Sport Crab Trap Restrictions to End Monday

Hoop nets filled with Dungeness crabs are pulled aboard the Reel Steel last week out of Eureka. Beginning Monday Nov. 28 at 9 a.m., sport crab anglers will again be able to fish with crab traps. Photo courtesy of Mackgraphics Humboldt

In a press release issued Monday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will lift the recreational crab trap restriction in fishing zones 1 and 2, which run from the California/Oregon border south to Point Arena, on Nov. 28 at 9 a.m. In the meantime, recreational crabbers that take Dungeness crab by other methods, including hoop nets and crab snares, are still allowed during the temporary trap restriction. The balance of the state, from Point Arena south to the USA/Mexico border (zones 3-6), is continuing the temporary recreational crab trap restriction due to the presence of humpback whales and the potential for entanglement from trap gear.

On the commercial side, the Northern California commercial Dungeness crab season has been delayed due to poor crab meat quality test results for Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties (zones 1 and 2). The commercial Dungeness crab fishery in this area is delayed until 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, pending another round of meat quality testing. If results indicate good quality, the fishery will open and be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that will begin at 8:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13.

The commercial Dungeness crab fishery in fishing zones 3-6 will also remain delayed due to presence of high numbers of humpback whales and the potential for entanglement with lines and traps in this fishery. CDFW anticipates the next risk assessment will take place on or before Dec. 7, at which time CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham will re-evaluate the temporary recreational crab trap restriction and commercial fishery delay.

Weekend weather and marine forecast
After an extended dry spell that has kept the rivers closed to fishing due to low-flows, some substantial rain is finally in the forecast. In the Smith basin, light rain is predicted to begin Sunday and remain in the forecast throughout the week. Wednesday looks to be the day with the heaviest rainfall, with up to an inch predicted. In the Eel basin, rain is also expected throughout the week beginning on Sunday. A little over a half inch is forecast for Wednesday and additional rain is expected through at least Friday.

The weekend marine forecast isn’t looking great for offshore crabbing or rockfish. As of Wednesday, Friday’s forecast is calling for north winds 10 to 15 knots and north waves 4 feet at six seconds and west 10 feet at 15 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for north winds 10 to 20 knots with north waves 8 feet at nine seconds and northwest 8 feet at 15 seconds. Less wind is forecast for Sunday, coming out of the northwest 5 to 10 knots with northwest waves 7 feet at 12 seconds and 3 feet at 21 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or www.windy.com. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

Nov. 25 and 26 free fish days in Oregon
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is waiving all fishing licensing requirements on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to experience fishing with friends and family during the long holiday weekend. All fishing, crabbing and clamming in Oregon will be free for both Oregon residents and non-residents. No licenses, tags or endorsements are needed on those days, but all other fishing regulations apply. Visit dfw.state.or.us/news/2022/11_Nov/111522.asp for more info.

The Oceans
Eureka
Ocean conditions have been excellent all week, but that looks to change by Friday when seas are forecast to reach 10 feet. Crabbing has been really good up and down the coast, and Eureka was no exception. “It’s been great all week, but Monday was exceptional with at least 10 keepers per hoop net,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “We’re soaking the nets a little longer now with hanging bait, and that seems to be working. Boats are fishing both sides of the entrance and having success from 40 to 100 feet of water.” The rockfish season will run through December with no depth restrictions.

Trinidad
The best crabbing so far this season has been in Trinidad. Small boats and kayakers launching from the beach have been scoring quick limits inside the harbor. When the ocean has allowed, boats have done well near the bell buoy in 200 to 300 feet of water. Just outside of Prisoner Rock has also been a top spot. The rockfish season will go through December with no depth restrictions.

Shelter Cove

According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, ocean conditions were perfect last week. “Some of the best conditions we’ve had all year,” said Mitchell. “We’ve had limits of rockfish, lings and crabs each day. Most of the time has been spent at Rogers Break and Gorda. There are still a few Bluefin around, but they’ve moved a little south. One was landed out of Fort Bragg on Saturday.”

Brookings
“Calm ocean conditions allowed boats to get out over the weekend, with good action on lingcod and rockfish,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters.  “Lingcod are in shallow water, staging to spawn. Big swells return this week. Sport crab season opens Dec. 1 on the Oregon side of the border. Surfperch continue to bite at Lone Ranch and Crissy Field. 

Eel River salmon returns
The first fish of the 2022/23 salmonid migration season arrived at Van Arsdale Fisheries Station (VAFS) on Monday, November 7, 2022. A total of 82 Chinook salmon were observed migrating upstream on the video monitoring system at VAFS; the season total stands at 82 (12 Female, 23 Male, 25 Unknown, and 22 Subadult). No steelhead yet but this is typical for Van Arsdale, located high in the Eel River Watershed. For more information, visit www.eelriver.org/the-eel-river/fish-count.

The Rivers:
As of Wednesday, all North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the main stem Eel, South Fork Eel, Mad, Smith, Redwood Creek and Van Duzen, are closed. The Mad River from the mouth to 200 yards upstream, the main stem Eel from the South Fork to Cape Horn Dam and the Mattole River are all closed until Jan. 1, 2023. The Department of Fish and Wildlife will make the information available to the public no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any river will be closed to fishing. The rivers can be opened at any time. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164. For more information, visit fishingthenorthcoast.com/2021/09/22/2021-2022-low-flow-information-for-north-coast-rivers/.

Chetco/ Elk/Sixes
The Chetco is low and clear, but full of salmon on the lower river reports Martin. “Bobber fishing remains the best bet with low flows, although the gear restriction has been lifted,” said Martin. “Above Loeb Park, the spawn is in full swing, with salmon spawning in nearly every tail out. Rain is expected this weekend, which should give anglers another chance at drifting the Chetco, Elk and Sixes.”

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 fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Sport Anglers Netting Plenty of Crab

Nicole Schaefer of McKinleyville pulled in a nice haul of Dungeness crab last weekend out of Trinidad. Photo courtesy of Lawrence Sobolewski

Despite some pretty drastic changes to the sport crab fishing regulations, jumbo crabs in good numbers are now starting to fill the hoops and rings of sport anglers. Between rough ocean conditions and a steep learning curve on how the new hoops and rings fish best, the sport season started a little on the slow side. But now anglers are getting the hang of things and scores are starting to go up. “We’ve only had a few days on the water, so we’re still trying to dial in the hoop nets,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “From what I’ve learned, the crabs don’t stay on the bait nearly as long as the traps. They move on pretty quickly. Timing is the key, stuffing bait jars with squid and checking the hoops every 30 minutes or so seems to be working.” According to Klassen, most of the Eureka boats have been fishing south of the entrance in 40 to 100 feet of water.

The bright spot so far this season has been Trinidad. Small boats and kayakers launching from the beach have been scoring quick limits inside the harbor. When the ocean has allowed, boats have done well near the bell buoy in 200 to 300 feet of water. Just outside of Prisoner Rock has also been a top spot.

