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Lake Del Valle Update

Tim Wood of Livermore with a 5-pound catfish caught on anchovies in Heron Cove.

Tim Wood of Livermore with a 5-pound catfish caught on anchovies in Heron Cove.

Friend of the blog Dan Hollis of Rocky Mountain Recreation Company provides this update on Lake Del Valle, in the east Bay Area:

The heat has picked back up into the high 90s and is estimated to reach over 100 this weekend.  The water temp is still a wonderful 75 degrees on the surface, perfect for swimming and relaxing in the water.  Fishing was slow but not dead this week.  Catfish are starting to show up in Heron Bay and by the Dam.  Jerkbaits are starting to pull fish on the points where the fish are staging waiting to ambush prey.  Baby shad are coming up to the surface but, the stripes are not boiling on them yet surprisingly.
     Coming up here in the fall the stripers will be easiest to spot and catch as they breach the surface chasing shad.  Little jerkbaits and topwater baits such as spooks, popper, pencil poppers and wake baits will produce major fish in the fall and winter months.  Largemouth and smallmouth will come on the bite in lake summer into the fall as well and can be caught on alot of the same baits as the stripes. 
Molly Mallory landed this 5-pound catfish at Lake Del Valle.

Molly Malloy landed this 5-pound catfish at Lake Del Valle.

The only thing I would do different is throw a frog on the weed mats for largies!  Just a heads up to all the hikers and the bank fisherman whom like walking down the east side trail, I will be closed shortly due to construction so come up and fish while you can!  Boat rentals will still be available through all phases of the construction project.  Good luck to all of you on your search for THE BIG ONE!

For more information on Lake Del Valle, call (925) 449-5201.

 

 

Sac, Feather River Salmon Opening Day Looms

Photos courtesy of MSJ Guide Service

Photos courtesy of MSJ Guide Service

 

The water levels may be a concern for the upcoming king salmon season, but veteran Yuba City/Marysville guide Manuel Saldana Jr. of MSJ Guide Service told me felt good about a good season on his home rivers, the Feather and Sacramento. The latter seems like more a sure bet with the smaller Feather River taking more of a brunt of the state’s drought woes. The inland river fishing for kings opens this Thursday, July 16, and the following report appears in the July issue of California Sportsman:

By Chris Cocoles

Yes, California is in a drought. Yes, the Sacramento and Feather Rivers, two prime king salmon waterways, have been affected by the conditions. No, some Central Valley fishing guides aren’t in a panic over it.

“We’re predicting to have a good run, just like last year or even better,” says Yuba City-based fishing guide Manuel Saldana, Jr., of MSJ Guide Service (msjguideservice.com; 530-301-7455).

The season for fall Chinook begins on July 16, and a run of about 652,000 kings are expected into the Sacramento River. Of course, water levels in both the Sacramento and Saldana’s preferred fishery, the Feather, is always a topic of discussion as California’s ongoing drought saga heads into another summer and fall of king salmon fishing.

“It’s still good,” Saldana says of the pending conditions. “Everyone’s nervous. There’s one thing that we tell people about salmon, ‘They will come up (the rivers).’ Even if there is really shallow water, and they won’t just stay out there. They proved it last year when I was navigating in half the water and these salmon had enough water to get through. They will come up in the Feather and the Sacramento.”

Saldana will improvise if need be and travel further north as the salmon heading back from the ocean seek out cooler water. He emphasized that while another species he targets regularly, Delta striped bass, will turn around and head back after they spawn, the kings are, of course, on a one-way trip from saltwater to freshwater.

“Salmon go in one direction: up. And that’s it. They don’t hit a place like Colusa and say, ‘We’re going to spawn and come back.’ Fall and winter fish – they just keep heading up and spawn and die.”

But the big X-factor – as it usually is with kings – is what the water temperatures will be like as summer progresses. And this is a drought-related concern, though not the crisis that it could be made out to be. Last year, the Feather’s temps got a little higher than most guides would like.

“But as soon as that water got into the 50s, at 57, 58, it got better and better and better,” Saldana says. “They just started jumping into the nets. I went on that run in mid-October and into November.”

