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.

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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

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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

Upper Klamath River size restrictions begin next week

The adult salmon quota on the Upper Klamath River is close to being met, which will set forth new restrictions beginning next week. According to Sara Borok, Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River Project, monitoring efforts show that anglers above the Highway 96 Bridge in Weitchpec will have caught their quota of 189 adult fall-run by sundown Wednesday, October 5. After the quota is met, anglers will still be able to fish in this area, but must release any Chinook longer than 22 inches.

On the Trinity River, the quota is 183 adult Chinook from the confluence with the Klamath River up to Cedar Flat, and 183 adult Chinook from Cedar Flat upriver to the Old Lewiston Bridge. These quotas have not been met and remain open to the retention of adult king salmon.

Anglers may keep track of the status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling 800-564-6479.

Rain on the way
It probably won’t do much for the main stem river levels, but the ground should get its first soaking of the year this weekend. According to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service, light rain will fall on Saturday, with heavier rain forecasted for Sunday. “On Saturday, Del Norte could see up to a half-inch and less than a quarter inch will fall in Humboldt. An inch could potentially fall in Del Norte on Sunday, with another half to three-quarters falling in Humboldt County. Showers will linger on Monday and Tuesday, then it looks dry through the next couple weeks,” Kennedy added.

2016 Chetco River bubble fishery opens Saturday
The Chetco River fall Chinook bubble season, which will be halved and split over two weekends in 2016, opens on Saturday. The recreational season will be Oct. 1-3 and Oct. 8-9 so more anglers can take advantage of the weekend dates. The fishable area is within three nautical miles of shore between Twin Rocks and the Oregon/California border. The bag limit is two Chinook per angler per day, but no more than one non fin-clipped Chinook per day. Minimum length is 24 inches and the terminal tackle is limited to no more than two single point barbless hooks. For more information, visit www.dfw.state.or.us/mrp/salmon/Regulations/docs/2016_Chetco_State_Waters.pdf

Weekend marine forecast
The weekend forecast looks fishable, though the swells are likely to build on Sunday. Friday’s forecast is for winds out of the SW up to 5 knots, with swells 5 feet at 12 seconds. Winds will blow out of the SE 5 to 10 knots on Saturday, with W swells 5 feet at 12 seconds. Sunday is looking a little rougher, with winds out of the S 5 to 10 knots and NW swells 6 feet at 9 seconds and SW 2 feet at 16 seconds. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 707-443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 707-443-6484.

The Oceans:
Eureka
Rockfish is now the only game in town until the end of Oct., and it’s been a little too rough to venture to the Cape this week according to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “Friday and Saturday are looking like fishable days, but it looks like the weather is starting to come up on Sunday Klassen added,”

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Jim Hartman landed this 41-inch, 34-pound ling cod near Cape Mendocino last Friday. In the Northern Management area, which includes all of Del Norte County of most of Humboldt, rockfish season for boat-based anglers will remain open through Oct. 31. The season is open year-round for divers and shore-based anglers. Photo courtesy of Joe Bollmann

Shelter Cove
Things have slowed down at the Cove according to Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. He said, “I fished rockfish over the weekend, and overall it was pretty slow. There wasn’t any drift, which I think was a contributing factor in the slow fishing. The salmon bite was also slow this week, I heard of only one caught.”

Low Flow River Closures begin Oct. 1
North Coast rivers 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 open or closed to fishing. The rivers can be opened up at anytime. 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, 2017

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.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Alan Borges of Alan’s Guide Service reports the mouth is open, and we’re seeing small spurts of fish push in. “The number of fish we’re hooking has been real inconsistent. One day we’ll hook 10, and then we’ll go a few days only hooking three to five. I think there just coming up in small batches. Even with the flows being reduced, the water is in great shape,” Borges added.

Trinity
The fishing isn’t red hot, but it definitely picked up this week reports Tim Brady of Weaverville’s Trinity Outdoors. He said, “Right now, there’s more salmon than steelhead in the middle/upper section. The drop in flows has really helped out the bank fishermen as the fish are sitting in their normal spots. Panther Martin’s and Mepps spinners have been producing some nice fish for the bankies while the boats are having success pulling plugs and side-drifting roe.”

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

Get em’ while you can — Pacific halibut closes Friday

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Bob Stewart of Eureka landed this 65 pound Pacific halibut last Thursday off the coast of Eureka. Pacific halibut season will come to a close after Friday as CDFW, based on the latest catch projections, has determined the 29,640 pound quota would be exceeded if the fishery isn’t shut down. Photo courtesy of Tim Klassen/Reel Steel Sport Fishing

North Coast offshore adventures will be limited to just rockfish come Saturday morning as the  California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced on Wednesday the closing of the recreational Pacific halibut fishery on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 12:01 a.m. for the remainder of the 2016 season. The quota of 29,640 pounds will be surpassed according to CDFW unless the fishery is closed based on the latest catch projections.

Beginning in 2015, CDFW committed to in-season tracking of the fishery to ensure catch amounts would not exceed the California quota. The quota amount is determined annually in January through an international process, and is largely driven by results from the annual stock assessment conducted by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC).

