Steelhead season on hold due to rising rivers

fishing-the-nc-12_8-photo

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

fishing-the-nc-12_1-photo

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

fishing-the-nc-11_24-photo

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

fishing-the-nc-photo-11_17

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

fishing-the-nc-11_10-photo

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

fishing-the-nc-11_3

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

Smith, Chetco kicking out large kings

fishing-the-nc-photo-10_27

Kyle McGill of Grants Pass, Ore., holds a 40-pound king he caught Oct. 25 on the Smith River with a 5.0 MagLip plug while fishing with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Also pictured is Bill Ogren and Kenneth Ogren, also of Grants Pass. Photo courtesy of Andy Martin/Wild Rivers Fishing

While the majority of the North Coast rivers are back on the rise following the rain earlier in the week, I’m wondering if anyone really cares? The spotlight has — and will continue to be — squarely on the Smith River. And for good reason. When fishable, the Smith has given up trophy-sized kings on a daily basis since the first big rain. After dropping into shape last Friday, the Chetco took some of the boat pressure off the Smith, and pumped out some very big kings as well. It was not uncommon to see multiple 30-pound salmon landed on both rivers every fishable day. With the forecast calling for off and on rain for the next week, expect both of these rivers to remain the epicenter for coastal king fishing.

Weekend Weather
According to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service, we’re still in the middle of a wet pattern, with off and on rain in the forecast for the next week. “In Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, Thursday’s rain could drop up to a half to an inch of rain. Another quarter to a half is likely to fall on both Friday and Saturday. Sunday is predicted to be a little wetter, with a half to one inch possible in both counties. Monday is looking dry at the moment, but periods of light rain are in the forecast for Tuesday. A wetter system will arrive on Wednesday, with potentially two inches falling,” Kennedy added.

Rockfish seasons set to close
The recreational rockfish season for boat-based anglers will come to a close on Monday, Oct. 31. The weekend weather doesn’t look to promising for a last minute run to the Cape, or anywhere for that matter. Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the south 5 to 10 knots and 7 foot waves at 15 seconds. The winds will increase up to 15 knots on Saturday, with SW waves 4 feet at 7 seconds and NW 11 feet at 16 seconds. Sunday isn’t looking much better, with winds out of the south 5 to 10 knots and SW waves 6 feet at 9 seconds and NW 9 feet at 15 seconds.

Dungeness crab sport fishery to open statewide
The Dungeness crab sport fishery is scheduled to open statewide on Saturday, Nov. 5.
According to DFG Senior Marine Biologist Pete Kalvass, who oversees the Invertebrate Management Project, CDFW will begin collecting crab next week for meat yields, weather depending. For more information regarding recreational Dungeness crab fishing regulations and other crab species, please visit the DFG Marine Region website at https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Invertebrates/Crabs

The Rivers:

River Notes
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. NOTE: CA Fish and Game would like to remind anglers to check the CDFW Sport Fishing Regulations booklet for the Eel River and other catch and release, barbless hook-only north coast streams and rivers. Also, in waters where the bag limit is zero for trout and salmon, the fish must be released unharmed and should not be removed from the water. For more information, visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=117095&inline

Smith River
The river is forecasted to jump up to nearly 14 feet on Thursday afternoon, which will likely put it at a dangerous level to drift reports Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. He said, “It should be fishable by Friday, but the water will still be on the high side. There’s lots of fish in the river right now, which is great for October. We’ve had these early rains plenty of years, and I don’t think it changes the length of the season at all. From what I’ve seen so far, I think we’re in for a great season. It’s likely we’ll see some lulls here and there, but my feeling is this year could be special.”
Reminder: A North Coast Salmon Report Card is required to fish for salmon on the Smith River. The daily bag and possession limit is 1 Chinook salmon and no more than 5 wild Chinook salmon per year.

Chetco
According to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, the Chetco first came into shape last Thursday afternoon, once it got down to 4,300 cfs. “By Friday the river was below 4,000 cfs and fished great from top to bottom. Most guides got three to eight kings a day.

