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September 02, 2015    Headlines

 Delta Late Spring Stripers and Shad

Delta Report
By Dave Hurley
On Tuesday 9-1 Rio Vista Bait reported good striper reports are coming in from Liberty Island with a number of 10 to 15-pound linesides taken on live mudsuckers. Decker Island, Three Mile Slough, Sherman Lake, and Eddo’s Boat Harbor on the San Joaquin are all locations where stripers are being caught. They have blood and pile worms along with fresh shad, but live mudsuckers have been hard to obtain this week.
For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, reported solid action on the ima floating Flit or jerkbaits for reaction baits while working the bottom with the Berkley Chigger Craw or Havoc Flat Dog has been another productive method. He said, “There are more and more striped bass moving into the river, and we caught and released a number of keepers in the 3 to 5-pound range tossing the ima Big Stick topwater lure or the Optima Double AA swimbait in shad patterns in the shallows. Since we are working only at depths to 13 feet, the ounce jig head works best. As the weather continues to cool down, the stripers will start flooding into the San Joaquin.”

A massive school of striped bass has moved into the upper Delta in the Sacramento Deep Water Channel, and the linesides are scattered throughout the Sacramento River from Liberty Island west to Benicia. Salmon fishing is fair at best, but a few fish continue to be taken on a daily basis at both ends of the Delta at Freeport or the Dillon Point State Park with heavy spinners.
Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported Sunday 8-30 “There is an average of 3 salmon per day taken at the State Park, but with 100 anglers out there on the weekends, that isn’t much of a bite.” Vee-Zee or Flying C spinners are the top lures for the few salmon . Small striped bass are also biting the salmon spinners. The State Park has been the top location for both species as 1st Street is limited to the very occasional salmon.
Fishing interest has been high with Benicia selling 10 boxes of pile worms, 5 boxes of blood worms, and over 30 pounds of grass shrimp over the weekend by Sunday afternoon. Benicia is one of the only shops with a supply of live grass shrimp.
Sturgeon anglers are starting to come out of the woodwork, and one boat landed a keeper and released a few shakers at the Middle Grounds over the weekend. Lopez said, “The sturgeon have been here, but few people have been fishing for them due to the wind, but there have been fishing jumping in the shallows in Honker Bay over the past week.”
Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento said, “A huge school of stripers has moved into the Sacramento Deep Water Channel, and Rick Tetz, owner of Blade Runner spoons, said he hasn’t seen a school this big in many years. Tetz has not been able to hit the bottom with the spoons as the school is so thick. The stripers are ranging from 3 to 15 pounds on the upper end.”
Liberty Island has slowed down a bit for live bait drifters and swimbait tossers over the past few days, but there have been a number of quality stripers to 30 pounds caught and released in the shallows over the past week.
Mark Wilson, shallow trolling expert, said, “There are a lot of stripers in the Delta, and it is important to keep moving and use your electronics to locate the schools.” He has been trolling either deep or shallow running lures from Decker Island west to Collinsville for an average of 20 to 25 linesides per trip with 8 to 10 of these keepers to 12 pounds. For shallow-running lures, Wilson has been using 3/4th-oz. Rat-L-Traps on light rods and line, and he is prepared with two rods so he can switch to deep divers if necessary. The wind has been a limiting factor during the past week, but Wilson has been able to duck into Broad Slough and work the east bank to avoid the brunt of the wind.
Do Doung at Dockside Bait in Pittsburg reported small stripers are throughout the area from Broad Slough east to Sherman Island, and live mudsuckers or fresh shad are the top baits. Interest in sturgeon fishing is starting to pick up, and one oversized diamondback was lost on the anchor chain in one boat on Saturday after enhaling a live mudsucker.
Near Freeport, warm water temperatures are encouraging salmon to move through the river system as quickly as possible to avoid cooking. J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing said, “The fish are there, but they won’t bite in water that is 76.8 degrees.
For panfish, the Delta Loop is still the top location on the Sacramento side of the Delta, and wax worms and jumbo red worms are the top baits for bluegill and red ear perch.  Catfishing is best in the Sacramento Deep Water Channel or in Lisbon Slough with chicken livers, live crawdads, or nightcrawlers. Striped bass  are also moving into the San Joaquin River, and the action is improving throughout the river from Antioch east into Whiskey Slough. Largemouth bass are feeling the effects of changing water temperatures and conditions, but the bass can be taken with a variety of techniques. The troll along with north side of the river near Eddo’s Boat Harbor is also producing stripers with deep-diving lures such as P-Line Predator Minnows in bright color patterns.
Chris Laurtizen of Lauritzen’s Yacht Harbor in Oakley said,”Bill Goin has been fishing in Bundeson cut which is just east of the Dow Chemical Plant in Pittsburg off of New York Slough on the south side of the channel, and he caught and released 50 striped bass with the majority of linesides under the 18-inch size limit.” Lauritzen touted
New York Slough, Middle Slough, Broad Slough and the “Run Way” going from Broad Slough to Sherman Lake as the top locations for striped bass. He added, “There was a school of stripers in the Big Break Dutch Slough area a week ago ranging in size from schoolie stripers to 12 – lb fish so there are lots of fish in the west Delta system right now and it is only going to get better.”
The removable rock barrier in False Slough will start deconstruction in late September or early October with the removed of the top part of the dam above the water line. Lauritzen added, “ The contract to remove the rock barrier calls for the entire dam including the sheet pile wing dams to be pulled out as well, not something DWR wanted to do but the federal fish and wild life folks will make them do. The entire dam removal project is expected to take no more than forty five (45) days, October 1st to November 15th.  The contractor will begin in the center of the dam and move to the side.  The contractor is going to start out with one crane barge with a very large backhoe on it with a very large stinger attachment some 60 – ft long with a 5 – yard bucket attached to it. That first crane barge will be followed by a second crane barge a few weeks later with another big backhoe with the same configuration. Anglers are cautioned to steer clear of the dam until the all clear sign is given on or about November 15th because there will be too many hazards and it is not fair to the crane operators or the towboat guys to be dodging really fast fishing boats trying to take a short cut through the construction project, please for your safety and everyone involved.”
Doug Chapman of Gotcha Bait in Antioch said, “Good numbers of stripers have been coming from the Antioch Fishing Pier on either live mudsuckers or fresh shad, and the bluegill are thick in Big Break with red worms or wax worms.” Bass are also holding in Big Break with live medium to extra-large minnows.
Brandon Gallegos at H and R Bait in Stockton said, “There are bluegill all over the banks throughout the south Delta. Striped bass from 17 to 24 inches have been taken in Whiskey Slough, along Tracy Boulevard, and near the Tracy Oasis with live bluegill, fresh shad, or on topwater lures. There have been boils in Whiskey Slough in the mornings, and the topwater guys are focusing in this area.” They have been receiving an average of 30 pounds of fresh shad during the week and over 60 pounds on the weekends. The shad remains small in the 3-inch range. Catfishing is best with anchovies, sardines, or G and S Cheesebait along Woodsbro Road on Roberts Island, Whiskey Slough, or March Lane west of Stockton.

