Coastal King Season Winding Down

John Curry of Reno holds a king salmon he caught Nov. 9 on the Sixes River while fishing with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He was back-bouncing roe. Photo courtesy of Wild Rivers Fishing

The surge in flows brought by the atmospheric river in late October was a blessing in so many ways. It put an end to another horrible fire season, began to fill our parched reservoirs, and created perfect river conditions for the late-run fall king salmon to make their way from the Pacific to their spawning grounds. On the flipside, it washed away hopes of a prolonged salmon season for us anglers. The Smith, Chetco, and Eel are all on the tail end of the runs that would typically still be going strong. Me personally, I’ll take an atmospheric river event any day if it means three to four years down the road our rivers will once again see healthy returns of salmon. So, as the salmon are taking care of business in their home tributaries, we’ll sit back and wait for signs of the impending winter steelhead run and know our salmon future looks a little brighter.

Weekend weather and marine forecast
According to Alex Dodd of Eureka’s National Weather Service office, we do have some rain in the forecast, but nothing significant. “We should see a small system move in Thursday evening, with showers lingering into Friday,” said Dodd. “Rainfall totals will be from a quarter to a half inch. After that, we’re looking dry through the weekend and into early next week. There’s a chance we’ll see a weak system arrive next Wednesday or Thursday.”

The weekend marine forecast is looking decent for offshore crabbing and possibly rockfish. As of Wednesday, Saturday’s forecast is calling for north winds 5 to 15 knots with northwest waves 8 feet at 10 seconds. Sunday is looking similar, with winds coming out of the northeast up to 5 knots with northwest waves 5 feet at 10 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

The Oceans
Eureka
The Pacific halibut season came to a close Monday, and the fishing was good right up to the end. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing spent a few hours on the halibut grounds getting limits for his crew. “The fish were all in the 15 to 18- pound range,” said Klassen. “It was a good way to end the season. The all-depths rockfish season has offered some good fishing too. We’ve been out a few days and had limits of mostly canaries and yellowtail, but the lingcod have been hard to come by. The crabbing has been very good. The crabs are a nice size, and they’re pretty full. On an overnight soak, pots are averaging 13 to 15 keepers in 80 to 120 feet of water.”

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, limits of rockfish, lingcod and crabs were fairly easy to come by this week. “The crabs aren’t huge, but they’re nice and full,” he said. “We fished a couple days up at Rodgers break and the rest down off Bear Harbor. Both locations produced really easy rockfish limits, but we had to work a little harder to get our lingcod.”

Brookings
“Nice weather over the weekend allowed Brookings boaters to venture across the bar for the first time in nearly a month,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Lingcod fishing was fair, but rockfish action was wide open in the Twin Rocks and House Rock area. Rougher weather returned on Monday and is expected through the week. Sport crabbing opens in the ocean off of Oregon on Dec. 1. Surfperch fishing has been slow.”

Mad River Steelhead Derby Starts Dec. 18
The Nor-Cal Guides and Sportsmen’s Association (NCGASA) is hosting its third annual Mad River Steelhead Derby from Dec. 18 through Feb. 28. Anglers must be signed up prior to Dec. 18 to be eligible to win cash and prizes. Only hatchery steelhead can be entered. The largest steelhead wins $500, second place $300 and third place $150. First place in the youth division (16 and under) will win a $175 RMI Outdoors gift card, second and third place finishers will win prizes TBA. Anglers can sign up online at www.ncgasa.org or in person at RMI Outdoors. Part of the proceeds benefit the Mad River Steelhead Stewards volunteer angler’s broodstock collection program that works in concert with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. For more information, visit www.madriversteelheaderby.com 

The Rivers:
As of Friday, all North Coast rivers subjected to low-flow fishing closures, including the Smith, Eel, South Fork Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek and Van Duzen are open to angling. Be sure and call the low-flow closure hotline at 822-3164 to determine if the river is open prior to fishing. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will announce whether rivers will be open by a telephone recorded message each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Mad
The Mad saw a slight bump in flows following Monday’s rain. Will be dropping the rest of the week and should be at a fishable level by the weekend.

Main Eel
The river is in perfect shape, but there aren’t many fish around. The bulk of the run has made its way upriver, but a few kings should trickle in. Conditions look good through the weekend.

Van Duzen
Was down to 327 cubic feet per second on Friday. Will be low and clear until the next rain.

South Fork Eel
Was in perfect shape last weekend, but only a handful of kings were caught. Some coho have started to show. Will also be low and clear through the weekend.

Samantha Stidston with a late-fall king salmon taken on the Smith River. Photo courtesy of Alan’s Guide Service

Smith
The Smith has been running low and clear, but did receive a bump in flows following Monday’s rain. Another slight increase is forecast for Friday, but the river will likely remain clear. The fishing has been very tough, with not many fish moving into the system, but the fish that are being caught have been nice ones. Fishing pressure has been very light.

Chetco
Salmon season is already tapering off on the Chetco, as the prolonged high water allowed much of this year’s run to shoot upstream to spawn reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “Fishing has been fair at best since the river dropped back into shape the end of last week,” he said. “Salmon will continue to trickle in each day, but with higher flows, those fish may not spend much time in the lower river. Some nice kings have been caught, with a few topping 50 pounds reported last week.”

Elk/Sixes
According to Martin, the Elk and Sixes fished well early last week while the Chetco was blown out. “Decent numbers of hatchery fish moved into the Elk, where wild kings must be released,” he said. “The Sixes has been a good bet as well. Both rivers can be tough to fish during lower flows, as expected this week. Salmon season is finished on the Rogue, while steelhead have yet to arrive. Except for a few half-pounders in the Agness area, the Rogue is slow. Expect winter steelhead to arrive by mid-December.”