Fishing pressure was heavy on Saturday, but fishing was still good. There were good numbers of bright kings caught near the North Fork, Moffet Rock and Tamba. Sunday was surprisingly quiet, with only a handful of guides and private boaters. There were lots of fresh fish on the lower river. We did well on Friday and Saturday with 5.0 MagLips with sardine wraps. On Sunday, roe fished below bobbers or with divers worked better.”
According to Martin, the river was high on Tuesday and likely to blow out the rest of the week.

Anglers are reminded that from the power line crossing at RM 2.2 upstream to Nook Creek (RM 14) from Sept. 1 through Nov. 3, angling is restricted to fly angling and bobber angling only, with 1 single point hook. Fly angling gear must include a strike indicator. Bobber angling gear must include a bobber and a leader no longer than 36 inches in length. Any weight (except the bobber or strike indicator) may be no more than 36 inches from the hook when suspended vertically. The leader below the bobber or strike indicator must remain suspended in the water column and not resting on the river bottom. The daily/seasonal bag limit is 2 Chinook daily, only one may be unclipped. 20 seasonal, no more than 5 may be unclipped.

Elk/Sixes
The Sixes fished better than the Elk over the weekend and early this week, but was high on Tuesday according to Martin. “The rains brought the Elk back to prime levels, and it will probably be the best bet for the Southern Oregon coastal rivers this weekend. The Elk fishes best during rainy periods. The Sixes may be blown out the rest of the week.”

 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

Coastal rivers full of kings, more rain on the way

fishing-the-nc-10_20-photo

Arcata resident Seth Jones landed a nice Smith River king salmon on Wednesday while fishing with guide Mike Coopman. The Smith dropped into perfect shape on Wednesday and should continue to kick out large kings through the weekend. Photo courtesy of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service

Last week’s deluge was just what our rivers — and our salmon — badly needed. From the Chetco to the Eel, all of the rivers saw huge flow increases, allowing the late run of fall kings to make their way from the estuaries upriver and closer to their final destinations. Fishing on the Smith started out slow early this week as the water levels started to come down to fishable levels. By Wednesday, it was game on. The Chetco is dropping quickly, and should fish by Thursday. I’d expect to hear some really good scores by Friday. The Eel, Van Duzen and Mad all remain off color, but plenty of salmon were spotted moving through these rivers last week. More rain is in the forecast beginning this weekend, so the salmon fishing should only get better.

Upper Trinity River closing to the take of adult salmon
The CDFW projects that the Upper Trinity River anglers will have met their catch quota of 183 adult fall-run Chinook salmon above Cedar Flat by sundown on Friday, Oct. 21.

Starting Saturday, Oct. 22, anglers may still fish but can no longer keep adult Chinook salmon over 22 inches in the Trinity River above Cedar Flat. Anglers may still keep a daily bag of two Chinook salmon under 22 inches.

The fall-run Chinook salmon quota on the Lower Trinity River is 183 adult Chinook salmon from the confluence with the Klamath River up to Cedar flat. This sub-area quota has not been met yet, and anglers may retain one adult Chinook salmon as part of their two fish daily bag limit. Anglers may keep track of the status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling (800) 564-6479.

Weekend Weather
More rain is in the forecast starting on Saturday night according to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “Light rain is in the forecast for Saturday night, with up to a half-inch falling. The rain will be heavier on Sunday, with the Smith and Eel basins seeing upwards of an inch and a half. The South Fork Eel area could see up to two inches. Showers are in the forecast for Monday, with another half to an inch predicted. We could see a combined total of one to two inches for Tuesday and Wednesday. Right now the models are showing we’ll be dry Thursday through next Saturday,” Kennedy said.

Klamath River Steelhead tournament
The Sixth annual Klamath River Steelhead Tournament is scheduled to take place on Saturday October 29. Check in will be from 7 to 8:00 am at the liquor store in Happy Camp and weigh-ins will be at the bulk plant river access at 5 pm. The boat with the largest steelhead measured in length will win the competition. Drift boats only and no motors are allowed during the competition. You can fish any stretch of the river you like as long as you are checked in by 8 am and at the weigh-ins by 5 pm. Shuttles will be available and can be scheduled at check in and will cost $20.00 per vehicle. For more information, contact Mario Gomez at 530-598-0530.

