Rain – and hopefully steelhead – on the way

Winter steelhead season has yet to kick into gear on the North Coast, but changes are a brewing. We have a couple decent storm fronts headed our way that will put all of the coastal rivers on the rise. If the rain comes as predicted, the rivers will see their highest flows this winter, except for the Smith. The Eel, South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, and Mad will all get a good flushing, and will likely be muddy next week. Once they recede to fishable levels, we should see the first wave of winter steelhead make their way into our coastal rivers. After a very short and sub-par late fall salmon season, seeing the rivers loaded with bright steelhead sure would be a welcome sight.

Weather ahead
“A couple of fronts are headed our way and we should begin to see a pattern change by Friday,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The first system will arrive on Friday afternoon and could drop up to three-quarters of an inch in the Smith basin and up to an inch in the Eel and Mad basins. Saturday is looking dry, with a more robust storm arriving on Sunday afternoon. Rainfall totals will be a little better for this one, with the Smith seeing one to two inches and the Eel seeing up to two and a half inches. Another system is forecasted for Monday and Tuesday, but there’s some uncertainty as to where it will land. Right now, the models are showing three-quarters of an inch in the Smith basin and up to a half-inch locally, but that could go up or down. Wednesday is looking dry, with the next system predicted for Thursday and Friday,” said Zontos.

Commercial Dungeness season delayed again
Poor quality has again delayed the commercial Dungeness crab season on the North Coast. The additional 15-day delay will push the new opener date to Dec. 31. Results from the latest round of quality tests continue to show the crab are not ready for harvesting. Delays due to quality only affect the northern commercial fishery in California Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties). The season in these districts is now scheduled to open at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2018, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2018. The next round of quality testing is scheduled for Dec. 21. If the meat weight to crab weight remains low, the season could be delayed until Jan. 15, 2019. For more information, visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=162630&inline.

For the latest quality test results, visit http://www.psmfc.org/crab/2018-2019%20Files/Tri-State%20PreseasonCoastwideResults_2018.pdf

Razor clam fishery remains closed
In a recent blog post, the CDFW is reminding clammers that the razor clam fishery in Humboldt and Del Norte counties is still closed. The sport razor clam fishery closed more than two years ago due to harmful levels domoic acid. Domoic acid levels have not fallen low enough to reopen the sport season according to the state Department of Public Health (CDPH). Levels were recently found to be skyrocketing. Clams tested were found to contain 130-300 parts per million of domoic acid – up to 15 times the 20 parts per million consumption alert level.

“We are concerned about the extremely high domoic acid test results that came in a couple of weeks ago for razor clam,” said Christy Juhasz, an environmental scientist with the CDFW. “We’re taking this opportunity to remind clammers that the razor clam fishery has been closed since April 2016 to protect the public from consuming potentially lethal razor clams.”

The fishery closure prohibits the recreational take and possession of razor clams from Humboldt and Del Norte county beaches. It effectively removed access to one of the tastiest food clams in California with no season reopening in sight, as testing continues to confirm dangerous levels of domoic acid in razor clam populations in the affected counties.

For the latest information about fishing season closures, you can call the CDFW’s Domoic Acid Fishery Closure Information Line at 831-649-2883. Fishing season closures are also listed on the CDFW website. For the latest consumption warnings, call the CDPH Biotoxin Information line at 510-412-4643 or toll-free at 800-553-4133.

The Rivers:
Chetco/Elk/Sixes
Very few salmon are being caught on the Chetco, but steelhead fishing has begun to pick up reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “There are a bunch of half-pounders, many of them hatchery fish, spread throughout the river. There also are more adult steelhead being caught. The upper river has dark salmon still spawning,” said Martin. Following Friday’s rain, flows are predicted to be between 2,000 and 2,500 cfs for the weekend on the Chetco.

Anglers willing to drag their boats downriver did fairly well on the Elk over the weekend according to Martin. He said, “Bank anglers also got into fish in the deep hole next to the hatchery. Big flows are expected after this weekend’s big storm, which could bring fresh kings into both the Elk and Sixes.”

