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August 20, 2014    Headlines

 Salmon Trickling In!
Salmon Opens But Still Very Slow

Delta Report
By Dave Hurley
For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, reported catching and releasing over 50 largemouth bass on Monday 8-18 with two teenaged clients tossing the Berkley Havoc Flat Dawg on a Zappu Head using 8-pound test on a spinning rod. He said, “The action was non-stop, and there is a top water bite for larger fish with the new ima Little Stick with the action improving as the water heats up during the daytime.” The best fish are coming in top water lures, frogs, rip baits such as the ima Flit, or flipping and pitching with the Berkley Chigger Craw or Berkley Beast punching the hyacinth or hydrilla.
The annual Bass Fest is this coming weekend at Russo’s Marina on Bethel Island, and the tournament starts with a trade show and boat demonstrations from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday with additional registration from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. The tournament starts at safe light on Sunday morning with the trade show lasting from 11:00 a.m. until closing. The entry fee is only $50.00/angler with numerous raffle and tournament prizes. Information is available at www:thebassfest.com.
Pringle also found schools of stripers using a 3/4th-ounce Hopkins Smoothie spoon in blue or green with small twitches for linesides to 8-pounds. He said, “Most of the stripers are small, but there are some quality fish in the mix.”


Salmon fishing continued to show signs of life at both the upper and lower ends of the Delta in Suisun Bay and in the Sacramento Metropolitan area around the Freeport Bridge. Striped bass fishing has slowed considerably with the next wave of fish yet to arrive into the central Delta. Catfish, bluegill, and largemouth bass remained solid options.
In lower Suisun Bay, Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported 7 salmon were landed at 1st Street on Saturday 8-16 with another two lost with 9 salmon taken at the State Park with anglers misfiring on another pair. He said, “The fish are looking very clean and bright, and the 17.5-pound salmon that Alvin Hughes landed at the State Park on a chartreuse/silver Flying C was absolutely chrome.” The heavy spinners are the ticket from the shoreline, and Benicia sold 80 of their Vee-Zee spinners on Saturday.
In the upper Delta, Johnny Tran of Freeport Bait reported salmon fishing is ‘getting better,’ with six or seven fish per night taken on Slammer Minnows jigged at the Freeport Bridge on Sunday 8-17.
Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento confirmed the improved salmon fishing, and he advised using purple, black/red, or dark green spoons, stating, “They are getting more and more salmon every evening in the Freeport area.”
Salmon fishing in the Old Sacramento River remained slow with Captain Stan Koenigsberger of Quetzal Adventures trolling from Rio Vista up the Old Sacramento past Walnut Grove for no salmon, but two tiny smallmouth bass struck their spinners.
Sturgeon fishing has been limited to a few hard-core anglers in upper Suisun Bay, but reports have been scarce.
The striped bass action appears to be best in lower Suisun Bay around the Mothball Fleet with Tony Lopez reporting,“The bullhead supply is getting more consistent with a better grade of bait, and anglers have been finding stripers in the 10 to 15-pound range by the Fleet.” Shoreline fishermen are scoring school-sized stripers from 12thStreet with blood worms, but the worms were scarce in area baits shops over the weekend with Benicia selling out of both blood and pile worms within hours on Saturday morning due to the high demand.
In the Pittsburg region, Do Doung of Dockside Bait reported the wave of big stripers has moved through the river with few big fish taken in the past week, perhaps due to the limited supply of bullheads in the area. Trolling for stripers was slower in the Sacramento River during the week, motivating Clyde Wands, shallow trolling expert, to switch over to the San Joaquin River to find better action.
Upriver near Sacramento, Tran at Freeport Bait reported a 20-pound striper was caught and kept below the Freeport Bridge on a sardine coated with garlic spray.
Smallmouth bass are still holding in the Old Sacramento River and Steamboat Slough, but the fish have dropped in the water column to depths between 15 and 20 feet adjacent to rocky structure. Tran advised drifting extra-large minnows on the live bait three-way rig.


