New Captain Pete Sportfishing

(650) 726-6224

April 14, 2014    Headlines

Salmon to the Left & Right

Half Moon Bay:
Captain Dennis Baxter of the New Captain Pete ran as far south as Ano Nuevo on Saturday 4-12 for one salmon, and he said, “There hasn’t been much improvement in the warm 55.8 degree water.” The bird life and krill has been primarily absent in this section of the coastline. One private boat found two fish 13 miles west of the harbor.
Captain Tom Mattusch on the Huli Cat mooched in 50 to 53 fathoms of water on Sunday for no salmon, but they pulled the crab pots for a huge wolf eel and 15 limits of Dungeness crab. Saturday’s story was more of the same with one shaker released but 18 limits of Dungeness crab.
Further north in Pacifica, Sheryl Jimno of the Rusty Hook reported small stripers are showing up along the beaches with lures or sand crabs while a few perch are found in the surf. Crabbing remains decent from the pier.

The salmon action has been very slow and continues to be on Tuesday 4-8. There is incredible bait and life offshore and it's just a matter on not if but when the salmon arrive. With good numbers being reported to both the north and south the bite off the Golden Gate and Half Moon bay should pick up soon. Captain Dennis Baxter of the New Captain Pete will be heading out on Friday, and he is loading up with Spectra line and 4-pound weights to pull out all stops in order to find the salmon near the bottom. He reported, ”One private boater did land a salmon and release a shaker at the Deep Reef, so there is hope, and there are ‘rumors’ of 3 salmon landed near Pigeon Point on a skiff, but this is unconfirmed.” The good news is the salmon south in Monterey will eventually have to come through the area at some point in time.

San Mateo and Marin "Stuck in the Middle"
The 2014 salmon season got under way on Saturday 4-5. So far we have heard of great action found in Monterey bay this morning. Bodega bay got on the score board with a good bite found in the afternoon after a very slow start. Boats out the Golden Gate and Half Moon bay are spread out from Pigeon Pt to the Islands. There are reporting incredible feed conditions all along the 50 to 75 fathom line. Dennis Baxter out of HMB reported dozens of Humpback whales and krill so thick it was hanging off their lines in 75 fathoms. Despite the abundance life the main ingredient was missing. As of the noon hour the only party boat with a fish was the Wacky Jacky. Dennis says that boats looking around the Islands reported similar conditions with tons of feed but so far no fish.
The good news is that Monterey bay saw their fastest action in 12 years with most tied up with limits before 10AM. Rick on the Sea Angler had just two fish at 1:PM and is now over a fish per rod with 20 in the box at 2:PM.
It's just a matter of time when the bite will go off for the Golden Gate and Half Moon bay boats. All the right conditions (perhaps too much of a good thing?) are in place, it's just a matter of the fish popping up.

Golden Gate Salmon Association Backed Science Convinces Feds to Truck Salmon During Drought
In a huge win for salmon, sport & commercial anglers and farmers the Golden Gate Salmon association announced Monday 3-10 that a study that they paid for has convinced the US Fish and Wildlife Service to truck ALL their baby fall run salmon from Coleman hatchery to San Pablo bay. In addition, this science looks to have 100% of all the state hatchery fish from the Feather, American and Mokelumne hatcheries also truck past the problems (pumps) in the Delta and expected low and warm river flows this spring.
Recent studies from 2007 to 2112 have shown that over 94% of Fall run salmon smolts released from Coleman never even make it too San Pablo Bay. In fact over 50% of Coleman released fish never survive the first 50 miles of their down stream migration. The Golden Gate Salmon Association paid for a study that clearly shows that trucking especially during the current drought is the ONLY WAY that we can ensure that there will be enough salmon to a have a salmon season in 2016. The Coleman hatchery was built to mitigate for spawning areas lost due to the building of Shasta dam. However with over 94% of the hatchery fish lost on their down stream migration the Feds were doing little to actually enhance the fishery.
 Without these measures we could see: No ocean sport or commercial salmon season in 2016 and possibly 2017, possible Central Valley river closures and the continued drop in numbers of returning fall run salmon in future years.
With these measures we could see a viable if not huge return of Fall run salmon three years from now. Longer term this could support the goal of a fall run of nearly 1 million fish returning the to the Central Valley rivers.
Please see the Golden Gate Salmon Association news release just below. I encourage all readers to support this incredible origination (read between the lines: get off your ass and write a check, attend a dinner or donate a trip on your party boat or ??? ) that has just done the impossible. Their science based approach to trucking salmon could be the biggest benefit to this fishery in decades and they deserve all of the credit for possibly saving a season when the fishery may have been closed.
Mike Aughney