Though not official, the quality testing shows the crabs out of Eureka at 19.5 percent, Trinidad 20.4 percent, and 18.7 percent out of Crescent City. A typical year will find the meat content at around 20 percent, with the theory being that crabs will add one percent of meat a week and reach the 25 percent mark for the commercial opener of Dec. 1.

Reminder: CDFW strongly encourages anglers to follow the Best Fishing Practices Guide developed by the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group. Voluntary actions anglers can employ include keeping the line between the pot and main buoy taught and vertical, reducing the amount of vertical line at the surface, avoiding setting gear in the vicinity of whales and turtles, and marking gear consistent with regulations. Best Fishing Practices Guide can be found here: nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=195428&inline.

For current sport crab regulations, visit cdfwmarine.wordpress.com/2022/11/08/new-hoop-net-regulations-in-effect/.

Weekend marine forecast
This week’s marine forecast is looking good for offshore crabbing and rockfish, with very little wind in the forecast. As of Thursday, Friday is looking at north winds 5 to 10 knots and north waves 4 feet at five seconds and west 4 feet at 13 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for southeast winds up to 5 knots with west waves 4 feet at 11 seconds. Sunday the winds will be from the south up to 5 knots with west waves 3 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 www.windy.com. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

365-Day Fishing Licenses now available
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will begin selling 365-day fishing licenses far sooner than expected. Beginning November 15, 2022, California anglers will be able to purchase a 2023 fishing license that will take effect on January 1, 2023, and last the entire year. All licenses purchased on or after January 1, 2023, will be effective from the date of purchase for a continuous 365 days. 

Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) introduced AB 817 in February 2021, allowing a transition of California’s fishing license validity from a calendar year to a full 365 days from purchase. Prior to this change, anglers who purchase their license after New Year’s Day were charged the same price for fewer days of fishing, and some are not willing to pay the full price of a license when purchasing it later in the year resulting in fewer license sales. This change will allow anglers to receive 365 days’ worth of benefits after purchasing a license any time of year.

“Thanks to the dedicated staff efforts at CDFW, California will be moving to our new 365-day fishing license even sooner than expected,” said Wood. “This license will encourage more Californians to fish and increase fishing license revenue which funds critical state fishing and conservation programs. Making fishing more accessible really supports communities that rely on outdoor recreation and tourism, like my northern California district.”

To purchase a fishing license, please visit CDFW’s online internet sales webpage. At checkout there is an additional option to enroll in auto-renewal for fishing licenses, which allows anglers to automatically purchase and receive their new license when their current one expires, so California’s anglers never miss a day of fishing! For more information, visit wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Fishing#445183569-365—day-sport-fishing-licenses

The Rivers:
As of Thursday, only the main stem Eel remained open to fishing. All other North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Smith, South Fork Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek and Van Duzen, are closed. The Mad River from the mouth to 200 yards upstream, the main stem Eel from the South Fork to Cape Horn Dam and the Mattole River are all closed until January 1, 2023. The Department of Fish and Wildlife will make the information available to the public no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any river will be closed to fishing. The rivers can be opened at any time. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164. For more information, visit fishingthenorthcoast.com/2021/09/22/2021-2022-low-flow-information-for-north-coast-rivers/.

Main stem Eel
The main stem Eel near Scotia was running at 370 cubic feet per second as of Thursday. Flows are predicted to fall below the 350 cfs threshold by the weekend, so it could close. There were some fish caught over the weekend by bank anglers and boats drifting the lower river. Most of the fish are dark. There are also some coho around. River forecast levels can be found here: cnrfc.noaa.gov/graphicalRVF.php?id=SCOC1.

Smith River
The Smith closed to fishing as of Thursday. Minimum flows are 600 cfs at Jedediah Smith State Park to enact angling restrictions. River forecast levels can be found here: cnrfc.noaa.gov/graphicalRVF.php?id=CREC1.

Chetco/Elk/Sixes Rivers
“Salmon fishing was good all of last week on the Chetco, with big numbers of hatchery and wild kings,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Low water slowed the action by the weekend, and catch rates dropped significantly. More rain is now needed. Anglers also are awaiting rain to get back on the Elk and Sixes, where fishing was fair last week. The two northern rivers generally fish best after the second big rise of the season, which could happen this coming week.”

Brookings ocean update
According to Martin, the ocean has been rough out of Brookings, but smaller swells late last week allowed boats to get out. “Lingcod fishing was very good near Bird Island. Conditions look good this week.”

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 fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Storms Kick Off Coastal King Season

Eureka resident Whitney Floyd landed a king salmon while fishing the Smith River on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Seth Waters Fishing

The season’s first big storms hit the North Coast over the weekend and the Smith and Chetco both kicked out good numbers of kings. Both rivers have been loaded with kings in their lower sections for quite some time, and when the rivers finally rose, they were on the move. On Saturday, the Smith turned muddy, forcing anglers to wait another day. When Sunday rolled around, conditions were much improved and the fishing was wide-open. Most drift boats put up double-digit scores, though most of the fish were dark.

Conditions were similar up north on the Chetco. Saturday’s fishing was tough due to conditions but improved dramatically Sunday. Conditions were excellent on both rivers Monday and Tuesday and the fishing was good with some nice chrome fish hitting the net. With no rain in the forecast for at least the next seven days, fishing is going to get a lot tougher. The Smith is forecast to drop below the threshold of 600 cubic feet per second sometime Wednesday and will likely close to fishing Thursday. The Chetco will remain open, but fishing with a bobber remains in effect through Nov. 15 from river mile 2.2 to Nook Creek.

As of Thursday, all North Coast rivers subjected to low-flow fishing closures except the South Fork Eel and Van Duzen were open to fishing. Rivers open to fishing include the Smith, main stem Eel, Mad and Redwood Creek.

All are expected to drop this week due to dry conditions, but some could remain open to fishing. Be sure and call the low-flow closure hotline at (707) 822-3164 to determine if the river is open prior to fishing. California Department of Fish and Wildlife will announce whether rivers will be open by a telephone recorded message each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Rivers will not automatically open to fishing once minimum flows are reached. . For more information, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2021/09/22/2021-2022-low-flow-information-for-north-coast-rivers/

Mad River
Flowing at 190 cfs as of Thursday afternoon and dropping quickly. Will likely close prior to the weekend. Minimum flows are 200 cfs at the gauging station at the State Route 299 bridge.

Main Eel
Running at 875 cfs as of Thursday. Should remain open to fishing through the weekend. Minimum flows are 350 cfs on the Scotia gauge to enact angling restrictions.

Van Duzen
Flows were down to  115 cfs on Thursday afternoon and remained closed to fishing. Minimum flows are 150 cfs at the gauging station near Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park to lift angling restrictions.

