Captain Tom Joseph 408 348-4866

Captain Dennis Baxter 650 726-6224

January 21, 2019    Headlines

Crab Limits!

2019 Salmon Season Outlook
The 2019 salmon season setting process is under way.
With the high numbers of two year old fish last season we do expect an above average but constrained season again this year. The reasons we could see a shortened season are that adult returns to the Central Valley rivers (Sac, American and Feather) have not meet minimum escapement goals for four straight years. After missing the minimum goal again in 2017 the ocean seasons were cut on average by 40% and in river sport anglers saw a halfling of their usual two fish limit in 2018. Despite the constraints minimum escapement goals of 150K fish were not meet.
In February the Pacific Fishery Management Council will release their three options for the coming year. I am expecting that these options will each include a shorter ocean season and a possible one adult / one jack limit in the rivers.
One of the MANY reasons that goals are not being met is reeds being dewatered and too warm of flows on the upper Sac that have wiped out as much as 98% of the upper Sac naturally produced fall run fish.
The winter run has dropped perilously low as well due to drought and losses of out migrating juvenile salmon due to predation and water diversion in the Delta.
To make matters MUCH MUCH worse is we have word that the Director of Fish and Wildlife, Chuck Bonham has signed off or at least indicated that he is willing to overlook and give the Feds at the Bureau of Reclamation a pass on State authority to overlook the salmon biological opinions to increase pumping in the Delta. The Feds can only increase pumping if they get a pass from the state and if they use the Sate Water Project pumps.
The main push of out migrating winter run salmon are just beginning to arrive in the Delta NOW. Increasing pumping at this time can serious impact the winter run and in turn impact our future seasons.
Yes I just wrote that "the DIRECTOR OF FISH AND WILDLIFE SIGNED OFF TO ALLOW INCREASED PUMPING AND THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE IS OK WITH THE TAKE OF ENDANGERED WINTER RUN SALMON. Unbelievable!  These pumping rates were put in place after years of litigation and are designed to protect salmon as they migrate towards saltwater.
I attended the December 12th State Water Resource Control meeting. After ten plus years of studies, meetings and trying to find ways to stop the decline of salmon the board adopted a flow rate of 40% of unimpaired flows on the tributaries on the San Joaquin river to support salmon and the ecology of the Delta and SF bay. I listened while Chuck tried to sell the SWRCB that volunteered agreements with water diverters was the way save the rivers. He delivered 30 minute presentation that was mostly snake oil. He tried to claim that volunteer agreements were a much better way to protect fish than the 40% unimpaired flows that the SWRCB ended up adopting later that day. (big ag in the Valley immediately sued the state)
The Golden Gate Salmon Association has been directly involved in these discussions and fighting hard to stop this tragedy.
Under "Captain Chuck" Bonham we have seen ever decreasing salmon runs. If you were to look at his background posted on the Cal Fish and Wildlife home page you would see a background with Trout Unlimited and conservation. The current Chuck doesn't give a damn about species protection much less rebuilding our most important fishery.
Again folks this is the DIRECTOR OF FISH AND WILDLIFE. If you fish for salmon or make your living from salmon as a guide, commercial troller, party boat captain or a business  you got hosed by the guy who's job it is to protect our public trust resources.
While Chuck's bio posted on the F&W website is a storied past his reputation within the department and with NGOs and conservation groups is a bit more telling.
Since Chuck took the helm at Cal F&W we have seen just one decent salmon year. That year was 2012 and he can't take credit for that as that was a result of decreased pumping from the south Delta in 2009. Since 2012 we have seen mostly constrained seasons and or well below average returns.
Even more telling of a Bureaucrat losing control is that many within F&W mid management speak that they have not seen Chuck in months and that there has been no communication or direction from him in months. Talk about demoralizing for all the great people that work for the department.
I always say you cant complain unless you have some solutions. In the short term I suggest that readers contact the Governor's office and express their views about the direction of F&W and ask him to NOT BE REAPPOINTED. Also contact your local Congressional representative or senator to telling them to tell Newsome "NO more Chuck"!
If we don't speak up in the next couple of days you can expect more failing runs in the future. This story will be updated in the coming days.

Captain Tom Mattusch of the Huli Cat is the only large party boat running sand dab/crab combination trips, and they ran the first trip of the new year on Wednesday, January 3rd. He said, “The sand dabs were very plentiful and the fishermen also landed some petrale sole in 325 feet of water 16 miles west of the Pillar Point Harbor. The weather was good enough for us to head further west into deep water for the sole, and we will give this fishery a try whenever the conditions allow us to work the deeper water.”
Out of Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing, the party boats will focus on nature trips along with whale watching in the interim months before the rockfish and salmon seasons are anticipated to open in April. Captain Jerad Davis of the Salty Lady will also be running whale watching trips on Saturdays and Sundays through April.
Dungeness crab are still available from the commercial boats in the harbor, and
Captain Dennis Baxter of the New Captain Pete is selling live crab off of the boat on the weekends.
Further north in Pacifica, rough weather has closed the pier on a number of days, but the pier is open daily from 4:00 a.m. through 10:00 p.m., weather depending. Anglers are finding limited success for Dungeness crab with snares, but surf perch action has been decent with a variety of lures including Lucky Craft’s Flash Minnow, Berkley Camo Worms, or Gulp! Worms. Sand crabs are also effective.

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New Captain Pete Sportfishing with captain Dennis Baxter is now taking reservations for charters (650) 726-6224

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