Rendering offshore waters off limits to fishing is just wrong

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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Anglers who enjoy taking a boat ride in the open, blue water of the Pacific Ocean chomp at the bit each year for the regulations booklet that will define how they’ll be able to enjoy their sport – especially when it comes to various rock cod, including lingcod, cabezon and greenlings, known to most as bottom fish.

While there isn’t much fishing activity in ocean water now, there are exceptions. Few try for sturgeon in ocean water, but the season is open. So is halibut. Some boats will look for big schools of sand dabs, and a whole fishery has opened for the huge Humboldt squid in the past few years. And let’s not forget the open Dungeness crab fishery.

While the fishery for the general bottom fish doesn’t open until mid-May, the other fisheries are open but the 2011 regulations booklet governing that particular fishery has been delayed.

California must conform to the feds – the Pacific Fishery Management Council – and there have been procedural difficulties encountered.

There has been no word when the booklet will be adopted and made available. In the meantime, go by the rules and regulations of 2010.

There will be major hitches in fishing ocean water this year. The implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act will render large offshore areas off limits.
Wrong – so wrong.

Rendered off limits to the take of fish and even seaweed are 36 new Marine Protected Areas encompassing hundreds of square miles of offshore water. About all anglers will be able to do is take a boat ride across the affected areas.

The California Fish and Game Commission received report after report from individuals, scientists and cities that would be affected by the closures, asking that the MPAs not be implemented and citing tons of scientific evidence.

I’d like to know just for what they had hearings when these commissioners completely disregarded those who wished to be heard.

It mattered not to the CFGC. It rubber-stamped the requested areas and effectively closed them to the general public’s use, other than to boat across.

Personally, I am so against these Marine Protected Areas. Why? You don’t manage a resource by closing it. There are much more effective methods the CFGC wouldn’t even consider.

Current fishing
The last snow survey in the drainage that affects reservoirs such as Folsom and Oroville showed the snow pack was about 200 percent of normal.

That survey was conducted at the end of December, and there has been little snow since. With the temperature rising to spring-like days, packing the snow and even melting it, that percentage is dropping.

Nobody believes we’re done with winter. Enjoy the blue sky and warming temperature while it lasts. Most lakes are rising to the point that they’re actually full now – and the fishing is good.

San Pablo Bay: If there’s a good, moving outgoing tide, the sturgeon bite is nothing short of excellent. If you launch at Loch Lomond, it’s a short run to places like the Pumphouse, a general reference point for dropping anchor but certainly not the only area. You should find a sturgeon roaming anywhere in those flats. I generally drop anchor between MacNear Pier and Rat Rock in the China Camp region in shallow water and have done well. Many sturgeon are what I call “Kamikaze bites.” They take it with a hard take down and don’t just suck on the bait.

Suisun Bay: It’s a short run to any good fishing ground when you launch at the Martinez ramp. Go under the bridge to the open water of the bay. Turn left into the channel, and there are numerous areas to drop anchor and do well for sturgeon. Straight across from the bridge, you have Mothball Fleet and the mouth of Montezuma Slough. Turn right and anchor around Big Cutt. The area is loaded with sturgeon. Anchor your bait on the bottom for that big fish to find.

Sierra: Some lakes were just beginning to allow anglers onto the ice to bore a hole and fish. However, with daytime temperature in the 50s, many ice levels have become too iffy, and the last thing you want to do is go through the ice. The thinnest ice will be near the shoreline, where the water depth is the shallowest and water the warmest. Hang in there a little longer. Ice fishing will be a prime activity; just not right now.

Lake Amador: They plant big fish from their homegrown stock. Can you imagine tying into a 13-pound trout? One angler did recently. While one that big may be the exception, there are a bunch of four- to nine-pounders available.
Limits aren’t exactly the rule, but many anglers leave with at least a couple of fish. The trout are suspended so hang salmon eggs under a bobber. Even meal worms have attracted bites. With bait on one rig, toss a lure such as a Rapala or even a white crappie jig and simply cast-retrieve. Double your chances.

Camanche Lake: The best fishing in the main lake is by boat, but those fishing the South Shore Pond also are scoring. A couple of anglers in one boat, anchored in the area of the dam, both limited in a half-hour. Because fish are planted weekly at either the North or South Shore ramps, trolling in these regions is highly successful. A threaded night crawler is always a sure thing, but if you want to pull hardware, change lures until you find exactly what they’re looking for. Get on the water early, and you should have your limit by noon.

Camp Far West: Despite a lack of rain the past three weeks, the lake is still spilling over the dam. The water has cleared somewhat, and the bass have decided they’re hungry. Work them slow; they’re there.
Contact George deVilbiss at