South Fork Eel
Flows were at 180 cfs Thursday afternoon and dropping, remaining closed to fishing. Minimum flows are 340 cfs at Miranda to lift angling restrictions.

Smith
Fishing has been good on the Smith the last few days. Boats fishing sections from the forks all the way to the Outfitters have been boating plenty of big kings, as well as jacks. The majority of the fish are dark, but there are some fresh fish being caught. Most of the fish are coming on sardine-wrapped Kwikfish. Flows were down to 780 cfs Thursday and most angles have moved to other rivers. With some rain expected on Friday, it should remain open through the weekend. Minimum flows are 600 cfs at Jedediah Smith State Park to enact angling restrictions.

Chetco/Elk/Sixes
The Chetco has been fishing decent for fall kings, with bright fish spread throughout the river, reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Leaves made fishing tough on Saturday, but action improved as the river dropped Sunday,” said Martin. “Muddy water from Sunday night’s rain cleared quickly Monday, giving way to a fairly good bite. Flows will drop and clear as the week goes on. The Elk fished well on Monday, while the Sixes was still high and muddy. Both rivers will be in play this week. Salmon season is over on the Rogue, with winter steelhead still more than a month away. The Coos and Umpqua also are slow.”

Sport crabbing update
The sport Dungeness crab season opened Saturday, but the weather failed to cooperate. Boats didn’t make it offshore out of Eureka due to large swells, but a few were able to get out of Trinidad and Crescent City. Reportedly, if you made it out and were able to drop your nets or rings, you were rewarded with limits of nice size crabs. Humboldt Bay, which is typically a good Plan B, was reportedly slow for the handful of boats that braved the weather. Offshore conditions will improve by Thursday, and we’ll likely see some good scores as both charters and sport boats will be able to set their gear.

Upstream of I-5 on the Klamath reopened to adult salmon harvest
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced on Tuesday that recreational fishing for adult, fall-run Chinook salmon on the Klamath River has reopened between Interstate 5 near Hornbrook and 3,500-feet below the Iron Gate Fish Hatchery in Siskiyou County.

The Iron Gate Fish Hatchery has received more than 8,000 returning, fall-run Chinook salmon this month, which triggers the reopening of recreational fishing for adult Chinook salmon within the stretch of river per CDFW’s 2022-2023 California Supplemental Sport Fishing Regulations.

Recreational anglers will be able to harvest two Chinook salmon, but no more than one adult greater than 23 inches per day in this reach. The possession limit is six Chinook salmon with no more than three adults. Reopening this stretch of the Klamath River is designed to allow anglers to catch surplus hatchery Chinook salmon now that the number of adults needed for spawning has been achieved at the hatchery.

The only other sector of the Klamath-Trinity rivers that remain open for adult Chinook salmon harvest is the lower Trinity River from the Denny Road bridge at Hawkins Bar downstream to the confluence with the Klamath River. The take of jack Chinook salmon less than or equal to 23 inches is allowed in all areas of the Klamath Basin with the exception of the mouth of the Klamath River, which is closed for the remainder of the year. The daily bag limit for jack Chinook salmon in these areas is two fish per day and no more than six in possession.

Anglers can monitor the quota status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling CDFW’s information hotline at (800) 564-6479.

For more information regarding Klamath River fishing regulations, please consult CDFW’s 2022-2023 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations and the 2022-2023 California Supplemental Sport Fishing Regulations available at wildlife.ca.gov/regulations.

Razor clamming closes in Del Norte due to high domoic acid levels
In a press release issued Nov. 3, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has closed the recreational razor clam fishery in Del Norte County following a recommendation from state health agencies determining that consumption of razor clams in the area poses a significant threat for domoic acid exposure. Sampling of razor clams from Crescent Beach in Crescent City in late October found clams exceeding the current federal action level for domoic acid of greater than or equal to 20 parts per million.

Domoic acid poisoning in humans may occur within minutes to hours after consumption of affected seafood and can result in signs and symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to permanent loss of short-term memory (Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning), coma or death. There is no way to prepare clams for consumption that will remove the toxin – cooking and freezing have no effect.

CDFW will continue to work with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to collect, monitor and analyze razor clams to determine when the recreational clam fishery in Del Norte County can be reopened safely.

For more information on any fishery closure or health advisories, please visit: www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories. To get the latest information on current fishing season closures related to domoic acid, please call CDFW’s Domoic Acid Fishery Closure Information Line at 831-649-2883.

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

Sport Crab Season a Go for Saturday

Ron Haynes, a deckhand for Brookings Fishing Charters, and a young customer, hold crab harvested in Brookings earlier this year. The sport crab season will open statewide in California this Saturday with restrictions. Photo courtesy of Brookings Fishing Charters

One of the most popular fisheries on the North Coast will commence Saturday, on time, albeit with a few temporary regulation changes. Due to presence of humpback and blue whales and the potential for entanglement from trap gear, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife restricted the recreational take of Dungeness crab using crab traps statewide. However, the recreational take of Dungeness crab by other methods, including hoop nets and crab snares, is not affected by the temporary trap restriction. I’d say we’re batting .500 as the season could have easily been delayed as is the case with the commercial fleet south of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line. Their season was to begin on Nov. 15, but the high number of whales shut them down. So, hoop nets it is, and there are some changes to those regulations as well that anglers need to be aware of. They include:

  • Hoop nets are required to be regularly serviced every two hours;
  • Design modification specs to prevent the device from functioning as a crab trap that could incentivize longer soak periods;
  • Reduce the weight of the hoop net, thereby posing less harm to an entangled whale or sea turtle should that occur.
  • Expand current gear marking requirements for hoop nets used south of Point Arguello, Santa Barbara County, to apply statewide, which will aid in identifying this gear type for enforcing these requirements and identify hoop nets involved in entanglements.

For specific hoop net requirements, visit wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Sport-Fishing/Invertebrate-Fishing-Regs#crustaceans.

The season’s first traps can legally be deployed at 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning. Anglers, weather permitting, will get their first peek into the health and weight of this season’s crop as the pre-season quality tests have not taken place or the results have yet to be made public. One thing we do know is the domoic acid levels won’t be an issue. Statewide testing is nearly complete with zero percent of the samples exceeding or even coming close to action levels.

The season runs from Saturday, Nov. 5 through July 30, 2023. The minimum size is 5 ¾ inches measured by the shortest distance through the body from edge of shell to edge of shell directly in front of and excluding the points (lateral spines). The limit is 10 and a valid California sport fishing license is required but an annual crab trap validation is not required when taking crabs with hoop nets or crab loop traps.

Top crabbing locations
With offshore conditions looking rough over the weekend, you can still find plenty of crab. One of the top spots to soak a few rings is Crab Park, located at the end of Cannibal Island Road in Loleta. There’s access to launch a kayak or canoe in the estuary of the Eel River. You can also launch your boat at Pedrazzini Park at the end of Cock Robin Island Road and make your way up the estuary towards the mouth of the Eel.

