Fishing in the SF Bay:
Sturgeon Fishing News:
The Columbia River Sturgeon:
The Columbia River is one of American West infamy. Lewis and Clark, in their famous cross American journey, traveled the Columbia as their last great waterway to the Pacific ocean. The present day Columbia River has it’s headwaters in British Columbia and flows South through Washington where it takes a sharp turn west at the confluence of its biggest tributary, Idaho’s Snake River. At the Snake, the river sets it course due west to the Pacific Ocean. On its westward journey, the Columbia creates a natural border between the American States of Oregon and Washington, before eventually dumping into the Pacific near Astoria. By the time the Columbia reaches Astoria it has traveled over 1,200 miles.
The Columbia has a number of important and well known tributaries including the Deshutes, Willamette, Cowlitz and Lewis. The Snake River can lay claim to a 1,500 pound fish that was caught in 1928.
The Columbia of Lewis and Clark’s time is not the Columbia of today. With 11 major hydroelectric projects on the mainstream, and hundreds more on its tributaries, the Columbia holds the dubious honor of being the most hydroelectrically developed river system in the world.
The Columbia River is home to both Pacific Coast sturgeon species– the Green Sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) and the White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus). The White Sturgeon of the Columbia River are some of the largest on the West Coast, and in the world. The Columbia Sturgeon though, like other populations, have been pressured to near extinction. The damming of the river has cut off access to the Pacific for the anadromous Sturgeon. Before the arrival of white settlers and subsequent development of the Pacific Northwest, White Sturgeon were well dispersed throughout the Columbia River Basin from the estuary at the mouth of the river, up the Snake River to southern Idaho. The hydro projects have hurt the Sturgeon populations two-fold; they block upstream migration as well as altering the rivers habitat and affecting water temperature levels.
Although white sturgeon were brought to near extinction by commercial fishing in the late 1800′s, populations have slowly recovered and sturgeon are once again an important fishery resource in the Columbia River system.
The Columbia offers sturgeon fishing opportunities year around. There are always plenty of smaller sturgeon in the river as they live in the river until they grow large enough to migrate out to the salt water usually at around 3 feet in length. Once the fish have reached the age that they begin migrating they are constantly on the move looking for sources of food. These food sources are the key to targeting a specific age class of sturgeon.
For the keeper sized sturgeon the main food sources are smelt, crayfish, clams (both freshwater and saltwater), anchovies, sardines, herring, salmon roe and carcasses, sand and mud shrimp. By far their favorites are smelt, clams, anchovies, shrimp. They feed heavily on these food sources with the food of choice dependant on where in the river system they are and what the predominant food source is for that time of year. The keeper sized 42″-60″ fish migrate with the food. Usually The fishing for keepers is good in the lower Columbia river below Bonneville dam down to Rainer when the smelt run is in from January to May with the bulk of the smelt arriving around mid Feb to mid Mar. The smelt run tends to congregate the fish in the sections of the river where the smelt concentrations are the highest. When the smelt run begins to wind down the keepers begin migrating down river to feed in the estuary at Astoria Oregon on shrimp, clams, anchovies, herring, sardine and so on. Usually the majority of the keeper sized fish will arrive in the estuary at the mouth of the Columbia river around mid May to mid June and will remain there until late fall then they will start back up river following the fall salmon run. They will remain somewhat scattered until January when they begin stacking up again in anticipation of the upcoming smelt return.
Sturgeons are the largest freshwater fish in the world, the largest on record reaching 25 feet! There are 24 different species of sturgeon found in Russia, Northern Europe, Asia, the United States and Canada. All sturgeons have a cartilage skeleton, five rows of bony plates on their bodies instead of scales, thick lips, and four sensory barbs in front of the mouth for detecting food. Along the Pacific coast we see mostly white sturgeon (Acinpenser transmontanus), with the occasional visiting green sturgeon (A. medirostris).
The life cycle
It may seem like a little bit of a stretch to call a sturgeon anadromous. They do not undertake long, dangerous migrations like salmon. They do not spend years at sea fattening up for the return trip to their spawning grounds. In fact, they may spend very little time in ocean waters, preferring instead the calmer, brackish waters of coastal estuaries. Nevertheless, they are a fish that spends part of their life in saltwater and spawn in fresh, and that makes them anadromous.
Life as a sturgeon begins as a sticky egg attached to some gravel at the bottom of a fast-moving stream or river. Eggs hatch quickly, within two weeks. Little larval sturgeon stay close to the bottom and feed on algae and small aquatic insects on their way to estuaries, where they’ll spend the majority of their lives.