Fishing the NC 12_13 photo

Houston Texas resident Nathan Vajdos landed a late fall-run king salmon on Wednesday while fishing the Smith River. With rain in the forecast, the last of the king salmon will be making their way upriver to spawn while the winter steelhead should begin to make their way into the coastal rivers. Photo courtesy of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service

Smith
“The river came up overnight on Tuesday and was little on the dirty side Wednesday,” said Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. “There’s still a few kings in the river, but most are dark. There hasn’t been much in the way of steelhead yet, but hopefully that will change with the next round of storms on the way. We’re predicted to get a decent rise for Saturday, and then another bigger one for early next week. This should open the door for the start of the steelhead run.”

Mad
The Mad opened back up to fishing on Wednesday morning, but it could be a short window. Flows are predicted to drop through Friday morning, with the next rise coming Friday afternoon. There should be some steelhead around, as well as a few late kings. Minimum flows to keep the river open to fishing are 200 cfs.

Main stem Eel
The main stem is low, but holding decent color. The river is full of half-pounders from the forks down, along with a few adults. Most of the fish are in the deeper holes, anywhere there’s broken water. The flows were just above 1,200 cfs on the Scotia gauge on Wednesday afternoon and predicted to hold there until Friday evening. The river is forecasted to rise late Friday and will likely blow out for the weekend and into next week. Minimum flows to keep the river open to fishing are 350 cfs on the Scotia gauge.

South Fork Eel
The South Fork was closed to fishing as of Wednesday, and it likely won’t open prior to the next storm. It’s predicted to rise beginning Friday night and will probably be blown out through the weekend and into next week. Minimum flows to keep the river open to fishing are 340 cfs.

Van Duzen
The Van Duzen was open to fishing as of Wednesday, and could remain open until it starts to rise on Friday morning. The river will likely be muddy on Saturday before it blows out on Sunday. Minimum flows to keep the river open to fishing are 150 cfs.

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

Coastal anglers – and salmon – waiting on rain

The arduous wait for rainfall continues to drag on. For coastal salmon anglers waiting to drift the Smith, Chetco or Eel, it seems like a lifetime ago when the rivers last had enough flow for salmon to maneuver upriver. Hardly a drop has hit the ground since late October, when enough rain fell in the Smith Basin to put the Smith on the rise. Though the parched ground soaked up most of the moisture, the Smith did rise above 700 cfs on the Jed Smith gauge for a brief period of time. Since then, we’ve had very little, if any, rain to speak of. And Humboldt has been dry as a bone.

The culprit to all this dry weather is the recurring high-pressure ridge that’s been parked over the West Coast. This ridge has been either blocking or weakening systems that are trying to move onshore and forcing storms to track more north, keeping them from sagging into the Northern end of the state.

But changes to our weather patterns may finally be taking shape. Following another dry weekend, we may have some rain in the forecast by the middle of next week. “The models are going back and forth, but it’s looking like we’ll have a chance of rain on Wednesday and Friday of next week,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “Right now, the models show more confidence for Friday. These fronts could be the beginning of a switch in the weather pattern as the last week of November is looking like we could potentially see above normal precipitation.” If this truly is the beginning of our rainy weather, it’s going be one heck of a Thanksgiving.

Marine forecast
The weekend marine forecast is looking pretty good for offshore crabbing. The forecast is calling for winds up to 5 knots out of the SW on Saturday, with waves W 6 feet at 12 seconds. On Sunday, the wind will be coming out of the N up to 5 knots with waves W 6 feet at 11 seconds. The forecast will likely change, so before you head out, check the marine forecast at www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka and click on the marine tab. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit: www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan

Sport crab fishing going strong
Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sportfishing is reporting excellent crabbing out of Eureka. On a couple day soak, he’s been averaging anywhere from 12 to 15 keeper crabs per pot and limits are coming easy for the customers. Klassen and Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sport Fishing are both booking crab trips out of Woodley Island. Trips will generally last two hours. Departure times will depend on the tides, but most often they’ll leave sometime in the morning. To book a trip with Reel Steel Sport Fishing, call 707-499-4925. Full Throttle can be reached at 707 498-7473. The weekend trips fill up quick, so you’ll want to call early to reserve your spot.

Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors in Eureka reports the sport crabbing has been really good so far this season for anglers fishing out of Trinidad. “Overall, crabbing has been just as good as last year, and the crabs are in a little better shape. Crabbing in Humboldt Bay has been decent, with the south side of the jetty producing more keepers. South Bay has been pretty good too, but you’ll want to keep a close eye on your pots as a few have been raided. Squid chicken drumsticks, and turkey necks have been a good choice for bait,” Kelly said.

