Salmon season opens Saturday at the Cove

It’s finally getting to be that time of the year again as the North Coast recreational salmon season will kick-off this Saturday from Horse Mtn. south to Point Arena, which includes the Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg areas. Large numbers of salmon, 274,222 Klamath and 379,632 Sacramento are said to be swimming in the ocean, which brings with it loads of optimism. Encouraged by the number of salmon in the sea, the PFMC has provided a lengthy recreational season in 2019. The three season alternatives for Fort Bragg and Shelter Cove, which all have the season opening on April 13, are currently being reviewed by the PFMC at their meeting in Rohnert Park. The season closing dates will either be Oct. 31 or the season will close May 31 and reopen June 22 and run through Sept. 30. All three scenarios are the same, two fish per day, seven days a week, Chinook only, 20-inch minimum size.

Here locally, from the CA/OR border to Horse Mtn., our season is slated to open on May 25. The three alternatives have the season closing on Sept. 8th, 4th, or 2nd. In the San Francisco area, the three alternatives are the same as Shelter Cove, with one exception. The minimum size limit is 24 inches through the end of May, then 20 inches thereafter for each of the alternatives. The Monterey area, from Pigeon Point to the U.S./Mexico border, opened on April 6. Reportedly, there’s a lot of salmon around Monterey Bay, especially in the Moss Landing area, and plenty of limits were had by both charters and private boats over the weekend.

The 2019 recreational salmon season opens this Saturday from Horse Mt. down to Point Arena, which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg. Pictured is Riley Skillman from Mesa, AZ with a nice Shelter Cove king salmon from last season.
Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

Shelter Cove outlook
“The weather for this weekend’s opener is looking halfway decent for a change,” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “It doesn’t look like we have any big tides or abnormally large swells to deal with. Although there hasn’t been much traffic on the water lately, the reports I’ve been getting sound very encouraging. There seems to be a fair amount of bait around and couple different people have told me they’ve seen salmon on a few different occasions. I expect it to be a good year with all the small fish we saw last year, but we’ll have a better idea after this weekend.” According to Mitchell, the launch fee will be $35 and they’ll probably be just one tractor for the weekend. The launch will run from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. For launch information, call 707-223-1600.

As of Friday, winds were predicted out of the NW at 10 to 20 knots with gusts to 30. Waves will be out of the NW 6 feet at 8 seconds and NW 9 feet at 16 seconds. On Sunday, NW winds at 10 to 15 knots are forecasted. Waves will be out of the NW 6 feet at 7 seconds and NW 8 feet at 15 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit https://marine.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lon=-124.06173706054685&lat=40.02130468739708#.XK5FXOhKiUk

Brookings ocean update
The Chetco, which is closed for the season, reached its highest levels since the flood event of 2012 reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Some homes on the lower river flooded. The high water has made the Chetco Bar rough, keeping boaters from crossing onto the ocean to fish for lingcod and rockfish. We ran trips through Thursday, with good success for lingcod and rockfish, before the big storm hit. We are hoping to run Thursday through the weekend. There is a lot of muddy water close to the harbor, but clarity looks good from Harris Beach north.”

RMI Outdoors fishing contest
RMI Outdoors of Eureka will be holding their first Screamin’ Reels fishing contest beginning on May 1 and running through Sept. 2. There are three categories: ocean salmon, Pacific halibut, and lingcod. You can enter up to five fish per day, but only two ocean salmon, two lings, and one Pacific halibut per day. An RMI Outdoors associate will weigh your catch, fill out an entry form, and take your picture for the brag wall. All salmon must be gutted and gilled; anglers must have a valid 2019 fishing license; Fish and Wildlife regulations apply. Each angler that brings in a fish has a chance to win a $100 RMI Gift Card. Visit http://rmioutdoorseureka.com/whats-going/screamin-reels-fishing-contest for more information.

Ruth Lake Bass tourney coming April 27
The Southern Trinity Volunteer Fire Department is hosting its 13th annual Ruth Lake Bass Tournament on Saturday, April 27. Blast off begins at 6:00 a.m. Entry fees are due April 26. Entries are $150 per team (includes Big Fish). First Place is $1,500 and second place is $1,000. Big Fish will win $100. One in five payback based on full slate of 40 boats. This is a catch and release tournament; live wells and life jackets are required. Check in is Friday at Journey’s End at 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. or Saturday at 4:45 a.m. at the Marina parking lot. HBMWD is requiring that all boats be inspected for Quagga and Zebra mussels before launching. For more information, call RLCSD at 707-574-6332. For more info on the tournament, contact Doug Dinsmore at (707) 499-8485.

The Rivers:
As a reminder, the South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mattole, Mad, Redwood Creek, and the Chetco all closed to fishing on March 31.

Rogue
The big storm over the weekend brought all fishing to a halt on the Southern Oregon Coast according to Martin. “The Rogue hit 90,000 cfs at Agness and was over 100,000 cfs at Gold Beach,” said Martin. “It was down to 63,000 cfs on Tuesday evening, but with Lost Creek Lake now full and big releases from the dam, the lower river could be unfishable for several days. There was a fair bite in the lower river for springers before the storm. Now big numbers of salmon may blast upriver while anglers wait for lower flows.”

Smith
The Smith topped out at just over monitor stage on Monday, and has been on a steep decent ever since. It was right around 14 feet on the Jed Smith gauge on Wednesday, and should fish by the weekend.

Eel (main stem)
After getting hit hard earlier this week, flows were dropping quickly and were right around 30,000 cfs as of Wednesday. As has been the case all season, a couple weeks of dry weather is needed before it’s even close to fishable.

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

Perch’n on the Peninsula slated for Saturday

The Samoa Peninsula Fire District will be hosting their 10th Annual Perch’n on the Peninsula Surfperch Fishing Tournament and Fish Fry Fundraiser this Saturday, April 6 at the Peninsula Elementary School (located across the street from the Samoa Cookhouse). This is a fun filled family-oriented fishing event that benefits the Samoa Peninsula Fire District Volunteer Organization. Adult fishing tournament entry is $20 and junior fishing tournament entry (Under 16) is only $10. Fishing tournament entry includes admission to the fish fry fundraiser. If you don’t like to fish and just want to have fun, come out and enjoy the delicious fish fry along with fresh Humboldt Bay oysters. Admission into the Fish Fry Fundraiser is only $10 for adults and $5 for juniors, children 6 and under get in free. Lunch begins at 12 p.m. and weigh-ins end at 2 p.m. Prizes and raffle announcements start at 3 p.m.

Raffle tickets will be available where you could win prizes and fishing charter trips from companies in our local community. There will also be games for kids and adults to play where they can try and win more raffle tickets.

Tournament day registration is available at the Peninsula Elementary School in Samoa beginning at 6 a.m. or your entries can be purchased at Pacific Outfitters, Englund Marine, Shafer’s Ace Hardware in Eureka, or LIVE2DIVE in Fairhaven. For more information, call (707) 443-9042 or visit www.samoafire.org. Event organizers would like to remind anglers to be safe and cautious around hazardous sea conditions.

