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Captain Stan Koenigsberger

Captain Steve Smith of the Bay Area "Smith" fishing clan has been fishing Alaska's Kenai Peninsula for 24 years. 800.567.1043
 

November 25, 2014    Headlines

 Stripers Take Center Stage

Delta Report
By Dave Hurley

Stripers, stripers, and more stripers continued to be the story coming out of the Sacramento River, and live mudsuckers, topwater lures, spoons, or swimbaits are all producing quality limits in the 8 to 12-pound range. The sturgeon are on the move towards Suisun Bay as the water temperature continued to cool. Salmon fishing has slowed to only a few fish south of Freeport as interest in trolling or casting for salmon has waned in the past weeks.

For striped bass, Scott Feist of Feisty Fish Guide Service has been working in the north Delta, and he reported Sunday 11-23, “The action has been fantastic with limits the rule drifting live mudsuckers, but when the tide is right, we are picking up fish on either swimbaits or spoons.” His deckhand for striper fishing is Host Sheet subscriber Scotty Marran, and his thumb has been reduced to a serrated stub from catching and releasing the masses of stripers. Scott will be running these trips for as long as the bite lasts. He will be offering some very limited goose hunts in December and January when he has both the weather and lots of birds holding in his leased fields. He had to cancel his duck hunts on his prime Dingville area blind due to the lack of available water this year.
Captain Manuel Saldana Jr. of MSJ Guide Service said, “The great striper bite continues in the Delta with clients Chad and Josh landing stripers to 8-pounds on a variety of methods including live bait, trolling plugs, and casting 5-inch Optimum’s Double AA swimbaits coated with Pro-Cure’s Threadfin Shad Gel fishing both north and south of the Rio Vista Bridge.”
J. D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing said, “Striper fishing remained outstanding despite the intermittent rain over the past few days, and we have found great action in the morning jigging 1-ounce spoons in deep water before switching over to topwater lures with Aiden James’s Striper Squirrels or Pencil Poppers in low light conditions. The recent overcast days have extended our time with topwater lures, and the fish are a solid grade.  He has been fishing either north or south of the Rio Vista Bridge depending upon the tides and water conditions.  
Jay Lopes of Right Hook Sport Fishing has been alternating between sturgeon trips and striper fishing, and he stayed on the stripers for a week straight due to the excellent bite. They have been drifting live mudsuckers in the north Delta, and the bite has been so consistent.

In Suisun Bay, Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait said, “Boaters are ‘tearing up the bass’ with one boat reportedly landing over 30 stripers ranging from 20-inches to 15 pounds near the Carquinez Bridge on bullheads.” Bullheads are back in the bait shops, and both Benicia Bait and Dockside Bait in Pittsburg have a supply of the live bait with Dockside also featuring live mudsuckers.
Do Doung at Dockside Bait in Pittsburg reported scores of anglers were out on Sunday after Saturday’s rains and winds kept them off of the water. They also have a supply of grass shrimp in the shop.
The sturgeon are on the move, and Lopes was able to put his clients onto three keepers on Sunday fishing below Pittsburg with salmon roe on the incoming  tide.
Salmon fishing has slowed considerably in the Sacramento River with only a single fish reported from the Benicia shoreline during the week. Dave Scatena of Stockton trolled for several hours with Captain Stan Koenigsberger of Quetzal Adventures on Saturday in the Walnut Grove area, and they observed only a single salmon landed by a shore fisherman casting a heavy spinner. Scatena said, “Eleven trips resulted in six salmon this year ranging from 15 to 23.5-pounds, and this was the poorest action that I have experienced in the past several years.”  Clapp reported only 14 salmon were marked by state biologists during a recent run from Clarksburg north to Discovery Bay.

Water hyacinth continued to plague boaters in the Stockton area as well as in the south Delta, and the heavy vegetation has slowed the supply of fresh shad to a crawl over the past week. The shad are still within reach of the commercial shadders, but the hyacinth is so thick in the Port of Stockton that the operators do not wish to risk their vessels at night. Sucking up hyacinth has caused several boats to overheat within the past month.
Stripers are still available despite the vegetation, and Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait in Stockton reported landing three limits ranging from 21 to 26-inches with fresh shad in lower Jones Tract at the Middle River. He said, “Empire Cut, Lower Jones Tract, Grimes Road, and the Old River near the Highway 4 Bridge are the top locations for stripers, but the hyacinth continues to make conditions difficult, particularly on the Old River.” Also for striped bass, Doug Chapman of Gotcha Bait in Antioch said, “There were at least 100 people on the Antioch Fishing Pier on Sunday, and anglers are catching keepers in the 20-inch range on frozen shad or sardines.”
The San Joaquin River near Mossdale has been another productive location, and the hyacinth has been minimal in this stretch of the river. Shallow water, underwater hazards, and sandbars are barriers in this stretch of the river, but limits of linesides have been taken on white/chartreuse paddletail swimbaits.


