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Big Fish Winners… in the 35th annual Al’s Ark Striper Derby on the Napa River down at Cuttings Wharf. Yep, this hometown derby just keeps getting better – 144 entries braved rain, cold and frost to participate. Look at the big fish caught by the top three winners in both the striper and sturgeon segments last weekend:

*Striped Bass

Rich Garcia won with a mondo 35.03-pounder.

Jesse Burke came in second with a 32.12-pounder.

Dan Dostries was third with one that weighed 32.02 pounds.


Alec Nogara beat the field with a 52.5-inch diamond back. He was closest to the target length of 55 inches.

Jessica Pasquini had the biggest fish, a huge 59.75-incher, but came in second vs. the target length.

Steve Hobard rounded out the top three with one that went 47.25 inches.

*Micala Phillips was the top angler in the Women’s Sector with an 18.15-pound striper.

Tina Hays was a close second with one that weighed 17.00 pounds.

*Last, but not least, in the Kids division, Catcher Bentinelli won with a hefty 12.75-pound striper.

More Local Angling… includes steady reports of a solid bass bite at Berryessa. Some of the good old systems are working, like a wacky rigged dark blue Senko and a green pumpkin/flake drop shot. Apparently the action is shallow, right up against the tulles. As we close in on the April full moon, get ready for an up-tick in big bass action here.

Trouters: the Fishermen’s Warehouse’s Alan Fong said that while the trout had scattered out, trollers were picking up rainbows and crappie near the Big Island.

2018 King Salmon season… dates are in a state of flux. After reading the latest information from the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, which makes the final decision on season dates and conditions, I am confused. Let’s wait till they have the rest of the scheduled meetings for public input to the Council on March 26 and 27 – and then hear their 2018 decision at their April 6-11 meeting in Portland. Meanwhile, I’m betting that the early April opening recreational date being tossed around won’t happen. Expect that there will be a short commercial season, too.

Let’s all applaud the care and desire for wide input being demonstrated by the PFMC. Salmon fishing better not be a dash; it has got to be a never-ending marathon. So, from time to time, we’ll need to let it rest and rejuvenate. We’ll all benefit.

Bay Bites… courtesy of Craig Hanson on the Argo at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. As the bite transitions through this early spring season, Craig cautions us “not to leave fish to find fish.” My river guide, Kevin Brock, says “don’t leave on a bite.”

Well, Craig’s anchor fishing in San Pablo Bay remains outstanding when the tides and weather cooperate. Bass bites are consistent with weights up to 10 pounds on most trips. Sturgeon are resurging in March on the recent precipitation. Expect a solid halibut bite soon. And, the kid’s favorite: catch and release shark fishing in the bay with no sea sickness. They pull hard and look fierce. Call Craig at 415-361-7757 for bookings and information, and tell him Ryan sent you. The Argo is a luxe six-pack where you act like the Captain, but Craig does all the work.

Bodega Bay… fleet is looking to the April 15 rockfish opener to start their spring season. We’ll try to keep you posted as we get closer. You might want to call a couple of BB boats I follow to make some early reservations, the six-pack Miss Anita at 875-3474 and the New Sea Angler party boat at 875-3344. Of course, we will factor in the impact of a salmon season when we get some facts – probably in late April.

Big Hen Stripers… are arriving in the Delta about right on time. But the muddy water is a problem. The word is “find clear water – find big stripers.” (thanks to the Monday Hot Sheet for some key updates in this report).

Email Bill Ryan at