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

Plenty and Full

An excellent start to sport crab season

Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing with a nice pot full of Dungeness crab taken Saturday on the sport opener. Photo courtesy of Kenny Priest

In a typical year, the sport crab season can go one of two ways. If the crabs are plentiful, the meat content is usually on the lighter side. If there are fewer crabs around, they are typically fuller and in better shape. This is all due to their food source — more crabs means smaller shares of food, while fewer crabs usually means plenty of food to go around. Five days into the season, it’s looking like we may have both quality and abundance. Last Saturday’s opener produced limits of big, healthy crabs both offshore and inshore.

Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing fished the opener and reports the crabs are in good shape, and there seem to be quite a few of them. “After an overnight soak on Saturday, we averaged about 12 to 22 keepers per pot Sunday,” said Klassen. Though not official, the quality testing shows the crabs out of Eureka at 22.7 percent. A typical year will find the meat content at around 20 percent, with the theory being that crabs will add one percent of meat a week and reach the 25 percent mark for the commercial opener of Dec. 1.

According to Klassen, both the north and south sides outside of Humboldt Bay fished well. “Pots dropped in 80 to 130 feet did well,” he added.

Crabbing in Humboldt Bay was also excellent, with plenty of limits reported. Up in Trinidad, the kayaks and small boats reported quick limits of crabs on very short soaks.

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

Weekend weather and forecast
According to Scott Carroll of Eureka’s National Weather Service office, we’re looking at a fairly dry week. “Very light rain is in the forecast for Wednesday and it doesn’t look like it will affect any river levels,” he said. “After that, we’re looking mostly dry the rest of the week and through the weekend. The next chance of rain will be Monday.”

The weekend marine forecast is looking good for offshore crabbing, rockfish and halibut, with very little wind in the forecast. As of Tuesday, Saturday’s forecast is calling for north winds up to 5 knots with west waves 6 feet at 11 seconds. Sunday is looking similar, with winds coming out of the northwest up to 5 knots with west waves 5 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/ or www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

Pacific halibut closing Nov. 15

The Pacific halibut season is scheduled to close Nov, 15. As of Oct. 31, the quota stands at 30,602 pounds against the 39,260 quota. The season reopened Sept. 3 and was slated to close until the quota was reached or until Nov. 3, whichever is earlier. For more info, visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking

The Rivers:

As of Wednesday, all North Coast rivers subjected to low-flow fishing closures, including the Smith, Eel, South Fork Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek and Van Duzen are open to angling. Be sure and call the low-flow closure hotline at 822-3164 to determine if the river is open prior to fishing. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will announce whether rivers will be open by a telephone recorded message each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Mad River
The Mad was off color all week after peaking at 2,900 cfs Tuesday and will remain that way through the weekend. Predicted to be on the drop through the weekend.

Main Eel
The river blew out on Tuesday, but is dropping quickly. Predicted to be around 4,900 cfs by Saturday and will probably be off color.

Van Duzen
Hit 3,850 cfs on Tuesday, but was already under 1,500 cfs by Wednesday afternoon. Should be at a fishable level by the weekend, but may be off color.

South Fork Eel
Reached 5,300 cfs on Tuesday evening, but predicted to drop quickly. Should be fishable by the weekend, especially the upper sections.

Smith River
The Smith blew out Tuesday but was back into fishable shape Wednesday. Scores over the weekend weren’t great, with just a handful of fish caught each day. Boats are spread from the forks to the outfitters. Hopefully the latest rise will bring in some new fish. A few coho have been caught, which typically means the king run is getting close to the end.

Chetco River
The Chetco River fished well last week before blowing out with the latest series of storms, according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “After being high and muddy all weekend, the river is expected to be back in shape the second half of this week. A nice mix of wild and hatchery kings have been spread throughout the river. Now that low-flow regulations have been lifted, anglers can back-bounce or run plugs with treble hooks.”

Elk/Sixes Rivers
With the high water over the weekend, the Elk and Sixes were in good shape for salmon, reports Martin. “Action has been fair, with good numbers of hatchery kings on both rivers. All wild adult kings must be released on the Elk. Flows reached 8.5 feet on the Elk Thursday, and were down to 5.7 feet Friday. Saturday and Sunday were prime. The Sixes has been fishing since Sunday. Both could be very low and clear by this weekend.”

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

It’s a Go! Sport Crab Season Opens Saturday

Nine-year-old Parker Blasi of Eureka shows off a haul of fresh Dungeness crabs from 2019. The sport Dungeness season will kick off this Saturday. Photo courtesy of Gary Blasi

One of the most popular fisheries on the North Coast almost didn’t happen. It was a tense few days waiting to hear if the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife would delay the sport Dungeness crab opener due to presence of humpback whales and leatherback sea turtles, and the potential for entanglement from trap gear. Turns out, we’re whale and turtle free — for now. The CDFW sent word Monday that our season will open as scheduled Saturday. Other ports weren’t so lucky. Fishing Zones 3 and 4, (from the Sonoma/Mendocino county line south to Lopez Point) will be temporarily restricted when the season opens Nov. 6 due to the presence of humpback whales and turtles.

The season’s first traps can legally be deployed at 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning. Anglers, weather permitting, will get their first peek into the health and weight of this season’s crop as the pre-season quality tests have not taken place or the results have yet to be made public. One thing we do know is the domoic acid levels shouldn’t be an issue. Tests conducted in Eureka, Trinidad and Crescent City all came back clean.

The season runs from Saturday, Nov. 6 through July 30, 2022. The minimum size is 5 ¾ inches measured by the shortest distance through the body from edge of shell to edge of shell directly in front of and excluding the points (lateral spines). The limit is 10 and a valid California sport fishing license is required along with the new annual crab trap validation ($2.42). 

Recreational crab regulation changes for 2021
The California Fish and Game Commission adopted new regulations for the recreational crab fishery in 2021. The revised regulations include the following new requirements when fishing with crab traps:

  • All crab traps must be marked with specific sized buoys. The Main Buoy must be at least 5” diameter and 11” in length with an additional Red Marker Buoy that is 3” in diameter and 5” in length, attached to main buoy with 3’ of line or less.
  • Crab traps must be raised, cleaned and emptied (serviced) at intervals not to exceed 9 days. Gear must be removed when you no longer intend to fish or you are unable to service at least every 9 days.
  • Individuals who use a crab trap are required to purchase an annual $2.42 trap validation this season. This fee does not apply to other methods of take.
  • Every individual may use up to 10 traps and service 10 additional traps with written permission from the operator of the trap.

