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

September 15, 2014    Headlines

 Salmon Trickling In!
Salmon Opens But Still Very Slow

Delta Report
By Dave Hurley
Cooler morning temperatures are a contributing factor to the improvement in salmon action on both ends of the Delta. In Suisun Bay, more and more salmon are pulled into the banks around Benicia on a daily basis while out of Freeport, heavy spoons are working for ‘on and off’ action for chrome-bright salmon. The trolling bite in the Old Sacramento up into metropolitan Sacramento remained slow as the fish continue to move through the system as rapidly as possible. Good salmon fishing continued both outside of the Golden Gate along the Marin coastline on Sunday 9-14 and in the upper Sacramento River above Los Molinos, and since the salmon have to pass through the Delta to reach the upper river, the slightly cooler water temperatures will allow for a slower journey north. Large stripers continued to be located in the north Delta around Liberty Island with mudsuckers or large glide baits.
Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported 6 salmon were landed at the Dillon Point State Park on Sunday morning with a total of 17 the previous two days while 1st Street is also opening up with 5 on Sunday morning and a total of 9 Friday and Saturday. He said, “The count was good in the morning, and the high tide is still yet to come in the early evenings as the best action is at the top of the tide or the first few hours of the outgo.”
In the Freeport area, Johnny Tran of New Romeo’s and Freeport Bait in Freeport said, “The bite is ‘on and off’ with one good day followed by a slow day. Slammer Minnows or P-Line Laser Minnows are the top lures as most fishermen are jigging below the Freeport Bridge.
Also around Freeport, Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento reported good action from the banks near Freeport with six salmon landed within hour on Saturday night with Mepp’s Flying C spinners.
Captain Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sportfishing has been bouncing back and forth between Freeport on the Sacramento River and Korth’S Pirates lair on the San Joaquin. He said, “On the Salmon front it’s still tough, but it is not impossible to land a nice chrome fish with some lucky anglers being rewarded.” “We did have a full morning trip this last week spending half of the time trolling Brad’s Killer Fish wrapped with Pro-Cure brined sardines before switching to spooning with either Blade Runner or P-Line Laser Minnows for not even a bump. With the longer nights and cooler mornings, the bite will take off soon.”
Trolling remained slow with Bill Clapp of Bill’s Sport Fishing working the stretch of the river from above Freeport south to Clarksburg during the middle of the week for no salmon. He said, “If there is a good sign, it is that the river dropped three degrees in the past week, but it is still very hot at 73.5 degrees.””We are finding pockets of fish, but they are running in the mid-water level.” He observed one salmon landed all day on another boat, and it was foul-hooked.
In the Old Sacramento area, the very occasional fish is taken out of Viera’s Resort west of Isleton trolling Silvertron spinners, Wiggle Warts, or Kwikfish, but the triple-digit temperature during the daytime are contributing to warm water temperatures with the best action still several weeks in the future.
Striped bass fishing continued to be solid from the Benicia shorelines at 12th and 14th Street with blood worms or bullheads, and Tony Lopez said, “1st Street is also kicking out some striped bass at night.” Bullheads remained in short supply with Benicia only receiving around 2 dozen per day although Curtis Hayes, owner, is shrimping regularly in San Pablo Bay.
Liberty Island continued to be the location for large striped bass with Tran reporting a 23-pounder was landed on a live mudsucker in the shallows. Alan Fong touted large Kincannon glide baits at 8 and 10-inches in bone color in the shallows at 2 to 3 feet in depth. He said, “You have to know where you are going if you are boating around this stretch of the Delta since it is easy to run your boat up on a sandbar.” “These fish have been there for the past two weeks, but they may be gone soon.”
In the main Sacramento River near Pittsburg, Do Doung of Dockside Bait reported small undersized stripers were plentiful on either mudsuckers or fresh shad, but legal fish have been mostly absent. The best action has been occurring in the shallows at depths from 10 to 15 feet. As normally occurs during the month of September, sturgeon are starting to keg up in the deep water off of the Pittsburg PGE Plant, and a few fishermen are starting to pick up some small keepers in the 40-inch range on grass shrimp.”
The smallmouth bass bite in the upper Delta continued its spiral downward, but Tran advised tossing deep-diving crankbaits around the rocks in Steamboat or Miner Slough for a chance at a smallie. Catfish are holding in the Sacramento River in the Deep Water Channel, and chicken livers, anchovies, sardines, or fresh shad are the top baits. Freeport Bait will host their annual River Salmon Derby on the weekend of October 3rd.
The San Joaquin River remained the best location for striped bass, and the trend of small fish remained although the occasional big striper has been caught and kept. Catfish and bluegill action remained solid from a number of locations while a few salmon are taken from the Antioch shoreline on spinners. Sturgeon fishing remained null and void.
Roger Mammon, president of the West Delta Chapter of the California Striped Bass Association, took out young Brandon Pike of the East County Student’s Fishing Club on a trolling and casting trip, and Pike landed his first-ever striper at 14-pounds trolling near Eddo’s Boat Harbor on the outgoing tide. The club, based out of Liberty High School, has expanded from 17 to 82 members in the past year, and the adviser, Melinda De Vincenzi, plans to extend club membership to Freedom High in Oakley and Heritage High School in Brentwood. Mammon added, “This was the only fish that we landed, and there were a number of other boats in the area, and only one boat indicated that they put in a limit in the 20 to 24-inch range.”
Captain Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sport Fishing is based out of Korth’s Pirate Lair at the confluence of the Mokelumne and San Joaquin Rivers until the salmon bite on the Sacramento River improves, and he added, “Our striper fishing was pretty darn good on Saturday with over 25 linesides to the boat with 5 keepers drifting mudsuckers on light tackle.”
In the Antioch area, Doug Chapman of Gotcha Bait reported anglers are ‘catching lots of fish,’but most of the stripers remained undersized. Fresh shad has been the top bait, and the shad is “selling like hotcakes.” Mudsuckers are a good bait to keep smaller fish away, but even the undersized stripers are eating the live bait, driving up the bait bill. The Antioch Fishing Pier has been busy with children getting in on the catch-and-release action for the sub-legal stripers.
The Humphrey’s Pier continued to produce a few salmon from the shoreline on a daily basis with heavy spinners or spoons yanking in the fish.
Catfishing remained solid in the back slough with frozen clams or fresh shad, and bluegill are abundant around Big Break, Holland Tract, and Orwood Marina with wax worms being the top bait.
In the Stockton area, Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait reported solid striper action in the Old River with live bluegill for linesides to 24-inches, but the fish are long and thin. This is a clear indicator that the run of stripers out of the bays and the ocean has started. Fresh shad is a regular feature of local bait shops with shipments to H and R arriving on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Bluegill, crappie, and catfish are all available from the shoreline access areas of Eight Mile Road.
For largemouth bass, Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento reported a solid bite in the east Delta with Sweet Beavers or Missle’s D-Bombs punching the weeds or with large River2Sea Whopper Ploppers in the mornings or late evenings. The top place at Saturday’s Don Lee Memorial tournament was taken by Ken Mah and Mark Crutcher with a 33.40-pound limit including a 10.80-pound kicker landed on a wake bait.