Chico Enterprise Record Editorial

Editorial: Twin tunnels plan sounds worse each day

Every morsel of information released, discovered or leaked lately about Gov. Jerry Brown’s twin tunnels plan makes the project sound worse. Every new tidbit makes us wonder how and why this boondoggle is even a possibility.

The main reason it’s moving forward is because the public has been shut out of its right to give consent. Still, this is no time to keep quiet. Only loud, ongoing and widespread criticism will make Brown back off.

As we’ve seen from the bullet train idea, logic often takes a backseat when a governor thinks he is building a wonderful legacy with a massive project. But at least voters approved high-speed rail. The twin tunnels are being forced down our throats.

The “peripheral tunnel” — the updated version of the peripheral canal that Brown couldn’t get past the voters the last time he was governor — is not the kind of legacy Brown should want. If it is eventually built, it will go down in history as an enormous mistake. Which is why we feel an obligation to complain now rather than later.

The latest bad news for the project was dug up by farmers in the delta. They did a deep dive on documents about the proposed 30-mile tunnels and were stunned to see as many as 300 farms were slated to be hijacked by the government, likely through eminent domain, to make room for the project. They are in the footprint and are likely to get stomped.

One farmer said the plan “makes it sound like they’re going to bully us ... and take what they want.”

The bully analogy is apt. The huge Metropolitan Water District of Southern California wants a way to get more Sacramento River water to the south without attracting the ire of the courts, which is happening now because the water conveyance is killing off the delta slowly but surely. Brown’s plan, like the peripheral canal before it, is very unpopular in the north. We’d like to know where this water would come from, and how sending more water south would affect the delta.

It won’t affect the delta in a good way and the state realizes that. That’s why, in the beginning, the state talked about how restoration of the delta was essential. There was a $7 billion commitment to conservation and something about “co-equal goals.” Now it has abandoned that idea. It’s all about shipping water south.

The good news is even farmers in the San Joaquin Valley are starting to question whether this plan pencils out. They’d have to pick up a large part of the tab, and building two huge tunnels doesn’t mean there will be any water to put in them. The tunnels don’t increase water storage in the state by one drop.

Then there’s this: Farmers tend to stick together. When the state is talking about taking 300 farms for its scheme, other farmers throughout the state should be wary. They need to realize that they could be next — for whatever reason suits the government’s needs.

We are certainly wary. After seeing the thirsty south state drain two amazing river systems — the Owens and the San Joaquin — we can’t let them do that to the mighty Sacramento. Too much is at stake here.

There are many things the state to can to help the water problem, as we are learning during this drought. Shipping more water south to enable Southern California is not one of the better ideas. In fact, it’s probably the worst one.

Responsible Angling Practices Help Conserve Sturgeon Populations

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is asking anglers to use caution and extra vigilance to help conserve California’s white sturgeon and green sturgeon populations, both of which are being impacted by the drought. Sturgeon are caught by anglers year-round in a popular sport fishery centered in the San Francisco Estuary, but anglers — especially those fishing in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers — need to be aware of special regulations in place to protect and grow the populations
White sturgeon is a substantial management concern and green sturgeon is a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act. Green sturgeon may not be fished for, removed from the water if caught, or kept. White sturgeon may only be kept if between 40 and 60 inches and caught by anglers in possession of Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards (including single-use tags) while using single barbless hooks in areas that are not closed.
Strict fishing regulations are designed primarily to conserve older white sturgeon and ensure that all sturgeon survive catch-and-release. The effectiveness of catch-and-release depends in large part on angler technique. CDFW encourages anglers to use high-strength fishing line to reduce duration of the fight and in-water techniques for measuring the size of white sturgeon. Anglers should leave oversize white sturgeon in the water at all times and know how to quickly identify green sturgeon.
In 2014, California anglers reported keeping 2,286 white sturgeon while releasing 4,565 white sturgeon (most were undersized) and 183 green sturgeon. Other data on the white sturgeon fishery and population is available atwww.dfg.ca.gov/delta/data/sturgeon/bibliography.asp
A flyer on identifying green sturgeon can be found athttps://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentId=105326.
The complete fishing regulations are available atwww.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations.

Media Contacts:
Marty Gingras, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (209) 234-3486
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988


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 valleyecon.blogspot.com.
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