For more information on the new regulations, visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Whale-Safe-Fisheries

Recreational take of Dungeness crab by other methods, including hoop nets and crab snares, is not affected by the temporary trap restriction and is allowed statewide beginning Nov. 6.

Weekend Marine Forecast
Ocean conditions don’t look good for Saturday’s crab opener. As of Thursday, elevated seas are in the weekend forecast. Saturday’s forecast is calling for southwest winds 5 to 10 knots with west waves 10 feet at 13 seconds. Winds will ease slightly Sunday, coming out of the southeast 5 to 10 knots with west waves 11 feet at 12 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

Weekend Tides – Humboldt Bay

• Sat., Nov. 6: high: 1:53 a.m. and 1:10 p.m.; low: 7:09 a.m. and 8:05 p.m.

Standard time begins at 2:00 a.m. Sunday

• Sun., Nov. 7: high: 1:48 a.m. and 12:54 p.m.; low: 6:56 a.m. and 7:55 p.m.

Top crabbing locations
If you’re planning on heading offshore out of Eureka and leaving pots overnight, your best bet is to start setting gear in 100 to 150 feet of water. Historically, crabs tend to be in deeper water at the beginning of the season and move in toward the beach later in the year. If you’re soaking for just a few hours and don’t have the equipment to go deep, dropping pots just outside the entrance in 50 feet is a good option.

If you don’t have means to head offshore, you can still find plenty of crab. One of the top spots to soak a few rings is Crab Park, located at the end of Cannibal Island Road in Loleta. There’s access to launch a kayak or canoe in the estuary of the Eel River. You can also launch your boat at Pedrazzini Park at the end of Cock Robin Island Road and make your way up the estuary towards the mouth of the Eel.

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

The Oceans:
Eureka
Calm seas on Sunday allowed boats to head offshore in search of Halibut. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing was one of the few boats out and reports the fishing was pretty good. “The Halibut were still in the same general area,” he said. “We caught our fish in roughly 250 feet of water around the 51-line.”

Shelter Cove
Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing was able to get on the water a few days last week in between storms. He said, “The few days we made it out we fished rockfish and salmon. We had limits of rockfish and lingcod each day around the Old Man and averaged a fish per rod on the salmon in about a half-day’s effort.” Salmon season is closed as of Nov. 1.

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

The Rivers:
As of Wednesday, all North Coast rivers subjected to low-flow fishing closures, including the Smith, Eel, South Fork Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek and Van Duzen are open to angling. Be sure and call the low-flow closure hotline at 822-3164 to determine if the river is open prior to fishing. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will announce whether rivers will be open by a telephone recorded message each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Mad River
The Mad was off color all week and will remain that way through the weekend. Predicted to rise on Thursday afternoon and again on Saturday. https://cdec.water.ca.gov/river/madStages.html

Main Eel
Predicted to peak at nearly 9,000 cfs Friday afternoon and will be on the drop through the weekend. Barring any rain next week, could be fishable by late next week. https://cdec.water.ca.gov/river/eelStages.html

Van Duzen
Forecast to reach 2,000 cfs on Thursday afternoon. A similar rise is predicted for Saturday, which will likely keep it off color until early next week. https://cdec.water.ca.gov/river/eelStages.html

South Fork Eel
Predicted to hit 4,100 cfs on the Miranda gauge on Thursday evening. Forecast to be at a fishable level by the weekend. https://cdec.water.ca.gov/river/eelStages.html

Smith River
Over the weekend, we were seeing between four to eight hookups per day, reports guide Mike Coopman. “Fishing was tougher on Tuesday,” he said. “The rain Monday and the subsequent rise overnight may have pushed a lot of the fish upriver. We have another good rise coming later in the week and hopefully that will bring in some fresh fish. There’s currently a mix of darker and fresh salmon in the river. There isn’t a lot of bigger fish so far, we’re seeing quite a few in the 12-pound range with the occasional bigger one.”

Randy Reese of Springfield, Ore., holds a salmon caught Nov. 1 on the Chetco River while fishing with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He was using a 5.0 MagLip.

Chetco/Elk/Sixes
The Chetco was full of salmon after it dropped back into shape last week, with good fishing Friday and Saturday, and fair fishing on Sunday and Monday, reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “A lot of the salmon that contributed to the hot action late in the week had moved upriver above Nook Bar by Sunday,” he said. “Fresh fish arrived in the tidewater on Saturday and produced wide-open action for a couple of guides who discovered the schools downstream of the takeout. Rain blew the river out Monday afternoon and although it will be fishable Wednesday, more high water is expected by Thursday.”
According to Martin, action has been fair at best on the Elk and Sixes, which generally are their best fishing in mid-November. “This week’s rain should bring in plenty of fresh kings,” added Martin. “The Rogue Bay is finished for the year, while steelhead won’t arrive until December.”

Klamath River Steelhead Tournament this Saturday
The 10th annual Klamath River Steelhead Tournament is scheduled to take place Saturday, November 6th. This is a nonprofit event with all proceeds going to the Happy Camp Athletics Department. The boat with the largest steelhead measured in length will win the tournament. The captain of the winning boat will receive the trophy.

Drift boats only (motors allowed) and bank fishing is allowed during the competition. You can fish any stretch of the river you like as long as you’re checked in by 7 a.m. and at the weigh in by 5 p.m.

Check in and weigh in will be at the River Park in Happy Camp, CA. Check in will be from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., and weigh in will be from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. To check in, you need to report to the River Park to sign up before 8 a.m. You will need to register, get your playing card, take a team photo, and get a copy of the rules.