New crab regulations for 2016-2017
This year, the recreational Dungeness crab season opens statewide on Saturday, November 5. Prior to the upcoming season opener, the CDFW would like to remind crabbers of the new regulations and procedures for crab traps that became effective on August 1, 2016:

Crab traps must contain at least one destruct device made from a single strand of untreated cotton twine, size No. 120 or less, that creates an unobstructed opening anywhere in the top or upper half of the trap that is at least 5 inches in diameter when this material corrodes or fails. Destruct devices prevent the continuous trapping of organisms in lost or abandoned trap gear, in a process known as “ghost fishing.

Crab trap buoys must display the “GO ID” number of the operator of the trap. The GO ID number is the unique, 10-digit identifier assigned by the Automated License Data System to your profile.

Crab traps must not be deployed or fished seven days prior to the opening of the Dungeness crab season. For this upcoming season, crab traps used to take either Dungeness crab or rock crab can’t be used or deployed in state waters from October 29, 2016 until the Dungeness crab fishery opens at 12:01 a.m. on November 5, 2016, and any crab traps found in ocean waters prior to this seven-day period should be removed from the water by October 28, 2016. This is to prevent the unlawful take of Dungeness crab before the season starts.

To read the entire regulation changes, visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=132266&inline

Eel and Mad River catch and release regulations
The catch and release of Chinook salmon is legal on the Eel and Van Duzen Rivers, but keeping them is prohibited. As a reminder, anglers should do everything in their power to ensure the fish they catch are released in good condition so they can complete their long, hard journey to their spawning grounds. Not removing them from the water and using a rubber mesh net is recommended. Barbless hooks are required. On the Mad River, targeting salmon is prohibited.

The Rivers:
Smith River
According to Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service, the Smith dropped into perfect shape on Wednesday and plenty of bright salmon were caught. He said, “There was quite a bit of boat pressure, but there seemed to be plenty of fish around. The guys who knew what they were doing did really well. Sardine-wrapped Kwikfish was the bait of choice on Wednesday. As the water drops this week, the fish will slow down and start to hold in the holes and back-bouncing will be real effective.”

Chetco
Running below 7,000 cfs on Wednesday. It should fish around mid-day on Thursday according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Loeb Park, Moffit Rock and Ice Box will all fish at 5,000 cfs,” Martin added.

Low Flow information
The CDFW will make the information available to the public no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any river will be closed to fishing. The rivers can be opened up at any time. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164.

Eel
The main stem at Scotia was running at 4,000 cfs as of Wednesday. According to Fred Grundman of Grundmans Sporting Goods in Rio Dell, there’s still a lot of water coming down off the hills and likely won’t fish by the weekend. “There’s a small chance it could be fishable at the top, but I wouldn’t count on it,” Grundman said.

South Fork Eel
Dropped below 500 cfs on Wednesday and could close before the weekend.

Van Duzen
According to Grundman, it’s still pretty dirty and probably won’t fish before it starts to rise next week. As of Wednesday is was running at 650 cfs and dropping quickly.

Mad
Flowing at just under 700 cfs on Wednesday afternoon and just starting to turn olive. It’s forecasted to rise on Sunday, but could be fishable by Saturday.

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

Big storms will bring big salmon

North Coast residents get excited for the season’s first significant rain for a variety of reasons. Some just love the rain and for others, it’s the start of the holiday season. Others love the idea of bringing new life to our forest floors and home gardens. For anglers, the first big rain means something completely different. To us, it means big, bright king salmon charging from the salt water of the Pacific Ocean into our coastal rivers. With some very large storms looming on the horizon, the Eel, Mad, Smith and Chetco will see the season’s first large push of kings pouring in as the rivers begin to rise later this week.

With that, you can bet every drift boat owner on the North Coast and Southern Oregon is keeping a careful eye on the Smith River water levels. The mouth of the Smith and the estuary have been giving up a few salmon, but the action will really get going now that the main stem will open above Rowdy Creek.

When the first big rain hits and the river rises, the salmon will be on the move. Your best bet is to find their traveling lanes and try to intercept them, basically cutting them off at the pass. For the first few days, Kwikfish will be the bait of choice as they trigger a reaction bite from the moving fish. As the water levels drop, the salmon will slow down and find deeper holes to hold in, waiting for the next influx of water. Once this happens, back bouncing bait will be the ticket. Game on….

