Sport Crab Season a Go for Saturday

Ron Haynes, a deckhand for Brookings Fishing Charters, and a young customer, hold crab harvested in Brookings earlier this year. The sport crab season will open statewide in California this Saturday with restrictions. Photo courtesy of Brookings Fishing Charters

One of the most popular fisheries on the North Coast will commence Saturday, on time, albeit with a few temporary regulation changes. Due to presence of humpback and blue whales and the potential for entanglement from trap gear, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife restricted the recreational take of Dungeness crab using crab traps statewide. However, the recreational take of Dungeness crab by other methods, including hoop nets and crab snares, is not affected by the temporary trap restriction. I’d say we’re batting .500 as the season could have easily been delayed as is the case with the commercial fleet south of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line. Their season was to begin on Nov. 15, but the high number of whales shut them down. So, hoop nets it is, and there are some changes to those regulations as well that anglers need to be aware of. They include:

  • Hoop nets are required to be regularly serviced every two hours;
  • Design modification specs to prevent the device from functioning as a crab trap that could incentivize longer soak periods;
  • Reduce the weight of the hoop net, thereby posing less harm to an entangled whale or sea turtle should that occur.
  • Expand current gear marking requirements for hoop nets used south of Point Arguello, Santa Barbara County, to apply statewide, which will aid in identifying this gear type for enforcing these requirements and identify hoop nets involved in entanglements.

For specific hoop net requirements, visit wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Sport-Fishing/Invertebrate-Fishing-Regs#crustaceans.

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 won’t be an issue. Statewide testing is nearly complete with zero percent of the samples exceeding or even coming close to action levels.

The season runs from Saturday, Nov. 5 through July 30, 2023. 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 but an annual crab trap validation is not required when taking crabs with hoop nets or crab loop traps.

Top crabbing locations
With offshore conditions looking rough over the weekend, 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.

Weekend Marine Forecast
Ocean conditions don’t look good for Saturday’s crab opener. As of Tuesday, elevated seas are in the weekend forecast. Saturday’s forecast is calling for northwest winds 5 to 15 knots with northwest waves 9 feet at 12 seconds. Winds will pick up Sunday, coming out of the southwest 10 to 20 knots with northwest waves 17 feet at 14 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit weather.gov/eureka or windy.com. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Weekend Tides – Humboldt Bay
• Sat., Nov. 5: high: 10:35 a.m. and 11:02 p.m.; low: 4:01 a.m. and 4:54 p.m.

Standard time begins at 2:00 a.m. Sunday
• Sun., Nov. 6: high: 11:08 a.m. and 11:57 p.m.; low: 4:44 a.m. and 5:39 p.m.

North Coast all-depth recreational fishing began Nov. 1
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:
Currently, all North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the main stem and South Fork Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen, are closed. Sections of rivers that are open include the main stem Smith River from its mouth to the mouth of Rowdy Creek. The Mad River from the mouth to 200 yards upstream is closed until Jan. 1. The Department of Fish and Wildlife 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 at any time. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164. For more information, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2021/09/22/2021-2022-low-flow-information-for-north-coast-rivers/

Main stem Eel
The main stem Eel near Scotia was running just above 200 cfs as of Wednesday. Flows are predicted to peak above the 350 cubic feet per second threshold Sunday morning. If the rains come as predicted, it could open to fishing Sunday morning. River forecast levels can be found here: cnrfc.noaa.gov/graphicalRVF.php?id=SCOC1

Smith River
The Smith remains closed due to low flows as of Wednesday and it doesn’t look like it will meet the 600 cfs threshold on the Jed Smith gauge prior to the weekend. Flows are predicted to peak at 865 cfs by early Sunday morning before it drops throughout the day Sunday. River forecast levels can be found here: cnrfc.noaa.gov/graphicalRVF.php?id=CREC1.

Chetco River
Heavy rain later this week is expected to push the Chetco into prime shape for fall salmon by next week reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Until then, anglers are limited to bobbers, which have been effective in tricking salmon holding in the tidewater holes,” said Martin. “Big numbers of salmon are spread from the U.S. Highway 101 bridge to Social Security Bar, with wild and hatchery adults and lots of jacks. Trolling has been slow in the estuary. The biggest rise in flows is expected to take place next Wednesday, although earlier forecasts of rain this week failed to materialize.”

Gear restrictions extended on Chetco, Winchuck rivers
Chetco and Winchuck angling gear restrictions are extended through 11:59 p.m., Nov. 15 due to low water levels. The gear restriction extension is also a conservative approach to help lower harvest levels of older aged chinook salmon.
Angling is restricted to fly fishing (must include a strike indicator) or bobber fishing in both rivers. The Chetco restriction applies from River Mile 2.2 to Nook Creek, and from the mouth to Wheeler Creek in the Winchuck River.
Based on historical flow regimes, gear restrictions are typically in place Sept. 1 – Nov. 3 each year to eliminate snagging. As in 2018, this year is an exception with abnormally low flows and no significant October rains. With rain forecasted beginning this week, the gear restriction will lift at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 16.
ODFW biologists expect good numbers of chinook to return to the Chetco and some are already holding in the lower river. Maintaining a fishing opportunity for Chetco bank anglers is important and this is also a good time of year to harvest returning hatchery fish. For more information, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2022/11_Nov/110222.asp

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

Upper Trinity Closed to Taking Adult Kings

Andrew Mclaughlin of Eureka landed this adult king salmon on a recent float down the lower Trinity River. The lower Trinity is now the only sector in the Klamath basin where adult kings can be harvested.
Photo courtesy of Redwood Coast Fishing with Mike Stratman

In a press release issued last week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife projected the Upper Trinity River fall-run Chinook salmon quota would have been met as of 11:59 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21. This triggered the closure of the adult fall-run Chinook salmon fishery on the Trinity River from the Old Lewiston Bridge to the State Route 299 West Bridge at Cedar Flat. This reach will remain open for the harvest of 2-year-old jack Chinook salmon less than or equal to 23 inches. All adult Chinook salmon caught must be immediately released and reported on the angler’s report card.

Anglers may still fish for adult Chinook salmon in the Lower Trinity River sector downstream of the Denny Road Bridge at Hawkins Bar to the confluence with the Klamath River. All other sectors are closed to adult salmon harvest.

