Big Storms to Kick Off Coastal King Season

Brooking resident Michael McGahan landed this bright Chetco River king salmon last December. With rain in the forecast, the Smith and Chetco should both be full of late fall-run kings. Photo courtesy of Wild Rivers Fishing

The season’s first big storms are bearing down on the North Coast and they look formidable. And that means fresh-from-the-salt king salmon — big and bright — will make their way up all of our coastal rivers starting this weekend. If you see a steady stream of drift boats heading north on U.S. Highway 101, this is the reason. Following a steep rise Friday, the Smith and Chetco rivers should be fishable on Saturday, but both will probably be a little dirty. Both rivers should have fresh kings moving through. Expect plenty of debris and leaves, as well.

As of Wednesday, the Smith is predicted to peak at just over 7,745 cubic feet per second on the Jed Smith gauge Friday afternoon. The river will be on the drop through the day Sunday before it begins to rise again Sunday evening. The Chetco flows should mirror the Smith somewhat. Following a steep rise Friday, it will drop slightly Saturday before rising again Sunday. As the rain ramps up Monday, it will likely be blown out through most of next week.

According to Jonathan Garner of Eureka’s National Weather Service, the North Coast will see three wet systems move through the area beginning Tuesday. “For the 24-hour period beginning Tuesday, we could see up to an inch of rain from the Smith basin to the Eel,” he said. “The next system will arrive Thursday evening and linger through Friday morning. This could bring up to 2 inches. More rain is in the forecast Saturday through Monday, when we could see between 3 to 5 additional inches, with higher amounts falling in the mountains.”

As of Friday all North Coast rivers subjected to low-flow fishing closures, including the Smith, Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek and Van Duzen were open to angling, but don’t expect green water on rivers other than the Smith. 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.

Mad River
Predicted to peak at 1,870 cfs Friday evening. Minimum flows are 200 cfs at the gauging station at the Highway 299 bridge to lift angling restrictions.

Main Eel
Forecasted to reach 3,480 cfs early Sunday morning. Minimum flows are 350 cfs on the Scotia gauge to lift angling restrictions.

Van Duzen
Predicted to peak at 1,825 cfs Friday evening. Minimum flows are 150 cfs at the gauging station near Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park to lift angling restrictions.

South Fork Eel
Flows are predicted to peak at 1,660 cfs early Saturday morning. Minimum flows are 340 cfs at Miranda to lift angling restrictions.

Smith
The Smith is likely to see heavy boat traffic this weekend. If the predictions hold, it should open sometime Friday morning. It’s forecast for a steep rise all day but should drop into fishable shape by Saturday. It could be a little dirty and leafy, but fish should be coming. Minimum flows are 600 cfs at Jedediah Smith State Park to lift angling restrictions.

Chetco
Anglers are anxious to see how high the Chetco will get from this week’s rain, reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “The river could be fishable for drift boats on Friday, and then likely will blow out,” he said. “Expect muddy conditions over the weekend. Low-flow gear restrictions are in effect, but bobber fishing is allowed. CDFW will make a decision about the gear restriction, which makes back-bouncing or drift fishing off limits, after the weekend storm. The restriction is in effect to prevent snagging or flossing salmon during low water. Salmon are spread throughout the river with bigger numbers near the head of tide. Estuary trolling has been slow except for Sunday, when boats had multiple fish. Flows of 2,000 to 3,000 cfs are ideal on the Chetco. Flows Monday were 125 cfs but are expected to jump to 5,000 cfs by Sunday.”

Trinity quota update
According to Dan Troxel, an Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River Project, adult Chinook harvest will close on the upper Trinity as of Monday Oct. 25. The Lower Trinity will close to adult retention as of Nov. 1. Press releases for both closures are forthcoming. Both the upper and lower Klamath sections have met their adult quota harvest limits.

Fishing vessel drill conductor training
The Alaska Marin Safety Education Association (AMSEA) will be conducting hands-on survival skills on Oct. 26 and 28 from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association, #3 Commercial Street in Eureka. The training will include: Cold-water survival skills, EPIRBs, signal flares and mayday calls, man overboard recovery, firefighting and more. Fees are $125 to commercial fisherman, $175 to all others. Training meets the U.S. Coast Guard requirements for drill conductors on commercial fishing vessels, 46 CFR 28.270(c). Register online at www.amsea.org or call 907-747-3287.

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

2021/2022 low flow information for North Coast rivers

Low Flow River Closures begin Oct. 1
North Coast rivers that are regulated by low flow closures, including the Eel River, Mad River, Mattole River, Redwood Creek, Smith River and Van Duzen River will begin angling restrictions on October 1st, except for the Mad River, which went into effect September 1st. The Department of Fish and Game will make the information available to the public by a telephone recorded message updated, as necessary, no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any stream will be closed to fishing. The rivers can be opened up at anytime. Rivers will not automatically open to fishing once minimum flows are reached. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164. NOTE: The main stem Eel from the South Fork to Cape Horn Dam and the Mattole River will be closed until January 1, 2022.

Sections of rivers that are open include the main stem Eel River from the paved junction of Fulmor Road to its mouth, and the main stem Smith River from the mouth of Rowdy Creek to its mouth.

