All posts by Chris Cocoles

26-Plus-Pounder Wins Dana Wharf Halibut Derby

Brian Dancer’s winning Halibut Derby fish that weighed over 26 pounds. Photo courtesy of Dana Wharf.


The Dana Wharf Halibut Derby recently wrapped up, with Brian Dancer’s 26-pound, 10-ounce fish capturing the title and $1,500 first prize.

Here are the results:

1 Brian Dancer                 26lbs 10oz 2/24/2019
2 Cher Owens 25lbs 10oz 11/2/2018
3 JB Delvert 23lbs 9oz 12/9/2018
4 Robert Prei 22lbs 14oz 11/25/2018
5 Tony Garrido 22lbs 7oz 12/7/2018
6 Chris Eckfeldt 19lbs 12oz 11/4/2018
7 Manuel Kim 18lbs 10oz 11/11/2018
8 Lenny Green 16lbs 10oz 3/17/2019
9 Fred Erdman 13lbs9oz 2/9/2019
10 Steve Snieder 13lbs 7oz 11/11/2018
11 Doug Hall 13lbs 7oz 12/28/2018
12 Steve Esquivel 12lbs 10oz 3/29/2019
13 Jeff Balazs 12lbs 4oz 12/9/2018
14 Ryan Frankman 11lbs 3oz 11/11/2018
15 Nir Shany 10lbs 14oz 12/23/2018
16 Robert Teuber 10lbs 10oz 11/25/2018
17 Ted Stiewig 10lbs 2oz 11/11/2018
18 Phil McDaniel 9lbs 2oz 11/4/2018
19 Tyler Humphreys 8lbs 10oz 11/4/2018
20 James Hawkins 8lbs 5oz 12/7/2018
21 Tanaka Noonan 8lbs 2oz 12/28/2018
22 Juan Arceo 8lbs 1/27/2019
23 Bruce Neglia 7lbs 14oz 12/25/2018
24 Gabe Caliendo 7lbs 13oz 1/4/2019
25 Michael Smith 7lbs 9oz

Some Opposition Emerges To Proposed RoadKill Bill

Photo by U.S. Dept. Transportation./Chuck Bartlebaugh


A few months ago, the Sacramento-area state senator Bob Archuleta (D) proposed a bill that follows the lead of other Western states that permits motorists to salvage the meat of roadkill wild game they hit.

But as is usually the case when a bill gets introduced, there’s bound to be some opposed to it, as Sacramento’s CBS TV affiliate reports.  

In the story, the California Fish and Game Warden’s Association is among the agencies raising questions about Archuleta’s bill:

  • Express serious concern about allowing “unlicensed, untrained, and unregulated citizens to engage in the killing of injured roadside wildlife” particularly the safety issue raised by firearms being used on the side of the road which conflicts with existing state law.
  • Express concern about the general public putting themselves at risk by stopping and exiting a vehicle on the side of the road in order to procure the roadkill.
  • State that the proposed roadkill permitting process would “complicate and frustrate” existing wildlife protection laws and regulations, and make the
    apprehension of those illegally possessing wildlife or poaching more difficult than it is already.




180,000 Salmon Fry To Released In Sac River

Coleman Hatchery Photo by USFWS

A conglomerate of federal and state government agencies and other groups are teaming up for a special release of 180,000 salmon fry into the Sacramento River. Here’s more from the event.

Here’s more information from the planned release:

Who:               U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Golden Gate Salmon Assoc., Nor-Cal Guides Sportsmen’s Assoc., UC Davis, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

What:              Experimental release of 180,000 salmon fry 75 miles downstream from the hatchery to examine impact on survival chances and homing instincts

Where:            Scotty’s Landing, 12609 River Rd, Chico, CA 95973

When:             April 13, 3 p.m.

Why:               Experiment to see if using advanced release techniques and moving the salmon’s release point to 75 miles downstream from the Coleman National Fish Hatchery on Battle Creek will significantly improve survival chances without incurring additional straying. Currently, many Coleman salmon are lost in the first 75 miles of travel after release, especially in low water years.  Success could provide a critical way to boost salmon stocks in future low water years.


Partners include:

  • The Golden Gate Salmon Association
  • UC Davis
  • Nor-Cal Guides and Sportsmen’s Association
  • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Ocean Salmon Season In The Southern/Central Part Of The State Off To A Good Start

Dan Wolford holds up two nice salmon taken aboard the Nancy H out of Santa Cruz during the opening weekend of the ocean salmon season in Northern to Southern California. (GOLDEN GATE SALMON ASSOCIATION)

The following press release is courtesy of the Golden Gate Salmon Association: 

San Francisco  —  The sport salmon ocean fishery opened Saturday April 6 from Pigeon Point in southern San Mateo County, south to the Mexican border.  Sport anglers concentrated their efforts out of the Monterey Bay ports of Santa Cruz, Moss Landing and Monterey.  The salmon were there to greet them with many boats reporting back with limits of salmon ranging from five to almost 20 pounds.  Anglers are allowed to keep two salmon per day.