What a successful season can boil down to, Saldana says, is being open to changing your approach on a year-to-year basis. Scents and techniques that worked one season may not be the flavor of the month with lower and warmer water.

“You had to be a little more stealthy. The water was lower; the salmon could see you and feel the boat. So you really had to change your tactics and key in on certain points in the river,” Saldana says. “I’ve seen them when I’ve been side-drifting and it’s super shallow; they go right around you. We were using that technique in the Feather and we just had to change it up. You just have to look at your area, the river and its structures and figure out where they’re going to be and where your opportunities will be best.”

 

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BETTER LATE THAN NEVER 

Saldana has been fishing these waters for a while now, and he expects the 2015 run to have a similar pattern as last year: a late push of kings. A surge hit the Feather River, providing a lot of fish caught well into November.

In a normal year, the Feather gets fished first with the likelihood that some remaining springers will get caught, before he moves to
the Sacramento.

“I saw some fish in the Feather and went to scout it out a little bit and said, ‘They’re here and there are more coming.’ So I just stuck to it and started working at it,” Saldana says. “Then all of a sudden I got in a FlatFish bite and the water temperature dropped. I had enough water to navigate. And they just kept coming. I have the exact same feeling we’re going to do it again.”

So what about the early part of the season? In July and August, he’ll likely fish around Chico in the Sacramento River, and around the July 16 opener, he plans to fish the Feather River’s Thermalito Afterbay outlet below Oroville Dam in search of springers.

Those first couple days can be the best in that setting since there’s been no fishing pressure “until the fish get wise,” he says.

Just don’t expect to be pulling in limits after a short time on either of the rivers.

“In July and August, fish will start trickling up. Early in the year, what happens is you might not get as big a quantity of fish, but you’ll get the quality on early trips,” Saldana says. “A lot of times you’ll get what we call the little silver bullets; those early ones are nice and clean. Later on, you’ll get more numbers.”

 

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EARLY AND LATE TACTICS

When Saldana fishes the rivers early before the sun comes up, he’ll go with an old king salmon staple of back-bouncing sardine-wrapped FlatFish. But when the sun comes up, he’ll switch to roe, either back-bouncing it vertically in holes, boondogging it, or a newer technique of using a bobber and spinning the roe.

“You get less hangups when bobber fishing,” Saldana says. “It allows you to kind of stay off the fish instead of going over them.”

When fishing more of the evening hours, roe is used first and then he’ll switch to his FlatFish setups.

Whatever the tactics, Saldana figures the run will get better later. And he urges to not get too stressed out about the fear of empty rivers void of prized kings.

“That’s one thing about those fish; they will come up and do their thing,” Saldana says. “If you give them a little bit of water, they’ll get through … The only way the salmon are not going to be there is, literally, if there is no water, virtually none.”

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Staying Safe Amid SoCal Coyote Encounters

Several incidents with coyotes in Southern California prompted a warning from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to use caution and common sense. (USFWS)

Several incidents with coyotes in Southern California prompted a warning from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to use caution and common sense. (USFWS)

Several incidents around Southern California with coyotes prompted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to issue the following release:

Due to a recent increase in the number of human/coyote incidents in Southern California, residents should be particularly vigilant in watching their children and pets when outdoors.

In the past month, there have been four incidents in Irvine where young children were either bitten or scratched by a coyote, resulting in minor injuries.

“These incidents highlight the importance of communities working together to eliminate sources of food that may attract wildlife to neighborhoods,” said Capt. Rebecca Hartman, of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Law Enforcement Division. “When coyotes are fed, either intentionally or unintentionally by food being left out, they can become a public safety threat.”

CDFW volunteers have been conducting outreach and distributing wildlife information to residents in Irvine and trappers have been deployed to locate and humanely euthanize coyotes in the area where the incidents have occurred.

During the warm summer months, particularly from March through August, coyotes are very active. They are raising their young and are in an almost constant search for food.

Coyotes are highly adaptable and often live in close proximity to populated areas where food and water sources are abundant. They usually fear humans and avoid interactions; however, if they begin to associate humans with food, they lose their natural fear and can become bold and aggressive.

