Cool water the hot topic on the Klamath

Abalone season re-opens Aug 1

While North Coast ocean anglers enjoy one of the best Chinook salmon seasons on record, trouble could soon be lurking as huge numbers of large, healthy salmon make their way up the Klamath River this fall. Two back-to-back subpar winters have left rivers, tributaries, and reservoirs, dangerously low. With 272,000 salmon expected to return this year, they’ll need a little help to ensure their survival to avoid repeating the disastrous fish kill of 2002, where a reported 34,000 salmon perished in the low, warm water of the Klamath.

Help could be on the way as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has proposed releasing 62,000 acre-feet of cold water from the Trinity Dam into the Klamath between August 15 and September 21. An acre-foot is enough water to cover an acre of land with a foot of water, or roughly 326,000 gallons. However, that water won’t flow freely down the Trinity without a fight. Central Valley farmers, who rely on that water for agriculture, have threatened to sue the bureau if the water spickets are turned on. A decision is pending, with a resolution coming next week. If the water release moves forward, it will come as a relief not only to the adult salmon moving in, but also to the offspring of last year’s record return, which was estimated at 323,000.

According to Sara Borok, Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River, both the Klamath and the Trinity are loaded with juveniles slowly making their way downstream. “We’re seeing about 10 to 15 times the number of juveniles in the system from last year’s huge return. It’s easy to lose sight of juveniles, but they are equally important as the adults coming in. With water temperatures hovering in the mid-70’s, we’re really hoping they can hang in there until we see the temperatures start to decline,” Borok added. “While the cold water coming out of the Trinity will certainly help, it will take a combination of cooler inland temperatures and the marine influence to get temperatures where they need to be.”

The gradual flow of water coming out of the Trinity could be a blessing for anglers as well. “We should see more steady pulses of fish coming in from the ocean this year with the water spread out of the course of six weeks. The bigger releases last year pushed the fish upriver quickly. This year we should see them make their way upriver on a more normal rate.”

Weekend Marine Forecast

Ocean conditions have been very pleasant the last few days, and it looks like we’re in for a nice weekend as well. Out 10 nautical miles north of the Cape, Friday’s forecast is calling for north winds five to 15 knots and seas out of the NW five-feet at seven seconds. The weekend forecast is calling for winds out of the northwest five to 10 knots with NW swells five-feet at seven seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For up-to-date weather forecast,

Abalone season re-opens

A reminder that the recreational abalone season will re-open August 1 following a July closure. For more information, visit

The Oceans:


The bite slowed for most on Monday, but Tuesday and Wednesday the fleet was back to Eureka-style salmon fishing. The best action has been coming south, where the brown water the baitfish crave has finally returned. On Tuesday, Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sportfishing scored limits for his clients by 9 a.m. on the 45-line, ending the day with a 31-pound dandy. Wednesday’s action was further south, between the 37 and 39-lines where the limits came quick and the fish were a nice grade. Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing boated a heavy limit of kings, with half of his fish weighing over 20-pounds, with the biggest tipping the scales at 27-pounds. The sport fleet reported lots of fish in the 20-pound class and even a few thirties.


Since the weather calmed down Monday, the salmon bite has been red-hot from sun up to sundown reports Curt Wilson, who runs the Wind Rose Charter out of Trinidad. “Most of the effort has been from the 03 to 06-lines in 120 to 180 feet of water. The bite has been right on top in the morning, and in the afternoon, 75-feet has done well. Limits have been very easy to come by. Rockfish has been a bit of a grind, but you can get limits if you stick with it,” Wilson added.

Shelter Cove

According to Russ Thomas of Mario’s Marina in Shelter Cove, the salmon bite has slowed. “There’s fish being caught, but I haven’t heard of very many limits being taken. The guys mooching have done well the last few day’s as there’s some nice balls of bait around. The rockfish action is still good and should get better with some nice, flat days in the forecast,” Thomas added.

Crescent City

The salmon fishing remains off and on reports Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “The conditions have changed the last few days as we’ve had some different currents and a bunch of eel grass moved in. The boats and the fish seem to be scattered, but once you find a pod of fish, you can limit quickly. There’s still quite a bit of krill around as well as some nightfish. Fish are being caught from Castle almost to the Sisters, so there’s a huge area of salmon out there. The halibut bite has picked up, with a 90 and two 70’s weighed in last week. Out near the south reef in 200-feet of water has been the place. The lingcod bite remains red-hot, with a 42-pounder weighed in last week. The rockfish is still hit and miss. One minute they’re biting, and then they’ll just shut off,” Hegnes said.

The Rivers:

Lower Klamath

Conditions have improved and the water has cooled on the lower Klamath reports Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. “There’s a good amount of summer steelhead in the river right now and we’re catching the occasional king. Trollers are catching a few salmon in the estuary, with Kastmasters the top producer,” Coopman added.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed

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