The Mad River from the mouth to 200 yards upstream is closed until Jan. 1, 2022.

Areas subject to low flow closures:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2021 Klamath / Trinity Salmon Regulations

2021 Fall- Run Salmon

Klamath / Trinity fall quota – 1,221 adults

Klamath River fall-run Chinook
The daily bag limit is two Chinook salmon, no more than one of which may be greater than 23 inches, and a possession limit of six, of which only three may be greater than 23 inches.

Klamath Fall season begins on Aug. 15 and closes Dec. 31

  • The Spit Area (within 100 yards of the channel through the sand spit formed at the Klamath River mouth) – 183 adults *
  • From the Klamath mouth to the Hwy. 96 bridge at Weitchpec – 611 adults
  • From the Hwy. 96 bridge at Weitchpec to 3,500 feet downstream of the Iron Gate Dam – 208 adults
* Only the Spit Area will close once 183 adults are harvested. The rest of the area below Highway 101 (estuary) will remain open to recreational fishing.
The take of salmon is prohibited from Iron Gate Dam downstream to Weitchpec from Jan. 1 through Aug. 14

Trinity Fall season begins Sept. 1 and closes Dec. 31.

  • Downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat – 201 adults
  • Downstream of the Denny Road bridge at Hawkins Bar to the confluence with the Klamath – 201 adults
Downstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to the Denny Road Bridge in Hawkins Bar is closed to fishing September 1 through December 31.
The take of salmon is prohibited from the confluence of the South Fork Trinity downstream to the confluence of the Klamath from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31.
Once these quotas have been met, no Chinook salmon greater than 23 inches in length may be retained. Anglers may still retain a limit of Chinook salmon under 23 inches in length.
Trinity River spring-run Chinook

Ocean kings on the move

Customers aboard the Miss Brooke of Brookings Fishing Charters hold the salmon they caught July 20 two miles out of the harbor. Photo courtesy of Andy Martin/Brookings Fishing Charters

So much for the kings being right where we left them after last week’s wind-a-thon. After working over some big schools of kings from Eureka to north of Trinidad the previous week, it looks like they may have moved on to greener pastures. The Eureka boats were back on the water in force on Sunday with high hopes. A few were caught, but scores fell well short of where they were prior to the wind. By Monday, it was pretty much belly up. While the salmon bite slowed from Shelter Cove to Trinidad, the kings have finally made their way to Fort Bragg. And they just recently made a return appearance in Brookings. It appears to be a game of hide-n-seek, with no one knowing which port they’ll pop up in next. Luckily for us, we’re in the midst of one of the best Pacific halibut seasons on record. So, when the salmon bite turned off, boats headed west and continued the onslaught. The ocean was also calm enough to allow boats to make the long run south to the Cape, where the rockfish and lingcod have been patiently awaiting some company. Always good to have options…

Weekend Marine Forecast
The weekend forecast looks plenty fishable, and lighter winds and lower seas are expected late in the weekend and early next week. Friday’s forecast is calling for 5 to 15 knot winds out of the N and NW waves 6 feet at 7 seconds and W 2 feet at 9 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds 5 to 15 knots and waves out of the NW 6 feet at 8 seconds. Sunday’s forecast is a little better, with winds out of the NW up to 5 knots and waves NW 5 feet at 8 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Sport Crab season coming to a close
The 2020 sport Dungeness crab season in Humboldt, Mendocino, and Del Norte counties will close on Thursday July 30. The season is expected to re-open on Nov. 7.

Ocean salmon closures
Klamath
The Klamath Control Zone will be closed the month of August for ocean sport salmon fishing. The closed zone around the Klamath River mouth is bounded on the north by 41°38’48” N. lat. (approximately 6 nautical miles north of the Klamath River mouth); on the west, by 124°23’00” W. long. (approximately 12 nautical miles off shore); and on the south, by 41°26’48” N. lat. (approximately 6 nautical miles south of the Klamath River mouth).

Eel
No salmon may be taken during the months of August and September in ocean waters at the Eel River mouth bounded on the north by 40°40’24” N. lat. (approximately 2 nautical miles north of the Eel River mouth), on the west by 124°21’24” W. long. (approximately 2 nautical miles offshore), and on the south by 40°36’24” N. lat. (approximately 2 nautical miles south of the Eel River mouth).

The Oceans:
Eureka
“The salmon bite has been slow since the weekend when most boats got back on the water,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “Boats averaged less than a fish per rod on Sunday, and Monday was tougher. There’s some really good signs around, so hopefully they’re still here,” added Klassen. With salmon on the slow side and favorable ocean conditions, boats opted for the Cape or back out to the Pacific halibut grounds. Neither fishery disappointed. Quick limits were the norm on Tuesday for halibut anglers, with some coming as fast as 45 minutes. The rockfish action was good at the Cape, but not wide-open like the halibut. “The fishing was very good, but not red hot like we’ve seen,” said Klassen. “There’s some super clear water down there, along with some really brown water. The lings bit really well on Tuesday, with limits up to 28-pounds.”