Chetco River bridge repair
Repair work on the Chetco River Bridge at mile post 1.0 of Forest Service Road 1376 that was scheduled to begin on November 14th, will now begin on November 16th. The project is located on the Gold Beach Ranger District, approximately nine miles northeast of Brookings. The closures on the bridge will be in place November 16th through November 18th, after which work will be put on hold until after January 1, 2019. Expected delays will be variable, with closures lasting 30 minutes to 8 hours at a time. This work is weather dependent and may be rescheduled if needed. For more information, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/rogue-siskiyou/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD602021

The Rivers:
Chetco River
Low flows continue to keep the Chetco above tidewater too low to fish from a drift boat reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “The low flows, now down to 80 cfs, also are preventing salmon from moving above the head of tide. A few fish a day are being caught in the estuary, with up to a dozen a few days last week. Most of the salmon caught in the estuary are being hook right at the tips of the jetties.”

Smith River
According to Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service, fishing has been slow on the lower river. “There’s been very few boats, if any, the last few days. There isn’t a ton of fish around, and the fish that are making their way through the mouth are being chased by seals. We’ve got some pretty good tides coming up, so hopefully we’ll see some fish start to move in,” Coopman said.

Fishing the NC 11_15 photo

Truckee resident Darren Davis landed a nice hatchery steelhead on a recent float down the upper Trinity River. Photo courtesy of Steve Huber’s Guide Service

Upper Trinity
The steelhead action on the Trinity has been up and down reports guide Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service. “Cold mornings in the upper teens is making it tough, and we could definitely use some rain. Steelhead are coming on all methods from fly fishing, pulling plugs and side-drifting roe. Right now, we’re seeing one to four fish per day, and there are still a few salmon moving around. Even with the low water, you’re able to fish from the Lewiston Bridge down into Willow Creek,” Huber 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

Coastal rivers await steelhead

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Mike Phillips of New Jersey holds a 35-pound king he caught Nov. 30 on the Chetco River while fishing with his son, guide Rye Phillips. The salmon hit a 5.0 MagLip. Photo courtesy of Rye Phillips

With very little rain over the past week and the rivers on the drop, the end is likely in sight for the late, fall-run salmon season on the North Coast. The season has been somewhat of a disappointment to fishermen as only a couple major storms hit the coast and dropped enough rain to bring the Smith and Chetco up to ideal levels. While the fishing window was very small, that doesn’t necessarily mean the number of returning salmon was small. Even during the low water conditions, salmon were seen making their way upriver on all of our coastal streams. Typically, the season’s first big rains come in October, leaving us a good four to five-week window to fish. That hasn’t been the case the last couple of years as the salmon didn’t bother to wait for us, or the strong flows to get them to their end destinations.

On the flip side — with the calendar now saying it’s December — expect the winter steelhead to start showing in numbers in the rivers. The Chetco has seen quite a few adults make their way in and the Smith steelhead should be right behind them. But don’t give up entirely on salmon just yet. The Smith, Chetco and the Eel should each see another spurt or two of fresh kings move in on the next substantial river rise.

Weather ahead
The next round of storms should arrive by mid-day Sunday according to Matthew Kidwell of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The bulk of the system should move into the area on Sunday afternoon and will linger into Monday. We could see up to an inch and a half in the Smith basin and up to an inch here locally. We’ll have a break beginning on Monday afternoon, with the next system forecasted to arrive Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. There’s quite a bit of uncertainty with this one, but we could potentially see one to two inches. We’ll get another short break on Thursday, with the next system predicted for later in the week or by the weekend,” said Kidwell.

Humboldt Bay crabbing
Sport Crabbing inside Humboldt Bay has improved according to Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors in Eureka. He said, “I’ve been hearing that the fishing has improved.The best spots have been between the Coast Guard station and the entrance. The medium-sized crabs are in really good shape, while the jumbos are still a little light, but improving. Squid and chicken seem to be the bait of choice,”Kelly added. Typically crabbing is best an hour and a half on both sides of the slack tide.