“We’re glad to see people bringing salmon home and we’re thankful for the good rains and Central Valley runoff in the spring of 2017 that helped these salmon survive,” said GGSA president John McManus.  “The ocean was kind to many of the fishermen who fished the first three days of the season until northwest spring time winds increased on Tuesday.  There’s no doubt that salmon caught off the California coast are the best tasting anywhere since they like to feed on small shrimp-like krill at this time of year.”

In addition, the sport salmon season opens Saturday April 13 north of Pigeon Point all the way to just north of Shelter Cove in southern Humboldt County.


The Golden Gate Salmon Association ( is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants and chefs, a native tribe, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon.

GGSA’s mission is to restore California salmon for their economic, recreational, commercial, environmental, cultural and health values.  GGSA serves the sport and commercial anglers, businesses, conservationists and foodies that rely on salmon as a long-term, nutritious, sustainable resource.

Currently, California’s salmon industry is valued at $1.4 billion in annual economic activity in a normal season. The industry employs tens of thousands of people from Santa Barbara to northern Oregon. This is a huge economic bloc made up of commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen (fresh and salt water), fish processors, marinas, coastal communities, equipment manufacturers, tackle shops and marine stores, the hotel and food industry, tribes, and the salmon fishing industry at large.  Salmon are the keystone species that reflect the health of both their fresh and salt water environment.

Wildlife Conservation Board Approves Grant Money To Stream Projects

Truckee River Meadows photo by CDFW

The Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) has approved approximately $13 million in grants to help enhance flows in streams throughout California. A total of 11 stream flow enhancement projects were approved at an April 4 meeting of the Stream Flow Enhancement Program Board. The approved projects will provide or lead to a direct and measurable enhancement of the amount, timing and/or quality of water in streams for anadromous fish; special status, threatened, endangered or at-risk species; or to provide resilience to climate change.

Funding for these projects comes from the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1). The Act authorized the Legislature to appropriate funds to address the objectives identified in the California Water Action Plan, including more reliable water supplies, the restoration of important species and habitat, and a more resilient and sustainably managed water infrastructure.

Funded projects include:

      • A $499,955 grant to the University of California, Davis for a cooperative project with the University of California, Berkeley that will apply the newly developing California Environmental Flows Framework to inform decisions regarding instream flow enhancements in the Little Shasta River in Siskiyou County and San Juan Creek in Orange County, by defining target hydrologic regimes that meet ecological and geomorphic objectives.
      • A $1.5 million grant to the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency for a cooperative project with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and California Department of Water Resources (DWR) in the Oroville Wildlife Area in Butte County. The project will reconnect the Feather River to approximately 400 acres of its historic floodplain, increasing the frequency and duration of floodplain inundation, and enhancing habitat for anadromous salmonids.
      • A $1.98 million grant to the Truckee River Watershed Council for a cooperative project with the CDFW, U.S. Forest Service, Tahoe National Forest and Bella Vista Foundation to enhance hydrologic and ecological function and improve base flows during the low flow period within Lower Perazzo Meadow in Sierra County.
      • A $621,754 grant to the San Mateo County Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with DWR and State Coastal Conservancy to construct an off-channel storage pond on Klingman-Moty Farm. Combined with irrigation efficiency upgrades and a commitment from the landowner to forbear diversions during the low flow period, the project will improve instream flow conditions in San Gregorio Creek in San Mateo County.
      • A $1.78 million grant to the Ventura Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with Ojai Valley Inn, the city of Ojai, the Thacher School, and a diverse array of other partners. They will develop an Integrated Water Management Framework for Instream Flow Enhancement and Water Security and complete planning, permitting and outreach to advance 25 stream flow enhancement projects to an implementation ready stage.

For more information about the WCB please visit

Almost 400,000 Coleman National Fish Hatchery Chinook Perish In Accident

Photo by Coleman National Fish Hatchery

Apologies for not sharing this earlier in the week, but Coleman National Fish Hatchery  suffered the loss of 390,000 king salmon in a hatchery accident late last week. Here’s Redding’s ABC affiliate KRCR with more:

It happened Thursday night. Project Manager Brett Galyean said the team was tagging some of the fish until about midnight. Somehow, one of the raceway’s water wasn’t turned back on before staff left for the night. When they returned in the morning, three percent of the year’s production was dead.