Upcoming meetings
The PFMC and its advisory bodies will meet April 9‐16 in Rohnert Park to address issues related to groundfish, salmon, coastal pelagic species (CPS), Pacific halibut, and administrative matters. The meeting will be held at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Sonoma Wine Country, and will also be streamed live on the internet. One of the key agenda items is to adopt final management measures for 2019 ocean salmon fisheries. Also on the agenda is the 2019 Klamath River Basin quotas of adult Klamath River fall Chinook. For more info, visit https://www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/FinalEntirePackagel_MtgNotice_A4Agenda_QR_032119.pdf

The Trinity River Restoration Program will host a public information meeting to present the 2019 spring restoration flow releases from Lewiston Dam and gravel augmentation plans for the Trinity River. The public meeting will be held in Weaverville on Thursday, April 11, from 6 – 7:30 p.m., TRRP Office, 1313 S. Main Street. For more info, visit https://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=65383

The California Fish and Game Commission will meet on Wednesday, April 17 in Santa Monica at 8:30 a.m. to adopt and discuss changes to the upcoming sport fishing seasons. The meeting will be live streamed at http://www.cal-span.org, for listening purposes only. If you’re interested in the Klamath River spring and fall salmon fisheries, you’ll want to listen in. On the agenda is discussion of proposed changes to the Klamath River Basin fall sport fishing. Also on the agenda is consideration of authorizing the take of Upper Klamath-Trinity river spring Chinook salmon. For more info, visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=166184&inline

Brookings ocean update
“After a few weeks of slow fishing, the ocean out of Brookings was very good over the weekend for lingcod and rockfish,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Recreational crabbing also re-opened last week out of Brookings. Lots of smaller lingcod are in shallow spawning and preparing to spawn. The six-pack charters got easy limits and many private boaters also limited between Bird Island and House Rock.”

The Beaches
When the ocean’s been calm, the Redtail perch action has been excellent along the beaches. There are some spots that are typically better than others, but you can catch them just about anywhere this time of the year. Conditions don’t look good for the weekend, with swells in the 9 to 13-foot range along with lots of south wind. A couple of good spots to get away from the rough seas are inside Humboldt Bay at the mouth of the Elk River (Stinky Beach) and King Salmon Beach.

The Rivers:
As a reminder, the South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mattole, Mad, Redwood Creek, and the Chetco all closed to fishing on March 31.

Chetco/Rogue
The Chetco closed for the season on Sunday with just a few boats fishing reports Martin. “There were still some downrunners in the upper river, but very few bright fish. Overall, steelhead season was good on the Chetco, especially the second half of the season. Large numbers of downrunners in late February and March indicates a very high spawner escapement. There also have been big numbers of smolts, another indication of good things to come,” said Martin.

Spring salmon fishing is slow to fair on the Rogue, but a few fish are being caught according to Martin. He said, “April is generally the best month for hatchery fish. Anchovies and spinner blades are working best. The river rose significantly Tuesday because of releases from Lost Creek Dam.”

Main Stem Eel
As we’ve been repeating all season, the main stem Eel just needs a couple more weeks of dry weather and it will be fishable. The two weeks of dry weather has yet to come to fruition, and the Eel remains high and off color. With more rain coming this weekend, we’ll be right back to square one. Flows are predicted to hit 27,000 cfs on Saturday morning. The wait continues.

Smith River
Not many fishing reports are coming out of the Smith, most anglers have moved on for the season. The river is in great shape, but that looks to change with the storms that will begin to hit the coast on Friday. The river will be on the rise over the weekend, hitting 48,000 cfs on Monday afternoon. These high flows should put the downers on the move and the fishing could be decent by next week. The Smith will remain open to fishing through April.

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

Steelhead season ending on a wet note

It doesn’t appear the rainy weather will come to an end any time soon, but unfortunately, the winter steelhead season will. Enough rain has fallen over the past week to keep the majority of the coastal rivers high and off color, essentially washing away the last week of steelhead season. As of Wednesday, the only green water available was to the North on the Smith and Chetco. And it looks like those are the only two rivers that will fish prior to the season closing after Sunday. But as one season comes to a close, more will soon open. As the calendar nears April, it’s time to change gears and look towards the next angling opportunity. The rockfish and Pacific halibut openers are right around the corner, and ocean salmon season will open in Shelter Cove mid-April. It’s also time thing about all the spring salmon on the Klamath (hopefully) and the lower Rogue river. There’s redtails to be had from all the local beaches, and the lagoons are full of trout. It’s been a wet and wild steelhead season, but I for one am ready for the next adventure. And a little sunshine wouldn’t hurt either.

Steelhead rivers openings/closures
The main stem of the Smith will remain open through the end of April from its mouth to the confluence with the Middle and South Forks. The Middle fork will also remain open through April from its mouth to Patrick’s Creek. The South Fork is open through April as well, from its mouth upstream approximately 1,000 feet to the County Road (George Tryon) bridge and Craigs Creek to Jones Creek. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used from the fourth Saturday in May through Aug. 31. Only barbless hooks may be used from Sept. 1 through Apr. 30. The bag limit remains the same, two hatchery steelhead per day.

The main stem Eel, from its mouth to the South Fork is open to fishing all year. From the mouth to Fulmor Road, only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used from April 1 through the Friday preceding the fourth Saturday in May. Only barbless hooks may be used from fourth Saturday in May through Mar. 31. From Fulmor Road to the South Fork, it’s open from April 1 through September 30. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. Only barbless hooks may be used from Oct. 1 through Mar. 31.

Sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers are open to fishing, but are subject to in-season changes. For more information, visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=165631&inline. The following rivers will close to fishing after March 31: The South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mattole, Mad, Redwood Creek, and the Chetco.

Shelter Cove crab feed
The Shelter Cove Fishing Preservation will be holding a crab feed fundraiser on April 13 at the Gyppo Ale Mill Brewery, 1661 Upper Pacific Dr. in Shelter Cove. Tickets are $65 and can be purchased at the general store or from Jake Mitchell. The event starts at 6 p.m. and live music will be provided by Steve Mitchell & Ray Bevatori. Money raised will be going towards startup costs and to the purchase of a new tractor. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/scfpinc

HASA fundraiser coming April 27
HASA will be holding their annual fundraiser and social event at the Arcata Community Center on April 27. In 2019, they’re focusing on creating a social event, with less emphasis on some of the fundraising activities. There will still be lots of great door prizes and silent auction items, but the simpler format will allow more time for socializing and telling fish stories. The food will once again be provided by Ramones Bakery and Catering. Tickets are available at the following locations: Englund Marine, Bucksport Sporting Goods, and Pacific Outfitters. For more info, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/2753296234711122/.

Brookings ocean update
“Ocean fishing out of Brookings was tough last week with a strong drift from big tides and a mixed swell,” said Andy Martin with Brookings Fishing Charters. “We were able to limit on rockfish daily with a few lingcod mixed in. The ocean has been rough so far this week, but the weekend forecast is looking good.”

Bob Pimmentel of Santa Clara holds one of several steelhead he caught over the weekend fishing the Chetco River with guide Andy Martin. Steelhead season will close on most of the coastal rivers, including the Chetco, on Sunday March 31. Photo courtesy of Andy Martin/Wild Rivers Fishing.

