Sport crab opener delayed north of Trinidad

Fishing the NC 10_25 photo
Tim Klassen, left, and Lonnie Dollarhide sort through a pot of sport-caught Dungeness crab in 2017. Due to dangerous levels of domoic acid, the California Department of Public Health is recommending a delay in the opening of the recreational crab season near Patrick’s Point north to the Oregon border. Photo courtesy of Kenny Priest/Fishing the North Coast

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a press release on Wednesday advising recreational anglers not to eat Dungeness crab caught between Patrick’s Point North and the Oregon border. This warning is due to the detection of elevated levels of domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxin.

The statewide recreational Dungeness crab season is scheduled to open on Saturday, Nov. 3 and the commercial season on Dec. 1. The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with CDPH, has recommended a delay in the opening of the recreational crab season near Patrick’s Point North to the Oregon border.

On Thursday, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham enacted the delay to the opening of the recreational Dungeness crab fishery from Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County (41° 8.00’ N. Latitude) north to the California/Oregon state line. The recreational fishery for Dungeness crab will open for remaining areas as scheduled on Saturday, Nov. 3.

The recreational crab season in Oregon was halted on Oct. 15 due to high levels of domoic acid. It remains closed from Cape Blanco south to the California border.

Dangerous levels of domoic acid have been detected in the body meat and internal organs of Dungeness crab from this region. Cooking crabs neither decreases nor destroys the toxin. To date, five of the six crabs tested out of Crescent City (George Reef) were above the FDA action level of 30 parts per million. The six crab tested near the Klamath River were clean. In Trinidad, six crab were tested in the north region, and another six in the south region. The Trinidad north crabs ranged from 3.3 to 46 ppm, resulting in 33 percent exceeding the action level of 30 ppm. The Trinidad south crabs fell below the action level. Elevated levels of domoic acid was also found in Bodega Bay, but San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, Monterey and Morro Bay regions were clean in the first round of testing.

CDPH will continue to coordinate its efforts with the CDFW and the fishing community to collect and test Dungeness crab samples from the impacted areas until domoic acid levels have dissipated. Test results are updated as laboratory results become available and can be viewed at

Weekend Weather

“A weak front will pass through on Friday, but most of the precipitation will fall to our north,” said Kathleen Lewis of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “We don’t expect much rain to fall in the Smith basin, maybe a few hundredths of an inch. The next chance for rain will be on Sunday and into Monday morning. The Smith could see from a quarter to three-quarters, and possibly more in the mountains. Here locally we could see up to a half-inch and up to three-quarters in some areas. There will be a few weak glancing systems coming next week, but none are expected to raise the river levels,” Lewis added.

Eel River salmon movie showing on Saturday

The Eel River Recovery Project has produced a new movie that will be shown at the Monday Club in Fortuna on Saturday, October 27. The film debut is part of the annual ERRP Volunteer Awards Dinner, which will follow the movie. The movie is entitled Signs of Resilience: 2012-2017 Eel River Fall Chinook Salmon Trends and documents the fact that there have been between 10,000 and 50,000 Chinook annually since surveys began.

The movie was produced by Sirius Studios and provides a window on the beauty of the Eel River watershed in all seasons.  The movie will be shown at 3 PM and will be followed by an hour of acoustic music during which appetizers and beer and wine will be served.  There is a $10 charge for dinner, which starts at 5:30 PM and includes delicious rock fish from Pacific Choice Seafoods and oysters from Coast Seafood.  For more information, see, follow ERRP on Facebook or call 223-7200.

Willow Creek weir counts

For the trapping week of Oct 15 through Oct. 21, 10 jacks were trapped at the weir. To date, 275 jacks have been trapped compared to 865 for the entire 2017 trapping season. This past week, 129 adult Chinook were trapped, bringing the season total to 1,112. In 2017, 1,030 total adult Chinook were trapped. There were no adult Coho trapped last week, the season total remains at 14. In 2017, 30 adult Coho were trapped. The steelhead numbers slowed way down this week as well compared to the previous week. A total of 5 adult steelhead were trapped during the week of Oct. 15 through 21. The previous week 68 were trapped. For the season, 467 have been counted compared to 689 for the entire 2017 season.

Upper Trinity closing to the take of adult kings

According to Dan Troxel, Environmental Scientist with the CDFW Klamath River Project, the upper Trinity River, from the Old Lewiston Bridge down to the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat, will be closed to adult Chinook salmon harvest as of Monday October 29. He said, “The Department estimates that the quota for this sector will have been met as of 11:59 p.m. Monday, October 28. As with the other sectors in the basin, it will remain open to recreational angling for jack Chinook (22” or less) and hatchery marked steelhead.” The daily bag limit is two jacks and two hatchery steelhead. For more information, visit


Ben and Jared Boorman holds some of the late-season lingcod and rockfish they caught last week off the coast of Brookings. Photo courtesy of Brookings Charter Fishing

Brookings Harbor

According to Andy Martin, who runs Brookings Fishing Charters, rough weather conditions have limited ocean trips to a day or two a week out of Brookings. “This weekend’s big swell may keep boats at the dock. Fishing is very good for rockfish, but slower for the lingcod, in part because of the large swell,” added Martin.

The Rivers:

River Closures

Currently, 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.

Lower Klamath

A few bright fish are still being caught, but the run is definitely at the tail end. The boat pressure is light, most anglers are now waiting for rain to open up the Smith and Chetco. The daily bag limit is two jack Chinook 22-inches or less and two hatchery steelhead.


Quite a few salmon are being caught between the mouth and the Sand Hole reports Britt Carson of Englund Marine. “We started out seeing lots of jacks, but now we’re seeing some really nice salmon. There’s been some pretty big ones caught already. Most of the fish are coming on gold and copper Cleo’s, but some are being caught on sand shrimp too,” added Carson


Salmon fishing is fair in the Chetco estuary, as fish move from the ocean into the upper tidewater reports Martin. He said, “Lots of fish are stacking up at the head of tide, but fishing is tough with low, clear conditions. ODFW collected fish for the hatchery program by netting the deep hole Social Security Bar. Nearly 70 kings were transported to the hatchery for the broad stock program. Anglers are having fair success with bobbers and roe or anchovy tails.”

The Chetco is currently open to salmon fishing to Nook Creek. 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.

Upper Trinity

The fishing pressure remains heaviest in the Junction City area, but there are fish spread throughout the Trinity reports guide Steve Huber. “Our trips have been a combination of both salmon and steelhead, there’s plenty of both around ” said Huber. “We’re catching some salmon that are in really good, shape, but there’s also quite a few that are past their prime. There’s quite a few jacks around, but most of them are dark. With the water level now at 300 cfs, there’s a few spots that are pretty shallow. You’ll need to drag your boat through a couple areas. Plugs, roe, spinners and flies are all catching fish,” added Huber.

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