Trinidad
Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters and Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing both fished through some tough weather prior to Sunday. “We were mostly running half-day trips prior to the weekend and getting quick limits of black rockfish and a few salmon right in front of the Trinidad Head,” said Sepulveda. “Nothing is wide open, but rockfish, lingcod, salmon and pacific halibut are all hitting the deck.”. Conditions finally took a turn for the better on Sunday, and according to Wilson, the halibut bit pretty well. “It was real good fishing, not wide-open but almost everyone was catching,” said Wilson. “This week we’ve been targeting rockfish to the north, where the lingcod bite has been good along with a wide variety of rockfish. The salmon bite has slowed down, but you can still go out and get a few opportunities each day.”

Shelter Cove
The salmon bite was pretty darn slow this week according to Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. He said, “We had some pretty decent weather and people were able to look far and wide, but nothing really produced. There’s been quite a bit of bait hanging in some areas, so I’m hopeful that they’ll find it soon. I made the run up to Rodgers a few times this week for rockfish and it was pretty good. We even caught a few halibut up to 77-pounds while rock fishing. Lingcod was a bit slow, but the ones we did get were a very good grade. A couple boats ran 45 miles for tuna on Monday and found a few fish. When we get another weather window, we’ll have another option.”

Crescent City
There’s been a few salmon caught this week reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “There’s tons of anchovies around, and they’re really spread out. And the salmon are as well. I heard of salmon being caught right on the beach, and also out in 300 feet of water. There’s been quite a bit of effort this week on the CA halibut, but without much success. A few were caught off the B Street Pier last Friday. That area was loaded with anchovies too. The rockfish bite continues to be good when the boats can get out. The lingcod bite has been excellent as well. Boats are fishing both reefs, the Sisters, and around the lighthouse.”

Brookings
The salmon bite is back on out of Brookings, with a few fish right outside the mouth of the Chetco and bigger schools a couple miles offshore according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “The bite kicked into gear early this week, with anchovies trolled just below the surface working best,” said Martin. “Lingcod and rockfish action have been fair with the big tides. A few California halibut also are being caught. The rough seas that kept boats at the dock last week have subsided this week, but it is still fairly rough.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Salmon fishing in the estuary continues to be up and down. Some fish came in last Sunday with the high tide, and quite a few were caught. Monday sounded like the fishing was good, but it was very slow again on Tuesday. Like any tidal fishery, the bite can be fickle. You need to be there when the fish are in and want to bite. Trolling anchovies behind a Rogue River spinner bait is still catching the majority of the fish. Spring-run regulations are in effect through August 14, with a daily bag and possession limit of one king salmon of any size.

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, the Rogue Bay had its best two days of the season Sunday and Monday before the action slowed on Tuesday. “There are schools of salmon now milling around in the bay. Guides had a fish a rod early in the week before the bite stalled on Tuesday. Still no steelhead upriver near Agness as of yet,” added Martin.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Steelhead season on hold due to rising rivers

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Lou Hart of Virginia holds a 9-pound steelhead caught Dec. 1 at Pepperwood on the Chetco River while side-drifting roe with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.

While most guides and sport anglers are taking a well-deserved break before the winter steelhead season kicks into high gear, several storms are once again bearing down on the North Coast. Rain is in the forecast for at least the next seven days, which just might keep the rivers at unfishable levels well into next week. The Smith and Chetco will be the first to drop and clear, and the plunkers should arrive in force. The Humboldt rivers, including the Mad, Eel, and Van Duzen will need a little more time in between storms before they’re fishable. While very few winter steelhead have made their way into the rivers as of yet, you can almost bet we’ll see the first wave arrive when the rivers finally recede.

Weekend weather/marine forecast
The forecast for the next seven days is looking very wet according to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The rain will begin to fall Wednesday evening and will likely be with us through Friday. Rainfall totals for Thursday and Friday in the Smith basin could be up to three inches, with up to two inches falling in the Eel and Mad basins. Showers will taper off on Friday evening and Saturday is looking somewhat dry. The rain will return on Sunday, with another half to one inch predicted for the Smith and up to one and a half inches in Humboldt. More rain is forecasted for Monday, and showers are expected on Tuesday and Wednesday as well. It’s a little far out there, but the models are showing a pretty wet system moving in next Thursday,” Kennedy added.

The weekend forecast for offshore crabbing doesn’t look great. Friday’s forecast is calling for W winds 5 to15 knots, with waves W 12 feet at 14 seconds. Saturday is looking slightly better, with winds out of the E 5 to 10 knots with NW waves 10 feet at 12 seconds. Sunday is looking better, with SE winds 5 to 10 knots and NW waves 8 feet at 11 seconds. The forecast will likely change, so before you head out, check the marine forecast at www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka and click on the marine tab. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit: www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan

Cash not an option for fishing license purchase
Beginning January 1, 2017 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will no longer accept cash at CDFW’s License and Revenue Branch and regional license counters. Individuals who want to make payments at CDFW’s License and Revenue Branch or a regional license counter can use checks, money orders, or any debit/credit card with the Visa or Mastercard logo.
The “no-cash policy” will hopefully improve customer and employee safety, department efficiency, customer service and provide cost savings.