Humboldt Bay also has a few good locations to catch some crab. Out in front of the PG&E plant is a good spot as well as the flat off of the South Jetty parking lot. Another top location is either side of the channel leading into the South Bay. Up north, inside Trinidad Harbor is another popular spot among the locals. You can launch your small boat, kayak or canoe right off the beach and head out to Prisoner Rock, where the bottom is sandy and 40 to 50-ft deep. Launching here requires a relatively calm ocean, which doesn’t look to be the case for the weekend.

Weekend Marine Forecast
Ocean conditions don’t look good for Saturday’s crab opener. As of Tuesday, elevated seas are in the weekend forecast. Saturday’s forecast is calling for northwest winds 5 to 15 knots with northwest waves 9 feet at 12 seconds. Winds will pick up Sunday, coming out of the southwest 10 to 20 knots with northwest waves 17 feet at 14 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit weather.gov/eureka or windy.com. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Weekend Tides – Humboldt Bay
• Sat., Nov. 5: high: 10:35 a.m. and 11:02 p.m.; low: 4:01 a.m. and 4:54 p.m.

Standard time begins at 2:00 a.m. Sunday
• Sun., Nov. 6: high: 11:08 a.m. and 11:57 p.m.; low: 4:44 a.m. and 5:39 p.m.

North Coast all-depth recreational fishing began Nov. 1
The North Coast all-depth recreational fishery began Nov. 1. The all-depth fishery will take place only in November and December, and only north of Point Arena. The newly open areas will allow anglers to target groundfish species in the midwater column, such as widow and yellowtail rockfish, as well as species found on the bottom. There are no special gear requirements, though unless otherwise specified, regulations require anglers to use not more than two hooks and one line to target groundfish. All other season dates, bag limits, size limits and other special area closures still apply. For more information regarding groundfish regulations, management and fish identification tools, please visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Groundfish-Summary

The Rivers:
Currently, all North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the main stem and South Fork Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen, are closed. Sections of rivers that are open include the main stem Smith River from its mouth to the mouth of Rowdy Creek. The Mad River from the mouth to 200 yards upstream is closed until Jan. 1. The Department of Fish and Wildlife will make the information available to the public no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any river will be closed to fishing. The rivers can be opened at any time. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164. For more information, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2021/09/22/2021-2022-low-flow-information-for-north-coast-rivers/

Main stem Eel
The main stem Eel near Scotia was running just above 200 cfs as of Wednesday. Flows are predicted to peak above the 350 cubic feet per second threshold Sunday morning. If the rains come as predicted, it could open to fishing Sunday morning. River forecast levels can be found here: cnrfc.noaa.gov/graphicalRVF.php?id=SCOC1

Smith River
The Smith remains closed due to low flows as of Wednesday and it doesn’t look like it will meet the 600 cfs threshold on the Jed Smith gauge prior to the weekend. Flows are predicted to peak at 865 cfs by early Sunday morning before it drops throughout the day Sunday. River forecast levels can be found here: cnrfc.noaa.gov/graphicalRVF.php?id=CREC1.

Chetco River
Heavy rain later this week is expected to push the Chetco into prime shape for fall salmon by next week reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Until then, anglers are limited to bobbers, which have been effective in tricking salmon holding in the tidewater holes,” said Martin. “Big numbers of salmon are spread from the U.S. Highway 101 bridge to Social Security Bar, with wild and hatchery adults and lots of jacks. Trolling has been slow in the estuary. The biggest rise in flows is expected to take place next Wednesday, although earlier forecasts of rain this week failed to materialize.”

Gear restrictions extended on Chetco, Winchuck rivers
Chetco and Winchuck angling gear restrictions are extended through 11:59 p.m., Nov. 15 due to low water levels. The gear restriction extension is also a conservative approach to help lower harvest levels of older aged chinook salmon.
Angling is restricted to fly fishing (must include a strike indicator) or bobber fishing in both rivers. The Chetco restriction applies from River Mile 2.2 to Nook Creek, and from the mouth to Wheeler Creek in the Winchuck River.
Based on historical flow regimes, gear restrictions are typically in place Sept. 1 – Nov. 3 each year to eliminate snagging. As in 2018, this year is an exception with abnormally low flows and no significant October rains. With rain forecasted beginning this week, the gear restriction will lift at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 16.
ODFW biologists expect good numbers of chinook to return to the Chetco and some are already holding in the lower river. Maintaining a fishing opportunity for Chetco bank anglers is important and this is also a good time of year to harvest returning hatchery fish. For more information, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2022/11_Nov/110222.asp

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

Upper Trinity Closed to Taking Adult Kings

Andrew Mclaughlin of Eureka landed this adult king salmon on a recent float down the lower Trinity River. The lower Trinity is now the only sector in the Klamath basin where adult kings can be harvested.
Photo courtesy of Redwood Coast Fishing with Mike Stratman

In a press release issued last week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife projected the Upper Trinity River fall-run Chinook salmon quota would have been met as of 11:59 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21. This triggered the closure of the adult fall-run Chinook salmon fishery on the Trinity River from the Old Lewiston Bridge to the State Route 299 West Bridge at Cedar Flat. This reach will remain open for the harvest of 2-year-old jack 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.

Anglers may still fish for adult Chinook salmon in the Lower Trinity River sector downstream of the Denny Road Bridge at Hawkins Bar to the confluence with the Klamath River. All other sectors are closed to adult salmon harvest.

Anglers may monitor the quota status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling the information hotline at (800) 564-6479.

For more information, visit wildlife.ca.gov/News/upper-trinity-river-adult-chinook-salmon-quota-met.

All depths rockfish to begin Nov. 1

The North Coast all-depth recreational fishery will begin Nov. 1. The all-depth fishery will take place only in November and December, and only north of Point Arena. The newly open areas will allow anglers to target groundfish species in the midwater column, such as widow and yellowtail rockfish, as well as species found on the bottom. There are no special gear requirements, though unless otherwise specified, regulations require anglers to use not more than two hooks and one line to target groundfish. All other season dates, bag limits, size limits and other special area closures still apply. For more information regarding groundfish regulations, management and fish identification tools, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Groundfish-Summary.

Dungeness crab testing ongoing
Domoic acid testing in Dungeness crabs is nearly complete on the California coast. To date, samples from Crescent City, Eureka, Bodega Bay, Trinidad, Half Moon Bay/San Francisco and Monterey have all been tested at least once. Only Fort Bragg and Morro Bay have yet to post test results. None of the tested ports had crabs that exceed the action level of 30 parts per million. For more information, visit cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/Pages/FDBPrograms/FoodSafetyProgram/DomoicAcid.aspx.

