te or federal incidental take permits



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

October 15, 2014    Headlines

 Salmon Trickling In!
Salmon Opens But Still Very Slow

Delta Report
By Dave Hurley

Sturgeon fishing started to pick up on Monday 10-13 with Captain Jay Lopes of Right Hook Sport Fishing finding great action for fish outside of the slot limit with 10 shakers and two oversized at 61 and 63-inches with another estimated at either keeper or oversized lost. Lopes has been fishing in the Pittsburg area between the PGE Plant and Chain Island with salmon roe.
Ernie Marlan of Mixed Bag Sport Fishing fished the Rio Vista Bas Derby all three weekend days, and he said, “The wind made it very challenging, although the two of us managed to catch and release around a dozen keepers on both Friday and Saturday with the best fish at 25-inches,” adding, “On Sunday, the wind made it even more challenging, and we only caught a handful of keeper-sized fish before calling it an early day.”They were tossing Swimbody’s from Trophy Baits, River2Sea S-Wavers or Rovers, and Blade Runner Spoons.
Field Scout Felix Hall of Stockton also fished the derby, and he reported incredible hyacinth conditions in the east Delta near Paradise Point with the vegetation covering in the entire access to the slough in some locations. There were around six sea lions in the east Delta, thrashing a variety of fish species on the surface. (See more on the hyacinth problem in the Delta in the Round and About section)
Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, was the tournament director for the Best Bass Tournaments TOC over the weekend, and there were 280 participants on the 140 boats in the event. He said, “You can catch bass a variety of ways, but with the heavy hyacinth cover throughout the Delta, the larger fish are underneath the weeds.” As a result, punching the weeds produced the heaviest limits. He added, “The bigger fish are found either beneath heavy cover or in deep water.” There is a 30-minute video on Western Bass with interviews of the top anglers explaining how and where they landed the winning fish. The big fish of the tournament came in at 10.25-pounds, and it was taken on a jig in 3 feet of water. Shaky head plastics, crank baits, and chatter baits also produced fish, but the largest fish came from punching. The hyacinth has grown to ridiculous proportions with 100 yards of weeds blocking the entrance to Whiskey Slough until the outgoing tide. With the water conditions, Pringle advised using vibration, smell, and brighter colors such as chartreuse to entice strikes. He added, “The striper bite is getting better and better, and we whacked them in the main San Joaquin River, finding a school ranging from 2 to 7-pounds.” They caught and released between 40 to 50 fish within 1.5-hours using Optimum’s Double AA swimbaits or P-Line Laser Minnow spoons in blues or greens.

Sacramento River/Isleton Area:
Captain Stan Koenigsberger of Quetzal Adventures out of Bethel Harbor took Captain Alex Lee of the San Jose Fire Departmetn for an instructional salmon trip, and he provided some quality instruction with a limit of salmon at 11 and 14-pounds taken on Captain Stan’s custom double-bladed Thumper spinners in chartreuse/chartreuse or silver/chartreuse on the Old Sacramento River along Highway 160 near the mouth. They trolled from noon to 6:00 p.m. Captain Stan reported the hyacinth has blown out and the water temperature dropped to 69.6 degrees. ped slightly to 69.6 degrees.