Coyote Safety Tips
• Keep a close eye on small children when outdoors.
• Keep small pets inside particularly at dawn and dusk when coyotes are most active.
• Keep pets on a leash when walking.
• Keep pet food and water dishes inside.
• Secure food and trash at all times and remove all sources of water.
• Pick up fallen fruit and keep compost piles tightly sealed.
• Sweep up fallen birdseed, which can attracts mice and rats, a common food source for coyotes.
• Remove brush, wood piles and debris where coyotes can find cover and where rodents are abundant.
• Install motion-activated lighting or sprinklers.
• If a coyote approaches or acts aggressively, throw rocks, make noise, look big, and pick up small children and pets. Do not turn your back to the animal.
• If a coyote is frequently seen around schoolyards or playgrounds or is acting aggressively, contact your local animal control or CDFW.
• If a coyote attacks, call 911.

There has been only one recorded fatality in California from a coyote attack (a 3-year-old girl in 1981). Coyote attacks are relatively rare and the mere presence of a coyote does not constitute a public safety threat. However, in areas where coyotes are highly visible and active, caution is advised.

For more information on living responsibly with wildlife, visithttp://www.keepmewild.com.

 

An American Birthday Bash

Photo by Chris Cocoles (baseball fan)

Photo by Chris Cocoles (baseball fan)

 

Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet! 

The younger kids probably don’t know what the in the name of James Madison am I talking about? But if you’re a forty-something (or more) like me you remember that catchy jingle that was a 1970s’ ode to the good ol’ USA. Most of my family probably would consider the Mount Rushmore of Americana faves as football (me and two sisters do love baseball though), chicken, vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and definitely FORD! But I digress, and here are a few thoughts as we celebrate our nation’s 239th birthday:

1. Today is the first of California’s Free Fishing Days (the other coming on Sept. 5), so take your son or daughter or gather a few buddies who don’t fish much and wet a line somewhere. There is water in this state and there are plenty of trout, catfish, bass and others that swim hungry for a meal.

2. Grill whatever you damn well please today. But make sure you do throw a few hot dogs (as the commercial implored us to) on the barbie. I know I’ll make sure to indulge on a couple over the course of the holiday weekend.

3. Take some time on Sunday to watch the final of the Women’s World Cup with team USA against Japan in a rematch of a classic 2011 final. I’m not the biggest soccer fan either, but these ladies work just as hard as your baseball-playing Dodgers, Angels, Giants, Padres and this editor’s Athletics and deserve your full attention with the championship of the planet at stake in Vancouver.

4. Stating the obvious here, but please be careful around the grill and with both not drinking and driving (duh) but also safely shooting off your fireworks. Yes, we have water but our state is full of scorched earth. Too many wildfires and burning homes are born out of carelessness.

5. Remember the struggles of our Founding Fathers to create this powerful but flawed nation, plus all of the patriots who fought to preserve the Declaration of Independence.

Enjoy the party, and save me a piece of apple pie!

 

 

 

 

Drought Forces Hatchery Fish To Be Evacuated… Again

The American River Hatchery is being forced to evacuate fish again due to drought conditions. (CDFW)

The American River Hatchery is being forced to evacuate fish again due to drought conditions. (CDFW)

The drought’s lingering effects through four years of scant rainfall in California has done a number on the state’s fish hatcheries. None has been hit harder than the American River and Nimbus hatcheries near Sacramento.  Once again, as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reports with this press release, fish are being moved out of the hatcheries for a second consecutive year:

With a fourth year of extreme drought conditions reducing the cold water supply available, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is moving fish out of the American River and Nimbus hatcheries for the second year in a row.

Bureau of Reclamation models suggest water temperatures at the hatcheries could be at lethal levels for cold water fish by August. CDFW has already begun to stock American River Hatchery rainbow and brown trout into state waters earlier than normal. These fish range from small fingerlings to the larger catchable size. The accelerated planting schedule will continue through mid-July when all the fish in the raceways are expected to be evacuated. This includes all the fingerling size rainbow trout that would normally be held in the hatchery to grow to catchable size for next year.