The Oceans:
Eureka
The rockfish bite at Cape Mendocino remains excellent when the boats can make it offshore. Ocean conditions don’t look good through at least the weekend. The rockfish season will run through December and starting Nov. 1 there will be no depth restrictions. Recreational crab season is expected to open Nov. 5.

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, another Bluefin was landed last Tuesday, but none since then. “It’s been really foggy, which makes it difficult to find them,” said Mitchell.  “Aside from the tuna, the rockfish bite is still going strong with easy limits.”

Crescent City
With the tuna season likely over for the season, boats are focusing on rockfish. Limits continue to come over the rails easily, including some nice lingcod. The north and south reefs along with the Sisters are producing some of the best fishing.

Brookings
Rough ocean conditions have slowed lingcod and rockfish action reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Big swells are expected into the weekend,” said Martin. “A boat that attempted to cross the Gold Beach bar over the weekend capsized, with its sole occupant rescued by a local police officer who swam out to pull the boater to safety.”

North Coast river closures
Currently, all North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen, are closed. Sections of rivers that are open include the main stem Smith River from its mouth to the mouth of Rowdy Creek. New in 2022, a low-flow angling restriction was added to the section of the Eel River from the mouth to Fulmor Road at its paved junction with the south bank of the Eel River, Sept. 1 through April 30. The Mad River from the mouth to 200 yards upstream is closed until Jan. 1. The Department of Fish and Wildlife will make the information available to the public no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any river will be closed to fishing. The rivers can be opened at any time. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164. For more information, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2021/09/22/2021-2022-low-flow-information-for-north-coast-rivers/

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The salmon bite and the fishing pressure have both slowed on the lower Klamath. Fishing can be good this time of the year as some of the late-run kings start to stage in front of the bigger creeks. For the week ending Oct. 21, a total of 14 jacks were harvested above the 101 Bridge compared to 43 from the previous week. The daily bag limit is two jack Chinook 23 inches or less, and two hatchery steelhead.

Chetco estuary
Salmon fishing has slowed in the Chetco estuary as the bulk of this year’s early fall run has moved into the tidewater area, according to Martin. “Bobber fishing with roe and sand shrimp has been good, but conditions are crowded at most of the deeper holes where salmon are kegged up. ODFW was able to gather nearly 100 salmon for the Chetco’s brood stock program with just a pair of sets of its seine net. Rains this weekend should move salmon upriver. The Chetco is open to bobber fishing only above river mile 2.2, the power lines just above the Highway 101 bridge. Gear restrictions are lifted Nov. 5.”

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

Additional Changes Coming for Hoop Net Crabbing

Randy Barthman of Westhaven holds up a Dungeness crab from a few seasons back while crabbing aboard the Reel Steel out of Eureka. The 2022 sport Dungeness crab opener is slated to open Saturday, Nov. 5. Photo courtesy of MackGraphics Fish Humboldt

Back in April, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) issued a press release restricting the use of crab traps to help minimize risk of entanglement as humpback whales forage in California waters during the spring and summer months. However, the recreational take of Dungeness crab by other methods, including hoop nets and crab snares, was not affected by the trap restriction. Turns out the hoop nets became extremely popular and CDFW saw a dramatic increase in hoop net fishing effort for Dungeness crab. And, unfortunately, the increased effort occurred during times of elevated marine life entanglement risk. On top of that, the hoop net manufacturers got really creative at developing hoop nets that function like traps while still meeting the specifications in the current regulations.

To get a handle on the situation, the California Fish and Game Commission (CDFGC) decided urgent action was needed to protect against whale entanglements. CDFW proposed the following emergency rulemaking that will amend and clarify hoop net regulations to minimize the risk of entanglements.

  • Ensure that hoop nets are regularly serviced every two hours;
  • Modify design specifications to prevent the device from functioning as a crab trap that could incentivize longer soak periods;
  • Reduce the weight of the hoop net, thereby posing less harm to an entangled whale or sea turtle should that occur; and
  • Expand current gear marking requirements for hoop nets used south of Point Arguello, Santa Barbara County, to apply statewide, which will aid in identifying this gear type for enforcing these requirements and identify hoop nets involved in entanglements.

At the urging of the CDFW, these emergency regulations were adopted by CDFGC at their October meeting and will become effective prior to the Nov. 5 opening of the Dungeness crab season. For more information, visit nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=204688&inline

Dungeness crab testing ongoing
Domoic acid testing in Dungeness crabs is roughly halfway complete on the California coast. To date, samples from Bodega Bay, Trinidad, Half Moon Bay/San Francisco and Monterey have all been tested at least once. None of the tested ports had crabs that exceed the action level of 30 parts per million. For more information, visit www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/Pages/FDBPrograms/FoodSafetyProgram/DomoicAcid.aspx

The Oceans:
Eureka
According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the rockfish bite at Cape Mendocino remains excellent. “We were down there Monday with a few other boats and the fish were really on the bite,” said Klassen. “We’re still catching a very wide variety and the lingcod bite is good as well. The rockfish season will go through December and starting Nov. 1 there will be no depth restrictions.”

Sean Mitchell, left, of Redway landed this 195-pound Bluefin tuna Monday while fishing five miles outside of Shelter Cove with Jake Mitchell, right, of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. Photo courtesy of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

Shelter Cove
The big news coming from the Cove this week is Bluefin tuna. According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, there’s been a school of them offshore for a few weeks. “I’ve targeted them a few times, but without much success,” said Mitchell. “They are really hard to get to bite, I’ve hooked two previously and lost them both” Things changed for Mitchell on Monday when his crew brought aboard a 195-pounder. Aside from the tuna, the rockfish bite has been great according to Mitchell. “The lingcod bite seems to be improving as well. We made the trek to Rogers Break a couple times this week and did really well with some lings up to 25 pounds.”

Crescent City
With the tuna season likely over for the season, boats are focusing on rockfish. Limits continue to come over the rails easily, including some nice lingcod. The north and south reefs along with the Sisters are producing some of the best fishing.

Brookings
Halibut season remains open through Oct. 31 out of Brookings, reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Fish to 50 pounds are being caught on calm weather days in 200 feet of water. Lingcod fishing has improved, and females move into shallow water to prepare to spawn. Sport crabbing is now closed outside of estuaries and bays.”

North Coast river closures
Currently, all North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen are closed. Sections of rivers that are open include the main stem Smith River from its mouth to the mouth of Rowdy Creek. New in 2022, a low-flow angling restriction was added to the section of the Eel River from the mouth to Fulmor Road at its paved junction with the south bank of the Eel River, Sept. 1 through April 30. The Mad River from the mouth to 200 yards upstream is closed until Jan. 1 2023. The Department of Fish and Game will make the information available to the public no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any river 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. For more information, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2021/09/22/2021-2022-low-flow-information-for-north-coast-rivers/

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The salmon action has slowed on the lower Klamath, but there are still some bright fish around. The few boats still fishing are finding most of their success above 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 less and two hatchery steelhead.

