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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
 

January 26, 2015    Headlines

 Delta Stripers & Sturgeon

Delta Report
By Dave Hurley

The 9th Annual Diamond Classic ‘Catch and Release’ Derby out of Martinez Marina continued to get bigger and better, as Derby Director, Captain Steve Talmadge of Flash Sport Fishing said, “We are achieving our co-equal goals of catching and releasing sturgeon and increasing participation from children.” The involvement of children have been a major priority over the past few years, and there were a total of 123 kids in the derby this year with 96 fishing on boats and another 27 on the Martinez Fishing Pier, as this was the second year in which pier fishing was an important part of the derby. Lynda Abbott, aka ‘Diehard,’ Publicity Director for the event, said, “There was a total of 39 legal sturgeon and several oversized caught and released as part of the 99 calls for our on-the-water weighmasters.” The majority of the action in the shallows near the sandbar off of the Mothball Fleet, Point Edith/Seal Island, Grizzly Bay, the creek to Roe/Ryer Island, and the creek west of the sandbar. In this derby, all legal sturgeon verified by the weighmasters earn a ticket for the participant, and all of the tickets are placed in a pool for the top seven adult cash prizes. A total of $8,900.00 was distributed from 100% of the entry fees, and the top winner was Chris Wadsworth of Brentwood with a 42-inch sturgeon for the cash prize of $3115.00 with Simon McKenzie of Brentwood taking home $2225.00 for his second-place sturgeon at 59 inches along with Ron Horton of Lodi winning $1750.00 for his 40.5-inch diamondback. “
Abbott was able to squeak in a 40-incher into the pool after starting at the Benicia/Martinez Bridge in deep water in the morning. She said, “After landing a 10-pound striped bass and releasing a shaker at the Bridge, we moved to the shallow water in the creek to the west of the sandbar by the Mothball Fleet for the just-legal sturgeon. I kept it at the side of the boat until the weighmasters arrived, and I was just hoping that it made the mark.” Grass shrimp was the bait for the shaker and legal sturgeon while the striper swallowed lamprey eel.
Mike Andrews of Predator Sport Fishing was also participating in the derby with six anglers, and he said, “We had a great day with two of our fishermen getting tickets with sturgeon at 59 and 51 inches along with nine shakers released including three in the 39-inch range.” The best action was in the shallows in the middle of the sandbar with grass shrimp or lamprey eel, but Andrews moved out to the deeper water once the shallows became croded in the afternoon. He added, “There was no shortage of sturgeon bites as the fish are spread out over a wide area.”
As in every Diamond Classic, all children entrants went home with a prize, and the first place went to Bradley Houck of Acampo who fished off of the Martinez Fishing Pier, and he took home a custom rod worth $600.00 along with an Avet Reel. The next fourteen children received prizes such as custom rods, Avet reels, NASCAR rods, and rod/reel combinations. The remainder of children received rods, reels, rod/reel combinations, tackle boxes, and goodie tackle bags while all children also received a Derby T-Shirt.
Abbott added, “The 15th place Kid’s winner was Talmadge’s grandson, four year-old Cody Talmadge from Castro Valley, who landed his first striped bass and first sturgeon on the Flash II. When Cody’s name was called, Steve picked him up and told the audience that he had the ‘Flash Fishing’ coat that Cody was wearing made when Cody was born, and now he he could finally wear it.”
One of the highlights of the derby weekend is the seminar night the evening prior to the derby, and Talmadge said, “The proceeds from the raffle at the seminar night underwrite most of the cost of the derby, and we had a number of quality prizes including  custom fishing rods, Ipads, and other high ticket items for the raffle.” Twelve party boat captains were involved in the event: Flash Sport Fishing, Right Hook Sport Fishing, Boss Hogg Sport Fishing, Predator Sport Fishing, Fish Hookers Sport Fishing, Soleman Sport Fishing, Longfin Sport Fishing, Fishn’ Game Charters, Bill’s Sport Fishing, Osprey Fishing, SalmonStriper Fishing, and Lights Out Sport Fishing.
Talmadge and his band of dedicated volunteers are to be commended for their efforts in increasing angler education in ‘catch and release’ and promoting the future of the fishery to the next generation.

