Wednesday’s California Fish and Game Commission meeting came and went with no restrictions or closures to Humboldt County’s recreational fisheries. The meeting, which included a couple hours of public comment, was first and foremost held to grant the director of the CDFW the temporary authority to selectively restrict sport fishing in some regions of the state due to public health concerns related to COVID-19. The Commission voted unanimously, giving the ability to CDFW Director Charlton Bonham to postpone the spring trout season, which opens April 25, in a few eastern Sierra counties at the request of local officials.
“I understand Californians desperately need the outdoors for solace, reinvigoration and spirituality, especially so right now,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham in a press release quickly issued by CDFW on Wednesday afternoon. “The proposal was never about a statewide permanent closure. It is about being responsive to local needs in this public health emergency, where we must do all we can as Californians to help each other make it through this together. We intend to use this authority surgically and based on local needs and knowledge.”
Elected officials in Mono, Inyo, and Alpine counties have been urging the governor’s administration to close the fishing season in their rivers and lakes. They fear that the onslaught of out-of-town anglers who normally travel to their regions to fish for trout will bring the coronavirus with them. The small, rural communities are also short on services, including places for anglers to stay and eat. Hospitals and medical facilities are also limited.
Rex Bohn, Humboldt County’s 1st District Supervisor was one of a handful of elected officials who publicly commented during the remote teleconference. Bohn was in full support of the three counties wanting to delay their fishing seasons. He also made it clear that control over the emergency fishing regulations should be at the county level. During the meeting, Bonham emphasized that his emergency authority, which expires at the end of May, would only be used to close fishing in the counties that request a closure.
Oregon closes fishing/hunting to non-residents
The Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife has closed recreational hunting, fishing, crabbing and clamming to non-residents due to concerns about travel to Oregon to participate in these outdoor activities according to a press release issued last Thursday. Such travel could spread the virus and put more of a burden on Oregon’s rural communities.
As of Friday, April 10, 11:59 p.m., non-residents may no longer participate in these activities in Oregon. The restriction extends until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and it is deemed safe to travel into Oregon. This order does not apply to anyone living in Oregon for less than six months who has not yet established residency.
ODFW anticipates there will be opportunity for non-residents who have already purchased a 2020 license to participate in hunting, fishing or shellfish opportunities later in the year. ODFW will refund non-resident spring bear and spring turkey tags and reinstate preference points for spring bear hunters. Please contact Licensing at email@example.com, (503) 947-6101 to arrange for a refund. For more information, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2020/04_April/040920.asp
“Critically Dry” year designation for Trinity River
The official water year designation for the Trinity River in 2020 is “Critically Dry” as determined by the April 1st reservoir inflow forecast of 515,000 acre feet, which allows for releases to the river of 369,000 acre feet according to the Trinity River Restoration Program.
The recommended flows will increase beginning April 14, and peak flows will reach 3,900 cfs on April 24 and ramp down to 750 cfs on June 13. Flows will peak again at 1,400 cfs on June 16, then decreases to the summer baseflow of 450 cfs on July 3. The Trinity Management Council (TMC) flow release hydrograph recommendation is awaiting approval by the U.S. Department of Interior. For more information, visit https://www.trrp.net/restoration/flows/current/
When the ocean has cooperated, the Redtail perch action has been excellent along the beaches. There are some spots that are typically better than others, but you can catch them just about anywhere this time of the year. Conditions look good for Saturday, with swells in the 3 to 4-foot range. Both the north and south jetty’s have been fishing well for the past few weeks. Five to six-inch Gulp jerk shads are a popular bait as well as smaller swimbaits. Egg sinkers or banana weights rigged with a herring are also catching rockfish and the occasional lingcod.
Brookings ocean update
Lingcod fishing slowed last week, mainly because of windy weather reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Boats have remained at port. Calmer weather is in the forecast this weekend. Surfperch are biting near the north jetty. Fishing is closed to non-resident anglers,” added Martin.
As a reminder, the South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mattole, Mad, Redwood Creek, and the Chetco all closed to fishing on March 31.
The Rogue is low and clear, resulting in very slow fishing for spring king salmon according to Martin. He said, “A few springers are trickling through, but catch rates are poor for boaters and plunkers from shore. No major rain is in the forecast.”
The Smith was right around 1,650 cfs on the Jed Smith gauge on Wednesday. Fishing reports have been hard to come by as fishing access is extremely limited. The three access points that remain open to non-commercial boats are the U.S. Forest Service launch at the Forks, Ruby Van Deventer County Park and the Del Norte County boat ramp (Outiffers).
Main Stem Eel
As of Wednesday, the main Eel was running at 2,500 cfs on the Scotia gauge. The river is in perfect shape and there are quite a few steelhead making their way downriver. Fishing pressure has been light. The main stem Eel to the South Fork is open all year. From the mouth to Fulmor Rd. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used from April 1 through the Friday preceding the fourth Saturday in May. From Fulmor Rd. to the South Fork, only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used from Apr. 1 through Sept. 30.
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