Chetco estuary best bet for kings

If you’re looking for fresh kings with the potential for a big one, the Chetco estuary is the place to be. Salmon have been staging in the tidewater since the latter part of September. And they’ll continue to do so until ample rain allows them to make their way upriver. Following last Saturday’s rain, which bumped the flows from under 100 cfs to nearly 500 cfs, some salmon were able to navigate out of the tidewater. But there should be plenty more heading in from the salt to take their place. “The biggest king caught last week was around 45 pounds, with several near 30 and an impressive number of jacks,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “After fishing well for a week, the fishing slowed over the weekend as rain allowed many of the salmon schooling there to shoot upriver. Catch rates went from two to three fish a rod last week — mostly jacks — to just a handful of fish overall on Sunday and Monday. One adult salmon a day, wild or hatchery, may be kept per day on the Chetco, with an annual limit of two wild fish. Anglers must “rack their rods” once an adult is kept. The river remains closed above mile 2.2 because of low flows.

Eric Woyce of San Francisco holds a 25-pound king salmon caught Oct. 7 while fishing the Chetco River estuary with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He was trolling a herring behind a Fish Flash flasher. Photo courtesy of Wild Rivers Fishing

Over on the Smith River, the tidewater fishing hasn’t been as good. But that may not be for a lack of fish. The rain that fell on Saturday pushed the flows up to 600 cfs, which is plenty for the fish to move out of the estuary and into the heart of the river. According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, there aren’t many fish staging in the estuary right now. “There’s been one or two fish caught per day,” said Carson. “There’s been a few boats trolling sardines and anchovies as well as bank anglers tossing Kastmasters and Cleos. The Sand Hole has some fish in it but the seals were making their life miserable,” added Carson.

Weekend marine forecast
Gales are expected over the outer waters through Thursday evening, with small craft advisory conditions over the nearshore waters. Winds will begin to decrease on Friday. As of Wednesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the N 10 to 15 knots with NW waves 7 feet at 8 seconds. Saturday, winds will be out of the N 10 to 15 knots with N waves 5 feet at 7 seconds. Sunday the winds will be light, coming from the N 5 to 10 knots with NW waves 5 feet at 8 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

The Oceans:
Eureka
There hasn’t been much offshore activity out of Eureka since last week. Last Thursday and Friday were fishable days, but the ocean has been rough since then. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing made trips to Cape Mendocino where he reports the fishing was excellent. “Last Thursday the fishing was really good, with limits of rockfish and plenty of lingcod for the customers,” said Klassen. “Friday was a little tougher for whatever reason. We ended up with all the rockfish we needed, but were a few lingcod shy of limits.” The offshore weather looks a little iffy for the rest of the week, but it may be fishable over the weekend.

Shelter Cove
Rockfish continues to be the target species out of the Cove. Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing has been jumping around looking for the hot spots. “We fished Gorda a few days and it was wide-open with a wide variety of rockfish and lings to 25-pounds,” said Mitchell. “We also spent a couple days around the Hat and Old Man where it was considerably slower than the northern waters. We ended up scratching up limits both days. There was also one salmon landed and a few silvers as well with very little effort.”

Dave Martz of Roseville landed a nice lingcod while fishing out of Shelter Cove earlier this week. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell, Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

Brookings
Halibut fishing continues to be good when boats can get three to four miles offshore to 200 to 220 feet of water according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Enough fish remain on the quota for the season likely to last through Oct. 31. Rockfish and lingcod are biting in shallow water. Crab season closes at the end of the day Thursday until Nov. 30.”

Upper Klamath/Trinity quota update
According to Dan Troxel, an Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River Project, the Upper Klamath quota for adult king salmon will be met as of 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 18. This triggers the closure of the adult Chinook salmon fishery on the main stem of the Klamath River from 3,500 feet downstream of the Iron Gate Dam to the State Route 96 bridge at Weitchpec. 

The Upper Trinity follows a week later, with no adult retention beginning Oct. 25. No closure date has been provided for the Lower Trinity. The Upper Klamath and Upper Trinity will remain open for harvest of jack (two-year-old) Chinook salmon (less than or equal to 23 inches). All adult Chinook salmon caught must be immediately released and reported on an angler’s North Coast Salmon Report Card. For more information, visit www.cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2020/10/13/upper-klamath-river-adult-chinook-salmon-quota-met.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The salmon action has slowed on the lower Klamath but there are still some fish to be had. The few boats still fishing are finding most of their success near Blue Creek. There isn’t much pressure this time of the year, but the fishing can be good as some of the late-run kings start to stage in front of the bigger creeks. The daily bag limit is two jack Chinook 23-inches or smaller and two hatchery steelhead.

Trinity
According to Junction City Store owner Frank Chapman, the section from Junction City to Del Loma is seeing a good number of kings. “There’s lots of jacks and a few adults around,” said Chapman. “Most of the adults I’ve seen are older but there are a few fresh ones mixed in. There are some steelhead around too, but not a ton.” Reportedly, salmon are in the lower river as well, but the bulk of the salmon are being stopped behind the CDFW weir at Kimtu.

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

Weekend Rain Could Kickstart Coastal King Season

As the fall salmon season begins to wind down on the Klamath River, salmon anglers will no doubt turn their attention to the late-fall coastal salmon runs. The Smith, Chetco and Eel rivers will take center stage for the next couple months. That is if we get some timely rain. The last few years, consistently targeting kings on any of these rivers was virtually impossible. The rains that used to kick off the runs in September and October failed to materialize. By the time the rains arrived in late November and December, the salmon had no choice but to swim full speed toward spawning grounds. Historically, storms begin to line up offshore in early fall, bringing with them the first flow increases of the year. This signaled the first wave of salmon to move out of the estuaries and begin their migration up river. Then the next storm arrives and we repeat the cycle, pushing the older fish further upriver and bringing in new fish from the salt. It’s a salmon conga line, if you will, resulting in a river with salmon from top to bottom — ideal conditions for fishermen. That’s the way it once was and what we’re all hoping for again.

Scott Richardson of Cloverdale caught this king salmon while fishing the Smith River last fall. With rain in the forecast, some of the coastal rivers could open to fishing this weekend, including the Smith. Photo courtesy of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service

The salmon are staging in the estuaries of the rain-dependent coastal rivers and the one wildcard is the weather. But a change in our weather pattern is forthcoming. “It looks like we’ll start to see some light rain on Thursday evening,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The rain will continue through Friday, then we’ll see some heavier precipitation on Saturday. In the Smith basin, we could see 2 to 3 inches over the course of this storm, with 3/4 to an inch and a half falling on Saturday. It looks like showers could linger through Sunday. The storm timeline will be similar in the Eel basin but with lower totals,” she said. “The upper Eel may see up to one inch, with the lower section getting 1 to 2 inches. Additional rain is predicted for later in the week but right now it doesn’t look significant.” Looking ahead, the National Weather Service forecasts a chance for above normal precipitation for the week of Oct. 13-19.

For anglers looking to hit the rivers this weekend, the Smith may open to fishing either Saturday or Sunday. Call the low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers at (707) 822-3164 before you make any plans.

As of Wednesday morning, all North Coast rivers subjected to low-flow fishing closures, including the Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen, are closed. Open river sections include the main stem Eel River from the paved junction of Fulmor Road to its mouth, the main stem Mad River from the Hammond Trail Railroad Trestle to its mouth and the main stem Smith River from the mouth of Rowdy Creek to its mouth. The department makes updated closure information available by recorded message by 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It’s the responsibility of anglers to call the number designated in the sport fishing regulations booklet and check the status of any river.