Sturgeon are slow growing, long-lived fish. It may take them over 10 years to become sexually mature. Once mature, they mate only every 4 to 11 years. But when they do, they don’t fool around. A single female sturgeon can produce several million eggs. Most of these eggs will be lost in the current or eaten by predators.
In the late spring and summer, sturgeons swim up their home rivers in search of good spawning habitat. Males and females cast eggs and sperm into the fast-moving water. Fertilized eggs sink to the bottom and stick to the gravel bottom, where they’ll stay until they hatch.
The white sturgeon is the largest fish in North America with some reports of fish nearly 20 feet long and weighing 1,800 pounds. It is also one of the longest living fish–old-timers reaching the century mark and beyond. Sturgeon find their food on the bottom with sensory barbels under their snout. They root around in the mud looking for invertebrates and small fish that they will suck up with their tube-shaped vacuum mouth. The Columbia river is home to a population of white sturgeon. They spawn in early summer from May to July and spend the rest of the year in estuaries along the Pacific coast. Some sturgeons have been isolated by human activities resulting in at least one active population in Montana. Since sturgeons do not use fish ladders, dams become impenetrable barriers.
ENDANGERED There is one landlocked population of white sturgeon in the Kootenai river of Montana and British Columbia that is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The Columbia river population below the Bonneville dam is large enough again to support sport and commercial fisheries. Due to increased fishing pressure and demand for caviar worldwide all sturgeon species are now officially protected under CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Fishing for Sturgeon can be tremendously challenging some days and then other days can be a walk in the park. The main challenge is to find them on any given day. There will be days when we might try up to ten different holes trying to locate the fish. Once you find them you need to get your bait on the bottom and try to keep it as still as possible. We do this by using short leaders of three feet in length and shorter. The bait varies at different times of the year. Smelt is one of the more popular baits and it will work most of the year. Try to use the freshest bait you can find. People have used old stinky baits that they have concocted by combining different items and then letting these sit out in the sun to ripen until you can smell them from a mile away. These baits work, but you need a strong stomach to use them. Fresh bait works all year and it is not nearly as bad to work with. When you put the bait on the hook you try to get it as streamlined as possible so the river current will not move it in all different directions and make it hard for the Sturgeon to eat.
If you have a depth finder simply motor up or down the river searching for holes or sharp changes in depth. Gradual changes in depth do not work as well as sharper changes in depth. The Sturgeon try to find places where they can get out of the main current and still be close enough that the current will wash food by their resting place.
Once you find a promising looking hole, motor above it and drop anchor. One of the key points when anchoring is that if you know where the hole is, don’t motor over it. Come in from the side or from upriver and drop anchor. This will keep the hole undisturbed. When you motor over the hole sometimes it will take up to twenty minutes for the fish to settle down. Before you drop anchor make sure your feet are away from the rope. When the anchor hooks up in heavy current it can put a tremendous pressure on the rope and if your feet get tangled it can easily pull you overboard. I always make sure the entire anchor system is in front of me before I throw out the anchor.
When pulling up the anchor with a EZ pull ball system never motor over the rope, even with a jet boat. Start going upriver at a forty five degree angle to the rope. Once you get a good angle on the anchor, usually about twenty to fifty feet to the side, you can head straight upriver. Keep a sharp eye on the rope while you are pulling it to make sure it does not go under the boat. One thing to always remember in a river is NEVER, NEVER, NEVER tie a anchor rope to the back of the boat. Many a boat has went to the bottom from someone using a double anchor system, or as they are drifting downriver they tie the anchor rope to a back cleat to pull it and before they can head upriver the rope tightens and water starts coming over the transom, not that a smart Captain like myself has ever experienced one of the above…..
When you get anchored over a good hole, throw out your bait and wait for the subtle tap of the Sturgeon. There are many different baits that work. I use smelt, sand shrimp, shad, worms, salmon bellys, and other baits. One day the smelt will out perform the other baits and the very next day one of the other baits will be the top performer. I don’t know what triggers the different tastes on different days, but it happens quite a bit.
When I set up my rig, I like to use a sliding weight system. With this system I can keep the bait on the bottom and see the smallest of bites. I vary the weight with the conditions. Sometimes I use up to two pound weights to keep the bait on the bottom. When I get the bait down, I then make sure there is a slight bend to the pole tip. You don’t want to have any slack in your line, but you also don’t want to much pressure on the line or the Sturgeon will feel the tension and drop the bait.
