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DELTA


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
 

November 20, 2014    Headlines

 Stripers Take Center Stage

Delta Report
By Dave Hurley
Scott Feist with Feisty Fish guide service reported GREAT action fishing around Rio Vista on Wednesday 11-19. Scott says they are seeing solid action on bait and a few on swimbaits and spoons. They hooked most on mudsuckers but he has some spots when the tide is right that are producing bites on everything including the kitchen sink. Light rain did little to change conditions and Scott expects the action to only improve as fresh fish push up from the bay.

Pam Hayes at Benicia Bait reported Tuesday 11-18, “Our shrimp boat is back in the water which is a big relief, but grass shrimp and bullheads have been scarce .” She advised interested fishermen to either reserve bait or call before driving to the shop since the supply of these two baits is limited. She confirmed the solid striped bass bite from the shoreline on a variety of baits from the State Park east to under the Benicia/Martinez Bridge. Hayes added, “Pick you favorite spot depending upon the tides.” Flounder are also starting to show up off of 12th Street with pile or blood worms being the top bait for the flatfish.
James Nguyen at Dockside Bait in Pittsburg reported a 28 and 21-pound limit of stripers was brought to the shop on Monday landed in the deep water on bullheads. You already know what I think about that. A 58.5-inch sturgeon was also brought to the shop on Monday, but there are few reports of success on Tuesday. They have grass shrimp, mudsuckers, and bullheads in the shop.
The striper bite is the best thing going on in the Delta, and there are numbers of stripers throughout the system despite the cold temperatures in the morning. The water temperature continues to drop towards the optimum range in the mid-50’s. Captain Scott Feist confirms the solid striper bite and says "we are dialed on the main vein". Scott has returned with easy limits and lots of released fish on every trip this past week. He has been mum on exact locatins but we will go as far as saying Rio Vista is where he is starting. Where he is finding them you will have to jump on board and let us know.
Larry, ‘The Legend,’ Nelson was able to catch a ride with Bob Wright of Bob Wright’s Guide Service, and after shedding his blindfold and earmuffs, Wright was able to put the Legend onto this impressive limit of stripers. Wright guards his locations as ‘highly classified,’ so there is no other information on location or technique, although Wright is known to drift live bluegill early in the season.
 J.D. Richey of Richey’s Sport Fishing said, “We caught fish everywhere we went on Tuesday.” Richey will jig spoons in deep water, toss swimbaits along the tules, or throw top water lures in low-light conditions.


For striped bass the Delta has been producing some incredible numbers of schoolie class to a few in the 10 to 12 pound range over the past few weeks. Scott Feist of Feisty Fish Guide Service has been drifting live mudsuckers in the shallows in the north Delta, and he put his clients onto easy limits of striped bass within a few hours on Saturday morning. He said, “We have been opting for live mudsuckers as they are hardier than shiners, and we may be able to catch two or three fish on the mudsuckers as opposed to a single fish on a shiner. The fish clearly want live bait as the dead bait is not producing any hits.” Scott has room this week.
Captain Manuel Saldana Jr. of MSJ Guide Service said, “We fished south of the Rio vista bridge on Saturday and caught stripers with everything we used from live bait mud suckers, trolling shallow and deep diver plugs, and casting 5" white Optimum Baits AA swim baits topped with Pro Cure trophy bass gel. The stripers size ranged from schoolie size to 11-pounds which was released.” Manuel will be targeting stripers for another two weeks.
Scott is building his email list for goose hunts in the Yuba City area in December and January. He will be offering a limited number of these VERY productive hunts that are only offered when the geese are working in his leased fields and the weather is right. There is usually just a 12 to 48 hour window before Scott will send out an email (to interested hunters) before these hunts . All that he ran last year produced limits and near limits of specks and snows. With the big increase in goose limits this season these limited dates are something that waterfowl enthusiast  should try to get in on. I have enjoyed many successful waterfowl trips with Scott and can say he is only of the most professional but one of the best callers and most enthusiastic guides you will find. Due to lack of available drought and lack of water he is not running offering guided duck hunts this tear. 
Johnny Tran confirmed the improved sturgeon action, and he added the Sherman Island Power Lines or along Sherman Island Road from the shoreline with salmon roe and eel/nightcrawler or eel/pile worm combinations.
James Nguyen of Dockside Bait in Pittsburg reported the boat launch parking lot was filled on Saturday, but there were fewer fishermen out on Sunday. They received a shipment of mudsuckers, bullheads, and grass shrimp in the shop on Sunday. There were few stripers or sturgeon brought to the shop for a weigh-in over the weekend.
Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported salmon fishing has slowed considerably within the past week, but the striped bass fishing has taken up the slack.  Linesides to a reported 41-inches have been landed off of 1st Street with a variety of baits, and bullheads are in high demand.” Lopez said, “We went through 200 bullheads on Sunday, and they have been hard to keep in the shop.”  Pan-sized flounder have been reported off of 9th or 12th Streets on grass shrimp, blood worms, or night crawlers, and the flatfish generally make a migration up the river to spawn near Rio Vista.
Delta striper action has been incredible from anglers in the know.

