Ocean King Season Set to Open June 29

Limited by a low-abundance forecast of Klamath River fall Chinook, North Coast recreational salmon anglers will have a little more than a month on the water this season. Management measures were designed to provide fishing opportunity for the more abundant Sacramento fall Chinook while reducing Klamath River impacts. Due to our proximity to the Klamath, this scenario never plays out well for our local fleet. Based on the 181,500 Klamath River kings forecasted to be swimming in the ocean, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) came up with a short 34-day season for the CA KMZ (Oregon-California border south to the 40°10’00” N. latitude (near Cape Mendocino). The CA KMZ recreational salmon season will open June 29 and continue through August 1.

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.

Note: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife would like to inform anglers of a change to the boundary line between the northern management areas effective this season. The line between the Fort Bragg and Klamath Management Zones has been moved five nautical miles north from Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude) to 40° 10’ 00” N. latitude (near Cape Mendocino). This change was made in an effort to simplify fishing regulations by aligning the salmon management boundary line with the existing groundfish management boundary line.

Sport salmon anglers won’t have much time on the water this year as the season will run for only 34 days on the North Coast, beginning June 29. Pictured are Chico residents Ryder Gregory and Heidi Musick, who caught a pair of nice kings in 2019 while fishing in Trinidad. Photo courtesy of Curt Wilson/Wind Rose Charters

With only 271,000 Sacramento fall Chinook said to be swimming in the ocean, the seasons for areas to our south will also face restrictions. The area from Horse Mountain south to Point Arena, which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg, will open June 29 as well, but will run through Oct. 31. The San Francisco area will open June 26 and also run through October. Typically these areas open to fishing in April but were pushed back this year to mitigate impacts on the fall Klamath River kings. 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.

To the north in the Brookings area (OR KMZ), the Chinook season will open June 19 and run through Aug. 15. Fishing will be allowed seven days per week, two fish per day and a minimum size limit of 24 inches total length for Chinook. The hatchery coho season will begin June 12 and run through Aug. 28 or earlier if the 120,000 Cape Falcon to OR/CA border quota of coho is met. Fishing is allowed seven days per week. All coho must be fin clipped and a minimum of 16 inches.

Season dates, bag/possession limit information and gear restrictions can be found on CDFW’s ocean salmon web page or by calling the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429. Public notification of any in-season change to conform state regulations to federal regulations is made through the National Marine Fisheries Service ocean salmon hotline at (800) 662-9825.

Klamath/Trinity river quota update

Along with ocean salmon seasons up for final approval, the PFMC allocated 1,221 adult Chinook for the Klamath Basin quota. Bag and possession limits will be determined at the California Fish and Game Commission meeting on May 11. The tribal allocation is 8,135 adult Klamath River fall salmon, split between the Yurok and Hoopa Valley tribes.

Increased flows coming down the Trinity

The Trinity River flows will begin to increase Thursday, April 22, as releases from Lewiston Dam will increase to 1,450 cubic feet per second and then reach 1,500 cfs Friday. Flows will be reduced until next Wednesday, when they’ll hit a spring-high of 3,550 cfs. Residents near or recreating on the river can expect levels to increase and should take appropriate safety precautions. A daily schedule of flow releases is available at www.trrp.net/restoration/flows/current.

Marine forecast
Ocean conditions are looking decent for the weekend, although south winds are in the forecast. Friday is calling for northwest winds 5 to 10 knots and northwest waves 5 feet at eight seconds. Saturday is calling for winds out of the south 10 to 15 knots with 3-foot swells at five seconds out of the southwest and west 2 feet at 10 seconds. Sunday is looking favorable, as well, with winds out of the south 5 to 10 knots with 5-foot swells at nine seconds out of the west. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka or www.windy.com.

The Beach/Jetties

The redtail perch bite wasn’t wide open over the weekend, but there were fish caught. Fishing was reportedly better from the beaches south of Trinidad. Both jetties are providing a good mix of rockfish and a few lingcod. Tossing swimbaits has been one of the better options. Fishing is typically best two hours prior to high tide to an hour after the slack for the beach as well as jetty.

Brookings ocean update
“Lingcod and rockfish action was good over the weekend and again Monday, but windy weather is expected mid-week,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “A gale warning has been posted. Calmer seas are expected for the weekend. The best fishing has been from Bird Island north. Anchovies have arrived at the Port of Brookings, a good sign for the June salmon opener. Salmon season opens June 12 out of Brookings.”

Eel River steelhead returns
As of April 11, a total of 199 steelhead have entered the Van Arsdale fish count station, according to Andrew Anderson, an Aquatic Biologist with PG&E. Making up that total are 74 males, 84 females, nine subadults and 32 unknowns. The Chinook count stands at 65 and is done for the season. For more information, visit www.eelriver.org/the-eel-river/fish-count/.

Eel (main stem)
As of Thursday, the main was flowing at 1,320 cfs on the Scotia gauge. Reportedly, there are some steelhead around but fishing is tough due to the clear water. The main stem Eel to the South Fork is open all year. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used through Sept. 30.

Lower Rogue

According to Martin, the Rogue continues to be slow for springers, but reports of ocean anglers catching and releasing a few hatchery kings near Gold Beach has anglers hopeful some salmon may finally be arriving. “The water is low but rain expected this week will give flows a boost. Catch rates have been poor all season on the Rogue,” Martin added.

Kenny Priest operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com