Anglers may monitor the quota status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling the information hotline at (800) 564-6479.

For more information, visit wildlife.ca.gov/News/upper-trinity-river-adult-chinook-salmon-quota-met.

All depths rockfish to begin Nov. 1

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 wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Groundfish-Summary.

Dungeness crab testing ongoing
Domoic acid testing in Dungeness crabs is nearly complete on the California coast. To date, samples from Crescent City, Eureka, Bodega Bay, Trinidad, Half Moon Bay/San Francisco and Monterey have all been tested at least once. Only Fort Bragg and Morro Bay have yet to post test results. None of the tested ports had crabs that exceed the action level of 30 parts per million. For more information, visit cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/Pages/FDBPrograms/FoodSafetyProgram/DomoicAcid.aspx.

The Oceans:
Eureka
The rockfish bite at Cape Mendocino remains excellent when the boats can make it offshore. Ocean conditions don’t look good through at least the weekend. The rockfish season will run through December and starting Nov. 1 there will be no depth restrictions. Recreational crab season is expected to open Nov. 5.

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, another Bluefin was landed last Tuesday, but none since then. “It’s been really foggy, which makes it difficult to find them,” said Mitchell.  “Aside from the tuna, the rockfish bite is still going strong with easy limits.”

Crescent City
With the tuna season likely over for the season, boats are focusing on rockfish. Limits continue to come over the rails easily, including some nice lingcod. The north and south reefs along with the Sisters are producing some of the best fishing.

Brookings
Rough ocean conditions have slowed lingcod and rockfish action reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Big swells are expected into the weekend,” said Martin. “A boat that attempted to cross the Gold Beach bar over the weekend capsized, with its sole occupant rescued by a local police officer who swam out to pull the boater to safety.”

North Coast river closures
Currently, all 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 Smith River from its mouth to the mouth of Rowdy Creek. New in 2022, a low-flow angling restriction was added to the section of the Eel River from the mouth to Fulmor Road at its paved junction with the south bank of the Eel River, Sept. 1 through April 30. The Mad River from the mouth to 200 yards upstream is closed until Jan. 1. The Department of Fish and Wildlife 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 at any time. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164. For more information, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2021/09/22/2021-2022-low-flow-information-for-north-coast-rivers/

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The salmon bite and the fishing pressure have both slowed on the lower Klamath. Fishing can be good this time of the year as some of the late-run kings start to stage in front of the bigger creeks. For the week ending Oct. 21, a total of 14 jacks were harvested above the 101 Bridge compared to 43 from the previous week. The daily bag limit is two jack Chinook 23 inches or less, and two hatchery steelhead.

Chetco estuary
Salmon fishing has slowed in the Chetco estuary as the bulk of this year’s early fall run has moved into the tidewater area, according to Martin. “Bobber fishing with roe and sand shrimp has been good, but conditions are crowded at most of the deeper holes where salmon are kegged up. ODFW was able to gather nearly 100 salmon for the Chetco’s brood stock program with just a pair of sets of its seine net. Rains this weekend should move salmon upriver. The Chetco is open to bobber fishing only above river mile 2.2, the power lines just above the Highway 101 bridge. Gear restrictions are lifted Nov. 5.”

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

Additional Changes Coming for Hoop Net Crabbing

Randy Barthman of Westhaven holds up a Dungeness crab from a few seasons back while crabbing aboard the Reel Steel out of Eureka. The 2022 sport Dungeness crab opener is slated to open Saturday, Nov. 5. Photo courtesy of MackGraphics Fish Humboldt

Back in April, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) issued a press release restricting the use of crab traps to help minimize risk of entanglement as humpback whales forage in California waters during the spring and summer months. However, the recreational take of Dungeness crab by other methods, including hoop nets and crab snares, was not affected by the trap restriction. Turns out the hoop nets became extremely popular and CDFW saw a dramatic increase in hoop net fishing effort for Dungeness crab. And, unfortunately, the increased effort occurred during times of elevated marine life entanglement risk. On top of that, the hoop net manufacturers got really creative at developing hoop nets that function like traps while still meeting the specifications in the current regulations.

To get a handle on the situation, the California Fish and Game Commission (CDFGC) decided urgent action was needed to protect against whale entanglements. CDFW proposed the following emergency rulemaking that will amend and clarify hoop net regulations to minimize the risk of entanglements.

  • Ensure that hoop nets are regularly serviced every two hours;
  • Modify design specifications to prevent the device from functioning as a crab trap that could incentivize longer soak periods;
  • Reduce the weight of the hoop net, thereby posing less harm to an entangled whale or sea turtle should that occur; and
  • Expand current gear marking requirements for hoop nets used south of Point Arguello, Santa Barbara County, to apply statewide, which will aid in identifying this gear type for enforcing these requirements and identify hoop nets involved in entanglements.

At the urging of the CDFW, these emergency regulations were adopted by CDFGC at their October meeting and will become effective prior to the Nov. 5 opening of the Dungeness crab season. For more information, visit nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=204688&inline

Dungeness crab testing ongoing
Domoic acid testing in Dungeness crabs is roughly halfway complete on the California coast. To date, samples from Bodega Bay, Trinidad, Half Moon Bay/San Francisco and Monterey have all been tested at least once. None of the tested ports had crabs that exceed the action level of 30 parts per million. For more information, visit www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/Pages/FDBPrograms/FoodSafetyProgram/DomoicAcid.aspx

The Oceans:
Eureka
According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the rockfish bite at Cape Mendocino remains excellent. “We were down there Monday with a few other boats and the fish were really on the bite,” said Klassen. “We’re still catching a very wide variety and the lingcod bite is good as well. The rockfish season will go through December and starting Nov. 1 there will be no depth restrictions.”

Sean Mitchell, left, of Redway landed this 195-pound Bluefin tuna Monday while fishing five miles outside of Shelter Cove with Jake Mitchell, right, of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. Photo courtesy of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

Shelter Cove
The big news coming from the Cove this week is Bluefin tuna. According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, there’s been a school of them offshore for a few weeks. “I’ve targeted them a few times, but without much success,” said Mitchell. “They are really hard to get to bite, I’ve hooked two previously and lost them both” Things changed for Mitchell on Monday when his crew brought aboard a 195-pounder. Aside from the tuna, the rockfish bite has been great according to Mitchell. “The lingcod bite seems to be improving as well. We made the trek to Rogers Break a couple times this week and did really well with some lings up to 25 pounds.”