Chetco estuary
A handful of adult kings are being caught daily in the Chetco estuary, according to Martin. “Upriver, large schools of salmon are staging in the tidewater, awaiting rain,” said Martin. “Flows are expected to jump the middle of next week. Gear restrictions are in effect above river mile 2.2, the power lines above the Highway 101 bridge, through Nov. 4. Bobbers must be used above the power lines. Sand shrimp and roe combinations are tricking salmon at Tide Rock, Social Security Bar and the mouth of the North Fork.”

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

The Wait for Rain Begins

Customers of Brookings Fishing Charters hold Pacific halibut caught last week, despite rough, choppy water. They were fishing with Capt. Mick Thomas aboard the Dash. Photo courtesy of Brookings Fishing Charters

While we wait for rain that will fill our rivers with much-needed water and late fall Chinook salmon, the North Coast is not without angling options. Offshore, the boat-based rockfish and lingcod season will run through the end of the year. Beginning Nov. 1, both may be taken at any depth. Angling from the shore is open year-round. On Nov. 5, the uber-popular sport Dungeness crab season will commence. The California Fish and Game Commission is meeting this week to discuss and consider adopting emergency regulations to amend and clarify hoop net regulations to minimize entanglement risk for whales. If you haven’t got your fill of Pacific halibut, you can hop over the border to Brookings where the fishing is still going strong and the season will run through Oct. 31. If it’s river salmon you’re after, the Trinity will be your best bet. Both the upper and lower sections remain open to the harvest of adult fall-run Chinook salmon. The daily bag limit on the Trinity River is two fall-run Chinook salmon with no more than one adult greater than 23 inches. The Chetco estuary is another good option as it continues to produce big kings to anglers trolling anchovies. Hopefully the wait for rain won’t be a lengthy one, but if it is, you’ve got options.

365-day fishing licenses will begin in 2023
In a press release issued last week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will begin selling 365-day fishing licenses far sooner than expected, thanks to extensive efforts by staff to expedite sales. Beginning Nov. 15, California anglers will be able to purchase a 2023 fishing license that will take effect Jan. 1 and last the entire year. All licenses purchased on or after Jan. 1 will be effective from the date of purchase for a continuous 365 days. To purchase a fishing license, visit ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales. At checkout there is an additional option to enroll in auto-renewal for fishing licenses, which allows anglers to automatically purchase and receive their new license when their current one expires. For more information, visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/News/cdfw-to-begin-offering-365-day-fishing-licenses-for-2023

Weekend marine forecast
Light southerly winds are forecast for the weekend along with mid-period northwest swell and longer period south swells. As of Thursday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the northwest up to 5 knots with northwest waves 3 feet at seven seconds and 3 feet at 12 seconds. Saturday, winds will be out of the south 5 to 10 knots with northwest waves 3 feet at seven seconds. Sunday, winds will be 5 to 10 knots out of the south with south waves 2 feet at four 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. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Dungeness crab testing ongoing
Domoic acid testing in Dungeness crabs is roughly a third complete on the California coast. To date, samples from Trinidad, Half Moon Bay/San Francisco and Monterey have all been tested at least once. None of the tested ports had crabs that exceed the action level of 30 parts per million. For more information, visit www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/Pages/FDBPrograms/FoodSafetyProgram/DomoicAcid.aspx

The Oceans:
Eureka
According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, Cape Mendocino continues to provide solid rockfish action. “The fishing is still really good and we’re catching a very wide variety. Last time out we landed 11 different varieties. The lingcod bite is good as well as they’ve moved into shallower water for spawning. The rockfish season will go through December and starting Nov. 1 there will be no depth restrictions,” added Klassen. The water offshore has cooled and moved out. It’s likely the tuna season is over for the year.

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, the rock fishing is still really good. He said, “We haven’t needed to go far to get all we need. From the whistle down to the Old Man has been producing great action. The lingcod fishing is still tough, but we’re getting some if we work at it. A couple boats had some decent albacore scores last week around the Knoll, but that may have been the last shot.”

Brookings
Halibut season remains open through Oct. 31 out of Brookings reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Fishing is good on calm weather days,” said Martin. “Sport crabbing closes Oct. 14. Lingcod fishing is fair, while limits of rockfish are common.”

Willow Creek weir counts
The week ending Oct. 7, a total of 467 adult kings were counted at the Willow Creek weir. The jack count for the week was 246. For the season to date, 812 (adults and jacks) have been counted, including both hatchery and wild. The totals are for only 15 trapping days as the weir was late getting in place due to the fires in the area.

North Coast river closures
Currently, all North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen are closed. Sections of rivers that are open include the main stem Smith River from its mouth to the mouth of Rowdy Creek. New in 2022, a low-flow angling restriction was added to the section of the Eel River from the mouth to Fulmor Road at its paved junction with the south bank of the Eel River, Sept. 1 through April 30.The Mad River from the mouth to 200 yards upstream is closed until Jan. 1 2023. The Department of Fish and Game will make the information available to the public no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any river 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. For more information, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2021/09/22/2021-2022-low-flow-information-for-north-coast-rivers/

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Boat pressure has been extremely light, but there are some fish to be had. Fresh kings, both adults and jacks, are scattered throughout the lower river. With very little pressure, there seems to be enough fish around to make for a decent day. The daily bag limit is two jack Chinook 23-inches or less and two hatchery steelhead.

Chetco/Rogue
According to Martin, “Salmon fishing remains decent in the Chetco estuary but catch rates have dropped as kings begin to transition from the bay to the tidewater. “Large numbers of jacks and adults are now holding upriver at Tide Rock and Morris Hole, where anglers can still target them, but bobbers must be used until Nov. 4,” said Martin. “The river is still too low for drift boat fishing, except in the deep tidewater holes. Kings continue to show up in the catch in the Rogue Bay, where hatchery coho also are available. The Coos has slowed but coho are still plentiful.”

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

Klamath Closed to the Take of Adult Kings

Eureka resident Tia Hauan holds a jack salmon taken on the lower Klamath earlier in the season. The main stem Klamath will close to the take of adults after Oct. 5, but you can still harvest two jacks per day. Photo courtesy of Alan Borges/Alan’s Guide Service

If you’re looking to harvest an adult Chinook salmon in the Klamath basin, the Trinity River will be your only option as of Thursday. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife determined last Friday that the recreational fall-run Chinook salmon catch will have met the Upper Klamath River adult fall-run Chinook salmon quota (of 360) below Iron Gate Dam for the 2022 season as of 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5.

This triggers the closure of the adult fall-run 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 adult fall-run Chinook salmon fishery on the lower Klamath River, from the estuary to the State Route 96 bridge at Weitchpec, closed Sept. 5. The spit fishery at the mouth of the Klamath also closed Sept. 5 and will remain closed to all fishing for the rest of the year.

