Windy Conditions Slow Wide-Open Salmon Bite

Sixteen-year-old Owen Peterson landed a nice king salmon Sunday while fishing out of Eureka with his father Andy. Photo courtesy of Andy Peterson

If you love to salmon fish and have yet to hit the ocean, you are seriously missing out. The number of fish swimming offshore of Eureka, and the entire North Coast for that matter, is impressive. It’s been at least 10 years since we’ve seen fishing this good so you’ll want to take advantage while the fish are here and the season is open. As of now, it’s looking like the only thing that will slow the action is the weather. Rough water kept the fleet tied up Tuesday and Thursday and Friday aren’t looking good either. And just a reminder, the first leg of the ocean salmon season in the KMZ will close after May 31. It will reopen on Aug. 1. So, if you haven’t gotten in on the action, you’ll want too soon. For more information on the ocean sport salmon season, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon#recreational.

Marine Forecast
Winds will diminish Wednesday before strengthening Thursday and Friday as high pressure builds in. Gale force gusts will be likely across the outer waters Thursday evening through Friday. As of Tuesday, Friday’s forecast is calling for north winds 15 to 25 knots with waves north 11 feet at ten seconds. Saturday, the winds will be out of the north 10 to 20 knots and waves will be out of the northwest 8 feet at eight seconds. Sunday, winds will be out of the north 10 to 15 knots with waves out of the north 6 feet at seven seconds and westerly 2 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. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

Kids free fishing derby this weekend
On Saturday, May 21 all kids age 4 to 15 are invited to the Carrville Dredger Pond for the 48th annual Trinity Lake Lions Fish Derby. The pond is located five miles north of the Trinity Center. Registration is from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and the fishing derby will last until 11:00 a.m. Free fishing tackle will be provided to the first 100 kids registered. Kids must bring their own fishing poles and only bait will be allowed. Prizes will be awarded in many categories along with a grand prize.  Free hot dogs, chips, and drinks for everyone. For more information, call Pete at 530-598-2877.

The Oceans:
Eureka
Salmon fishing was wide-open over the weekend. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, there’s a very large area of fish. “From the 46 to 50 lines in 240 to 300 feet of water, the area is full of salmon,” said Klassen. “It didn’t really seem to matter where you tried, there were fish all over. There were a bunch of sardines out there Monday, so if you found those schools the salmon came pretty easily. This is some of the best salmon fishing I’ve seen in quite a few years. The rockfish bite at Cape Mendocino is excellent, but we’ve only been able to get down there once. There have been some Pacific halibut caught, but the abundance of black cod is making it tough. You’re having to go through lots of bait to get to where the halibut are. The good news is the halibut are there.”

Trinidad
“We’re off to a good start to our ocean season,” said Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. “The rockfish bite has been good right out front near Flat Iron. We’re catching mostly black rockfish, but we’ve got a few lings too. There hasn’t been much salmon effort yet, but a few have been caught to the north in 40 fathoms off of Patrick’s Point. The crabbing has been decent, we’re catching a few each trip.”

Shelter Cove
The weather has kept most of the boats off the water the last few days, reports Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “Over the weekend, the salmon fishing was pretty good with most boats getting limits,” said Mitchell. “Most of the effort has been right at the whistle buoy. The rockfish bite has been excellent as well. We’ve had good success in the Roger’s Break area boating quick limits of rockfish and lingcod to 30-pounds.”

Crescent City
Prior to the wind coming up, salmon limits continued to be the norm out of Crescent City. Straight out in 180 feet seemed to be a good starting point, but there’s a pretty big area of fish all the way to the Sisters. Most of the fish are coming shallow at 50 feet or less. There were some nice ones caught over the weekend, including one that weighed 27.5 pounds. The rockfish bite continues to be excellent. The Sisters and the South Reef are a couple popular locations along with the Point St. George Lighthouse.

Brookings
A few halibut are being caught out of Brookings but rough weather has limited the days when boats can get offshore, reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Lingcod and rockfish action has been good,” said Martin. “With hot salmon fishing out of Crescent City, Brookings anglers are optimistic about the June 18 opener on the Oregon side of the border.”

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, spring salmon fishing remains good on the lower Rogue as the best run in years continues. “Guides are still getting two to four fish a day anchoring near the old mill and at Elephant Rock. Wild fish may be kept beginning June 1. With high flows on the river, bay trolling won’t begin anytime soon. The Chetco opens to fishing May 22, with tossing spinners the best bet for sea-run cutthroat trout.” 

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

Salmon Plentiful Off the North Coast

Fresno resident Jerry Urzua landed a nice king Friday while fishing out of Shelter Cove. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

After sitting on the sidelines for nearly a week due to terrible ocean conditions, the Eureka fleet was finally back on the water Tuesday. And the salmon were waiting. Early reports indicate there’s a large area full of fish right out front of Eureka and most of the boats that ventured out scored limits. And it sounds like there are salmon up and down the coast. When the Shelter Cove boats have been able to launch, the salmon fishing has been lights out. The big surprise so far has been Crescent City. Limit-style fishing has been the norm since the opener, which hasn’t been the case in quite a few years. Though we’re only 10 days into the season, it’s already looking like we’re in for a good one.