Crescent City
With the tuna season likely over for the season, boats are focusing on rockfish. Limits continue to come over the rails easily, including some nice lingcod. The north and south reefs along with the Sisters are producing some of the best fishing.

Brookings
Halibut season remains open through Oct. 31 out of Brookings, reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Fish to 50 pounds are being caught on calm weather days in 200 feet of water. Lingcod fishing has improved, and females move into shallow water to prepare to spawn. Sport crabbing is now closed outside of estuaries and bays.”

North Coast river closures
Currently, all 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 Smith River from its mouth to the mouth of Rowdy Creek. New in 2022, a low-flow angling restriction was added to the section of the Eel River from the mouth to Fulmor Road at its paved junction with the south bank of the Eel River, Sept. 1 through April 30. The Mad River from the mouth to 200 yards upstream is closed until Jan. 1 2023. 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. For more information, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2021/09/22/2021-2022-low-flow-information-for-north-coast-rivers/

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The salmon action has slowed on the lower Klamath, but there are still some bright fish around. The few boats still fishing are finding most of their success above Blue Creek. There isn’t much pressure this time of the year, but the fishing can be good as some of the late-run kings start to stage in front of the bigger creeks. The daily bag limit is two jack Chinook 23-inches or less and two hatchery steelhead.

Chetco estuary
A handful of adult kings are being caught daily in the Chetco estuary, according to Martin. “Upriver, large schools of salmon are staging in the tidewater, awaiting rain,” said Martin. “Flows are expected to jump the middle of next week. Gear restrictions are in effect above river mile 2.2, the power lines above the Highway 101 bridge, through Nov. 4. Bobbers must be used above the power lines. Sand shrimp and roe combinations are tricking salmon at Tide Rock, Social Security Bar and the mouth of the North Fork.”

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

The Wait for Rain Begins

Customers of Brookings Fishing Charters hold Pacific halibut caught last week, despite rough, choppy water. They were fishing with Capt. Mick Thomas aboard the Dash. Photo courtesy of Brookings Fishing Charters

While we wait for rain that will fill our rivers with much-needed water and late fall Chinook salmon, the North Coast is not without angling options. Offshore, the boat-based rockfish and lingcod season will run through the end of the year. Beginning Nov. 1, both may be taken at any depth. Angling from the shore is open year-round. On Nov. 5, the uber-popular sport Dungeness crab season will commence. The California Fish and Game Commission is meeting this week to discuss and consider adopting emergency regulations to amend and clarify hoop net regulations to minimize entanglement risk for whales. If you haven’t got your fill of Pacific halibut, you can hop over the border to Brookings where the fishing is still going strong and the season will run through Oct. 31. If it’s river salmon you’re after, the Trinity will be your best bet. Both the upper and lower 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. The Chetco estuary is another good option as it continues to produce big kings to anglers trolling anchovies. Hopefully the wait for rain won’t be a lengthy one, but if it is, you’ve got options.

365-day fishing licenses will begin in 2023
In a press release issued last week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will begin selling 365-day fishing licenses far sooner than expected, thanks to extensive efforts by staff to expedite sales. Beginning Nov. 15, California anglers will be able to purchase a 2023 fishing license that will take effect Jan. 1 and last the entire year. All licenses purchased on or after Jan. 1 will be effective from the date of purchase for a continuous 365 days. To purchase a fishing license, visit ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales. At checkout there is an additional option to enroll in auto-renewal for fishing licenses, which allows anglers to automatically purchase and receive their new license when their current one expires. For more information, visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/News/cdfw-to-begin-offering-365-day-fishing-licenses-for-2023

Weekend marine forecast
Light southerly winds are forecast for the weekend along with mid-period northwest swell and longer period south swells. As of Thursday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the northwest up to 5 knots with northwest waves 3 feet at seven seconds and 3 feet at 12 seconds. Saturday, winds will be out of the south 5 to 10 knots with northwest waves 3 feet at seven seconds. Sunday, winds will be 5 to 10 knots out of the south with south waves 2 feet at four 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. 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 ongoing
Domoic acid testing in Dungeness crabs is roughly a third complete on the California coast. To date, samples from Trinidad, Half Moon Bay/San Francisco and Monterey have all been tested at least once. None of the tested ports had crabs that exceed the action level of 30 parts per million. For more information, visit www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/Pages/FDBPrograms/FoodSafetyProgram/DomoicAcid.aspx

The Oceans:
Eureka
According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, Cape Mendocino continues to provide solid rockfish action. “The fishing is still really good and we’re catching a very wide variety. Last time out we landed 11 different varieties. The lingcod bite is good as well as they’ve moved into shallower water for spawning. The rockfish season will go through December and starting Nov. 1 there will be no depth restrictions,” added Klassen. The water offshore has cooled and moved out. It’s likely the tuna season is over for the year.

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, the rock fishing is still really good. He said, “We haven’t needed to go far to get all we need. From the whistle down to the Old Man has been producing great action. The lingcod fishing is still tough, but we’re getting some if we work at it. A couple boats had some decent albacore scores last week around the Knoll, but that may have been the last shot.”

Brookings
Halibut season remains open through Oct. 31 out of Brookings reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Fishing is good on calm weather days,” said Martin. “Sport crabbing closes Oct. 14. Lingcod fishing is fair, while limits of rockfish are common.”

Willow Creek weir counts
The week ending Oct. 7, a total of 467 adult kings were counted at the Willow Creek weir. The jack count for the week was 246. For the season to date, 812 (adults and jacks) have been counted, including both hatchery and wild. The totals are for only 15 trapping days as the weir was late getting in place due to the fires in the area.

North Coast river closures
Currently, all 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 Smith River from its mouth to the mouth of Rowdy Creek. New in 2022, a low-flow angling restriction was added to the section of the Eel River from the mouth to Fulmor Road at its paved junction with the south bank of the Eel River, Sept. 1 through April 30.The Mad River from the mouth to 200 yards upstream is closed until Jan. 1 2023. 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. For more information, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2021/09/22/2021-2022-low-flow-information-for-north-coast-rivers/

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Boat pressure has been extremely light, but there are some fish to be had. Fresh kings, both adults and jacks, are scattered throughout the lower river. With very little pressure, there seems to be enough fish around to make for a decent day. The daily bag limit is two jack Chinook 23-inches or less and two hatchery steelhead.