Each boat will need a tape measure, a camera to take pictures of fish, and the issued playing card received at check in. The issued card and tape measure must be clearly visible in the photograph of the winning fish to be considered and you must be physically present at the weigh before 5 p.m.  to qualify.

Shuttles will be available from Seattle Creek to Ferry Point and can be scheduled at check in and will cost $20.00 per vehicle. If you have any questions call 530-598-0530. For more information, visit 2021 Klamath River Steelhead Tournament

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

Coastal Rivers Full, Smith Best Bet for Salmon

Eight-year-old Bryson Blevin, along with dad Tyler, landed this nice king salmon Saturday while fishing the Smith River. Photo courtesy of Tyler Blevin

Trying to decipher last week’s rain and river level predictions was not for the faint of heart. But when it was all said and done, all of the North Coast rivers got the flushing they desperately needed. Some rivers, especially to our south, went far beyond what was forecast and eventually hit flood stage. Coastal rivers from the Smith to the South Fork Eel mostly fell short of predictions, but are plum-full of water, nonetheless. Considering it’s still October, the future is looking bright.

As for fishing, the Smith was the only green river on the coast. The river opened to fishing Thursday but was on a steep rise for most of the day and night. Boats were on the water Friday but conditions weren’t great. By Saturday, the river had dropped and the fishing was much improved, with just about all the boats landing fish.

Looking toward the weekend, the Smith peaked Tuesday afternoon at 11.25 feet on the Jed Smith gauge. It’s predicted to be on a slow drop through the weekend and should have some fresh kings moving through. The Chetco will likely draw a crowd this weekend as the flows settle into the range of 3,000 cubic feet per second. For current Smith River conditions, visit www.cdec.water.ca.gov/river/smithStages.html. For the Chetco, visit www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/river/station/flowplot/flowplot.cgi?lid=CHTO3.

Weather ahead
According to Jonathan Garner of Eureka’s National Weather Service office, after the storms clear out Wednesday, the next chance at rain will be Friday. “There is a chance of rain Friday and Saturday, but the amounts are uncertain,” he said. “It will be more hit and miss and we probably won’t see widespread rainfall.”

Ocean update
As of Oct. 19, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has projected 30,494 net pounds of Pacific halibut has been harvested. The Pacific halibut allocation for California is 39,260 pounds. The 2021 recreational Pacific halibut fishery reopened on Friday September 3 at 12:00 a.m. and will remain open until November 15, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. To view the latest catch projection information, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking

The 2021 recreational Dungeness crab season is scheduled to open on Saturday November 6, 2021. To read about new crab trap regulations that go into effect on November 1, 2021, visit, www.cdfwmarine.wordpress.com/2021/09/24/new-trap-regulations-for-recreational-crabbing-in-california/

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

The Rivers:
As of Wednesday, all North Coast rivers subjected to low-flow fishing closures, including the Smith, Eel, South Fork Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek and Van Duzen are open to angling. Be sure and call the low-flow closure hotline at 822-3164 to determine if the river is open prior to fishing. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will announce whether rivers will be open by a telephone recorded message each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Mad River
On the drop as of Thursday and flowing at 1,350 cfs. Should be at a fishable level by early next week. Current river conditions: https://cdec.water.ca.gov/river/madStages.html

Main Eel
Dropping quickly and forecasted to reach 4,100 cfs by Saturday. Should be turning green by the weekend or early next week. https://cdec.water.ca.gov/river/eelStages.html

Van Duzen
RiDropping slowly as of Thursday and forecast to hit 740 cfs by Saturday. Will be on a slow drop through the weekend and could be fishable. https://cdec.water.ca.gov/river/eelStages.html

South Fork Eel
Probably the best opportunity for green water this weekend. Flowing at 1,400 cfs at Sylvandale Thursday, could be in good shape by the weekend. Water color will depend on the East Branch. https://cdec.water.ca.gov/river/eelStages.html

Smith River
The Smith fished well Saturday, with most boats getting limits of bright kings. Fishing was a little tougher Sunday, as the river was on the rise for most of the day. There are bright as well as dark salmon spread from the forks to the outfitters, but not in big numbers. Most of the fish are being caught on plugs but back-bouncing the deeper slots with roe has also produced. Conditions look good through the weekend. https://cdec.water.ca.gov/river/smithStages.html

Chetco River
High water has made salmon fishing tough on the Chetco, but flows will be close to ideal as the weekend approaches, reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “Salmon are spread throughout the system. Bobbers must still be used until Nov. 5, as ODFW said it is sticking with the published low-flow regulations. Last week’s brood stock seining for the Chetco hatchery program produced nearly 75 kings over two days. Some of the salmon were close to 40 pounds. Flows reached 8,000 cfs. Less than 4,000 is considered good, and anything between 1,500 and 2,500 cfs is prime. Catches during high water have been nearly a 50-50 split between hatchery and wild fish.”

Upper Trinity closed to the take of adult kings
In a press issued Oct. 20, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife projected the Upper Trinity River quota will have been met as of 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 24. This triggers the closure of the adult fall-run Chinook salmon fishery on the Trinity River from the Old Lewiston Bridge to the Highway 299 West Bridge at Cedar Flat.

The Lower Trinity River quota will be met as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31. This triggers the closure of the adult fall-run Chinook salmon fishery on the Trinity River from the Denny Road Bridge at Hawkins Bar to the confluence with the Klamath River. Both sectors will remain open for fishing and the harvest of jack Chinook salmon less than or equal to 23 inches. For more information, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/News/trinity-river-adult-chinook-salmon-quota-met.

Willow Creek weir counts
The week ending Oct. 21, a total of 224 adult kings were counted at the Willow Creek weir. The jack count for the week was 46. For the season to date, 3,367 (adults and jacks) have been counted, including both hatchery and wild. The totals are the highest dating back to 2004.