The Rivers:
Chetco River
Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing reports the Chetco is full of half-pounders at the moment. He said, “Last Thursday we landed a half a dozen while side-drifting. The salmon fishing was surprisingly good on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with a fish per rod reported. There were some nice bright kings on the lower end, near the North Fork, as well as near Ice Box. Fishing slowed on Sunday. We caught a few salmon last week on the steelhead gear while side-drifting, and others running plugs in the typical salmon spots. The river is expected to blow out from Friday through the weekend.”

Smith River
Not many signs of steelhead this past week on the Smith reports guide Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. “I was on the water last weekend and the only thing we really saw was half-pounders. We’re definitely in a transition phase, which is fairly typical this time of year. We don’t normally see the first real big push of steelhead arrive until right around Christmas time. We’ve got a few pretty decent storms coming in the next few days and it looks like Sunday might be the only day where side-drifting will be possible,” Coopman added.

Main Stem Eel, South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, and Mad
All were fishable as of Wednesday, but that will likely change with the rain coming on Thursday. All are forecasted to see fairly large flow increases starting Thursday morning. With rain in the forecast for at least the next seven days, it could be a while before these rivers drop back down to fishable levels. Very few winter steelhead were caught on any of the rivers, but that should change when they drop back down and turn green. For river level predictions, visit http://www.cnrfc.noaa.gov

Upper Trinity
The weather has really turned cold this week reports Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service. He said, “A few mornings were in the upper 20s. The fishing remains about the same, we’re seeing one to three adults a day with a few half pounders mixed in working from Lewiston down to Cedar Flat. The majority of the boats are working the Junction City area where the pressure has been pretty heavy with the clear conditions. We could really use a good amount of rain to mix things up. Fishing was better on the plugs this week with the colder water and clear conditions.”

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Steelhead season set to explode on coastal rivers

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Steve Malatesta of Watsonville landed a nice hatchery steelhead on a recent trip to the upper Trinity River. Winter steelhead have started to make their way into the lower Trinity River, with the run typically lasting well into March. Photo courtesy of Steve Huber’s Guide Service

North Coast rivers are likely seeing the last of the late fall-run salmon push in this week as all of the rivers are back on the drop following last weekend’s storms. The majority of these late-season kings have already made their way up rivers like the Chetco, Smith, Mad, Van Duzen and Eel, but you can bet a few more spurts of fresh fish will push in between now and the new year. The season was a good one, especially on the quick-clearing Smith, which had more fishable days than all of the other rivers combined. A lot of the success can be attributed to the well above normal rainfall that’s fallen since October.

One of the best parts of living on the North Coast and being surrounded by coastal rivers — no sooner does one season come to a close, another one’s right behind it. So it’s out with the kings and in with the widely-popular winter steelhead. With the rivers dropping and turning green, the first wave of steelhead should begin to make an appearance. Most of the rivers have already seen a few, but I expect they’ll start to show up in bigger numbers in the coming days.

Weekend forecast
The dry weather will stick around through Saturday, with the next system arriving on Sunday according to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “We can expect periods of light rain on Sunday turning into widespread showers in the evening. These will linger into Monday. This will be a colder system, with snow levels dropping to 2,500 to 3,000 feet. Del Norte could see up to two inches of rain with this system and Humboldt could see a half to one and a half inches. Tuesday will be a transition day with scattered showers not amounting to much. Tuesday night and into the day Wednesday will be dry, with rain returning on Wednesday evening. There’s a really good chance we’ll see heavier rain on Thursday with higher rainfall totals possible,” Kennedy added.

Eel River salmon returns
As of Nov. 28, a total of 390 Chinook salmon have entered the Van Arsdale fish count station according to Scott L Harris, an associate Biologist with the Northern Region. Making up that total is 167 males, 171 Females, and 52 jacks. A total of 138 were counted this past week. For more information, visit http://eelriver.org/interactiveresources/fish-count/

The Rivers:
Chetco River
The Chetco was down to 4,610 cfs on Tuesday night after cresting at 16,000 cfs on Friday reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “It should start fishing on Wednesday, with prime conditions Friday and Saturday. There may be a few salmon still around, but fishing will probably be slow until the middle part of December. I will be side-drifting, looking for early steelhead, along with running salmon plugs in some of the more likely salmon holes. Salmon fishing was slow before the big rains last week.”

Smith River
It’s transition time on the Smith, with the majority of the salmon having made their way to the spawning grounds. A few were caught this week, but overall, it was pretty slow. There are a few half-pounders around, which is typical for this time of the year. A few winter steelhead are starting to show, so it’s probably time to get out the side-drifting gear.

Mad
The Mad is still big and brown and probably won’t fish until sometime next week reports Justin Kelly of Eureka’s RMI Outdoors. “With Ruth Lake full, it won’t drop as quickly. Looking at the predictions, it probably won’t turn green until late next week at the earliest. And that’s if we don’t see any more rain. It’s currently at running at just under 9.5 feet, ideal conditions are right around 7.5 feet,” Kelly added.

