Abalone fishery closed along Sonoma Coast

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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It was reported here recently that many abalone divers were discovering dead or dying abalone along the Sonoma County coast. The reports began flooding Department of Fish and Game offices Aug. 27.
Some of the more popular diving areas showing dead or dying abalone included Bodega Bay, Russian Gulch, Fort Ross, Timber Cove and Salt Point State Park. There were reported occurrences as far north as Anchor Bay in Mendocino County.
The deaths of abalone and other invertebrates coincided with a local red tide bloom, and calm ocean conditions don’t have the power to break up and disperse the harmful masses of bacteria in the water. Once the bacteria invades the inner systems of critters, they get infected, poisoned, and a good many die.
Just how many abalone became infected and died is unknown. There is no way anybody will ever know just how many empty shells are left on the bottom of the ocean, but from all reports, it's a significant number.
Just over a week ago, the California Fish and Game Commission took emergency action that won't please the majority of abalone fishers. The commission voted 3-0 to close the abalone fishery along the Sonoma County coast. While the closure hasn't gone through the regulatory process, divers are encouraged to avoid diving in the affected areas.
When the fishery might re-open hasn't been determined.
While Sonoma County might be the closest point to those in the south Placer County region, there are other areas in the state where the abalone season won't be affected. Mendocino County’s Fort Bragg area is also a popular dive area.
Red tides are obvious. The blooms of the bacteria turn the water a reddish color. Avoid all contact with that water. The latest red tide updates from the Department of Public Health are posted online at:

Waterfowl hunt openings delayed

Our late winter and wet spring is well known. The outcome of all those storms did wonders for filling lakes and reservoirs throughout the north state, some for the first time in many years.
For some people, however, the wet winter and late storms had a big down side. Farmers weren’t able to plant some crops at their normal time. Rice was one. And with later plantings, that means later harvesting.
Opening day of the waterfowl season on Type-A state and federal hunting preserves in the Sacramento Valley will be delayed. It’s expected the delay will be one week later than the rest of the Balance of State zone.
If you plan to put in for the drawings to hunt, just know it won’t do you any good to put in for the opening weekend. Affected wildlife areas will be the Yolo Bypass, Gray Lodge, Little Dry Creek, Llano Seco, Howard Slough, Sacramento, Delevan, Sutter and Colusa National.

Current fishing

Bay Area: It’s good news for local salmon anglers when the fishery is good just outside the Golden Gate and inside the bay. When the fishing is good there – which it is – it means salmon are massing in bigger numbers, readying to make their run up the rivers.
Boats that generally specialize in halibut, stripers and rock cod are making a quick trip outside the gate to mooch first for salmon. They’ll whack and stack a limit of salmon outside the gate and then switch rigging and run inside the bay real quick and get limits to near limits or stripers and adding rock cod and halibut to the mix. It’s a win-win fishery.
Local river salmon: It gets better. With the Bay Area fishery, it’s obvious there’s a bunch of salmon still to come up the river, and that bodes well for triers. While quite a number of fish are tallied from around the mouth of the American River at Discovery Park, the string of boats will extend well downriver. The competition can be fierce.
Bodega Bay: The salmon fishery has stayed consistent with everybody on board tallying a Chinook. Ride the right boat, and you can switch rigs and load up on a sack of rock cod. Limits of both have been common lately. Additional good news is that there are a good number of the highly favored ling cod being caught.
New Hogan Reservoir: This lake has a sustaining population of striped bass, and it's common to see large schools boiling on the surface, chasing and munching on shad. Now that a good number of recreational boaters have put their watercraft in storage, the topwater action has increased appreciably. Keep your eyes peeled for the boils. Don’t get in the middle of the boil; stay on the perimeter and toss topwater lures such as a Zara Spook or just about any minnow-imitating lure. You can troll large, saltwater-sized Rat-L-Traps and get them, too. Put on the long sleeves and dunk clams, cut bait or crawlers, and you can still tally a good stringer of channel cats after the sun goes down.
Folsom Lake: The fish are too lethargic to chase your offering. The water is too warm. A good cold front and storm would help immensely. However, if you’re hell bent on giving it a try, stick with dartheading or drop-shotting. Offerings that look like smelt or crawdads should have the best chance of getting bit.
Lake Almanor: I’ve read other reports that there’s a good bite here. I spend a good part of the summer here, am at the lake right now, and will tell you up front the fishing is extremely slow for everybody everywhere. Big Springs, generally red-hot this time of year, is offering little to nothing. Those drifting in places like the A-Frame or Lake Cove area are finding few bites. Trollers along the east shore are burning a lot of gas and come off the lake reporting no bites. Overall, the salmon-trout fishery is slow. The smallmouth bite, however, remains good. The lake is dropping, islands that were under water are becoming more reachable, and bass fisherman are finding a good bite.
Contact George deVilbiss at