Throughout the season, CDFW field staff sampled public launch ramps and charter boat landings to monitor catches of Pacific halibut along with other marine sport fish. CDFW conferred with NMFS and IPHC on a weekly basis to review projected catch amounts and determine when the quota would be attained using this information. For current information about the Pacific halibut fishery, science or management, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut

Young Anglers Tournament this Sunday
The Trinidad Pier Youth Fishing Tourney will take place on Sunday, Sept 25 from 1 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The free event is open to all children ages 6 to 15. Prizes will be awarded in each category and fishing gear and bait will be provided. An adult must accompany children. Hot dogs and refreshments will be served following the event. Catch and release is encouraged and no fishing license is required. Look for the sign up table on the Trinidad Pier. For more information, contact Ken Jones at kenjones@pierfishing.com

Weekend marine forecast
After a few days of sloppy weather, the ocean looks to be lying down just in time for the weekend. Friday, the last day of the Pacific halibut season, looks plenty fishable with winds out of the NE 5 to 10 knots and NW swells 2 feet at 4 seconds and NW 5 feet at 14 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for winds 5 to 10 knots and NW swells 3 feet at 6 seconds and NW 7 feet at 12 seconds. Sunday the winds will be from the N 5 to 10 knots, with swells 4 feet at 7 seconds and NW 4 feet at 12 seconds. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 707-443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 707-443-6484.

Klamath/Trinity quota updates
According to Sara Borok, Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River Project, the remaining quotas on the Upper Klamath and Trinity Rivers should remain open until sometime in October. “We haven’t had a lot of fish up river yet, so the effort has been fairly small. We should be able to go at least through the first week in Oct. for the Upper Klamath, and maybe longer. On the Trinity side, looking at the numbers, we’ll probably be able to keep it open to retention until late Oct. The mouth has been closing up regularly, but we should have some bigger tides now that will hopefully keep it open for good,” Borok added. Just a reminder, the lower Klamath quota for adult Chinook salmon has been met from the Hwy. 96 Bridge downriver to the ocean. The section is open to fishing, but salmon larger than 22 inches must be released.

The Oceans:
Eureka
With salmon done and halibut closing after Friday, it’s just a rockfish show out of Eureka until the end of October. The weather wasn’t great earlier this week, so there hasn’t been much happening. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing ran a few halibut trips last weekend and reported a pretty decent bite. “There were some halibut caught over the weekend, but not everyone caught fish. The rockfish bite at the Cape remains phenomenal when you can get down there,” Klassen added.

Shelter Cove
Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing reports the rockfish are still biting, but the salmon action has slowed. He said, “I just did a couple rock fish trips this week. We fished off Bear Harbor and the fishing was great, we had limits before noon both days. I only heard of one salmon caught this past week and it was caught by a kayaker.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The mouth was plugged up over the weekend, but its open now and more fish are moving in reports guide Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. “It opened up on Monday night, and there’s definitely more fish in the system now. Overall, boats are averaging about five to six hook-up on kings per day. There’s also quite a few adult steelhead around as well as half-pounders,” Coopman added.

Trinity
We’re starting to see a few more fish push into the area reports Tim Brady of Weaverville’s Trinity Outdoors. He said, “I talked to some folks in the Del Loma area and they saw both salmon and steelhead moving through, so hopefully things are going to get going up here. The regulars are here and fishing, but I haven’t heard many reports as of yet.”

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

Boundary changes on tap for Clam Beach

In response to public recommendations from the Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers and Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, the California Fish and Game Commission is proposing to restore the original location of the management boundary at Little River Beach for recreational razor clam digging. Currently, clams may be taken may be taken north of Strawberry Creek between Strawberry Creek and Moonstone Beach only in odd-numbered years, and south of Strawberry Creek between Strawberry Creek and Mad River only in even-numbered years.

Due to a decline in larger clams, the razor clam management boundary line at Little River Beach was divided by Strawberry Creek in 1953 to split the beach into equal segments that could be fished in alternate years. Since this regulation has been on the books, Strawberry Creek has moved southward by 0.6 miles from its original location, resulting in a larger area in the northern section open for clamming during odd-numbered years. In even-numbered years, clammers now have a much longer walk to the southern management zone from the nearest parking lot, which is especially difficult for elderly and infirmed persons. The original location of the creek crossed the beach near where a county-maintained public parking lot exists today.

The F&G Commission is proposing two regulation changes that would restore the original intent of the razor clam regulation pertaining to Little River Beach.

1) Replacing reference to the Strawberry Creek boundary with the boundary line due west from the county parking lot trailhead located at 40°59.67’ north latitude. The northern and southern boundaries would remain in regulation as Moonstone Beach and Mad River.

2) The regulation references Little River Beach near McKinleyville, however it is generally referred to by locals and on maps as Clam Beach. This name would also replace Little River Beach in regulations with the latter remaining in place parenthetically.

The proposed regulation changes are intended to provide increased clamming opportunity in even-numbered years by increasing the size of the open southern Clam Beach management zone, thereby restoring the original intent of the regulation.

Next up is the discussion hearing, which will take place Oct. 20 in Eureka followed by the adoption hearing on Dec. 8 in San Diego.

Weekend marine forecast
It looks like nice ocean conditions will continue through the weekend. As of Wednesday, the forecast out 10 nautical miles for Friday is calling for winds out of the N 5 to 10 knots with swells to 5 feet at 10 seconds. Saturday looks similar, with winds from the N 5 to 10 knots and NW swells 4 feet at 7 seconds and W 4 feet at 16 seconds. Sunday the winds will be from the N 5 to 10 knots and N swells 3 feet at 6 seconds and NW 7 feet at 15 seconds.  For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/. 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.