Commercial Dungeness crab season to open in Sonoma County
The commercial Dungeness crab fishery from Bodega Head, Sonoma County north to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line will open this Saturday according to a press release issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The area from the southern boundary of Bodega Head State Marine Reserve, Sonoma County (38° 18′ N.latitude) north to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line (38° 46.125′ N. latitude)was closed due to elevated levels of domoic acid. The fishery will open at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8, to be preceded by an 18-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 6:01 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 7. No vessel may take crab within a delayed area during the closure period. In addition, any vessel that has landed crab from ocean waters outside of this delayed area is prohibited from taking, possessing on board, or landing Dungeness crab in this area until Jan. 7, 2019 pursuant to Section 8279.1 of the Fish and Game Code.

The northern California commercial Dungeness crab fishery in Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties) remains closed until 12:01 a.m. December 16, due to poor crab meat quality tests. If the next round of test results indicate good quality, the fishery will open and be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period. For more information, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2018/12/03/commercial-dungeness-crab-season-to-open-in-sonoma-county/

River closures
The South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mad and Redwood Creek will all be closed to fishing beginning Thursday morning, Dec. 6 due to low flows. Be sure and call the low flow closure hotline, 707 822-3164, to determine if the river is open prior to fishing.

Chetco/Elk/Sixes
“Salmon fishing has been slow on the Chetco the past week, although there seems to be one boat that gets hot each day and gets a couple of fish,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “The water is higher than the gauge indicates, and that has played somewhat of a role in the success. The river is still high. More steelhead have been caught the past week, both from drift boats and the bank anglers plunking Spin-N-Glos. Expect to see more steelhead after this week’s rain. Salmon are currently spawning in the upper river.”

The Elk and Sixes have been hit or miss, with a few nice fish being caught early this week reports Martin. “Overall, fishing has been slow this fall on the two rivers, following a similar pattern for all the north-migrating rivers. The Elk is the southernmost river where the salmon migrate to Alaska, and all of the north-migrating rivers have had fairly poor returns this fall,” added Martin.

Smith
“It’s transition time for the Smith River as the majority of the salmon have moved upriver and we’re now waiting for the steelhead to show,” said Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. “The river has been low this week, and the fishing pressure has been light. From what I’m hearing, there aren’t many salmon around, especially bright ones. It looks like the majority of the fish came through on the rise that we had around Thanksgiving. I heard good reports of fish making it to some of the creeks, and I’ve also seen quite a few main stem spawners. It was definitely a short fishing window, but that not a reflection on the potential run size.Now is typically when we see the steelhead start to show, and I’ve heard there’s some small ones around. We have a decent rise coming late this weekend,so hopefully the first wave of steelhead will begin to show.”

Main stem Eel
The main stem is turning green and was fishable on Wednesday reports Paul Grundmans of Grundmans Sporting Goods in Rio Dell. He said, “We may see a few fresh salmon coming in,but the majority likely moved upriver during the higher flows. We’ve got some pretty big tides happening, so we should see the first of the winter steelhead start to make their way in,” Grundman added.  The flows were just below 1,900 cfs on the Scotia gauge on Wednesday afternoon and predicted to be around 1,000 cfs by Saturday.

Upper Trinity
It has been an up-and-down week on the upper Trinity reports guide Steve Huber. He said, “Deadwood Creek, which was heavily affected by the Carr Fire, has pushed quite a bit of mud into the river. Most of the creeks have all started to flow due to the recent rainfall.  We’ve finally started to see some new fish pushing into the upper river, which should be the start of the winter steelhead run. The Junction City area is clearing quicker due to the clean water coming from the creeks, and that’s where most of the fishing pressure has been. All methods seem to be working, both bait and fly fisherman are seeing good results. Most of these fish from here on out will be wild fish. More storms and weather coming in this week, so I’d expect to see good fishing.” 

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

Telling weekend ahead for late fall king run

Fishing the NC 11_29 photo

Don Williams of Brookings holds a king salmon he caught Nov. 26 while fishing the Chetco River with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.

The season for late fall kings finally got going last week following the first significant storms of the year. For the Smith and Chetco, I’d say the fishing was fair. While there were some big, bright fish caught on both rivers, the overall scores were pretty underwhelming. Now granted, conditions weren’t exactly perfect, but we were all hoping to see a few more fish around. Especially bright ones. The one nice surprise was the number of jacks, or two-year old kings on the Smith. Their numbers far outweighed the adults, which is always a good sign for our future runs, but they don’t provide the smiles like a chrome bright king. Looking forward, off and on rain is in the forecast through Saturday, which should keep the Smith and Chetco at prime levels. The Humboldt rivers should also stabilize. The Mad, SF Eel, and the Van Duzen could all drop into fishable shape by Monday if the rainfall predictions are correct. With excellent river conditions on the horizon, we’ll have a real good idea by the end of the weekend if the heart of the run has already made their way upriver. If so, bring on the steelhead.