Eel
Main
The main stem is still big and dirty, but dropping quickly according to Paul Grundman of Grundmans Sporting Goods in Rio Dell. He said, “It should drop back into fishable shape in a week or so if we have some dry weather. There’s been some steelhead caught already, and we typically see them start to show up in bigger numbers by mid-December. Once the river turns green, we should see some really good fishing for both late kings and steelhead.”

South Fork
The Leggett area should be fishable late this week, and the Miranda area should drop back in by the weekend. There should be a few kings around and some early steelhead in the mix as well.

Van Duzen
Still running at nearly 1,800 cfs, the Van Duzen still has a way to go before it comes back into shape. According to Grundman, it could fish by Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Upper Trinity
It must be steelhead season as cold weather and rain have hit the Trinity reports Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service. “This past week, we were getting one to four fish per trip. Most of our action is coming on plugs, with the Maglip 3.0’s really working well. We are starting to see the beginning of the winter run, but there aren’t a lot of fish in the system right now. The fish we are catching are a nice size for the Trinity. Snow on the Alps and more rain will only help,” Huber added.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Too much of a good thing — rivers expected to go big

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Redding residents Paul Rother, right, along with his son Cody landed a nice pair of Smith River kings on Tuesday. The Smith will likely be the only river in fishable shape this weekend following a series of wet storms forecasted to hit the North Coast starting Thursday afternoon. Photo courtesy of John Klar’s Guide Service

All of the North Coast rivers, other than the Smith, were running high and dirty as of Wednesday. And the Smith will soon follow suit. The approaching storms, which should hit around dinner time on Thursday, could potentially bring another four to eight inches of rain to the area. If the storms come to fruition, it will be a nice little break at the perfect time.

When (and if) the rivers do drop back into fishable shape, my guess is we’ll see the first signs of the impending winter steelhead run. There’s already been a few caught on all the rivers, but with more high water coming, expect the steelies to start showing in numbers. But don’t give up entirely on salmon just yet. The Smith is still seeing fresh fish coming in daily and there should be some smaller spurts of fish coming into the Chetco, Eel and Mad.

Weekend weather and forecast
After a brief break, the next round of storms are forecasted to roll through starting Thursday afternoon according to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “Thursday’s system could drop up to a couple inches in the Smith basin and roughly an inch in Humboldt. Friday is going to be the wettest day of the holiday weekend, with up to four inches falling to the north and three and a half inches falling in the Mad/Eel basin. Off and on showers will continue on Saturday, with another 2 inches potentially hitting the ground. We’ll see wide-spread showers on Sunday lasting through Tuesday, with most of the precipitation falling in the mountains. The rain will return on Wednesday and Thursday of next week,” Kennedy added.

The holiday weekend is not looking good for offshore crabbing adventures. Friday’s forecast is calling for SW winds 15 to 25 knots, with waves SW 8 feet at 8 seconds and W 15 feet at 15 seconds. Saturday is looking just as bad, with winds out of the NW to 15 to 25 knots with W waves 7 feet at 8 seconds and NW 12 feet at 13 seconds. Sunday is looking slightly improved, with N winds 10 to 20 knots and NW waves 6 feet at 5 seconds and NW 10 feet at 12 seconds. The forecast will likely change, so before you head out, check the marine forecast at www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka and click on the marine tab. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit: www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan

Commercial Dungeness crab season opens Dec. 1 in Northern California
The northern California commercial Dungeness crab season is slated to open at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1, north of the Sonoma-Mendocino county line.

Prior to the season opening, commercial fishermen are allowed a 64-hour gear setting period. Crab trap gear can be set no earlier than 8 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 28. Quality tests conducted in northern California in November indicated the crabs are ready for harvest. For more information on Dungeness crab, please visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Invertebrates/Crabs

Oregon commercial crab season delayed
Northern California commercial crabbers could soon have some company. In a press release issued earlier this week, the state agriculture officials in Oregon announced a delay to the start of the commercial Dungeness crabbing season statewide due to high levels of domoic acid found in some crabs’ flesh. Recreational crabbing in coastal waters from Tillamook Head along the northern coast to the California border was also temporarily shut down. For more info, visit https://www.oregon.gov/ODA/programs/FoodSafety/Shellfish/Pages/ShellfishClosures.aspx

Crabs plentiful for offshore anglers
Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing reported some excellent crab scores earlier this week out of Eureka. On an overnight soak, he was getting up to 20 keepers per pot. “We started to see a few more jumbos this week along with plenty of legal sport size crabs. All the crabs are really full of meat,” Klassen added. With extremely rough seas forecasted for the next few days, Klassen pulled most of his gear and is likely done running trips. “The commercial guys could set gear as early as Monday, so we’ll want to give them plenty of room.”

The Rivers:
All North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Smith, Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, and Van Duzen are currently open to fishing. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164.

Chetco River
The Chetco blew out on Sunday and will probably be too high to fish until the middle or even end of next week reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “Before it blew out, salmon fishing had slowed. There were a few bright fish between the North Fork and Social Security, and some fish between Loeb and Ice Box. Above Ice Box, a lot of salmon have already spawned. There should be enough steelhead to make targeting them worthwhile when the river comes back into shape.”