Weekend marine forecast
Southerly winds will increase on Thursday ahead of an approach low pressure t rough, but the ocean should remain fishable. Friday, south winds will be 5 to 10 knots with west waves 6 feet at nine seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for southwest winds to 5 knots with westerly waves 5 feet at nine seconds. Sunday’s prediction is looking similar, with northwest winds 5 to 10 knots with westerly swells 6 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 www.windy.com. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

Kids free fishing derby coming May 21
On Saturday, May 21 2022 all kids age 4 to 15 are invited to the Carrville Dredger Pond for the 48th annual Trinity Lake Lions Fish Derby. The pond is located five miles north of the Trinity Center. Registration is from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and the fishing derby will last until 11:00 a.m. Free fishing tackle will be provided to the first 100 kids registered. Kids must bring their own fishing poles and only bait will be allowed. Prizes will be awarded in many categories along with a grand prize.  Free hot dogs, chips, and drinks for everyone. For more information, call Pete at 530-598-2877.

The beach/jetties
The wind has made the beaches tough for anglers looking for redtail perch. When the ocean is rough, the mouth of the Elk River or King Salmon are two of the better options to get out of the wind. Both can produce quality perch action. The north jetty has been closed due to construction, and the wind has slowed the action at the south. A few black rockfish are being caught along with the occasional keeper lingcod. Half-ounce jig heads with four to five inch swimbaits have been a solid producer.

The Oceans:
Eureka
After a week of rough weather, the seas finally calmed down and the boats were back on the water Tuesday. And the salmon were there and in a biting mood. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, there was a pretty large area of fish. “Most of the boats did well between the 44 and 49-lines from 200 to 250 feet of water,” said Klassen. “There were some birds and bait, but not a ton. There were some whales in the area however. The fish were averaging about 8 pounds but some bigger fish were caught.”

Trinidad
Not much in the way of effort or fish reports out of Trinidad due to the ocean conditions. Just a reminder, the launch will be in service and launching boats at 6 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday. They will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Cost to launch is $45. Call 677-3625 for more information.

Shelter Cove
Ocean conditions have improved this week, which should put some more boats on the water. Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing ventured out in rough conditions last week and reports a pretty good salmon bite. “We were the only boat out on Friday in very sloppy conditions but managed to get boat limits of salmon to 15-pounds,” said Mitchell. “The rock fishing has been really good so far, with the lings being a little tougher to come by. Most of our effort has been around the Old Man.”

Crescent City
Abundant salmon limits were reported by the fleet Tuesday and Wednesday. Boats fishing near buoy 2 had the most action but there’s a wide area of fish all the way to the Sisters. Most of the fish are coming shallow, under 50-feet on the wire. Anchovies, SpinFish and Cut Plugs are all catching fish. The rockfish bite has been excellent as well with the South Reef and Sisters being a couple of the top spots.

Brookings
Rough weather sidelined the Brookings fleet most of last week, but conditions look good this week, reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “With high water in the Chetco, the best fishing will be north of Chetco Point. No halibut have been reported yet but smaller swells the middle of this week will allow boats to get to the more productive areas. Ocean salmon season opens June 18 out of Brookings.”

Lower Rogue
“Spring salmon fishing continues to be good on the lower Rogue River, even with the high, muddy water over the weekend,” said Martin. “Lots of hatchery springers are being caught by anglers fishing anchovies and spinner blades from anchored boats or Brad’s plug cut lures of 3.5 MagLips from shore. Conditions should be prime this week as the river drops.”

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

Weather Slows Eureka King Opener

Arcata resident Larry Biggs landed a nice one Sunday while fishing the king salmon opener out of Eureka. Photo courtesy of Tim Klassen/Reel Steel Sport Fishing

With no advance scouting, the dozen or so Eureka boats struggled to find schools of salmon during Sunday’s opener. In a typical year, we’ll see rockfish and Pacific halibut open a few weeks prior to salmon, giving anglers some clues on where the bait is stockpiled and where the birds are spending their time. But this year, there was no time on the water prior to the opener, and the boats were at somewhat of a disadvantage. The weather also played a role. Swells were too large for boats to travel far and look for fish. Despite all that, anglers caught some salmon. The few charters who ventured out all caught a few. This is really encouraging to see fish here this early in the season. Once the weather cooperates, it should be game on.

Weekend marine forecast
Ocean conditions don’t look great for the rest of the week and weekend. As of Wednesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for south winds 15 to 20 knots and waves southwest 7 feet at seven seconds and west 8 feet at 15 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for northwest winds at 5 to 10 knots and west waves 11 feet at 12 seconds. Sunday looks slightly worse, with 10 to 15 knot winds coming out of the west and west waves 11 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.

Sport-Harvested Mussels quarantined
In a press release issued on April 26, The California Department of Public Health announced the annual quarantine of sport-harvested mussels gathered along the California coast. The quarantine began May 1 and applies to all species of mussels that are recreationally harvested along the California coast, including all bays and estuaries. The quarantine is in place to protect the public against poisoning that can lead to serious illness, including coma and death. The quarantine is designed to prevent paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and domoic acid poisoning, also known as amnesic shellfish poisoning, in people who might otherwise consume sport-harvested mussels. Both of these syndromes are from naturally occurring toxins produced by certain phytoplankton consumed by shellfish, including mussels and clams. Cooking does not destroy the toxins. Commercially harvested shellfish are not included in the annual quarantine because all commercial harvesters in California are certified by CDPH and subject to strict testing requirements to ensure that all oysters, clams, and mussels entering the marketplace are safe. Visit www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/OPA/Pages/SN22-002.aspx for more information.