Weather ahead
“We don’t expect any huge rain events for the next week, but we do expect to see a few decent systems move through the area,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The next system will arrive Wednesday night and will linger through Thursday, with the majority of the rainfall hitting the Eel basin. Rainfall totals will be from a half to an inch in the Eel basin and a half to three-quarters in the Smith area. Light showers are predicted for Friday, with the next system hitting overnight Friday and into Saturday. Up to an inch and half could fall in the Smith basin and up to an inch in the Eel basin. Sunday and Monday are looking like they’ll be dry. Another system is forecasted for Tuesday and Wednesday, but there’s some uncertainty around this one. If the system is right over us, we could see one to two inches. If it clips us, we may see a half-inch. We’ll have to wait and see. The weather pattern does look active at least through the second week of December as of now,” said Zontos.

Anti-snagging regs lifted on the Chetco
Anti-snagging fishing gear restrictions were lifted on Tuesday after significant rains reduced snagging risks, according to a news release issued by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. These restrictions, in place to allow angling for Chetco River fall chinook salmon, are meant to curb illegal snagging.

Fall chinook anglers on the Chetco and Winchuck have been relegated to fly-fishing or fishing with a bobber while using artificial lures or bait, with leaders no longer than 3 feet. On the Chetco, the rule applied to the top of tidewater at River Mile 2.2 to the mouth of Nook Creek.

That rule typically is lifted after Nov. 4, when rains typically raise the river levels and allow the fish to move upstream. The rains did not arrive by then, so the ODFW extended the bobber rule through Dec. 31 or when rainfall allowed chinook to move upstream. The chinook bag limit on the Chetco is one per day and no more than five per year through December. For more information, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2018/11_november/112718.asp

Humboldt Steelhead Days announce fishing contest dates for 2019
The founders of Humboldt Steelhead Days, Mad River Alliance — in their 6th year of producing this annual wintertime event — announced this year’s fishing contest will occur on the Mad and Trinity Rivers and will again be limited to hatchery fish only. The three biggest hatchery fish on both rivers, caught and measured, from Jan. 19 to Feb. 23, 2019 will be eligible to win prizes and bragging rights. Anglers must register with a $10 donation in order to be entered into the contest. For more info and a complete list of events, visit http://www.humboldtsteelheaddays.com/

The Rivers:
Smith
Salmon fishing took off on the Smith Thanksgiving Day following a decent storm that opened up the river to fishing. There were a few caught on Thursday, but Friday was tougher as the river was on the rise. Saturday, the conditions were excellent and the fishing was good for most of the boats. Some nice fish were caught, along with quite a few jacks. By Sunday, the river was low and clear and the scores dropped. Tuesday night’s rain brought in some bright fish to the tidewater according to Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. “With more rain in the forecast, the river should be in excellent condition through the weekend. Hopefully we’ll see a bunch of fish come in,” added Coopman.

Chetco/Elk/Sixes
“The Chetco dropped into prime shape over the weekend, but salmon fishing was fair at best, and slow for many anglers,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Lots of dark fish are being caught, with a few bright kings. The river blew out on Tuesday, but could fish just for a few days before it rises again this weekend. A few steelhead have been caught. The bobber-only regulation has been lifted, so back-bouncing and side-drifting are now allowed.”

The Elk and Sixes both blew out on Tuesday but will be dropping into prime shape this week according to Martin. “Rain could blow the Sixes out again before the weekend. The bulk of the Elk River salmon run is expected in the coming days, but the river likely will be crowded. ODFW is radio-tagging several dozen kings for a study this fall. Any of the fish with radio tags, indicated by a hole punched onto their gillplate, must be released,” said Martin.

Mad
Forecasted to be hovering right at 7 feet by early Monday morning. If the predictions are correct, if could be fishable by Monday or Tuesday.

Eel
Main
Flows are predicted to peak at just over 8,000 cfs on the Scotia gauge on Friday afternoon, but it’s predicted to drop to 5,000 cfs by early Monday morning. A long shot to be fishable before the next storm hits.