Dungeness crab testing underway
According to Christy Juhasz, an Environmental Scientist with CDFW Marine Region, the Domoic Acid test results for Trinidad should be posted this week. “The Eureka samples came into the California Dept. of Public Health (CDPH) lab late last week for the remaining Humboldt County tests,” said Juhasz. “Samples from other North Coast sites of PA/Manchester Beach, Fort Bragg/Usal and Crescent City are expected to come in early next week and that should conclude remaining northern CA sites. It takes about one to one and a half weeks for test results to be posted.” For more information regarding recreational Dungeness crab fishing regulations and other crab species, visit the DFG Marine Region website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Invertebrates/Crabs. For health advisories, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories.

Weekend marine forecast
Light winds and low seas will last through Friday. As a cold front approaches, winds will become southerly on Friday into Saturday. A northwest swell will result in building seas later in the weekend. As of Wednesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the S up to 5 knots with NW swells 3 feet at 10 seconds. Saturday winds will be out of the W 10 to 15 knots with SW swells 4 feet at 5 seconds and NW 6 feet at 16 seconds. Sunday the winds will be from the N 5 to 10 knots, with NW swells 9 feet at 13 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Low-Energy Geophysical Survey occurring offshore of Eureka
Cardinal Point Captains, Inc. will be conducting a low-energy geophysical survey offshore of Eureka from Nov. 1-11. The proposed survey area includes both state waters and federal waters and operations will be conducted 24-hrs a day. M/V Surveyor will be limited in her ability to maneuver during operations and other vessels should maintain a distance of at least 500 meters from the operations, and contact the ship via VHF-FM channel 16. For more information or any potential conflicts, please contact Pasquale De Rosa at (714) 595-1689.

The Oceans:
Eureka
The offshore season is starting to wind down out of Eureka. There are still a couple charters running trips, but not every day. Most of the boats have been targeting rockfish at Cape Mendocino. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing was there on Tuesday and reports the fish were snapping pretty good. “The conditions were just about perfect,” said Klassen. “We caught a nice variety of rockfish, and there were some really nice lingcod around. Conditions look good through the rest of the week before we see some bigger swells over the weekend. The tuna water is still within reach – it’s about 25 miles to 61-degree water and 35 miles to 65-degree water. The water just on the north of Trinidad looks really good, I’m sure a few boats will check it out.”

The California halibut bite is still going strong in the bay. There isn’t much bait around, but the boats out there every day are catching limits or close to it tossing swim baits. There’s been quite a few caught recently in the south bay near King Salmon.

Shelter Cove
With salmon and tuna not being a viable option, Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing has been spending his days chasing rockfish. “We fished one day at the Ranch House, a few days around the Hat, and a few days up at Rodgers Break,” said Mitchell. “The story has been pretty much the same everywhere. The rockfish have been biting really well, but the lingcod have been a little more stubborn. We’ve gotten limits just about every day, but we really have to move around a lot. Once we do find them, we beat that spot up.”

Brookings
Fishing for Pacific halibut remains good out of Brookings according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Fishing is fair for lingcod and good for rockfish. Crabbing also has been good. Rough weather is expected for the weekend. Tuna were caught last week, but choppy seas kept boats in close this week.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Salmon fishing was tough over the weekend. The fish that were in the lower river either moved up or were off the bite. There were some nice adults still being caught this week however, so fresh kings are still making their way in. The rain coming Saturday will likely bring in some new fish, but they’ll be moving quickly as it’s getting late. There are some silvers in the lower river along with a few steelhead. Boat pressure has tailed off. As a reminder, the lower river quota has been met and salmon over 23 inches must be released.

Lower Chetco/Rogue
Big numbers of salmon are staging in the Chetco estuary, waiting for rain to head upriver reports Martin. “That could happen this weekend, as flows are expected to spike Saturday and Sunday,” said Martin. “Lots of jacks and adults to 35 pounds are being caught on plug-cut herring and anchovies fished behind Fish Flash flashers. The limit is one adult king a day, and many anglers are getting their fish early each day. The Rogue Bay also is still fishing well, with kings and Coho in the mix. Expect this weekend’s rain to slow fishing there.”

Mellisa and Ed Brusven of Fallon, Nev., hold a pair of 30-plus-pound king salmon caught Oct. 1 at the mouth of the Chetco River while fishing with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. They were trolling herring and Fish Flash flashers. Photo courtesy of Andy Martin

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

Klamath Seeing a Solid Return of Kings

Cupertino resident Jim Zamlich holds a nice king salmon caught on a recent outing on the lower Klamath River. Salmon fishing on the Klamath this fall has been better than predicted, and is still going strong. Photo courtesy of Kenny Priest

Since just after Labor Day weekend, the Klamath River has been king salmon central. The rivers been plugged with jacks (2-year old males), along with some hefty adults. The run started a little late this year, likely due to unusually high water temperatures. Smoke-filled skies, shielding the water from the bright sun, finally began cooling the water just enough and the salmon came pouring in. For the last three weeks, the fishing has been nothing short of spectacular. This number of fish in the river is good news, especially considering how dire numbers of adult salmon predicted to return the last few years were. Following a complete salmon fishing closure in 2017, the Klamath and Trinity rivers have been teetering between collapse and rebuilding. In 2018, CDFW predicted 59,733 would return but only 31,838 adult fall-run salmon made it back. In 2019, a return of approximately 87,000 was predicted. Those predictions never materialized, and only 37,270 fall-run kings returned. The CDFW forecasted a modest 48,274 natural area spawning salmon would return this fall. On an average year, the Klamath basin would see close to 122,000 adult kings return.

So while it’s easy to speculate this year’s returns will be above forecasted numbers due to increased harvest rates, it’s way too early to celebrate. We won’t know the size of the run until sometime early next year but it sure feels good to see the river full of fish again. And the CDFW creel surveys are providing some solid proof. For the week ending Sept. 23, 1,162 jacks were harvested and another 656 were released. During the same week, 1,319 adult kings (larger than 23 inches) were released. The lower Klamath adult salmon quota was met on Sept. 14, which is why the adults have to be released. You can still keep two jacks per angler. Anglers may still fish for adult Chinook salmon in other sections of the Klamath Basin, including the main stem of the Klamath River above Weitchpec and the entire Trinity River until their quotas are met. Keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling (800) 564-6479.

Weekend marine forecast
A long period northwesterly swell will gradually decay through Thursday, with a couple of other NW swell trains moving through the waters late in the week and the weekend. As of Wednesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the N 5 to 10 knots with N swells 5 feet at 5 seconds and W 6 feet at 13 seconds. Saturday looks similar, with N winds 5 to 15 knots and N swells 6 feet at 6 seconds and W 6 feet at 14 seconds. Sunday the winds will be from the N 5 to 15 knots, with N swells 7 feet at 7 seconds and W 5 feet at 12 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

CDFW, Commission proposing changes to Sport crabbing
The Fish and Game Commission and the Department of Fish and Wildlife are proposing regulatory changes to begin addressing entanglement risk posed by the recreational rock and Dungeness crab fishery in California for species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Between 2014 and 2019, three humpback whale entanglements were attributed to the recreational crab fishery in California. The fishing gear responsible for entanglement could not be identified in 44 percent of all confirmed entanglements between 1982 and 2017, and the recreational crab fishery may be responsible in some of these instances.

Proposed changes:

1) Require all recreational crab traps be marked with a main buoy that is at least 5 inches in diameter and 11 inches in length, and that a red marker buoy that is 3 inches in diameter and 5 inches in length be attached no more than 3 feet from the main buoy.

2) Establish a maximum service interval of 9 days, weather conditions at sea permitting, and would prohibit abandoned traps.

3) Establish an individual trap limit of 10 traps. The current 60-trap limit for commercial passenger fishing vessels targeting Dungeness crab will apply to those targeting any crab. The proposed regulation would allow an individual to service up to 10 additional traps if they possess written permission from the operator(s) of the additional traps.