The Oceans:
Eureka

The weather did not do any favors for the boats that fished Sunday’s opener. The 9-foot swells kept the fleet close and didn’t allow for much looking around. “Most of the fish were straight out in 150 to 220 feet of water roughly a mile north and south of the entrance,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “But they were definitely spread out, no real schools. We didn’t see any edges, rips or color changes, which is what we’re looking for. The fish that were caught were full of crab larvae and krill. Ocean conditions don’t look great this week for halibut or rockfish, but we may be able to troll for salmon.”

Trinidad
Salmon, rockfish and Pacific halibut all opened Sunday. Reportedly, seven boats launched but caught no salmon. There were a few Pacific halibut landed, however. The Trinidad launch will be in service and launching boats at 6 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday. It will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Cost to launch is $45.

Shelter Cove
The saltwater opener was good, according to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “The rockfish bit really well at the Hat on Sunday and around the whistle on Monday,” said Mitchell. “There were some salmon caught on Sunday around the bell buoy, with boats averaging a little less than a fish per rod. It was pretty rough on Monday and only four boats launched. I heard of four salmon caught.”

Crescent City
Crescent City was definitely the hot spot for salmon on the opener. Sport and charter boats reported quite a few limits, with most of the action straight out front just south of the second buoy. The fish were shallow, with most coming at 50 feet. Reportedly, more than 40 salmon were counted by Fish and Wildlife staff. Only a couple boats braved the conditions on Monday and again boated limits. The rockfish opener was also successful, with limits coming fairly easily. The ling bite was reportedly a little tougher.

Brookings
Pacific halibut season opened Sunday out of Brookings with fairly large swell and a strong wind drift, reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Fishing was slow,” said Martin. “Lingcod fishing remains good along the near-shore reefs from Chetco Point to House Rock. Lings to 30 pounds were caught last week. Salmon won’t open until June 28 out of Brookings. Bottom fish anglers continue to encounter large numbers of kings in close, a promising sign for next month.”

The Rivers
Main Stem Eel

The main stem is in perfect shape, running at 3,200 cfs as of Wednesday at Scotia. There are some steelhead around, mostly downers. The main stem Eel to the South Fork is open all year. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used through Sept. 30.

Lower Rogue
The lower Rogue River continues to experience its best spring chinook run in at least 15 years reports Martin. “Hatchery and wild springers are being caught by boaters on anchor as well as plunkers fishing Spin-N-Glos from the gravel bars at Huntley Park and Lobster Creek. Only hatchery springers may be kept. Wild salmon can be kept beginning June 1.”

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

Super Sunday Awaits Saltwater Anglers

Hank Mautz, of Redding, holds a canary rockfish and a lingcod taken last year near Cape Mendocino. The 2022 rockfish Pacific halibut and salmon seasons all open on Sunday, May 1. Photo courtesy of Tim Klassen/Reel Steel Sport Fishing

The Super Bowl of saltwater sport fishing will take place this Sunday on the North Coast as salmon, rockfish and Pacific halibut are all set to open. It’s pretty rare for the big three to all open on the same day, and there’s a ton of excitement around the docks. And it’s looking like the key marine factors are lining up. The water temperatures off Eureka are right around 51 to 52 degrees, perfect for salmon. The recent north winds have spurred the ocean upwelling, kicking the food chain into high gear. The tide will bottom out when most boats are heading out, making for an easier bar crossing. And as of Wednesday, for 10 miles offshore, winds will be out of the northwest 5 to 10 knots with waves 7 feet at 11 seconds (will likely change). All that’s left to do now is find the fish.

May 1 openers:

Salmon: Our 2022 ocean sport salmon season will open this Sunday and run through May 31. The season will open back up Aug. 1 and run through Sept. 5. It will be open from the Oregon-California border south to the 40°10’ line (near Cape Mendocino), (Klamath Management Zone). Fishing is allowed seven days per week for all salmon except coho, two fish per day and a minimum size limit of 20 inches total length. The possession limit is no more than two daily bag limits in possession while on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. No salmon punch card is required for ocean salmon fishing. The sport season from the 40°10’ line to Point Arena, which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg, will also open May 1 and run through July 4. It will reopen July 22 and run through Sept. 5. For complete ocean salmon regulations, please visit the Ocean Salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at 576-3429.

Pacific Halibut: The 2022 Pacific halibut season will run from May 1 to Nov. 15, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. The 2022 quota for the California sport fishery is 38,740 pounds — approximately the same as the 2021 quota. CDFW will monitor catches of Pacific halibut during the season and provide catch projection updates on the CDFW Pacific halibut webpage, www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking. The limit remains at one, with no size restrictions. No more than one line with two hooks attached can be used.

Rockfish: The boat-based rockfish season in the Northern Management Area, which runs from the California-Oregon border to the 40°10′ North latitude (near Cape Mendocino), will run through Oct. 31 within 180 feet. From Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, rockfish may be taken at any depth.

New sport rockfish regulations for 2022
In December of 2021, CDFW announced multiple changes to the sport rockfish regulations starting in 2022. Changes to the sub-bag limits within the 10-fish daily Rockfish, Cabezon, Greenling (RCG) complex bag and possession limit include:

The daily bag limit of lingcod remains at two per person and they must be 22 inches in length. The take and possession of cowcod, bronzespotted rockfish and yelloweye rockfish is prohibited statewide. Petrale sole and starry flounder can be retained year-round at all depths with no size limit. For more information about recreational groundfish regulations within the northern management area, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Groundfish-Summary#north.

Important reminder:
When fishing for halibut, rockfish and salmon, or any combination of the three, the more restrictive gear and depth restrictions apply. When targeting salmon, or once salmon are aboard and in possession, anglers are limited to using barbless hooks (barbless circle hooks if fishing south of Horse Mountain) when fishing for other species.