eds Agree with GGSA Call to Truck Millions of Hatchery Salmon
Contingency plans respond to extreme drought condition

California’s largest salmon hatchery may end up trucking its production this year to the Delta or San Francisco Bay for release due to the extreme drought conditions. Ordinarily the Coleman National Fish Hatchery releases its fish each year into the upper Sacramento River near Redding. From there the baby salmon migrate hundreds of miles downstream to the Delta and, under favorable conditions, on to San Francisco Bay and the Pacific.
Coleman is operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and raises approximately 12 million baby salmon annually to help mitigate the impacts of Shasta Dam and federal water operations in the Upper Sacramento River on native salmon stocks. After being presented with overwhelming evidence by the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA –
www.goldengatesalmon.org) , the USFWS has agreed to transport most, if not all, of its 12 million Coleman Hatchery juvenile salmon the bay or western delta unless expected drought conditions change markedly for the better.
The USFWS made the announcement at a meeting of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council in Sacramento. The Service acknowledged the arguments GGSA has methodically advanced since December that the continued drought presents a uniquely hostile situation that threatens the survivability of Central Valley Chinook salmon, including the hatchery salmon. GGSA maintains that low, clear, hot river conditions will likely wipe out the hatchery fish if they were dumped into the river.
“GGSA worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to move these fish rather than dump them into a drought stricken river where they’d most likely perish,” said John McManus, executive director of GGSA. “We’re grateful they heard us out and gave this issue the consideration it needs. What this means is we’ll likely have a much better salmon fishing season in 2016, when these fish reach adulthood, then we would have otherwise gotten. This could mean the difference between a shutdown of the fishery in 2016 and a decent year.”
California’s state-operated hatcheries truck much of their production annually for release in the Delta or Bay and the state took a leading role to truck even more this year due to drought impacts on Central Valley rivers. State and federally raised hatchery fish could make up most of 2016’s salmon harvest and spawning escapement.
USFWS’s plans are contingent on the amount and quality of the water in the Sacramento River when the fish are ready for release in April, May and June. The Service told the PFMC meeting it would take a significant "precipitation event" to reverse the plans to truck their fish. Drought conditions are expected to dominate in the Sacramento River and its tributaries in April, May and June.
“Transporting the baby salmon in tanker trucks and releasing them into the bay or western Delta will give them a fighting chance at reaching the ocean,” said GGSA treasurer Victor Gonella.
In addition to hostile river conditions, baby salmon this year are facing the added risk of being pulled to their deaths through the Delta Cross channel, a manmade canal built to divert water to huge pumps that send it to agriculture. Normally the Cross Channel Gates would be closed to allow salmon passage at this time of year but are now being opened when possible to dilute salt water accumulation in the interior Delta caused by the drought.
“Although the drought is creating extremely hostile conditions this year, many years are low water years and the Fish and Wildlife Service needs to transport salmon whenever low water conditions exist in the future,” said GGSA secretary Dick Pool.
A member of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council reports the Council will be drafting a letter to the USFWS requesting that it consider a similar approach in the future should drought conditions persist or again deteriorate to levels requiring action.
“As more and more fresh water is extracted from the Sacramento River and Delta for delivery to San Joaquin Valley agribusiness, the salmon’s migration corridor downstream and through the Bay-Delta estuary has become a deadly gauntlet,” said GGSA vice chairman Zeke Grader who is also the executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “Add drought and the Central Valley rivers and Delta become virtually impassable for salmon.”
GGSA was joined by member fishing groups in working to get the Coleman fish trucked. Members of Congress including Representatives Jared Huffman, Mike Thompson and John Garamendi, Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier, George Miller and Mike Honda also supported the efforts.
Currently, California’s salmon industry is valued at $1.4 billion in economic activity annually and about half that much in economic activity again in Oregon. The industry employs tens of thousands of people from Santa Barbara to northern Oregon. This is a huge economic bloc made up of commercial fishing men and women, recreational anglers (fresh and salt water), fish processors, marinas, coastal communities, fishing guides, equipment manufacturers, the hotel and food industry, tribes, and the salmon fishing industry at large.
The Golden Gate Salmon Association (www.goldengatesalmon.org) is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fishermen, a Native American tribe, businesses, restaurants, fishing guides, environmentalists, 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 rivers that feed the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the communities that rely on salmon.