Sixes/Elk
The Sixes has been fishing well when conditions have been good according to Marin. “It has been too high for over a week. The Elk dropped below 5 feet on Tuesday, and a few salmon where caught near the hatchery, and between Iron Head and the RV park. There should still be some bright kings around next week when the Elk drops back into shape.”

Smith River
Salmon fishing on the Smith has been quite a bit tougher since it dropped back into shape on Monday. Scores ranged from zero to two per boat, with lots more zero’s than two’s. We’re likely getting close to the end of the run, but we should know pretty quickly once the river drops back into shape late this weekend. According to the river level predictions, it will be on the high side Monday, but should be driftable. I’d expect a few winter steelhead to be in the mix.

Upper Trinity
According to Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service, fishing the past week on the upper Trinity has been a little tougher. “We’re in a transition stage where the older steelhead have started to move down to make room for the fresh ones coming up. We are seeing two to four fish per trip with flies, plugs, and side-drifting all working about the same. With quite a bit of rain in the forecast, we should start seeing more fish move into the system,” Huber added.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Rain brings in fresh kings to Smith, Chetco

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Del Kelly of Arcata landed this monster Smith River salmon while fishing the lower river on Wednesday. The Smith should be in great shape on Thursday and Friday, however conditions over the weekend will be marginal due to the incoming storms. Photo courtesy of Fred Contaoi

A series of rain storms moved across the North Coast earlier this week bringing sizable rises to the Chetco and Smith rivers on Tuesday. With off and on rain in the forecast, both rivers should fish well for the next few days. Prior to the rain, fishing was tough for the masses, but the guys who are out there every day were catching their share. With the increase in flows, the rivers should see a pretty good influx of new kings, and should push the older fish into their spawning grounds. We’ll likely see a few early steelhead begin to show as well. For the Humboldt rivers, including the Mad, Eel, and Van Duzen, the rain coming this weekend will put them out of commission for a while. All three are forecasted for dramatic rises beginning on Saturday.

Weekend weather and forecast
After a break on Thursday, rain will be back in the forecast beginning late afternoon on Friday and will stick around through Monday morning according to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “Rainfall totals for the four days will be decent, with two to four inches falling in Del Norte and one and a half to three falling in Humboldt. The next system will roll in on Tuesday afternoon and will last through Thanksgiving Day. Del Norte and Humboldt counties can be expecting two to three inches. We’ll see another break on Friday morning, but more rain is predicted by Friday afternoon,” Kennedy added.

The weekend marine forecast is calling for winds 10 to 2 knots out of the SE on Saturday, with waves S 6 feet at 9 seconds and W 16 feet at 15 seconds. Sunday looks slightly better offshore, with winds out of the NW 5 to 10 knots and W waves 13 feet at 13 seconds. The forecast will likely change, so before you head out, check the marine forecast at www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka and click on the marine tab. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit: www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan

Crabs plentiful for offshore anglers
Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing is reporting excellent crabbing out of Eureka. On an overnight soak, he’s getting between 10 to 15 keepers per pot. According to Klassen, the north side of the entrance sounds like it’s fishing a little better, but the south side is still really good with limits coming easily. “We’re not seeing the jumbos yet, but the crabs are in great shape and really full. The forecast doesn’t look good for the weekend, but we’re hoping to get out Thursday and Friday,” Klassen added.

Smith River – Rowdy Creek Hatchery update
As of Wednesday, 55 Chinook salmon have been trapped according to hatchery manager Andrew Van Scoyk. “It feels like a normal year so far. We’re not getting a ton of fish back, but we are catching regularly. The early rains brought us quite a few fish, but they were too fresh,” Van Scoyk added. According to Van Scovk, 25 wild pairs are needed to meet their spawning needs.

The Rivers:
All North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Smith, Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, and Van Duzen are currently open to fishing. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164.

Chetco River
Before the Chetco blew out on Tuesday, salmon fishing had slowed reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Most guides were only getting a fish per boat, with a few guides getting a couple. There are still some bright fish on the lower end, but above Ice Box there are salmon spawning in most of the tail outs. A few steelhead have already been reported. This latest rain should bring in a few more and by December we may have decent numbers of steelhead,” Martin added.

Smith River
The Smith came up pretty good on Tuesday, making for a decent bite on Wednesday reports Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. He said, “There were some nice fish caught on Wednesday, and I’d say the average was about one per boat. The river should be on the drop the next two days, so I’d expect the fishing to be really good. With more rain coming late Friday, conditions for the weekend are looking marginal,” Coopman added.

