Coastal rivers full of late fall kings

My favorite time of the year is finally here. The season’s first storms are peppering the North Coast, and rivers like the Eel, Smith, and Checto are beginning to fill with much-needed water. The late fall king salmon, who’ve been waiting patiently in the their estuaries, are ready to charge upriver towards their final spawning destinations. For anglers, the chess game is just getting started. If you’re like me, river flows, rainfall totals and river level forecasts are being constantly monitored. My iPhone has become a permanent fixture in the palm of my hand, pouring over the data that will provide the best opportunity to ambush the kings as they make their way upriver. Making sure my favorite Kwikfish are in working order, stocking the freezer with a season’s worth of sardines, and digging out the back-bouncing bait is all part of the fun. Another aspect of fishing the coastal rivers this time of the year is keeping track of the openings and closings of rivers that are regulated by low flow closures, which began Oct. 1. To stay up-to-date on the what’s open and closed to fishing, it’s a wise to add the low-flow closure hotline, (707) 822-3164, to your contacts. For a complete list of low flow regulations, visit and bookmark fishingthenorthcoast.com/2014/10/16/low-flow-regulations-for-north-coast-rivers.

Checto anti-snagging bobber rule in effect

From the power line crossing at RM 2.2 upstream to Nook Creek (RM 14) from Sept. 1 through Nov. 3, angling is restricted to fly angling and bobber angling only, with 1 single point hook. Fly angling gear must include a strike indicator. Bobber angling gear must include a bobber and a leader no longer than 36 inches in length. Any weight (except the bobber or strike indicator) may be no more than 36 inches from the hook when suspended vertically. The leader below the bobber or strike indicator must remain suspended in the water column and not resting on the river bottom. The daily/seasonal bag limit is 2 Chinook daily, only one may be unclipped. 20 seasonal, no more than 5 may be unclipped.

PFMC public comment needed on Halibut

There are only a few days left to solicit public comments for the November 16, 2014 PFMC meeting, and HASA is asking for your help. The Council is scheduled to take final action on proposed changes for the 2015 Area 2A halibut fisheries at the November 14-19, 2014 Council meeting in Costa Mesa, CA. The deadline to make it into the briefing book is this Friday, Oct. 17. You can still submit comments afterwards until Nov. 4, but they will not make it in the book and instead will be handed out on the first day of the meeting. Public comment on the options can be submitted to pfmc.comments@noaa.gov.

HASA is supporting Alternative 4, which will increase our halibut quota to 4 percent. They are submitting public comments on this, but need more emails/letters to be submitted. For more information, visit http://www.pcouncil.org/2014/09/32634/halibut-sept2014-decisions/

Weekend Weather

According to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service, we’ll be in between storms on Thursday, but more rain is on the way. “The next storm should arrive Friday afternoon and linger into Saturday morning. Rainfall totals will be from a quarter to a half-inch. The next system will hit early Monday and could pack a little better punch. We could see up to three-quarters of an inch. Tuesday and Wednesday are both looking dry, we should see more rain moving in Thursday night,” Kennedy added.

The Oceans:

Eureka/Crescent City

Rough offshore waters brought both ports to a standstill this past week for sport anglers targeting rockfish and halibut. And it’s looking like they won’t get much of a break this weekend with more unsettled weather on the way. Friday is calling for winds out of the SE to 20 knots, with waves 10-feet at 11 seconds. Saturday looks decent, with winds out of the S to 5 knots and waves 7-feet at 11 seconds. Sunday looks a little nasty, with S winds to 10 knots and 13-foot swells at 15 seconds.

The Rivers:

River Closures

As of Thursday morning, all the North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen are closed. Sections of rivers that are open include the main stem Eel River from the paved junction of Fulmor Road to its mouth, the main stem Mad River from the Hammond Trail Railroad Trestle to its mouth and the main stem Smith River from the mouth of Rowdy Creek to its mouth. The Department of Fish and Game will make the information available to the public no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any river will be closed to fishing. The rivers can be opened up at anytime. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164.

Smith River

The Smith opened to fishing on Wednesday after rising above the 600 minimum cfs level, but was closed as of Thursday morning. There were reportedly quite a few fish on the lower river, but the increase in flows should have pushed those fish up and brought some fresh fish in from the ocean.

Lower Klamath

There’s still fresh salmon coming into the river, reports Alan Borges of Alan’s Guide Service. He said, “I heard the mouth was almost shut this past weekend, but it opened back up earlier this week and we saw a bunch of new fish enter the river. There’s quite a few fish around, some older fish along with the new ones as well as some jacks. I haven’t seen any steelhead or silvers lately. We received close to three inches of rain on Tuesday night, but the river was in great shape on Wednesday. I didn’t see any dirty water coming down.”

Upper Trinity

According to Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service, who’s been working the Del Loma area, the fishing has been tough. “There doesn’t appear to be a lot of fresh salmon around right now. We’re getting a shot at three or four per trip, along with a couple steelhead. The fishing is just slow right now; a good shot of rain would do wonders. The smolts were released at the beginning of the month, and they’re pretty thick right now. It will be tough to fish bait without it being wrapped,” Huber added.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com 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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