Alan Fong of the Fishermen’ s Warehouse in Sacramento said, “You can make it through the vegetation with an outboard motor;  but if you have an I/O, it will be difficult to keep from overheating as we turned around in Disappointment Slough while pre-fishing for an upcoming bass tournament.”
In the Antioch area, Doug Chapman of Gotcha Bait reported striped bass in the 20 to 25-inch range with live mudsuckers producing the larger fish. He said, “A 30-plus pounder was reportedly landed in Broad Slough, but the larger linesides are coming out of the Sacramento River.” Fresh shad has been more difficult to come by within the past week, and they are relying upon their stock of frozen bait. Bluegill action has slowed down a bit, but shore fishermen continued to head out to their favorite spots with jumbo red worms or wax worms. Sturgeon interest has increased, and they sold out of 50-dozen ghost shrimp within the week.
Near Stockton, Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait confirmed the recent difficulty in obtaining fresh shad, but stripers in the 20 to 24-inch range are taken out of Empire Cut and off of Whiskey Slough and Bacon Island Roads. The hyacinth is a plague, but these locations have been the clearest to fish. The Port of Stockton is producing stripers of similar size, but the hyacinth is thick in downtown Stockton and on the Calaveras River. Large bluegill and redeared perch are taken from the banks off of Whiskey Slough Road with wax worms or jumbo red worms.  Interest in catfishing has been minimal.


