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Salmon advocates file suit

Sonoman Michael Coats is the public relations person for the Golden Gate Salmon Association, a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants, a native tribe, environmentalists, and others in protecting and restoring California’s largest salmon producing habitat comprised of the Central Valley rivers that feed the Bay-Delta ecosystem.

Michael, who always makes sure that I receive the latest news releases from GGSA, notified me this week that the organization has filed a lawsuit to stop the giant twin Delta tunnels that if built, would kill off our Central Valley’s last great salmon runs.

Environmentalists and fisherman alike see this latest version as just one more nail in the coffin of Northern California rivers and habitat put there by powerful Southern California development interests who want to take even more water out of our river systems and send it south.

GGSA and others are opposed to the twin tunnels they say, “…because it’s designed so big that it will wipe out salmon, fishing families and fishing communities and the rest of the San Francisco Bay Delta native wildlife.”

They allege that the two 40-foot diameter tunnels are big enough to divert the entire Sacramento River at most times of the year. The river and Delta downstream of the diversion intakes will basically become a stagnant cesspool if this thing is built as planned.”

The GGSA is joined in its opposition by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which has released a draft biological opinion documenting harm the tunnels would do to salmon, other wildlife, and water quality.

California’s salmon industry is valued at $1.4 billion in economic activity annually. The industry employs tens of thousands of people from Santa Barbara to northern Oregon.

This is one of those issues that is well below the average person’s radar. Only those of us who are avid anglers, and some environmentalists, are paying attention. I probably wouldn’t have heard about it, except that Michael has kept me in the loop.

Over development in the south part of the state has already resulted in the diversion of Northern California’s water and done damage to our once plentiful salmon and steelhead runs. This additional water grab may push what’s left to extinction.

If you want to join the effort to save our rivers and their salmon runs, go to goldengatesalmon.org to support the GGSA.

Speaking of salmon, there are some being caught off the Sonoma Coast, reports Capt. Rick Powers of Bodega Bay Sportsfishing. Rick has had several successful party boat trips with his clients this week, in which they have brought home larger numbers of rockfish, ling cod and some very nice salmon. One day last week, nearly everyone on the boat caught their two-fish limit of salmon, some as large as 27 pounds. Call Rick to reserve a spot on his boat, 875-3344.

Halibut fishing is “off the charts” this week in San Francisco Bay according to Keith Fraser at Loch Lomond Bait Shop in San Rafael. Keith says that many of the fish are below the 22-inch minimum, but anglers are also catching enough keepers to make the day interesting. The nice thing is that they are also catching lots of striped bass. Both halibut and bass like the live bait that most bay anglers use in drifting around Angel Island, Red Rock, the Sisters and other hot spots.

Keith books bay party boat trips on the party boat “Bite Me” with Capt. Trent Slade at the helm.

You can spend a lovely day fishing on the bay, catching some really nice fish and bringing them home for dinner. Call Keith at 415-456-0321.

Trout fishing in Northern California rivers is now in the typical July mode, with some waters slightly higher than normal due to the extra snowmelt. Bob Grace at the Ted Fay Fly Shop in Dunsmuir says the upper Sacramento River is fishing fair, while the McCloud is a little off color and challenging. Drifting the lower Sac is also good right now.