On Thursday 9-11 James Nguyen at Dockside Bait in Pittsburg reported sturgeon are starting to show up in the deep water outside of the Pittsburg P.G.E Plant, and this is typical for the month of September since the late Rich Tipton took a number of sturgeon here in September. Stripers in the 3 to 5-pound range are numerous in the shallow water. They have everything in the shop with the exception of ghost shrimp, but who has ghost shrimp.
Rio Vista Bait reported a few stripers and a few salmon are starting to be taken, but the action is less than stellar. They have fresh shad, mudsuckers, pile worms, jumbo blood worms, and minnows in the shop.
Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service reported on Lost Coast Outfitters, “September fishing has been very good for stripers and largemouth Bass with the best fishing starting at the change of the tide. You can catch them on the surface at the start or the end of the day. You can feel the change of seasons as its pretty cool in the morning.”

Delta Report from Jim Pickens at the Fishermen’s Friend in Lodi
Every week more salmon are being caught, but it’s a long way from being wide open. We need rain and cooler water to turn them on. Many salmon are being marked in the Sacramento and Mokelumne, but few are being caught. Trolling and back-trolling are the most successful from Walnut Grove west and jigging has been the most successful from Freeport up through the Discovery Park. The upper Sacramento continues to be more productive from Vernoa all thre way to Redding. The west Delta on the Sacramento and San Joaquin are your best areas for trolling for Stripers. Some large Stripers have been showing up this week, with the reports of fish in the 30 and 40 pound class taken


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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