May 27, 2016    Headlines

Central Bay Halibut & Stripers

The Bays:

By Dave Hurley

The big minus tides over the next few days should have the bay boats focusing on stripers on the rocks during the brief windows as well as heading outside of the Gate for rockfish once the wind lay down. Here on Thursday 5-26 party boats found easy limits of rockfish on the Central Bay rock piles. This is the last day of minus tides and we should see halibut counts tick up a notch with the medium size tides this coming Memorial Day weekend. .

Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker does have room for potluck trips on Saturday and Memorial Day.

Captain John Badger of Barbarian Sport Fishing will be focusing on halibut during the morning’s smaller tides before switching over to working the rocks for striped bass.

Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait in San Rafael said, “The bass are thick in the bay on all of the rocks, and the halibut fishing has been surprisingly good despite the minus tides. Saturday will be the end of the minuses, but the wind has been blowing hard every day. It wasn’t terrible today, but skiffs under 18 feet would be questionable at best. There are plenty of Loch Lomond shiners in the shop for the three-day weekend, and we will have ghost shrimp on Friday.”

It's that time of year that this writer takes off to open our vacation home on the Kenai peninsula. We will be chasing kings & sockeye on the local rivers and will be jumping on board with Captain Steve Smith halibut and saltwater action. I will post some highlights on Face Book next week. We will be leaving the laptop at home and will return with full reports here on Sunday June 5th.
In the time being please contact our sponsors or visit their websites for current reports, information and bookings.
Until then... good fishing!
Mike Aughney

As we were saying on our last report the stripers should show this week and show they did! The bass have flooded onto the rockpiles, and Captain Jim Smith took out 19 anglers for limits of striped bass along with some big halibut on Wednesday 5-25. Bob Wright, second captain, contributed to boat limits with five stripers and a 20-pound halibut. Larry Nelson of Oakland is starting to round into legendary form with a big halibut and five striped bass. Smith said, “There are bass on every rockpile of the Central Bay, and there have been some bigger fish there as well as a number of 8 to 10 pounders” They have an open load on Friday as well as through the weekend into Monday’s Memorial Day holiday.
Sons James and Chris Smith also got in on the striped bass action the past few days with multiple stripers and leopard sharks on The Captain Hook aka ‘The Defiant’ as well as on the Cal
Dawn. Tides are good over the holiday weekend and we expect party boats to continue to see solid bass and halibut action in the days ahead.

Halibut fishing has been very good, and there are a trickling of striped bass moving into the bay. This trickle of bass should turn into a torrent as we come back into the next set of big tides.

Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker ended up with 20 fish for 37 passengers on Sunday 5-22 working the flats in the central bay. He said, “There are a lot of shaker halibut in the bay, and sometimes we would have four to five shakers on at the same time. Things should be very good for the next couple of years with the number of smaller halibut in the bay. There is plenty of bait fish in the bay at the present time, and we put in 12 halibut and 15 bass on Saturday for 27 customers. Larry Nelson is back to being the Legend with a legal halibut and bass along with a number of shakers released on Sunday.” Smith is running open load potluck trips from Wednesday through Sunday.

Jim's son  James Smith of the California Dawn put in two good days with 28 halibut on Saturday before the bite slowed a bit for 16 halibut and 4 stripers on Sunday.
Jay Lopes of Right Hook Sport Fishing put in a solid day of halibut action on Sunday with 7 flatties to 14 pounds for 4 clients. He will be giving a seminar on ocean salmon fishing on Thursday night at 6:00 p.m. at the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento.

Steve Talmadge of Flash Fishing out of Pier 45 in San Francisco has third-generation captain Jonathan Smith running the Flash II, and he said, “Both the Flash I and Flash II were on the water on full day trips on Friday with Jonathan putting his clients onto 9 fish while we ended up with 12 fish with Jim Graham landing his first halibut along with a limit of bass. On Saturday, the young Smith got his revenge with 9 fish while we came back with 5 for 4 clients. We have been working the Berkeley Flats, and there are a number of shaker halibut in the area.”


