Coastal saltwater season set to take off

FNC 4_28 photo

Jared Gadberry, left and Dave Totten landed this nice 30-inch lingcod on a recent trip to Humboldt Bay’s south Jetty. Rockfish season is open year-round on the North Coast to shore-based anglers and divers. For boat-based anglers, the season will open May 15 and run through Oct. 31. Photo courtesy of Jared Gadberry/Humboldt Jetty Rats

For the saltwater junkies of the North Coast, the month of May couldn’t come soon enough. Since the first of the year, the fishing news has been nothing but gloom and doom. The salmon numbers are down significantly, Dungeness crab and razor clam seasons were both cut short or closed all together due to domoic acid, there’s talk of reduced bag limits and the closing of some key locations for rockfish, broken promises by the California Fish and Game Commission regarding MLPA assessments and the entrance to Humboldt Bay has filled in with sediment flushed from the Eel River. With multiple fisheries set to open in May, it’s time to brush aside the bad news and get back to what we love to do – fish.

First up is the May 1 Pacific Halibut opener. This is the lone bright spot this year as our quota was increased by 4,420 pounds over the 2015 quota, allowing us 29,640 pounds in 2016. The open season dates will be May 1-15, June 1-15, July 1-15, Aug. 1-15 and Sept. 1-Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. The limit remains at one, with no size restrictions.

Next up will be the Northern Management Area recreational rockfish and lingcod opener, which is May 15 and the season runs through Oct. 31.

Right behind the rockfish opener will be the much-anticipated ocean sport salmon season. From the OR/CA border south to Horse Mtn., season dates include May 16 through May 31, June 16 through June 30, July 16 through August 16, and September 1 through September 5. Fishing will be allowed seven days per week, two fish per day with minimum size limit of 20-inches.

Weekend marine forecast
Ocean conditions are not looking to favorable for the Sunday Pacific halibut opener. For the coastal waters from Crescent City to Mendocino out zero to 10 nautical miles, Saturday’s forecast is calling for north winds 15 to 25 knots with waves out of the NW 10 feet at 10 seconds. On Sunday, winds will be out of the north 5 to 15 knots with waves NW 7 feet at 10 seconds and NW 6 feet at 14 seconds. For an up-to-date marine forecast, visit

New dredger on the way to Humboldt Bay
According to Capt. Tim Petrusha, who is the Director of Harbor Operations/Bar Pilot, the U.S. Army Core of Engineers and the Captain of the dredge ESSAYONS have determined after looking at the soundings that the entrance to Humboldt Bay is unsafe to for the ESSAYONS to dredge. The draft of the dredge is too much for them to operate and will instead be bringing in the smaller BAYPORT dredge. Dredging will begin on approximately May 20. BAYPORT will be here for the entirety of the project once they arrive including the bar and entrance, and transition area near Schneider Dock.

Recreational crab season opens for most of Humboldt, commercial still on hold
The recreational Dungeness crab fishery opened last Friday south of 40° 46.15’ N Latitude at the northern jetty of Humboldt Bay to the California/Mexico border, including ocean waters of Humboldt Bay.
Recent test results show that domoic acid levels in Dungeness crabs south of Humboldt Bay entrance and in Mendocino County no longer pose a significant human health risk. Skipper Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing was one of the few boats to set gear on Tuesday, but hasn’t been able to check the gear since. “We went back out on Tuesday after a short soak, but the heavy current kept the buoys under water. It was too rough on Wednesday, now it looks like it will be Sunday or Monday before the seas are calm enough,” said Klassen.
The recreational fishery to the north of Humboldt Bay could open up as early as Thursday if the six crabs collected off Trinidad Head come back clean. “If the crabs don’t show high levels of a neurotoxin, which has delayed the state’s crab season since Dec. 1, the commercial season could start as soon as May 5, according to Department of Fish and Wildlife senior environmental scientist Pete Kalvass.

Razor clam fishery shut down in Humboldt/Del NorteThe California Fish and Game Commission on Monday closed the razor clam fishery in Humboldt and Del Norte counties following an emergency meeting. The commission’s report stated “Ingesting razor clams with high levels of domoic acid is a matter upon which urgent action is necessary to avoid severely impairing public health and safety.” The commission has notified the Humboldt and Del Norte counties Board of Supervisors of the closure, which will remain in effect until the commission receives further notice from hazard assessment office, according to the commission’s report.

HASA dinner Saturday night
The annual HASA fundraiser dinner will be held this Saturday, April 30, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The popular event has changed venues this year and will be moving from Redwood
Acres to the Arcata Community Center, 321 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway in Arcata. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children. Food will be provided by Ramone’s and some great items will be auctioned and raffled off. Each ticket will get you a HASA annual 2016 membership as well as entry into our door prize. For more information, email or call (707) 845-4106.

Perch’n on the Peninsula coming May 7
The Samoa Peninsula Fire District will be hosting their 7th Annual Perch’n on the Peninsula Surfperch Fishing Tournament and Fish Fry Fundraiser on May 7, 2016.

The fishing tournament begins at sunrise with the check-in deadline at 2:00 p.m., prize presentations will begin at 2:30 p.m. with the fish fry beginning at noon. The fish fry fundraiser is open to the public and admission is only $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for juniors. Children 6 and under get in free. Adult fishing tournament entry is $20.00 and junior entry (under 16) is $10.00.

Tournament day registration is available at the Peninsula Elementary School in Samoa beginning at 6 a.m. or your entries can be purchased at Mad River Tackle in Arcata, Pacific Outfitters, Englund Marine, or RMI Outdoors. For more information, call (707) 443-9042 or visit

Trinity River restoration program water releases
The Bureau of Reclamation announced recently that releases from Lewiston Dam into the Trinity River began increasing last Thursday from 300 cubic feet per second to approximately 4,500 cfs by Saturday, May 7.

On Sunday, May 8, flows will begin to increase from 4,500 cfs, reaching 10,000 cfs on Monday, May 9, through May 10. On Wednesday, May 11, flows will be gradually decreased to 5,600 cfs. On Friday, May 13, flows will rapidly increase to 10,000 cfs through Saturday, May 14. Release rates will then gradually decrease over approximately 11 weeks to return to the 450 cfs summer baseflow rate around August 2. The public should take appropriate safety precautions whenever near or on the river. Landowners are advised to clear personal items from the floodplain prior to the releases.

The releases for this “wet” 2016 water year will result in a total volume of 701,000 acre-feet. This year releases will include two peak flows as compared to only one peak flow in previous years. The two peak flows are to better meet coarse sediment management objectives as part of the Trinity River Restoration Program. For more information, visit

Klamath/Trinity Rivers 2016 salmon season set
Based on a projected return of only 30,909 natural area spawning adults to the Klamath River basin in 2016, the PFMC approved an in-river recreational quota of 1,110 fall-run Chinook salmon, which will be divided between the Upper and Lower Klamath as well as the Trinity. In 2015, the quota was 14,133 adult kings. Regulations will go into effect on the Klamath River for fall-run Chinook salmon fishing from Aug. 15 through Dec. 31 with a daily bag limit of 2 Chinook salmon, of which no more than 1 may be more than 22 inches in length. The possession limit is 6 Chinook salmon, of which no more than 3 may be more than 22 inches in length. The Trinity River will open to salmon fishing on Sept. 1 and close Dec. 31.For more information visit

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