The Rivers:
Chetco/Rogue
According to Martin, the Chetco has fished well for so late in the season. “Steelhead fishing closes Sunday evening. The guides still fishing are getting three to six steelhead a day, with a few bright fish mixed in. The plug bite was especially good over the weekend,” added Martin.
Hatchery steelhead are still showing up on the lower Rogue, but it has slowed reports Martin. He said, “A mix of hatchery and wild spring salmon are being caught, and fishing for springers will improve in April, especially once water temperatures rise above 50 degrees.”

Smith River
If you haven’t got your fill of steelhead, the Smith could be a good choice for the weekend. Pressure has been extremely light, and flows are looking good for the weekend. Wednesday’s rain is forecasted to push the river up to 11 feet, which should get the downers on the move and will likely bring in some new fish.

Eel River (main stem)
The main stem is predicted to rise back up to 36,000 cfs on Friday, and should drop quickly through the weekend. By Monday it will be back down to 15,000 cfs, which means will need a solid 10 days of dry weather before it gets close to fishable.

Eel River (South Fork)
As of Wednesday, flows were 3,000 cfs on the Miranda gauge and rising. It’s predicted to peak at 8,500 cfs early Friday morning. It’s not likely to drop into fishing shape, even in the upper reaches, by the time is closes on Sunday evening.

Van Duzen
On the rise as of Wednesday and predicted to hit 9,200 cfs by Thursday morning. It’s safe to say the Duzen is done for the season.

Mad River
The Mad is also likely done for the season as it remains high and muddy. Flows are predicted to be right around 4,200 cfs on Saturday, which will keep it off color.

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

Late season rain a blessing and a curse

The late-season storms barreling their way towards the North Coast are a huge benefit to all of our rivers and the fish that travel through them. But they can also be quite the burden to steelhead anglers. Chetco and Smith river fishermen will reap the rewards of the March rains, while anglers looking for additional opportunities on the Eel, Van Duzen, and Mad rivers will be forced back to the sidelines. A couple inches of rain is predicted over the next several days, which will likely signal the end of green water for most of the Humboldt rivers. The Chetco and Smith are both on the clear side and could use a good shot of water. On both rivers, you can expect to see a good number of spawned-out steelhead making their way down and the last of the fresh fish moving in. And both should remain fishable through the rain, unlike the rivers to their south.

While these late-season rains may not bring much joy to the anglers, they’re a godsend for the fish. The extra water will go a long way in helping the steelhead reach their spawning grounds and also provide a helping hand for the juvenile salmonids as they begin their journey down to the saltwater.

The weather ahead
“Following a mostly dry Thursday, rain will be back in the forecast for Friday,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “Widespread rain should begin sometime mid-morning on Friday and will stick around through Saturday morning. By Saturday afternoon, most of the rain will fall in Humboldt and to the north. Daytime on Sunday looks to be dry, but rain will return in the evening. This will be a colder system where we could see snow in the higher elevations and heavier rain. The rest of next week is looking like off and on showers, with small breaks in the rain.” said Zontos.

Bucksport Surf Perch contest
Bucksport Sporting Goods will be holding its first annual Surf Perch Contest beginning on April 1. The contest will run through September and you can enter up to 10 fish per month. A point will be given for each ounce and for each quarter inch. All fish must be measured and weighed at Bucksport. The top three fish at the end of the contest will win a prize. Entry is free, but limited to in-store registration only. Bucksport is located at 3650 Broadway St, in Eureka.

Perch’n on the Peninsula coming April 6
The Samoa Peninsula Fire District will be hosting their 10th Annual Perch’n on the Peninsula Surfperch Fishing Tournament and Fish Fry Fundraiser on Saturday, April 6. The fish fry fundraiser is open to the public and admission is only $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for juniors. Children 6 and under get in free. Adult fishing tournament entry is $20.00 and junior entry (under 16) is $10.00. Tournament day registration is available at the Peninsula Elementary School in Samoa beginning at 6 a.m. or your entries can be purchased at Mad River Tackle in Arcata, Pacific Outfitters, Englund Marine, Shafer’s Ace Hardware in Eureka, or LIVE2DIVE in Fairhaven. For more information, call (707) 443-9042 or visit http://www.samoafire.org.

Brookings ocean report
Lingcod fishing is fair and rockfish action is good out of Brookings reports Andy Martin with Brookings Fishing Charters. “The last part of the incoming tide is fishing, while the big outgoing tides are making fishing tough after the tide change. The rockfish are in shallow close to the kelp and wash rocks right now because of the strong tidal currents.”

The Rivers:
Chetco/Rogue
Steelhead fishing has slowed on the Chetco but a few bright fish are still around according to Martin. “Boats drifting from the upper end clear down to Social Security Bar are picking up a fish or two a day. There are some blue backs in the river now. Rain this week may bring a handful of fresh fish in,” added Martin.

Hatchery steelhead and a few hatchery springers are being caught on the lower Rogue according to Martin. “Some guides are catching a couple steelhead and a springer or two a day. Expect more salmon with this week’s rain.”

Smith River
Not much happening on the Smith as most of the anglers have put away their steelhead gear for the winter. The few boats still out are getting a chance at one to two fish per day. That could change by the weekend however as flows are predicted to jump to 10.5 feet on the Jed Smith gauge. That should kickstart the spawned-out fish to begin moving downriver, and will likely bring in a few more fresh steelhead.

Eel River (main stem)
The main Eel was getting oh so close to fishable, but the rain that’s predicted for the next few days will put us back at square one. It was under 9,500 cfs on Wednesday, but it predicted to rise to nearly 22,500 cfs by Saturday night. It will likely need another 10 days of dry weather to drop into fishable shape.

Eel River (South Fork)
The South Fork was definitely the place to be since late last week. The river is full of steelhead, the majority of which have been downers. There are also a few fresh ones mixed in. Boats fishing from Leggett all the way down were reporting really good scores, with most hooking double-digits. Flows were starting to rise slowly on Wednesday, but should be fishable on Thursday. On Friday it will be on a sharp rise, going over 4,000 cfs by Saturday. With more rain on the way next week, it may not be fishable again before it closes on March 31.

Chico resident Michael Padula holds a healthy winter steelhead landed on a recent trip down the South Fork of the Eel River. This past week the steelhead fishing was as good as it’s been all year on the South Fork. Rains will return on Friday, which could blow out the river until it closes on March 31. Photo courtesy Kenny Priest

Van Duzen
The Van Duzen has been at a good height this past week, but was holding a little more color due to the snow melt. With a couple inches of rain forecasted to hit the watershed, it’s forecasted to blow out early Thursday morning. Another inch and a half is in store for Friday, which may deliver the knockout punch. Hopefully it drops back into shape prior to closing on March 31.

Mad River
The Mad is still a little high and off color, but there’s still fresh fish to be had. The liners did really well late last week and on the weekend fishing near the hatchery. It’s forecasted to really blow out after Wednesday, and should peak around 11 feet on Saturday morning. The chances of green water prior to the March 31 closure are slim at best.