I like to use poles with sensitive tips. If you use a pole with too stiff of a tip you might not see the bite at all. We tried some poles that were too heavy and we would reel up to check the bait and the Sturgeon sucked the bait off without the pole tip moving. For keepers and shakers I use the Ugly Stick Lite Heavy. It has a sensitive tip and good backbone for fighting fish. The Tiger Ugly Stick is great for fighting oversize Sturgeon. It gives you great leverage for fighting these monster fish.
I recently did a TV show with Outdoor America. We fished for oversized Sturgeon up near Bonneville dam. Steve Gruber, who is the host of the program, hooked on to several Sturgeon with the largest being a TWELVE FOOT MONSTER. Usually when we hook on to a big one everybody in the boat takes a turn hauling them in, but Steve fought that huge giant for over two hours without any help. The show with this fish will be showing sometime in January. It is something you just need to see to believe.
The entire time with the Outdoor America crew was a great experience. We had a ton of fun, caught lots of huge fish, and had enough footage for two great shows. It is quite the experience to just see how they put the show together. They had an underwater camera man and the footage he got on these fish put the shows over the top. It was the first time I had seen oversize Sturgeon from underwater and the footage was excellent.
Sturgeon fishing can be a great experience. If you have never anchored in a river I highly recommend going with a guide for your first trip. It can save you a lot of grief and you can learn a lot from one outing with a good guide. See you on the water!!!!!
Below is a report from www.usafishing.com
The halibut bite has taken off again despite the large tides and the late date on the calendar. Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker is back from his Alaska 2nd home, and he took out of small load of 8 anglers on Thursday 9-17 with a couple of the passengers boating limits of halibut with another few at a pair of fish and then there were those with at least one. They had one bass today with the possibility of a few more late in the afternoon in the rocks. Jim was working the central bay flats with the best action in the Berkeley Flats. He is going out again on Saturday and possibly Sunday with the tides shrinking on a daily basis.
The New Huck Finn out of Emeryville Sport Fishing had a great day on Wednesday with 7 limits of halibut to 14-pounds and 3 stripers to 9-pounds.
Emeryville is scheduling rockfish/lingcod trips and live bait potluck trips throughout the weekend with an open albacore trip on the 4-pack Wet Spot on Sunday. Their next open albacore trip on the New Salmon Queen is Tuesday, September 22nd.
John Akina at Oyster Point Bait, Tackle and Deli reported things were a bit slow on Wednesday with only 2 fish brought into the shop. There weren’t many fishermen out in the middle of the week. One commercial angler was targeting white sea bass at the Alameda Rockwall on Tuesday, and he was reported to have landed 8 of these toads all on live sardines.
Joel Sinkay of Leonards Bait in Port Sonoma reported bullheads or mudsuckers have been the bait of choice with bank anglers working the shorelines for schoolie stripers. Debbe Vinje landed a 7-pound striper from the bait shop docks on Wednesday on a mudsucker. There was a large sturgeon lost at the banks in Sonoma Creek on a mudsucker by a Leonards regular.
The troll bite at the top of the tide from the Brickyard to the Marin Rod and Gun Club is producing all kinds of stripers from 16 to 23-inches on white/chartreuse hair raisers, quite possible Loch Lomond Worm-Tailed jigs.
We are sneaking up for a week of late season silver and steelie action on the Kenai peninsula. The “excuse” is to close up our vacation home for the season but the reality is that the late season action is great and with the local duck season open we can get a jump on the season here.
We have three weeks still available in 2010, two in June and the week of July 4th. For more information click here. Reports here will resume on September 26th. In the time being please contact our sponsors for reports and updates.
Halibut action appears to be slow with the larger tides. There were no boats out of Emeryville or Berkeley on Tuesday 9-16 fishing the bay, and all of the bay sources point to the great striper fishing in San Pablo Bay. With the larger tides we expect party boats to be either running to the Islands for rockfish and lings or to be concentrating mostly on bay bass the next few days. Private boaters should follow their lead.
On Wednesday 9-16 Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait in San Rafael reported stripers in the 6 to 12-pound range are biting bullheads and mudsuckers to a lesser extent along the China Camp shoreline from the banks or in shallow water inside of the Pumphouse on the anchor. Sturgeon fishing has been non-existent, primarily because there are few anglers targeting them. Halibut fishing has been fair with the 32.2-pounder still leading the Lord of the Sea Summer Striper/Halibut Derby which ends October 25th.
