Monday, April 30, 2012

Just a quick note today. With only a couple of people on the pier I guess the Dungeness lost their shyness and came in. Some very nice crab taken on the pier this morning.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Too much wind on Thursday through Saturday for any salmon fishing but there were some perch caught in the surf and quite a few clams got chowdered. The pier crabbing was slow. No word on leopard shark. More wind forecast for this week. So, in light of a lack of anything to report, here's a link to a story (with pictures!) of an octopus eating a gull:  At least someone is catching.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The following is a post from my mother's Facebook wall. The poster used to fish with my grandfather, Merle. He's a better writer than I. Here it is.:

I was dreading this news. I had a feeling that your Dad would not last long. To say that he was a great man is an understatement. He was truly a Gift From God. He was a throwback to the "Lifeboat Men" that protected our waters before there was a Coat Guard. He found a way to preserve a beautiful stretch of coastline while at the same time sharing it with thousands of people every week. He shared his boating skills and love of salmon fishing (the only fish worthy of catching). Anyone that spent a few days around him learned that that gruff exterior was only a show and that the true Merle was a very caring man and had a heart of gold.

I learned many lessons from him. Don't cross the bar if it is breaking all the way across. It will be too rough to fish anyway.

Fish with a very light drag. If you need more pressure lift up with your thumb and let your nail touch the line.

A fish is not ready to boat until it has turned belly up.

Don't you dare touch a child's pole if he has hooked a fish.

If you are in your own boat you need to head home when Merle did or you would face a very wet and windy ride home.

Always run a green Apex on at least one rod.

When clamming and 80 year old man can kick the ass of a 35 year old.

If you get stuck on the bar it is better to wait it out than to face the embarrassment you will face at the boat house if you call for help.

Merle did not pass away. God just finally got him into the net. If God has a "brag board" like the landing has I am sure the Merle is the catch of the year.

Please keep us posted as far as a memorial service in California

This isn't a recent picture. In fact, that's me on the right and my brother, Tad, in front. I'm guessing that this is 1975 or 1976. The reason I'm posting this is for the man in the middle, my grandfather, Merle Lawson. Merle taught me my love of fishing even though I got seasick on his boat, the Tracer. I got seasick a lot. He must have been an excellent teacher. He and his brother Mike started Lawson's Landing in 1956. For the record, the camping was almost an afterthought, as the Landing is named so as a fishing port. Mike was killed in a tractor accident in 1986. Mike's wife, Dolores, died last month. Merle passed away on Monday night. Merle loved to show new people how to fish and how to love fishing. He also loved to tell people where the fish were. He would call the other boats in on his bite, even though too many boats would make the fish quit biting. (I won't do that. Ever. I'll tell you later.) That spirit is what this report is about. When I look at this picture, I'm still that kid in the photo. Thanks, grandpa.
The salmon were biting pretty good yesterday, and not too far out (160 to 200 feet of water), but that may all change by this weekend. The forecast calls for strong winds over the weekend, 20 to 30 knots, and that should churn everything up. It's kind of like shaking an Etch A Sketch. There was 55 degree water on the bar yesterday at high tide and the pelicans have been diving on bait in the inner and outer bay. Some of the bay water won't cool as much, so an early halibut bite could be a possibility. I finally went abbing yesterday for the first time this year and I'm happy to report no shortage of abalone. Pretty good visibility, too. It's always nice to choose your abalone before diving.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Step In the Right Direction On The Monnow

I got the chance to visit the River Monnow again last weekend and started to get the feel of why this valley is so special to so many. I had only fished it previously during the winter months but on this visit things were definitely on the change.

Buds and leaves starting to appear on trees, flies hatching from the water surface with one or two trout taking advantage and sipping them off the top...and even the sun radiating some warmth on to my face when it occasionally peeped out from behind the clouds.

Another thing that stood out was the amount of habitat restoration work that had been carried out along the stretch I fished. There had been many bank side trees felled in a controlled way which allowed them to fall into the shallow river edges creating an instant sanctuary for the small vulnerable fish fry and even for the larger fish which may come under attack from the many piscivorous birds that are often found patrolling our inland waterways. The stems of the young trees are also only cut part way through so they are still allowed to continue to grow.

Young trees felled and left to grow along the river edges

This old dead branch cut and secured to the bank side which adds cover and diversity to the water flow
 This habitat work which is carried out by the 'Monnow Rivers Association' will reap rewards in securing healthy fish stocks for us all to enjoy in the future.

Water temperatures still seem to be a little on the cool side so I think it will be a couple of weeks before the trout really kick in, although fortunately there were still a few willing to fall for my duo tactics.