2016 Chetco River bubble fishery split in half
The Chetco River fall Chinook State Waters Terminal Area Recreational Season will be halved and split over two weekends in 2016. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission reduced the targeted commercial and recreational catch of Chetco-bound Chinook amid concerns of low salmon returns this year. The recreational season will be Oct. 1-3 and Oct. 8-9 so more anglers can take advantage of the weekend dates. The fishable area is within three nautical miles of shore between Twin Rocks and the Oregon/California border. The bag limit is two Chinook per angler per day, but no more than one non fin-clipped Chinook per day. Minimum length is 24 inches and the terminal tackle is limited to no more than two single point barbless hooks. For more information, visit www.dfw.state.or.us/mrp/salmon/Regulations/docs/2016_Chetco_State_Waters.pdf

Pacific halibut quota
With decent weather predicted through the weekend, now’s the time to get back on the halibut grounds and take advantage of what’s left of the quota. The California Recreational Fisheries Survey has estimated that 23,806 pounds have been caught towards the 29,640-pound quota as of September 4. A few days of good fishing could bring an early close to the season. For more info, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-2016-in-season-tracking

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Bruce Amado, with the help of his granddaughter Sophia, shows off his limit of surf perch caught last Saturday at Table Bluff beach. Photo courtesy of Bruce Amado

The Oceans:
Eureka
Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing ran south to the Cape for rockfish last Friday and Saturday and reports the days couldn’t have been more different. “On Friday, the south wind was blowing and the water was pretty choppy. The fish were really off the bite, we could see them suspended on the screen, but they didn’t want to bite. We did end up with limits of blacks, but everything else was hard to come by. Saturday was more back to normal. The south wind was gone and the fish were biting anything and everything. We landed limits of nice lings, blacks and rounded out the day with a variety of other rockfish. The next few days we’ll be drifting for halibut as the quota is getting close to being met,” Klassen added.

Crescent City
The wind has been blowing, with Wednesday being the first day the rockfish boats were back on the water reports Leonard Carter of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “We’ve had a really windy season here, and it was the same story this week. There’s plenty of rockfish around, there just hasn’t been too many fishable days. When the boats can get out, it’s been really good,” Carter added.

Salmon starting to trickle into the Trinity
According to Mary Claire Kier, an Environmental Scientist on the Trinity River who manages the Willow Creek weir, quite a few fresh kings have made their way into the Trinity this past week. For the trapping week of Sept. 3 through 9, 70 king salmon passed through the weir. For the season, 132 kings have been counted. The total number of kings that passed through the weir in 2015 was 875.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
There’s fish in the river to be caught, but the bite has been off and on reports guide Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. “The fishing started off really good on Sunday, and has gotten a little slower each day. I’ve heard the mouth has been opening and closing again, so that’s not helping. But we’ve had plenty of opportunities each day, both on kings and steelhead. I’m sure there are plenty more fish to come,” Coopman added.

Trinity
The higher flows are making it difficult on the bank anglers, but the boats are catching a few reports Tim Brady of Weaverville’s Trinity Outdoors. He said, “There isn’t much fishing pressure as of yet, and I’m not hearing of a whole bunch of fish around either. I talked with one guide who was out on Tuesday and they landed a few salmon along with a couple nice steelhead. With the flows where they are, boats definitely have the advantage as they can cover more water. We are starting to see a few more fly fishermen, so the fish are starting to trickle into the upper sections.”

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

Eureka boats leave the salmon biting

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Darren Cartledge and his young son Declan teamed up to land a nice king salmon while fishing off the coast of Eureka on Sunday. The young angler did most of the heavy lifting, with a little help from dad and Capt. Marc Schmidt of Coastline Charters. The sport salmon season closed on Monday from Horse Mtn. north to the CA/OR border, which includes Eureka, Trinidad, and Crescent City. Photo courtesy of Kenny Priest

The 2016 sport salmon season out of Eureka ended Monday much like it began on May 16. The opener found the ocean teeming with life; whales, krill, birds, and other baitfish. And that’s exactly how the ocean looked last Monday, with salmon flying over the rails at a pretty fast and furious clip. All the charter boats put on limits well before noon, with salmon ranging from barely keepers to fish in the 20-pound class.  Trinidad also had a couple days of good salmon fishing, with quite a few limits being reported on Monday. And it was really nice to see the ocean, at least out of Eureka, loaded with two-year old kings. Most were fin-clipped, which would lead to believe they could be bound for the Sacrament River. Seeing all those fish certainly added some hope for next year, and was a very fitting end to what was a pretty exceptional salmon season.
The sport salmon season remains open from Horse Mountain south to the Pigeon Point

Humboldt Steelhead Days set to return in 2017
Humboldt Steelhead Days (HSD) event organizers announced they have begun planning events for year four thanks in large part by a donation from the Humboldt Lodging Alliance. HSD expanded their fishing contest window in 2017 to run from January to March. According to a press release, the event is centered on a winter-long promotion of steelhead angling opportunities, education, and conservation. Anglers who catch (hatchery) and release (wild) steelhead on the Trinity, Mad and Eel rivers are encouraged to register for the contest, take a photo of their fish, and post the photo to the HSD Facebook page. Anglers who donate $10 to register and who posted a photo will be eligible to win more than $10,000 in cash and prizes and will receive a HSD/HLA discount card to be used at area hotels and at HSD events. In addition to the fishing contest, organizers have partnered with Pacific Outfitters in order to facilitate spawning tours along the three watersheds.
Founded three years ago by Mad River Alliance director Dave Feral, Feral said HSD was created to build community awareness and fund continued restoration and recovery activities on Humboldt rivers. “Our aim is to promote Humboldt in the winter as a sportsmen’s paradise and an eco-tourist’s dream. The rivers and forestlands that support their return and propagation are at the heart of Humboldt’s appeal and beauty. We want the world to know this. Seeing wild fish returning to their native streams and perpetuating their species will appeal to anyone who has an affinity for the outdoors and a love of nature,” said Feral. For more information on this year’s event, visit http://humboldtsteelheaddays.com/

Weekend marine forecast
The forecast looks a little bumpy for the weekend, but should be fishable. As of Wednesday, the forecast out 10 nautical miles for Friday is calling for winds out of the W up to 5 knots and waves NW 7 feet at 12 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds 5 to 10 knots and waves NW 6 feet at 9 seconds and SW 3 feet at 14 seconds. Sunday looks a little rougher with N winds 5 to 15 knots and waves NW to 8 feet at 10 seconds and NW 4 feet at 14 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, 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.