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

Lengthy ocean season ahead for salmon anglers

If the Pacific Fishery Management Council is right, we could see plenty of salmon like the one pictured here with Dee Lehman of Eureka swimming off our coast this year. The recreational ocean salmon season is tentatively scheduled to open on May 25, and will last into early September. The final decision will be come from the PFMC meeting being held in April. Photo courtesy Tim Klassen/Reel Steel Sport Fishing

Encouraged by the number of salmon swimming off our coast and predicted to return to the rivers, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) on Tuesday released three preliminary alternatives for managing salmon fisheries from the OR/CA border to Horse Mountain (which includes Humboldt County). According to the PFMC, 274,222 Klamath and 379,632 Sacramento fall Chinook are said to be swimming in the ocean, which will provide increased opportunities over the past two seasons. The three alternatives currently on the table:

May 25-September 8, or May 25-September 4, or May 25-September 2
All three scenarios are the same, two fish per day, seven days a week, Chinook only, 20-inch minimum size.

From Horse Mountain to Point Arena, which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg, the three alternatives are:

April 13 to Oct. 31; or April 13 to Oct. 31; or April 13 to May 31 and June 22 to Sept. 30
All three scenarios are the same, two fish per day, seven days a week, Chinook only, 20-inch minimum size.

To view all of the salmon management alternatives, visit https://www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/T2_Sport_DCouncil-Adopted_031219_Final.pdf

Next up, the PFMC will hold three public hearings to receive comments on the proposed ocean salmon fishery management alternatives adopted by the Council. Final regulatory measures will be adopted by the Salmon Technical Team during the April 9-16 meeting in Rohnert Park. More information is available at www.pcouncil.org.

Klamath/Trinity fall salmon allocations
Not only will we have a lengthy recreational ocean salmon season, sport anglers will have more Klamath/Trinity River fall Chinook to harvest this year. The recreational allocations, or quotas, as proposed by the PFMC will range from 5,230 to 7,899 adult fall Chinook in 2019 across the three alternatives. Last year’s basin-wide quota was 3,490 adults.

These numbers are not final, next step is public review with a decision coming from the PFMC meeting on April 9-16. Once the quota is agreed upon, 50 percent will go to the lower Klamath basin, 17 percent to the upper basin, and 33 percent will be allocated for the Trinity River. When adopted, these quotas will go into effect August 15, 2019.

The weather ahead
“We’re looking at a stretch of dry weather for the next several days,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The next chance of rain will be Thursday and showers could linger into Saturday morning. Right now, it doesn’t look like it will be enough to put any of the rivers on the rise, but it may stop them from receding. It’s likely we’ll see less than an inch,” said Zontos.

CDFW and CAC holding a state fish hatchery meeting
The California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout (CAC) will hold a one-day meeting on Wednesday, March 20 from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Fisheries Branch Office, 830 S Street in Sacramento. The meeting will provide an overview of hatchery operations and management. Iron Gate, Trinity, and Mad River Hatchery will be included in the discussions. Some of the issues include treatment and disposition of excess fish returning to hatcheries, trucking and release scheduling, internal maintenance, and adding carcasses back to the river for nutrients. Local anglers will be able to listen in at the CDFW Fortuna Office – NCWIC Conference Room, 1455 Sandy Prairie Court, Suite J, Fortuna. For the complete agenda, visit https://fisheries.legislature.ca.gov/sites/fisheries.legislature.ca.gov/files/2019-03-20%20CAC%20Agenda.pdf

Public comment wanted for Trout regulations
In a press release issued last Friday, the CDFW is seeking input on the proposed new statewide changes for trout fishing regulations. A series of statewide meetings will be held focusing on:

  • Objectives of the new regulation framework and species management goals
  • Parameters of the regulation standardization and consolidation process
  • Review of specific proposed changes to regulations

For a complete list of meetings and dates, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2019/03/08/public-comment-sought-on-statewide-regulation-changes-of-trout-season/. Meetings are in-person only and no conference line or webcast will be available.

Brookings ocean report
Lingcod fishing has been very good out of Brookings according to Andy Martin with Brookings Fishing Charters. “Friday and Saturday produced limits for most of the charter boats,” said Martin. “Big swells have kept boats at the docks since Sunday, but Thursday through Sunday are looking good. The lings are as close as Chetco Point, with the best fishing from Twin Rocks north.”

The Rivers:
Chetco/Rogue
Fresh steelhead continue to show up in the Chetco, while spawned out fish are making their way back to the ocean according to Martin. “There are still enough fish around to have a good day, although catch rates are now dropping. The river still has plenty of water, so fishing could be decent through the end of the month,” added Martin.

Steelhead fishing remains good on the Rogue, with lots of hatchery fish still showing up according to Martin. “The jet boats anchoring in the lower river are getting three to six keepers a day. At least three spring salmon were caught last week.”

Smith River
The last few days, fishing has been tough on the Smith reports Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. He said, “If you can hook a couple a day, you’re doing pretty good. Conditions are tough right now, with low and clear water. There are some nice fish around, and quite a few smaller two-year-olds. We’re still seeing mostly fresh fish push through, the downers are likely waiting for the next big storm.”

Eel River (main stem)
Running at 15,000 cfs on Wednesday, it will need a week or more of dry weather before it drops into fishable shape.

Eel River (South Fork)
As of Wednesday, flows were 2,700 cfs on the Miranda gauge and dropping. It should be in good shape by the weekend in the Benbow area, and should fish in the lower stretches early next week. It should fish all the way to the forks by late next week or earlier.

Van Duzen
Hovering around 630 cfs, and still a little milky green as of Wednesday, it should be in good shape by the weekend.

Mad River
The Mad remains high and off color, and there hasn’t been a whole lot of fishing activity. A few bright fish were caught at the hatchery last week, so there’s still fresh fish coming in along with lots of downers. As of Wednesday, it was holding right around nine feet and isn’t expected to drop much below that with Ruth Lake at capacity and the snow melt.

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

Smith, Chetco only options for steelhead

Kara Engelke of Cloverdale holds her first-ever steelhead which she caught on a recent trip down the Smith River. Despite all of the rain, the Smith has remained fishable and is still kicking out a good number of fresh winter steelhead. Photo courtesy Mike Coopman’s Guide Service

Following a fabulously wet February – and with a “Miracle March” in the making – options for winter steelhead fishing have been limited to say the least. If it wasn’t for the quick-clearing Smith and Chetco rivers, we’d be you know what. Not only are those two rivers the only game in town, they’re both kicking out some quality, fresh steelhead. The same cannot be said of the rest of the coastal streams as they’ve remained high and muddy after last week’s deluge. We aren’t forecasted for any big downpours into next week, which will do wonders for the South Fork Eel and Van Duzen. Both will be receding quickly beginning Thursday morning and it’s possible they could be in fishing shape by late next week or by the weekend. The Mad is still running high and off color, and with Ruth Lake spilling, it could be done for the season. The main stem Eel is still huge and at least a couple weeks of dry weather away from being fishable. But it has time on its side as it will remain open after most of the rivers have closed. If you haven’t got your fill of steelhead just yet, it’s either head north or play the waiting game.

The weather ahead
“We may see a few lingering showers on Thursday, but it won’t be much,” said Ryan Aylward of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “There could be some rain in the mountains on Friday, but it’s looking mostly dry. The next chance for rain is Saturday, but there’s a lot of uncertainty with this one. We could see up to a half-inch, or we could be dry. The next system is forecasted for Tuesday, but it’s not looking like any heavy rain will come from it,” said Aylward.