Upper Trinity
The upper Trinity River has returned to being clear and low according to Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service He said, “We’re seeing some steelhead move around the system, with boats averaging one to two fish per angler. Fly fishing, back trolling plugs, side-drifting roe have all been effective methods. There are a few new salmon in the system and we’re starting to see a few Coho in some of the holes. Be prepared to work and spend some time on the river,” said Huber

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Rough seas kibosh sport crab opener

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McKinleyville resident Corey Allen landed a nice king salmon on a recent trip to the Smith River. Without much rain this week, fishing on the Smith has gotten tougher as the river is low and clear. Photo courtesy of Fishing the North Coast Guide Service

Rough seas last weekend spoiled what would have likely been a very successful sport crab opener. On Monday, the swells relented just enough for Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sportfishing to quickly dump a half-dozen test pots offshore. After a mere two-hour soak, the pots were pulled with roughly 15 keepers in each. “The crabs weren’t jumbo’s, but the meat content was great,’ said Klassen. Thursday looks to be the next best opportunity to get offshore as the swells are looking a little dicey this weekend. With the ocean not being an option, quite a few pots were dropped in Humboldt Bay over the weekend. From what I heard, the catching was very slow. A few guys did well, but ones and twos per trip was the norm. The combination of large swells and plenty of freshwater from the rains likely kept the crab sitting offshore. Hopefully the weather will calm down and the sport guys can tug on some full pots prior to the start of the commercial season.

Commercial crab season to set to open Nov. 15 down south
The commercial crab will open from Point Reyes south on Nov. 15, but 60 miles of coastline will remain closed due to elevated levels of domoic acid. At the recommendation of state health agencies, the commercial Dungeness crab fishery will remain closed between Point Reyes and the Sonoma/Mendocino county line. This closure will remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fisheries be open. Recreational season will remain open under a warning to anglers not to eat the viscera of crab caught in the affected areas.

The fishery north of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line is not scheduled to open until Dec. 1. For more information, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/commercial-dungeness-crab-season-to-open-throughout-most-of-the-southern-fishery-one-area-will-remain-closed

Pre-season crab quality test results
According to CDFW Senior Marine Biologist Pete Kalvass, who oversees the Invertebrate Management Project, the recently completed meat yield tests came in above the 25 percent needed, so no further testing is required this season. Here are the results: Crescent City 29%; Trinidad 26.3%; Eureka 25.4%, and Bodega (Point Reyes Area) 25.6%.

Weekend weather and forecast
According to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service, the next chance of rain will be Friday evening, with showers lingering into Saturday morning. The Smith basin could see up to three-quarters of an inch and Humboldt could see a half. Saturday afternoon and Sunday will be dry, with an unsettled pattern returning on Monday and sticking around through Wednesday. Rainfall totals for the 3 days will be in the neighborhood of three and a half inches in the Smith basin and possibly two and a half inches in the Eel/Mad basins,” Kennedy added.

The weekend marine forecast is calling for winds 5 to 10 knots out of the N on Saturday, with waves W 12 feet at 16 seconds. Sunday looks much better offshore, with winds out of the E up to 5 knots and S waves 2 feet at 5 seconds and W 8 feet at 13 seconds. The forecast will likely change, so before you head out, check the marine forecast at www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka and click on the marine tab. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit: www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan

Industry Notes
Proposed Sacramento River closure
The CDFW is holding a public meeting on Monday, Nov. 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. to solicit public comments on the proposed fishing closure alternatives for the 5.5-mile stretch above the Highway 44 Bridge to the Keswick Dam. The meeting will be held at the Redding Public Library, 1100 Parkview Ave. CDFW is proposing multiple closure options to protect endangered winter-run Chinook, including a motor ban and a fly fishing-only regulation. For more information, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/public-meeting-to-be-held-on-proposed-sacramento-river-fishing-closure-alternatives

Proposed regulation changes on the Smith River
Friends of Del Norte County, led by Ted Souza, are proposing two regulation changes that could heavily impact Smith River salmon and steelhead anglers. The first proposed change is to ban the use of roe for fishing salmon and steelhead. The rationale behind this according to the group is female salmon are being killed solely for their eggs since roe is the bait of choice for salmon fishermen. Also, using roe results in more deeply hooked fish and doubles the chance of fatally harming the fish than if caught using artificial lures. The second proposed change would be to close the Smith to all fishing above the Middle and South Forks during November and December to protect spawning salmon. According to the group, the financial impact to the fishing guides would be negligible since they rarely fish above the forks. After December when the majority of the salmon have spawned, the river could be opened back up for steelhead fishing. These regulation change requests will be heard by the CA Fish and Game Commission on Dec. 7th and 8th in San Diego. To read the entire petition, visit http://www.fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2016/Oct/exhibits/SS_1019_Item_2_PublicForum.pdf#page3

The Rivers:
All North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Smith, Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, and Van Duzen are currently open to fishing. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164.

Smith River
The salmon fishing has slowed considerably the past few days as the river has dropped and cleared. As of Wednesday, flows were just above 8 feet on the Jed Smith gauge and are predicted to drop through the weekend. It will need another good shot of rain and a pretty good rise to bring in the next wave of kings.

Chetco
There are good numbers of salmon in the lower Chetco, from Loeb to Social Security Bar reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Fishing was good on Thursday through Saturday and again Monday, but slower for many of the boats on Tuesday. That may help ease the pressure as the week goes on. The river is dropping fast, but there were signs of quite a few new fish below the North Fork Tuesday afternoon. The far lower end still has plenty of color for plugs. Back-bouncing roe is best from Moffit Rock upstream,” Martin added.