4) Provide authority for the Director of the CDFW to delay the fishery opener or close the season early in ocean waters of the state when the concentrations of humpback, blue whales, or Pacific leatherback sea turtles exceed thresholds.

5) CCR would establish a program requiring those individuals who fish for crabs with recreational crab traps to purchase an annual validation for $2.25.

For more information, visit www.nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=183154&inline.

The Oceans:
Eureka
Boats were finally able to get offshore on Tuesday following last week’s big swells. But things didn’t go quite as planned according to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “We ran south to the Cape based on a calm forecast,” said Klassen. “When we got down there, the south wind was blowing 20 knots, which made it extremely uncomfortable. We fished for a little more than an hour before we called it. The fish weren’t really in a biting mood either, but we managed to put a few on board. The forecast for Wednesday looks to be much better. The California halibut bite in the bay is still going, and it seems like there’s enough fish around to make a day of it. The anchovies have moved out, but there’s some perch and smelt around. The tides are favorable this week, which really helps. We bounced around to a few different spots on Monday and got a couple in each. We didn’t find any large concentrations of fish, but I’m sure they are there.”

The warm tuna water is about 35 miles from the entrance, and there’s a few boats that are going to take a look on Wednesday.

Shelter Cove
We tried tuna one day last week and got blanked,” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “The water and conditions were perfect, but the fish just didn’t seem to be there. Between the dozen boats that ran from the Cove, there were only seven fish landed. The warm water is still there, sitting about 15 miles offshore. We did a couple of rockfish trips and it was decent. We got limits, but we really had to work for them. I mainly fished the Old Man. I didn’t hear of anybody trying for salmon this week.”

Capt. Rye Phillips of Brookings Fishing Charters holds a Pacific halibut caught Sept. 29 by Joseph Cogin. The fish was just under 60 inches and weighed nearly 100 pounds. It was caught on herring and squid in 220 feet of water off of Brookings. Photo courtesy of Brookings Fishing Charters

Brookings
Halibut, albacore, lingcod, rockfish and crab are providing the best variety of the season out of Brookings right now according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Through last week, around 1,200 pounds remains on the Pacific halibut quota for Brookings and Gold Beach,” said Martin. “Fish are consistently being caught in 200 to 250 feet of water straight out of the harbor. They are averaging 20 pounds, with fish close to 100 pounds. Lingcod fishing also is good as bigger fish move into shallow water.”

Low Flow River Closures begin Oct. 1
North Coast rivers that are regulated by low flow closures, including the Eel, Mad, Mattole, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen will begin angling restrictions on October 1 through January 31, except for the Mad River, which went into effect September 1. The Department of Fish and Game will make the information available to the public by a telephone recorded message updated, as necessary, no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any stream will be closed to fishing. The rivers can be opened up at any time. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164. NOTE: The main stem Eel from the South Fork to Cape Horn Dam and the Mattole River will be closed until January 1, 2021

Areas subject to low flow closures:

Mad River: The main stem Mad River from the Hammond Trail Railroad Trestle to Cowan Creek. Minimum flow: 200 cfs at the gauging station at the Highway 299 bridge.

The main stem Eel River from the paved junction of Fulmor Road with the Eel River to the South Fork Eel River. Minimum flow: 350 cfs at the gauging station near Scotia.

The South Fork of the Eel River downstream from Rattlesnake Creek and the Middle Fork Eel River downstream from the Bar Creek. Minimum flow: 340 cfs at the gauging station at Miranda.

Van Duzen River: The main stem Van Duzen River from its junction with the Eel River to the end of Golden Gate Drive near Bridgeville (approximately 4,000 feet upstream of Little Golden Gate Bridge. Minimum flow: 150 cfs at the gauging station near Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park.

Mattole River: The main stem of the Mattole River from the mouth to Honeydew Creek. Minimum flow: 320 cfs at the gauging station at Petrolia.

Redwood Creek: The main stem of Redwood Creek from the mouth to its confluence with Bond Creek. Minimum flow: 300 cfs at the gauging station near the Highway 101 bridge.

Smith River: The main stem Smith River from the mouth of Rowdy Creek to its confluence with Patrick Creek; the South Fork Smith River from the mouth upstream approximately 1000 ft to the County Road (George Tyron) bridge and Craigs Creek to its confluence with Jones Creek; and the North Fork Smith River from the mouth to its confluence with Stony Creek. Minimum flow: 600 cfs at the Jedediah Smith State Park gauging station.

Chetco Chinook rule change effective Oct. 1
New regulations go into effect on the Chetco River starting Oct. 1 for Chinook salmon fishing. Anglers can only keep one adult Chinook salmon daily, whether hatchery or wild. Fishermen may not continue angling and must “rack their rod” after keeping an adult Chinook on any day during the period between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31. The limit is two adult WILD Chinook salmon total during the period between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31. Fishermen can keep five jack salmon per day, wild or hatchery, unless they have kept an adult Chinook, in which case they must rack their rod. Angling is closed upstream of River Mile 2.2 until the arrival of fall rains and increased river flows.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Fishing got a little tougher this past week as the mouth has reportedly been sanding over. Boats are still catching several fish per day, both adults and jacks. There’s more steelhead starting to show, as well as a few Coho. When and if the mouth opens up, we should see another push of fresh kings. As a reminder, the lower river quota has been met and salmon over 23 inches must be released. Your adult Chinook releases need to be recorded on your North Coast Salmon Report Card as normal, and please do not remove adult fish from the water when releasing. The bag limit is two salmon less than or equal to 23 inches and two hatchery steelhead.

Lower Chetco/Rogue
“Salmon are staging at the mouth of the Chetco, with lots of jacks and a few adults,” said Martin. “Around 30 percent of the fish being caught are hatchery. Fishing will improve over the next several weeks. The outgoing tide has been best. The river closes above river mile 2.2 on Oct. 1 until the arrival of fall rains and increased river flows. Kings and Coho also are being caught on the Rogue Bay, while fishing for summer steelhead is good near Agness,” added Martin.

Kenny Priest operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service operating 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

Eureka tuna bite grinds to a halt

Jared Amalong from Sacramento landed a nice albacore tuna on a recent trip out of Shelter Cove. Winds and big swells are in the forecast for the weekend, which will keep the boats from targeting tuna until at least mid-next week. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

After some good days on the tuna grounds, the Eureka bite went belly up on Tuesday. The water temps and color are good, but the water looks like it’s breaking up, leaving smaller pockets of warm water holding fish. Finding those pockets of fish did not come easy on Tuesday. Reportedly there were a couple fish landed by the small group of boats fishing 20 miles straight west of the entrance. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing was one of the boats on the water and reports a tough bite. “The water temps were good, right around 62 degrees,” said Klassen. “The color was off and on blue, but there wasn’t a lot of life. The water is breaking up now, so we’ll have to see what it looks like after the winds and big swells move through. There’s better water to our southwest off of Cape Mendocino now, so hopefully the south winds will keep pushing that closer to us. The forecast doesn’t look good through the weekend, but mid next week things may begin to settle back down. Hopefully we’ll get another shot at the tuna,” added Klassen.

Weekend marine forecast
After a run of calm ocean conditions, swells will begin to build Wednesday night and stick around through the weekend. Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the SW 5 to 10 knots with NW swells 10 feet at 14 seconds and SW 2 feet at 18 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is for NW winds 5 to 15 knots and NW swells 8 feet at 11 seconds. Sunday the winds will be from the N 15 to 25 knots, with N swells 10 feet at 8 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Large swells predicted for Thursday
The first significant swell of the season is expected to arrive Wednesday night and into Thursday. This could potentially create hazardous conditions on the beaches and may increase the potential for shoaling. Flat summer beach profiles may see an increase in wave run-up onto the beaches. Swells on Thursday are predicted to be out of the west 15 feet at 15 seconds.  For the most recent for forecast, visit https://www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/marine/

Upper Klamath, Trinity salmon quota update
The upper Klamath and Trinity quotas don’t have closure dates as of yet according to Dan Troxel, an Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River Project. “Typically, the quotas are based off harvest timing, meaning a set amount of days following the closure of the lower Klamath to retention of adult salmon,” said Troxel. “But since we’re not seeing many fish pass the weir in Willow Creek, we may push the dates out a little further. As for the Lower Trinity, we usually used the Hoopa recreational creel as a guide, but since they are not doing a creel this season and the reservation has been closed, I suspect that won’t be much of a concern this year. In short, no closures are on the close horizon, but we’ll be assessing that later this week or early next.”