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

Big Storms to Kick Off Coastal King Season

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

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

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

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

As of Friday all North Coast rivers subjected to low-flow fishing closures, including the Smith, Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek and Van Duzen were open to angling, but don’t expect green water on rivers other than the Smith. Be sure and call the low-flow closure hotline at 707-822-3164 to determine if the river is open prior to fishing. California Department of Fish and Wildlife will announce whether rivers will be open by a telephone recorded message each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Rivers will not automatically open to fishing once minimum flows are reached.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Klamath Adult King Harvest Quota Filled

Paradise resident Wes Palade holds an adult king salmon taken on the lower Klamath earlier in the season. Photo courtesy of Kenny Priest/Fishing the North Coast Guide Service

If you’re looking to harvest an adult Chinook salmon in the Klamath basin, the Trinity River is your only option as of Tuesday. On Monday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife determined the recreational fall-run Chinook salmon catch will have met the Upper Klamath River adult fall-run Chinook salmon quota (of 208) below Iron Gate Dam for the 2021 season.

This triggers the closure of the adult fall-run Chinook salmon fishery on the main stem of the Klamath River from 3,500 feet downstream of the Iron Gate Dam to the State Route 96 bridge at Weitchpec. The adult fall-run Chinook salmon fishery on the lower Klamath River, from the estuary to the State Route 96 bridge at Weitchpec closed Sept. 8. The spit fishery at the mouth of the Klamath closed Aug. 28 and will remain closed to all fishing for the rest of the year.

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

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

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

Willow Creek weir counts
The week ending Oct. 7, a total of 587 adult kings were counted at the Willow Creek weir. The jack count for the week was 94. For the season to date, 2,833 (adults and jacks) have been counted, including both hatchery and wild. The totals are the highest dating back to 2004. The next highest was in 2012, when a combined 2,609 adults and jacks were counted for the season.

Weekend marine forecast
Gusty conditions will ease beginning Friday. As of Wednesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the north 5 to 10 knots with northwest waves 8 feet at 13 seconds. Saturday, winds will be out of the north up to 5 knots with northwest waves 6 feet at 13 seconds. Sunday the winds will be 5 to 10 knots out of the north with north waves 3 feet at 5 seconds and northwest 6 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/ or https://www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Dungeness crab testing continues

Domoic acid testing in Dungeness crabs is roughly halfway complete on the California coast. To date, samples from Crescent City, Trinidad, Bodega Bay, Half Moon Bay/San Francisco and Monterey have all been tested at least once. Only Monterey had crabs that exceed the action level of 30 parts per million. For more information, visit www.cdph.ca.gov.

The Oceans:
Eureka
The Pacific halibut bite and effort have both slowed down considerably. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the lack of effort could be have something to do with the slow fishing. “There aren’t many anglers still trying and not many are looking around,” he said. “If you land on the right spot the fishing can be good, which is pretty normal for this time of the year.” Cape Mendocino continues to provide solid rockfish action. “There’s fish to be had but we’ve had to look around a little to find a wide variety,” added Klassen. The warm tuna water is staying put at just over 55 straight out. There could be a small weather window Saturday.

Shelter Cove
The salmon and rock fishing continues to be excellent at Shelter Cove. “We had salmon limits every day last week,” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “It’s been a real mixed grade with barely legals all the way up to 30 pounds. The salmon have been right at the Coast Guard buoy. The rock fishing has been excellent as well with limits everyday we’ve gone. We went to Gorda one day and got two halibut before coming back to cove and getting our salmon limits.”

Brookings
According to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters, A break in the windy weather allowed anglers to get offshore for bottom fish and halibut over the weekend. “A handful of halibut were caught in 200 feet of water along the border,” said Martin. “Lingcod fishing has been best near the Point St. George Reef lighthouse. Rockfish action has been wide open. A big swell will make fishing a little less comfortable this week, but the ocean is expected to remain fishable in close.”

North Coast river closures
Currently, all the North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen are closed. Sections of rivers that are open include the main stem Eel River from the paved junction of Fulmor Road to its mouth, and the main stem Smith River from the mouth of Rowdy Creek to its mouth. The Mad River from the mouth to 200 yards upstream is closed until Jan. 1, 2022.The Department of Fish and Game will make the information available to the public no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any river will be closed to fishing. The rivers can be opened up at any time. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is 707-822-3164.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Fishing has been tough on the lower Klamath as the run is winding down. There are some steelhead around, and the occasional coho. The late-run kings should be making their way into the river soon, especially if we see some rain. Boat pressure has been light. The daily bag limit is two jack Chinook 23-inches or less and two hatchery steelhead.

Chetco estuary
Good fishing at times in the Chetco estuary indicates a big fall run upriver once rains arrive reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “The area along the jetties has been producing kings to 30 pounds. Guides are averaging a fish per rod. Bigger schools are staging just offshore, as anglers targeting rockfish are reporting large numbers of salmon begging released while bottom fishing. The hatchery-to-wild ratio is nearly 50-50.”

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

Chetco Estuary Kicking Out Quality Kings

Doug and Nick Ebert hold limits of salmon caught Oct. 2 while fishing the Chetco River estuary with guide Mick Thomas of Brookings Fishing Charters. Photo courtesy of Brookings Fishing Charters

If you’re looking for an opportunity to catch big, ocean-fresh kings, the Chetco estuary is the place to be. Salmon have been staging in the tidewater since the beginning of September. They’ll be there until rain allows them to make their way upriver. Following last Monday’s rain, which bumped the flows from under 100 cubic feet per second to nearly 1,000 cfs, some salmon were able to navigate out of the tidewater. But there should be plenty more heading in from the salt to take their place. “Salmon fishing has kicked into high gear on the Chetco estuary,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Upwards of 50 kings were landed on Saturday and several dozen more on Monday. There is a good mix of jacks and wild and hatchery kings. The good fishing has attracted a crowd of boats. Anchovies and plug-cut herring are producing fish the second half of the incoming tide and beginning of the outgoing.”

On the Chetco, the daily bag limit for salmon is two adult fish per day, no more than one adult wild Chinook. Anglers may harvest adult hatchery Chinook until the daily bag limit has been met. Once the adult daily limit is harvested, anglers cannot continue to fish for jack salmon. The river remains closed above mile 2.2 because of low flows.