CDFW meetings scheduled to address spring salmon
Providing a little glimmer of hope for anglers, the Fish and Game Commission asked the CDFW to work with affected counties, fishing organizations, Tribes and conservation groups, to investigate options to allow some recreational spring Chinook salmon fishing in 2019. This is following the Feb. 6 meeting, where the petition to list Upper Klamath-Trinity River spring Chinook salmon as endangered was accepted by the Commission. Under Section of 2084 of Fish and Game Code, the Commission can consider hook-and-line recreational fishing on a Candidate Species.

The CDFW has scheduled three public stakeholder meetings. The first meeting is Thursday March 7 in the Multi-Purpose Room, 981 H Street, Suite 130, Crescent City. The next meeting will be held in Sacramento on March 18 at the CDFW conference room, 830 S Street. The last public meeting will be in Redding on March 26. Meeting location is CDFW conference room, 601 Locust Street. CDFW will present the results of these stakeholder collaborations and potential options at the Commission’s next public meeting, which will be held April 17 in Santa Monica.

For more info on the listing, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2019/02/07/commission-accepts-listing-petition-requires-closure-of-some-recreational-fishing-in-klamath-basin/

The Rivers:Chetco/Rogue
The Chetco fished well Monday and Tuesday before the latest rain storm began according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “There are a mix of fresh and spawned out fish, and a few hatchery fish still around. Most guides are catching three to six fish a day. The river may blow out for a day or two but should be in good shape for the weekend.”

“The lower Rogue continues to fish very well for plunkers using Spin-N-Glos and boaters anchoring and running plugs,” said Martin. “Several guides limited out Sunday, Monday and Tuesday with big numbers of hatchery steelhead. A few early spring salmon also have been reported.”

Smith River
The Smith has been fishing really well this week reports guide Mike Coopman. He said, “There’s still plenty of fresh fishing coming in. The boat pressure has been light, the few that are out every day are getting three to five hookups per day. It’s been cold in the morning, making the afternoon drifts much more productive.”

Eel River (main stem)
The river was headed in the right direction, but yesterday’s rain put the main stem back on the rise. It was just under 24,000 cfs on Tuesday, but it now predicted to peak at nearly 50,000 on the Scotia gauge on Thursday morning. It needs a solid 10 days of dry weather before it will get close to fishable.

Eel River (South Fork)
The South Fork peaked at 11,500 cfs on the Miranda gauge on Wednesday, but is predicted to recede quickly. It’s forecasted to be around 3,200 cfs by Monday and could fish late in the week on the upper section if the rains hold off.

Van Duzen
The Duzen crested at 7,000 cfs on Wednesday and should drop quickly. It’s predicted to be under 1,500 cfs by early Monday and could come into play if next week remains dry.

Mad River
The Mad was still on a slight rise on Wednesday, but predicted to drop through the weekend. Unfortunately, it reached nearly 13.5 feet, so it has a long way to go. With Ruth Lake being full, it will take a lot of dry weather for it to drop back down to bait-fishable levels and color.

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

Ocean salmon numbers on the upswing

Spring rains, and lots of it, can do wonders for our salmon and steelhead populations. Following a wet spring in 2017, the benefits are starting to roll in. At Wednesday’s annual Ocean salmon Information meeting in Santa Rosa, CDFW suggested 274,222 Klamath River fall Chinook adults are swimming in the ocean. Not a huge number, but still right around the previous five-year average. The CDFW also predicted 87,893 natural area spawners to return to the Klamath this fall. That’s a pretty good increase from last years actual returns of 53,624. This number doesn’t include the hatchery returns or the harvest forecasts. At first glance it looks like we’ll have a comparable run size to what we saw in 2018. And just like in 2018, hopefully we’ll see another good ocean season along with a similar fall sport quota in the Klamath basin.

Over on the Sacramento, the numbers are on the upswing. The 2019 preseason ocean abundance is forecasted to be 379,632, up from 229,400 at this time last year. On paper, it appears we’re headed towards a season where the salmon will be plentiful. One of the reasons for the bump in forecasted salmon numbers is the Central Valley river conditions during the very wet spring of 2017. Increased natural runoff from the Central Valley rivers will always boost salmon survival, as measured two years later when the fish return to spawn as adults. The one bit of not so good news on the Sac is the adult escapement. They fell short of reaching the minimum escapement target of 122,000. This is the fourth year in a row the escapement goal has not been met, and the National Marine Fisheries Service could again up the target to 151,000 like they did in 2018. This could result in a shortened season or some areas being closed. 

What the PFMC chooses to do with these forecasts will be determined in the next couple of months. Up next, the PFMC is meeting March 6 through 12 in Vancouver, WA. The Council will determine if any in-season action for fisheries scheduled to open in April is needed. They will also adopt three regulatory alternatives for ocean salmon fisheries in effect on or after May 1. Final alternatives for public review will be decided on March 12. For information on the meeting, visit, https://www.pcouncil.org. To view the salmon preseason process, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon/Preseason

The weather ahead
“After drying out on Wednesday evening, we’ve got a couple weak systems coming in the next few days,” said Ryan Aylward of Eureka’s National Weather Service “Light rain is in the forecast beginning Thursday night and into Friday morning. This won’t likely be enough to raise any of the rivers. Another weak system is predicted for Saturday, but again, not enough to affect any of the rivers. The next bigger storm should arrive on Tuesday and stick around until Wednesday. This system should fall more towards Mendocino and could be enough to stop the rivers from receding,” said Aylward.

Perch’n on the Peninsula coming April 6
The Samoa Peninsula Fire District will be hosting their 10th Annual Perch’n on the Peninsula Surfperch Fishing Tournament and Fish Fry Fundraiser on Saturday, April 6, 2019. The fish fry fundraiser is open to the public and admission is only $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for juniors. Children 6 and under get in free. Adult fishing tournament entry is $20.00 and junior entry (under 16) is $10.00. Tournament day registration is available at the Peninsula Elementary School in Samoa beginning at 6 a.m. or your entries can be purchased at Mad River Tackle in Arcata, Pacific Outfitters, Englund Marine, Shafer’s Ace Hardware in Eureka, or LIVE2DIVE in Fairhaven. For more information, call (707) 443-9042 or visit www.samoafire.org.

HASA fundraiser coming in April
HASA will be holding their annual fundraiser and social event at the Arcata Community Center on April 27, 2019. In 2019, they’re focusing on creating a social event, with less emphasis on some of the fundraising activities. There will still be lots of great door prizes and silent auction items, but the simpler format will allow more time for socializing and telling fish stories. The food will once again be provided by Ramones Bakery and Catering. Tickets will be distributed to local vendors soon. For more info, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/2753296234711122/.

Fresno resident Gavin O’Leary holds a nice steelhead caught on a recent float down the Chetco River. Despite all the rain, the Chetco should be back in fishable shape by the weekend. Photo courtesy Alan Borges/Alan’s Guide Service

The Rivers:
Chetco/Rogue
“The Chetco blew out big time Sunday, reaching 38,000 cfs,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “The river is predicted to be fishable again by Thursday at the earliest or by Friday. During the derby, 70 steelhead were caught on the Chetco during a two-day period. Many were fresh fish. We should still have a couple weeks of decent fishing.”

