Crab opener — all it’s cracked up to be

Covelo resident Ryan Aylsworth landed this nice Smith River salmon earlier this week while fishing with Mike Coopman's Guide Service. The big king tipped the scales at 36-pounds.

Covelo resident Ryan Aylsworth landed this nice Smith River salmon earlier this week while fishing with Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. The big king tipped the scales at 36-pounds.

Minus tides could create dangerous bar crossing

The sport Dungeness crab season kicked off this past Saturday, and those who ventured offshore reported the crabs were plentiful, as well as heavy. Captain Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing and Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sport Fishing both set gear north of the entrance and reported the crabs are extremely full for this time of the year. Klassen said, “The reports are good for boats fishing both north and south of the entrance. Pots dropped south and rigged with good bait were producing 15 to 16 keepers per pot. The scores were roughly the same for the pots that fished north.” Klassen also added that the crabs were really full and in good shape. “They are certainly full enough to allow the commercial season to start on time, which is scheduled for Dec. 1. north of Mendocino.” Crab counts coming out of Humboldt Bay weren’t quite as encouraging. The story was the same for all the anglers I spoke with – the crabbing stunk. It’s hard to know exactly why, but most of the theories center around the early rains which brought an influx of freshwater into the bay, pushing the crabs offshore.
Opening day reports from Trinidad were a little bleak as well. But from the reports I heard, it picked up the last few days. Overnight soaks seemed to be the ticket to full pots. Up north to Crescent City, Leonard Carter of Englund Marine reported some pretty good crab numbers. “Straight out of the harbor in 100 to 120-feet of water was one of the top spots. I don’t think there’s a huge volume of crab out there, but an overnight soak on the opener produced up to 20 keepers per pot. Crabbers also did well off of South Beach as well as inside the harbor. There were very few light crab reported,” Carter added.

Marine Forecast
It looks like we’re in for another bumpy weekend on the ocean, coupled with a round of minus tides that will last through Monday. As of Wednesday, Friday’s forecast is calling for north winds 5 to 10 knots with 9-foot waves at 10 seconds coming out of the northwest. Saturday is looking better; the forecast is calling for north winds 5 to 10 knots with west waves 6-feet at 12 seconds. A mixed swell is forecasted for Sunday with winds out of the north 5 to 10 knots and waves northwest 3-feet at 6 seconds and west 7-feet at 16 seconds. The forecast will likely change, so before you head out, check the marine forecast at and click on the marine tab. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Weekend Weather forecast
After a weak system rolls through the area on Thursday, dry conditions will persist through Tuesday according to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “Thursday’s storm may bring up to a quarter inch to the Smith basin and maybe a tenth to Humboldt. Next Tuesday’s rain is forecasted to bring about the same rainfall totals. Next Thursday and Friday, a more powerful system is predicted, but that’s still a little far out there to be sure of rainfall amounts. The models are showing up to three-quarters of an inch,” Kennedy said.

Humboldt bar hazardous warning
For crab fishermen heading offshore, there could be potential hazardous bar conditions due to the combination of minus tides and swells. Thursday and Friday’s tides will have the most runoff. Both high tides will be 8-feet followed by a -1.0 low on Thursday and a -1.2 low on Friday. Saturday’s high tide will be 6.2-feet followed by a low of -1.1 feet. These tides could be extremely dangerous, especially if the ocean is rough. It’s always best to error on the side of caution, even if it means waiting until the out-flowing water from the bay has slowed, which usually occurs within 30 to 45 minutes prior to the tide bottoming out. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit:

Weekend Tides – Humboldt Bay
Fri., Nov. 7 (High: 11:15 a.m.) (Low: 5:07 a.m. and 6:01 p.m.)
Sat., Nov. 8 (High: 12:39 a.m. and 11:54 p.m.) (Low: 5:51 a.m. and 6:44 p.m.)
Sun., Nov. 9 (High: 1:27 a.m. and 12:34 p.m.) (Low: 6:35 a.m. and 7:27 p.m.)

Sport-Harvested Mussel Quarantine Lifted
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced Oct. 30 that the annual quarantine on mussels gathered by sport harvesters from California’s coastal waters ended at midnight Friday, Oct. 31 for all coastal counties except Ventura County. The annual quarantine, which typically runs May 1 through Oct.31, is intended to protect the public from paralytic shellfish poisoning and amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP). There have been no reports of shellfish-related poisoning in California during the quarantine period. For more information, visit

The Rivers:
Currently, only the Smith River and the main stem of the Eel are open to fishing. All other North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the South Fork Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, and Van Duzen are closed. Sections of rivers that are open include the main stem Mad River from the Hammond Trail Railroad Trestle 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
According to Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service, the Smith is low and clear and in need of rain. “The best action has been prior to the sun hitting the water, after that it’s been tough. The fish we are catching are nice and bright however. We’re also seeing quite a few jacks around,” added Coopman. As of Wednesday, flows were right around 1,300 cfs and dropping. No increased flows were in the forecast at least through the weekend.

The Chetco fished really well after last weekend’s rain, but the lack of rain since didn’t help Tuesday’s non-bobber opener reports Val Early of Early Fishing Guide Service. “The boat traffic and fishing pressure was incredible last weekend as well as Tuesday, which probably scattered the fish around. With the river dropping and clearing and not much rain in the forecast, we’ll probably be back to bobber fishing within a few days,” Early said.

Not many anglers, if any, are still fishing the lower river, though salmon continue to trickle into the estuary. This is typically the time of the year when salmon that spawn in some of the larger tributaries begin to come into the river anticipating rain to increase flows in the creeks and tributaries. The river has good color and is plenty fishable.

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