The Oceans:
Eureka
“It looks like the ocean might lie down enough Friday and Saturday for a trip to the Cape or to drift for halibut,” reports Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “The ocean was flat on Tuesday and at least one Pacific halibut was caught north of the entrance in 300 feet of water,” added Klassen. The California halibut are still biting inside the bay, with boats fishing the western channel north of Woodley Island catching a couple keepers per outing.

Shelter Cove
Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing reports the effort slowed due to some windy conditions last weekend. “I was off the water last weekend, but from the sounds of things it’s been blowing pretty good and there hasn’t been much effort. I fished for salmon last Thursday and ended with 10 fish before getting blown off around noon. On Friday it was blowing at first light so we stayed close to home and got limits of lings and half limits of rockfish and called it a half day.”

Crescent City
The wind has really been blowing, so not many boats are going out reports Leonard Carter of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “The salmon season never did materialize here. There’s been lots of bait around all season, but the salmon never showed up in numbers. Not many reports for halibut and rockfish as the oceans been rough. A few perch are being caught, but it’s not red hot,” Carter added.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
There’s quite a few steelhead in the river right now, but we’re not seeing a lot of salmon reports Alan Borges of Alan’s Guide Service. “It feels like the end of July or beginning of August where we’d be seeing more steelhead then salmon. The half-pounders have showed up, and they’re big and healthy. We are catching a few adult steelhead a day, but it’s tough to get past the half-pounders. We haven’t seen a lot of jacks show yet, but we’re catching a few,” Borges added.

Upper Trinity
The consensus is there aren’t many fish around right now reports Tim Brady of Weaverville’s Trinity Outdoors. He said, “The weir counts have been horrible so far, so I don’t think the fish are moving into the lower river yet. And with the current flows, the fish aren’t going to travel in the same places as they normally would when the waters flowing at 450 cfs. The bank anglers are having a real tough go right now. And there isn’t much boat pressure either, likely due to the less than stellar fishing reports,” Brady added. Flows will be reduced from Lewiston Dam from 1,300 cfs down to 1,000 by Wednesday according to an email from the Bureau of Reclamation.

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

Saltwater season hits the home stretch

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Chad Sealey of St. Petersburg Florida landed this nice albacore tuna while fishing off the coast of Eureka on Monday. Sealey was fishing with Capt. Marc Schmidt of Coastline Charters roughly 53 miles southwest of Humboldt Bay. Photo courtesy of Marc Schmidt/Coastline Charters

Thursday begins the final push towards the finish line of our 2016 saltwater season here on the North Coast. Come daylight, boats will have the option of targeting salmon, halibut or rockfish. Or all three. The last of the four salmon seasons will be a particularly short one — lasting only through Monday. Hopefully the salmon will be in a little better biting mood than when the previous session closed on Aug. 16. Reports are the birds and bait is still hanging around the entrance to Humboldt Bay, so that’s a likely starting point. The Pacific halibut season has the potential to be a short one as well. The California Recreational Fisheries Survey has estimated that 21,638 pounds have been caught towards the 29,640-pound quota. Some consecutive days of calm ocean waters could easily fill the quota by mid-September.

An important reminder: when fishing for halibut, rockfish and salmon, or any combination of the three, the more restrictive gear and depth restrictions apply. When targeting salmon, or once salmon are aboard and in possession, anglers are limited to using barbless hooks (barbless circle hooks if fishing south of Horse Mountain) when fishing for other species. When targeting rockfish, cabezon, greenling and lingcod, or once any of these species are aboard and in possession, anglers are limited to fishing in waters shallower than 120 feet when fishing for other species.

Klamath River quota reminder
Just a reminder, the lower Klamath quota (555) for adult Chinook salmon has been met from the Hwy. 96 bridge downriver to the ocean. The only section closed to fishing is the spit area. The rest of the lower river remains open to fishing, but is under a size restriction for Chinook salmon. All salmon over 22 inches must be released. The Klamath River above the confluence with the Trinity River will remain open until 189 adult Chinook have been harvested.

Trinity River now open to Fall salmon fishing
The Trinity River opened to fall-run Chinook salmon fishing on Sept. 1 and will run through Dec. 31, with a sport quota of 366 adults. The quota will be split evenly, 183 adults from the main stem downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat and the main stem downstream of the Denny Road bridge at Hawkins Bar to the confluence with the Klamath. The main stem downstream of the Highway 299 bridge at Cedar Flat to the Denny Road bridge in Hawkins Bar is closed to all fishing Sept. 1 through Dec. 31.