Galyean said the salmon need fresh water to survive and they died from lack of oxygen. …

“It was somber. We had a great work week last week we released 200,000 Winter Chinook in Battle Creek and we had another release of Fall Chinook on station,” Galyean said. “So, we had a really busy positive week and to end it like that was horrible. It’s terrible any day.”



CDFW Cracking Down On Habitat Damage At San Diego County Reserve

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is stepping up educational outreach and enforcement to stop illegal activities including mountain biking, trail building, vandalism, theft, drone use, motorcycle use, equestrian use and dogs off leash at the Carlsbad Highlands Ecological Reserve in San Diego County.

The effort begins this weekend with the installation of new signage and increased enforcement by CDFW wildlife officers of long-standing regulations to protect animals, plants and habitats that depend on the reserve.

Simultaneously, CDFW is working to repair the extensive environmental damage caused by illegal mountain biking and the illegal construction of trails, berms and jumps that not only harm animals and damage habitat, but make the ecological reserve unsafe for authorized activities that include hiking, nature viewing and educational uses.

“I believe the vast majority of the mountain biking community in San Diego County cares deeply about the environment and follows the law. That’s not what’s happening at the Carlsbad Highlands Ecological Reserve,” said Ed Pert, manager of CDFW’s South Coast Region. “We’re dealing with vandals and trail poachers who take it upon themselves to build illegal trails and modify existing trails. These folks knowingly and willfully violate the law and the environment for their own amusement and personal gratification. Unfortunately, this group of bad actors is giving the entire mountain biking community here a bad name.”

The primary purpose of state ecological reserves is to protect sensitive species and habitats. The 473-acre Carlsbad Highlands Ecological Reserve, sometimes referred to as CHER, was established formally in 2000, although its habitat protections date back to 1995 as a conservation bank to offset the impacts of local development. The reserve provides habitat for the federally threatened California gnatcatcher as well as state-listed endangered plants such as the Encinitas baccharis, thread-leaved Brodiaea, and other sensitive native species.

CDFW has been working with the local mountain biking community as well as the San Diego-based Wildlife and Habitat Conservation Coalition to identify good, legal alternatives to biking at CHER.

Areas within CHER that formerly supported rare plants now have illegal trails through them, and areas that previously supported the California gnatcatcher are fragmented and less productive. Habitat damage within the reserve is estimated at 12.5 acres with 17 miles of illegal trails forming an extensive trail system throughout the reserve that at one time was a contiguous block of undisturbed habitat.

Scientific studies on trail use consistently show that trails have significant impacts on wildlife behavior, movement and habitat use. While CDFW encourages Californians to get outside and enjoy the outdoors as much as possible, the illegal use and overuse of sensitive properties such as the Carlsbad Highlands Ecological Reserve has significant consequences on wildlife. In addition to the loss of habitat, wildlife such as lizards, frogs and snakes are often killed when run over by mountain bikers or motorcyclists.

Under state law (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 630), CDFW is obligated to protect and maintain designated ecological reserves, which includes enforcing the rules. Failure to comply could result in a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

“CDFW has no interest in being punitive. We just want the illegal behavior to stop,” Pert said. “So we are getting the word out to anyone who might knowingly or unknowingly ride illegally on CHER. Please don’t ride there. You could be fined.”

For more information on CHER, please visit

Photos and video clips of vandalism, theft and environmental damage at CHER can be found at

California Assemblywoman Creates Bill To End Bobcat Trophy Hunting

CDFW file photo

California Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles) recently introduced Assembly Bill 1254, which would ban trophy bobcat hunting in California.  Currently, California’s season runs between Oct. 15 and Feb. 28, with a statewide of limit of five bobcats per season. Trapping is already banned for bobcats in the state.

Here’s some of Kamlager-Dove’s rationale to the bill from her website: 

“California paves the way and shows the country that residents in this state won’t tolerate cruelty,” said Kamlager-Dove. “California is a leader in wildlife protection, and the time is ripe to lead by putting an end to the trophy slaughter of bobcats. Like their larger cousins, the mountain lion, nobody consumes bobcats for sustenance. These iconic creatures deserve protection for future generations to appreciate their beauty and contribution to the ecological health of the planet.”

California – through ballot measures, legislation, and the regulatory process – has been a leader in bobcat protection. In 1998, California voters passed Proposition 4 by a 57 percent majority. This measure banned the use of steel-jawed, leghold and other body-gripping traps used to capture and hold wildlife, including bobcats.

In 2012, the Legislature passed a bill that banned the use of hounds to track and kill bobcats and black bears. In 2013, the Legislature passed the Bobcat Protection Act, which limited bobcat trapping, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife banned commercial and recreational bobcat trapping altogether in 2015.