Mike at Mike’s Bait in Oakland said they are selling lots of bullheads for shore anglers working the San Pablo Bay banks. The sculpins are heading out as soon as they come into the shop. There have been a few white sea bass taken on live mackerel in the central bay this week, and Mike might start carrying live mackerel in his tanks starting this weekend.
Warren at Bay Tackle in El Cerrito said they are also selling out of bullheads with about 2/3rds of their customers using these baits for the good striper action out along the Carquinez Straits, Pinole Shores and China Camp. He went out with owner George Lu at the Fleet over the weekend for limits of stripers to 12-pounds, but he said it was a strange bite with the fish just picking up and dropping the bullheads. They were hooking the bait through the tail, in order to easily release the fish. Warren added that about 1/3rd of the anglers are plugging RatLTrap-type of lures from the shores. He added that the Alameda Rockwall has been productive for stripers and halibut for boaters on the anchor. He also said there have been numerous white sea bass in the bay chasing the mackerel.
Chris Seabourne at C Biscuits in Vallejo said the striper bite in the Napa River has been outstanding with bullheads or grass shrimp. The 37 Bridge, the Meadows, the Dumps and South Slough have been the hot spots. The majority of the fish are in the 20 to 30-inch range. A few sturgeon have been taken incidentally by striper fishermen.
It’s September and the halibut counts are holding up surprisingly well. On Thursday 9-10 James on the Cal Dawn worked the Berkeley flats, Angel Island and Alcatraz of 31 halibut for 14 anglers to 26 pounds. The jackpot was a 35 pound white sea bass landed on the Berkeley flats in just 10 feet of water. You just never know when a good eating trophy like that will come along. James has room this Sunday and all next week.
Bob Wright, second captain of the Happy Hooker, is putting a trip together for Saturday, and he plans on working the shallow waters of the central bay for the halibut and white sea bass. Jim will be back from his Alaska cabin in another week. The live sardines are reported to be in the best shape of the year, and these larger baits have been the key to picking up the more sizable halibut and almost all of the white sea bass.
The Emeryville boats are also experiencing great halibut fishing with the New Huck Finn consistently boating nearly two fish a rod in the past three days: Thursday = 27 halibut to 12-pounds for 11 anglers; Wednesday 25 halibut to 14-pounds for 13 passengers; and Tuesday 19 halibut to 12-pounds, two stripers to 10-pounds and a 24-pound white sea bass.
Debbe Vinje of Leonard’s Bait in Port Sonoma also had a white sea bass report with one of the customers at Western Sport Shop in San Rafael pulling in a 52-inch/41-pound wsb on a live sardine in 17 feet of water on the Berkeley Flats while targeting halibut. In the local area, leopard and seven-gill sharks have been cruising San Pablo Bay, as well as a bunch of stripers in the 22 to 28 =96 inch range. The mouth of the Petaluma River along the China Camp shoreline has been the hot spot with live bullheads. There have been some large stripers taken out of the sloughs connecting the Napa River and Sonoma Creek on mudsuckers or grass shrimp. The top sloughs mentioned have been Napa and Hudemann Slough. Bullheads are the bait of choice in Sonoma Creek, but mudsuckers are preferred in the back sloughs.
We are coming into that time of year when the halibut counts will start to wane. Counts are still holding up quite well considering all the pressure. September is a top striper month and over the next couple of weeks we will see the schools pushing into the bays after a long ocean patrol. On their migration back through the bays we will see a brief flurry of action on the rocks of the Central Bay but the North bay will be “the place” to be. The striped bass index is at yet another record low and we expect the striper counts to start looking much like our salmon runs beginning next year. The Govenator is determined to push through his version of the canal and if he is successful all of our fisheries are going to go down the toilet. Every fishery that is connected to the Delta is headed south and we all with the fish will suffer. Do you know when black bass fishing is so popular in the Midwest? Because they don’t have salmon, stripers, halibut and sturgeon but soon black bass and planted trout will be the “sportfishing” standard. The only way to turn this train wreck around is through the courts and the reason we kept asking our readers to support California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. It’s time to get off our collective butts and support the one group that has won the majority of pro-fish water related cases or take up black bass fishing.
Below, It talks about current water issues and fishing.
We here at USAFishing support fishery conservation, unfortunately we can’t say the same of most California anglers. We are at a crossroads and unless anglers support conservation groups (that our currently waging a losing battle against the multi- million $ lobby) we will lose every key fishery that is connected to the delta. If you think that these “water issues” won’t affect your favorite fishery you are likely wrong. The effects will be widespread and include the continued closure of California and Oregon saltwater salmon fisheries.