Free Fishing Day on Saturday
This Saturday, Sept. 3, is the second of California’s two 2016 Free Fishing Days, when people can try their hand at fishing without having to buy a sport fishing license. All fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect on Free Fishing Day. Every angler must also have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for abalone, steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems. For more information on Free Fishing Days, please visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Fishing/Free-Fishing-Days

Marine forecast

The ocean has been about as flat as can be since last Sunday, and looks to remain plenty fishable through the holiday weekend. As of Wednesday, the forecast out 10 nautical miles for Friday is calling for winds out of the N 5 to 15 knots and waves NW 5 feet at 8 seconds and SW 2 feet at 15 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds 5 to 15 knots and waves NW 4 feet at 13 seconds. Sunday looks similar with N winds 5 to 15 knots and waves NW to 5 feet at 8 seconds and W 5 feet at 12 seconds. Labor Day is looking slightly better, with winds out of the north 5 to 15 knots and NW waves 6 feet at 13 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/. You can also call the National Weather Service at 707-443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 707-443-6484.

 

Humboldt Bay
Phil Glenn, who runs Bluefin Charters out of Woodley Island, reports the California Halibut action in Humboldt Bay is still going strong. “There’s been quite a few more legal ones around lately, and you’ve got a real good chance at catching your limit. The North Bay is still the most consistent area, with live anchovies being the bait of choice. The bay is still plugged with bait, and you’ll find plenty around the Coast Guard Station on the ebb and near the marina on the flood tide,” added Glenn. The daily bag and possession limit is three fish and the minimum size limit is 22 inches total length.

The Oceans:
Eureka
Since Sunday, the ocean has been as flat as it’s been all year. This has made for some red-hot rockfish action down at the Cape, and plenty of boats have been taking advantage. “A ripping uphill current for the last week has made for a fast drift and aggressive-biting fish,” said Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing. “The fishing has been fantastic and lings up to 34 pounds have been on the heavy chew. We’re also seeing tons of big coppers and vermilions too.” Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing also reports a wide-open bite, with easy limits of big lings and a nice variety of rockfish. With a heavy dose of rockfish lately, most boats will be targeting salmon come Thursday morning. According to both Klassen and Sepulveda, the entrance to Humboldt Bay still looks really fishy. “The canyon might be another place to look. There hasn’t been a lot of sign up the beach,” said Sepulveda. “I’ll likely start at the entrance and work my way out,” added Klassen. “This time of the year we’ve also found fish off Mad River as well as the dumpsite.”

Shelter Cove
We’ve been doing a lot of running around this past week reports Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “Last Wednesday and Thursday we put in limits of salmon from just inside the Hat, where the fish have been holding right on the bottom. On Friday, we ran to Rodgers Break for quality limits of rock fish and lings to 24 lbs. Sunday and Monday we ran 50-plus miles outside of the Gorda Valley chasing tuna. We got 10 on Sunday and lost a few more, and never had a bite on Monday. On Tuesday, we were back on the salmon grounds and we had limits of salmon and lings by noon.”

Crescent City
With the nice water we’ve had, the rockfish action has been over the top reports Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine.  He said, “There’s still some Thresher’s around, and guys fishing for rockfish are hooking a few. Hopefully the calm water will stick around now that salmon and halibut are opening back up,”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The cooler water from the Trinity reached the lower Klamath last weekend, and a quite a few more fish have entered the river. The last few days have seen a nice mix of jacks, adults, and steelhead. More half-pounders have also made their way into the river.

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

Numbers don’t add up — Lower Klamath quota reached quickly

Fishing the North Coast 8_25 photo

Hydesville resident Steve Murrish landed this nice Chinook salmon while fishing the Klamath River estuary on Monday. On Tuesday, the fall-run adult salmon quota was met on the lower Klamath river, but the river will remain open to fishing. Anglers will have to release any Chinook salmon over 22 inches caught between the mouth and the 96 Bridge at Weitchpec. Photo courtesy of Alan’s Guide Service.

No sooner did the newly released water from Iron Gate Dam hit the mouth of the Klamath River, controversial news broke from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. On Tuesday, the CDFW determined the 555 quota of adult fall-run Chinook on the lower Klamath River was met by anglers fishing from the 96 Bridge at Weitchpec to the mouth.

The spit quota of 167 fish, which is a subset of the 555 lower river quota, was projected to be met at sunset Monday night, leaving roughly 388 adults to be caught from the estuary to the 96 Bridge. But when the dust settled and the numbers were evaluated by CDFW, the spit anglers landed their 167, and then some. According to Sara Borok, Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River Project, the fish really started to come in on Sunday and Monday. “When the extra water hit and the mouth broke open, more fish came in and were caught at the spit than we anticipated,” Borok said. An email was sent out from CDFW last Friday stating the spit fishery would not close any sooner than Monday, Aug. 22 due to the quota no being reached. Once the fish started coming in big numbers, it was too late to get a press release out to the public to close it. This is the part of the process that needs to change.

The exact numbers haven’t been released yet, but it’s safe to guess almost the entire lower river quota was taken at the spit. Though not official, I’ve heard reports that less than 15 adult salmon were harvested from the estuary to the 96 Bridge since Aug. 15. Anglers who were looking forward to keeping a few adult king salmon in the coming weeks will not get that opportunity now. In my opinion, the whole fishery has been mismanaged and I don’t think CDFW would argue that point. Not having fish counters sitting at the spit everyday during fishing hours was a mistake.

What this means is all adult kings caught down river from the 96 Bridge to the estuary must be released from here on out. You can however, keep two jack salmon under 22 inches, per day.
From a business perspective, the mismanagement of proper fish counting will ultimately hurt gas stations, hotels, restaurants, tackle shops, local fishing guides and any other businesses that rely on the Klamath fall fishery.

Fishing guides who have clients on the books through September will likely be hit the hardest. “We’ll definitely take a financial hit from this,” said guide Mike Coopman. “I’ll be spending a lot of time on the phone talking with clients and letting them know the situation. Some of them are OK with catch and release, but I’m sure I’ll lose some clients this year.”