According to Martin, the lower Rogue was fishing very well last week but now will be high through the week, although plunkers will be back on the water by the weekend. “The Rogue continues to have the strongest steelhead run so far this winter on the Oregon Coast. Flows hit 70,000 cfs at Agness and close to 100,000 cfs at Gold Beach. Expect the first spring salmon of the season soon with the high water,” added Martin.

Smith River
The Smith was a little stingy on Friday and Saturday where anglers fishing in the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery Derby caught a total of 20 steelhead over the course of the two days. The river blew out on Sunday, and hasn’t been fishable since. Wednesday’s rain put the river back up to nearly 19-feet on the Jed Smith gauge. It’s predicted to drop Thursday and Friday and should be high, but fishable, for the weekend.

Eel River (main stem and South Fork)
The main stem Eel peaked at flood stage (50 ft.) on Wednesday afternoon and is headed back down. It’s forecasted to be under 20 feet by early next week, but we’re a couple dry weeks away from fishable water. The South Fork surpassed monitor stage on Wednesday morning and is on the drop. It’s predicted to be back down near 4,500 cfs by early next week. With a full week of dry weather, it’s not out of the question that the upper reaches could be fishable by next weekend.

Van Duzen
The Van Duzen peaked at nearly 26,000 cfs early Tuesday morning and is now on the drop. Forecasted to be back under 1,700 cfs by Monday. If next week remains dry, the upper reaches could be fishable by next weekend.

Mad River
The Mad leveled off at 24-feet, which is a couple feet above flood stage. It’s predicted to drop through the weekend, but slower than the other rivers due to water spilling out of Ruth Lake. I could be a couple weeks before it’s close to green again.

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

Klamath fall king returns on the rise

Sue McCormack of Victor, Montana landed this jack salmon last fall while fishing the Klamath River. The number of returning jacks (two year-old kings) to the Klamath basin were below average last year, which could indicate a smaller run size this fall. Photo courtesy Kenny Priest /Fishing the North Coast

Last fall produced some of the best king salmon fishing on both the Klamath and Trinity Rivers in recent memory, and the preliminary number of returning kings seem to reflect just that. While we’re still not back up to average runs sizes, we’re headed in the right direction. The CDFW predicted a river run size of 91,873 in 2018, and they were nearly spot on. According to the “Review of 2018 Ocean Salmon Fisheries” document, recently released by the PFMC, preliminary postseason river returns showed 92,293 adults returned. Considering where we were in 2016 when just 27,353 adults returned, prompting a full fall-run closure in 2017, I’d say the numbers are going the right way. On an average year, we’ll see right around 122,000 adult kings return to the basin. So, we’ve got a little ways to go before the stocks are rebuilt completely.

“The 2018 Klamath fall chinook returns were slightly below average and the number of jacks returning also fell below long-term average,” said Wade Sinnen, Senior Environmental Scientist on the Klamath/Trinity Rivers. In 2018, only 11,114 jacks, or two-year-old salmon, returned. During the previous ten years, the average number of returning jacks was roughly 22,600. The real bright spot according to Sinnen was the number of returning three-year-old fish. “These fish are part of the 2015 brood year, which made a good showing last year as two-year-old. This brood will translate to a decent preseason abundance forecast of age four fish this year.”

The bottom line of low jack counts is next year’s adult return may not be as robust, and therefore a smaller recreational quota for the whole basin. “In terms of fishing opportunity this coming year, it’s too early to say for sure,” said Sinnen. “We will know more after the Ocean Salmon Information meeting in Santa Rosa. However, I do not expect a large in-river quota based on past runs of the magnitude we experienced this past year.”

While the jack count was low, most of the information coming out of the report was positive for the basin. The number of natural area spawners was 53,624 adults, which exceeded the preseason expectation of 40,700. However, the stock is still in “overfished” status as escapement was not met the previous three seasons. The estimated hatchery return was 18,564 adults for the basin.

Spawning escapement to the upper Klamath River tributaries (Salmon, Scott, and Shasta Rivers), where spawning was only minimally affected by hatchery strays, totaled 21,109 adults. The Shasta River has historically been the most important Chinook salmon spawning stream in the upper Klamath River, supporting a spawning escapement of 27,600 adults as recently as 2012 and 63,700 in 1935. The escapement in 2018 to the Shasta River was 18,673 adults. Escapement to the Salmon and Scott Rivers was 1,228 and 1,208 adults, respectively.

According to the report, the Yurok and Hoopa Valley tribes shared a federally-reserved right of 50 percent (18,122) of the available harvest surplus of adult Klamath fall Chinook. Tribal adult harvest was 14,769 (Yurok: 12,444 adults; Hoopa Valley: 2,325 adults), which was 81 percent of the tribal allocation.

Next up is the annual Ocean Salmon Information meeting, which will be held February 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency office located at 404 Aviation Blvd. in Santa Rosa. Ocean abundance will be discussed, which will then trickle down to river quotas. For more information on the meeting, contact Chenchen Shen at 707-576-2885 or Chenchen.Shen@wildlife.ca.gov

The weather ahead
“The next couple days will be dry, but the rain will return over the weekend,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “Del Norte will be the first area hit with the rain beginning on Saturday morning before it moves south on Sunday. Right now, it’s looking like widespread and heavy rain will fall on Monday and potentially on Tuesday. Through Tuesday evening, the Smith basin can expect four to five inches of rain. There’s a little uncertainty about the rainfall totals hitting Humboldt. Both the Mad and Eel basins could see up to five inches, but it will probably be a little less. Several inches are definitely possible. Next Wednesday and Thursday are looking dry, but another storm is forecasted for the weekend,” said Zontos.

HSU Fishery Seminar
John ‘Carlos’ Garza, of NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center and UC Santa Cruz will be giving a presentation titled “The origins of ecotypic differentiation in Pacific salmonids” on Wednesday February 27 at 4:00 p.m. in WDFS 258 on the HSU Campus. This is a timely topic given the potential listing of the Upper Klamath-Trinity River spring Chinook salmon as endangered.

Humboldt Steelhead Days Awards Party and Pints for Nonprofits Event Humboldt Steelhead Days # 6 concludes with an awards ceremony for the fishing and photo contest winners on Saturday evening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Mad River Brewing Co in Blue Lake. Registered anglers who submitted photos of the three biggest hatchery steelhead from the Mad river will receive their prizes donated by HSD sponsors and partners. The leaderboard for the Mad River has Tyrone Bachus in the lead with a 32.5-inch fish, Julie Jewell in second place with a 32i inch fish, and Wyatt McBroom in third with a 31-inch fish. A 37-inch hatchery steelhead caught by Gary Fogle won the Mad River contest last year. No entries qualified for the Trinity river portion of the contest this year. In addition, ten entries were submitted for the best fishing photo contest that can be viewed on the HSD Facebook page. Winners will be announced at 6 p.m.

During this pints for nonprofits event, HSD will also host a silent auction fundraiser that includes wines from Fieldbrook Winery, framed art from Michael Zontos and John Freidenback, a guided river fishing trip from Rivers Edge Adventures, gift cards from Pierson Building Center and NHS, oil changes from Lithia of Eureka, a photo book of the Eel River with “A River Last Chance” documentary DVD and posters donated by Jason Hartwick and much more. The silent auction will conclude at 7p.m. 