Willow Creek weir has new location
According to Mary Claire Kier, an Environmental Scientist on the Trinity River, the Willow Creek weir has been installed at its new location. The weir now sits at the upstream-most end of the Kimtu Beach river bar. “We needed to move our location of the past 18 years due to a change in land ownership,” said Kier. “After many attempts to find a suitable site, we think we might have landed in one that will work. There are very few locations that meet the requirements.” The public is welcome to visit the operation once the National Forests in California open back up. If interested, email maryclaire.kier@wildlife.ca.gov.

The Oceans:
Eureka

Taking advantage of some nice conditions, Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing spent some time at Cape Mendocino this past week and reports some really good fishing. “It’s always good fishing down there, but this was particularly easy,” said Sepulveda.  “Lots of lingcod moving into shallow water with fish to 28 pounds coming in less than 80-feet of water. The California halibut bite inside the bay was a little tougher, but we ended up finding some really nice fish between 15 and 22 pounds. I’m sure the big tides and the bait vanishing from the bay had a lot to do with the slowdown. It’s not over for the year, look for this one to bounce right back.”

Shelter Cove
Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing spent all of last week hunting for tuna. He said, “It was pretty good early in the week and we were getting fish as close as 12 miles due south of the Cove. The water really warmed up everywhere and pushed all the way into the beach. As a result, the fishing slowed quite a bit towards the end of the week. The grade was really good earlier in the week, but we started to see some peanuts (small tuna) mixed in on Thursday and Friday. For the week, we averaged about 17 albies per trip. We’re going to try for Tuna on Wednesday, then it looks like the weather will keep us off the water for a few days.”

Crescent City
A few boats ran for tuna on Tuesday, but the fishing was slow. Most of the fleet worked the area north of Crescent City roughly 22 to 25 miles out. One Bluefin was reportedly caught. Overall, scores were in the 5 to 6 fish per boat range. According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, the rockfish bite is still really good “Just about all the boats are coming back with limits of rockfish as well as lingcod,” said Carson. “The reefs have been the best producers, including the one right out front of the harbor.”

Brookings
Halibut fishing remains good out of Brookings according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Through Sept. 18, nearly 20-percent of the 8,000-pound quota for the Brookings and Gold Beach area remains, with 1,435 pounds left. The halibut are in 200 to 230 feet of water and have been biting herring and squid combos. Lingcod and rockfish action also has been good.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Salmon fishing remains good on the Klamath, with a mix of fresh jacks and adults entering the river. The cold water that came from the Trinity cooled the water and provided some really good fishing over the weekend. Most of the boats scored limits of jacks, or real close to it. Some steelhead are starting to move in as well as some silvers. As a reminder, the lower river quota has been met and salmon over 23 inches must be released. You can keep two salmon (jacks) 23 inches and under and two hatchery steelhead.

Chetco/Rogue/Coos
Salmon fishing is picking up on the Chetco estuary, with lots of jacks and a few adults to 20 pounds reports Martin. “Some boats are getting two or more jacks per rod, with a few adults mixed in,” said Martin. “A few jacks also have arrived in the tidewater area, and more likely will move up after this week’s rain. Salmon fishing is fair on the Rogue Bay, and slow on the Coos and Umpqua.

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

Winds could disrupt epic tuna fishing

Arcata resident Noah Jenkins landed a nice albacore last Saturday while fishing off the coast of Eureka. Photo courtesy of Marc Schmidt/Coastline Charters

Canning jars right now are about as hard to find as a two-dollar bill. That should tell you all you need to know about what’s happening off the coast of Eureka. An epic offshore tuna bonanza has been going full tilt since Sept. 8, and boats were still chasing them as of Wednesday. When the frenzy began, the warm water was sitting roughly 35 miles west of Eureka. It’s now within 25 miles, which is well within striking distance for most of the fleet. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing has been on the tuna grounds just about daily along with the other charter boats and reports some real solid action. “It started for us last Wednesday, and it’s been fishable ever since,” said Klassen. “There’s about a 20-mile range of fish from north to south, so there’s been plenty of room for all of the boats. The fish have been really big, easily a 20-pound average. It doesn’t take many to plug the boat.” The average scores have been around twenty per boat, though some boats have put up bigger numbers.

Dylan Gustaves of Honeydew landed a rare Bluefin Tuna on Tuesday while fishing aboard the Shellback. Photo courtesy of Tony Sepulveda/Shellback Sport Fishing

Looking ahead, the wind looks like it will start to blow on Friday, which will likely put an end to this impressive run of fishable days. It doesn’t happen often where the ocean is flat calm and the warm water is within 25 miles. Hopefully everyone took advantage and got all the tuna they needed.

Weekend marine forecast
Northerly winds will develop offshore this weekend, which could curtail the hot tuna action. As of Wednesday, the forecast out 10 nautical miles for Friday is calling for winds out of the S 5 to 15 knots and waves W 5 feet at 10 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds 5 to 15 knots and waves N 4 feet at 8 seconds. Sunday’s forecast is calling for NW winds 5 to 10 knots and waves N 4 feet at 6 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Klamath River quota update
The lower Klamath adult salmon quota was met on Monday, Sept. 14, but the rest of the lower main stem of the Klamath River below the Highway 96 Bridge at Weitchpec will remain open to the harvest of jack (2-year-old) Chinook salmon (less than or equal to 23 inches). All adult Chinook salmon caught must be immediately released and reported on the angler’s report card. The fishery at the mouth of the Klamath was closed as of Tuesday, Sept. 8 and will remain closed to all fishing for the rest of the calendar year. Anglers may still fish for adult Chinook salmon in other sections of the Klamath Basin, including the main stem of the Klamath River above Weitchpec and the entire Trinity River until their quotas are met. Anglers may keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling 800-564-6479.

Humboldt Bay Navigational Aids out of position
The Coast Guard has temporarily relocated Aids to Navigation HUMBOLDT BAY LB 9 (LLNR 8195) and HUMBOLDT BAY LB 10 (LLNR 8200) to facilitate dredging operations through the months of September, October and possibly into November 2020, by the US Army Corps of Engineers. HUMBOLDT BAY LB 9 is now established in position 40-45.83N 124-13.08W, HUMBOLDT BAY LB 10 is now established in position 40-45.27N 124-13.10W.

Electronic AIS positions for these aids remain in their original published NOAA chart positions to assist mariners in avoiding these shoal areas. Safety updates will continue to be announced via Broadcast Notice to Mariners VHF-FM channel 16, and published through the local Notice to All Mariners. Any vessel needing assistance, or updates, shall contact Sector Humboldt Bay on VHF-FM channel 16 or at 707-839-6113.

The Oceans:
Eureka
Tuna has taken center stage the past couple weeks, so not much to report on the rockfish front. Klassen did make one trip to the Cape earlier this week and reports the fishing wasn’t red hot. “It was slightly below average. The blacks bit really well and we still got limits of rockfish, but it was tougher,” added Klassen.

