Generous Ocean King Season Set to Open May 1

The sport salmon season will open May 1st along the North Coast and should provide plenty of days on the water to land a salmon like the one pictured here with Garberville resident Broc Contreras. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

With a strong ocean abundance of Sacramento salmon and the Klamath numbers trending upward, North Coast sport salmon anglers were rewarded with a generous ocean salmon season. The season within the CA KMZ (Klamath Management Zone), which was adopted by the Pacific Fishery Management Council Monday, will open May 1 and run through May 31. It will reopen Aug. 1 and run through Sept. 5. June and July will be closed within the CA KMZ to mitigate impacts on the fall Klamath River kings, which continue to struggle. Fishing will be allowed seven days per week for all salmon except coho, with a limit of two fish per day and a minimum size of 20 inches total length for Chinook.

In the Fort Bragg sector, which includes Shelter Cove, the season will be open May 1 through July 4. It will reopen July 22 and run through Sept. 5 with a 20-inch minimum and a limit of two kings a day.

To the north in the Brookings area (OR KMZ), the Chinook season will open June 25 and run through Aug. 21. Fishing will be allowed seven days per week, two fish per day and a minimum size limit of 24 inches total length for Chinook.

Klamath/Trinity river quota update
Along with ocean salmon seasons up for final approval, the PFMC allocated 2,119 adult Chinook for the Klamath Basin quota. Bag and possession limits will be determined at the California Fish and Game Commission meeting April 20-21. The tribal allocation is 9,434 adult Klamath River fall salmon, split between the Yurok and Hoopa Valley tribes.

“Critically dry” year designation for Trinity River
According to a press release issued April 8 by the Bureau of Reclamation, the lack of precipitation and snowpack in the Trinity Mountains this winter means the flow schedule for 2022 is scaled to a “critically dry” water year. Critically dry is one of five water year types used by the Trinity River Restoration Program to determine how much reservoir water will be released in support of the program’s goals to improve habitat for anadromous fish—fish that migrate to fresh water from salt water to spawn—like salmon and steelhead. This year marks the third critically dry year in the last five years for the Trinity watershed. The planned release schedule attempts to maximize benefits to the physical and biological character of the Trinity River, given the constraints of the limited amount of water available. This year’s flow schedule will begin April 15. Key dates and flow releases are:

  • April 15-20: Increase daily average flows from 300 cubic feet per second to 6,000 cfs
  • April 23: Flows decrease to 2,800 cfs
  • April 24-May 13: Maintain flows between 1,800 to 2,000 cfs
  • May 17: Return to 450 cfs summer baseflow, which continues until Sept. 30

Visitors near or on the river can expect river levels to increase during the flow releases and should take appropriate safety precautions. Landowners are advised to clear personal items from the floodplain prior to the releases. A daily schedule of flow releases is available at the program’s website

Marine forecast
Ocean conditions are looking good for the weekend. Friday is calling for north winds 5 to 10 knots and north waves 4 feet at 8 seconds. Saturday is calling for winds out of the north up to 10 knots with 3-foot north swells at 5 seconds. Sunday is looking favorable as well with winds out of the southwest 5 to 15 knots with 4-foot swells at 8 seconds out of the southwest. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit or

CDFW restricts the use of traps for sport crabbing
In an April 13 press release, CDFW states they will be restricting the use of crab traps for the remainder of the recreational Dungeness crab fishing season. Recreational take of Dungeness crab by other methods, including hoop nets and crab snares, is not affected by the trap restriction. The trap restriction becomes effective at 7 p.m. on April 24, 2022, at which point the use and deployment of recreational crab traps shall be prohibited. This restriction is being implemented because of the unusually large number of humpback whales that have migrated back to California waters earlier than in previous years and because of several recent humpback whale entanglements involving California commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear and gear of unknown origin. This statewide trap restriction will help minimize risk of entanglement as humpback whales continue to return to forage in California waters during the spring and summer months. The season ends on July 30, 2022 in Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties and on June 30, 2022 in all other counties. For more information ,visit

Brookings ocean update
Fishing has been good for lingcod and rockfish out of Brookings when the ocean has been flat reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Stormy weather this week gives way to calmer conditions beginning Friday. Lingcod are still in shallow water spawning. Whole herring or large scampi’s fished near Bird Island and Twin Rocks have been producing lingcod to 15 pounds, with an occasional fish to 20 pounds. Sport halibut opens May 1. Salmon season won’t start until late June out of Brookings.

The Rivers:
Reminder: The South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mattole, Mad, Redwood Creek and the Chetco rivers are all closed to fishing.

Eel (main stem)
The main stem Eel is forecast for a very winter-like rise starting Thursday morning. Steady rain from Wednesday through Saturday is predicted to push flows to above 16,000 cfs at Scotia by Sunday morning. This will do wonders for the river, including getting the newly-hatched fry safely downstream. It will also provide ample water for the spawners to make their way to the ocean and will likely bring in quite a few fresh steelhead. The main stem Eel to the South Fork is open all year. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used from April 1 through Sept. 30.

Smith River
With steady rain predicted for the week and into the weekend, the Smith is forecast to reach some of the highest flows since early January. It’s predicted to peak at just over 10.7 feet (7,580 cfs) at Jed Smith on Saturday afternoon. This will likely flush the last of the spawned-out steelhead downriver and could bring in a few fresh ones. The main stem of the Smith will remain open through the end of April from its mouth to the confluence with the Middle and South Forks. The Middle Fork will also remain open through April from its mouth to Patrick’s Creek. The South Fork is open through April as well, from its mouth upstream approximately 1,000 feet to the County Road (George Tryon) bridge and Craig’s Creek to Jones Creek.

Lower Rogue
Spring salmon fishing remains slow on the lower Rogue River, but this week’s rain should trigger fish to move in from the ocean reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “April is prime time for springers, and the first big rain of the month usually starts the peak season for hatchery springers,” said Martin. “Anchoring close to shore with anchovies and spinner blades is the go-to method for spring salmon.”

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 For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email