Ocean conditions slow North Coast salmon bite


Kenny Priest/For the Times-Standard

August 22, 2013

Ceremonial water coming Sunday from the Trinity

We all knew this was coming — the out-of-this-world salmon action that we’ve enjoyed since May has finally started to taper off — at least for the last couple of days. After a not so hot bite this past weekend, the action really slowed to a crawl Tuesday and Wednesday. Charter boat scores ranged from nine fish to one fish kept, and everywhere in between. That doesn’t sound horrible on paper, but compared to the salmon fishing we’ve grown accustomed to over the last three months, this rates as headline news. This begs the question — where did the fish go? Well, no one really knows. The reports I heard from Wednesday is there were quite a few biters that just didn’t stick, so maybe the fish are still there. The water temperatures surely played a role in the slowdown. The warm water, which reached 62 degrees out front, pushed all the way to the beach. When this happens, the salmon typically head straight down in search of the cool water they crave. And that’s where the majority of the fish have been coming the last couple days, anywhere between 100 to 200 feet on the wire. With calm seas predicted through the weekend, maybe the large sport fleet can do a little searching and find the schools again.

Marine forecast

Calm seas are predicted through the weekend. Friday’s forecast is calling for winds 5 to 10 knots with 4-foot swells at 8 seconds. The forecast for Saturday is calling for winds 5 to 10 knots, with swells to 3-feet at 7 seconds. Sunday is looking very similar, with winds 5 to 10 knots and seas to 4-feet at 8 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For up-to-date weather forecast, visit http://www.weather.gov/eureka. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Ceremonial water release from the Trinity

Beginning this Sunday at 8 a.m., flows out of the Trinity will increase from 450 cfs to 2,650 cfs. After peaking at midnight Sunday, they will be reduced slowly until reaching 450 cfs on Thursday, August 29 at 8 p.m. The flow increase is due to the Hoopa Valley Tribe’s Boat Dance Ceremony. Hopefully, the 62,000 acre-feet of water that’s currently in the hands of the court will follow closely behind. If it doesn’t, a fish kill could be on the horizon.

Klamath River quota update

According to Sara Borok, an Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River Project,

407 adult Chinook salmon have been harvested on the Lower Klamath as of Tuesday. The quota is 20,003. Of those, 395 were caught below the Hwy. 101 bridge. The trigger number to close the spit fishery is 3,000 adult Chinook salmon.

Klamath salmon health being closely monitored

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking help from the public in monitoring the health of Chinook salmon in the Klamath River and its tributaries. Drought conditions mixed with a larger than normal return of salmon elevate concerns of fish die offs. Small numbers of dead fish are expected this year as an estimated 272,000 fall-run Chinook salmon return. CDFW, in conjunction with The Klamath Fish Health Assessment Team (KFHAT) is asking the public to report any unusual numbers of dead fish they see by contacting Sara Borok at 707-822-0330.

The Oceans:


Slow but steady fishing best describes the salmon action out of Eureka this past weekend. Most of the charter boats were able to grind out limits, but they didn’t necessarily come easy. Captain Tim Klassen on the Reel Steel had limits both days before the bite tanked on Monday. “There’s still a wide variety of fish out there, anywhere from 10-inches to 40-pounds. With the ocean calming down over the weekend, we’ll be able to take a look around and see if we can find some colder water. I know there’s some down at the Cape and up closer to Trinidad,” Klassen added. After having the weekend off, Captain Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sportfishing was back on the water Monday and was able to get a box full before noon. “We found a pretty good school of fish and were able to land five over 20-pounds. The fish were coming deep, about 130-feet down. We definitely need some wind to blow the warm water out of here,” Blasi said. After a weekend in which Phil Glenn skippered the Shellback, Captain Tony Sepulveda was back at it this week. With all the Eureka boats tied up at the dock, he ventured out into pretty rough seas on Tuesday and was able to land six keepers. “The fishing definitely slowed on Tuesday. The water is warm, but I think it will cool itself in the next few days. I don’t think the fish are gone, they’ll show up again,” Sepulveda added.



The salmon bite was wide-open over the weekend, but slowed Monday as the ocean got rough reports Curt Wilson, who runs the Wind Rose Charter out of Trinidad. “We tried to go on Monday, but it got real nasty so we turned around with all the other charter boats. The action on Tuesday and Wednesday was spotty at best. The halibut and rockfish were biting over the weekend, but not much effort over the last few days on either. The weather is suppose to lay down real nice over the weekend, so maybe we can go look around for some salmon,” Wilson added.


Shelter Cove

Fishing in general has slowed out of Shelter Cover reports Russ Thomas of Mario’s Marina in Shelter Cove. “We’re launching maybe three or four boats per day and most are targeting rockfish. The salmon action has slowed way down; not very many are still trying. The few that are being caught are nice ones however,” Thomas added.


Crescent City

Leonard Carter of Crescent City’s Englund Marine reports the Pacific halibut bite has been steady, with fish being landed daily. “Most of the boats are fishing the back side of the South Reef in 190 to 210 feet of water. The Big Reef is also producing a few as well. The salmon has slowed out front, with not many anglers still trying. The best action has been coming around the mouth of the Smith. There have been some real big ones landed the last few days, with a few in the 40-pound class and some 30’s. The lingcod is still red hot and the snapper bite has been sporadic,” Carter added.

The Rivers:

Lower Klamath

Guide Mike Coopman reports the Lower Klamath is fishing decent, with most of the fish landed being steelhead. “There’s not many kings in the river due to the water temps, and that probably won’t change until it cools. The morning bite has been best, and if you choose the right spot first thing, it can make your day,” 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 to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com.

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