When targeting rockfish, cabezon, greenling and lingcod, or once any of these species are aboard and in possession, anglers are limited to fishing in waters shallower than 180 feet when fishing for other species.

Humboldt Bay tide
Sunday May 1: High: 12:22 a.m. (6.9 feet), Low: 7:04 a.m. (-0.7 feet) and High 1:36 p.m. (5.4 feet), Low 6:47 p.m. (2.2 feet)

Trinidad launch ready to go
The Trinidad launch will be in service and launching boats beginning Sunday, May 1 at 6 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Cost to launch is $45. Call 677-3625 for more information.

Brookings ocean update
“Calmer ocean conditions allowed anglers to get out of Brookings over the weekend,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Rock fishing has been good, while lingcod action has been fair because of bigger swells. Calmer weather is expected later this week. Sunday’s halibut opener out of Brookings should be good, with light winds and a smaller swell expected. Most halibut are caught in 180 to 220 feet straight out from the harbor. Salmon season won’t open until June 18 out of Brookings.”

The Rivers
Main Stem Eel

The main stem is dropping back into shape, flowing at 5,800 cubic feet per second as of Wednesday at Scotia. It should be fishable by the weekend. The main stem Eel to the South Fork is open all year. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used through Sept. 30.

Smith
The Smith River from its mouth to the confluence of the Middle and South Forks; Middle Fork Smith River from mouth to Patrick Creek; South Fork Smith River from the mouth upstream approximately 1,000 feet to the County Road (George Tryon) bridge and Craigs Creek to Jones Creek, will close after Saturday, April 30.

Lower Rogue
Spring salmon fishing has kicked into high gear on the lower Rogue River, with guides getting two to four kings a day reports Martin. “About half of the springers being caught are hatchery fish,” said Martin. “It’s been the best springer fishing in several years. Good flows this week should continue to pull in new salmon from the ocean. Anchovies and spinner blades have been the best bait.”

Kenny Priest (he/him) 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.

Spring Rains a Bonus for North Coast Rivers

Marty Woods holds a Smith River steelhead caught in early April prior to the rise in flows. The spring rains hitting the coast now will have a positive impact on the health of salmon and steelhead runs, as well as the rivers themselves. Photo courtesy of Mick Thomas.

With very little rain falling throughout our region from January to March, most of us were already preparing for summer. However, the April showers hitting the coast are providing a second winter. These rains will definitely impact the health of future salmon and steelhead runs, which will likely be stronger a few years down the road because of it.

First off, the late winter and spring rains will benefit the next run of adult fish moving upriver, mainly spring salmon and summer steelhead. It may also increase the survival rates for recently spawned adult steelhead, or kelts, as well as salmon and steelhead fry and smolts that are all making their way downstream to the estuaries and ocean. The high, muddy water allows the fish to make their way downriver with less risk of predation. The lack of fishing pressure will also help the kelts make their way back downriver successfully. Heavy spring rains should, in many cases, also result in higher flows and improved water quality later in the summer.

In most cases, the high flows also contribute to the health and complexity of the river’s estuary. A nutrient-rich estuary offers the young fish ample sources of food, allowing them to grow to an optimal size before entering the ocean. This greatly increases their chances of survival. A healthy estuary is also beneficial for the kelts, weak from their spawning journey, offering a safe haven for them prior to making their way back to the ocean.

With nature, it seems for every plus there’s also a minus. In the event of extremely high late-winter and spring flows, problems can also occur for fish. Without adequate freshwater and estuarine slack water habitat, the young fish can get washed downstream before they’re ready, putting them in harm’s way. Extremely high late-winter and early spring flows can also have a negative impact on late-spawning fish. Spawning areas known as “redds” can be scoured or the gravels within redds can be buried in fine sediment, preventing the young from emerging. After a few months of unseasonably dry weather, it’s a blessing to see the rivers running high and dirty. Hopefully our “second winter” will pay dividends in the future.

Marine forecast
Ocean conditions are looking good for the weekend, but starting out a little rough on Friday. Friday is calling for north winds 5 to 10 knots and west waves 12 feet at 15 seconds. Saturday is calling for winds out of the north 5 to 15 knots with 7-foot west swells at 13 seconds. Sunday is looking a little better with winds out of the north 5 to 10 knots with 3-foot swells at 5 seconds out of the northwest and west 8 feet at 18 seconds. These conditions can and will change. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or www.windy.com.

Pacific halibut season set
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced recently that the 2022 Pacific halibut season will run from May 1 to November 15, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. The 2022 quota for the California sport fishery is 38,740 pounds – approximately the same as the 2021 quota. CDFW will monitor catches of Pacific halibut during the season and provide catch projection updates on the CDFW Pacific halibut webpage, www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking. The limit remains at one, with no size restrictions. No more than one line with two hooks attached can be used.

Shelter Cove crab feed coming April 22
Gyppo Ale Mill on Friday April 22 is hosting a crab feed and silent auction for the Shelter Cove Fishing Preservation nonprofit organization. The event runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and live music will be provided by the Breakers. Cost is $75 per person. For more information contact Jake Mitchell at 707-223-1600.

Brookings ocean update
“The ocean out of Brookings was wide open for lingcod and rockfish over the weekend,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Limits of lingcod for most charter boats from Twin rocks to Mack Arch. Stormy weather sidelined boats again on Monday, with rough conditions expected all week. Ocean coho season opens June 18, with kings allowed beginning June 25. Pacific halibut opens May 1.