Shelter Cove
Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing has been on the tuna grounds all week and reports a pretty solid bite. He said, “We were fishing 45 miles early in the week, but now we’re getting them as close as 20 miles. We’ve been just about everywhere as the fish are spread out. We’ve had the best success off of Cape Vizcaino, where we’re averaging about 20 fish a day. The fish are a good size, about a 15-pound average. There are also a few salmon being caught. It’s not wide-open, but boats trying are still getting a few opportunities a day. And there’s been several fish caught over 30-pounds.”

Crescent City
“I heard the warm tuna water was within eight miles,” said Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “There’s been a few boats out, maybe six on Wednesday, but I didn’t hear of any good scores. The fishing season is starting to slow down, but there’s still a handful of boats targeting rockfish. Ocean conditions have been pretty flat, so most are heading out to the Big Reef and doing well on rockfish and lingcod,” Hegnes added.

Brookings
Pacific halibut fishing continues to be unusually good out of Brookings, with limits for the charters and private boaters who have it dialed in reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Roughly 20 percent of the South Coast quota remains, so the season should be open for a few more weeks,” said Martin. “The halibut are in 200-300 feet of water. Tuna fishing was good last week but the fish have scattered and moved out. Boats were getting them 45-50 miles offshore. A few salmon are now being caught daily in the Chetco estuary.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The water cooled down late last week and the river saw a real good push of fresh kings move in over the weekend. Just about all the boats reported limits of jacks and adults. With the cold water arriving on Monday from the Trinity, the fishing should remain good for the next few weeks. A few silvers have also been caught this week. As stated above, the lower river quota has been met. You can still retain two jacks along with two hatchery steelhead.

Lower Rogue/Coos
The Rogue is hot-and-cold for salmon according to Martin. “On a good day, several fish a boat are caught. Summer steelhead fishing has improved upriver. Many guides have switched to the Coos, where salmon fishing has been good, with lots of larger 4-year-olds in the mix,” 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

Tuna fever sweeps Humboldt

Sam Torgersen of Eureka holds a couple nice Albacore tuna landed under ominous skies on Wednesday out of Eureka. Photo courtesy of Tony Sepulveda/Shellback Sport Fishing

The latest pandemic to grip the North Coast is one that we can all get behind. It’s known as Tuna Fever, and it’s spreading rapidly amongst the saltwater fleet. It started late last week when Marc Schmidt of Coastline Charters found some fish south roughly 45 miles from the entrance. Word spread quickly and quite a few boats made the trek on Friday. Most of the boats scored 15 to 18 big albacore, with only a few peanuts mixed in. Similar scores were reported on Saturday. After a couple of windy days, the ocean calmed on Tuesday and a few boats were back out to the warm water. Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing was one of the few boats that made the 40-mile run and reported some really good fishing. “There’s a big band of fish ranging from a little south of Trinidad to a bit north of Cape Mendocino about 40 miles offshore,” said Sepulveda.  “There were only a few boats out there on Tuesday but everyone was spread out and on fish.  We wrapped it up with 35 and a big grade averaging close to 20 pounds. Some good bait stops where they charged the boat. With quite a few boats expected to be on the water in the coming days, Sepulveda would like to remind anglers to give each other plenty of space on the water. “People did a really nice job of respecting each other’s space on Tuesday. It’s a big ocean out on the tuna grounds and everyone does better when they spread out,” said Sepulveda. The weather window looks to be open through at least Monday. Winds will be light and the seas flat. Expect the local ramps to be plenty busy.

Marine Forecast
Seas will remain relatively small over the next several days, which is perfect for the tuna boats. Out 10 nautical miles from Pt. St. George to Cape Mendocino, Friday’s forecast is calling for SW winds up to 5 knots and S waves 2 feet at 4 seconds and W waves 2 feet at 11 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds to 5 knots and waves out of the NW 2 feet at 8 seconds and SW 2 feet at 17 seconds. Sunday’s forecast looks flat, with winds out of the N up to 5 knots and waves out of the N 2 feet or less. Monday’s forecast looks similar to Sunday. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

The Oceans:
Eureka
Tuna has taken center stage out of Eureka, and it looks that will be the case through the weekend and into Monday. As of Wednesday, the edge was straight west about 40 miles from the entrance. Quite a few boats hit the grounds on Wednesday, and some good scores were reported. The fish are big this year, with plenty of fish in the 20-pound class with only a few smaller fish mixed in. Ocean conditions are predicted to be flat calm through the weekend. If the tuna water isn’t within your range, this is the weekend to hit the Cape. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, fishing has been really good. “The weather down there wasn’t great earlier in the week, but the fishing has been solid,” said Klassen. “We’re getting about a dozen different species each trip. We’ve been catching lots of big Vermilions as well as lingcod.” The California halibut action in the bay has been decent, with some up and down days. “There’s pockets of fish around according to Klassen, and if you find one, you’ll catch them.

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, last week’s Tuna bite was just ok. “I didn’t do as well as some boats, but it seemed that everyone had 10 to 30 fish both Wednesday and Thursday,” said Mitchell. “Friday was a little slower and boats only had 5 to 10 fish. Everyone was fishing down around or below Noyo Canyon. The water we were fishing was breaking up, which I think led to the slower fishing Friday. The salmon bite was pretty slow for the most part but there is still a few around for those who are trying.” Mitchell will be back on the tuna grounds, which is roughly 45 to 50 miles out, for the next few days.

Crescent City
Crescent City is one of the few ports north of Fort Bragg to not be in range of the tuna water. But they still have some of the best rock fish action around. According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, the bite has been really good for a long time. “Just about all the boats are coming back with limits of rockfish as well as lingcod,” said Carson. “Unfortunately, the California halibut bite has dried up and so has the Thresher shark.”

Brookings
The Brookings fleet is keeping a close eye on the tuna water and exceptional marine forecast this week reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Warm water is around 40 miles northwest of Brookings as of Tuesday evening. Tuna anglers did very well Friday and Saturday, with up to 40 fish a boat and fish to 30 pounds. Pacific halibut also are biting well. The Chetco estuary is slow for salmon.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Fishing is steady on the lower Klamath, with lots of jacks currently in the lower river. A few adults are being caught every day, with a few big ones to 20-pounds mixed in. As of Tuesday, the Spit area is closed to fishing as the quota was projected to be met. For more information, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2020/09/04/cdfw-announces-fishing-closure-at-mouth-of-klamath-river/?fbclid=IwAR1Tmw0558RIvIlb9TGAq3Y_Vu44icpmIovUBTKGBn8x4mCZhMPeoOaKf9U

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, the Rogue Bay once again is full of salmon. “There’s lots of fish splashing near the sand spit during the outgoing tide, but catch rates are slow,” said Martin. “A fish or two a boat is considered a good day right now. Big numbers of salmon shot upriver early last week. Hot weather inland will force the kings to hold up again in the bay.

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

California halibut bite remains strong

Ten year-old Bryson Burns of Eureka landed a nice California halibut while fishing Humboldt Bay on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Patrick Burns

The California halibut fishery has been a bright spot amongst our fisheries this season as Humboldt Bay continues to kick-out quality-sized fish. With both ocean salmon and Pacific halibut closed for the year, the bay fishery has been a life-saver. The charter fleet, whose only real option is a long run to the rockfish or tuna grounds, has taken full advantage as has the sport anglers looking to get out of the house. The weekends have seen the Bay loaded with boats and kayaks of all shapes and sizes looking to land a tasty meal. The fishing has been excellent for most of the season, and one of the reasons is the number of anchovies in the bay. Without an influx of freshwater from the rains and a consistent food source, there’s no reason for the halibut to leave. The best way to catch them is live bait, but guys fishing dead bait and even jigs and swimbaits are having plenty of success. The fishing seems to really improve when we have the smaller tide swings, which was the case last weekend. Water temperature also plays a big role. The temperatures closer to bay entrance has been a little colder than normal, which is one of the reasons the majority of the halibut are up higher in the bay this season. “I think this year’s Bay bite is the best I’ve ever seen,” said Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing. “There’s been so many really nice fish. Ten to twenty-pounders are making up a good portion of a limit.” The recreational fishery for California halibut is open year-round. The daily bag and possession limit is three fish, with a minimum size limit of 22 inches total length.