Chetco/Rogue
According to Martin, “Salmon fishing remains decent in the Chetco estuary but catch rates have dropped as kings begin to transition from the bay to the tidewater. “Large numbers of jacks and adults are now holding upriver at Tide Rock and Morris Hole, where anglers can still target them, but bobbers must be used until Nov. 4,” said Martin. “The river is still too low for drift boat fishing, except in the deep tidewater holes. Kings continue to show up in the catch in the Rogue Bay, where hatchery coho also are available. The Coos has slowed but coho are still plentiful.”

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

Klamath Closed to the Take of Adult Kings

Eureka resident Tia Hauan holds a jack salmon taken on the lower Klamath earlier in the season. The main stem Klamath will close to the take of adults after Oct. 5, but you can still harvest two jacks per day. Photo courtesy of Alan Borges/Alan’s Guide Service

If you’re looking to harvest an adult Chinook salmon in the Klamath basin, the Trinity River will be your only option as of Thursday. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife determined last Friday that the recreational fall-run Chinook salmon catch will have met the Upper Klamath River adult fall-run Chinook salmon quota (of 360) below Iron Gate Dam for the 2022 season as of 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5.

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. 5. The spit fishery at the mouth of the Klamath also closed Sept. 5 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.

Dungeness crab testing underway
Domoic acid testing in Dungeness crabs is underway on the California coast. To date, samples from Trinidad and Half Moon Bay/San Francisco have been tested at least once. Neither of these ports tested crabs that exceed the action level of 30 parts per million. For more information, visit https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/CDPH%20Document%20Library/FDB/FoodSafetyProgram/DomoicAcid/CrabDAResultsJulytoSeptember302022.pdf

The Oceans:
Eureka
With calm seas in the forecast for Tuesday, a small fleet of boats ran southwest in search of some late-season tuna action. Capt. Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing was one of the boats that set a south, southwest course. “At about 38 miles from the entrance we found 61 degree water on the northern flank of the Mendocino Ridge and started tacking west along the structure,” said Sepulveda. “There were good signs of bait over a big area with consistent jig stops on as many as four hookups at a time. We ended our day with 21 big-grade albacore between 20 and 36 pounds on a flat ocean. We also found a spot where 60- to 120-pound bluefin put on a great show, crashing bait within casting distance of the boat. But as anyone who’s spent time chasing bluefin knows, seeing and catching are very different things.” Most of the other boats landed between six and 10 fish, but they were big ones ranging from 25 to 38 pounds.

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, the tuna action slowed down last week. He said, “The warm water is still close and there seems to be fish around. It’s been tough to get the fish to bite, which is typical for this time of the year. The rockfish bite is still good, and limits have been coming pretty easily.”

Brookings
According to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters, lingcod fishing is fair out of Brookings. “Halibut fishing is good on calm weather days, said Martin. “Even though the quota for the Southern Oregon Coast has been met, ODFW has transferred unused quota from the central Oregon Coast to the Brookings and Gold Beach area, allowing halibut season to continue through Oct. 31.”

North Coast river closures
Currently, all 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 Smith River from its mouth to the mouth of Rowdy Creek. New in 2022, a low-flow angling restriction was added to the section of the Eel River from the mouth to Fulmor Road at its paved junction with the south bank of the Eel River, Sept. 1 through April 30.
The Mad River from the mouth to 200 yards upstream is closed until Jan. 1 2023. 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. For more information, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2021/09/22/2021-2022-low-flow-information-for-north-coast-rivers/

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Fishing has gotten a little tougher on the lower Klamath as the run is winding down. There are some kings still trickling in and some steelhead showed up along with some 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
“After a week of good fishing in the Chetco estuary, salmon fishing slowed down over the weekend before the action picked up again on Monday,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing “Lots of hatchery kings and wild kings so far this season. Anglers may keep one adult wild king a day on the Chetco and two per season. The daily limit is two adult kings a day, but only one wild. A few salmon are being caught in the tidewater on bobbers and sand shrimp, but the best action has been trolling anchovies along the jetties. Salmon also are biting on the Rogue Bay, with a mix of wild kings and hatchery coho.”

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 fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Chetco Estuary Pumping Out Big Kings

Brody Curry, of Grants Pass, Oregon, holds a hatchery king caught at the mouth of the Chetco with guide Michael McGahan of Brookings Fishing Charters. Photo courtesy of Brookings Fishing Charters

If you’re looking to catch big, ocean-bright kings, you’ll want to keep an eye on the Chetco estuary. Salmon have been staging in the tidewater since the beginning of September and they’ll be there until rain allows them to make their way upriver. And according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, the season at the mouth of the Chetco is now in full swing. “With an above-average return so far this season, the estuary has been crowded, as word has gotten out about the good fishing,” said Martin. “There is no ocean ‘bubble’ season this year, meaning all fishing must take place from the trips of the jetties inward. Trolling 360 flashers with spinner blades or anchovies has been effective this season as the technique catches on for bay trolling throughout the Oregon Coast. Trolling plug-cut herring or threaded anchovies without flashers also is working. The last two hours of the incoming tide and first half of the outgoing tide has produced the best fishing.”

The daily bag limit for salmon on the Chetco 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. Gear restrictions are in effect upstream from river mile 2.2 until Nov. 4. For additional Chetco regulations, visit eregulations.com/oregon/fishing/southwest-zone.

Over on the Smith River, the tidewater fishing hasn’t been as good, but there are some fish being caught. Most of the fish are being caught by bank anglers tossing Kastmasters and Cleos. The best bite has been an hour before the top of the tide and then a few hours on the outgoing. The Smith River is currently closed to fishing 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 eight seconds. Saturday, winds will be out of the southwest 5 to 10 knots with northwest waves 3 feet at eight seconds and northwest 4 feet at 13 seconds. Sunday looks even better with winds coming from the northwest up to 5 knots and northwest waves 5 feet at 12. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or www.windy.com. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

Upper Klamath, Trinity salmon quota update 
The upper Klamath and Trinity adult quota closure dates are not yet set, according to Dan Troxel, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Klamath River Project. “Typically, the quotas are based off harvest timing, meaning a set number of days following the closure of the adult Chinook salmon fishery on the lower Klamath,” said Troxel. “As of now, the upper Klamath will allow for adult harvest likely into the first week of October. As for the upper Trinity, we like to see what’s happening at Junction City and Willow Creek weirs to better inform that decision, but will likely occur mid to late October. Additionally, the Lower Trinity sector is partly informed by the recreational creel survey conducted by Hoopa Valley Tribal Fisheries; at this point harvest remains fairly low. Please keep an eye out for department press releases in the coming days and weeks.” 