Federal judge denies motion to block water transfers
by Dan Bacher

A federal judge on July 11 denied a motion by an environmental group and fishing organization for a preliminary injunction against water transfers from northern California to San Joaquin Valley irrigators.
Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill of the U.S. District Court in Fresno rejected the motion for the preliminary injunction to stop the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from transferring water through the south Delta export pumps to the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority, which includes the Westlands Water District.
The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) and AquAlliance filed the motion, claiming that the environmental assessment was "seriously flawed" and that the transfers posed "an eminent threat to threatened Delta smelt," according to a statement from Bill Jennings, CSPA Executive Director.
CSPA and AquAlliance had pointed out that extremely low Delta outflows this year had brought Delta smelt habitat (the low salinity zone) and Delta smelt into the Delta where they were threatened with lethal water temperatures.
The judge's decision was predicated on “agency deference” and the fact that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Bureau claimed that Delta smelt were not in danger because they’re not in the Delta in summer, noted Jennings.
Jennings said, “We’re deeply disappointed in the decision and will now decide our next steps. Contrary to the decision, Delta smelt are at severe risk. The U.S. Geological Survey’s state-of-the-art flow gages of Delta outflow, confirmed by increasing salinity levels, reveal a net inflow to the Delta from the ocean."
Jennnings said the 23-26 June Delta smelt survey by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reveals that there are no Delta smelt in Suisun Bay and that 92.95% are in the Delta and exposed to high temperatures. A remnant group (7%) of Delta smelt is trapped in the Sacramento Ship Channel, but won’t likely survive August temperatures.
State fishery biologists counted only 22 smelt, once the most numerous species in the entire Delta, from June 23 to June 26. The survey included 120 trawls at 40 different locations.
"The USFWS and Bureau have escorted Delta smelt to the scaffold and the judge signed the warrant. We did all we could do to prevent disaster," emphasized Jennings.
Jennings said the state and federal governments have mismanaged northern California water so poorly that there was actually a minus 45 cubic feet per second (cfs) net outflow to the Bay this May while the Department of Water Resources and US Bureau of Reclamation were reporting a plus 3805 cfs.
“Last year, excessive water exports and low outflow drew delta smelt from Suisun Bay into the central Delta where they were butchered by lethal water temperatures," Jennings revealed. "This year, with population levels hovering at historic lows: excessive transfers and exports, relaxed flow standards, high temperatures and negligible outflows may catapult the species into the abyss of extinction. On top of these threats, we were astonished to discover that the estimates of Delta outflow that state and federal agencies have reported and regulators have relied upon for years are wrong and significantly overestimate outflow in low flow conditions."
The Net Delta Outflow Index (NDOI) used to assess compliance with required flow standards is based upon a formula of both actual and estimated data. Examination of tidally filtered outflow data from the U.S. Geological Survey’s state-of-the-art UVM flow meters on the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and Three-mile and Dutch Sloughs reveals that actual Net Delta Outflow (NDO) in low flow conditions are considerably lower, according to Jennings.
The Delta smelt, Hypomesus transpacificus, is an endangered fish from 2.0 to 2.8 inches long that is found only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. It mainly inhabits the freshwater-saltwater mixing zone of the estuary, except during its spawning season when it migrates upstream to freshwater following winter "first flush" flow events, approximately from March to May.
The fish is an "indicator species" that demonstrates the health of the Bay-Delta Estuary, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. Because of its one-year life cycle and relatively low fecundity, it is very susceptible to changes in the environmental conditions of its native habitat. Massive water exports out of Delta to corporate agribusiness interests have played a key role in the precipitous decline of the fish in recent years.
Note: The court decision plus an index of Delta smelt, results of the 23-26 June DFW Delta smelt survey, USGS flow data and salinity data that show Delta smelt to be at grave risk are attached.
cspa_v_bor_order_denying_pi_140711.pdfdownload PDF (393.4 KB)


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