HSD #6 hosted several events during the steelhead winter run enabling them to raise more than $8,000 that will go toward Mad River Alliance’s (the founder of the HSD contest) science and monitoring, education and conservation programs in the watershed. The clean ups to remove river pollution and garbage dumping will be able to occur every other month thanks to the efforts of HSD. 

The Rivers:
Chetco/Rogue
The Chetco has its biggest numbers of steelhead so far this season spread throughout the river reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “The past few days most guides are getting two to six steelhead a day, with a mix of fresh wild and hatchery fish and spawned out fish heading back toward the ocean. The river dropped to fishable levels on Monday and was in prime shape Tuesday after being blown out for a week. Expect a crowd this weekend because of the derby,” added Martin.

“After a week of high water, the lower Rogue was fishable again Monday,” said Martin. “Plunkers are catching good numbers of steelhead on Spin-N-Glows, while jet boaters also are starting to catch fish again. Conditions should be prime all week.”

Smith River
Last weekend saw some of the best steelhead fishing to date on the Smith River. Guides and sport anglers were back on the water Sunday and the scores were good. Most boats landed fish during the high water, and Monday and Tuesday were even better. Conditions should be excellent the rest of the week, but flows are predicted to rise quickly beginning Sunday morning. If the rains come as predicted, the river could be blown out on Monday.

Eel River (main stem)
The main stem was running at 18,000 cfs on Wednesday and nowhere near fishable. The rain coming on Saturday is forecasted to bump the flows back up to 35,000 cfs. Will need a couple solid weeks of dry weather before it will fish.

Eel River (South Fork)
Hovering around 4,500 cfs on the Miranda gauge as of Wednesday, the South Fork was still quite a few days away from being fishable. The storms coming this weekend will put us back a square one. It’s predicted to hit 10,000 cfs by early Monday.

Van Duzen
The Van Duzen was right around 1,200 cfs as of Wednesday. According to Paul Grundman of Rio Dell’s Grundmans Sporting Goods, there’s a chance it’s fishable above Yager Creek. “It was still a little dirty on the lower end, but it would be worth looking at above Yager,” Grundman added. Flows are predicted to drop to 850 cfs on Friday and Saturday, which should be good. It’s predicted to blow back out on Sunday.

Mad River
The river is still high and muddy, but a few fish were caught just below the hatchery this week reports Justin Kelly of Eureka’s RMI Outdoors. “The color is still way off, but guys are catching a few right at the hatchery. With more rain coming this weekend, it doesn’t look like it will be green anytime soon,” added Kelly.

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

Potential closure for Klamath/Trinity springers

At last week’s meeting in Sacramento, the California Fish and Game Commission accepted a petition to list Upper Klamath-Trinity River Spring Chinook Salmon as endangered, starting the process of a status review to be completed by the CDFW. The one-year review will determine if a CESA listing by the Commission may be warranted. After reviewing the best scientific data available, CDFW will either make a recommendation to the Commission to list the springers as either endangered or threatened. Determining the listing is not warranted is also an option.

Information was submitted by the Karuk Tribe and Salmon River Restoration Council suggesting declining population trends and a low abundance, making the spring-run salmon vulnerable to extinction. The Commission’s action results in spring Chinook salmon being designated as a Candidate Species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), which provides the same protections as species listed as endangered and threatened under CESA.

The following emergency fishing regulations were adopted by the commission at the urging of the CDFW to reconcile them with the CESA protections.

  • Klamath River main stem from the mouth of the river to Iron Gate dam. Closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of February 22 (subject to approval from the Office of Administrative Law (OAL)) to August 14.
  • Trinity River main stem from its confluence to the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat. Closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of February 22 (subject to OAL approval) to August 31.
  • Trinity River main stem from upstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to Old Lewiston Bridge. Closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of February 22 (subject to OAL approval) to October 15.

Fishing for Upper Klamath-Trinity River fall Chinook salmon will be allowed in these areas after the closure dates listed above. Quotas, bag and possession limits for fall Chinook salmon will be adopted by the Commission in May of this year. Steelhead fishing will be allowed year-round with normal bag and possession limits.

CDFW will also be working with federal regulatory bodies regarding ocean fishing regulations. Providing a little glimmer of hope for anglers, the Commission asked the CDFW to work with affected counties, fishing organizations, Tribes and conservation groups, to investigate options to allow some recreational spring Chinook salmon fishing in 2019. Under Section of 2084 of Fish and Game Code, the Commission can consider hook-and-line recreational fishing on a Candidate Species. CDFW will present the results of that stakeholder collaboration and potential options at the Commission’s next public meeting, which will be held April 17 in Santa Monica. For more information, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2019/02/07/commission-accepts-listing-petition-requires-closure-of-some-recreational-fishing-in-klamath-basin/

The weather ahead
“Widespread rain is in the forecast for the next few days,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “It looks like we’ll see rain into the weekend, with little breaks between systems before we start to dry out on Monday. From Wednesday through Saturday evening, the Smith basin can expect two to four inches of rain. The Mad basin can expect two to four inches, with potentially five inches falling in the hills.  The Eel basin could see two to three inches in the lower river, while higher in the watershed in Southern Humboldt could see up to six inches. A weak front is forecasted for Wednesday, followed by the next round of storms expected to hit by the weekend,” said Zontos.

Shelter Cove forms fishing organization
With the Humboldt Bay Harbor District potentially relinquishing the boat launching services in Shelter Cove in 2019, a group of locals have decided to form a local fishing organization. The Shelter Cove Fishing Preservation Inc. was formed to be a collective voice for the fishing community and help deal with the many issues Shelter Cove faces, the most immediate issue being a lack of a boat launching operation in 2019. “Shelter Cove’s ability to grow or survive as a fishing community and point of destination depends almost entirely on the boat launch service,” said Jake Mitchell, president of the SCFPI. “It quickly became evident that the group would need to be able to run the boat launch service moving forward. In addition to providing permanent public access to the ocean, the group will also be working on establishing feature infrastructure to support the recreational and commercial fishing fleets,” added Mitchell.

The group is a publicly supported non-profit corporation dedicated to preserving the fishing heritage of Shelter Cove. It’s the goal and mission to help build a viable, sustainable fishing venue for Shelter Cove. The group is incorporated as a California Public Benefit nonprofit corporation and have submitted an IRS Exemption letter. Donations are currently being accepted at Umpqua Bank in SCFPI’s account or mailed  to Shelter Cove Fishing Preservation Inc., PO Box 87 Whitethorn, CA 95589. For more information, you can visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/scfpinc or email them at scfpinc@gmail.com.

Free fishing days Feb. 16-17 in Oregon
It’s free to fish, crab or clam on the Saturday and Sunday of President’s Day Weekend, Feb. 16-17. During these two days, no fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag and a Columbia River Basin Endorsement) are required to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon. Although no licenses or tags are required, all other regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions. For more information, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2019/02_Feb/020819.asp

David Manning of Santa Rosa holds a steelhead he caught Feb. 8 while fishing the Chetco River with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. The fish was donated to the broodstock hatchery program.
 Photo courtesy Andy Martin/Wild Rivers Fishing

The Rivers:
Chetco/Rogue
“After a solid week of fishing, despite cold water temperatures, the Chetco blew out on Tuesday and will likely remain high through the weekend,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Heavy rain combined with melting snow will leave the river too high to fish at least through Friday and probably through Sunday. Last week, lots of fish were spread throughout the river. Most guides were getting two to four a day. Fishing should be good for next week’s Rowdy Creek Derby.”

