Sport crab opens Saturday — domoic acid warning likely

Fishing the NC 11_2 photo

The 2017 recreational Dungeness crab season is set to open on Saturday, Nov. 4 at 12:01 a.m. With several crabs testing over the FDA action level of 30 ppm for domoic acid from Bodega Bay to Crescent City, a health advisory will likely be issued prior to the opener. Pictured above are Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing and Lonnie Dollarhide as they pull crabs from a sport trap last season. Photo courtesy of Kenny Priest

The ever-popular recreational Dungeness crab season is scheduled to open on time this year, and the season’s first crustaceans can be legally hauled from the salty waters of oceans and bays beginning Saturday morning. However, the California Department of Public Health could issue a health advisory on the sport season similar to the start of the 2016 season when they recommended that sport fishermen remove the viscera, or guts, from the crab before cooking, since that’s where domoic acid concentrates. Parts of the West Coast have already seen their share of problems with domoic acid. The recreational crab fishery in southern Oregon is currently closed due to unhealthy levels of domoic acid, and six Dungeness crabs tested from Bodega Bay to Crescent City have exceeded the 30 ppm action level. For updated information on health advisories and shellfish and crab closures, visit

In Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties, the season runs from Saturday, Nov. 4 through July 30, 2018. The minimum size is five and three-quarter inches measured by the shortest distance through the body from edge of shell to edge of shell directly in front of and excluding the points (lateral spines) and the limit is 10. A valid California sport fishing license is required. For more information regarding recreational Dungeness crab fishing regulations and other crab species, visit

CDFW is reminding crabbers of the new state regulations that went into effect on Aug. 1 2016, regarding the crab fisheries and crab trap requirements. Dungeness crab size and bag limits are now uniform statewide. All crab traps will be required to have a destruct device, must be marked with the GO ID number of the operator of the trap, and may not be deployed during the seven days prior to the opening of the Dungeness crab season. For more info on the new regulations, visit

Marine Forecast
Ocean conditions don’t look too bad for the weekend, with no advisories posted as of Wednesday. Saturday’s forecast is calling for SE winds 5 to 10 knots with NW waves 7 feet at 13 seconds. Sunday is looking a little rougher, with winds out of the S 10 to 15 knots with NW waves 9 feet at 12 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. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit:

Weekend Tides – Humboldt Bay

  • Sat., Nov. 4 (High: 12:29 a.m. and 12:09 p.m.) (Low: 5:59 a.m. and 6:50 p.m.)
  • Sun., Nov. 5 (High: 1:20 a.m. and 11:49 a.m.) (Low: 5:42 a.m. and 6:36 p.m.) (Standard time begins at 2:00 a.m. Sunday)

Woodley Island sport crab trips
Captains Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing and Marc Schmidt of Coastline Charters are both booking crab trips out of Woodley Island beginning Saturday. Trips will generally last two hours. Departure times will depend on the tides, but most often they’ll leave sometime in the morning. To book a trip with Reel Steel Sport Fishing, call 707-499-4925. Coastline Charters can be reached at 707-601-3474. The weekend trips fill up quick, so you’ll want to call early to reserve your spot.

Weekend Weather forecast
Rain is in the forecast off and on through the weekend, with most of the rain falling on Friday and Sunday. According to Karleisa Rogacheski of Eureka’s National Weather Service, the Smith River basin could see up to three-quarters of an inch on Friday from midnight until 10:00 a.m. Humboldt County could see anywhere from a half to three-quarters on Friday. Saturday is looking mostly dry, with a chance of some lingering showers. On Sunday, the Smith basin may see up to three-quarters of an inch while a quarter to a half is predicted for Humboldt County.

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 any time. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is 707-822-3164.

Smith River
Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine reports a few fish are being caught at the mouth as well as the Sand Hole. He said, “It started to pick up the last few days, I’ve been seeing more fish hooked. With the rain coming later in the week, the salmon should really be on the move.”

The Smith is predicted to rise to just over 750 cfs on Saturday afternoon, but will be back under the 600 cfs threshold by early Sunday morning. The next system is forecasted to push the flows to nearly 5,000 cfs by very early Monday morning. To find out if the river is open to fishing, call the low-flow closure hotline at 707-822-3164.

The Chetco has a lot of fish in most of the deeper holes, but with sunny, bright weather and low, clear water not many guides have been out,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “This week’s expected rain should have the river in near-perfect conditions next week, and maybe as early as the weekend. There was another short commercial salmon season off of Brookings early in the week and they caught a lot of fish, so there is another big group of salmon stacked up near the mouth. Any rain event around the first week of November generally leads to excellent salmon fishing on both the Chetco and Smith.”

The Chetco is open to salmon fishing through Dec. 31 upstream to Nook Creek. The fly angling and salmon bobber angling restrictions will end on Sat., Nov. 4.

If the Elk gets up to 4 feet, it should have a bunch of fish according to Martin. “Generally the Elk fishes better in November than October so this storm should kick things off.”

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