Weekend marine forecast
Ocean conditions for the long weekend are looking great as winds will be light and the seas calm. Friday’s forecast for coastal waters from Point St. George to Cape Mendocino out 10 nautical miles is calling for S winds to 5 knots with NW waves 4 feet at 11 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for N winds 5 to 10 knots and NW waves 4 feet at 6 seconds. Sunday is calling for NW winds to 5 knots and NW waves 4 feet at 8 seconds. Monday looks similar, with N winds to 5 knots and NW waves 4 feet at 9 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Klamath River quota update
According to Dan Troxel, an Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River Project, 255 adult salmon had been harvested from the Highway 96 bridge at Weitchpec to the mouth towards the quota of 648 for the week ending Sept. 2. Of those, 89 adults were caught below the Hwy. 101 bridge. The spit fishery will close when 194 adults are caught below the 101 bridge. Only the spit area will close to fishing once this quota is met, fishing will remain open upriver of the spit until the 648 quota is met. Anglers may keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling 800-564-6479. For Klamath and Trinity fishing regulations, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2020/07/29/2020-klamath-trinity-regulations/

Saturday is statewide free fishing day
The last chance of the year to fish for free arrives over the Labor Day holiday weekend. Free Fishing Day is being offered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on Saturday, Sept. 5. While no fishing license is required on free fishing days, all fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. Every angler must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems. For more information, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2020/09/01/sept-5-is-free-fishing-day-in-california/

The Oceans:
Eureka
The sport fleet hasn’t been offshore since last week due to rough ocean conditions. On Wednesday, the wind finally relented, and boats were making their way to the Cape for rockfish. The best option this past week has been California halibut in Humboldt Bay. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, fishing was good over the weekend. “We’re seeing some bigger fish now, and there seems to be plenty of them,” said Klassen. “The bay is still full of bait, so it’s pretty easy to come by right now. That’s the best option, but plenty of fish are being caught drifting dead bait as well as swimbaits. The best bite has been above the bridge recently,” added Klassen. The tuna water is currently sitting around 65 to 70 miles from the entrance. Some of the faster boats will make the run, especially given the calm ocean conditions over the next several days.

Shelter Cove king salmon. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

Shelter Cove
The salmon bite was pretty good from Wednesday through Saturday, but completely died on Sunday and hasn’t improved since reports Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “We had salmon limits a couple of days after getting limits of rockfish and lingcod,” said Mitchell. “The grade was pretty nice with several fish over 20 pounds. The biggest I saw was 32.5 pounds dressed. Rock fishing was great as well this week, with most of the effort around the Hat. We’ll be chasing tuna for the next three days. Looks like it’s 50 or 60 miles depending on which way we go.”

Crescent City
The big news this week is the return of the Thresher sharks reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “There’s been quite a few caught the past several days, including a 200-pounder on Saturday. South Beach has been the spot from the breakers out to Round Rock. The California halibut fishery has been quiet as not many are targeting them anymore. The rockfish and lingcod bite is still really good when the boats can get out. The reefs, north and south, are producing limits of fish.”

Brookings
The ocean out of Brookings was finally calm enough to fish on Tuesday according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “The forecast looks good all week. Water temperatures are down to 48 degrees after a week of strong winds and upwelling. The tuna are nowhere near Brookings. Just over half of the halibut quota remains for the Brookings and Gold Beach area. The season likely will remain open through October. Fishing was fair for lingcod and rockfish on Tuesday, in part because of the colder-than-normal water.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Fishing is picking up on the lower Klamath. There are still really good numbers of steelhead, both half-pounders and adults, in the river from the Glen to Blue Creek. Quite a few jacks are being caught daily and a few more adults were starting to enter the lower river as of Wednesday.

Lower Rogue
“Salmon fishing has finally hit full stride on the Rogue Bay,” said Martin. “Many of the guides are now getting limits or near limits. The incoming tide has fished well between the green buoy and Jot’s Resort. The water temperature dropped to 70 degrees and some of the salmon have shot upriver. More jacks also have arrived.

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

Fall kings slow to enter the Klamath

Pictured L-R, Ruben Rios, Tyrone Bachus, Ed Tatro, and young Jason Bachus hold salmon caught on Monday in the Klamath River estuary. Salmon fishing in the estuary has been hit and miss this week. Steelhead fishing from the Glen to Blue Creek continues to be excellent, though adult kings have yet to make their way upriver in big numbers. Photo courtesy of Ruben Rios

The fall run of Klamath River Chinook has yet to really take off, which is a little alarming as we head towards the end of August. There’s been flurries of fish moving in the estuary, but not many are choosing to head upriver as of yet. Reportedly, there’s been plenty of fish staging outside of the mouth for quite a while. It should be just a matter of time before they decide to make their way upriver in big numbers.

According to Dan Troxel, an Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River Project, only 141 adult salmon had been harvested from the Highway 96 bridge at Weitchpec to the Klamath mouth towards the quota of 648 for the week ending Aug. 26. Of those, 89 adults were caught at the spit area of the mouth. As of Wednesday, 105 adults remained of the 194-adult sub-quota for the mouth.

If the fishing doesn’t bust open soon, there is some help on the way. Beginning Friday afternoon, increased flows will be coming out of Iron Gate dam via Link River dam for Yurok Tribes ceremonial Boat Dance. Currently flowing at 900 cfs, flows coming out of Iron Gate will reach 2,050 cfs by Friday afternoon and will continue at these target flows until Saturday morning at approximately 6 a.m. Flows will then begin to down-ramp through the weekend before reaching 1,000 cfs by Wednesday afternoon.

Trinity River quotas begin on Sept. 1
Fall regulations for Chinook salmon fishing on the Trinity River will go into effect on Sept. 1 and run through Dec. 31, with a sport quota of 428 adults. The quota will be split evenly; 214 adults for the main stem Trinity downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat and 214 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. Anglers may keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling 800-564-6479. For Klamath and Trinity fishing regulations, visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=169262&inline

Marine forecast
Northerly winds will increase through the week, with gale force conditions expected over portions of the outer waters through the weekend. Winds nearshore will generally be lighter, however seas will grow steeper through the end of the week and over the weekend. Out 10 nautical miles north of the Cape, Friday’s forecast is calling for N winds 5 to 15 knots and waves out of the N 8 feet at 8 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds 10 to 20 knots and waves NW 10 feet at 10 seconds. Sunday’s forecast looks similar, with winds out of the N 10 to 20 knots and waves NW 10 feet at 10 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

The Oceans:
Eureka
Windy conditions the past few days have kept the boats from heading towards the Cape for rockfish. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing was there late last week and reports the fishing is still good. “Some days you have to move around a little down there, but the fishing is still excellent overall,” said Klassen. “We’ve been able to get limits just about every trip. And the variety is really good, we’re catching nine to 10 species of rockfish each trip. It looks like the wind will keep us from heading back down there at least through the weekend.” 

Trinidad
Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing has been back fishing Trinidad the last few days. “We’ve actually seen more giant lingcod come off the northern grounds the last few weeks than to the south,” said Sepulveda. “Top fish of the week was a 36-pound giant lingcod on a live horse mackerel.  Limits of 10 to 20-pound lingcod have come in short order every day. Beautiful limits of rockfish with copper, canary and quillback making up the majority of the catch.”

Shelter Cove
“The salmon fishing wasn’t red hot, but there’s definitely still some fish around,” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “Boats putting in the time were averaging a fish per angler. Most the action was right between the two cans, and still a really nice grade. Rock fishing was a bit slow this week and we really had to bounce around between the Old Man and the Hat to get our limits. I did make it up to Rogers last Friday and we put in limits pretty quickly.”

