A ton of herring spilled into his boat. He rolled out another net. He hauled in another ton.
Koepf soon caught his limit and steered his boat, the Ursula B, back to its berth in San Francisco after finishing what he says was his best season. It came just one year after the commercial herring fishing season in the bay was called off for the first time due to a scarcity of fish.
“This is a year unlike any I’ve seen,” Koepf, a herring fisherman for 37 years, said midday Thursday as he and his deckhand washed down their boat at Fisherman’s Wharf. “This is an epic year for harvesting (herring). There are a lot of fish. And they are big fish.”
Herring — the only fish commercially harvested inside the bay — has rebounded after lean years of drought, disrupted food supplies in the Pacific Ocean, and worries about pollution from the 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill, say fishermen and the state fishing regulators.
“It appears there are all kinds of fish in the bay,” said John Mello, a biologist who manages the state Department of Fish and Game‘s herring program. “It looks like their populations are rebounding. We don’t have our estimate yet for this year, but I’m encouraged.”