Except within 100 yards of the mouth (spit area), the main stem of the Klamath River will remain open for the harvest of salmon (jacks) less than or equal to 23 inches. All adult Chinook salmon caught must be immediately released and reported on an angler’s report card. The daily bag limit remains two jacks per day.

Both the upper and lower Trinity River sections remain open to the harvest of adult fall-run Chinook salmon. The daily bag limit on the Trinity River is two fall-run Chinook salmon with no more than one adult greater than 23 inches.

Anglers may monitor the quota status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s fishing information hotline at (800)564-6479.

Dungeness crab testing underway
Domoic acid testing in Dungeness crabs is underway on the California coast. To date, samples from Trinidad and Half Moon Bay/San Francisco have been tested at least once. Neither of these ports tested crabs that exceed the action level of 30 parts per million. For more information, visit https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/CDPH%20Document%20Library/FDB/FoodSafetyProgram/DomoicAcid/CrabDAResultsJulytoSeptember302022.pdf

The Oceans:
Eureka
With calm seas in the forecast for Tuesday, a small fleet of boats ran southwest in search of some late-season tuna action. Capt. Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing was one of the boats that set a south, southwest course. “At about 38 miles from the entrance we found 61 degree water on the northern flank of the Mendocino Ridge and started tacking west along the structure,” said Sepulveda. “There were good signs of bait over a big area with consistent jig stops on as many as four hookups at a time. We ended our day with 21 big-grade albacore between 20 and 36 pounds on a flat ocean. We also found a spot where 60- to 120-pound bluefin put on a great show, crashing bait within casting distance of the boat. But as anyone who’s spent time chasing bluefin knows, seeing and catching are very different things.” Most of the other boats landed between six and 10 fish, but they were big ones ranging from 25 to 38 pounds.

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, the tuna action slowed down last week. He said, “The warm water is still close and there seems to be fish around. It’s been tough to get the fish to bite, which is typical for this time of the year. The rockfish bite is still good, and limits have been coming pretty easily.”

Brookings
According to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters, lingcod fishing is fair out of Brookings. “Halibut fishing is good on calm weather days, said Martin. “Even though the quota for the Southern Oregon Coast has been met, ODFW has transferred unused quota from the central Oregon Coast to the Brookings and Gold Beach area, allowing halibut season to continue through Oct. 31.”

North Coast river closures
Currently, all North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen are closed. Sections of rivers that are open include the main stem Smith River from its mouth to the mouth of Rowdy Creek. New in 2022, a low-flow angling restriction was added to the section of the Eel River from the mouth to Fulmor Road at its paved junction with the south bank of the Eel River, Sept. 1 through April 30.
The Mad River from the mouth to 200 yards upstream is closed until Jan. 1 2023. The Department of Fish and Game will make the information available to the public no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any river 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. For more information, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2021/09/22/2021-2022-low-flow-information-for-north-coast-rivers/

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Fishing has gotten a little tougher on the lower Klamath as the run is winding down. There are some kings still trickling in and some steelhead showed up along with some coho. The late-run kings should be making their way into the river soon, especially if we see some rain. Boat pressure has been light. The daily bag limit is two jack Chinook 23-inches or less and two hatchery steelhead.

Chetco estuary
“After a week of good fishing in the Chetco estuary, salmon fishing slowed down over the weekend before the action picked up again on Monday,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing “Lots of hatchery kings and wild kings so far this season. Anglers may keep one adult wild king a day on the Chetco and two per season. The daily limit is two adult kings a day, but only one wild. A few salmon are being caught in the tidewater on bobbers and sand shrimp, but the best action has been trolling anchovies along the jetties. Salmon also are biting on the Rogue Bay, with a mix of wild kings and hatchery coho.”

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 fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Chetco Estuary Pumping Out Big Kings

Brody Curry, of Grants Pass, Oregon, holds a hatchery king caught at the mouth of the Chetco with guide Michael McGahan of Brookings Fishing Charters. Photo courtesy of Brookings Fishing Charters

If you’re looking to catch big, ocean-bright kings, you’ll want to keep an eye on the Chetco estuary. Salmon have been staging in the tidewater since the beginning of September and they’ll be there until rain allows them to make their way upriver. And according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, the season at the mouth of the Chetco is now in full swing. “With an above-average return so far this season, the estuary has been crowded, as word has gotten out about the good fishing,” said Martin. “There is no ocean ‘bubble’ season this year, meaning all fishing must take place from the trips of the jetties inward. Trolling 360 flashers with spinner blades or anchovies has been effective this season as the technique catches on for bay trolling throughout the Oregon Coast. Trolling plug-cut herring or threaded anchovies without flashers also is working. The last two hours of the incoming tide and first half of the outgoing tide has produced the best fishing.”

The daily bag limit for salmon on the Chetco is two adult fish per day, no more than one adult wild Chinook. Anglers may harvest adult hatchery Chinook until the daily bag limit has been met. Once the adult daily limit is harvested, anglers cannot continue to fish for jack salmon. Gear restrictions are in effect upstream from river mile 2.2 until Nov. 4. For additional Chetco regulations, visit eregulations.com/oregon/fishing/southwest-zone.

Over on the Smith River, the tidewater fishing hasn’t been as good, but there are some fish being caught. Most of the fish are being caught by bank anglers tossing Kastmasters and Cleos. The best bite has been an hour before the top of the tide and then a few hours on the outgoing. The Smith River is currently closed to fishing above the mouth of Rowdy Creek due to low flows.

Weekend marine forecast
Winds will begin to decrease Friday and the ocean looks to be plenty fishable over the weekend. As of Wednesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the north 5 to 10 knots with northwest waves 5 feet at eight seconds. Saturday, winds will be out of the southwest 5 to 10 knots with northwest waves 3 feet at eight seconds and northwest 4 feet at 13 seconds. Sunday looks even better with winds coming from the northwest up to 5 knots and northwest waves 5 feet at 12. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or www.windy.com. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

Upper Klamath, Trinity salmon quota update 
The upper Klamath and Trinity adult quota closure dates are not yet set, according to Dan Troxel, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Klamath River Project. “Typically, the quotas are based off harvest timing, meaning a set number of days following the closure of the adult Chinook salmon fishery on the lower Klamath,” said Troxel. “As of now, the upper Klamath will allow for adult harvest likely into the first week of October. As for the upper Trinity, we like to see what’s happening at Junction City and Willow Creek weirs to better inform that decision, but will likely occur mid to late October. Additionally, the Lower Trinity sector is partly informed by the recreational creel survey conducted by Hoopa Valley Tribal Fisheries; at this point harvest remains fairly low. Please keep an eye out for department press releases in the coming days and weeks.” 

Low flow fishing closures
Currently, all North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen are closed. Sections of rivers that are open include the main stem Smith River from the mouth of Rowdy Creek to its mouth. New in 2022, a low-flow angling restriction was added to the section of the Eel River from the mouth to Fulmor Road at its paved junction with the south bank of the Eel River from Sept. 1 through April 30.