Over on the Smith River, the tidewater fishing hasn’t been as good. But that may not be for a lack of fish. The rain that fell last week pushed the flows over 900 cfs, and schools of jacks and darker adults moved through. According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, there aren’t many fish staging in the estuary right now. “There’s been a few boats trolling sardines and anchovies, as well as bank anglers tossing Kastmasters and Cleos,” he said. The Smith River is currently closed above the mouth of Rowdy Creek due to low flows.

Weekend marine forecast
Winds will begin to decrease Friday and the ocean looks to be plenty fishable over the weekend. As of Wednesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the north 5 to 10 knots with northwest waves 5 feet at five seconds and west 3 feet at 16 seconds. Saturday, winds will be out of the north 5 to 10 knots with northwest waves 5 feet at nine seconds. Sunday looks a little worse with winds coming from the north 5 to 15 knots and north waves 6 feet at six seconds and northwest 4 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/ or www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

Dungeness crab testing underway

Dungeness crabs testing for Domoic Acid has begun on the West Coast. To date, two locations have posted results. Monterey Bay was tested on Sept. 21 and just one of the six samples tested above the threshold of 30 ppm. Trinidad was also tested on Sept. 21 and there was no detection of Domoic Acid. .” For more information on Domoic Acid and current test results, visit http://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/Pages/FDBPrograms/FoodSafetyProgram/DomoicAcid.aspx

The Oceans:
Eureka
Prior to Monday, there hadn’t been much offshore activity out of Eureka due to rough seas. Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sport Fishing ventured to the halibut grounds in less than ideal conditions Monday and put in quick limits. The weather was better Tuesday but the bite was slower. Very few boats were on the water.

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, the rockfish bite has been excellent this week. “It’s been a little slow at times but still getting good limits every day,” he said. “Most of the effort was at the Old Man this week.  The salmon bite picked up the last couple days and most boats have been getting limits over the weekend right at the Coast Guard buoy.

Brookings
Rough ocean conditions kept the Brookings fleet at the docks all of last week and the weekend reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Better weather is expected this weekend, with a shot at late-season Pacific halibut. Lingcod fishing had been improving before the rough weather.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The salmon effort and harvest has slowed considerably on the lower Klamath. Reportedly, the mouth is still sanded over making it difficult for fish to enter the river. If and when it blows open, we should see more fresh kings along with coho move in. For the week ending Oct. 7, 43 jacks were harvested and 43 adults were released above the Highway 101 bridge. The daily bag limit is two jack Chinook at 23-inches or smaller and two hatchery steelhead.

Willow Creek weir update
For the week ending Sept. 30, a total of 821 adult kings were counted at the weir. The jack count for the week was 97. For the season to date, 2,201 (adults and jacks) have been counted, including both hatchery and wild. The totals are the highest since 2012 when a combined 2,609 adults and jacks were counted for the season. This year’s totals include only four weeks of trapping.

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

Rough Seas Curtail Pacific Halibut Bite

Eureka resident Jazz Lewis landed a nice Pacific halibut while fishing out of Eureka Saturday. Photo courtesy of Gary Blasi, Full Throttle Sport Fishing

When the ocean has been fishable, the Pacific halibut have been chomping baits at a pretty good clip out of Eureka. Most of the charters and sport boats still fishing are scoring their one-fish-apiece limit. The biggest detriment has been the weather. Large swells have been the norm over the past few weeks, limiting the fleet to just a day here and there on the water. When the stars do align, the fishing has been very good. “There’s plenty of fish out there,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “Most of the action has been in the same general area, between the 49 and 54 lines in 200 to 300 feet of water.” According to Klassen, the majority of the fish are running between 10 and 20 pounds, but a few bigger fish have shown up. The top baits have been herring along with salmon and tuna bellies. Rough ocean conditions are in the forecast at least through the end of the week. The good news is with no fishing, the quota will last longer. The halibut fishery will run through Nov. 15, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. As of Sept. 12, the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife has estimated 26,118 net pounds of Pacific halibut has been harvested toward the 39,260-pound quota. To view the latest catch projection information, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking.

Weekend marine forecast
Northerly winds will continue through the week before increasing and spreading north late Thursday and into the weekend. As of Tuesday, the forecast out 10 nautical miles for Friday is calling for winds out of the north 5 to 15 knots with north swells 10 feet at eight seconds. Saturday is calling for winds from the north 5 to 15 knots and northwest swells 7 feet at 11 seconds. Sunday the winds will be from the north 5 to 10 knots and north swells 4 feet at 6 seconds and northwest 7 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/ or www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

Recreational crab regulation changes for 2021
The California Fish and Game Commission adopted new regulations for the recreational crab fishery in 2021. The revised regulations include the following new requirements when fishing with crab traps:

  • A standardized buoy and additional red buoy marker for each trap
  • All crab traps must be serviced at least every nine days
  • A Recreational Crab Trap Validation is required when fishing crab traps
  • A limit of 10 traps per person

Also note that the CDFW director can now implement a season delay or early season closure due to marine life entanglement risk. Notices of delay or closure will be posted on the CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries web page at least five days before any delay or closure. The Dungeness season is expected to reopen on Saturday, Nov. 6. Crabbers can also sign up to receive important season information and updates on the web page. The new regulations are in effect beginning Nov. 1. The Recreational Crab Trap Validation can now be purchased at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Fishing as well as from other approved license sales agents. For more information on regulations changes, visit www.nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=195067&inline.

The Oceans:
Eureka
Rough ocean conditions have kept the boats tied up since Monday and it looks like more of the same all week. The Pacific halibut bite remains solid between the 49 and 54 lines, weather permitting. According to Klassen, the rockfish action near Cape Mendocino was tougher than usual over the weekend. “There’s still lots of blacks but not big numbers of the other species,” he said. “The ling cod bite wasn’t that great, either. The ocean conditions could have put them off the bite.”

