Rich Garcia’s 35-pound, 3-ounce striped bass won the 35th annual Al’s Ark Striper Derby and a cash prize of $520 last weekend.
The derby was established in 1984 in honor of the late Al Church, who passed away in 1983. Local contractor Ron Church, Al’s son, is still the sponsor of the contest, which attracts 150 to 200 participants every year.
There were 144 anglers entered in this year’s contest and a total of $3,840 in prizes awarded.
Jesse Burke finished second in the striper division with a 32-pound, 12-ounce fish, followed by Dan Dostries with one that weighed 32-pounds, 2 ounces. Alec Noyara’s 52.5-inch sturgeon came closest to the target size of 55-inches to win the $500 prize in the sturgeon division. Jessica Pasquini was second with a 59.5-inch sturgeon followed by Steve Hobart in third with a 47-incher.
Micala Phillips won the women’s prize for an 18-pound striper. Tina Hayes finished second with a 17-pound fish. Catcher Bentinelli won the kids division with a 12-pound striper.
Other prizewinners in the derby included: Niles Fennikoh, Gary Moore, Andy Marden, Bruce Ritter, Cliff Carolyn, John Hayes and Mike Phillips.
Local anglers who look forward to the ocean salmon season opener in the spring, may have to wait until late July to fish for them this year, and even then, there will be many special restrictions.
Because of the low count of Sacramento River chinook salmon, the Pacific Fishery Management Council will be recommending a much more restrictive fishing season for both commercial and sports anglers. The council is looking at three alternatives for the 2018 salmon season, all less than ideal for local anglers.
In the best case, salmon fishing could open up of the Sonoma Coast on June 9. The second proposed start is July 1 and the worst-case scenario is July 21.
Ocean conditions, climate change, dams, drought and pollution have all contributed to the decline in the number of salmon migrating up West Coast Rivers to spawn.
The PMFC tries to keep the impact of fishing for these endangered fish from adding to their susceptibility to extinction.
The council will make its final determination for 2018 at its meeting in Portland, Oregon, the week of April 6 to 11.