Scott Feist with Feisty Fish guide service reported GREAT action fishing around Rio Vista on Wednesday 11-19. Scott says they are seeing solid action on bait and a few on swimbaits and spoons. They hooked most on mudsuckers but he has some spots when the tide is right that are producing bites on everything including the kitchen sink. Light rain did little to change conditions and Scott expects the action to only improve as fresh fish push up from the bay.

Pam Hayes at Benicia Bait reported Tuesday 11-18, “Our shrimp boat is back in the water which is a big relief, but grass shrimp and bullheads have been scarce .” She advised interested fishermen to either reserve bait or call before driving to the shop since the supply of these two baits is limited. She confirmed the solid striped bass bite from the shoreline on a variety of baits from the State Park east to under the Benicia/Martinez Bridge. Hayes added, “Pick you favorite spot depending upon the tides.” Flounder are also starting to show up off of 12th Street with pile or blood worms being the top bait for the flatfish.
James Nguyen at Dockside Bait in Pittsburg reported a 28 and 21-pound limit of stripers was brought to the shop on Monday landed in the deep water on bullheads. You already know what I think about that. A 58.5-inch sturgeon was also brought to the shop on Monday, but there are few reports of success on Tuesday. They have grass shrimp, mudsuckers, and bullheads in the shop.
The striper bite is the best thing going on in the Delta, and there are numbers of stripers throughout the system despite the cold temperatures in the morning. The water temperature continues to drop towards the optimum range in the mid-50’s. Captain Scott Feist confirms the solid striper bite and says "we are dialed on the main vein". Scott has returned with easy limits and lots of released fish on every trip this past week. He has been mum on exact locatins but we will go as far as saying Rio Vista is where he is starting. Where he is finding them you will have to jump on board and let us know.
Larry, ‘The Legend,’ Nelson was able to catch a ride with Bob Wright of Bob Wright’s Guide Service, and after shedding his blindfold and earmuffs, Wright was able to put the Legend onto this impressive limit of stripers. Wright guards his locations as ‘highly classified,’ so there is no other information on location or technique, although Wright is known to drift live bluegill early in the season.
 J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing said, “We caught fish everywhere we went on Tuesday.” Richey will jig spoons in deep water, toss swimbaits along the tules, or throw top water lures in low-light conditions.



The Thirsty West: 10 Percent of California’s Water Goes to Almond Farming
That’s nuts.