Hoist with His Own Petard:
Jerry Brown Reveals True Intent of Proposition One

Sacramento, CA - After months of misrepresenting the true purpose of Proposition 1, Governor Jerry Brown inadvertently undermined his own message at a recent Stanford water conference. He claimed the measure would provide components missing from the State Water Project “enacted by my father.” These components, Brown ominously intoned, would “deal with the Delta.”
Jerry Brown had attempted to “deal with the Delta” once before. That was during his first tenure as governor in the 1980s, when he tried to push through the Peripheral Canal, a fiscally irresponsible and environmentally destructive trans-Delta water conveyance scheme that was soundly rejected by voters.
Opponents of Proposition 1 noted that the State Water Project constructed by Governor Pat Brown is nothing to boast about. “It has depleted North State Rivers, degraded the richest estuary on the west coast of the continental United States, encouraged unsustainable corporate agriculture on the toxic soils of the western San Joaquin Valley and provided zero water security for southern California ratepayers,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta and field director for No on Proposition 1. “In concert with the federal Central Valley Project, the State Water Project has brought the Delta to the precipice of ecological collapse. Meanwhile, the State Water Resources Control Board has handed out water rights that promise five times more water than is available in California. Now, the Governor is championing a proposition for dams that will provide minimal water storage at astronomical expense, and destroy what is left of our salmon fisheries. These aren’t legacies he should point to with pride.”
Barrigan-Parrilla noted that Proposition 1 is closely allied to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, a Brown scheme that is a reprise of the Peripheral Canal. The BDCP would authorize the construction of two gigantic trans-Delta tunnels that would devastate the Delta, cost $70 billion or more, and benefit corporate San Joaquin Valley farmers at the expense of citizen ratepayers.
Brown appeared at the Stanford conference – inappropriately titled New Directions for U.S. Water Policy -- with representatives of Paramount Farms, a corporation that cultivates 165,000 acres of orchards in the San Joaquin Valley. Stewart Resnick, a close Brown confidant and Democratic Party fund-raiser, owns Paramount Farms. Resnick has made hundreds of millions of dollars exporting nut crops to China. He has used his wealth to great advantage, influencing state water policy through generous political contributions, including to Brown’s campaigns.“Brown’s master plan for California water is simple,” says Barrigan-Parrilla. “First, it’s about taking care of special corporate interests like Paramount Farms. Then it’s about sticking taxpayers with the bill. It benefits the governor’s cronies, but it certainly does nothing to secure the water security of average Californians.”
Barrigan-Parrilla noted that voters must recognize the linkage between Proposition 1 and the BDCP, and reject both. “Voters should not be fooled.  Proponents of Prop 1 may say the water bond is separate from building the twin Delta tunnels, which will devastate fisheries, family farms, and the five county Delta region.  But the Governor does not see them as separate,” she observed. “Gov. Brown’s poor choices in water leadership through three terms have not protected Californians during this drought, and they will only assure future water crises. Prop. 1 mainly offers more infrastructure projects that will be bone dry during future droughts.”


Delta Report from Jim Pickens of the Fishermen’s Friend in Lodi:
The Salmon bite is good some days and the next you have to put in the time to land one on the Sacramento.  Good news is the water temps continue to drop, which should kick the Salmon bite in gear.  More good news for the Salmon anglers in the Delta is the Ocean bite for Salmon is still strong with many large salmon being taken.  We have more rain and cooler weather in the forecast which will also assist with the Salmon bite
The Mokelumne Salmon bite has taken off in the last couple weeks which corresponded with the Pulse Flows from upstream.  The Mokelumne maybe the place to be this week,  EBMUD did a triple release on Monday and extra releases the rest of this week, which should really turn the Salmon bite on. The favorite technique has been spooning with Blade Runners and P-Line Laser Minnow, but trollers pulling Silvertron’s have been successful in the lower Mokelumne, dodging water hyacinth
Backtrolling with Kwikfish at Vierra’s, trolling double spinners like Silvertrons and large single blades like Blue Foxes and Daigre QMS lures are working from Ko-Ket’s up through Walnut Grove area. Chartreuse, red, blue and pearl have been the top producing colors.  Anglers are all over the board with depths and speed.  One constant is the in-coming tide has produced the best bite on the Sacramento and the Mokelumne.
The fall run of the Striped Bass bite continues to build.  The San Joaquin side has some good fishing, but the water hyacinth and witches hair is a pain to deal with.  The Sacramento side has some issues with grass, but not as severe as the San Joaquin side.  Rio Vista down through Broad Slough is fishing well.  Local angler and Striped Bass fanatic, Jack Clemons has been having good success for Stripers on the Sacramento side.  On Tuesday he caught several stripers along with two over ten pounds.  His favorite technique is deep diving P-Line Angry Eyes from Rio Vista down to Collinsville.
The Sturgeon bite is solid on Salmon Roe and Lamprey Eel in the west Delta.  The PG&E cooling stations, Chain Islands and Montezuma Slough are some of the best spots, just outside of Liberty Island in the deep holes is always a good location.
Not a lot of Black Bass reports this week, due to the favorite spots for them are covered with water hyacinth on the San Joaquin and Mokelumne.  


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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