Ruth Lake Bass tourney coming April 30
The Southern Trinity Volunteer Fire Department is hosting its 14th annual Ruth Lake Bass Tournament on Saturday, April 30. Blast off begins at 6:00 a.m. Entry fees are due April 29. Entries are $150 per team (includes Big Fish). First Place is $1,500 and second place is $1,000. Big Fish will win $100. One in five payback based on full slate of 40 boats. This is a catch and release tournament; live wells and life jackets are required. Check in is Friday at the marina at 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. or Saturday at 4:45 a.m. at the Marina parking lot. Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District is requiring that all boats be inspected for Quagga and Zebra mussels before launching. For more information, call RLCSD at 707-574-6332. For more info on the tournament, contact Doug Dinsmore at 707-499-8485.

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

Eel (main stem)
After peaking at nearly 20,000 cubic feet per second Sunday, the main is big and brown. With more rain on the way, it’s forecast for another big rise to 23,000 on the Scotia gauge by Friday morning. Needless to say, it will be blown out for some time. The main stem Eel to the South Fork is open all year. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used from April 1 through Sept. 30.

Smith River
With more rain in the forecast this week, another big rise is predicted for Thursday morning that could top 13 feet at Jed Smith. Flows will then drop and conditions are shaping up nicely for the weekend. This will likely flush the last of the spawned-out steelhead downriver and could bring in a few fresh ones. The main stem of the Smith will remain open through the end of April from its mouth to the confluence with the Middle and South Forks. The Middle Fork will also remain open through April from its mouth to Patrick’s Creek. The South Fork is open through April as well, from its mouth upstream approximately 1,000 feet to the County Road (George Tryon) bridge and Craig’s Creek to Jones Creek.

Lower Rogue
The best spring salmon fishing so far this season took place at the end of last week and over the weekend on the lower Rogue, reports Andy Martin of Wild River Fishing. “Guides were getting two to four springers a day, about half wild and half hatchery,” said Martin. “The river was still fishable after Monday’s rain but was still rising. Last week’s rain brought in big schools of spring kings.”

Kenny Priest (he/him) 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

Generous Ocean King Season Set to Open May 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ocean Salmon Seasons to Be Set This Week

North Coast ocean sport salmon anglers are looking at a generous season this summer, which should provide plenty of opportunity to land a salmon like the one pictured here with Grass Valley resident Larry Elis. The season is likely to start May 1 in the CA-KMZ. Photo courtesy of Curt Wilson/Wind Rose Charters

Back in mid-March when the recreational salmon season alternatives were released to the public, it was a pleasant surprise to see some fairly generous season options on the table. And one of these options will be selected at the Pacific Fishery Management Council Meetings being held this week in Seattle. Currently, the three alternatives within the California KMZ, which runs from the Oregon-California border to latitude 40°10’ N and includes Humboldt County, are:

Alternative 1: May 1-31; Aug. 1-Sept. 5

Alternative 2: May 1-31; July 1-4; Aug. 1–31

Alternative 3: July 1–24

The recreational allocations, or quotas for the Klamath/Trinity are also tied to the three alternatives. For Alternative 1, the quota is expected to be 2,152, Alt 2 will be 2,125, and Alt 3 will be 2,546. The PFMC meetings will run from April 7-13 and will be live streamed starting April 8. To access the meetings, visit www.pcouncil.org/council_meeting/april-6-13-2022-council-meeting/.

Fish and Game Commission meeting coming April 20-21
The California Fish and Game Commission meeting will be held at Monterey County Fair & Event Center, Seaside Room 2004 Fairground Road in Monterey. You can also view the meeting at the Trinidad Rancheria, Administrative Office Conference Room 1 Cher-Ae Lane. The meeting will also be live streamed for viewing and listening purposes only. The meeting will start at 8:30 a.m. to adopt and discuss changes to the upcoming sport fishing seasons.

On the agenda, the commission will consider whether to make the emergency low-flow regulations, which were adopted in December, permanent as part of the upcoming sportfishing rulemaking. This includes implementing a low-flow angling restriction on 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. During this time period, the section will be closed to hook and line fishing until flows reach 350 cubic feet per second at the gauging station near Scotia.

Proposed changes to the Klamath River Basin sport fishing will also be discussed. For a complete agenda and comment submission, and viewing information, visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=199047&inline

Marine forecast
Ocean conditions don’t look promising for the weekend if you plan on fishing off the beach or jetties. Friday is calling for north winds 15 to 25 knots and north waves 9 feet at nine seconds and west 5 feet at 12 seconds. Winds are forecast to increase on Saturday, coming from the north 20 to 25 knots. Waves will be north 12 feet at 10 seconds. Sunday’s forecast is calling for north winds 10 to 20 knots with north waves 9 feet at nine 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.

Brookings ocean update
Rough ocean conditions have kept the Brookings fleet at the docks for the most part this past week reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Limits of rockfish are common on calm weather days, and lingcod are biting best when swells are below four feet,” Martin said. “Sport crabbing has been slow out of Brookings. Ocean salmon seasons will be finalized next week, with a June coho opener likely out of Brookings, and the bulk of the king season taking place in July.”

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

Eel River (main stem)
As of Thursday, flows were right around 800 cfs at Scotia. There are a few fish around, the majority of which are downers. Fishing pressure is light, but anglers are getting a couple chances per trip. The main stem Eel, from its mouth to the South Fork is open to fishing all year. From April 1 through Sept. 30, only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used.

