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 26 years. 800.567.1043

May 27, 2015    Headlines

 Delta Stripers & Sturgeon

Delta Report
By Dave Hurley
On Tuesday 5-26 shad remained the big story in the northern section of the Delta in the stretch of river from Clarksburg to Freeport. Stripers are still in the river, but fewer and fewer anglers are targeting the linesides, particularly with the migration of guides to more fertile waters. Sturgeon action is limited to a few fishermen hanging around in lower Suisun Bay.
Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s Bait and Tackle in Freeport said, “Shad fishing has been very good near Freeport with bank anglers tossing out shad darts while boaters are using a double-hook rig loaded with grubs in front of a one to two-ounce weight. Just put your rod in the rod holder, and let the shad load up on the grubs.” Tran also touted striped bass in the Freeport area with sardines, blood worms, or pile worms while trolling has also been best in the north Delta.
Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento added, “There are larger females now in the mix, and anglers have landed as many as 25 shad near Clarksburg with 1-inch grubs in champagne or chartreuse.”
Captain Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sport Fishing has moved his vessel out of the Delta, but he will be participating in the California Striped Bass Association’s Open House at Buck’s Outboard Marine in Sacramento this coming Saturday.
In the main Sacramento River near Pittsburg, James Nguyen of Dockside Bait reported, “There have been a few stripers over 10 pounds brought in within the past two days, and live splittail have been the bait for the larger fish. There are plenty of school-sized linesides taken by drifting mudsuckers or jumbo minnows, and we have some beautiful mudsuckers in the shop for the first time in several months.” The wind continued to plague anchor fishermen, and boaters need to chose their window when the river is relatively calm. 
In the San Joaquin River, Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait in Stockton said, “There are tons of shaker stripers in Whiskey Slough, Eight Mile Road, and along Bacon Island Road, but finding keepers is a problem. Sardines or anchovies have been the top baits, but there is little live bait in the river as we haven’t had any fresh shad in over a month. The shadders are only finding a half-pound on all night trips, and there isn’t enough bait worth the effort.”
Near Antioch, Doug Chapman of Gotcha Bait reported several fishermen were seeking stripers off of the Antioch Fishing Pier during the holiday weekend, and a few keepers to 20 inches have been taken on live mudsuckers. Pile worms and sardines have also been effective for the small stripers.
Largemouth bass fishing with Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento reporting great action on recent trips.
Fong has tied into some larger bass with his partner losing one over 8 pounds and another around 6 pounds also coming unbuttoned. He said, “We have consistently been finding spawned out largemouth bass in the 4 to 5-pound range with Kincannon glide baits or the topwater Whopper Plopper. The cloud cover has allowed us to toss the topwater lures throughout the day. “  Senkos are also working during the day.

New Analysis Finds Harm in Gov. Brown’s Drought Order:
Suspends CEQA, Abandons Public Rulemaking
Drought Barriers for up to 10 Years, 
Decimate Fisheries, But No Restrictions on Mega-Farms

