Ocean king season to begin on May 25

Klamath and Trinity Rivers will open July 1 for springers

After absorbing a full closure of our ocean salmon fishery in 2017, it appears the salmon stocks are getting stronger by the year. And with numbers trending up, the North Coast was given a lengthy season in 2019. After being behind closed doors for a week, the PFMC emerged on Tuesday and set the seasons for the West Coast for both recreational and commercial salmon fishermen.

Within the California KMZ, which runs from the CA/OR border south to Horse Mountain, the season will run from May 25 straight through September 2. Fishing will be allowed seven days per week for all salmon except Coho, two fish per day and a minimum size limit of 20 inches total length for Chinook.

According to the PFMC, 274,222 Klamath adult salmon are swimming in the ocean, providing for a hefty quota for fall salmon on the Klamath and Trinity Rivers. Though still awaiting approval from the F&G Commission, the sport in-river quota will be 7,636 adults divided between the two rivers, compared to 3,490 in 2018.

With a robust 379,632 Sacramento fall Chinook said to be swimming in the ocean, the seasons to our south will have a much longer season than last year. The area from Horse Mountain south to Point Arena, which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg, will open on April 13 and run through April 30, then reopen May 18 and run through Oct 31. The San Francisco area will have the same season opening and closing dates. Fishing will be allowed seven days per week for all salmon except Coho, two fish per day and a minimum size limit of 20 (24 inches in SF) total length for Chinook. To the north in the Brookings area (Oregon KMZ), the season will open on May 25 and run through Sept. 2. Fishing will be allowed seven days per week for all salmon except Coho, two fish per day and a minimum size limit of 24 inches total length for Chinook. From Cape Falcon to the OR/CA border, a mark-selective Coho fishery will run from June 22 through the earlier of Aug. 25, or 90,0000 marked Coho quota. Fishing is allowed seven days per week. All Coho must be fin clipped and a minimum of 16 inches. For more information, visit

Klamath/Trinity river update
Along with ocean salmon seasons being set on Tuesday, the PFMC also allocated 7,636 adult Chinook for the Klamath Basin quota. At Wednesday’s F&G Commission meeting, CDFW recommended a three-fish bag limit, with no more than two adults. The recommendation for possession limit was 9 salmon, no more than 6 adults.

Also adopted at the F&G Commission meeting was the emergency regulation opening the Klamath and Trinity Rivers to the take of spring salmon. This fishery was closed on an emergency basis on Feb. 22 following the Commission’s acceptance of the petition to list Upper Klamath-Trinity River spring Chinook salmon as endangered. Wednesday’s unanimous vote will open both rivers to fishing for spring salmon beginning on July 1. The Klamath will be open to the take of salmon downstream of the highway 96 bridge at Weithcpec. The main stem Trinity will be open to the take of salmon downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the mouth of the South Fork. The bag limit will be reduced to one salmon per day, with two in possession. The fall regulations will begin Aug. 15 on the Klamath and Sept.1 on the Trinity. Both the Klamath Basin quota and the re-opening of the spring salmon season are recommendations at this point. Final adoption will come at the F&G Commission teleconference meeting on May 16.

Jerry Gess of Carlotta  holds a nice limit of kings caught over the weekend out of Shelter Cove. The recreational salmon season opened April 13 at Shelter Cove, and will open on May 25 from Eureka to Crescent City. Photo courtesy of Jared Morris/C’Mon Sport Fishing

Shelter Cove report
“The salmon bite was really good during last Saturday’s opener,” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “Most boats had limits before 11a.m. Fish were running seven to 12-pounds, with a lot of shakers in the mix as well. Sunday was a little slower and most boats averaged a half to one fish per rod. There isn’t a ton of bait around, but no one really went looking too far either. All the action was right at the whistle buoy on both Saturday and Sunday. Overall it looks like we’re off to a really good start. There’s plenty of shakers to keep you busy in between the keepers.”

Brookings ocean update
The ocean out of Brookings has been slow for rockfish and lingcod because of the muddy water from the flooding earlier in the month reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Even the charter boats had multiple skunked days late last week,” said Martin. “The weather looks good for the end of this week, with light winds and smaller swells, so boats will be able to get to deeper water and away from the river runoff.”

“Wet” year designation for Trinity River
The official water year designation for the Trinity River in 2019 is “Wet” as determined by the April 1st reservoir inflow forecast of 1,595,000 acre feet, which allows for releases to the river of 701,000 acre feet according to the Trinity River Restoration Program. The recommended flows increased beginning April 17, and will peak at 9,850 cfs. The next pulse will begin on April 29 and will peak at 10,100 cfs on April 30. The Trinity Management Council (TMC) flow release hydrograph recommendation is awaiting approval by the U.S. Department of Interior. For more information, visit http://www.trrp.net/restoration/flows/current/

HASA fundraiser coming April 27
HASA will be holding their annual fundraiser and social event at the Arcata Community Center on Saturday, April 27 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. In 2019, they’re focusing on creating a social event, with less emphasis on some of the fundraising activities. There will still be lots of great door prizes and silent auction items, but the simpler format will allow more time for socializing and telling fish stories. The food will once again be provided by Ramones Bakery and Catering. Tickets, which are $25 for adults and $10 for kids under 12, are available at the following locations: Englund Marine, Bucksport Sporting Goods, and Pacific Outfitters. For more info, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/2753296234711122/

Eel River steelhead returns
As of April 10, a total of 288 steelhead have entered the Van Arsdale fish count station according to Scott L Harris, an associate Biologist with the Northern Region. Making up that total is 78 males, 116 females, and 94 unknowns. The Chinook count stands at 95. For more information, visit https://eelriver.org/the-eel-river/fish-count/

The Rivers
Main Stem Eel
As of Wednesday, the main Eel was running at 11,000 cfs on the Scotia gauge and holding steady. It remains high and off color, but is starting to come around. Depending on snowmelt, it could be fishable in a week to 10 days.

Lower Rogue
The Rogue is just coming back into shape for springers after cresting at nearly 100,000 cfs a week ago according to Martin. “A few hatchery springers have been caught this week, even with the high, muddy water. Conditions should improve towards the weekend,” added Martin.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com