Salmon season opens Saturday at the Cove

It’s finally getting to be that time of the year again as the North Coast recreational salmon season will kick-off this Saturday from Horse Mtn. south to Point Arena, which includes the Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg areas. Large numbers of salmon, 274,222 Klamath and 379,632 Sacramento are said to be swimming in the ocean, which brings with it loads of optimism. Encouraged by the number of salmon in the sea, the PFMC has provided a lengthy recreational season in 2019. The three season alternatives for Fort Bragg and Shelter Cove, which all have the season opening on April 13, are currently being reviewed by the PFMC at their meeting in Rohnert Park. The season closing dates will either be Oct. 31 or the season will close May 31 and reopen June 22 and run through Sept. 30. All three scenarios are the same, two fish per day, seven days a week, Chinook only, 20-inch minimum size.

Here locally, from the CA/OR border to Horse Mtn., our season is slated to open on May 25. The three alternatives have the season closing on Sept. 8th, 4th, or 2nd. In the San Francisco area, the three alternatives are the same as Shelter Cove, with one exception. The minimum size limit is 24 inches through the end of May, then 20 inches thereafter for each of the alternatives. The Monterey area, from Pigeon Point to the U.S./Mexico border, opened on April 6. Reportedly, there’s a lot of salmon around Monterey Bay, especially in the Moss Landing area, and plenty of limits were had by both charters and private boats over the weekend.

The 2019 recreational salmon season opens this Saturday from Horse Mt. down to Point Arena, which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg. Pictured is Riley Skillman from Mesa, AZ with a nice Shelter Cove king salmon from last season.
Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

Shelter Cove outlook
“The weather for this weekend’s opener is looking halfway decent for a change,” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “It doesn’t look like we have any big tides or abnormally large swells to deal with. Although there hasn’t been much traffic on the water lately, the reports I’ve been getting sound very encouraging. There seems to be a fair amount of bait around and couple different people have told me they’ve seen salmon on a few different occasions. I expect it to be a good year with all the small fish we saw last year, but we’ll have a better idea after this weekend.” According to Mitchell, the launch fee will be $35 and they’ll probably be just one tractor for the weekend. The launch will run from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. For launch information, call 707-223-1600.

As of Friday, winds were predicted out of the NW at 10 to 20 knots with gusts to 30. Waves will be out of the NW 6 feet at 8 seconds and NW 9 feet at 16 seconds. On Sunday, NW winds at 10 to 15 knots are forecasted. Waves will be out of the NW 6 feet at 7 seconds and NW 8 feet at 15 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit

Brookings ocean update
The Chetco, which is closed for the season, reached its highest levels since the flood event of 2012 reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Some homes on the lower river flooded. The high water has made the Chetco Bar rough, keeping boaters from crossing onto the ocean to fish for lingcod and rockfish. We ran trips through Thursday, with good success for lingcod and rockfish, before the big storm hit. We are hoping to run Thursday through the weekend. There is a lot of muddy water close to the harbor, but clarity looks good from Harris Beach north.”

RMI Outdoors fishing contest
RMI Outdoors of Eureka will be holding their first Screamin’ Reels fishing contest beginning on May 1 and running through Sept. 2. There are three categories: ocean salmon, Pacific halibut, and lingcod. You can enter up to five fish per day, but only two ocean salmon, two lings, and one Pacific halibut per day. An RMI Outdoors associate will weigh your catch, fill out an entry form, and take your picture for the brag wall. All salmon must be gutted and gilled; anglers must have a valid 2019 fishing license; Fish and Wildlife regulations apply. Each angler that brings in a fish has a chance to win a $100 RMI Gift Card. Visit for more information.

Ruth Lake Bass tourney coming April 27
The Southern Trinity Volunteer Fire Department is hosting its 13th annual Ruth Lake Bass Tournament on Saturday, April 27. Blast off begins at 6:00 a.m. Entry fees are due April 26. Entries are $150 per team (includes Big Fish). First Place is $1,500 and second place is $1,000. Big Fish will win $100. One in five payback based on full slate of 40 boats. This is a catch and release tournament; live wells and life jackets are required. Check in is Friday at Journey’s End at 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. or Saturday at 4:45 a.m. at the Marina parking lot. HBMWD is requiring that all boats be inspected for Quagga and Zebra mussels before launching. For more information, call RLCSD at 707-574-6332. For more info on the tournament, contact Doug Dinsmore at (707) 499-8485.

The Rivers:
As a reminder, the South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mattole, Mad, Redwood Creek, and the Chetco all closed to fishing on March 31.

The big storm over the weekend brought all fishing to a halt on the Southern Oregon Coast according to Martin. “The Rogue hit 90,000 cfs at Agness and was over 100,000 cfs at Gold Beach,” said Martin. “It was down to 63,000 cfs on Tuesday evening, but with Lost Creek Lake now full and big releases from the dam, the lower river could be unfishable for several days. There was a fair bite in the lower river for springers before the storm. Now big numbers of salmon may blast upriver while anglers wait for lower flows.”

The Smith topped out at just over monitor stage on Monday, and has been on a steep decent ever since. It was right around 14 feet on the Jed Smith gauge on Wednesday, and should fish by the weekend.

Eel (main stem)
After getting hit hard earlier this week, flows were dropping quickly and were right around 30,000 cfs as of Wednesday. As has been the case all season, a couple weeks of dry weather is needed before it’s even close to fishable.

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