DENAIR, Calif.—In California’s vast Central Valley, agriculture is king. But the king appears fatally ill, and no worthy replacement is in sight, as the area noticeably reverts into the desert it was little more than a century ago.
Signs line the back roads here that run parallel to wide irrigation ditches: “Pray for rain” “No water = No jobs”
As I’ve already discussed in the Thirsty West series, city-dwelling Californians are a bit insulated from near-term water shortages thanks to the state’s intricate tentaclesof aqueducts, pipelines, and canals that divert water from the snowcapped Sierras to the urban core along the coast. Rapid population growth looms ominously, but for now, you’ll still be able to brush your teeth in Oakland and Burbank.
By all accounts the current water crisis is far more urgent in the sprawling fields of the Central Valley. And that’s bad news for those of us who enjoy eating daily. Two simple facts explain why: California is the most productive agricultural state in the union, and agriculture uses 80 percent of California’s water. In a year with practically none of the stuff, that’s enough to send ripple effects throughout the country.
California is the nation’s leading producer of almonds, avocados, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, grapes, lettuce, milk, onions, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, walnuts, and dozens of other commodities, according to a 2012 Department of Agriculture report (PDF). The state produces one-third of our vegetables and two-thirds of our nuts and fruits each year. While fields in iconic agricultural states like Iowa, Kansas, and Texas primarily produce grain (most of which is used to fatten animals), pretty much everything you think of as actual food is grown in California. Simply put: We can’t eat without California. But as climate change–fueled droughts continue to desiccate California, the short-term solution from farmers has been to double down on making money.
Like many Americans, I’d never visited California’s ultra-productive Central Valley before my monthlong drought-themed road trip for Slate. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect besides lots and lots of fields. Having grown up in a small town in Kansas and living now in the heart of Wisconsin’s dairy country, I’m plenty familiar with agriculture, but I’ve never seen anything remotely resembling the scale on which it’s practiced here. Agriculture here isn’t the endless fields of corn and wheat of my childhood. Thanks to California’s unique climate, fields here are comprised almost entirely of high-value cash crops.
Driving northward along California state Route 99 from Bakersfield to Fresno, we passed mile after mile of almond orchards, vineyards, and warehouses. There were enormous piles of hay on dairies the size of small towns. Citrus plantations extended to the horizon. And between them all was a crisscrossing network of irrigation ditches, most of which were dry. Coincidentally, this rural highway also bisects the heart of California’s current mega-drought, in which three-quarters of the state is currently rated “extreme” or “exceptional” by the USDA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It’s pretty easy to see why this place is the epicenter of Western water issues. I ended up spending more time here than in any other stop on the trip.
Farmers in California are forced to irrigate because of a fundamental seasonal mismatch: The vast majority of the rain and snow comes in the winter and the best growing conditions (sunlight, warmth) of California’s temperate Mediterranean climate are in the summer.
This year, farmers have to make important decisions—and it often comes down to money. If given a choice between keeping fruit trees alive (which take years to mature and can bring 10 times more money per acre), or planting rows of vegetables that live only a few months, that’s a no-brainer if you’re trying to maximize profit. This year, farmers are fallowing vegetable fields and scrambling to save high-dollar fruit and nut orchards. The result is counterintuitive: In the midst of the worst drought in half a millennium, the most water-intensive crops are getting priority.
California almonds use a stunning 1.1 trillion gallons of water each year, or enough for you to take a 10-minute shower each day for 86 million years (using a low-flow showerhead, of course). Here’s the calculation: California as a whole diverts or pumps 43 million acre-feet of water each year to supplement its meager rainfall. In total, agriculture consumes 34 million acre-feet of that. (An acre-foot is just what it sounds like: the amount of water needed to cover an acre of flat ground up to a foot, or about 325,000 gallons of water.) In 2013, there were 940,000 acres of almonds in California, according to the USDA (PDF). Each acre of almonds uses three to four acre-feet of water each year, most of which are delivered via river diversions or groundwater.
Almonds are one of California's most water-intensive crops, but during this year's epic drought farmers are planting even more. The reason? Economics.
Almonds alone use about 10 percent of California’s total water supply each year. That’s nuts. But almonds are also the state’s most lucrative exported agricultural product, with California producing 80 percent of the world’s supply. Alfalfa hay requires even more water, about 15 percent of the state’s supply. About 70 percent of alfalfa grown in California is used in dairies, and a good portion of the rest is exported to land-poor Asian countries like Japan. Yep, that’s right: In the middle of a drought, farmers are shipping fresh hay across the Pacific Ocean. The water that’s locked up in exported hay amounts to about 100 billion gallons per year—enough to supply 1 million families with drinking water for a year.
Though economics drive the seemingly improbable logic of California’s water exporting, that’s no reason to rush to boycott almonds. As this viral infographic fromMother Jones shows, it takes more than a gallon of water to grow a single almond, and it may take 220 gallons of water to produce a large avocado. But pound-for-pound, there’s an order of magnitude more water needed to get meat and dairy to your plate. A stick of butter requires more than 500 gallons of water to make. A pound of beef takes up to 5,000 gallons. More than 30 percent of California’s agricultural water use either directly or indirectly supports growing animals for food. (As Slate’s L.V. Anderson recently wrote, one of the single most effective actions to combat climate change would be if everyone in the world went vegetarian overnight. It would also likely wreck our economy.)
Later this year, as the effects of California’s drought reverberate through America’s supermarkets, they’ll be what amounts to a de facto water tax: The biggest price increases will be found with some of the most water-intensive crops.
Farmers here are turning to groundwater to make up the difference—and that’s where things get worse. The shocking truth is, California is the last state that doesn’t regulate groundwater pumping, even as supplies are dwindling. That means the motto around here right now is, to borrow another Mother Jones headline: “Drill baby drill (for water, that is).” In some overpumped places, the ground has already sunk by dozens of feet. There are indications that the debate could be changing. In April, a series of conservation bills were presented in the state Senate, with the intention of using the current crisis to address the issue of slipping groundwater supply.
The stakes are so high and the backlog for new water wells is so long that some farmers are buying their own million-dollar drilling rigs, just to protect their massive investments. Wildcatting drilling crews are working 24 hours a day to keep up with demand.
California will never solve its water crisis if the aquifer keeps getting more and more holes to extract groundwater. But in dry years like this one, the state’s agriculture would almost cease to be without groundwater. One short-term answer is more efficient methods, like drip irrigation. The problem is, irrigation technology has gotten so good that typically the end result is increased yields. And the more efficient the irrigation, the less water gets into the soil for groundwater recharge.
While agriculture isn’t a monolith, you’d think an industry dependent on water would be fighting for its survival by addressing the core of the problem. Yet some subsets of the industry seem to refuse to accept the new reality.


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