Stockton, CA – Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build water export Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today responded to Gov. Brown’s executive order.
“While urban water conservation measures are desperately needed, Governor Brown is not calling for shared sacrifice,” said RTD Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. “What he is enacting is sacrifice by 98% of Californians, and the sacrifice of the most magnificent estuary on the west coast of the Americas, for the top 1% of water and land barons on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.”
Waters upstream and downstream of the barriers within the Delta will stagnate. When the dilution action of flows is greatly reduced during summer heat, water temperatures increase, salinity is projected to increase, and pollutant and contaminant concentrations will increase as well.
With the drought barriers installed to limit flow, Delta smelt are likely to face extinction this year. And the Delta itself will become an even less hospitable place for the vulnerable fish species that remain.
Restore the Delta released a detailed analysis of how the order will harm the Delta, the estuary and coastal fisheries (see below).
The Governor is trying to expedite installation of drought barriers in the Delta, which will decimate coastal and Bay-Delta fishing economies, Delta farms, and water quality for a myriad of uses in the Bay-Delta estuary, even though the law states that Delta users have the right to use the water for beneficial uses first. Governor Brown’s declaration never made mention of the impacts on the Bay-Delta estuary, and, instead, has buried within it, a suspension of CEQA, a provision of the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, or, that these barriers are not temporary, but a ten-year plan that could destroy numerous fish species and ruin water quality for Delta communities. The governor is also suspending the Government code for rule-making procedures. Will this enable the California Water Commission to skip this process to expedite water projects that voters were promised would undergo strict review under the intent of Proposition 1?
“Governor Brown fails to lead on the harmful impacts of agricultural water exports from the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. Growers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley are not receiving regular water allocations this year, so the governor orders only enforcement of agricultural water use reporting. But these mega-growers aren’t tearing up thousands of acres of almonds they planted along the I-5 corridor during the last ten years, even in drought. California water law and contracts for export water projects make it clear that their water supply is variable, depending on how much water can be safely shared from the Delta,” said Barrigan-Parrilla.
Top 1% water users and growers, like Stewart Resnick of Paramount Farms, are not being asked to reduce water use by 25%, but 38 million Californians are. We are all being ordered to make heavy sacrifices so billionaire farmers can continue to export almonds to China. As a recent report from E&E News revealed, Paramount Farms, Westlands Water District and Metropolitan Water District, have been lobbying to gut federal ESA protections for Delta fisheries to free up more water they can grab from the system.
Governor Brown’s declaration imposes measures that will ruin the health of the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary, and seriously harm the Delta communities directly impacted by installation of the drought barriers. He places the burden on 38 million urban water users who have no control over where water is sent by State and Federal projects. We paid for the lack of rigorous conservation implementation over the last four years by local agencies like Metropolitan Water District.
Restore the Delta Policy Analyst Tim Stroshane said, “The proposed drought barriers project for the Delta will allow the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation to continue managing upstream storage so that the pain of the drought will be borne by Delta residents and ecosystems, and not by Delta water takers. The barriers will have drastic consequences on fisheries, commercial and recreational fishing economies, various Delta farming communities, recreation economies, all so that water will be made available beyond what is needed for health and human safety, but for what purposes we don’t know.”
“California must save water first through agriculture reductions on polluted drainage impaired land, which uses two-thirds of the Delta’s exported water. To protect urban areas, we need a Marshall plan to implement conservation, groundwater storage, storm water capture, cisterns, recycling and effective drought planning. Estimates show that it will cost tens of billions to repair urban water systems alone.” Barrigan-Parrilla said.
In the last 28 water years (since the beginning of the 1987-92 drought), wet and above normal years have occurred just 11 times (39 percent of the time) in both the San Joaquin and Sacramento River basins. This means that the premise of “emergency” drought barriers is false. “Emergency” connotes an event that is short-lived and infrequent, if it occurs at all. But below normal to critical water years occur more than half the time (as they have for almost the last three decades). “Emergency” becomes meaningless.
“The Department of Water Resources plans to install and remove barriers simultaneously with when juvenile salmon would be attempting to rear in, or emigrate through, the Delta before they leave for the Pacific Ocean. The most invasive and disruptive activities associated with the barriers proposal occur at critically sensitive times in the life histories of these most magnificent and vulnerable listed species,” Stroshane added.
“Whether it’s the barriers or the Delta tunnels, it is apparent how little Governor Brown cares for the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. He has not insisted on the fallowing of fields during the drought by junior water rights holders. He is pushing Delta smelt to extinction, setting up our salmon fisheries for failure, and sacrificing sustainable six-generation Delta farms for almonds, fracking, and speculative desert development,” concluded Barrigan-Parrilla.

Read: Restore the Delta’s Annotated Guide To the Governor’s Drought Proclamation of April 1, 2015 (With special attention to drought barriers planned for the Delta)

"If Delta smelt, once the most numerous species in the estuary, and winter Chinook and other species lingering on the brink of extinction go extinct, the state water board and the state and federal fishery agencies will be the responsible policies," said Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA).