Crescent City

The rockfish and lingcod bite remains excellent reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “When the boats can get out to the reefs, it’s been pretty easy limits. The California halibut bite picked up over the weekend, but slowed down on Monday. Quite a few were caught off the rock wall along South Beach. The Threshers must have moved on, I haven’t heard of any being caught in quite a while.”

Brookings
Fishing has been good for lingcod and rockfish out of Brookings on calmer days according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Bigger lings have started to move into shallow water. Fishing remains good for Pacific halibut when boats can get three to five miles offshore,” added Martin.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The stellar steelhead fishing is still going strong on the lower Klamath. The river is full of half-pounders, along with lots of adults running three to six pounds. There have been a few jacks caught each day, along with a handful of adults. The estuary fishery isn’t red-hot by any means, but there were a few caught earlier in the week by boats trolling anchovies.  

Lower Rogue
The salmon bite has improved on the Rogue Bay, with several dozen fish a day being caught reports Martin. “The bay is crowded, so overall catch rates are somewhat low, although some boats are getting up to five fish a day,” said Martin. “The best action has switched to the Indian Creek area at the top of the tide, followed by decent action near the sand spit as the tide ebbs. Summer steelhead also are biting above Lobster Creek.”

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

Eureka boats find the tuna

The ocean and water conditions aligned for tuna last Sunday, and a handful of boats from Eureka took full advantage. The run was long, 55 or so miles, but the reward was well worth it. After hearing good reports from Saturday, Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing went all in for Sunday. “The edge of the warm water was about 53 miles from Humboldt Bay,” said Klassen. “Once we got in the area, it took us a little while to find some fish. We found some fish boiling and put a few on the deck pretty quickly. From there we moved around for a fish here and there. Our last stop produced 14 fish, with some coming on live bait. With a long boat ride home, we pulled the plug at 1:30 p.m. with 29 tuna aboard. The fish are good sized. We only had two peanuts, with the rest between 15 to 25 pounds,” added Klassen. Reportedly, one of the other boats fishing in the same general area boated 50 albies.

Lonnie Dollarhide with a nice tuna caught on live bait. Photo courtesy of Reel Steel Sport Fishing

Shelter Cove as well as boats from Fort Bragg also got in on the weekend action. Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing boated 39 after running 45 miles from Shelter Cove. The next weather window will be a short one. Conditions look excellent for Thursday, and quite a few boats will be making the run out of Eureka. After that, it looks like we’re back to the wind.

Marine forecast
Northerly winds and steep seas will increase over the weekend as high pressure rebuilds and a thermal trough reforms near the coast. Friday’s forecast for coastal waters from Point St. George to Cape Mendocino out 10 nautical miles is calling for NW winds 5 to 10 knots with 6-foot waves at 10 seconds out of the N and SW 2 feet at 16 seconds. The forecast for Saturday is calling for N winds 10 to 20 knots, with N waves 8 feet at 7 seconds. Sunday’s forecast is for N winds 5 to 15 knots and N waves 8 feet at 8 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

The Oceans:
Eureka
A fairly quiet week for the Eureka fleet with the closing of salmon and Pacific halibut seasons. The only real option, other than tuna on Sunday, has been rockfish at the Cape. Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing spent the last few days at that exact spot and reports some good fishing. “The last couple days it’s been breezy, but the fishing has been easy,” said Sepulveda. “A 20-knot breeze and screaming fast drift made combing flats the game. Limits of giant rockfish and quality lingcod have been no problem. On Tuesday, we had 60 rockfish and 12 lings wrapped up in just 2 hours.”

Damon Collicut of Willits, right, is all smiles after boating a nice tuna on Sunday with the help of Jake Mitchell. Tuna fishing was red-hot on Sunday for Shelter Cove and boats fishing out of Eureka. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, the salmon bite was pretty good this past week. He said, “We only fished for them four days and had full boat limits twice, with fish up to 26 pounds. Trolling and mooching were both catching fish around the whistle. We fished up at Rodgers on Saturday and the rockfish and ling’s bit pretty well. We were able to get limits pretty quickly. On Sunday we took advantage of the conditions and ran 45 miles west to Gorda Valley looking for tuna. They were there, and ready to play. They didn’t bite really well for us in the morning, but it picked up a little bit for us in the afternoon. We ended the day with 39 good-grade albacore.”

Crescent City
The rockfish and lingcod bite has been excellent reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “Most of the boats are fishing the North or South Reefs. Limits have been the norm this week. The California halibut bite has picked up, and they’ve been biting pretty well along South Beach. Boats trolling as well as bank anglers fishing off the rock wall caught quite a few this week. The Thresher bite has slowed way down this week, I didn’t hear of any being caught.”

Capt. Michael McGahan of Brookings Fishing Charters holds a lingcod that hitchhiked on another lingcod Aug. 18 near the Point St. George Reef lighthouse. Photo courtesy of Brookings Fishing Charters

Brookings
Halibut fishing continues to be a solid bet out of Brookings according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “With 70-percent of the allocation still remaining for the zone that includes Brookings and Gold Beach, the Pacific halibut season should last at least through September,” said Martin. “The best action is in 180 to 240 feet of water straight out from Bird Island. Fishing for lingcod is wide open near the Point St. George lighthouse. Sport crabbing is still open out of Brookings and is improving now that the commercial pots are out of the water.”

Mason Kinkeirn from Cincinnati landed a nice fall-run adult salmon Tuesday on the Klamath River. Photo courtesy of Kenton Bansemer/Gold River Guides

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The steelhead fishing remains excellent and a few fall salmon are starting to trickle in. There were a few adult salmon caught this week, along with some jacks. The number of adult steelhead and half-pounders around however, is more than making up for the lack of salmon.

Fall regulations in effect on the Klamath Fall regulations went into effect on the Klamath River for fall-run Chinook salmon beginning Aug. 15 and run through Dec. 31. On the Trinity, the fall quota will begin on Sept. 1 and run through Dec. 31. The in-river quota for the entire Klamath Basin is 1,296 adult fall Chinook. The daily bag limit will be two Chinook, no more than one adult (greater than 23 inches) and the possession limit is six, no more than three adults. Two hatchery steelhead or hatchery trout may also be retained, with a possession limit of four each. Anglers may keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling 800-564-6479. For Klamath and Trinity fishing regulations, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2020/07/29/2020-klamath-trinity-regulations/

Lower Rogue
The salmon action on the Rogue Bay has been slow for the past week, as the temperature in the bay is in the low 70s and the kings holding along the jetties are lock-jawed reports Martin. “There was a decent bite on Tuesday, the best in several days. Summer steelhead are now being caught upriver.”

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

Salmon and Pacific halibut seasons come to an end

McKinleyville resident Kris Broadus landed this nice Pacific halibut on Tuesday while fishing out of Eureka. Tuesday marked the end of the halibut season in California as the CDFW projected the 2020 quota of 39,000 pounds had been attained. Photo courtesy of Gary Blasi/Full Throttle Sport Fishing

It was a tough week for North Coast saltwater fishermen. First off, Mother Nature did a number on the last several days of our sport salmon season. High winds and big seas forced the fleet to sit on the sidelines while the season quietly came to an end. It wasn’t necessarily a season that we’ll remember. It wasn’t very good in the beginning, was decent in the middle, and fizzled at the end. The best thing about it was some nicer fish were caught. Salmon season will remain open in the Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg areas through Nov. 8. The second punch to the gut was the abrupt closure of the Pacific halibut season. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, based on the latest catch projections, closed the fishery at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday. The CDFW expects the 2020 California recreational quota of 39,000 pounds had been taken. According to the press release issued on Aug. 7, the last week of July and beginning of August, CDFW field staff recorded a record high number of Pacific halibut being caught. “Reports from the public also confirmed an extremely hot Pacific halibut bite during the second half of July, with some anglers catching their limits by 8 a.m.,” said Marci Yaremko, Environmental Program Manager with CDFW. “The significant number of fish caught during this time is unprecedented in California’s fishery, and the quota was reached very quickly.” Using this information, CDFW conferred with the National Marine Fisheries Service, the IPHC and the Pacific Fishery Management Council to review projected catch amounts and to determine the 2020 quota had been attained.” So, until the tuna water comes within reach, it’s all about the rockfish.

