June 18, 2016    Headlines

Central Bay Halibut & Stripers

The Bays:

By Dave Hurley

Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker had a small charter during the week, and they came back early with a bass per rod for novice anglers along with a big halibut taken by the charter master. He said, “The smaller tides on Thursday slowed down the striper bite, but they are improving daily with more water movement necessary to get the stripers back on the bite.” He is running open load potluck trips all next week. Some boats have been venturing out the Gate and working the north and south bars for halibut and picking up incindental stripers. There are still some stripers on the rock piles and scores should pick back up,

Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael reported Thursday 6-16 ‘terrific’ fishing despite the winds of ‘epic proportions.’ The winds have kept all but the large party boats off of the bay, but the conditions were much better on Thursday. He added, “Halibut fishing is the best I have seen in many years, and there is good action most days off of the Paradise Park Pier. The tides are big this week, but there are small minuses this week before slowing down by Thursday.” They have plenty of Loch Lomond shiners in the tanks.

Chad at Sweeney’s Sports in Napa reported striper fishing in the Napa River has slowed with a few legal fish from 18 to 22 inches taken on cut anchovies or sardines along with trolling or casting lures. Live mudsuckers or bullheads are producing the occasional larger fish. Sturgeon fishing is limited to a few fishermen, and it is slow at best.


Captain Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker was reported to pick up limits of bass on Sunday 6-12 working the Central Bay rockpiles. There were also some big halibut in the mix and it looks like the smaller tides this week should produce great bass and halibut action.  His son James continues his assault on the bay’s waters with heavy scores of halibut and bass on Saturday.
Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael reported high winds were the limiting factor on Sunday with the trees bending double throughout the day. He said, “It was horrible out here today, and the police boat was making rescues throughout the day; however, fishing is terrific with the skiffs returning with a fish or two per rod on Saturday. Captain Gordie Hough of the Morningstar put in 27 striped bass and 6 halibut on Saturday, followed up by 10 halibut at Paradise in rough conditions on Sunday before finishing off with a few fish shy of striper limits at Raccoon Straits. The weather was so rough, the group was begging to come back in even though the fish were ‘biting like crazy’ when they left. Halibut fishing is ‘off the charts,’ and there are numerous small legal striped bass in the rocks.  There have been a number of halibut in the Paradise area, and they were biting ‘feverishly’ on Sunday morning. “ Loch Lomond has plenty of shiners for the upcoming week.


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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