Low flow fishing closures
Currently, all 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 Smith River from the mouth of Rowdy Creek to its mouth. New in 2022, a low-flow angling restriction was added to the section of the Eel River from the mouth to Fulmor Road at its paved junction with the south bank of the Eel River from Sept. 1 through April 30.

The Mad River from the mouth to 200 yards upstream is closed until Jan. 1 2023. 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 Oceans:
Eureka
Rock fishing at Cape Mendocino was excellent over the weekend, according to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “There’s lots of variety, and the black rockfish bite is as good as I’ve seen,” said Klassen. “There’s plenty of vermilions, canaries and yellowtails, as well. The lingcod bite has been good, too. We’ve been catching them up to 20 pounds, but the average is about 6 to 12 pounds. Ocean conditions looked good Tuesday and a few boats were headed south off Gorda roughly 35 miles for tuna. It was a one-day window before the wind picks back up.”

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, the tuna action has been excellent for quite a few days. He said, “We’ve been getting them 15 to 20 miles from the Cove. We’re averaging right around 25 per day and they’re a really good grade. Our biggest this week was 44-pounds. It looks like Tuesday may be the last day for a while. The wind is forecast to pick up Tuesday night, we’ll have to see what happens to the water after that.”

Hunter Mott, of Redway, landed this monster albacore tuna last week while fishing out of Shelter Cove with Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

Crescent City
According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, a few boats were chasing tuna Tuesday. “The warm water pushed out a little, it was about 50 miles,” said Carson. “Late last week the boats did really well around 40 miles out. Hopefully the water will stick around after the wind blows for the next few days. Other than tuna, the rockfish and lingcod bite continue to be wide-open.”

Brookings
Lingcod and rockfish action is fair out of Brookings reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Pacific halibut season remains open, and fishing has been good on calm weather days. Sport crabbing is slow.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Fresh kings continue to move into the lower Klamath. Anglers are catching a mix of jacks and adults from the Glen to Johnson’s. Fishing soft beads in some of the flats has been productive. Anglers can keep two jacks (less than or equal to 23 inches) per day with a possession limit of six. All adult Chinook salmon caught must be immediately released and reported on an angler’s report card. For the week ending Sept. 23, 219 jacks were harvested and 252 adults were released above the U.S. Highway 101 bridge.

Rogue/Coos
According to Martin, the Rogue Bay continues to fish well for salmon, with lots of jacks, a few hatchery coho and some big fall kings still moving in. “The Coos also is fishing well, while coho fishing is hot on the Umpqua River.”

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.

Tuna Water Still Sitting off Eureka

Greg Scoles of Petaluma landed a 38-pound albacore tuna while fishing Tuesday out of Eureka aboard the Shellback. Photo courtesy of Tony Sepulveda/Green Water Fishing Adventures

It’s been one heck of a season for albacore tuna off the North Coast, and it looks like it’s not over yet. In a typical year, you get a few shots at the warm water over the course of the summer and into early fall. But this year has seen opportunities every week since the latter part of July. The first tuna of the season was caught out of Brookings on July 21, and it’s been good fishing at selective ports from Fort Bragg north to Brookings ever since. And the good weather and ocean conditions appear they’ll stick around a little longer. The forecast looks good through Thursday of this week, with the warm water sitting straight west of Eureka 20 to 25 miles. Boats that chased tuna Saturday out of Eureka were rewarded with a wide-open bite 20 miles offshore. If you haven’t got your fill of tuna yet, and I’m willing to bet most have, there’s still time to fill the jars, freezers and smokers.

Weekend marine forecast
Ocean conditions are expected to get a little rougher by the weekend as winds are forecast to increase. As of Thursday, the forecast out 10 nautical miles for Friday is calling for winds out of the north 5 to 15 knots with north waves 4 feet at five seconds. Saturday is calling for winds from the north 5 to 10 knots and north waves 4 feet at six seconds. Sunday the winds will be from the north 5 to 10 knots and north waves 4 feet at seven seconds and northwest 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/ or www.windy.com. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

A 90-day extension on the table for emergency rockfish regulations
The California Fish and Game Commission approved an emergency rulemaking amending Section 28.55 that went into effect Jan. 6, 2022. The emergency rulemaking reduced the vermilion rockfish sub-bag limit from five to four fish, added a sub-bag limit for quillback rockfish of one fish within the daily 10-fish bag and possession limit, and added a sub-bag limit for copper rockfish of one fish within the daily 10-fish bag and possession limit. The emergency regulations were readopted on June 16. With the emergency adoption set to expire Oct. 3, the Commission sent out a notice on Sept. 15 of a proposed 90-day extension. For more info on the extension, visit www.nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=203540&inline.

The Oceans:
Eureka
According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the tuna bite fell off quite a bit on Monday. “The ocean was a little sporty and the storm system could have had something to do with the bite,” said Klassen. “The warm water is straight out of the entrance roughly 20-25 miles. Boats that fished the same general area did well on Saturday. Conditions for tuna look good through Thursday. The rockfish bite at the Cape is still excellent. We’re still catching a wide variety and some nice lings as well.”

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, it was a quiet weekend at the Cove. “Rock fishing was the only real option, and the bite was good at the Old Man. We got in on some pretty good top water action. The ling cod bite remains on the slow side. We should have a shot at tuna by midweek.”

Crescent City
According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, it’s been pretty quiet. “The warm tuna water is still within reach but I think most guys who’ve been out a few times have all they need,” said Carson. “There are a few charters that are planning on running this week if there’s interest. The rockfish bite is still going strong. Both reefs, along with the Sisters area is producing limits of both rockfish and lings.”