Weekend Marine forecast
The weekend is looking plenty fishable. Out 10 nautical miles north of the Cape, Friday’s forecast is calling for N winds 5 to 10 knots and waves out of the NW 6 feet at 8 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds up to 5 knots and waves NW 4 feet at 8 seconds. Sunday’s forecast looks better, with winds out of the S 5 to 10 knots and waves NW 5 feet at 11 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

2020 Klamath/Trinity fall regulations and quotas

Fall regulations go into effect on the Klamath River for fall-run Chinook salmon beginning Aug. 15 and run through Dec. 31. On the Trinity, the fall quota will begin on Sept. 1 and run through Dec. 31. The in-river quota for the entire Klamath Basin is 1,296 adult fall Chinook. The daily bag limit will be two Chinook, no more than one adult (greater than 23 inches) and the possession limit is six, no more than three adults. Two hatchery steelhead or hatchery trout may also be retained, with a possession limit of four each. For more information, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2020/07/29/2020-klamath-trinity-regulations/

Klamath quotas

  • The Spit Area (within 100 yards of the channel through the sand spit formed at the Klamath River mouth) – 194 adults *
  • From the Klamath mouth to the Hwy. 96 bridge at Weitchpec – 648 adults
  • From the Hwy. 96 bridge at Weitchpec to 3,500 feet downstream of the Iron Gate Dam – 220 adults

* Only the Spit Area will close once 194 adults are harvested. The rest of the area below Highway 101 (estuary) will remain open to recreational fishing.

Important Reminder: All legally caught Chinook salmon must be retained while fishing the spit. Once the adult component of the total daily bag limit has been retained, anglers must cease fishing in the spit area. Also, the new six-foot leader length restriction remains in effect.

Trinity quotas

  • Downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat – 214 adults
  • Downstream of the Denny Road bridge at Hawkins Bar to the confluence with the Klamath – 214 adults

Downstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to the Denny Road Bridge in Hawkins Bar is closed to fishing September 1 through December 31.

The take of salmon is prohibited from the confluence of the South Fork Trinity downstream to the confluence of the Klamath from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31.

Once these quotas have been met, no Chinook salmon greater than 23 inches in length may be retained. Anglers may still retain a limit of Chinook salmon under 23 inches in length.

The 2020-2021 sport seasons, dates, locations, bag limits and gear restrictions can be found at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=180470&inline. Additional information can be found on 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.

Free fishing this weekend in Oregon
It’s free to fish, crab or clam in Oregon on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 15-16, 2020.
During these two days, no fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement) are required to fish, crab or clam. While nonresidents can also fish for free, there are still special restrictions in place on the coast due to Covid-19. Currently, clamming and mussel harvesting is closed to nonresidents coastwide. Crabbing is open to nonresidents along most of the Coast but is closed to nonresidents in the Columbia River and in ocean areas north of Cape Falcon (nonresidents may crab in bays and estuaries north of Cape Falcon e.g. Necanium River estuary). A few other clamming and crabbing closures are in effect (including razor clamming on Clatsop beaches). For more information, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2020/08_Aug/081020.asp

Cabezon off limits for Oregon boats
Effective 12:01 a.m. Friday, Aug. 14, sport anglers fishing from boats can no longer retain cabezon. This restriction does not impact shore-based anglers. According to the press release issued on Tuesday, the boat-based recreational harvest of cabezon is approaching the 16.2 metric ton quota, and the restriction is necessary to keep total year-end impacts within that quota. Anglers have been encountering more cabezon the last couple of years, and the average weight is up, similar to last year.

Anglers fishing from shore may still retain a one fish sub-bag limit of legal sized cabezon (16 inches or greater). Harvesting these fish from shore is infrequent, contributing a very small amount of mortality and is excluded from the retention closure.

Sport anglers fishing from boats who catch a cabezon after Aug. 13 must release it.

Cabezon have an excellent survival rate of 93 percent when released. Unlike rockfish, cabezon do not have a swim bladder, and therefore do not suffer from barotrauma (expansion or rupture of the swim bladder when fish are brought up from deep waters) that can cause stress, injury, and sometime death. Most released cabezon will live to see another day, and perhaps reproduce again. For more information, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2020/08_Aug/081120.asp

The Oceans:
Eureka
The Pacific halibut season came to an end on Tuesday, and the boats lucky enough to be on the water left the fish biting. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing was one of the charters that fished right until the end. “There’s still quite a few fish out there,” said Klassen. “We had to move around a little today to get limits. Once they started biting, it was pretty fast and furious. A pretty good way to end one of the best seasons I can remember. With salmon also closed, we’ll be focusing on rockfish trips. The weather looks pretty good for Cape runs this weekend. The tuna water is still about 60 to 70 miles offshore of Eureka, so that’s not an option as of yet.”

Tyler Vaughn with a 75-pound halibut caught on Tuesday out of Trinidad. Photo courtesy of Tyler Vaughn

Trinidad
Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters reports the rockfish action is cranking right along, with lots of variety coming over the rails. “We’ve been spending some time at Reading Rock, and the fishing is really good,” said Wilson. “We’re seeing a pretty wide variety of fish, and catching nice limits of lings as well. Closer to home, the spots between the Head and Patrick’s Point have produced a good number of blacks, blues, and canaries. The Pacific halibut bite went out with a bang on Tuesday. It was a pretty wide-open bite until the end.”

Shelter Cove
“The salmon bite picked up for a couple days over the weekend and we got quick limits with a light load a couple of days” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “It has since slowed down quite a bit and not very many were caught last couple days. Most of the fish were coming right around the buoy. Rock fishing was a little slow, but we still managed limits. We made it up to Rodgers a couple days for rockfish. There are a few California halibut being caught, but the bite has slowed down a little.”

Crescent City
When the boats have been able to get out, the rockfish and lingcod bite have been excellent reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “Most of the boats are hitting North or South Reef, as well as the Sisters. The California halibut bite has slowed down along South Beach as the water has really cooled. The Threshers have moved out as well. Last week the Thresher bite was red-hot, with six or seven being landed each day.”

Brookings
“Salmon season closed last Friday out of Brookings”, said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “The last week was slow. Halibut fishing has been a pleasant surprise, with big numbers of Pacific and California halibut being caught. The Pacific halibut are generally small, less than 20 pounds, but are abundant this summer in 200 feet three miles off the coast. California halibut are now biting at the beaches near Brookings, with a few even caught from the South Jetty. Rockfish action is good, with a fair lingcod bite.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The estuary fishery has slowed down over the last 10 days. There aren’t many boats fishing, and very few are being caught right now. The better tides this week have been in the evenings. Hopefully we’ll start to see the fall fish come in and make their way upriver. As of Wednesday, there weren’t many salmon being caught above tidewater, but there are plenty of half-pounders and adult steelhead around. Fall regulations go into effect on Saturday. The daily bag limit will be two Chinook, no more than one adult (greater than 23 inches) and the possession limit is six, no more than three adults

Lower Rogue
Salmon fishing is still slow on the Rogue Bay, but kings are being caught according to Martin. “A dozen to two dozen total fish a day are showing in the catch out of 75-plus boats. Favorable tides this weekend could boost catch rates,” said 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