Feds fund captive breeding program for Delta smelt 
by Dan Bacher 

Delta smelt, once the most abundant fish in the Bay Delta Estuary, are now on the precipice of extinction in the wild. Sadly, there’s only one place where the fish can be found by the thousands — the Fish Conservation and Culture Laboratory (FCCL) of the University of California, Davis. 
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation recently awarded the UC Davis lab’s captive breeding program, located in Byron near Discovery Bay, a total of $10 million over a four-year period to continue and improve its work preserving the species. 
This is a critical time for the survival of the smelt. The latest trawl survey by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) found just six smelt. That survey follows the fall midwater trawl survey, when biologists recorded the lowest number of smelt ever documented, 8, at a total of 100 sites sampled from September through December. 
The 2.0 to 2.8 inch long fish is an indicator species that demonstrates the relative health of the Bay Delta Estuary. The species, found only in the estuary, was listed as “threatened” by the state and federal governments in 1993 and as “endangered” under the California Endangered Species Act in 2009. 
For the past seven years, the laboratory, in collaboration with the UC Davis Genomic Variation Lab, has been raising a refuge population of Delta smelt, “preserving their genetic diversity and providing a supply of the fish for scientific research,” according to a UC Davis news release. 
“The refuge population provides a level of protection against species extinction,” said Tien-Chieh Hung, director of the FCCL at UC Davis. “Our laboratory is, so far, the only place in the country that regularly reproduces and raises the Delta smelt throughout their whole life cycle, creating a supply for further studies.” 
In announcing the funding, the Bureau said there “an urgent need for a genetically managed refugial population of Delta smelt to serve as a critical safeguard against species extinction in the event that the natural population continues its decline.” 
The Bureau said maintaining a “genetically diverse population” of Delta smelt in captivity would provide a “seed population” for future rehabilitation - should the smelt’s habitat ever recover from decades of Delta export pumping, water diversions, pollution and other factors. 
As a safeguard against extinction, the lab starts its spawning season by producing about 200,000 Delta smelt eggs and cultures approximately 20,000 fish each year. 

The goals of the project are to: 
• Continue to develop the Delta smelt refuge population as a safeguard against species extinction; 
•Create a genetically sound population of captive fish for research purposes; and 
• Conduct experiments on smelt physiology, health, condition and behavior. 

Delta smelt habitat is currently under assault after decades of the state and federal governments exporting water south from the Delta to corporate agribusiness interests, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations. 
The situation of the smelt is so critical that Peter Moyle, a professor and fish biologist with the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, this March told the Delta Stewardship Council to “prepare for the extinction of the Delta smelt in the wild." 
Moyle said the latest state trawl survey found only six smelt — two males and four females — where there normally would have been several hundred. 
“When it comes to past and present numbers of smelt, we don't have real estimates, only the indices,” said Moyle. “Folks have tried but the efforts stretch credulity. In a sense exact numbers donšt matter.” 
“The real question is have densities gotten so low, the population is below a threshold of maintaining itself? Can males and females even find one another?" he noted. 
Moyle also said, “I wish there was a single smoking gun for the crash of delta smelt but there are many, starting with the change to the estuarine hydrodynamics created by removal of freshwater by upstream diverters, in-delta diverters, and the pumps in the south delta.” 
“Some others (not an exclusive list) include predation on larvae by silversides, reduction in food supply by clams and ammonium discharges, increases in water clarity and diverse micro-contaminants. I think drought has exacerbated the effects of all these conditions,” said Moyle. 
“In the short run, there is not much we can do. The long run is more complicated,” said Moyle. 
Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), responded to the announcement of the federal funding for the project by stating, “It’s laudable – but if we can’t establish the natural conditions that will support the fish in the estuary, it does little good to have a few fish in a tank in the Davis program.” 
“If Delta smelt go extinct in the wild, the same thing will happen again if UC Davis fish are dumped into the estuary. You have to change the hydrology of the estuary,” said Jennings. 
As for the causes of the Delta smelt’s decline, Jennings said all of the factors are either caused or exacerbated by the lack of freshwater flows. 
“The fact that our regulatory agencies are unable to protect the public trust resources to slow the increase in pollutant discharges into the estuary is an indictment of regulators that have been captured by special political interests,” said Jennings. 
The collapse of Delta smelt occurs as part of a larger ecosystem decline since the State Water Project started pumping massive quantities of water south of the Delta in 1967. The fall midwater trawl surveys conducted annually by the California Department of Wildlife show that population indices of Delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad, American shad and Sacramento splittail have declined 97.80%, 99.70%, 99.98%, 97.80%, 91.90%, and 98.50%, respectively, between 1967 and 2014, according to Jennings. 

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