The state water projects are being consolidated and the governor is looking to toss the only Bay-Delta protections we have and ship water from Shasta and Oroville directly to LA swimming pools and subsidized cotton farmers in Westland’s. If these water projects go through you can kiss goodbye (as in forever) our salmon, and our striper and sturgeon fisheries will continue to decline. We don’t have an ocean salmon season this year or last because of too much water being pumped from the delta. If these water projects get passed we will have none in the future. At no time in the past has it been so critical that our readers understand these issues and support the work that the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance is doing.
Bottom line….. It’s time to get off your butt and support the CSPA or in a few short years there will be NO salmon, striper and sturgeon fisheries and they won’t ever recover. No group has done more over the past two decades to protect fisheries than CSPA. In the past two months USAFishing readers have raised nearly $10,000 for the CSPA but much much more is needed.
Become part of the solution and support the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance today!
Here is another report out of Emeryville:
Emeryville Sport Fishing had three boats out on Tuesday 6-23 with a combined total of 28 halibut to 30-pounds and 28 stripers to 11-pounds for their 38 anglers on the live bait potluck trips inside the bay. Their rockfish trip to the Farallons produced 19 limits of rockfish and 5 lings to 12-pounds in decent weather as the wind shave laid down with the fog pushing back inshore. Mondays trip to the Islands brought in 22 limits of rockfish and a pair of lings to 14-pounds to go with a bonus 5-pound halibut on a drift back in the bay. Three trips were fishing live bait in the bay for a combined 16 halibut to 20-pounds and 27 stripers to 14-pounds for 41 anglers.
Warren at Bay Tackle said the striper bite has been good off of the piers at Fort Point and Fort Mason with Fish Traps and hair raisers. There was a 30-pound striper taken off of Thornton Beach. He confirmed the slower halibut bite with the big tides, and he mentioned the boat pressure may have put the fish down in Southampton, even in the deep water spots. There have been several halibut taken off of the pier on live shiners which Bay Tackle is now stocking.
The halibut counts started to slow down on Saturday, and they really started to show the effects of the “monster tides” today, Sunday 6-21 with most boats struggling as much as they have had to in recent weeks.
Jim Smith of the Happy Hooker was out with a group of excellent sticks today, but the beach wasn’t an option due to the conditions outside the Gate. He said bait has flooded into the bay with the warmer water conditions. He metered surface temperatures as high as 65 degrees in the bay today. Combined with the large tides, the availability of bait fish may have slowed down the bite. He hit the Brothers at the top of the tide, but they were only able to raise a single bass out of the rocks. His best action was in the channel between Red Rock and Southampton, but they also picked up fish at Alcatraz and Angel Island. He threw some bait against the rocks at Angel Island, but they weren’t able to get the fish to respond. They did land several nice stripers to 20-pounds, plus a few halibut pushing 20-pounds. Prior to today, they had 18 halibut and 13 stripers on Saturday for 29 anglers, 28 halibut to 26-pounds and 8 bass to 18-pounds, 180 rockfish and a ling cod for 32 anglers on Friday; and 29 halibut and 7-bass to 18-pounds for 29 fishermen on Thursday with several small halibut released. He has open loads on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and he plans on throwing bait along the beaches if the weather conditions allows, as bait is not a concern at this time for the first time all season.
Emeryville Sport Fishing had all eight of their boats in the bay with the party boats: C Gull II, TigerFish, SuperFish, New Huck Finn, Captain Hook, New Salmon Queen, and six-pack Talisman and four-pack Wet Spot reporting a combined 84 halibut to 22-pounds to accompany 121 stripers to 15-pounds and a 10-pound leopard shark for 161 anglers a fish and a quarter per rod in the big tides. Their combined six party boats today reached nearly two fish per rod despite the large tides with a total of 85 halibut to 30-pounds and 81 stripers to 25-pounds for their total of 89 anglers. They are scheduling live bait/potluck and rockfish/ling cod trips throughout the week.
John Akina of Oyster Point Bait, Tackle and Deli said the striper count was the opposite of yesterday with 60% of the fish reported being line sides today. There were a total of 23 fish to the shop today as of early this afternoon. He said the water was muddy this afternoon after getting stirred up by the winds which kept more than a few boats off the water. Those boats that went out were scattered throughout the bay.
Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait in San Rafael declared amazement of the number of halibut landed today with the minus 1.5 tide. The combination of wind and big tides is turning the water off colors, but the party boats and the skiffs all reported a least a fish a rod. Jim Cox on the Touch of Gray had five clients out today for 4 halibut and 3 bass. Most of the fish have been in the Paradise or Southhampton areas with Loch Lomond shiners being the bait of choice, of course. The tides will bottom out on Monday and Tuesday at a 1.9 minus. Fraser expects fishing to pick up again on Thursday as the tides back off once again. Sturgeon fishing has been nonexistent with the wind making it impossible to sit on anchor.
Kevin Yost of Lucky Strike Fishing put his clients on to a combination of halibut, stripers and leopard sharks over the weekend with Mike Sujo of Hayward picking up top striper honors with his first striper ever, a 16-pound/37.5-inch beauty he kind of set the bar high for himself. Yost likes the series of tides from July 1st through the 19th to maximize the halibut bite.
Upcoming Events: USA Fishing proudly supports the many fishery and wildlife organizations that benefit anglers and hunters throughout Northern California. Does your organization have an upcoming event? Contact us at email@example.com and we will gladly post the information on our reports page.
California Waterfowl 2009 Dinners and Youth Events Calendar
Here is a rock cod trip report from the Lincoln News Messenger:
This was from July 15th ish:———-
Berkeley is what, an hour and a half drive? When the alarm started going off at 3:15 a.m., the groans were obvious. But, when you want to fish for and hopefully catch halibut or striped bass, it means you’ve got to get to the bay waters early.
James Smith, skipper of the 50-foot California Dawn, said boarding time was about 5:30 with a 6 a.m. departure time. When I arrived at 5:20, there were already a handful of anxious anglers aboard.
Smith comes from a full line of fishermen. His dad, Jim Smith, skippers the well-known Happy Hooker, also berthed at the Berkeley docks. His brother Steve runs a large fishing operation in Alaska.
And when it comes to fishing, while dad is highly successful, those who have gone out with both consider James the more successful. Of course there’s the friendly competition between father and son.
With the halibut bite reportedly only so-so while the striper bite is red hot in the bay, the California Dawn is, surprisingly, the only boat going out this morning.
When the boat pulls out at 6 a.m., there are 17 anglers aboard. First stop: the bait receivers for a few scoops of fresh, live anchovies, and then it’s out to the open waters of San Francisco Bay. The motors hum. Last winter the boat was down for a while so Smith could have brand new twin diesels installed.
Smith deadheads directly to Alcatraz Island where we drift a couple of times along the rock wall. No fish. We move to Fort Point, just at the southern tip of the Golden Gate and drift south, past the pier and all along Crissy Field. No fish.
Back to Alcatraz and fish the northern end. There, a few stripers took the bait. The bite was slow, so Smith again moved, this time to whatÕs known as the Rockpile, a hole between Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. Bounce bottom too aggressively with your eight-ounce weight and the next thing you know, your weight stays there permanently.
There, it was stripers, stripers, and more stripers. The bite was hot, fast and furious. Most were successfully netted. A few fish ran under the boat and were able to cut the line on the underside of the boat.
By noon, there were full limits of stripers aboard and in the box for every person on the boat. One or two of the smaller bass were of just legal size while others ranged up to 15 pounds. The two I caught looked like they came from the same nest, both identical in length and size, about 10 pounds apiece.
Now itÕs time to put some halibut on board. We head for Angel Island where drift after drift is made. A couple of huge bat rays were hooked and broken off. One or two actual keeper halibut were netted along with a few shakers.
Time to move again. This time Smith goes around Angel Island and we make the long drift from the eastern side of Angel Island, across the flats towards Richmond.
More good-sized stripers are hooked, but with full limits already aboard, they were immediately released. A few very small sand and dog sharks were brought aboard and were released. A huge number of undersized halibut were taking the bait and were being released back into the bay.
Another handful of 5-8 pound keeper halibut were caught and added to the box.
At 4 p.m., Smith finally calls it a day and it’s a half-hour run back to the docks.
Smith will occasionally do a rock cod trip, but with the boat docked in Berkeley, he specializes in halibut and striped bass in the spring though summer months in San Francisco Bay, moving his boat in the winter to Martinez to concentrate on sturgeon in San Pablo Bay.
I’ve had a number of readers ask me who I would recommend for halibut, striper or sturgeon fishing, and I always recommend James. Every person I’ve referred has written me back with downright glowing reports.
Try it. Guaranteed you won’t be disappointed. You can call James Smith at 510-417-5557 or at 510-773-5511.