The Mad River from the mouth to 200 yards upstream is closed until Jan. 1 2023. The Department of Fish and Game will make the information available to the public no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any river 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.

The Oceans:
Eureka
Rock fishing at Cape Mendocino was excellent over the weekend, according to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “There’s lots of variety, and the black rockfish bite is as good as I’ve seen,” said Klassen. “There’s plenty of vermilions, canaries and yellowtails, as well. The lingcod bite has been good, too. We’ve been catching them up to 20 pounds, but the average is about 6 to 12 pounds. Ocean conditions looked good Tuesday and a few boats were headed south off Gorda roughly 35 miles for tuna. It was a one-day window before the wind picks back up.”

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, the tuna action has been excellent for quite a few days. He said, “We’ve been getting them 15 to 20 miles from the Cove. We’re averaging right around 25 per day and they’re a really good grade. Our biggest this week was 44-pounds. It looks like Tuesday may be the last day for a while. The wind is forecast to pick up Tuesday night, we’ll have to see what happens to the water after that.”

Hunter Mott, of Redway, landed this monster albacore tuna last week while fishing out of Shelter Cove with Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

Crescent City
According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, a few boats were chasing tuna Tuesday. “The warm water pushed out a little, it was about 50 miles,” said Carson. “Late last week the boats did really well around 40 miles out. Hopefully the water will stick around after the wind blows for the next few days. Other than tuna, the rockfish and lingcod bite continue to be wide-open.”

Brookings
Lingcod and rockfish action is fair out of Brookings reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Pacific halibut season remains open, and fishing has been good on calm weather days. Sport crabbing is slow.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Fresh kings continue to move into the lower Klamath. Anglers are catching a mix of jacks and adults from the Glen to Johnson’s. Fishing soft beads in some of the flats has been productive. Anglers can keep two jacks (less than or equal to 23 inches) per day with a possession limit of six. All adult Chinook salmon caught must be immediately released and reported on an angler’s report card. For the week ending Sept. 23, 219 jacks were harvested and 252 adults were released above the U.S. Highway 101 bridge.

Rogue/Coos
According to Martin, the Rogue Bay continues to fish well for salmon, with lots of jacks, a few hatchery coho and some big fall kings still moving in. “The Coos also is fishing well, while coho fishing is hot on the Umpqua River.”

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.

Tuna Water Still Sitting off Eureka

Greg Scoles of Petaluma landed a 38-pound albacore tuna while fishing Tuesday out of Eureka aboard the Shellback. Photo courtesy of Tony Sepulveda/Green Water Fishing Adventures

It’s been one heck of a season for albacore tuna off the North Coast, and it looks like it’s not over yet. In a typical year, you get a few shots at the warm water over the course of the summer and into early fall. But this year has seen opportunities every week since the latter part of July. The first tuna of the season was caught out of Brookings on July 21, and it’s been good fishing at selective ports from Fort Bragg north to Brookings ever since. And the good weather and ocean conditions appear they’ll stick around a little longer. The forecast looks good through Thursday of this week, with the warm water sitting straight west of Eureka 20 to 25 miles. Boats that chased tuna Saturday out of Eureka were rewarded with a wide-open bite 20 miles offshore. If you haven’t got your fill of tuna yet, and I’m willing to bet most have, there’s still time to fill the jars, freezers and smokers.

Weekend marine forecast
Ocean conditions are expected to get a little rougher by the weekend as winds are forecast to increase. As of Thursday, the forecast out 10 nautical miles for Friday is calling for winds out of the north 5 to 15 knots with north waves 4 feet at five seconds. Saturday is calling for winds from the north 5 to 10 knots and north waves 4 feet at six seconds. Sunday the winds will be from the north 5 to 10 knots and north waves 4 feet at seven seconds and northwest 4 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 www.windy.com. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

A 90-day extension on the table for emergency rockfish regulations
The California Fish and Game Commission approved an emergency rulemaking amending Section 28.55 that went into effect Jan. 6, 2022. The emergency rulemaking reduced the vermilion rockfish sub-bag limit from five to four fish, added a sub-bag limit for quillback rockfish of one fish within the daily 10-fish bag and possession limit, and added a sub-bag limit for copper rockfish of one fish within the daily 10-fish bag and possession limit. The emergency regulations were readopted on June 16. With the emergency adoption set to expire Oct. 3, the Commission sent out a notice on Sept. 15 of a proposed 90-day extension. For more info on the extension, visit www.nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=203540&inline.

The Oceans:
Eureka
According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the tuna bite fell off quite a bit on Monday. “The ocean was a little sporty and the storm system could have had something to do with the bite,” said Klassen. “The warm water is straight out of the entrance roughly 20-25 miles. Boats that fished the same general area did well on Saturday. Conditions for tuna look good through Thursday. The rockfish bite at the Cape is still excellent. We’re still catching a wide variety and some nice lings as well.”

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, it was a quiet weekend at the Cove. “Rock fishing was the only real option, and the bite was good at the Old Man. We got in on some pretty good top water action. The ling cod bite remains on the slow side. We should have a shot at tuna by midweek.”

Crescent City
According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, it’s been pretty quiet. “The warm tuna water is still within reach but I think most guys who’ve been out a few times have all they need,” said Carson. “There are a few charters that are planning on running this week if there’s interest. The rockfish bite is still going strong. Both reefs, along with the Sisters area is producing limits of both rockfish and lings.”

Brookings
Pacific halibut action remains good out of Brookings according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “The limit has been increased to two a day, and six-pack charter boats are getting limits,’ said Martin. “Lingcod and rockfish action also is good. Bottom fish anglers are encountering lots of adult kings, which must be released, but are an indicator a big run is headed to the Chetco and Smith rivers.”

Dave Gilmore of Brookings, Ore., holds a 42-pound king salmon caught Sept. 17 at the mouth of the Chetco River while fishing with Capt. Michael McGahan of Brookings Fishing Charters. He was trolling an anchovy.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Salmon fishing remains good for both jacks and adults on the lower Klamath. Side-drifting soft beads in the riffles and dragging roe through the deeper holes are both producing fish from the Glen to Johnson’s. Fresh fish are coming into the river daily, but the best fishing was above Blue Creek over the weekend. The water remains off color, but the fish do not seem to mind. Anglers can keep two jacks (less than or equal to 23 inches) per day with a possession limit of six.

Chetco/Lower Rogue
The Chetco estuary has heated up as big numbers of kings stage at the mouth of the river, waiting for rain, reports Martin. “Up to two dozen kings a day are being caught. A 42-pounder was weighed in over the weekend. Anchovies and plug-cut herring are both working. The Rogue Bay also is fishing good, with lots of jacks and adults being caught.”

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 fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com