Sport crab season set to open Saturday

Fishing the NC 11_1 photo
The 2018 sport Dungeness crab season will open on Saturday along most of the North Coast. State waters from Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County (41° 8.00’ N. Latitude) north to the California/Oregon state line will remain closed due to unhealthy levels of domoic acid. Photo courtesy of Kenny Priest/Fishing the North Coast

The always-popular recreational Dungeness crab season will open state-wide this Saturday, with one big exception. State waters from Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County (41° 8.00’ N. Latitude) north to the California/Oregon state line will remain closed due to unhealthy levels of domoic acid. This closure, which will keep Crescent City anglers off the water, will remain in effect until domoic acid no longer poses a significant risk to public health. CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in Dungeness crab to determine when the Dungeness crab recreational fishery in this area can safely be opened.

South of the closure, the season’s first traps can legally be deployed at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday morning. Anglers will get their first peak into the health and weight of this season’s crop as the results from the pre-season quality tests have not been made public. Word on the street is there’s plenty of crab, but they aren’t as meaty as we’d like. A typical year will find the meat content at around 20 percent, with the theory being that crabs will add one percent of meat a week and reach the 25 percent mark for the commercial opener of Dec. 1. Meaty crabs or not, we’re just happy that the season is opening on time for the majority of the North Coast.

In areas where season isn’t delayed, including parts of Humboldt and Mendocino, the season runs from Saturday, Nov. 3 through July 30, 2019. 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.

1) Crab trap buoys must display the “GO ID” number of the operator of the trap.

2) Crab traps must contain at least one destruct device made from a single strand of untreated cotton twine size No. 120 or less that creates an unobstructed opening anywhere in the top or upper half of the trap that is at least 5 inches in diameter when this material corrodes or fails.

3) Crab traps must not be deployed or fished seven days prior to the opening of the Dungeness crab season.

4) Every crab trap must be outfitted with two rigid circular escape openings that are a minimum of 4.25 inches in diameter and located so that the lowest portion is at the most five (5) inches from the top of the trap. This is to allow small crabs to easily escape from the trap.

For a complete list of crab trap regulations, visit

Crabbing locations

If you’re planning on heading offshore out of Eureka and leaving pots overnight, your best bet is to start setting gear in 100 to 150 feet of water. Historically, crabs tend to be in deeper water at the beginning of the season and will move in towards the beach later in the year. If you’re soaking for just a few hours and don’t have the equipment to go deep, dropping pots just outside the entrance in 50 feet is a good option.

If you don’t have means to head offshore, you can still find plenty of crab. One of the top spots to soak a few rings is Crab Park, located at the end of Cannibal Island Rd., in Loleta. There’s access to launch a kayak or canoe in the estuary of the Eel River. You can also launch your boat at Pedrazzini Park at the end of Cock Robin Island Rd., and make your way up the estuary towards the mouth of the Eel.

Humboldt Bay also has a few good locations to catch some crab. Out in front of the PG&E plant is a good spot as well as the flat off of the South Jetty parking lot. Another top location is either side of the channel leading into the South Bay. Up north, inside Trinidad Harbor is another popular spot among the locals. You can launch your small boat, kayak or canoe right off the beach and head out to Prisoner Rock, where the bottom is sandy and 40 to 50-ft deep. Launching here requires a relatively calm ocean, which looks to be the case this weekend.

Woodley Island sport crab trips

Captains Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing and Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sport Fishing 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. Full Throttle can be reached at 707 498-7473 The weekend trips fill up quick, so you’ll want to call early to reserve your spot.

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 N winds 5 to 10 knots with N waves 3 feet at 5 seconds and W 5 feet at 11 seconds. Sunday is looking similar, with winds out of the NW 5 to 10 knots and NW waves 3 feet at 5 seconds and NW 8 feet at 13 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. 3 (High: 9:23 a.m. and 9:20 p.m.) (Low: 2:36 a.m. and 3:24 p.m.)

Standard time begins at 2:00 a.m. Sunday

  • Sun., Nov. 4 (High: 9:05 a.m. and 9:24 p.m.) (Low: 2:29 a.m. and 3:18 p.m.)

Weekend Weather forecast

“We may see a little bit of rain this Sunday, but it won’t be much,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The Smith basin may see a tenth, and less than that will fall in Humboldt. Next week is looking dry as well, though we will see some weak fronts trying to move into the area. Until the high pressure breaks down off the coast, it looks like all of the storms will be pushed to the north.”

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.

Klamath re-opens above I-5

On Monday, Oct. 29, the Klamath River between Interstate 5, near Hornbrook, and 3,500 feet below the hatchery reopens to the take of Chinook salmon over 22 inches. The Iron Gate Hatchery has met the 8,000 adult fish number needed for spawning purposes. Recreational anglers will be able to harvest two Chinook Salmon, but no more than one adult greater than 22 inches, per day in this reach. The possession limit is six Chinook Salmon with no more than three adults. Reopening this stretch of the Klamath River is designed to allow anglers to catch surplus hatchery Chinook salmon now that the number of adults needed for spawning has been achieved at the hatchery. For more information, visit

Smith River

Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service reports quite a few fish are being caught at the Sand Hole by boats and bank anglers. He said, “The fishing has been pretty good first thing in the morning, and then it gets a little tougher when the sun hits the water. It’s been fairly crowded, with up to 20 boats a day and an equal number of bankies. The rain we had last weekend was enough to move the fish out of the lower river and bring in some new ones. I’ve heard there’s fish as far up as Gasquet.” The Smith remains closed to fishing above Rowdy Creek due to low flows.


“There were big numbers of salmon in the Chetco tidewater before Monday’s rain, but many appear to have shot upriver above the fishing deadline at Nook Bar,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “They could be seen splashing through the riffles as they quickly moved upstream throughout the day on Monday. A few salmon are holding at Social Security Bar and the Highway Hole. From there to Nook, fishing has been spotty. The river was high enough for drift boats to get down Monday and Tuesday. Overall fishing was slow. ODFW netted 30 salmon for the hatchery on Tuesday at the Highway Hole. The bobber-only regulations will continue until a major rain. ODFW announced the bobber regulation could continue into December, but also assured guides and other anglers the special anti-snagging regulation will be lifted with the first major rise in flows. Biologists are concerned about salmon being held up at Social Security Bar by low water and the snag fest that could ensue if the bobber regulation was lifted.”

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