The wait is over — salmon season opens Saturday

The North Coast sport salmon season opens on Saturday, and it looks to be littered with unknowns. First and foremost, will boats be able to get out? The marine forecast is getting worse by the day. Saturday’s forecast is calling for 10 to 20 knot winds and waves 9 feet at 9 seconds. That’s big-boat weather for sure. For the boats that do make it out, where do you start? Conditions have been horrible for over a week now, so there’s no insight on where the feed is.  Typically, commercial crabbers or shrimpers would be coming back to port with information on where they’ve seen some good water, rafts of birds, and screens loaded with bait. Or even where they’ve seen salmon on the surface. Doesn’t look like we’ll have that luxury for the opener. The upside is the season will be long one, and there will be plenty of fishable days on the horizon. There should be plenty of salmon too. According to the PFMC, 274,222 Klamath adult salmon are swimming in the ocean along with another 379,632 Sacramento fall Chinook.

General sport salmon regulations:
Our 2019 ocean sport salmon season runs from May 25 through September 2 and is open from the OR/CA border south to Horse Mountain, (Klamath Management Zone). Fishing is 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. The possession is no more than two daily bag limits in possession while on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. No salmon punch card is required for ocean salmon fishing. For complete ocean salmon regulations, please visit the Ocean Salmon webpage at or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline (707) 576-3429.

Weekend Marine Forecast
The marine forecast has been jumping all over the place. As of Wednesday, conditions for Saturday’s salmon opener look a little bumpy. Winds will be out of the NW on Saturday blowing 10 to 20 knots and waves NW 9 feet at 9 seconds. The wind will start to come down on Sunday, coming out of the W at 5 knots with NW waves 6 feet at 8 seconds and SW 2 feet at 16 seconds. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit or To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Big Salmon Contest
Eureka’s Englund Marine will be holding its BIG FISH Salmon Contest again this year. The annual event runs from May 25 to September 2. There is no entry fee and you can enter as many fish as you’d like. Salmon need to be gutted and gilled. Prizes will be awarded to the top three fish. A complete list of rules and regulations are available at Englund Marine, 2 Commercial St., Eureka, 707-444-9266.

Klamath/Trinity Rivers 2019 salmon season set
With an above average return of fall-run kings to the Klamath and Trinity rivers, anglers are looking at a generous quota that could last well into September. During their meeting last Thursday, the California Fish and Game Commission adopted bag and possession limits for the Klamath Basin based on a quota of 7,637 fall-run adults. On the Klamath, the fall season begins on Aug. 15 and closes Dec. 31. The fall season begins on the Trinity Sept. 1 and closes Dec. 31.

The daily bag limit will be two Chinook salmon, no more than one of which may be greater than 22 inches, and a possession limit of six, of which only three may be greater than 22 inches. On the Lower Klamath, from the Highway 96 bridge at Weitchpec to the mouth, 3,818 adults will be allowed for sport harvest. The section above the 96 bridge at Weitchpec to 3,500 feet downstream of the Iron Gate Dam will get 1,298 adults.

The Spit Area (within 100 yards of the channel through the sand spit formed at the Klamath River mouth) will close when 15 percent of the total Klamath River Basin quota is taken downstream of the Highway 101 bridge. In 2019, 1,145 adults can be harvested below the 101 bridge before the closure at the mouth is implemented. The rest of the area below Highway 101 (estuary) will remain open to recreational fishing.

Important Reminder: Spring-run Chinook salmon fishing regulations will run from July 1 through Aug. 14 with a bag limit reduced to one salmon per day, with two in possession. The take of salmon is prohibited on the Klamath River from Iron Gate Dam downstream to Weitchpec from Jan. 1 through Aug. 14.

