Chetco bubble season off to good start


Dustin Russell, left, of Brookings and Eureka resident Eric Banko landed this nice Chinook salmon on Monday while trolling off the mouth of the Chetco River. The Chetco bubble fishery will start up again on Saturday and end on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Nick Polito

The opening weekend of the 2016 Chetco bubble season was good considering the weather wasn’t very cooperative. According to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, trolling off the mouth of the river was made difficult by choppy seas and south winds to 20 knots. “Most of the guides averaged a fish per rod, with the best fishing between Salmon Rock and the red buoy. Guide Mark Papazian of Brookings landed the biggest fish I saw during the opening weekend, a 42-pounder. The fish averaged in the 20-pound range. There also were a lot of jacks caught in the ocean, which must be released, but are a good sign of what’s to come later in the Chetco itself.

Herring was the bait of choice over anchovies in the ocean along with Big Al’s Fish Flash flashers according to Martin.  “The blue ones seemed to out-fish the rest. The forecast is expected to be calmer, with a lot less wind, this Saturday and Sunday, the final two days of the season. Fishing was good in the Chetco estuary right before the ocean opener, but those fish evidently moved upriver after the rain late last week.”

Weekend weather/ocean forecast
After Wednesday’s light showers, we’ll have a few days of dry weather according to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The next round of systems will move in next Tuesday night, and that will kick-off a fairly wet week. We’ll see rain every day, but it won’t add up too much until the weekend when we’ll likely see the rainfall totals rise. We should see the first significant rise to the main stem rivers, especially the Smith in Del Norte where the heaviest rainfall is likely to fall,” Kennedy added.

As of Wednesday, the ocean forecast looks decent for the weekend. Friday, NW winds are forecasted 5 to 10 knots with waves NW 5 feet at 9 seconds. Conditions look similar on Saturday, with N winds 5 to 10 knots and NW waves 5 feet at 12 seconds. The south wind is predicted to blow up to 5 knots on Sunday, with W waves 6 feet at 14 seconds.

For up-to-date weather forecasts, visit You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Klamath salmon harvest update
Salmon are still trickling into the river, but the mouth continues to sand over making it difficult for them to enter. As of Sept. 30, 115 jacks have been harvested compared to 1,279 in 2015. For the adults, 837 have been harvested and another 632 have been caught and released. In 2015, 4,733 adults were harvested.

The Oceans:
After a decent weather day on Tuesday, it looks like we’ll be off the water for a couple days’ reports Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “On Tuesday, the weather was a little rougher than predicted as we made our way to the Cape, but the fishing was excellent. We boated a good variety of rockfish along with lots of lings.” According to Klassen, there’s a batch of warm water sitting about 40 miles west of Eureka that could be holding tuna. “We’ll have to see if the warm water is still within striking distance after the next couple days as it looks like the wind is going to blow.”

The Rivers:
Smith River
Leonard Carter of Crescent City’s Englund Marine reports there were a fair amount of salmon spread throughout the river, with quite a few being caught prior to the river closing last Saturday. He said, “Guys are still catching a few at the Piling and Sand holes, and some are being caught at the mouth tossing Kastmasters and Cleo’s.

Lower Klamath
Alan Borges of Alan’s Guide Service reports the mouth has been plugged up this past week, and the fishing is slow. He said, “Boats were getting between one to three salmon per trip, which isn’t good for this time of the year. The mouth has been a problem all season and we’re just not seeing the volume of fish come in. The river is still in great shape; the temperature is right around 62 degrees.”

Upper Klamath
A reminder, the quota of 189 adult fall-run Chinook was met on Wednesday from the Highway 96 Bridge in Weitchpec to 3,500 feet below Iron Gate Dam. The river is still open to fishing, but anglers must release any Chinook longer than 22 inches.

Middle Trinity
Tim Brady of Weaverville’s Trinity Outdoors reports the fishing is improving every week. “Most of the regulars who come every year are here now, and they’re catching a few fish. We’ve sold a lot of spinners and spoons in the past week, so the effort has definitely picked up. I haven’t heard of any one area being better than the other, but I have heard the majority of the salmon are below the North Fork,” Brady added.

Lower Trinity
Guide Curt Wilson reports the Lower Trinity is giving up one to two salmon per trip from the Willow Creek area down to the Klamath confluence. “We’re not seeing a lot of salmon around, but there’s definitely a few nice steelhead in the river to make for a fun day,” Wilson added. Salmon counts are on the rise at the Willow Creek weir. For the week ending Sept. 30, 118 salmon were counted compared to 87 the previous week. The season to date total is 421, compared to 875 for the 2015 trapping season.

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