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Merry Christmas fishing


There are always a few guys who think fishing is the perfect way to spend Christmas Day, and if you’re one of them, then the best spot will be on San Pablo Bay in the Sturgeon Triangle (China Camp-Pumphouse-Buoy 5).

Keith Fraser at Loch Lomond Bait Shop in San Rafael says that there will be excellent minus tides starting Christmas Day and running through Dec. 31.

Sturgeon become very active feeders during minus tides after rains bring freshwater into the Bay. Keith has plenty of bait, including ghost shrimp, herring, salmon roe and lamprey eel. Guys who went out this week have found some big fish but it will get better starting Sunday.

There are lots of striped bass biting in the same area. Most of them are small, but on average one in five is legal size.

Keith can also arrange a place on a bay fishing party boat for you. He will be open every day, except Christmas Day. Call him at 415-456-0321.

Capt. Rick Powers of Bodega Bay Sportsfishing has been having very successful crab and rockfish combo trips this week off the Sonoma County coast. He is especially happy about the large number of lingcod that his clients are bringing home. Rick will be taking his party boat out every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Rock and lingcod fishing season runs through Dec. 31, then Rick switches to sand dab and crab combo trips. Call him at 875-3344.

Guide Hogan Brown has some last-minute dates open if you are interested in fishing for steelhead or trout. He specializes in guiding on the lower Sacramento River, the Yuba River and Feather River. His winter dates that are available right now include Dec. 28, Jan. 2, 14 and 21. Call Hogan at 530-514-2453.

He pointed out that while the last storm blew out most of Northern California’s rivers, they have dropped a lot and most are fishable again.

In response to a story in the Index-Tribune recently about salmon spawning in Sonoma Creek, Bob Nicholas sent in an answer to the question: “Where did the salmon come from?”

Bob says the answer is Brian Hunter. He added, “The backstory is that for over a hundred years, the salmon hatchery on Battle Creek has been the hatchery for the Sacramento River. When it is time to release the smolts, every predator in the river has learned to be on hand.

“Brian, who headed up Fish and Game for our region, tried an experiment. He strung net cages under the Carquinez Bridge.

“He took king smolts from Battle Creek and fed them until they were the same size as they would have been if they came down the Sac.

I don’t think that was cost effective because I think they are not doing it, as far as I know.

“Four or five years later, there were king salmon runs in Sonoma Creek, and the Napa River, and Walnut Creek.”

Salmon have been coming up Sonoma Creek for centuries, but there is no question that their numbers have dramatically declined in the last 30 years. The strays from Brian Hunter’s experiment in the Bay may partially explain why some have been spotted in our creek recently.

And speaking of declining salmon runs, it was with great dismay that many anglers in our part of the state learned that one of our own senators, Sen Dianne Feinstein, attached a rider to a $558 million bill that would, among other things, give more water to farmers, slow the potential construction of dams and pour more money into desalination and recycling projects.

The bill will lead to significantly increased Delta export pumping and flows of water, make southern Valley farm interests happy, but decimate salmon and other fishing in many parts of the Sacramento River system, including parts close to us.