On the Trinity side, which will be open to fall-run Chinook salmon fishing Sept. 1 and run through Dec. 31, the quota is set at 2,520 adults. The quota will be split evenly; 1,260 adults for the main stem Trinity downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat and 1,260 adults for the main stem Trinity downstream of the Denny Road bridge at Hawkins Bar to the confluence with the Klamath. The main stem downstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to the Denny Road Bridge in Hawkins Bar is closed to all fishing September 1 through December 31. The main stem downstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to the Denny Road Bridge in Hawkins Bar is closed to all fishing September 1 through December 31. The Trinity will be open to spring-run Chinook salmon fishing from July 1 through Aug. 31 and the bag limit will be reduced to one salmon per day, with two in possession. The take of salmon is prohibited from the confluence of the South Fork Trinity River downstream to the confluence of the Klamath River from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31.

Once these quotas have been met, no Chinook salmon greater than 22 inches in length may be retained (anglers may still retain a limit of Chinook salmon under 22 inches in length). The 2019-2020 sport seasons, dates, locations, bag limits and gear restrictions will be published in the 2019-2020 Sport Fishing Regulations Supplement, which will be posted on the CDFW website in May. Additional season information can be found on CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage or by calling CDFW’s ocean salmon hotline at (707) 576-3429 or the Klamath-Trinity River hotline at (800) 564-6479. All anglers on the Trinity and Klamath rivers must have Salmon Harvest Cards in their possession when fishing for salmon.

The Oceans:
“The Eureka fleet hasn’t been offshore since last Tuesday,” said Skipper Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “Prior to the wind, there was some good signs straight out in 240 to 300 feet of water. Some really good edges, lots of birds and bait. That’s where we’ll likely start looking on Saturday. The wind is predicted to lay down on Sunday and Monday, so we should get a few days on the water to locate the fish.” said Klassen.

The last time we were offshore the current was ripping, so we don’t really have a starting point for salmon reports Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters out of Trinidad. He said, “What we’ll probably do is head to deeper water above Patrick’s Point and tack back and see what we can find,” added Wilson.
The Trinidad launch will be running this weekend from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Weather depending, they will be open through the season every day except Mondays. They are planning on being open on Memorial Day, May 27. They can be reached at 677-3625.

Shelter Cove
Like the rest of the North Coast, there hasn’t been much offshore activity out of the Cove due to rough seas. Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing ran a salmon charter on Monday, and was unable to locate any kings. “We landed five silvers before switching over to rockfish,” said Mitchell. “Jared Morris was fishing for salmon as well and had a couple shakers. I haven’t heard of any legal kings being caught since it opened back up. The weather doesn’t look good the rest of the week, but we should be back on the water by the weekend.”

Crescent City
The ocean has been too rough to get out this week reports Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “Like everywhere else, the wind has been howling here. I haven’t seen many boats going out. And if they went out, it wasn’t for long. The best report we have this week is the crabbing is going really good right on the beach.”

The ocean has been too rough the past week to fish out of Brookings, but is expected to settle down for the weekend according to Andy Martin, of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Salmon season opens Saturday, but the expected 8-foot swell will probably limit success. The best salmon season early in the season typically takes place three to eight miles offshore, fishing 100 feet down over 300 feet of water. Muddy water coming out of the Chetco will make a run to at least Bird Island necessary for productive bottom fishing this week.”

River openings
Sections of the main Eel (South Fork to Cape Horn Dam), South Fork Eel (South Fork Eel River from mouth to Rattlesnake Creek) Van Duzen, Mad, Little River, Mattole and Smith will re-open on Saturday, May 25th. On most rivers, only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. For a complete list of river openings and regulations visit

John and Sheila Breslin of Sacramento landed a nice pair of hatchery spring-run kings while fishing the lower Rogue River on Monday. Salmon fishing has been slow on the Rogue, but the rain and higher flows should bring in some new fish.
Photo courtesy of Steve Huber’s Guide Service

The Rivers:
Lower Rogue
“Springer fishing has been slow on the lower Rogue, although this week’s rain should pull in some late fish,” said Martin. “Fishing pressure has been light, but typically gets busy on Memorial Day Weekend. The water is too high for effective bay trolling.” 

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