Brookings
Pacific halibut action remains good out of Brookings according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “The limit has been increased to two a day, and six-pack charter boats are getting limits,’ said Martin. “Lingcod and rockfish action also is good. Bottom fish anglers are encountering lots of adult kings, which must be released, but are an indicator a big run is headed to the Chetco and Smith rivers.”

Dave Gilmore of Brookings, Ore., holds a 42-pound king salmon caught Sept. 17 at the mouth of the Chetco River while fishing with Capt. Michael McGahan of Brookings Fishing Charters. He was trolling an anchovy.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Salmon fishing remains good for both jacks and adults on the lower Klamath. Side-drifting soft beads 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 river daily, but the best fishing was above Blue Creek over the weekend. The water remains off color, but the fish do not seem to mind. Anglers can keep two jacks (less than or equal to 23 inches) per day with a possession limit of six.

Chetco/Lower Rogue
The Chetco estuary has heated up as big numbers of kings stage at the mouth of the river, waiting for rain, reports Martin. “Up to two dozen kings a day are being caught. A 42-pounder was weighed in over the weekend. Anchovies and plug-cut herring are both working. The Rogue Bay also is fishing good, with lots of jacks and adults being caught.”

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 fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Wide Variety of Tuna Caught off the North Coast

John Neill of Shelter Cove poses with his huge 151-pound Yellowfin tuna he landed Sunday while trolling for albacore at Vizcaino Knoll out of Shelter Cove. Photo courtesy of John Neill

There is some absolutely insane offshore fishing happing right now off the Northern California coast. From Fort Bragg to Crescent City, the albacore bite has been wide-open. But that’s just part of the story. What has everyone talking is the number of exotic, warm water species. Fort Bragg has seen the widest variety. A wide-open albacore bite on Sunday afternoon 30 miles offshore quickly turned into a tuna frenzy as thousands of 100- to 300-pound bluefin, bigeye and yellowfin tuna made an appearance. Several bluefins were hooked, but the under-gunned anglers didn’t stand much of a chance in landing one of those bruisers. However, there were quite a few bigeyes up to 160-pounds landed. Shelter Cove also got in on the exotic action as a 151-pound yellowfin tuna was landed on Sunday. The lucky boat had several others hooked but anglers were unable to coax them to the boat. Simultaneously, a nice size Dorado was landed right next to the boat fighting the yellowfin. You can’t make this stuff up. Closer to home, both Eureka and Crescent City have seen epic albacore action the last few days. Marc Schmidt of Coastline Charters boated 52 albies Sunday fishing 43 southwest of the entrance. The fish are big, too, sporting a solid 20-pound average. Out of Crescent City, one of the charter boats landed 40 albacore on Monday roughly 50 miles offshore. Weather and ocean conditions look favorable for the next few days. I, for one, can’t wait to see what the next warm-water surprise will be.

Weekend marine forecast
Relatively calm conditions will persist through Thursday before the wind increases slightly by the weekend. As of Wednesday, the forecast out 10 nautical miles for Friday is calling for winds out of the north 5 to 10 knots with north swells 3 feet at five seconds and northwest 2 feet at 11 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for north winds 5 to 10 knots and waves from the north 4 feet at four seconds. Sunday the winds will be from the north up to 5 to 10 knots and west swells 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. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

The Oceans:
Eureka
With the warm water within reach and flat calm seas, the Eureka fleet is focused on tuna. Boats did well Sunday 45 miles southwest from the entrance on big albacore. The weather wasn’t as good Monday, but a few boats made the trip. Supposedly the high boat landed 18. The forecast for the next couple days looks good, and the warm water currently off Cape Mendocino is making its way slowly north towards Eureka.

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, boats that ran for tuna on Sunday did well. “Scores ranged from 5 to 20 fish, but they were all a good grade,” said Mitchell. “Most of the effort was around the Vizcaino Knoll. The rockfish bite is still great, but the lings are still tougher to come by. We’ve been spending most of our days at the Ranch House.”

Crescent City
Tuna is the main focus at the moment out of Crescent City. A few boats went out Sunday roughly 36 miles, with the top boat landing 14 big albacore along with a 42-inch Dorado. Monday, one of the local charters put in 40 tuna 50 miles offshore and a private boat had 12, all between 25 and 35 pounds along with a Dorado. According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, quite a few boats made the run on Tuesday and are catching all they can handle.

Brian Hermon of Brookings holds a nice albacore landed Tuesday while fishing out of Crescent City with Crescent City Fishing. Photo courtesy of Steve Huber/Crescent City Fishing

Brookings
“Lingcod fishing has improved out of Brookings as fish move back into shallow water,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Albacore are still 50 miles or more offshore. Pacific halibut fishing has been good, but the quota is nearing its limits, with around 5 percent remaining. Rockfish action has been good.”

Low Flow River Closures began Sept. 1
North Coast rivers that are regulated by low flow closures, including the Eel, Mad, Mattole, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen began angling restrictions on Sept. 1 and will run through April 30 in 2022. Also new in 2022, a low-flow angling restriction was added to the section of the Eel River from the mouth to Fulmor Road at its paved junction with the south bank of the Eel River, Sept. 1 through April 30. When a low-flow closure occurs in this section of the Eel, it will be closed to hook-and-line fishing; other legal fishing methods are allowed during this timeframe. 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, 2023.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Flows are still high, roughly 3,500 cubic feet per second on the lower Klamath gauge as of Wednesday. The releases from Iron Gate arrived on the lower river Monday and it quickly muddied up. It was still dirty as of Wednesday, and could take a few days to clear. There is a mix of jacks and adult salmon in the river and a few steelhead as well. 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
A few salmon a day are being caught in the Chetco estuary, with some of the kings topping 30 pounds, reports Martin. “Monday was the best day so far this season, with more than a dozen salmon landed. Anglers targeting bottom fish closer to the harbor also are encountering salmon, a sign bigger numbers of kings are staging just out from the jetties. Salmon fishing also remains good in the Rogue Bay, with a few coho showing up and plenty of kings. Lots of jacks also are showing in the catch.”

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.