“Trophy hunting results in the unnecessary and cruel deaths of California’s majestic little carnivores,” said Crystal Moreland, California State Director for the Humane Society of the United States. “Few can argue that spotting an elusive bobcat is a wondrous thrill, and California’s beautiful little bobcats are far more valuable to its citizens alive than dead.”

Hunting groups like the Sportsmen’s Alliance are obviously opposed to the bill. Here’s some of its argument against the proposal:

California is already the most hostile state in the country for hunting and trapping, and has been fertile ground for animal-rights groups and their agenda. It was the first state to ban mountain lion hunting in 1990, voters passed a trapping ban initiative in 1998, and bear and bobcat hunting with hounds was outlawed in 2011. Bobcat numbers have steadily grown throughout the state and country, and the anti-hunting lobby has responded by attacking the remaining seasons and opposing new ones in California as well as in states such as Illinois, New Hampshire and Ohio.



Lawsuit Filed As Starving Orcas Struggle To Find Salmon

(Photo by Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries

The following press release is courtesy of the Center For Biological Diversity:

SEATTLE— The Center for Biological Diversity and Wild Fish Conservancy sued the Trump administration today for mismanaging West Coast salmon fisheries and harming critically endangered Southern Resident killer whales, a violation of the Endangered Species Act. That orca population has dropped to just 75 individuals, mostly because declining salmon runs have left them without enough to eat.

Today’s lawsuit was filed in federal court in the Western District of Washington. It seeks to compel the National Marine Fisheries Service to assess and reduce the threat to the endangered orcas from salmon fishing off Washington, Oregon and California. Southern Residents are also threatened by pollution and disturbance from vessel traffic.

“While orcas starve to death, the Trump administration is refusing to protect salmon populations crucial to their survival,” said Julie Teel Simmonds, a Center attorney. “Salmon and the killer whales that rely on them are both in trouble, and this fishery must be better managed to promote their recovery. If federal officials don’t act now, we’ll lose our chance to pull these beloved animals back from the edge of extinction.”

The Southern Resident population reached a 34-year low in 2018 after the loss of a newborn calf and a young female. Researchers have been closely watching two other ailing orcas that appear to be malnourished. Starving orcas show signs of “peanut head” — a condition in which an individual has lost so much body fat that a depression appears behind its blowhole.

In January 2019 scientists confirmed the birth of a baby orca named Lucky. The first calf to survive past birth since 2015, Lucky underscores the urgent need to improve feeding opportunities for Southern Resident killer whales.

The young orca and its pod were sighted this week in California’s Monterey Bay, highlighting the expansive range of the Southern Resident killer whales (which feed in the summer in Washington’s Puget Sound) and the importance of protecting the salmon they eat throughout their range.

“The Trump administration can no longer ignore the scientific evidence that clearly demonstrates the link between reduced size and abundance of Chinook and the reduced reproductive success of Southern Resident killer whales,” said Kurt Beardslee, executive director of the Wild Fish Conservancy. “It’s time for federal fishery managers to acknowledge that starving killer whales and smaller and less abundant Chinook are merely symptoms of the problems created by harvest management that is fundamentally broken.”

In August 2018 the Center sued the Trump administration for failing to protect the Southern Residents’ full West Coast habitat. The Center launched another lawsuit in August 2018 to establish a “whale protection zone” to shield orcas from boat noise and disturbance in the heart of their Puget Sound habitat.

Today’s suit focuses on the administration’s obligation under the Endangered Species Act to ensure that the Pacific Coast salmon fisheries do not jeopardize the Southern Resident killer whales. That includes a requirement to use the best available science on orcas to manage the salmon fishery.

“Trump officials relied on decade-old science to maintain the status quo in the Pacific salmon fisheries while these orcas are starving. It’s not right, and it’s not what the Endangered Species Act calls for,” Simmonds said. “West Coast orcas can’t afford another year without bold federal action based on sound science to reverse their decline.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC) is a nonprofit conservation ecology organization headquartered in Washington State and dedicated to preserving, protecting and restoring the Northwest’s wild fish and the ecosystems they depend on, through science, education and advocacy.

California Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Closing On April 15

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: 

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham issued a declaration to close the commercial Dungeness crab fishery statewide at 11:59 p.m. on April 15, 2019 due to increased whale entanglement risk anticipated for the spring and summer months.

Under the interim authority of Section 8276.1(c)(1) of the Fish and Game Code, the Director may restrict take of commercial Dungeness crab if the fishery is being conducted in a manner that poses a significant risk of marine life entanglement. Therefore, the Director has declared that the commercial Dungeness crab fishery will close at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 15, 2019. All Dungeness crab commercial fishing gear must be removed from ocean waters and landings must be completed by April 15, 2019 at 11:59 p.m.

For more information or updates, please see the Department’s Crab Fishery web page.