Smith River
The Smith went well overflow predictions, hitting 5,400 cfs Tuesday. Fishing reports are hard to come by as the pressure has been light. This big rise should have flushed the majority of spawners down and brought in the last of the fresh steelhead. The main stem of the Smith will remain open through the end of April from its mouth to the confluence with the Middle and South Forks. The Middle Fork will also remain open through April from its mouth to Patrick’s Creek. The South Fork is open through April as well, from its mouth upstream approximately 1,000 feet to the County Road (George Tryon) bridge and Craig’s Creek to Jones Creek.

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, a few spring salmon are being caught on the Rogue River but overall fishing has been slow. “A slight bump in flows early this week could draw more springers in from the ocean, where bottom fish anglers are encountering salmon fairly frequently between Brookings and Gold Beach. Water temperatures are an ideal 52 degrees on the lower Rogue, so salmon moving through should bite well. Steelhead fishing is slow on the lower Rogue and fair to good on the middle Rogue below Grants Pass.”

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

Steelhead Season Comes to a Quiet Close

Brad Cain, of San Francisco, landed a nice winter steelhead earlier this season on the Eel River. Other than on the main stem Eel and Smith rivers, steelhead season will close after March 31. Photo courtesy of Kenny Priest/Fishing the North Coast Guide Service

Winter steelhead anglers just can’t catch a break. Thursday, March 31, will mark the end of another abnormal steelhead season here on the coast. While the fishing was excellent, the real story was the lack of rain. But if you’ve been fishing the North Coast rivers the last few years, you know there’s very little normal to our steelhead seasons anymore. Going back a few years, the 2019 season ended on a very wet note, which could have spurned this year’s solid return. During the peak of the 2020 steelhead season, we were at the height of a pandemic and were told to keep our distance from other anglers. And last year the steelhead didn’t bother to show up. This year, the fish arrived in good numbers but the water spigot went dry after mid-January. Honestly, I’m a little scared to see what next year’s season brings.

Now, as the calendar nears April, it’s time to switch gears and look toward the next angling opportunities. The rockfish and Pacific halibut openers are a month away, and there’s a good possibility ocean salmon will begin on May 1 as well. It’s also time to start thinking about spring salmon on the Klamath and the lower Rogue rivers. There are redtails to be had from all the local beaches and the lagoons are full of trout.

The Beach/Jetties
When the ocean’s been calm, the redtail perch action has been decent along the beaches. There are some spots that are typically better than others but you can catch them just about anywhere this time of the year. Conditions don’t look fishable for the weekend, with big swells and heavy winds in the forecast. Anglers are catching black rockfish and the occasional lingcod on the North Jetty. Fishing has been slower on the south side. Five to 6-inch Gulp jerk shads are a popular bait as well as smaller swimbaits. Egg sinkers or banana weights rigged with a herring also work well.

HASA Picnic coming April 9
The public is invited to the Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers’ Picnic and Gear Swap/Sell. The fundraising barbecue will be held April 9 at Pierson Park in McKinleyville from 2 to 6 p.m. The cost is $10 per person or $20 for a family up to four. HASA will provide burgers, hot dogs and non-alcoholic drinks, and it will be pot luck on side dishes. Lunch will start at 3:30 p.m. HASA will provide tables but please bring your own chairs. There will be a few silent auction items and a door prize, and attendees are welcome to bring a table of spare fishing gear to sell or swap. Please RSVP to clderidder@hotmail.com by April 2 so organizers can determine food quantity. Please include your contact information so you can be notified of any changes.

The Rivers:
As a reminder, the South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mattole, Mad, Redwood Creek, and the Chetco will all close to fishing after March 31.

Eel River (main stem)
The Eel at Scotia went up to 1,400 cubic feet per second last Friday but has been steadily dropping since. As of Wednesday, it was down to 1,110 cfs. There are a few fish around, the majority of which will likely be downers. Fishing pressure is light, but anglers are getting a couple chances per day. The main stem Eel, from its mouth to the South Fork is open to fishing all year. From April 1 through Sept. 30, only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used.

The Smith
The Smith was flowing just above 1,000 cfs at Jed Smith as of Wednesday. The water is extremely clear and low. Not much in the way of fishing pressure, but a few fish are being caught. The main stem of the Smith will remain open through the end of April from its mouth to the confluence with the Middle and South Forks. The Middle Fork will also remain open through April from its mouth to Patrick’s Creek. The South Fork is open through April as well, from its mouth upstream approximately 1,000 feet to the County Road (George Tryon) bridge and Craig’s Creek to Jones Creek.

Chetco/Rogue
“Steelhead season has come to an end on the Chetco River,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Fishing closes March 31, and reopens in late May. Overall, steelhead fishing was above-average this year, with plenty of fish, despite low water for much of the season. The large number of downrunners in recent weeks is a good indication of how successful this season’s spawner escapement was. The Elk and Sixes also close March 31.” Spring salmon fishing is still slow on the Rogue according to Martin. “A major rain is needed to jumpstart the action. During low-flow years, which this is turning out to be, springer fishing often is best in June, with early trolling action in the bay.

Brookings ocean report
According to Martin, fishing for lingcod and rockfish has been good out of Brookings, with limits of rockfish and limits or near limits of lingcod. “Calm weather over the weekend resulted in some of the best catch rates so far this year. Nearly every reef has fish on it right now. After windy weather much of this week, calmer conditions are expected for the weekend. Sport crabbing has been slow to fair.”

Rebecca Ebbs and Cody Allison of Salem, Ore., holds limits of lingcod caught March 25 while fishing aboard the Miss Brooke of Brookings Fishing Charters.