Salmon Abundance Numbers Expected to Remain Solid In 2014
Fishery managers expect another solid salmon season in 2014. On Wednesday 2-26 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife held a meeting in Santa Rosa on the state of the salmon fishery. The expected "ocean abundance" for Sacramento Valley fall run chinook is 635,000. This compares to a preseason forecast in 2013 of 863000 Central Valley fall run or about 25% fewer fish.
Ocean abundance numbers for the second largest producer, the Klamath river are forecast to be roughly 300,000.
Central Valley Salmon account for as much as 90% of all king salmon that are harvested along the California coast and account for over 50% of king salmon caught along the Oregon coast. All in all this year's forecast if accurate (which is a big if) would be the second highest numbers since 2005.
Restrictions this coming season like the Monday / Tuesday closures we saw in June and July of 2013 likely won't happen this year. Returning numbers of endangered winter run salmon were nearly double last year and those closures were meant to protect winter run from over-harvest.
Ocean feed conditions have been incredibly healthy the past three years and if that trend continues they are other reasons to be optimistic. Fishery managers expect the numbers of fall run chinook on the Columbia river to blow out the record season set last year. In 2013 over 1 million kings returned to the Columbia, the highest return since Bonneville dam was constructed in the late 1930s. The previous record was roughly a half million fish. This year 1.6 million kings are expected to return to the Columbia. Fishery managers there are asking for increased bag limits and that some wild fish be allowed in the sport fishery. If ocean feed conditions remain healthy along the Northern and Central California coast some of these Columbia fish could end up on local angler's tables.
Reality Check:
Aside from the WAG presented by CDFW for next season there are other observations to go on. There were fair numbers of "shaker" salmon seen in the late fall of 2013 off the Golden Gate and Bodega bay but not huge numbers by a historical contrast. Many of these fish were under 12" and will likely not be of catchable size until later in 2014. Eureka based six packs did see lots of 18 to 24"  (two year olds) in their catches late last season and these fish will be of catchable size this spring. 
The Pacific Fishery Management Council will release season options and restrictions in March but most expect that we will see the Central coast salmon season open in early April. We will be updating readers on the options in the coming weeks. In the time being get your boat prepped and those party boat reservations made. Despite the current drought 2014 could shape up to be a fairly solid year.
I will have some incredible news about what the Golden Gate Salmon Association
has been doing behind the scenes soon. They are working hard get more Central Valley fish to ocean during the current drought. If they are successful we could see much less of an impact on the ocean abundance numbers in 2016. More on this later as the exact plan is still in the "works" but I promise you once released this news will be HUGE!.
Please support this great organization that has been so successful in protecting and enhancing our salmon fisheries. Please visit their website for information on their fishery rebuilding plan and all the enhancement projects they are currently working on.  Their next dinner is in Santa Rosa on April 4th. Tickets can be purchased here
. You will want to make reservations soon as the dinner is already 2/3s sold out. Their Sonoma dinner is sold out but there are dinners planned for Marin and a possible return to the Sacramento area later this year.


Regulations for the MLPAs are in effect from Pt Arena to Pigeon Point. Anglers need to know which areas are affected and the regulations and the boundaries of the different zones. Please use this link and be sure to print a map for these areas to carry with you.

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