Special to The Bee

After yet another revision, the governor’s plan to build twin tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta still makes no economic sense. A closer look at the three types of economic benefits claimed for the project to export water to Central Valley farms and Southern California cities shows why it can’t possibly justify its estimated $15 billion cost. In each case, I give a value derived directly from the optimistic estimates of the state’s consultants and a more intuitive comparison.

Water supply: The latest numbers estimate the tunnels will increase water exports south of the Delta by an annual average of 257,000 acre-feet, with no increase in drought years when it is needed most. The cumulative value of that water supply over 50 years is $2 billion to $3 billion.
For comparison, San Diego’s new desalination plant will provide 56,000 acre-feet of drought-proof water for a capital cost of $1 billion. Desalination is the most costly water supply alternative, but it still provides more than three times the water supply per dollar invested than the Delta tunnels.

Water quality: Because the tunnels would divert higher-quality water from the Sacramento River, the salt and other contaminants in export water supply could decrease by 20 percent. It’s estimated that this could have a cumulative value to water exporters of as much as $2 billion over 50 years.
However, it is important to remember that the tunnels aren’t a water treatment or desalination plant that purifies water. Thus, the water exporter’s gain in water quality will be offset by degraded water quality elsewhere, a concern that is at the center of opposition in the five Delta counties and environmental concerns raised by the EPA and others.

Seismic risk: Listening to the governor, earthquake protection is the main economic argument. But the state’s experts estimated seismic-risk reduction to water exports was only worth a cumulative $400 million over 50 years. Why is this value so low? First, it is a very low probability event even in the most pessimistic models. Second, the outage to water exports isn’t as bad as you hear in TV commercials. Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin correctly described it as “weeks or months” in a recent media call, not years. In a worst-case earthquake scenario, the tunnels might prevent 2 million to 3 million acre-feet in lost water exports, a costly but manageable shortage. For comparison, the current drought has cut surface water supplies to farms and cities by more than 10 million acre-feet.
The earthquake argument is not only economically wrong, it is morally outrageous. The real damage from what some call California’s Katrina would be death and destruction in the Delta itself. The state’s model of this tragedy shows hundreds could die and that 80 percent of the economic damage was from the loss of property and infrastructure in the Delta.
It’s shocking that the state’s response to this are water tunnels that protect only 20 percent of the economic loss and zero percent of the life loss. Levee upgrades are much cheaper and reduce risks for all Californians.
In sum, the economic benefits of the tunnels to the water exporters total about $5 billion of its $15 billion cost, and the benefit-cost ratio is even worse when the negative impacts to the Delta and risks to the environment and upstream interests are considered.
Support among water exporters has been steadily eroding as the economic and financial shortcomings of the plan become better understood.
A few years ago, the state tried to shore up its economic argument by attaching a huge value to the hope of 50-year regulatory protection from the Endangered Species Act, and incorrectly attributing habitat restoration benefits to the tunnels. After heavy criticism, the latest revision to the tunnels plan eliminates the 50-year regulatory assurance and separates environmental restoration. The plan’s already flimsy economic rationale evaporated with this correction.
It is increasingly clear that there are less divisive alternatives that provide more economic and environmental value than the tunnels. No amount of tweaking can save what is fundamentally a bad idea. It’s time to move on.

Jeffrey Michael, an economist, is director of the Center for Business and Policy Research at the University of the Pacific. Read his blog at
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Party Boat Information and Reservations Around the Bay

The Happy Hooker will be running potluck trips from the Berkeley Marina +1.510.223.5388

California Dawn will be running halibut and striper trips from the Berkeley Marina +1.510.417.5557

Emeryville Sportfishing Center is booking potluck trips on their fleet of 8 boats +1.510.654.604

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