Guide Mike Stratman reiterated, saying, “It will definitely hurt my business. I’ll likely lose some of the customers who were on the books, and the chance of getting new customers is not very good now. What happened with the quota is gross negligence on the part of CDFW. We knew the fishing wasn’t going to be great, but at least we had the potential of catching and keeping a few adults. You don’t need very many to have a great experience, but now there’s no hope of that.”

Guide Alan Borges, who fishes the Klamath exclusively this time of year said, “It’s totally wrong that the quota was all taken at the spit and the guides and private boaters who fish upriver have to suffer the consequences because the fish can’t be counted in a timely manner. A lot of money will be lost by the businesses in the Klamath area because of anglers who would have come to fish and spend money in the community won’t now because they can’t keep an adult Chinook.”

The Klamath River above the confluence with the Trinity River will remain open until 189 adult Chinook are caught in this area. The quota on the Trinity River is 183 adult Chinook from the confluence with the Klamath River up to Cedar Flat, and 183 adult Chinook from Cedar Flat up to the Old Lewiston Bridge. The Trinity will open to fall fishing on Sept. 1. Anglers may keep track of the status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling 800-564-6479.

Additional water coming from Trinity Reservoir
According to a press release issued on Wednesday, the Bureau of Reclamation will release additional water from Trinity Reservoir for the lower Klamath River to help protect returning adult fall run Chinook salmon from a disease outbreak and mortality. Supplemental flows from Lewiston Dam will begin August 25 and extend into late September.

Releases from Lewiston Dam will be adjusted to target 2,800 cfs in the lower Klamath River starting August 25. To meet this target, releases from Lewiston Dam will increase from 450 cfs up to 1,300 cfs before dropping to 450 cfs in late September. Additional information will be provided if higher peak flows are needed in early-to-mid-September as part of the preventive action.

Flows from Lewiston could be raised as high as 3,500 cfs for up to five days if real-time monitoring information suggests a need for additional supplemental flows as an emergency response.

Over the next several weeks, releases could increase as quickly as 250 cfs every two hours, and flow reductions could drop as quickly as 100 cfs every four hours. The public is urged to take all necessary precautions on or near the river while flows are high. For additional information, please contact Paul Zedonis, Supervisory Natural Resource Specialist, at 530-276-2047.

Marine forecast
It looks like we’ll finally be seeing some much-improved ocean conditions. Friday’s forecast for coastal waters from Point St. George to Cape Mendocino out 10 nautical miles is calling for SW winds 5 to 15 knots with 5 foot swells at 7 seconds out of the NW. The forecast for Saturday is calling for NW winds up to 5 knots, with swells to 5 feet at 9 seconds. Sunday is looking really good, with N winds forecasted up to 5 knots and NW waves 4 feet at 12 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/. You can also call the National Weather Service at 707-443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 707-443-6484.

Ocean sport salmon and halibut to reopen Sept. 1
The final session of the sport salmon season from Horse Mt. north to the CA/OR border will open on Thursday, Sept. 1 and run through Sept. 5. For more information about the seasons and regulations, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon

The Pacific halibut season will also re-open on Sept. 1 and will remain open through Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached. Through August, the CDFW has projected 21,638 net pounds have been harvested towards a quota of 29,640 pounds. For up-to-date harvest tracking information, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-2016-in-season-tracking

The Oceans:
Eureka
For the first time in years, the docks at Woodley Island are actually quiet. With salmon and halibut closed until next Thursday, it’s been Cape Mendocino or nothing for the Eureka fleet. Captain Tim Klassen of the Reel Steel Sport Fishing was amongst the boats that fished south last weekend and said, “The fishing is really good as usual. There’s some really quality ling cod around, we landed four over 20 pounds on Sunday.”

There’s been talk of tuna out of Eureka, but according to Klassen, the water is still about 70 miles southwest of Eureka. “With all the fog, it’s been tough to get a good terrafin shot. We’ll need some southerly wind and calm seas before it’s doable.”

Trinidad
The rockfish have bit really well this week reports Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters.  He said, “It’s been pretty easy to get your 10 rockfish, with a nice mix of blacks and blues. There are also some nice lings around if you can get on a good drift.”

Shelter Cove
The salmon bite has been pretty slow reports Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “We got limits last Wednesday and Thursday, but it’s been slow since and the ones that have been caught have been real scattered. I’ve gotten limits of rockfish and lings every day since then and was able to make the run north Friday and Saturday. Also some boats got some decent albacore scores over the weekend and I will be running for them this weekend if the weather holds. As of Tuesday, the water was 55 miles out and a little south on the 43-line.”

Crescent City
The rock fishing is still going strong, only the weather has slowed it down reports Leonard Carter of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “When the boats have been able to get out, it’s been good. Same story as it’s been all season. The only other happening now is all the Thresher Sharks that are in the area. Guys are targeting them off of South Beach and some have been hooked while jigging for rockfish,” Carter added.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
A few more half-pounders have started to show up this week, but the fishing remains slow overall. The water is still on the warm side, which is keeping the kings from making their way through the estuary. A handful of hatchery steelhead are still being caught.