The salmon bite continues to improve in the lower end of Suisun Bay as the fish are moving quickly through the Delta. Lure tossers are finding more success from the banks in Suisun Bay and also in near Freeport as the salmon are breezing through in the middle of the water column. Striped bass fishing improved during the week prior to Sunday’s 10-12 heavy wind gusts limiting access to the best locations on the main river. The water temperatures have risen from 66 to 72 degrees in response to near triple-digit temperatures, but Sunday’s winds and possible rain this week should cool down the water a few degrees. Water hyacinth has taken over vast stretches of the Sacramento River from Decker Island north to the Deep Water Channel.
Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported 15 quality chrome-bright salmon were landed off of the shoreline at Dillon Point State Park on Sunday morning, and he said, “The bite at 1st Street should start in the afternoon as the high tide is at 4:30 p.m.” Vee-Zee or Flying C spinners have been the ticket for shore anglers. In the upper Sacramento River from the mouth of the Old Sacramento towards Walnut Grove, the rising water temperatures have affected the bite with trollers finding generally slow action. Dave Scatena of Stockton reported, “I observed 4 salmon landed on the first of two trips this week in the Old Sacramento from the locks at Walnut Grove south to Ko-Ket’s Resort, and after four trips without a fish in September and October, Dr. Ray Angeli landed a 21-pound salmon on a single-bladed Silvertron spinner near Ko-Ket’s on Friday on my boat.”
“This has been the least productive start of the salmon season for me in the last 14 years of using the same techniques.” Scatena trolls at speeds from 1.5 to 1.8 mph on the Luhr-Jensen trolling speed indicator, and he prefers trolling Silvertron spinners on a spreader rig.
Near Freeport, a total of 57 salmon were landed during the New Romeo’s Bait Salmon Derby with the largest fish at 48 pounds. Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait said, “The salmon bite has been ‘on and off’ with shore anglers finding better action tossing Flying C’s than boaters jigging spoons.” |
Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse confirmed the improved action for shore fishermen as the fish are running through in the upper to mid level of the water column.
Striped bass fishing has improved considerably, and a number of boats were out over the past weekend using a variety of techniques to entice a 33.5-target length lineside in the annual Rio Vista Bass Derby. Alan Fong targeted stripers near Liberty Island with great results towards the end of the week tossing 10-inch Kincannon glide baits in bone in the shallows. He said, “When the wind blows, the stripers will leave the Liberty Island area for the Port of Sacramento, but when the wind is down, they have been congregating in the shallows.”
Mark Wilson, striper trolling expert, worked Montezuma Slough with deep-diving Yozuri Crystal Minnows for striped bass to 11 pounds, but he said, “The fish have been moving in and out of the slough depending upon the position of the saltwater gates.” He has also found solid action for a smaller grade of striped bass with RatLTraps in the shallows along the south end of Broad Slough.
James Nguyen of Dockside Bait in Pittsburg reported good striper fishing prior to Sunday’s winds with bullheads or mudsuckers in the shallows. He said,“I caught a number of stripers to 18-pounds on a recent trip, but Sunday’s wind really limited the number of boats on the main Sacramento River.”
Sturgeon fishing has been spotty with both Jay Lopes of Right Hook Sport Fishing and John Badger of Barbarian Sport Fishing reporting scattered groupings of fish in the stretch of the river from Pittsburg to Chain Island. Badger caught and released two oversized sturgeon at 80 and 77 inches within the past week, but he said, “The water temperature is warm at 66/67 degrees on the outgoing tide, dropping to 65 degrees on the incoming, and the warm water is washing out our roe, making eel a better option right now.” He is currently berthed at McAvoy’s Boat Harbor in Bay Point, and they are making the run upriver to Pittsburg to fish the deep water in 52/53 feet on the incoming tide and also between Buoys 31 and 33. Lopes said, “The bite was slow on Sunday, but I expect much better action this week with the water cooling with the incoming rain and low pressure.” “If we have consistent temperatures below 70 degrees, the sturgeon bite should improve.” “We landed a pair of keepers on Friday along with an oversized released.” Lopes is berthed out of Pittsburg Marina. He added, “The wind line was at Chain Island, and although it was windy north and east of Chain Island, it was calm to the west near Pittsburg.”
Water hyacinth and aquatic growth on the main San Joaquin and the Mokelumne Rivers have created difficult conditions for striper fishermen. As a result, most striped bass trollers have migrated to the Sacramento River or in Broad Slough. The Rio Vista Striped Bass Derby was held over the past weekend, and the boat pressure was busy with anglers seeking the target-length 33.5-inch striped bass.
Jim Pickens of the Fishermen’s Friend in Lodi said, “The pulse flows into the Mokelumne River from Lake Camanche began last Monday, and they will continue through November.””The cooler water from Lake Camanche will start on Mondays and taper down throughout the week, but this should kick the salmon bite into gear in the Mokelumne.” As if on cue, Davis Uslan of Clarksburg trolled up a 25 pound salmon in the Mokelumne on Sunday, and the majority of boats launching out of New Hope Landing have been targeting the Mokelumne instead of traveling through the Cross Channel Gates into the Sacramento River at Walnut Grove.
The Fisherman’s Friend will be hosting Captain Barry Canevaro of The Fish Hookers Sport Fishing for a free seminar on “Bait fishing techniques for striped bass and sturgeon at 6:00 p.m. at the shop.
In the Antioch area, Doug Chapman of Gotcha Bait said, “The wind on Sunday limited the number of fishermen, but striped bass to 30 inches have been landed on live mudsuckers or fresh shad in the San Joaquin River, and the Antioch Fishing Pier is producing a number of stripers to 20-inches.” Bluegill fishing continued to be a top draw for bank fishermen with shore anglers heading to Bethel Island and environs with wax worms or jumbo red worms. Chapman said, “We are selling a ton of wax worms.”
Jeff Boyle of Bass Pro Shops in Manteca cast swimbaits for numerous school-sized stripers near the mouth of Three Mile Slough before the water hyacinth moved in and drove them over to Broad Slough.
In the south Delta near Stockton, Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait confirmed the excellent bluegill bite, but most fishermen are seeking striped bass from the shorelines off of Whiskey Slough Road, Bacon Island Road, Bacon Island Bridge, and the Old River near the Highway 4 Bridge with fresh shad or mudsuckers. Gallegos tossed River2Sea Whopper Ploppers or Bubble Walkers and Pencil Poppers in silver/blue in Whiskey Slough for stripers to 22 inches. He said, “We were chasing the boils in the early mornings.”
Catfishing has been slow in the south Delta with many anglers heading for local reservoirs in search of larger whiskerfish, but fresh clams have been in high demand. Fresh shad is readily available in the majority of area baits shops.

