Abalone die off along Sonoma County coast

By: George deVilbiss Gold Country Media Contributor
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Divers plying the waters off the Sonoma County coastline in search of one of the most prized items anybody can put on the dinner table – abalone – are reporting that just about everywhere there are dead or dying abalone. That is not good news since these shellfish are slow to reproduce and their growth rate is slow. Divers in the more popular diving regions, including Bodega Bay, Russian Gulch, Fort Ross, Timber Cove and Salt Point State Park, have all reported dead and dying abalone. Their sightings were correctly reported to the Department of Fish and Game who did follow up as to the possible cause. One of the diseases that abalone can contract is Withering Syndrome. This disease was discounted as recovered and tested abalone are not withered, and other invertebrates have also been affected, such as sea stars (star fish). The die-off of these wonderfully tasty shellfish has been attributed to a local red tide bloom and calm ocean conditions that fails to adequately disburse the red tide. The red tide is a massive bloom of phytoplankton. Want to be a wilderness cop? California is second in the nation in unemployment. Finding a job is tough. However, the application deadline is quickly approaching for the California Game Warden Academy. Being a game warden is, and can be, a tough job. You don’t work 8-to-5. It can mean long hours. Working during daylight hours one day, and then all night long the next. It can mean protecting not only the wildlife of California but all other aspects of the environment. It’s a demanding job not meant for everybody. A game warden is the same as your local beat cop – really. He or she is a peace officer. The deadline to apply for the game warden academy is Friday, Sept. 16. Successful applicants will enter a 30-week program that is followed by at least three, three-week assignments working with a seasoned field-training officer. As a cadet, you are trained to be police officers with specific emphasis on working as wardens. The program is held at Butte College in Chico. More information and the online application itself can be found at Applications are being accepted online and must be postmarked by the due date. It really is a demanding job. Are you up for it? Dove season has come, and soon to go The first half of the dove season opened last week. There’s been a good blast of continuing warm weather that tends to keep the birds in the region. Because of that, there was some fairly regular shotgun blasts to be heard. While just about everybody was able to unload the shotgun a time or two, in reality very few hunters were able to bring home a full limit of the birds. By day two the field was quiet. Many hunters commonly go out opening day, and call it quits after that. The first half of the season will continue until Thursday, Sept. 15, with a daily bag limit of 10 birds, possession limit of 20. CURRENT FISHING It’s really that time of year. Fish everywhere seem to be pretty much on the lethargic side. Waters are warm and so is the air. Last weekend was the final summer holiday and traffic on all waters will decrease significantly; that will help the fishing-catching situation. A rainstorm and a cool-down would be a tremendous help. Local Salmon: More and more salmon are trickling into the river system, especially on weekends. If you’re anywhere near the mouth of the American River at Discovery Park you’ll find generally a pretty tremendous amount of boat traffic vying for the salmon coming up. Hoping to get first shot at them, many boaters anchor well below the park giving the fish quite a maze of offerings to dodge. But, with increased numbers coming up, increased numbers are also being caught. Lake Berryessa: It doesn’t take long to get to this lake; it’s a quick little hop up the road out of Winters. Right now, for both king salmon and kokanee salmon, the rod bending action is rated simply outstanding. Some of the better fish are hitting the 19-inch mark. Try the channel around Skiers Cove. Both smallies and largemouth are hammering drop-shot rigs, down as much as 30 feet off points. Lake Pardee: The lake management has planted 68,000 pounds of rainbows while the DFG has contributed an additional 6,200 pounds. Have every one of ‘em been caught? No way. Best area for boaters has been from Sugar Bowl through the Narrows and a bit beyond Mel’s Cove. Some have found some action in the river arm and most little, flashy lures are working. Keep switching until you find what they want that day. Kokanee aren’t schooling yet, but that should soon be happening. Best shore fishing in the rec area happens right after a truck shows up and dumps a fresh load of trout into the lake. Bay Area: If you want to beat the heat, at least for a few hours, head for the Bay Area. You’ll not only be wearing, at least, a light jacket all day long, you’ll also be rewarded with fish. The salmon fishing has been better than fair and it’s that time of year that salmon boats aren’t having to go that far out to sea to find ‘em. The boats headed to the Farallone Islands are being rewarded with not only full limits of rock cod, but big numbers of the highly favored lingcod are also being tallied. James Smith, skipper of the California Dawn, has been having anglers dropping lines off the Marin County coastline to not only bag limits of a variety of bottom fish, but there have been days everybody aboard also limits on lings. Bodega Bay: Expect a trip to be combo trip. You can bottom fish for a while, which has been outstanding. Limits have been the rule, and a lot of lings, some tipping the scales at over 20 pounds. If there’s enough time, they’ll go for salmon and they’ve been adding a few Chinooks to the sacks. Folsom Lake: One thing that will help is the holiday weekend is over. However, don’t look for the lake to really bust loose until everything cools down, considerably. You’ll beat the water to death for just a few bites. Scope closely and watch for submerged trees and rock piles. Find the concentrations of bait fish and you might find a bass hanging close to their food source. Any questions, comments or concerns, contact George at GeorgesColumn@AOL.COM