Monday, April 23, 2012

One salmon landed here today out of two boats trying. The boat without fish went through three trays of bait on shorties. I can't wait until July 6, when the size limit drops to 20". Until then, 24" is the rule. There is a large area of bait out off Tomales Point in 180 feet of water so the fish (such as they are) should hang around a little longer. Yesterday, according to one fisherman, the fish bit best at the turn of the tide. "I was hooking fish all day," he told me, "but when the tide turned everyone else started catching fish too." He finished the day with two 27" salmon.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The salmon fleet were working from Tomales Point to Elephant Rock in 160 to 220 feet of water. The fish were there but it wasn't red hot for most. Lots of bites and quite a few silvers and shorties in the mix, but the fish are there if you don't mind working for them a bit. Crabbing was slow to pretty good over the weekend, depending on who you talked to. The abalone divers reported decent numbers of abs.

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's pretty slow crabbing when Randy from Carson City spends a week here to catch only 27 Dungeness. He caught that many last year in one pull from the pier. Other people caught crab too, but not as many as Randy. I did hear about a group of divers that had 16 abalone this past week. I guess that means that there are still quite a few out there, even after the red tide. It also means that I should remind everyone that the limit is three abalone. No matter how many times you go diving during your stay, each person may still only have three abalone in possession, not three per day. Fish and Game have been here and written tickets for this specific law. There are a lot of rules regarding abalone and it pays to know them all.

Upper Wye Near Rhayader

The course of the River Wye (Afon Gwy) takes on some beautiful scenery from its source on the Plynlimon mountain to some 215 kilometres where it enters the Severn Estuary, but the upper reaches are where you find it at its most dramatic.

There are many sections where it travels down steep gradients causes tumbling waterfalls and crashing white water as it flows rapidly over the large boulders and through bedrock gutters it has carved out over centuries of erosion.

A part of the Wye I sometimes fish below Rhayader runs through some quite rough terrain and creates some stunning scenery but as a consequence the wading is quite treacherous in parts and a wading staff is an essential part of your gear.

I also think these more dramatic stretches of water are where you can sometimes find better quality fish, I think the high oxygen levels combined with deep gutters for the fish to hide and of course a good food source all combine to produce an ideal habitat for the odd specimen fish.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Our first A.J. photo of the year, as well as the first salmon photo. They're out there but they aren't easy to catch, yet. Soon...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

I polled five boats that ran out of Lawson's. Two had a salmon apiece, two lost a salmon apiece, and one had no takers. The bites came around 270-280' of water off of Bird Rock and points South. The crabbing outside was spotty. The pier and the bay had a few Dungeness caught.

Tal Roseberry just passed by on the way to the haul out ramp with three limits of salmon.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The forecast for tomorrow is excellent. Hopefully the fish will be there. shows a pretty uniform mix of cold water out there, so it's a little hard to gauge the good spots, especially after all the wind we've had. Earlier I was told about good salmon sign just inside of Cordell Banks, but that's kind of far for searching. Historically the Bodega Weather Buoy is a good place to start. And don't forget to troll around any black, slimy string of commercial crab pots, as those tend to hold fish (don't troll too close, though, because then they tend to hold your gear). It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to bring along a few crab pots, just to cover your bases. The outer bay still had a few crab a couple weeks ago and the big seas last week may have shifted a few more our way.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I've had a few questions about the leopard sharks, so here is a map of where they have been sighted. I did my  fishing for them right at the top of the area, but that's not to say that the fishing is best there, only that I'm too lazy to walk more than I have to. When it's calm and they are active you can see fins poking out of the water all the way down to Tom's Point.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Grannom Or Bust

Year after year the Grannom hatch never fails to frustrate me. The height of the hatch is a short lived affair which peaks normally around the beginning of April. The optimum time during the day seems to be between one o'clock and three o'clock and in that time there can be clouds of Grannom literally like a snowstorm one minute then a minute later they have all but disappeared.

The River Wye around Builth Wells

The Grannom sporadically hatching in 'clouds'

The Grannom Caddis Fly (Brachycentrus subnubilis)
The other problem is that when the trout get tuned on to them they become so preoccupied that nothing else will do and the difficulty then becomes working out at what stage the fish are taking them - ascending pupa, emerging caddis or adult. This can change instantly without any apparent reason why.
Last weekend on the River Wye there were times when the fish were very actively taking the flies either on the surface or just below, then without reason they would just stop feeding off the surface even though there were still many flies hatching.

This bruiser of a Chub gently sipped down my dry Grannom pattern and put a severe bend in my #3

I'm sure someone out there has a fly pattern that works very well during this hatch but I'm afraid it's one that isn't yet in my box. Sometimes I think I have it nailed and I will tie a fly that catches me a few fish then low and behold they decide it's no longer good enough and refuse it every time I put it over their head.

Although Grannom carry on hatching after this peak period I have found that the trout lose interest when they only emerge sparsely and quickly move on to something else. The reality is that unless you are able to fish the rivers daily it is hard to get out more than a couple of times during the peak period and therefore lessons are that much more difficult to learn.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

They're catching crabs on the pier but more reds than Dungeness by a five to one margin or better. There are barred or calico perch in the surf (I've heard of both) but they're running kind of small. No word to me of any of those leopard sharks at Tom's Point either caught or seen again. It's the first day of ab season today, so of course the sea is running 19 to 25 feet high. It is so big that no one is even thinking about going, not even the semi-suicidal guys. It is pretty to watch, though.