Location: Where Common Sense Presides
|They used to be a frequent "incidental catch" species in both SF and SP bays. I don't use cut anchovies anymore (real effective in getting bullheads accidentally), but on occasion I still put out shrimp and worm offerings. I think I've caught just one pacific staghorn sculpin in the past calendar year. For that matter, other sculpins as well.
Theories abound as to their scarcity. Maybe the drought has a relationship. Or climate change, natural or man-made. I'd have to say that all the dredging and sand mining operations throughout both bays (and the Suisun) cannot be helping. There are 12 such projects and they have a 10-year lease. Any time you deplete 14%* of the habitat in a given area it's bound to have a negative impact.
Over harvest is a real possibility. Kingfish also used to be abundant and now they have fled from places people used to catch them in high numbers. Baitshop stocking, forager stocking, and fish killed by accident or design when they are caught incidentally--these things add up.
*I am being generous here. This is based on the sand mining company (Hanson Marine) original estimate of 86% replenishment. So far, the USGS has found that this rate is more like 55:45: in other words, depletion is exceeding replenishment. Oops. But hey, we all need mounds of high quality contruction sand, and the fish can go swim somewhere else. Which they are doing.