June 19, 2008

Fish Wrap: Chief Ranger Casey May Retires After a Watershed Career

By Nels Johnson, The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.

Jun. 19--THE Marin County Municipal Water District won't be the same without chief ranger Casey May, who retired last week following a 37-year career devoted to the watershed.

The 57-year-old May, who joined the district as a seasonal staffer in 1971 and rose to senior ranger in 1984, said his job was a dream come true. He and his family lived in a water district residence for 28 years, taking advantage, as he put it, of "a 20,000-acre front yard" above Fairfax. His youngest son, Bodhi, was born in the Sky Oaks station home not far from Lagunitas, Bon Tempe and Alpine lakes.

"We've had a wonderful life," said May, whose official title was superintendent of watershed resources. He and his wife, Martha, are moving to Mount Shasta City.

My son was hooked up at Bon Tempe more than 25 years ago when Casey suddenly appeared, jumped down the bank, introduced himself and checked out my fishing license. He admired our catch and gave my wide-eyed boy a few tips on the finer points of catching crawdads. The brief encounter that day launched an enduring friendship, as well as a few newspaper stories over the years.

Happy trails, Casey, and thanks for a job well done.

The bay Trevor Kennedy and his Fishery Foundation staff this week released the last of the season's 20 million salmon smolts using net pens they towed to deep water in San Pablo Bay. The program gives smolts a chance to acclimate to the bay and a better shot at survival.

"It was a big year," Kennedy said. "I'm

sure there were exceptions over the season but I think overall that predation was very low compared to past years," he added. Birds continue to be a problem, but stripers were less of a threat this year.

The program followed years during which smolts were dumped directly into the bay at the Rodeo shoreline day after day -- ringing a dinner bell for striped bass.

Amid protests of the smolt slaughter last summer, Marin Assemblyman Jared Huffman launched a probe that prompted the Department of Fish and Game to rotate releases between two sites and use net pens to boost survival rates.

Let's hope fishery regulators continue improvements by using more release sites at different times day and night.

- Hundreds of spawning halibut -- and striped bass as well -- continue hit the deck just about every day under unprecedented pressure from anglers -- pressure that will continue as long as salmon fishing is barred. The bite is fun for lots of folks, but no good for the halibut fishery, which may be hurting in seven years or so, when fish that do hatch this year will be spawning themselves. It seems likely there will be far fewer spawning halibut in 2015 and the years that follow.

Regulators who could help the fishery by imposing restrictions are instead standing around with their hands in their pockets. Fishing and environmental groups have been slow to provide leadership, some all but saying, "What, me worry?"

Although the halibut fishery may not be as abundant for children in a couple of years, it is providing a field day for kids this year, including 9-year-old Myles Ehline. The little guy, drifting a shiner, nailed a 25-pound halibut, decking the fish after a spirited struggle -- and a bit of help.

- Speaking of spirits, get Theresa DeLucia on the line. Fairfax's favorite bartender looked like she was ready to fall into the drink after hooking up at the Marin Rod and Gun Club pier.

"It was hard," she said. "Those little suckers can fight."

She was barely able to hold the rod and crank the reel after a big guy hit, but Fairfax lake luminary Two Rod Ray leaped to the rescue -- and helped her release a bat ray.

- Western Sport Shop in San Rafael on July 12 hosts reel repair ace Alan Tani, and Royal Polaris owner Frank LoPreste. Tani shows how to trick out a reel beginning at 9 a.m., while LoPreste talks about long-range fishing adventures at 1 p.m.

Caught a big one lately? Contact Nels Johnson, an IJ assistant city editor, at Marin Independent Journal, 150 Alameda del Prado, Novato, 94948. His phone number is 382-7288; fax 884-1478; e-mail [email protected] Fish Wrap appears Fridays.


To see more of The Marin Independent Journal or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.marinij.com/.

Copyright (c) 2008, The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

For reprints, email [email protected], call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.