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

Tough Conditions for Late Season Steelhead Anglers

Scott Spangler of Bishop holds a small wild adult steelhead he caught March 21 on the Chetco River while fishing with guide Sam Stover of Brookings Fishing Charters. Photo courtesy of Sam Stover

As we move toward the last weekend of winter steelhead season on the coast, river conditions continue to be less than ideal. Not only for the anglers but for the adult steelhead and their soon-to-be offspring. As of Tuesday, only a few rivers remain open to fishing. The Smith and main stem Eel have been open all season, and will likely remain that way. The Mad has opened and closed a couple times lately along with the Van Duzen. The culprit has been and continues to be the lack of substantial rainfall. The season started out promising as the rain fell hard in early January. And the fishing was just as promising with all of the rivers full of steelhead. But since, it’s been two and a half months of mostly dry weather. Despite the low-water conditions, the fishing wasn’t half bad. I don’t have any numbers to back it up but it sure seemed like the number of steelhead returning this year was better than average. And how many more would have returned with additional water? It sure would’ve been nice to find out.

The weather ahead
Dry conditions are in the forecast through Saturday. Beginning Sunday into Monday. there is a chance for light rainfall amounts but nothing that would increase river flows or open rivers back up to fishing. The next chance for rain is Tuesday, but amounts are uncertain.

Bass Tourney coming to Ruth Lake April 2
The Alderpoint Volunteer Fire Department is hosting the 1st annual Roger Coleman Sr. Memorial Bass Tournament on Saturday April 2nd at Ruth Lake. Check in is Friday night between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. or Saturday morning between 4 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. This is a catch and release tournament with a 13-inch minimum length. Blast off is 7 a.m. or at first safe light. For more information, call Thomas Bruce at 707-223-6258 or Roger Coleman Jr. at 707-223-3858.

HASA Picnic coming April 9
The public is invited to the Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers’ Picnic and Gear Swap/Sell. The fundraising barbeque will be held April 9 at Pierson Park, McKinleyville from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The cost is $10 per person or $20 for a family up to four. HASA will provide burgers, hot dogs and non-alcoholic drinks and it will be pot luck on side dishes. Lunch will start at 3:30 p.m. HASA will provide tables but please bring your own chairs. There will be a few silent auction items, a door prize, and attendees are welcome to bring a table of spare fishing gear to sell or swap. Please RSVP to clderidder@hotmail.com by at least April 2 so food quantity can be determined. Please include your contact information so you can be notified of any changes.

Shelter Cove crab feed coming April 22
Gyppo Ale Mill on Friday April 22 is hosting a crab feed and silent auction for the Shelter Cove Fishing Preservation nonprofit organization. The event runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and live music will be provided by the Breakers. Cost is $75 per person. For more information contact Jake Mitchell at 707-223-1600.

CPH looking for surfperch anglers/seiners
The Cal Poly Humboldt Department. of Fisheries Biology is looking to hire three students to help hook and line sample for surfperch at four Humboldt beaches from May to August, four days a month, four hours per day. Applicants need to have their own gear. The fisheries department is also looking to hire students to help seine Northern California beaches from June to early August. To apply for either of these jobs, send CV and cover letter to jose.MarinJarrin@Humboldt.edu by April 1. Or for more information, visit www.facebook.com/HumboldtFishBio.

River Closures
The South Fork Eel, Middle Fork Eel and Mattole all remain closed to fishing. On Tuesday, Redwood Creek and Van Duzen were added to the closed list.

The Rivers:
Mad River
According to Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors, the fishing pressure has been light over the past week. “Some downers are being caught,” Kelly said. “There are also a few fresh fish still coming in.” As of Wednesday, flows were just above 200 cfs and it could close prior to the weekend.

Eel River (main stem)
After reaching nearly 2,000 cfs last Thursday, the main Eel has been steadily dropping. As of Wednesday, it was down to 1,180 cfs at Scotia. There hasn’t been much fishing pressure as the water is low and clear, and spots with current are getting fewer. There should be a few fish around, the majority of which will likely be downers.

Smith River
The Smith was flowing at just under 1,400 cfs at Jed Smith as of Wednesday. The water is extremely clear and low. Not much in the way of fishing pressure, but a few fish are being caught.

Southern Oregon rivers
There appear to be plenty of steelhead around on the Chetco to make a late-season drift worthwhile, reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “Guides are getting two to six steelhead a day, with a mix of small adults fresh from the ocean, and downrunners headed back to the saltwater. The river is getting low and clear but is still driftable. The season closes March 31. Fish are spread throughout the river. Overall, the Chetco season has been above average, despite low water for much of February. The Elk and Sixes also close March 31, but low water will make fishing tough this week. Spring salmon fishing remains slow on the Rogue, but big tides this week could bring in bigger numbers of fish. So far, only a couple of springers have been reported. Steelhead fishing is slow on the lower Rogue, but improving near Grants Pass.”

Craig Newman of Arcata holds a lingcod he caught in early March while fishing aboard the Miss Brooke of Brookings Fishing Charters near Mack Arch. Photo courtesy of Brookings Fishing Charters

Brookings ocean report
According to Martin, lingcod fishing has been good out of Brookings when weather conditions cooperate. “Big swells early this week are keeping most boats closer to the harbor, but calmer weather is expected by the weekend. Herring fishing was wide open at the Port of Brookings last week, but is now slow. Surf smelt remain in the harbor,” said Martin.

