The weather...

Red Fish

Senior Member
is certainly making it difficult to go fishing in some areas and the resulting run-off may mess up some waters for a period of time. It is what it is.
Okay, I'm going to ask your same question Ken that you did before, is anyone catching anything? lol I went out today for a bit. The weather was favorable, the bait was native ghost shrimp, the catch was nothing. Fish are in specific locations this time of year; Richmond really isn't 1 of them. I believe in this area, anywhere north of Richmond will be better like San Pablo Bay, Carquinez Straits, Napa River, Petaluma River, San Joaquin River, Sacramento River, American River. Lol, seems to be a pattern there. An entire month later could make a world of difference.

Ken Jones

Staff member
Robert, I can't really report local fishing results without reports and we just don't seem to get many reports from the Bay Area; locals don't seem to want to share information.

As for the conditions this year, I expect we will see change to some localities in regard to runoff and possible damage to some beach areas, i.e., possible loss of sand, but most of this is happening at open ocean, seashore sites not in the bay. Still, I imagine some fish may move into saltier sections of the bay when the freshwater intrudes into their environment.

Remember what I wrote about salinity: Salinity

The salinity level of the water is also very important when discussing saltwater and brackish water species. Most fish have a relatively low tolerance level for different degrees of salinity and their bodies become stressed if the salt levels in the water change (if the water becomes either too salty or not salty enough). These fish will tend to move and stay in water most approximating that of the open ocean. Some fish, the anadromous species, have systems that are adaptable to the change. As tides move in and out, the salinity levels can change and fish will follow these changes.

Some bays in southern California that have little or no freshwater inflow from streams, or that receive little runoff from rain, may show a fairly constant degree of salinity year-round. Nevertheless, when there is a heavy rain there may be a definite drop off in fishing success in some areas as the fish move toward saltier ocean waters. Most bays in the northern part of the state have streams or rivers entering the bays and also receive considerable amounts or rain. Northern bays (even San Francisco Bay) can turn into lacustrine-like, freshwater lakes during the winter and spring depending upon the amount of rain received. These bays tend to see more frequent changes in fish populations and to see more anadromous species on a regular, seasonal basis.

Most open coast areas show less variation in salinity levels than bays. Still, coastal areas can be greatly impacted by storms, especially if there is a stream or a river in the area. It is common in northern California to see a brown discoloring of the ocean at the mouths of most streams during the winter rainy seasons. When this happens, many of the fish move into deeper waters.

Some bays themselves show considerable variation in salinity levels. Areas near the bay entrance can approximate ocean levels of salinity while some upper bay areas (like those in Newport Bay) may have quiet, shallow-water regions that are likely to show greater evaporation and higher salinity levels.

In the ocean waters outside the Golden Gate the average salinity level is approximately 3.4 per cent. Move into the Gate and the figure drops to about 3.1 per cent. Move northeast through San Pablo Bay into the Carquinez Strait and the salinity level drops to 1.5 per cent due to the freshwater flows from the inland rivers. Head the opposite way in the Bay, down to the shallow-water areas of the South Bay, and you'll find salinity levels approximating those near the Golden Gate 3.1 per cent. Of course the South Bay sees high evaporation and less freshwater entering that region, at least during the dry months of the year.

As already noted, lower salinity levels and more brackish water will exist in areas where freshwater streams enter the bay. There can even be different levels in one area since fresh water is less dense than salt water and tends to float on top. At times, the main channel in San Pablo Bay (in the San Francisco Bay area) will be like two separate rivers: a freshwater river in the waters at the top and a saltwater river in the water at the bottom; in essence, the freshwater is floating on top of the saltwater.

When fishing from bay piers, realize that piers at the upper ends of bays, or in areas where freshwater flows into the bay, will tend to have fewer species of fish present. At the same time, in some areas, this may mean you are exposed to more anadromous (adult fish live in the sea and migrate into fresh water to spawn) and catadromous species (adult fish live in fresh water and migrate into salt water to spawn). For example, in the upper reaches of San Pablo Bay, up towards the Carquinez Straits, an angler will see far fewer varieties of fish than in the main part of San Francisco Bay. However, there is a better than average chance of catching starry flounder, striped bass, sturgeon and salmon during certain times of the year. The starry flounder move into low salinity areas to spawn; the striped bass, sturgeon and salmon move through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta before entering into the freshwater Sacramento and San Joaquin River systems to spawn.

Pier fishermen in San Francisco note when these fish will be in San Pablo Bay, the Carquinez Strait, or Suisun Bay, and they will visit the piers in those sections during those times. Later, as the fish have returned to the saltier parts of the bay, anglers concentrate on piers in those areas. Again, follow the fish.