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Study: Delta species are on the decline

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POSTED December 31, 2010 2:33 a.m.
The California Department of Fish and Game has released the results of their annual Fall Midwater Trawl of pelagic (open-water) species in the Delta.

The results continue to demonstrate an estuary in collapse. The study, which produces indices of “relative abundance,” has been conducted since 1967.
The collapse of Delta species mirrors the decline of salmonids.

Sacramento River fall-run Chinook salmon, numbering some 750,000 in 2002, dropped to 90,000 in 2007 to 66,264 in 2008 and to a dismal new low of 39,530 in 2009, before rebounding slightly this year.

Results of the 2010 Fall Midwater Trawl reveal that:

• Striped bass populations continue to collapse. The 2010 index of 43 showed a 40 percent decline from last year’s historical low of 70. The index was 12,473, as recently as 1983.

• Splittail populations also matched their historical low. The 2010 index was 0, compared to last year’s index of 1. The splittail index was 281 in 1998.

• Delta smelt continued to be found at near record low numbers. The index of 29 was only slightly higher than last year’s 17. In 1993, the index was 1,078.

• Longfin smelt rebounded slightly to 191 from last year’s abysmal index of 65.  Of course, in 1982 the index reached 62,905.

• Threadfin shad numbers also increased slightly to 120 from last year’s record low of 13. In contrast the index was 15,267 in 1997 and 14,401 in 2001.

• The American shad index increased from last year’s 624 to 683; still the fourth lowest since records have been kept. As recently as 2003, the index was 9,360

For more information, visit www.calsport.org.

Delta
Fishing on the Delta is the toughest that I’ve ever seen it. The water levels are very high for this time of year, and cloudy.

I did manage to find clearer water in the back of Whites Slough but the fish were not biting. There was very little surface action at all and no signs of schools of stripers anywhere.

With the expected cold front this weekend look for the fishing to stay tough as the water temperatures will surely be dropping into the 40s.

Lake New Melones
Trout fishing is good for those fishing off the bank with power bait. Anglers trolling for them aren’t doing that bad either while trolling the top 15 feet of water.

The lake has turned very muddy recently; it’s recommended that your baits are scented. Bass fishing has gotten tough as almost all of the fish being caught are being found deep. Anglers are using drop-shotted worms and spoons to catch bass once they’re located.     

Lake Don Pedro

Bank fishing is good for anglers fishing for trout.

The Department of Fish and Game has been planting trout in the lake regularly. Anglers fishing for trout are doing well while using live minnows under a bobber.

Bass fishing has gotten tougher are the water has gotten colder. This time of year it’s important to work your baits slowly as the fish have become very lethargic.

The water is very stained, so make sure to use scented baits.  

Lake Camanche
Lake Camanche is scheduled to receive up to 90,000 pounds of trout this season. Anglers fishing off the bank are enjoying the action as the trout are biting.

Most of the anglers catching them are using power bait fished off the bottom in 25 feet of water.

Bass fishing is tough, as it’s been really hard to find them. Anglers having any success are reading the bottom with their depth finders and locating small schools.

Once finding those schools they are dragging small jigs or drop-shotted worms through and around the school for limited bites.

Lake Amador
Heavy loads of trout are being planted into the lake on what seems like a daily basis. Anglers fishing off the bank are doing well while using Power Bait either fished off the bottom or beneath a bobber.

Tip of the Week
Many people are unaware of the money saving possibilities that are available to them when it comes to purchasing their annual fishing license.

I highly recommend going to the Department of Fish and Game’s website and researching the available discounts before going out and paying full price.

To contact Jarod Ballardo, e-mail jgbbass@yahoo.com.
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