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

Kings still parked at entrance to Humboldt Bay

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Eleven year-old Max from Santa Rosa reeled in this 100-pound Pacific halibut on August 5th while fishing out of Shelter Cove with Jared Morris of C’Mon Sportfishing. It was the first time in over a decade that a halibut this big was caught in Shelter Cove. Photo courtesy of Jared Morris/C’Mon Sport Fishing

Not much has changed since the August 1st opener; the salmon remain stacked just outside of the entrance to Humboldt Bay. The only real wild card the boats face on day to day basis is whether the forecast will be accurate, and will the salmon be on the north or south side of the jetty. While not every day has ended with limits of big, fat kings, it’s about as good of fishing as anywhere on the coast. And it’s been steady too. There have been a few days where the weather allowed a little more scouting, but what the boats found wasn’t nearly as consistent as what’s happening right out front. The bait is still pretty heavy inside and outside of the bay, and as long as that holds up, the salmon should stick around. Let’s hope they hang out at least until next Tuesday when the season will close for two weeks before opening again on Sept. 1.

Weekend Marine forecast
Actual conditions haven’t played out exactly like they were forecasted the last few days, so it’s getting tougher to predict what’s fishable and what’s not. Out 10 nautical miles north of the Cape, Friday’s forecast is calling for N winds to 5 knots and waves out of the N 5 feet at 9 seconds and W 2 feet at 16 seconds. Saturday is similar, with winds out of the N 5 to 10 knots and waves NW 7 feet at 9 seconds and W 2 feet at 15 seconds. The winds and seas pick back up on Sunday. Winds will be out of the N 10 to 20 knots and NW waves 9 feet at 9 seconds and W 2 feet at 14 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/.  For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan, or you can also verify the conditions as reported by looking at the bar cam at www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/barCam/?cam=humboldtBayBar. You can also call the National Weather Service at 707-443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 707-443-6484.

California halibut thick in Humboldt Bay
Phil Glenn, who runs Bluefin Charters out of Woodley Island, reports a wide-open bite of undersized California halibut in Humboldt Bay. “There’s a few keepers around, but the almost all of the fish being caught are under 22 inches. We’ve been going through lots of bait as the bay is loaded with them,” added Glenn. The daily bag and possession limit is three fish and the minimum size limit is 22 inches total length.

Pacific Halibut closes August 15
The Pacific halibut season will close on Aug. 15 and open back up on Sept 1 and run through Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached. As of Aug 7, the CDFW has projected 14,679 net pounds have been harvested towards a quota of 29,640 pounds. For up-to-date harvest tracking information, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-2016-in-season-tracking. For information about the seasons and regulations, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670771-pacific-halibut-regulations

Ocean sport salmon season closes August 16
As a reminder, the sport salmon season, from the OR/CA border to Horse Mountain, will close on Tuesday, Aug. 16. The season will re-open one more time on Sept. 1 and run through Sept. 5. For a complete list of regulations, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon#recreational

Report derelict crab gear
The California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project is still active and looking for help in removing old derelict crab gear. If any ocean fishermen encounter derelict crab pot buoys which you believe is old, make a note of the GPS coordinates along with a buoy description. From there you can enter the information and location at www.seadocsociety.org/report

The Oceans:
Eureka
The salmon bite around the jetties continues to be consistent according to skipper Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “On Monday, the fish bit really well and all the boats had limits. The bite was a little tougher on Tuesday, and the rough and turbulent water probably had something to do with it. They just don’t seem to bite as good when we have real big swells. There’s still lots of bait around, including sardines, anchovies and sand lance’s. The grade has been excellent this week, with lots of fish in the 20-pounde range. There hasn’t been much focus on halibut because of the weather, but Sunday was just good enough to go looking. After quickly landing five salmon, we headed offshore and found some willing biters. We were able to land three, and lost a fourth at the boat. Hopefully we’ll get some decent weather to get back out there before it closes,” Klassen added.

Trinidad
According to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters, the black rockfish bite turned on the past few days and limits have been coming easily. He said, “The halibut have really been snapping as well. Since the weekend, it’s been easily a fish per rod. A lot of the action has been coming in shallower than normal water — 120 feet and out as the weather hasn’t been very nice out in 300 feet of water. There isn’t much sign of salmon at the moment and not much effort either.”

Shelter Cove
Even though most of the commercial boats didn’t hang around long, the salmon are still on the bite reports Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing saying. He said, “We’re still getting them on the mooch pretty good, and have limited the boat out the last three days. We’ve also have been hooking at least one halibut per day. On Saturday we hooked 6 at once and got them all on board, which was pretty exciting. The best salmon action remains at the Hat. The ling cod fishing has been great this week, but the rockfish has been a little slow.”

Crescent City
According to Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, not much has been happening with the ocean being a little on the rough side. “The most exciting thing going right now is all the Thresher Sharks around. A few have been caught by guys targeting California halibut around South Beach, and some anglers have begun to target them solely. The rockfish is kind of the same old story, when the boats can get out the bite has been excellent for both lings and rockfish. I haven’t heard of any boats trying for salmon in the past week,” Hegnes said.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The report is very similar to last week for the lower Klamath. Boats working from Blue Creek down are hooking between two and four steelhead per trip. A few more fall salmon have started to enter the river, but not in any big numbers yet. The river is in good shape with morning water temperatures hovering right around 70 degrees.

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

Fall quotas begin Aug. 15 on the Klamath

 

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Aaron Pierce and his daughter Ashley hold a couple dandy Chinook salmon caught off the south jetty in Humboldt Bay on Tuesday evening. The Eureka salmon bite was red-hot on Tuesday, with the best bite right outside of the entrance. Kayaks and anglers fishing off the jetties were also catching a few. Photo courtesy of Aaron Pierce/Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers

Back in 2012, over 380,000 adult fall king salmon were forecasted to return to the Klamath River basin, giving anglers a sport allocation of over 67,000 fish. Both of these numbers were record highs, but boy, where have those good times gone? Riding the heels of a four-year drought and way too many water diversions to mention, the number of salmon predicted to return this fall has dwindled to 30,909, with a sport quota set at a very meager 1,110 for the entire Klamath River basin. The way I look at it, the season can go two ways; if more fish return than predicted, the quotas will be met quickly and we’ll all be fishing for jacks well before Labor Day. If the 30,000 or so adults trickle in throughout the fall, we’ll likely see many days where landing one adult will be considered a good day. Both scenarios aren’t very tantalizing, but it’s the reality of what’s happening on the Klamath and Trinity River basins.