The water hyacinth in the Sacramento and Mokelumne Rivers is overwhelming with heavy mats of the aquatic vegetation from the Old Dairy up north past the Rio Vista Bridge. The Mokelumne at B and W Resort is also littered with hyacinth. This weekend will not be the time for a leisurely venture on the Delta since there will be a number of boats trying for the big prize during the annual Rio Vista Striped Bass Derby starting at 6:00 a.m. on Friday and running until 3:00 p.m. on Sunday.
I had the opportunity to get to fish with an expert on Tuesday, and I went to school with Mark Wilson, troller extraordinaire on the Sacramento River in Broad Slough and also in Montezuma Slough. More on this venture will come later, but we caught and released a dozen keepers to 11-pounds with Senior Field Scout Dave Scatena of Stockton landing the big fish on a firetiger Yozuri Crystal Minnow. We also trolled RatLTraps in the shallows using spinning rods loaded with 20 pound Power Pro and landing even a small bass on this rig was a blast. Fishing with someone who is so knowledgeable and patient in answering your questions is priceless. Wilson no longer guides, but he still loves to fish, and I was lucky enough to get the opportunity.
Do at Dockside Bait in Pittsburg reported Wednesday 10-8 has loaded up with bullheads, mudsuckers, and grass shrimp for the weekend’s big derby. Sturgeon fishing has improved near the PGE Plant and also Chain Island with grass shrimp, pile worms, or eel. A few anglers are plugging for salmon in the 4 to 6 pound range with some larger fish to 15-pound taken with live bullheads.

Farmers may need to measure water from Delta
Accused of stealing water released from upstream reservoirs, more than 1,000 Delta farmers may soon be required to report exactly how much water they’ve been diverting — a request that their attorneys argue could be burdensome and unnecessary.
Earlier this summer, the state and federal governments complained to regulators that water released from reservoirs wasn’t making it all the way to giant export pumps near Tracy. The missing water, they reasoned, was likely being pumped along the way by Delta farmers. Those farmers do have senior water rights, but they are not entitled to water that has been stored upstream. They can take only what is considered to be “natural” flow. Delta advocates have contended that since there is always water in the tidal estuary, there is always “natural” flow.
The broader legal issues are complex, and ultimately may be decided in court. For now, however, the government says it merely wants a better accounting of how much water is being used by the farmers. Officials repeated that request to the State Water Resources Control Board at a meeting Thursday.
“I think additional information would be helpful for us to determine what is happening out there in the Delta,” said Paul Fujitani with the US Bureau of Reclamation.
But attorneys for Delta farmers called for formal hearings to resolve the larger issue of whether the diversions are illegal, which could make the question of how much water those farmers are taking a moot point.
“My clients call me week in and week out since December, asking if they’re going to be able to divert water,” said Lodi attorney Jennifer Spaletta. “I think they recognize that when these issues get resolved, they may not like all of the answers. But they want the resolution. They want the certainty.
“They want to pass their farms on to their kids. And they want to know how it’s going to work. They need answers.”
A draft order prepared by the water board would give Delta farmers five days to report how much water they’ve used in the past year, and how much they expect to use in the coming months. Officials said the board would have discretion to give farmers more time to comply, if needed.
Five days isn’t much time, particularly during the harvest season, Delta advocates said. They questioned why the Delta alone was being targeted, when the diversion of the reservoir water could have happened someplace else.“I think that obviously pushes a hefty burden and an unfair burden on a single region of the state,” said Kurtis Keller, special water counsel for San Joaquin County.
Water exporters who have seen their supply from the Delta slashed, however, said the missing water would have made a big difference this year. The Westlands Water District, which has fallowed 220,000 acres for lack of water, says it could have irrigated about 40,000 to 60,000 acres with that water.“It really hurts our farmers,” said Jose Gutierrez, Westlands’deputy general manager. “So many farmers are on the edge of failure.”
Like the Delta growers, Gutierrez said, “A lot of our farmers are also worried their farms are not going to be around in 10 or 20 years for their children.”Board Chair Felicia Marcus said the water board would search for a fair solution.
Contact reporter Alex Breitler at (209) 546-8295 orabreitler@recordnet.com.

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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