Matt Quittenton of Miranda landed this nice king last Thursday while fishing out of Shelter Cove with Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell

Shelter Cove
The rockfish bite was great all week, according to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “We made it up to Rodgers break in marginal conditions and did really good for a couple days,” he said. “The weather finally laid down enough for us to get up to Gorda on Sunday, and we had limits of rockfish and lings along with four Pacific halibut. We fished for salmon for about a total of eight hours this week and landed seven fish to 27 pounds right out front inside of the whistle.”

Crescent City
According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, tuna were caught last weekend 40 miles from the harbor. “Since Sunday, the ocean has been really rough,” he said. “When the boats can get out, the rockfish and lingcod bite is still excellent. The California halibut are pretty much done.”

Brookings
Lingcod and rockfish action has been good on calm-weather days, which have been few and far between in recent weeks reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Friday yielded limits for most boats, while rougher weather returned over the weekend. The Chetco River bar was closed Monday. Big swell will limit action much of this week. Pacific halibut season remains open.”

Low Flow River Closures begin Oct. 1
North Coast rivers that are regulated by low flow closures, including the Eel, Mad, Mattole, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen will begin angling restrictions on October 1 through January 31, except for the Mad River, which went into effect September 1. The Department of Fish and Game will make the information available to the public by a telephone recorded message updated, as necessary, no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any stream will be closed to fishing. The rivers can be opened up at any time. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164. NOTE: The main stem Eel from the South Fork to Cape Horn Dam and the Mattole River will be closed until January 1, 2022

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
Salmon fishing slowed slightly late last week, as the mouth was reportedly sanded over. The fishing picked up on Sunday, with jacks and some adults caught between Starwein and Blue Creek. With more than an inch of rain on Monday and flows jumping up 400 cubic feet per second, there should be plenty of fish moving through the mouth into the lower river.

Chetco
“Salmon fishing has heated up at the mouth of the Chetco, where a dozen or so kings are being caught daily by anglers trolling along the jetties,” said Martin. “Bigger numbers of hatchery fish showed up last week, a sign the run is accelerating. Low-flow regulations are in affect upriver, as kings begin to move out of the estuary and into the tidewater. Rain early this week increased flows, but not enough for drift boat fishing upriver.”

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

Klamath Still Kicking Out Plenty of Kings

Six-year-old Rylan Angeli, along with the help of father Nick, landed this nice king salmon on a recent trip to the Klamath River. Photo courtesy of Jeff Griffith

Salmon fishing on the lower Klamath continues to roll on. Fresh schools of jacks (2-year-old males) as well as adults are arriving just about daily. Anglers fishing from the Glen up to Johnson’s are finding fresh fish side-drifting riffles and dragging roe through the deep slots. The rain over the weekend bumped the flows just enough to really put the fish on the move and the fishing was wide-open from top to bottom. And the numbers from California Department of Fish and Wildlife provide plenty of evidence. For the week ending Sept. 16, a whopping 886 jacks were harvested above the U.S. Highway 101 bridge. During the same week, more than 1,000 adults were released along with another 264 jacks. Those are some pretty impressive catch rates. The lower Klamath adult salmon quota was met Sept. 7, but anglers can still keep two jacks (less than or equal to 23 inches) per day with a possession limit of six. You may still fish for adult Chinook salmon in other sections of the Klamath Basin, including the main stem of the Klamath River above Weitchpec and the entire Trinity River, until their quotas are met. Anglers may keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling (800) 564-6479.

Upper Klamath, Trinity salmon quota update 
The upper Klamath and Trinity quotas don’t have closure dates as of yet according to Dan Troxel, an environmental scientist on the Klamath River Project. “Typically, the quotas are based off harvest timing, meaning a set number of days following the closure of the lower Klamath to retention of adult salmon,” said Troxel. As of now, the Upper Klamath will allow for adult harvest likely through the first week of October. As for the Trinity River, we’re seeing lots of fish at the Willow Creek Weir, so the adult harvest closure date will need to be discussed further. Additionally, the Lower Trinity sector is partially informed by the recreational creel survey conducted by Hoopa Valley Tribal Fisheries. At this point, no formal updates have been provided to CDFW, however effort and catch is reported to be pretty minimal in their survey area. An increase in fishing effort is likely to occur with the lifting of National Forest closures that have been in place, so things should change for the better for anglers in the near future.

Weekend marine forecast
Ocean conditions are expected to be plenty fishable by the weekend. As of Tuesday, the forecast out 10 nautical miles for Friday is calling for winds out of the west up to 5 knots with northwest swells 5 feet at 11 seconds. Saturday is calling for winds from the northwest up to 5 knots and northwest swells 3 feet at seven seconds and west 6 feet at 18 seconds. Sunday the winds will be from the west up to 5 knots and west swells 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/ or www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

Pacific halibut quota update
The CDFW has projected 26,118 net pounds of Pacific halibut has been harvested through Sept. 12. In 2021, the Pacific halibut allocation for California is 39,260 pounds. The Pacific halibut fishery will run through November 15, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. To view the latest catch projection information, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking

The Oceans:
Eureka
The rough ocean kept the boats off the water over the weekend and through Monday. Friday, the Pacific halibut fishing was pretty good for the Eureka fleet. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the bite was in the same general area, just north of the entrance in 250 feet of water. “The fish are still on the small size, ranging from 10 to 30 pounds,” he said. “Boats were back on the water Tuesday fishing in pretty rough conditions.. The fish are definitely still there and some boats were able to get limits.” The rockfish and lingcod bite at the Cape has been good according to Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing. “We’ve been seeing a good grade of lingcod up to 30 pounds and a nice variety of rockfish,” he said.

Shelter Cove
The salmon fishing has slowed down out of the cove, according to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. We had four salmon on Wednesday but haven’t boated one since,” he said. “There were a few caught on Thursday as well, but I haven’t heard of any landed since then. The rock fishing has been excellent with limits of rockfish and lingcod every day. We made it up to Rodgers break one day and spent the rest of the week off the Ranch House for the rockfish.”

