prescribed by the 2009 Delta Reform Act. To this end, California should:

▪  Build one tunnel, not two

The most commonly stated fear about the twin tunnels is that they will increase exports and significantly harm the Delta. Project proponents have failed to convince opponents that proposed regulatory assurances on the tunnels’ use will actually protect water quality and species that are at risk.

Building one tunnel with roughly half the proposed capacity caps the amount of water that can be taken from the Sacramento River and greatly reduces the project’s cost. Even at half of its proposed capacity, the project would significantly improve the reliability and quality of water supply. And by having two locations to draw water from the Delta – a new tunnel plus the existing south Delta pumps – the project creates the necessary flexibility to better manage the environmen

▪  Manage water for ecosystems, not just endangered species

To improve the effectiveness of environmental investments, California will need to move away from viewing water and land management activities in the Delta primarily through the lens of the Endangered Species Act. Instead, environmental managers should allocate water and restoration funds based on greatest overall ecological returns on investments.

This does not mean abandoning threatened or endangered species, but rather refocusing recovery efforts on ecological health, based on realistic assessments of the benefits of environmental water allocations.

For example, it may be time to consider captive breeding for Delta smelt – which are approaching extinction in the wild – with the goal of reintroducing them into restored habitats in the north Delta. Targeted investments in riparian and floodplain habitat in the north Delta and Sacramento River watershed – along with well-timed flows to support native species’ life cycles – are likely to provide the highest return on investment for salmon.

To accomplish this, the state Water Resources Control Board should revise its Bay-Delta Water Quality Plan to allocate a share of water that can be flexibly managed to meet biological and ecological objectives. This strategy has been successful in Victoria, Australia, and the water board has proposed a similar approach for managing water in the lower San Joaquin River basin.

We believe existing law can accommodate this change in environmental management. This approach also guarantees a substantial share of water for environmental uses and a more certain water supply for the 25 million people and 3 million acres of farmland that depend on the Delta for at least some of their supply.

▪  Make investments that benefit Delta residents

Most Delta counties have other water problems that can be resolved within a grand compromise. Strengthening the levees that protect Delta islands would reduce flood risk to farms, homes, roads, pipelines and power lines. It would also improve the reliability of export water supplies.

Negotiators should also explore opportunities for Delta residents to benefit from water quality improvements – for instance, by providing access to tunnel water in places where local supplies are salty. These improvements would recognize the Delta’s residents as essential partners in the administration of California’s largest and most important water system.

Grand compromises require sacrifice to achieve a better future. For those who rely on water exports from the Delta, a single tunnel would be a cost-effective means of improving supply reliability. For environmental interests, a flexibly managed, guaranteed block of environmental water would facilitate a more functional and sustainable estuary. And for Delta residents, the levee improvements would enhance the security of their lives and livelihoods.

Negotiation of this grand compromise will require stakeholders to embrace its broad contours before turning to its many details. If we fail again to find common ground, the political paralysis that has plagued the Delta for decades will continue. And the many economic and environmental benefits that the Delta provides to California will continue to decline.

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Golden Gate Salmon Association Reacts to One Tunnel Proposal

San Francisco -- GGSA executive director John McManus reacted to the PPIC opinion piece in today’s Sacramento Bee calling for the replacement of the Delta twin tunnels proposal with construction of a single tunnel with the following statements.
“The biggest problem with the old twin tunnels proposal is that instead of developing a reasonable project that would provide salmon protections while allowing export of a scientifically justified amount of water, they designed a project far too big to pass the laugh test.
The existing system of moving water north to south across the Delta is a salmon killer which is why alternatives have been considered. A carefully planned alternative could provide a way to move some water while killing fewer salmon but this would require a project design that makes salmon protections a priority, not an afterthought.
GGSA welcomes a new approach, and we hope that this leads to a complete rethink of the current twin tunnels project. For too long, twin tunnel advocates have resisted new ideas.
Salmon fishermen and most reasonable Californians believe the only real way to safeguard against over diversion of our rivers is to limit the size of any water intakes and downstream plumbing that moves diverted water. A single tunnel proposal could be a step in that direction.”

Background:

There's no doubt that the existing method of diverting Central Valley river water to pumps in the south Delta pulls baby salmon off their natural migration route to their death. The status quo is a known salmon killer. Can we do better? Theoretically, yes. Was the gargantuan twin tunnels proposal a reasonable answer? Absolutely not.

As long as Sacramento River water is going to be diverted for export to the existing south Delta pumps, then some sort of new conveyance with intakes that can operate while still allowing baby salmon in the Sacramento River to safely pass could be an improvement with conditions. Conditions would include capping total Delta water exports at a volume pegged to the outcome of the State Water Resources Control Board Delta flows process. In addition part of the solution would include new facilities that would safely shield San Joaquin River salmon from being pulled to their death in the existing pumps. The current forebays that feed water to both the state and federal pumps are predator magnets and baby salmon killers and would need fixing. So too the Delta Cross Channel, a manmade canal feeding Sacramento River water, and baby salmon, to the pumps needs to be closed during key times of the year.

Central Valley salmon evolved to transit the Delta riding on east to west flows as Central Valley rivers emptied into the Delta and Bay. These flows pushed baby salmon from the Delta out to the bay and ocean. Since the massive state and federal water projects were built, these Delta flows have shifted more north to south as the Sacramento River is sucked off its natural course, largely through the Delta Cross Channel, to the pumps.

The biggest problem with the existing twin tunnels plans and design is that it calls for intakes, pipes and pumps big enough to drain the entire Sacramento River dry at most times of the year. This simply isn't credible to reasonable Californians or those charged with protecting fish and wildlife, which is why the twin tunnels are hopelessly bogged down.

The State Water Resources Control Board is currently in the process of determining how much water needs to be left in the rivers and allowed to flow through the Delta and Bay to keep the Delta, Bay, and our native fish and wildlife from dying. Only after these calculations are complete will we really know how much water in various types of precipitation years will be surplus and available for export. Most reasonable people would agree it makes more sense to design massive, expensive public works plumbing projects only after you know for sure how much water you’re likely to move. As is, the current huge version of the tunnels don’t pencil out for the water users who would have to pay for them unless water diversions are drastically increased, something most Californians don’t support.

Tunnel proponents argue that while massive, the volume of water they'd trap and export would be limited by controls on the intakes that can be opened or closed as needed. They ask the public to trust them to operate these responsibly. Salmon fishermen, for one, don't trust them because Central Valley water operations have been operated to the detriment of salmon over and over again.

Finally, the state and south of Delta water users must recognize that communities like Los Angeles, San Diego and Silicon Valley want to be less dependent on the Delta, not
more. They’re proving this by investing in recycling facilities, water conservation programs, cleaning up groundwater, capturing storm water, and other projects.

We hope this proposal from PPIC sparks some serious discussion within state government and those who would pay for a new water conveyance. There’s no doubt the current system of moving water is harmful to salmon.

The Golden Gate Salmon Association (www.goldengatesalmonassociation.org) is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants, a native tribe, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon. GGSA’s mission is to protect and restore California’s largest salmon producing habitat comprised of the Central Valley river’s that feed the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the communities that rely on salmon as a long-term, sustainable, commercial, recreational and cultural resource.



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