A new, state-of-the-art building at American River Hatchery, completed in early June using emergency drought funds, will enable CDFW to raise Lahontan cutthroat trout through the summer for planting into eastern sierra lakes and streams. The new building will also enable CDFW to hold a small group of rainbow trout fingerlings that are scheduled to be stocked in west side sierra put-and-grow fisheries by airplane in July. The new hatchery building utilizes water filters, ultraviolet sterilization techniques and large water chillers to keep water quality and temperatures at ideal levels for trout rearing. However, the new technology is limited to the hatchery building and not the raceways, which will limit capacity to include only the Lahontan cutthroat trout once the fish start to grow to larger sizes.

Nimbus Hatchery has already begun relocating some 330,000 steelhead to the Feather River Hatchery Annex to be held through the summer. When the water temperature at the Nimbus Hatchery returns to suitable levels in the fall, the steelhead will be brought back to Nimbus to finish growing and imprinting then will be released into the lower American River. The Feather River Hatchery Annex is supplied by a series of groundwater wells that maintain cool water temperatures throughout the year.

The fall run Chinook salmon from Nimbus Hatchery have all been released into state waterways. If necessary, the chilled American River Hatchery building will be used this fall to incubate and hatch Chinook salmon from Nimbus Hatchery.

“Unfortunately, the situation is similar to last year,” said Jay Rowan, Acting Senior Hatchery Supervisor for CDFW’s North Central Region. “We have begun to implement contingency plans to avoid major fish losses in the two hatcheries. We want to do the best job we can to provide California anglers with good fishing experiences and communicate when there will be deviations from normal practices. With that in mind, we want to let anglers in the area know that a lot more fish than normal will be going out into area waters served by American River Hatchery.”

Rowan said that the number of fish planted at various waterbodies will increase as the planting timeframe decreases, so the fishing should be very good through the summer at foothill and mountain elevation put-and-take waters. Early fish plants now mean there won’t be as many fish available to plant in the lower elevation fall and winter fisheries, so the fishing may drop off later in the season if the fish don’t hold over well.

American River Hatchery operations focus on rearing rainbow and Lahontan cutthroat trout and kokanee salmon for recreational angling, predominantly in waters within the North Central Region. Nimbus Hatchery takes salmon and steelhead eggs from the American River and rears them to fish for six months to a year, until they are ready to be put back in the system.

To the south, San Joaquin Hatchery near Fresno expects to experience high water temperatures this summer. Transferring and stocking fish in advance of high water temperatures is planned. CDFW hopes to maintain some trout at low densities at the hatchery for the winter stocking season.

Annually, CDFW works with the Bureau of Reclamation to ensure its operations provide suitable conditions for fish at hatcheries and in the river. This year, conditions are forecasted to be dire with little flexibility in operations. Similar to last year, low reservoir storage and minimal snow pack will result high water temperatures over summer and very low river flows by fall.

Fall and winter rains, if received in sufficient amounts, will cool water temperatures enough to allow both hatcheries to come back online and resume operations.

Mallard Breeding Declined By 27 Percent

Photo courtesy of CDFW

Photo courtesy of CDFW

 

From the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) completed its 2015 waterfowl breeding population survey. The CDFW survey, which uses methodology approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), indicates the total number of breeding ducks (all species combined) has declined. Breeding mallards, the most numerous duck species in the state, declined 27 percent from 2014.

The total number of breeding ducks is estimated at 315,580, compared to 448,750 last year. The estimated breeding population of mallards is 173,865, a decrease from 238,670 in 2014. CDFW attributes the decline to very low precipitation and poor habitat conditions. Similar declines in breeding duck population estimates have occurred in the past but recovered after habitat conditions improved.

“Habitat conditions were poor the last three years in both northeastern California and the Central Valley and the production of young ducks was reduced as a result, so a lower breeding population was expected in 2015,” said CDFW’s Waterfowl Program Environmental Scientist Melanie Weaver. “We would expect another low year of duck production from these two important areas in California in 2015. However, habitat conditions in northern breeding areas (Alaska and Canada) are reported to be better than average.”

