Klamath salmon best bet for holiday weekend

Fishing the North Coast
Kenny Priest/For the Times-Standard

Fall quota begins Sept. 1 on the Trinity

Fish the ccean or river? That is the question for this Labor Day holiday weekend. Infused with a blast of cooler water, the Klamath is all set to bust wide-open. The mouth has seen huge numbers of fish pouring in on the tides, but most have made a U-turn and headed back to sea. That’s all changing as we speak. The river conditions were a little tough on Tuesday, with lots of moss and debris, but it should be in prime shape by the weekend. With the kings on the move into the rivers, it can only mean one thing for ocean anglers – a very large slow down. Word has it there are still quite a few salmon around, but they are deep. The charter boats have been out in 250 to 350 feet of water mooching the fish from the bottom. The rockfish bite down at the Cape has been nothing short of spectacular, and the calm seas this past couple weeks has made the long run much easier. The halibut bite has also picked up, fish being landed daily by anglers drifting salmon bellies in 200 to 300 feet of water. Whatever choice you make, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Marine forecast

Ocean conditions for the long weekend look plenty fishable. As of Wednesday, the forecast for Friday through Monday is calling for winds out of the south from 5 to 10 knots and waves NW 5-feet at 11 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.

Klamath River update

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

3,464 adult Chinook have been harvested as of Tuesday. “Over 3,000 have come just in the last week with the majority, 2,943, caught at the mouth. The Trinity flows have reached the estuary and should help spread the fish out and hopefully cool the water down,” Borok said.

Spit fishery remains open

The regulations state that if it does not look like the lower Basin quota of 20,003 adult Chinook will be met, then the 15 percent (3,000 adult Chinook) caught below the Hwy. 101 bridge rule does not apply. The largest sport harvest on record for the entire basin was 22,203 back in 1988.  For more information on the Klamath regulations, visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations.

Trinity River notes

On September 1, the main stem of the Trinity downstream of the Lewiston Bridge to the confluence with Klamath River will open and run through December 31. The exception to this is the Burnt Ranch Gorge area, (downstream of the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat to the Denny Road Bridge at Hawkins Bar) which closes to all fishing on September 1. The daily bag limit is 4 Chinook salmon, no more than 3 fish over 22 inches. The possession limit is 12 Chinook salmon, no more than 9 over 22 inches. If the quota of 40,006 adult fall Chinook is met, then the previous bag and possession limits apply to “jack” salmon less than 22 inches, i.e. 4 jacks per day and 12 jacks in possession.



Since the warm water pushed in last week, the salmon bite has become a little bit more fickle. The troll bite has been tough as most of the fish are deep and the best way to pull them up has been mooching. And that’s just what Captains Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sportfishing and Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing have been up to. Both have been boating limits or near limits out in the deep, blue water. “There’s tons of small fish around right now as well as some silvers, but we’re still catching some big ones too,” Sepulveda added. Captain Tim Klassen on the Reel Steel has been bouncing between the Cape for rockfish and mixing in salmon and halibut trips this past week. “The rockfish bite has been exceptional with easy limits of quality fish. We’ve also been catching some nice lings. The halibut bite has been pretty good too, most boats are getting at least one, if not more, per trip,” Klassen added.


The salmon bite has slowed way down reports Curt Wilson, who runs the Wind Rose Charter out of Trinidad. “The last three days we found the salmon out deep.  It was a mooching game with a lot of little fish, but certainly some nice ones mixed in.  The best action has been coming on the 00-line in 300-ft of water. The rockfish and halibut bite remains productive,” Wilson added.

Crescent City

According to Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, halibut remains the focus for anglers fishing out of Crescent City. “The best bite has been near Round Rock in 195 to 215 feet of water. The snapper bite has really picked up and the lingcod are still biting anything you throw at them. The salmon action has slowed to a crawl as very few boats are still trying for them. There was a few caught this week, but there isn’t much effort,” Hegnes added.

Shelter Cove

The albacore action took center stage again this week reports Russ Thomas of Mario’s Marina in Shelter Cove. “Boats have been running 25 to 35 miles out and are catching a real nice grade of fish. The rockfish bite has been red-hot as well, with lots of limits coming right out front between the beach and the whistler.  Not much is happening with salmon, there’s a couple commercial guys around who are catching 10-12 per trip,” Thomas added.


Lower Klamath

Conditions are changing quickly on the Klamath, but the river should be settled by the weekend according to Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. “The extra water coming down the past few days has put the fish on the move. Once the water levels out, which will be this weekend, the fish should start to slow down. There’s a lot of big fish in the river right now and more are coming. I’m guessing there’s now fish spread throughout the whole system,” Coopman said.

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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