Weekend weather
The North Coast is looking at three powerful systems that will bring large amounts of rain between Thursday and next Tuesday according to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “Following light rain during the day on Thursday, the first big system will hit that evening. Showers will continue through Saturday morning, with the next big storm hitting on Saturday afternoon. More showers are in store through Sunday night when the next system will hit land. Expect light showers on Monday, with rain tapering off on Tuesday. Rainfall totals for Smith basin from Thursday through Tuesday could will be around 12 inches. In the Mad River basin, the hills could see up to 10 inches with the low-lying areas seeing up to six inches. Up to seven inches will likely fall in the higher elevations of the Eel basin, with roughly six inches falling on the lower river. So far, next week is looking dry from Wednesday through the weekend,” Kennedy added. For current river conditions, visit http://cdec.water.ca.gov/river/rivcond.html. For river level predictions, visit http://www.cnrfc.noaa.gov

90-day extension to razor clam closure in Humboldt/Del Norte Counties
On Monday, the Fish and Game Commission gave notice of proposed extension of existing emergency regulations, establishing emergency closure of the recreational razor clam fishery due to elevated levels of domoic acid. The objective of this re-adoption is to protect the public from consuming razor clams caught in areas with persistently high levels of domoic acid that pose a risk to public health as determined by the director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment in consultation with the director of the California Department of Public Health. The Commission initially adopted the emergency regulations on April 25, 2016; the emergency regulation will expire on October 25, 2016. The Commission is expected to adopt the proposed 90-day extension on October 19, 2016. The proposed 90-day extension of emergency action is the same as the emergency regulation adopted by the Commission April 25, 2016.

fishing-the-nc-photo-10_13

Hank Mautz, left and Nick Johnson hold a couple nice vermilion caught on Sunday at Cape Mendocino aboard the Reel Steel. Rockfish season will close on Oct. 31 for boats-based anglers, but is open year-round for divers and shore-based anglers. Photo courtesy of Tim Klassen/Reel Steel Sport Fishing

The Ocean
Eureka
Captain Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing has been running trips to the Cape when the weather has allowed. “The fishing was excellent on Sunday, we caught some nice vermilions and lings. With the weather coming, it might be awhile before we can get back down there, but I do plan to fish through the end of the month.” Klassen added.

The Rivers:
Chetco River
The Checto is forecasted for a big rise, reaching 3,555 cfs on Saturday before going up and over 12,000 cfs by Sunday afternoon. The river should drop to a fishable level next Wednesday or Thursday according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “It will clear a little faster than normal since the ground isn’t saturated,” added Martin.

Smith River
As of Wednesday, the Smith is predicted to peak at roughly 9,000 cfs mid-day on Friday following Thursday’s storm. It’s forecasted to drop until Saturday afternoon and should be somewhat fishable. Saturday and Sunday’s systems will put it back on the rise and it will eventually peak very early Monday morning at nearly 26,000 cfs. Look for some good fishing from Tuesday on.

Klamath
Lower River
The storms will blow out the Klamath starting sometime late Thursday. Fishing had been slow, but the extra flows should finally blow out the mouth allowing the last of the kings to come in. The Coho should make a showing as well.

Trinity
Lower River
Not much has changed on the Lower Trinity according to guide Curt Wilson. He said “The fishing isn’t great, but we’re still getting opportunities at one to three salmon per trip. We did see a pulse of bright salmon move in this week. The steelhead action is about the same, you’ll get a chance at three or so adult steelhead per day from Willow Creek to the confluence.”

Upper River
Guide Steve Huber of Steve Huber Guide Service reports the Upper Trinity is currently clear, but that’s about to change. “The weather coming is only going to help our fishing. We should see the last push of salmon move up, and I’m expecting the steelhead action to be really good. Most of the steelhead have been sitting below Junction City waiting for water, so hopefully they’ll be on the move now with the extra flows,” 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

Chetco bubble season off to good start

fishing-the-nc-photo-10_6

Dustin Russell, left, of Brookings and Eureka resident Eric Banko landed this nice Chinook salmon on Monday while trolling off the mouth of the Chetco River. The Chetco bubble fishery will start up again on Saturday and end on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Nick Polito

The opening weekend of the 2016 Chetco bubble season was good considering the weather wasn’t very cooperative. According to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, trolling off the mouth of the river was made difficult by choppy seas and south winds to 20 knots. “Most of the guides averaged a fish per rod, with the best fishing between Salmon Rock and the red buoy. Guide Mark Papazian of Brookings landed the biggest fish I saw during the opening weekend, a 42-pounder. The fish averaged in the 20-pound range. There also were a lot of jacks caught in the ocean, which must be released, but are a good sign of what’s to come later in the Chetco itself.