Elk/Sixes
The Elk is low and clear according to Martin. He said, “A few fish are being caught close to the hatchery. With the Elk low, all the pressure has shifted to the Sixes, where salmon are being caught from Edson Creek to the Grange. Fishing has been pretty good on the Sixes.”

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Right on time – sport crab opens Saturday

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California’s Second District Congressman Jared Huffman landed a nice 35 lb. Smith River salmon last Saturday while fishing with guide Mike Coopman. Congressman Huffman was able to squeeze in a half-day fishing trip while in Crescent City touring the Last Chance Grade. Photo courtesy of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service

Good news North Coast! The much-anticipated sport Dungeness crab season will open on time this year, and the season’s first crustaceans can be legally hauled from the salty waters of oceans and bays beginning Saturday morning. After last year’s domoic acid debacle, which delayed both sport and commercial openers, this is welcome news. Here on the North Coast, winter crabbing is a tradition that dates back generations. Boats will be working the near shore waters, bays and river mouths baiting, setting and pulling pots and rings — all in the hopes of a big payout of rich, delicious crab.

In Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties, the season runs from Saturday, Nov. 5 through July 30, 2017. The minimum size is five and three-quarter 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) and the limit is 10. A valid California sport fishing license is required. For more information regarding recreational Dungeness crab fishing regulations and other crab species, visit http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Invertebrates/Crabs

New state regulations went into effect on Aug. 1 regarding the crab fisheries and crab trap requirements. Dungeness crab size and bag limits are now uniform statewide. All crab traps will be required to have a destruct device, must be marked with the GO ID number of the operator of the trap, and may not be deployed during the seven days prior to the opening of the Dungeness crab season. For more info on the new regulations, visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=132266&inline

CDPH warns rec anglers to avoid consuming the viscera of Dungeness crab caught north of Point Reyes
In a press release issued on Nov. 2, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is warning recreational anglers not to consume the viscera (internal organs) of Dungeness crab caught in coastal waters north of Point Reyes (Latitude 38° 00′ N). This warning is due to the sporadic detection of elevated levels of domoic acid in the viscera of Dungeness crabs caught off the Northern California coast. CDPH believes that Dungeness crab meat is safe to consume, however, as a precaution, consumers are advised not to eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs. The best ways to reduce risk are: Remove the crab viscera and rinse out the body cavity prior to cooking, or boil or steam whole crabs, instead of frying or broiling, and discard cooking liquids. For more info, visit

Marine Forecast
A small craft advisory will be in effect from 3 a.m. on Thursday to 4 a.m. on Monday, which will likely delay the sport boats from crabbing offshore this weekend. As of Wednesday, Saturday’s forecast is calling for south winds 5 to 10 knots with 15-foot waves at 16 seconds coming out of the west. Sunday is looking equally as bad, with winds out of the east up to 5 knots with west waves 14-feet at 16 seconds. The forecast will likely change, so before you head out, check the marine forecast at www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka and click on the marine tab. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan

Weekend Tides – Humboldt Bay
Sat., Nov. 5 (High: 4:45 a.m. and 3:21 p.m.) (Low: 9:37 a.m. and 10:33 p.m.)
Standard time begins at 2:00 a.m. Sunday
Sun., Nov. 6 (High: 4:41 a.m. and 3:17 p.m.) (Low: 9:40 a.m. and 10:26 p.m.)

Weekend Weather forecast
Not quite as much rain in the forecast this week as in the past few, but a couple of smaller systems could drop another inch or two to the region. According to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service, Thursday and Friday will be on the dry side, but rain is back in the forecast for Saturday. “The next system will roll through on Saturday afternoon and stick around overnight. The Smith basin could see up to two inches and the Eel/Mad basins may see an inch. Sunday and Monday are looking dry, with the next chance of rain forecasted for Tuesday. It will be a weaker system, with the Smith basin seeing up to an inch and the Eel/Mad area receiving anywhere from a quarter to three-quarters of an inch. Next Wednesday and Thursday are both looking dry,” Kennedy added.

The Rivers:
All North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Smith, Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, and Van Duzen are currently open to fishing. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164.

Smith River
According to Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service, the Smith is in great shape, and dropping slowly. He said, the river hasn’t dropped as quickly as predicted, and should continue to fish really well until we get the next round of storms. There continues to be lots of fish in the river, and both plugs and backbouncing roe are catching fish.”. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Smith was right around 10.5 feet on the Jed Smith gauge.

Chetco
The Chetco dropped to 4,820 cfs Tuesday evening and should fish well Wednesday afternoon through Saturday reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “There is rain coming Saturday, which could increase flows again, although the gauge projection isn’t showing that as of Wednesday. The Chetco has been blown out for the past week, although one boat went down last Saturday and got three nice kings in the high water, over 5,000 cfs. The gear restrictions end Nov 4, which means we will be able to back-bounce, and run plugs without a bobber, or a single-point hook. There should be some hatchery fish from Loeb park down.

Elk/Sixes
The Elk had some new fish on Tuesday, mainly on the lower end according to Martin. “The hatchery launch was crowded on Tuesday and fishing was just fair on the upper end. Typically, the Elk and Sixes have a later run, so the bulk of the fish are likely still to come.”

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com