2016 fall regulations
Fall regulations go into effect on the Klamath River for fall-run Chinook salmon fishing beginning Aug. 15 and run through Dec. 31. The daily bag limit will be two Chinook, no more than one adult (greater than 22 inches) and the possession limit is six, no more than three adults. Two hatchery steelhead or hatchery trout may also be retained, with a possession limit of four each. Spring-run Chinook salmon fishing regulations will run through Aug. 14, with a daily bag and possession limit of two salmon. The Trinity is open to spring-run Chinook salmon fishing from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31. The daily bag and possession limit is two Chinook salmon. The take of salmon is prohibited from the confluence of the South Fork Trinity River downstream to the confluence of the Klamath River from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31.

Klamath Quotas
From the 96 bridge at Weitchpec to 3,500 feet downstream of the Iron Gate Dam, 189 adults can be harvested. The take of salmon is prohibited on the Klamath River from Iron Gate Dam downstream to Weitchpec from Jan. 1 through Aug. 14.

The Lower Klamath from the Highway 96 bridge at Weitchpec to the mouth, 555 adults will be allowed for sport harvest. The mouth of the Klamath (spit area) will get 15 percent of the basin quota in 2016, which amounts to 167 adults. This area will be closed to all fishing after the quota has been met.

As a reminder, all legally caught Chinook salmon must be retained while fishing the spit. Once the adult component of the total daily bag limit has been retained, anglers must cease fishing in the spit area.

Trinity Quotas
On the Trinity, which opens to fall-run Chinook salmon fishing Sept. 1 and runs through Dec. 31, the quota is set at 550 adults. The quota will be split evenly, 183 adults from the main stem downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat. The main stem downstream of the Denny Road bridge at Hawkins Bar to the mouth of the South Fork Trinity River will get 183, and main stem downstream of the mouth of the South Fork Trinity River to the confluence with the Klamath River will also be allowed to harvest 183 adult kings.

The main stem downstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to the Denny Road Bridge in Hawkins Bar is closed to all fishing September 1 through Dec. 31.

Once these quotas have been met, no Chinook salmon over 22 inches in length may be retained (anglers may still retain a limit of Chinook salmon under 22 inches in length). For more information on bag and possession limits, visit the DFG website at https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations. All anglers on the Trinity and Klamath rivers must have Salmon Harvest Cards in their possession when fishing for salmon.

Weekend Marine forecast
More rough conditions are in the forecast, at least through the weekend. Out 10 nautical miles north of the Cape, Friday’s forecast is calling for NW winds 5 to 15 knots and waves out of the NW 9 feet at 9 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds 5 to 15 knots and waves NW 9 feet at 9 seconds. Sunday’s conditions are looking better, with winds out of the N 5 to 15 knots and waves 6 feet at 9 seconds. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/.  To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can verify the conditions as reported, by looking at the bar cam at www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/barCam/?cam=humboldtBayBar. You can also call the National Weather Service at 707-443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 707-443-6484.

The Oceans:
Eureka
After a few days of tougher-than-usual fishing, the salmon went back on the chew “big time” on Tuesday. The best bite remains at the tip of both jetty’s, just outside the entrance according to Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing. “They bit really well on Tuesday, and the fish were big too. All the charter boats had easy limits,” Sepulveda added.

“There’s still quite a bit of bait in the bay, but it isn’t solid out front,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “There weren’t many boats out on Tuesday as the forecast was much better than predicted. I’m sure the lack of pressure helped the bite. And it seems like some new fish showed up too. The fish we caught had been feeding on krill, something we haven’t seen in awhile.”

Trinidad
Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters reports the super rough water has made the fishing conditions tough for salmon, rockfish and halibut. He said, “The ocean was a little better than forecasted on Tuesday, but I only heard of one salmon caught by the dozen or so boats who were trying. We’ve had to move out to deeper water for rockfish due to the choppy waters, but the blacks are still on the bite. The lings have been a little tougher to come by lately. Not many have tried for halibut since the opener, and I haven’t heard of any being caught as of Tuesday.”

Shelter Cove
The bite has been up and down for salmon in Shelter Cove with Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing saying, “This past week we’ve had days where we limited out by 9 a.m. and days without full limits. The commercial salmon season opened on Wednesday and there are quite a few boats in the harbor, so we’ll see what happens with these fish when they get some real pressure on them. Rock fishing was great all last week, but has slowed last couple days.”

Crescent City
The salmon action is still pretty much non-existent reports Leonard Carter of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “I haven’t heard of any kings caught this week, and the rough ocean isn’t helping. We’ve had a pretty good California halibut bite lately off of South Beach, with a few incidental Thresher Sharks being landed as well. I heard one measured eight-feet. The sloppy ocean has kept the boats from targeting rockfish, but when they’ve been able to get out, it’s been good. The lings bite has been excellent.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The fall salmon season hasn’t quite kicked into gear on the lower Klamath. Boats trolling the estuary are catching the occasional fish, but big numbers of fish have yet to move in. That could change overnight however. The summer steelhead bite has been slow as well, with only a few hookups per day reported by the few boats who are working the river from Blue Creek down to the Glen.

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