CDFW has conducted this survey using fixed-wing aircraft since 1948. The population estimates are for the surveyed areas only, which include the majority of the suitable duck nesting habitat in the state. These areas include wetland and agricultural areas in northeastern California, the Central Valley from Red Bluff to Bakersfield, and the Suisun Marsh. The Breeding Population Survey Report is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/waterfowl/.

The majority of California’s wintering duck population originates from breeding areas surveyed by the USFWS in Alaska and Canada, and these results should be available in July. CDFW survey information, along with similar data from other Pacific Flyway states, is used by the USFWS and the Pacific Flyway Council when setting hunting regulations for the Pacific Flyway states, including California.

The federal regulation frameworks specify the outside dates, maximum season lengths and maximum bag limits. Once CDFW receives the USFWS estimates and the frameworks for waterfowl hunting regulations from the USFWS, CDFW will make a recommendation to the Fish and Game Commission regarding this year’s waterfowl hunting regulations.

NOAA: Saltwater Anglers Spending Big Bucks

Getting the job done aboard the Royal Star, long-range veteran Art Nolen with a nice yellowtail. (Photo courtesy Royal Star)

Getting the job done aboard the Royal Star, long-range veteran Art Nolen with a nice yellowtail. (Photo courtesy Royal Star)

 

 

From the National Oeanic and Atmospheric Administration:

Anglers spent approximately $156 million on saltwater recreational fishing in California’s four national marine sanctuaries on average, which generated more than $200 million in annual economic output and supported nearly 1,400 jobs, according to a new NOAA report released today. The peer-reviewed report cited data ranging from 2010-2012, the most recent years for which this data is available, from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

father helping son fish over the side of a boat
Mason Nunn visiting from Colorado gets a little help from his dad on a big fish while fishing in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Credit: Sanctuary Classic

The findings highlight the positive effects and economic value of recreational fishing in the four California sanctuaries–Channel Islands, Greater Farallones, Cordell Bank and Monterey Bay–which are managed to ensure the health of our most valued ocean places. Approximately 13.4 percent of all saltwater recreational fishing in California from 2010 to 2012 took place in national marine sanctuaries, the report states. During the study period, the Greater Farallones sanctuary was called the Gulf of the Farallones; it was renamed earlier this month.

“This report underscores the value of national marine sanctuaries as focal points for recreation and local economic development,” said Bob Leeworthy, chief economist for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “It also highlights the important role sanctuaries play in protecting the health and integrity of critical marine ecosystems, including places cherished by recreational saltwater anglers.”

The Economic Impact of the Recreational Fisheries on Local County Economies in California National Marine Sanctuaries, 2010, 2011 and 2012, was produced by the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. Among the findings:

  • Based on a three-year average from 2010 to 2012, the total economic impact from recreational fishing in California national marine sanctuaries–the so-called “ripple effect”–totaled $213.1 million.
  • Communities served by a national marine sanctuary, on average, saw an additional $74.4 million in income to business owners and employees as a result of recreational fishing in the sanctuary.
  • Of the places anglers fish, national marine sanctuaries accounted for 13.4 percent of the total person-days of recreational fishing in California each year on average.
  • Land-based shore fishing in the sanctuaries accounted for an average of 9.9 percent of shore fishing person-days in California; charter and passenger fishing vessels (CPFV) in the sanctuaries accounted for 22.3 percent of all CPFV person-days in California; and private/rental boat fishing in the sanctuaries accounted for 25.8 percent of all private/rental boat person-days in California.
  • Anglers spent $79.7 million on trip-related expenses, with fuel one of the largest expenditures for anglers. Non-residents had higher trip-related expenditures for auto rental and lodging. Anglers spent an additional $75.9 million on durable goods purchases, with the highest expenditures for rods and reels, tackle and boat storage.

The complete California recreational fishing economic impacts study, along with earlier national marine sanctuary socioeconomic reports, can be found atsanctuaries.noaa.gov/science/socioeconomic/pdfs/california_rec_sanctuaries.pdf.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook,link leaves government site Twitterlink leaves government site, Instagramlink leaves government site and our other social media channels.