Cool Temps and Great Fishing Along the North Coast

Redding resident Brittney had herself quite a day Sunday landing this nice king salmon while fishing out of Eureka. Photo courtesy of Lowell Wallace/Humboldt Charter Company

You couldn’t ask for a better week of weather and fishing leading up to and through the holiday weekend along the North Coast. First off, the weather. While the rest of the state was sweltering and dealing with excessive heat warnings, our weather remained as coastal cool as always. And that was reflected in the number of out-of-town visitors who flocked to the coast to bask in the fog. Secondly, we had some fantastic fishing, both offshore and inland. The ocean salmon season kicked into high gear last Wednesday and ended Monday on a high note. Plenty of limits were reported by anglers fishing out of both Eureka and Trinidad ports, and the fish were a good grade. The tuna water also remained within reach and boats making the 50-mile run from Eureka did well Friday and Saturday. Not to be outdone, the lower Klamath provided some of the best salmon fishing we’ve seen in a long time. It was so good in fact, the catch rate on Friday alone saw 13 percent of the entire lower river adult quota harvested. Cool weather and great fishing, it just doesn’t get much better.

Weekend marine forecast
Gale force gusts are expected for the northern outer waters late night Wednesday through early Friday. There is a potential for localized areas of strong gale force gusts Thursday afternoon and evening in the northern outer waters as well. Steep seas are expected through the end of the work week. As of Wednesday, the forecast out 10 nautical miles for Friday is calling for winds out of the northwest 5 to 10 knots with north swells 6 feet at 10 seconds and northwest five feet at 15 seconds. Winds will be out of the south 5 to 10 knots on Saturday with northwest swells 7 feet at 10. Sunday the winds will be from the south up to 5 knots and northwest swells 4 feet at 10 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or www.windy.com. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

Adult salmon quota met on the Lower Klamath
In a press release issued Saturday, CDFW projected anglers will have met the Lower Klamath River adult fall Chinook salmon quota below the State Route 96 Bridge near Weitchpec for the 2022 season as of 11:59 p.m. Sept. 5.

This triggers the closure of the adult Chinook salmon fishery on the main stem of the Klamath River from the State Route 96 Bridge to the mouth of the Klamath River.

The fishery at the mouth of the Klamath closed the same day, Monday, Sept. 5, and will remain closed to all fishing for the rest of the calendar year. The rest of the lower main stem of the Klamath River below the Highway 96 Bridge at Weitchpec will remain open to the harvest of jack (two-year old) Chinook salmon (less than or equal to 23 inches). All adult Chinook salmon caught must be immediately released and reported on an angler’s report card.

Anglers may still fish for adult Chinook salmon in other reaches of the Klamath Basin, including the main stem of the Klamath River above Weitchpec and the entire Trinity River until the closure of those fisheries. Anglers may keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling (800) 564-6479. For more information visit, wildlife.ca.gov/News/cdfw-announces-angling-closure-for-lower-klamath-river.

Trinity River water release updates
Flows releases from the Trinity will be reduced from 950 cubic feet per second down to 450 cfs on Friday, Sept. 9. Beginning on Sept, 12, flows will again ramp up, reaching 1,000 cfs by Sept. 15. These releases are meant to keep flows at 2,800 cfs at the Klamath Glen gauge. Flows will remain at this level until approximately September 21st.

The Oceans:
Eureka
According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the salmon season ended on a high note. “For this time of the year, the fishing was really good,” said Klassen. “Scores were about a fish a rod or better since the bite turned on last week. The tuna water is still sitting northwest of Eureka about 40 miles. Some boats fishing Saturday did really well. The water that was coming up from the south got pushed back down with the north winds. The weather doesn’t look too good the next few days, but we may get another shot on Sunday.”

Shelter Cove
The salmon bite was pretty slow over the weekend reports Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “It was less than a fish per boat average,” said Mitchell. “The rockfish bite is still excellent; we’re spending most of our time at the Old Man. Lingcod are still hit or miss. We may have another shot at tuna Sunday if the weather holds.”

Crescent City
The weekend saw some really good tuna fishing reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “Boats traveled 30 to 35 miles southwest and did really well. Sounded like they caught all they wanted. The warm water is staying put for now, looks like the next opportunity could be Sunday. The rockfish bite has been great, with easy limits coming from the reefs and the Sisters.”

Arcata resident Alex Eaton landed this albacore tuna 30 miles west of Crescent City last Friday on the Scrimshaw with Marc Schmidt of Coastline Charters. Photo courtesy of Alex Eaton

Brookings
“Tuna were within 12 miles of Brookings over the weekend, giving anglers their closest shot of the season before windy weather returned Monday,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Strong winds will keep most boaters at port through Friday, except for rockfish action just outside of the jetties. A few halibut were also caught last week before the wind arrived. Surfperch are being caught from both jetties. Crabbing remains slow.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The salmon bite was red-hot over the weekend even with the increase in flows. The river is full of jacks and quite a few adult kings are mixed in. Fish are being caught side-drifting the riffles and dragging bait through the deeper holes. The adult quota was met Sept. 5. The daily bag limit is two Chinook less than or equal to 23 inches. For more information, visit wildlife.ca.gov/News/cdfw-announces-angling-closure-for-lower-klamath-river.

Chetco/Lower Rogue
A handful of king salmon were caught in the Chetco estuary over the weekend, including a 25-pounder on Saturday according to Martin. “A mix of jacks and adults have been caught. Bottom fish anglers also released several kings over the weekend just past the jetties. Salmon fishing has been good on the Rogue Bay, although many of the kings are starting to move upriver. Jacks are now being caught in the Grants Pass area.”

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 fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Kings Starting to Show on the Klamath

Mark Aviles, of Arcata, landed a nice king salmon on a recent trip to the Klamath River. Photo courtesy of Micah Woolworth/Lost Coast Sport Fishing

The fall-run of adult king salmon are now making their way through the lower Klamath in pretty decent numbers. Despite the water still being off-color, catch rates improved dramatically upriver of the U.S. Highway 101 bridge last week and over the weekend. Boats fishing from the Glen to Blue Creek are catching a mixed bag of adult kings, jacks and steelhead. With the water color being what it is, the boats drifting roe or soft beads are having a little tougher time while the bank anglers at the Glen tossing beads with long leaders are catching the majority of the quota to date. If the river clears, look for that trend to reverse. All the fish being caught are dime-bright and fresh out of the ocean.