9TH Annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release Adult Derby winners

PLACE

Name/size

amount

1st

 

Chris Wadsworth/Brentwood– 42”

$3,115.00

2nd

 

Simon McKenzie/Dixon – 59”

$2,225.00

3rd

 

Ron Horton/Lodi – 40.5”

$1,750.00

4th

Jesse Galletti/Martinez -41”

$445.00

5th

 

Chris Crucuel/San Pablo – 41”

$445.00

6th

 

Jeremy Watkins/Martinez

$445.50

 

7th

 

Rich Neil

$445.50

 

9TH Annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release Kids Derby winners

PLACE

Name/Age/size

City

1st

 

Bradley Houck/11

Acampo

2nd

 

Kyle Galazin/15

Benicia

3rd

 

AK Jerge/15

El Sobrante

4th

Devin Bushong/3.5

Oakley

5th

 

David Colachico/11

Lafayette

6th

 

Bayley Tovar/13

Oakdale

7th

 

Brynn Mathews/6

Pacifica

8th

James Field/3

Manteca

9th

Austin Todd/13

Fairfield

10th

Ronnie Dofaw/11

Clements

11th

Hayley Steele/6

CA

12th

Alexis Lipary/10

Martinez

13th

Alaina Lipary/9

Martinez

14th

Amanda Standridge/11

Fairfield

15th

Cody Talmadge/4

Castro Valley

The majority of action has centered on Suisun Bay, but there are sturgeon taken from as far north as Prospect and Liberty Sloughs with the occasional sturgeon landed in the Pittsburg area around Chain Island and the PGE Plant.

Plenty of sturgeon are spread out throughout Suisun Bay with Bill Clapp of Bill’s Sport Fishing reporting, “We were anchored up in deep water near the Benicia/Martinez Bridge this week, and we kept seeing huge fish moving through under the boat all day long, but they just didn’t want to bite.” He was a weighmaster during the Catch and Release Derby, and he verified nine fish during the event.
Also in Suisun Bay, Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait and Tackle reported good striped bass fishing near the Middle Ground or the Firing Line with experienced fishermen targeting the linesides with jack smelt in the deep water. The grade of striped bass has decreased from the huge fish in the 30 to 40-pound range, but there are fish in the teens coming into McAvoy’s Boat Harbor on a daily basis.
In the San Joaquin River system, a few small pockets of clear water are starting to emerge, and small stripers to 5 pounds are getting active.
Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento said, “My brother was out on Saturday casting small swimbaits on an umbrella rig, and he caught and released 40 stripers ranging from shakers to 5 pounds.”
The action has been much slower in the Stockton area with H and R Bait in Stockton reporting most area striper fishermen are heading to Los Vaqueros and ignoring the east Delta. The Old and Middle Rivers are still choked with dying hyacinth, and although it is starting to sink, the wind is moving the hyacinth around on a daily basis. The stripers are in full wintertime mode, just picking up the bait and dropping it after a few short runs.
In the Antioch area, Doug Chapman of Gotcha Bait reported dirty and cold water has limited the number of striper fishermen, and the best action has been on cut baits such as frozen shad or sardines. He said, “It is hard for the stripers to find the mudsuckers in the dirty water as they can’t see them. A few sturgeon have been landed around the Antioch Bridge, but most sturgeon fishermen are heading for the Martinez section of the river.
For largemouth bass, Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, said, “Smell and vibration are the keys to success, and we are using a soft plastic trailer with heavy scent on our jigs.” A slow presentation is absolutely essential in the cold and dirty water and allowing the bait to sit on the bottom with an occasional twitch will bring about the subtle bass bite.
Alan Fong also touted a slow presentation for bass with Senkos or chatterbaits. He will be seeking big fish with swimbaits on his next foray into the San Joaquin this week.


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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