Crescent City
According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, rough ocean conditions had the boats tied up over the weekend. “Late last week, a few Pacific halibut were still being caught and the rockfish bite was still going strong.” The tuna water was within 35-40 miles as of Tuesday and a few boats made the run. Top boat put in 51 albacore. Ocean conditions look good for the next few days.

Brookings
Windy weather limited success for rockfish and lingcod last week, and then conditions deteriorated further as the first big fall storm created rough bar conditions over the weekend reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Better weather is expected this week, with plenty of options for lingcod, Pacific halibut and rockfish. Sport crabbing also has improved near Brookings.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Salmon fishing remains excellent for both jacks and adults on the lower Klamath. Side-drifting roe in the riffles and dragging roe through the deeper holes are both producing fish from the Glen to Johnson’s. Fresh fish are coming into the lower river just about every day. Anglers can keep two jacks (less than or equal to 23 inches) per day with a possession limit of six.

Lower Rogue/Coos
According to Martin, the Chetco estuary fished well last week, but was slow over the weekend, as the slight rise in flows was enough to draw the kings holding near the jetties upriver. “Muddy water and rough bar conditions also made trolling rough,” said Martin. “Kings continue to be caught on the Rogue Bay, but the season is quickly winding down. Wild coho can be kept on the Coos, where fishing is decent for them, but slow for kings.”

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

Plenty of Kings in the Klamath

Kyliee, left and sister Maycee Jacks of Eureka scored a limit of jack salmon Saturday while fishing the Klamath River. Photo courtesy of Kenny Priest/Fishing the North Coast Guide Service

Since just before Labor Day weekend, the Klamath River has been stuffed with salmon. The number of jacks has been amazing and we’re seeing some nice adult kings in the river, as well. The bulk of the run started a little late this year, most likely due to the unusually high water temperatures. Smoke-filled skies and cooler weather finally began cooling the water just enough, and the salmon came charging.

For the last three weeks, the fishing has been nothing short of spectacular. To see the number of fish in the river is certainly good news, especially considering the numbers of adult salmon returning in previous years has been so dire.

Since the complete salmon fishing closure in 2017, adult salmon returns have fallen well short of the 40,700 minimum floor escapements. In 2019, a return of approximately 87,000 was predicted but the actual returns were only 37,270. In 2020, CDFW forecasted a modest 48,274 natural area spawning salmon would return but only 26,190 were counted. This fall, 31,574 natural area spawning adults are forecasted to return.

So, while it’s easy to speculate this year’s returns could be more robust due to the harvest and catch rates, it’s way too early to celebrate. We won’t know the size of the run until sometime early next year. But it does feel good to see the river full of fish again. The lower Klamath adult salmon quota was met Sept. 7. You can still keep two jacks (less than or equal to 23 inches) per angler. Anglers may still fish for adult Chinook salmon in other sections of the Klamath Basin, including the main stem of the Klamath River above Weitchpec and the entire Trinity River, until their quotas are met. Anglers may keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling (800) 564-6479.

Weekend marine forecast

Hazardous seas warnings are in effect for the outer waters as steep waves and gusty winds continue through the work week. Conditions are expected to ease just before the weekend. As of Wednesday, the forecast out 10 nautical miles for Friday is calling for winds out of the south 5 to 10 knots with northwest swells 5 feet at 10 seconds. Saturday looks similar, with winds from the south up to 10 knots and northwest swells 6 feet at 11 seconds. Sunday the winds will be from the west up to 5 knots and northwest swells 8 feet at 12 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

The Oceans:
Eureka
According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the Pacific halibut bite was pretty good prior to the latest ocean blowout. “We had fairly easy limits on Friday and Saturday,” he said. “There seems to be plenty of fish around. Most of the action is in roughly 250 feet of water just north of the entrance and the fish are averaging 15 to 25 pounds. The California halibut bite is still going, too. We fished Monday in the bay and landed five keepers. There’s a lot of smaller fish as well, which is good for the future. There’s quite a bit of bait in the bay right now.”

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, the rock fishing and lingcod bite has been excellent all week. “From the Old man to down below the Hat, that area all seemed to produce equally good results. There are still some salmon around as well. Two days we had a fish per rod and two days we had zero. Still lots of bait right below the Cove and that’s where all the action has been. There’s still some nice fish around, two 36-pounders were caught this week.”

Crescent City
A 65-pound Pacific halibut was caught on Friday, according to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “Most of the fish are being caught near the South Reef in 225 to 300 feet of water. The rockfish and lingcod action remains excellent, with most boats getting easy limits of both.” A few tuna were caught late last week 25 miles from the harbor. The next weather window looks to be Friday.

Brookings

“Lingcod and rockfish was very good out of Brookings last week before a big swell and strong winds returned on Sunday,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters.  “A few boats ventured offshore for tuna Saturday, and found a handful of albacore 22 miles out. With rough weather this week, tuna won’t be an option any time soon. Halibut fishing has slowed, but remains decent for Pacific halibut. The limit is now two fish a day.”

Eleven year-old Rylan Pilgrim from Lincoln, CA landed a limit of jacks over the weekend on the Klamath River. Photo courtesy of James Keeling Guide Service

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
There are still quite a few jacks in the lower river, along with some nice adult kings. The fish are spread out from the Glen to Johnson’s. As a reminder, the lower river quota has been met and salmon longer than 23 inches must be released. Your adult Chinook releases need to be recorded on your North Coast Salmon Report Card as normal. The bag limit is two salmon less than or equal to 23 inches and two hatchery steelhead.

Chetco/Lower Rogue
The Chetco estuary fished surprisingly well last week, with many boats getting multiple fish reports Martin. “It is still early, with the best estuary fishing at the end of September and early October,” he said. “The Rogue Bay is fair for salmon, with a mix of jacks and larger adults. Salmon fishing has improved near Grants Pass, and indication much of the fall run has already moved through the bay.”

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