According to Dan Troxel, an environmental scientist on the Klamath River Project, 226 adult salmon have been harvested from the State Route 96 bridge at Weitchpec to the Klamath mouth toward the quota of 1,060 for the week ending Aug. 26. Of those, 49 adults were caught at the spit area of the mouth. As of last Friday, 269 adults remained of the 318-adult sub-quota for the mouth.

Trinity River quotas begin on Sept. 1
Fall regulations for Chinook salmon fishing on the Trinity River will go into effect on Sept. 1 and run through Dec. 31, with a sport quota of 699 adults. The quota will be split almost evenly: 350 adults for the main stem Trinity downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the State Route 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat, and 349 adults for the main stem Trinity downstream of the Denny Road bridge at Hawkins Bar to the confluence with the Klamath. The main stem downstream of the State Route 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to the Denny Road Bridge in Hawkins Bar is closed to all fishing Sept. 1 through Dec. 31. 

Anglers may keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling 800-564-6479. For Klamath and Trinity fishing regulations, visit nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=169262&inline.

Trinity River water release
Last Friday, Aug. 26, the Bureau of Reclamation increased flows to the Trinity River as a preventative baseflow increase to improve hostile conditions in the lower Klamath River. Releases began to increase from 450 cubic feet per second and reached 1,050 later in the day. Klamath River flows will increase to 2,800 cubic feet per second at the Klamath Glen gauge and will remain at that level until approximately September 21st.

Weekend marine forecast
Stronger northerlies will return for the latter half of the week and into the weekend, with winds in the southern waters reaching around 20 knots by Friday. Out 10 nautical miles north of the cape, Friday’s forecast is calling for north winds 5 to 10 knots and waves out of the west 5 feet at 11 seconds. Saturday is calling for north winds 5 to 10 knots and waves north 5 feet at five seconds. Sunday, winds will be out of the north 10 to 15 knots and waves northwest 5 feet at six seconds and west 3 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. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

Saturday is statewide Free Fishing Day
The last chance of the year to fish for free arrives over the Labor Day holiday weekend. Free Fishing Day is offered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Saturday, Sept. 3. While no fishing license is required on free fishing days, all fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. Every angler must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems. For more information, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Fishing/Free-Fishing-Days.

Sport salmon season closes Sept. 5
Sept. 5 is the last day of the recreational salmon season from the California/Oregon border to Point Arena, which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg. For more information, visit the ocean salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon or call the CDFW Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at 707-576-3429 or the National Marine Fisheries Service Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at 800-662-9825.

Tuna update
It was another epic day of albacore fishing all along the North Coast Tuesday. Boats fishing out of Fort Bragg found the fish at 30 miles and just about all of them put in over 20 big tuna. Some boats put in more, and there were also a handful of Dorado caught as well as a couple Bluefin. Those who chose to fish out of Eureka and not trailer to Crescent City also found plenty of tuna. They had to travel a little further to find the schools, roughly 45 miles, but it paid off. Scores ranged from 20 to 50 fish per boat, and all were a good grade. Several Eureka boats chose to trailer their boats to Crescent City, which really paid off. There they joined the local fleet and put a pretty good whipping on the tuna. Some boats made it only 20 miles out before they were on the fish while some chose to go a little further. Reportedly, the boats that went out 30 miles did really well with some boats pulling in close to 50 fish. Ocean conditions look like they may cooperate through Friday, so expect more of the same the next few days.

The oceans:
Eureka
This past week was quiet out of Eureka due to rough ocean conditions, but that all changed Tuesday. Boats headed in all directions chasing rockfish, salmon and tuna. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, there’s warm tuna water both north and south. “The water to the north is starting to break up a little, but the water to our south is looking good, and about 34 miles from the entrance. We’ll have a good idea after Tuesday where the fish are. There hasn’t been much effort on the salmon due to the conditions, but there were some caught last week on the 44-line.” Sept. 5 is the last day of the recreational salmon season from the California/Oregon border to Point Arena.

Trinidad
With the tuna once again within reach, Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing was back on the hunt Tuesday. “We headed about 40 miles northwest of Trinidad and didn’t hit warm water until just shy of the 125 line,” said Sepulveda. “At about 40 miles, we found the fish fairly quickly. It wasn’t wide-open, but just good enough where I felt like it would be foolish to leave. We picked away at em’ steady until we called it at 2 p.m. with 32 big-grade albacore. Wednesday was more of the same for Sepulveda, except he found the fish closer. “We angled north and inside from Trinidad hoping to connect the dots between where the Eureka/Trinidad fleet fished yesterday and where the Crescent City boats did their work. Hit the break 28 miles from Trinidad and at 30 we were in 62-degree water. We were in fish immediately but mostly singles and doubles. Around 10 a.m. they came up big. Jumpers under birds and it was “you spot em, you got em” fishing capped off by a stop that saw nine hanging at once for six guys.  We called it good at noon with 68, all a big grade.”

Shelter Cove
“The salmon finally showed up last Tuesday,” reports Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. He said, “Fishing was pretty good all week, and the fish were a good grade. Most fish were in the 15-to-25-pound class. Since then, it’s been an early morning bite and then it just shuts down. The best fishing has been right at the Coast Guard buoy. Rock fishing was pretty good last week, too, but the lingcod fishing slowed down. Tuesday was kind of slow for the Cove boats who went after tuna. Most had two to 12 fishing about 30 miles offshore. Scores were much better south near Fort Bragg.”

Crescent City
As of Tuesday, the tuna water was sitting about 30 miles off Crescent City reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “We’ve heard some good reports coming in Tuesday morning, sounded like the fishing was good. The rockfish bite is still excellent, but the salmon fishing hasn’t been good at all. The California halibut bite remains slow.”

Brookings
Several boats were icing up Monday in preparation for tuna runs Tuesday and Wednesday reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “The weather looks good, but the albacore appear to still be around 50 miles off of Brookings,” said Martin. “Pacific halibut remains open in Oregon, and action has been good. The daily limit increases to two on Sept. 1. The rockfish limit, meanwhile, drops to four fish a day beginning Sept. 7, as Oregon is on the verge of reaching its black rockfish quota. A few early kings have been caught by anglers trolling herring and anchovies at the mouth of the Chetco.”

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, the Rogue Bay is still producing big numbers of kings, with a mix of jacks and large adults. “Fish topping 30 pounds are being caught daily. Salmon fishing also has busted open on the Coos River in Coos 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