According to Martin, the Rogue blew out Wednesday after fishing well for the past week. “The Rogue is seeing a good return of hatchery steelhead so far this winter. It is expected to be high through the weekend, especially with lots of runoff from the Illinois River,” added Martin.

Smith River
Fishing on the Smith has been off and on over the past week reports Crescent City guide Mike Coopman. “There’s definitely some fish around, we went two for five on Tuesday with very few boats on the water. With some pretty big storms coming the next couple days, we’ll likely be off the water until at least Saturday. There’s a lot of snow on the ground, so that could change the river predictions. I’m expecting the conditions to be really good by late weekend and into early next week.” Coopman added.

Eel River (main stem)
The main stem Eel is a long way from being fishable, and it’s about to get longer. With heavy rain predicted in the headwaters, the man Eel is forecasted to hit 183,000 cfs at Scotia by Thursday evening. It’s also predicted to rise to 22-feet late Thursday or early Friday morning at Fernbridge. Monitor stage at this location is 14-feet and flood stage is 22-feet. It will take a couple weeks of dry weather before it’s even close to fishable.

Eel River (South Fork)The South Fork was running at nearly 9,000 cfs as of Wednesday and is predicted to go much higher. With heavy rain predicted through Saturday, flows are expected to reach 34,000 cfs by Thursday afternoon. It will take roughly a week of dry weather to drop back into fishable shape.

Van Duzen
The Van Duzen had been running at only 1,000 cfs last weekend and into this week due to most of the precipitation falling as snow in the upper watershed. That changed on Tuesday evening, and it’s on a pretty steep rise as of Wednesday. It’s predicted to peak at just over 17,000 cfs on Thursday afternoon. It’s predicted to drop quickly, and with dry weather could fish late next week.

Mad River
A few fish were caught by the liners earlier in the week, but the river has since risen and turned muddy reports Justin Kelly of Eureka’s RMI Outdoors. “Fishing was really good late last week and the weekend before it really blew out. With a few more storms lined up, it will be a couple weeks before it’s green again,” added Kelly. As of Wednesday, the Mad was running at 4,600 cfs and was predicted to peak at nearly 11,000 cfs late Thursday night.

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

Increased allocations for Pacific halibut in 2019

Some good news coming out of the fishing world – finally. During the ninety-fifth annual meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), it was announced that our Pacific halibut allocation for California will be set for the next four years at 39,000 pounds. This is approximately 8,000 net pounds greater than our 2018 quota. According to Tom Marking, who sits on the PFMC Groundfish Advisory Panel, the commission was finally able to work out a compromise between Canada and Alaska on a blended allocation. “The Makah and WA Treaty tribes played a large role in achieving this as well, both politically and economically. “They spent all last year working with federal managers and politicians to make this happen. We all supported their efforts,” said Marking.

Photo courtesy of CDFW

Also on the halibut front, the CDFW is seeking input on the 2019 recreational Pacific halibut season dates. California anglers interested in the recreational Pacific halibut fishery are invited to participate in an online survey. The data gathered through this survey will help inform the CDFW about angler preferences for open fishing dates during the upcoming 2019 season, and will be used to develop recommended season dates that will be provided to the National Marine Fisheries Service. The survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/L3YG86Q, through Friday, Feb. 15. The Pacific halibut fishery takes place off northern California. In 2018, the fishery was open May 1-June 15, July 1-15, Aug. 1-15, and Sept. 1-21. The fishery closed Sept. 21 at 11:59 p.m. due to projected attainment of the 30,940 net pound quota. For more info, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2019/02/04/cdfw-seeks-input-on-2019-recreational-pacific-halibut-season-dates/

Weather ahead
“It looks like we’ll be in an active weather pattern through early next week,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “A series of storms will be moving across the area through next Tuesday. Snow is in the forecast as well over the weekend. On Saturday, the snow level will be around 3,000 feet in Mendocino/Southern Humboldt and could drop under 2,000 feet by Sunday. For the period of Thursday through Tuesday, the Smith basin can expect from two to three inches of rain. The Mad basin can expect one and a half to two and a half while the Eel basin could see one to two inches falling. The Van Duzen watershed will likely see more snow than precipitation over the weekend. Showers are diminishing on Tuesday but another front is forecasted for Wednesday night into Thursday. The timing and amounts of this system are a little uncertain at this point,” said Zontos.

The Rivers:
Chetco/Rogue/Elk/Sixes
“The Chetco fished well over the weekend, with good catches on the lower end as well as in the Forest Service section,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “The cold weather to begin this week seems to slow the bite, especially on Tuesday when only a handful of fish were caught. There are fish around, but they are sluggish because of the freezing weather. The river also is beginning to get low and clear.”

The Rogue River fished well early last week and then after a slow period, took off again on Monday according to Martin. “Just a few guides are sitting on anchor and running plugs, but they are catching limits or near limits. Bank anglers plunking Spin-N-Glos also are doing well. The Elk and Sixes are on the low side, but there are steelhead around. Some guides are doing better with plugs than bait. The rivers likely will be pretty low for drift boats by the weekend,” added Martin.

Smith River
The Smith is low and clear and in need of rain. The bite has been tough, with quite a few zero’s this week due to the conditions. Flows were 8-feet on the Jed Smith gauge on Wednesday and dropping. It’s predicted to get down to 7-feet by Saturday afternoon. Friday’s rain is predicted to push the river to almost 9 feet by early Sunday morning.

Eel River (main stem)The main stem is still big and dirty, and it doesn’t look to be fishable any time soon. Flows were right around 12,000 cfs on Wednesday and expected to rise following the weekend storms.

Eel River (South Fork)
The South Fork was running at 2,000 cfs as of Wednesday and should be fishable on Thursday and Friday. The river is predicted to rise late Friday afternoon and will likely be blown out for the weekend and into early next week. Depending on how much and where the storms hit next week, it could drop back in to fishable shape by late next week or the weekend.

Van Duzen
The Van Duzen was under 1,000 cfs as of Wednesday, and isn’t predicted to rise as much as the other coastal streams. According to the National Weather Service, the majority of precipitation in the Duzen watershed will fall as snow over the weekend. Flows are predicted to be down to 575 cfs by Friday afternoon.

Trinidad resident Julie Jewell landed this nice hatchery steelhead while fishing the Mad River last Saturday. The steelhead, which measured 32-inches, is currently in first place in the Humboldt Steelhead Days fishing contest. For contest info, visit http://www.humboldtsteelheaddays.com/
Photo courtesy of Fred Contaoi

Mad River
According to Justin Kelly of Eureka’s RMI Outdoors, the Mad was still off-color as of Wednesday. He said, “The liners have been getting a few around the hatchery the last few days. Prior to the last blowout, the fishing was really good. There were good numbers of fish from the hatchery all the way to the pump stations. The river is dropping and could be somewhat green by Friday. With rain returning over the weekend, it looks like it will be high and muddy by Sunday,” Kelly said.

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