Herring was the bait of choice over anchovies in the ocean along with Big Al’s Fish Flash flashers according to Martin.  “The blue ones seemed to out-fish the rest. The forecast is expected to be calmer, with a lot less wind, this Saturday and Sunday, the final two days of the season. Fishing was good in the Chetco estuary right before the ocean opener, but those fish evidently moved upriver after the rain late last week.”

Weekend weather/ocean forecast
After Wednesday’s light showers, we’ll have a few days of dry weather according to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The next round of systems will move in next Tuesday night, and that will kick-off a fairly wet week. We’ll see rain every day, but it won’t add up too much until the weekend when we’ll likely see the rainfall totals rise. We should see the first significant rise to the main stem rivers, especially the Smith in Del Norte where the heaviest rainfall is likely to fall,” Kennedy added.

As of Wednesday, the ocean forecast looks decent for the weekend. Friday, NW winds are forecasted 5 to 10 knots with waves NW 5 feet at 9 seconds. Conditions look similar on Saturday, with N winds 5 to 10 knots and NW waves 5 feet at 12 seconds. The south wind is predicted to blow up to 5 knots on Sunday, with W waves 6 feet at 14 seconds.

For up-to-date weather forecasts, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Klamath salmon harvest update
Salmon are still trickling into the river, but the mouth continues to sand over making it difficult for them to enter. As of Sept. 30, 115 jacks have been harvested compared to 1,279 in 2015. For the adults, 837 have been harvested and another 632 have been caught and released. In 2015, 4,733 adults were harvested.

The Oceans:
Eureka
After a decent weather day on Tuesday, it looks like we’ll be off the water for a couple days’ reports Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “On Tuesday, the weather was a little rougher than predicted as we made our way to the Cape, but the fishing was excellent. We boated a good variety of rockfish along with lots of lings.” According to Klassen, there’s a batch of warm water sitting about 40 miles west of Eureka that could be holding tuna. “We’ll have to see if the warm water is still within striking distance after the next couple days as it looks like the wind is going to blow.”

The Rivers:
Smith River
Leonard Carter of Crescent City’s Englund Marine reports there were a fair amount of salmon spread throughout the river, with quite a few being caught prior to the river closing last Saturday. He said, “Guys are still catching a few at the Piling and Sand holes, and some are being caught at the mouth tossing Kastmasters and Cleo’s.

Lower Klamath
Alan Borges of Alan’s Guide Service reports the mouth has been plugged up this past week, and the fishing is slow. He said, “Boats were getting between one to three salmon per trip, which isn’t good for this time of the year. The mouth has been a problem all season and we’re just not seeing the volume of fish come in. The river is still in great shape; the temperature is right around 62 degrees.”

Upper Klamath
A reminder, the quota of 189 adult fall-run Chinook was met on Wednesday from the Highway 96 Bridge in Weitchpec to 3,500 feet below Iron Gate Dam. The river is still open to fishing, but anglers must release any Chinook longer than 22 inches.

Middle Trinity
Tim Brady of Weaverville’s Trinity Outdoors reports the fishing is improving every week. “Most of the regulars who come every year are here now, and they’re catching a few fish. We’ve sold a lot of spinners and spoons in the past week, so the effort has definitely picked up. I haven’t heard of any one area being better than the other, but I have heard the majority of the salmon are below the North Fork,” Brady added.

Lower Trinity
Guide Curt Wilson reports the Lower Trinity is giving up one to two salmon per trip from the Willow Creek area down to the Klamath confluence. “We’re not seeing a lot of salmon around, but there’s definitely a few nice steelhead in the river to make for a fun day,” Wilson added. Salmon counts are on the rise at the Willow Creek weir. For the week ending Sept. 30, 118 salmon were counted compared to 87 the previous week. The season to date total is 421, compared to 875 for the 2015 trapping season.

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