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

Good Options Ahead for Ocean Sport Salmon Anglers

If the Pacific Fishery Management Council is right, we should see more salmon like the one pictured here with Terry Johnson, from Sacramento, this fall. The recreational ocean salmon season is tentatively scheduled to open either May 1 or July 1. The final decision will come from the PFMC meetings in April. Photo courtesy of Tim Klassen/Reel Steel Sport Fishing

Even though ocean abundance forecasts have increased over the prior year for both the Sacramento River and Klamath River Fall Chinook, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) is taking a precautionary approach to the 2022 ocean salmon seasons.

When the PFMC released its ocean sport salmon season options March 14, there was a mix of good and not so good news. If you fish in the Bay Area and Monterey regions, the news was good. Those zones will open up to fishing April 2 and will provide ample opportunity. The news for anglers to the north, especially off our coast within the CA Klamath Management Zone (KMZ), wasn’t quite as good due to the low abundance of Klamath River Fall Chinook. But we’ll get some decent time on the water, it’s just not during the peak month of June when the harvest rates of 4-year-old Klamath Chinook are historically the highest.

For the California KMZ, which runs from the Oregon-California border to latitude 40°10’ N and includes Humboldt County, the three alternatives currently on the table are:

Alternative 1: May 1-31; Aug. 1-Sept. 5

Alternative 2: May 1-31; July 1-4; Aug. 1–31

Alternative 3: July 1–24.

Open seven days per week. All salmon except coho, two salmon per day. Chinook minimum size limit of 20 inches total length. Size limit of 24 inches in alternative 3.

From latitude 40°10’ N to Point Arena, which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg, the three alternatives are:

Alternative 1: May 1-31; July 1-Nov. 13

Alternative 2: May 1-July 4; July 22-Oct. 31

Alternative 3: May 1-Sept. 30

Open seven days per week. All salmon except coho, two salmon per day. Chinook minimum size limit of 20 inches total length. Size limit of 24 inches in alternative 3.

To view all of the salmon management alternatives, visit www.pcouncil.org/annual-salmon-management-process/#2022-2023.

A public hearing is scheduled for March 22, where the public is invited to comment on the PFMC’s proposals. Final season dates will be decided at the April 6-13 meeting in Seattle, Washington. Details on how to attend the public hearing and PFMC meeting, as well as instructions to provide public comment, can be found at www.pcouncil.org

Klamath/Trinity fall salmon allocations
With ocean abundance on the rise, river anglers will have a few more Klamath/Trinity River fall Chinook to harvest this year. The recreational allocations, or quotas, as proposed by the PFMC will range from 2,125 to 2,546 adult fall Chinook in 2022 across the three alternatives. Last year’s basin-wide quota was 1,221 adults. If, for example, Alternative One was chosen, the quota for the Klamath and Trinity basins would be 2,152 adults. Of those, 1,076 would be allowed for sport harvest from Hwy. 96 bridge to the mouth of the Klamath. From the 96 bridge to Iron Gate, 366 could be harvested. The Trinity would receive 710 adults for harvest. The Spit Area (within 100 yards of the channel through the sand spit formed at the Klamath River mouth) would close when 323 adult kings were taken downstream of the Highway 101 bridge. The three quota alternatives are not final, but will be decided during the April 6-13 PFMC meetings. Once the quota is agreed upon, 50 percent will go to the lower Klamath basin, 17 percent to the upper basin, and 33 percent will be allocated for the Trinity River. When adopted, these quotas will go into effect August 15, 2022.

The weather ahead
Following Tuesday’s rain, we can expect mostly dry weather on Wednesday and Thursday. The next chance of substantial rainfall is Friday evening through Sunday. Coastwide, we can expect between 1 to 1.5 inches. The first part of next week is looking like a return to dry weather.

River Closures
As of Tuesday, the South Fork Eel, Middle Fork Eel, Mattole, Redwood Creek and Van Duzen are currently closed to fishing due to low flows.

The Rivers:
Mad River
The Mad opened back up to fishing Tuesday morning and was on the rise through most of the day. It’s forecast to rise again on Saturday afternoon, reaching 1,580 cubic feet per second. The color was good as of Wednesday and there should be fish on the move.

Eel River (main stem)
As of Wednesday, flows were 1,300 cfs at Scotia and rising slightly. It’s predicted to reach 1,900 cfs by Thursday morning. Not much of a rise, but probably enough to get some fish moving both directions.

Smith River
The Smith basin received well over an inch of rain Monday putting the river on a steep rise. As of Wednesday, flows were down to 4,000 cfs and dropping. Dry conditions for the next couple days will bring the levels down quickly. Another smaller rise is forecast for Saturday. There should be some fresh fish making their way in and plenty of spawners headed down.

Southern Oregon rivers
“The Chetco fished surprisingly well last week and over the weekend, with a mix of fresh steelhead and downrunners,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Some guides are getting double-digit hookups. The rain this week should bring in a few more steelhead, while leaving plenty of flows for the remainder of the season, which ends March 31. Steelhead are spread throughout the river. The Elk and Sixes will be back in play with this week’s rain. Both rivers fished well early last week. There is a mix of fresh and spent steelhead in both rivers. The Rogue has been slow for steelhead, but should see the first schools of spring king salmon with this week’s rains.”

Brookings ocean report
Lingcod and rockfish action was good out of Brookings before the weekend storms according to Martin. “Limits of lingcod are being caught close to the harbor. Rockfish are thick on all of the inshore reefs. Sport crabbing is slow. Wednesday and Thursday look fishable before south wind returns Friday.”

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