South Fork
The Miranda area is forecasted to peak at 3,300 cfs Thursday evening. Flows should be back down to 1,100 cfs by early Monday morning. Should be worth a look.

Van Duzen
Forecasted to hit 1,330 cfs on Saturday, but should be on the drop the rest of the day and Sunday. Flows are predicted to be under 500 cfs by Monday morning. There’s a chance it could fish above Yager Creek.

Upper Trinity
With more rain in the forecast, we should see a good week of fresh steelhead moving into the upper Trinity,” said Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service. “Warmer conditions should help improve the bite, and all methods should be effective. The river was back on the drop Tuesday night. It looks like we may have some snow next week, so I expect conditions will be a little tougher, but we should have some more fish to work with,” added Huber.

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

Rain will kick-off late run of fall kings

Fishing the NC 11_22

Ryan Rintala, of Truckee, landed a nice late-fall king salmon last November on the Smith River. With rain in the forecast and the rivers on the rise, the Smith and Chetco Rivers will be good bets for the weekend. Photo courtesy of Kenny Priest/Fishing the North Coast

The season’s first sizeable storms are finally filling our local rivers with fresh rainwater. And that means hard-charging, fresh from the salt king salmon – big and bright – will be making their way up all of our coastal rivers starting now. So, if you see a family member duck out early on Thanksgiving Day, or fail to show up, now you’ll know why. A steady stream of drift boats heading north on hwy.101 is also a pretty good indicator. The Smith and Chetco should be fishable on Friday, but both will be on a pretty steady rise. Both rivers should be chocked full of bright kings, and expect plenty of debris and leaves as well. As of Wednesday, the Smith is predicted to peak at just over 7,100 cfs on the Jed Smith gauge on Friday evening. With very little rain predicted for the weekend, the river will drop quickly. It’s forecasted to be back down to 700 cfs by Monday morning. The Chetco will top out at just under 3,000 cfs on Friday night. And like the Smith, expect to battle plenty of fresh kings as well as leaves.

The Mad, Eel, and Van Duzen are all expected to rise substantially and well above the low-flow levels. They’ll likely open to fishing, but don’t expect green water. Before you head out, you’ll want to call the low-flow hotline (707-822-3164) to determine if your favorite river is open or closed to fishing. With rain in the forecast for the foreseeable future, this weekend should be just the first of many opportunities to battle the prized late-fall kings.

Weather ahead
“We can expect consistent rainfall through Friday, leading to some pretty impressive rainfall totals,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “In the Smith and Humboldt basins, we’re looking at four to five inches and six to seven in the hills through Saturday evening. Right now, Saturday and Sunday are looking mostly dry. A weak front is expected on Tuesday, with a more robust system hitting the area late Wednesday and sticking around through Friday. Looking further out, the wet pattern will be with us for at least the first couple weeks into December.”

Commercial crab season on the North Coast delayed
On Tuesday, the CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham issued a memo delaying the Northern California commercial Dungeness crab season due to poor crab meat quality test results. The delay includes Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties). Crabs tested in Eureka revealed a 17.8 percent meat recovery while Trinidad came in at 17.7 percent. Both tests were done in early November.

The northern Dungeness crab fishery is delayed until 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, Dec.16, 2018 pending another round of test results tentatively scheduled for Dec. 1. If these results indicate good quality, the fishery will open and be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018.

The southern Dungeness crab fishery opened on Nov. 15, except for the area from the southern boundary of Bodega Head State Marine Reserve, Sonoma County north to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line, which was delayed due to domoic acid. Visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2018/11/20/commercial-dungeness-crab-season-delayed-in-northern-california/ for more info.

Nov. 23 and 24 free fish days in Oregon
ODFW is waiving all fishing licensing requirements on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to experience fishing with friends and family during the long holiday weekend. All fishing, crabbing and clamming in Oregon will be free for both Oregon residents and non-residents. No licenses, tags or endorsements are needed on those days, but all other fishing regulations apply. Visit https://myodfw.com/workshops-and-events/free-fishing-days-nov-23-24 for more info.

Radio-tagged Elk River kings must be returned
On Tuesday, the ODFW issued a press release reminding Elk River anglers to release unharmed any radio-tagged fall chinook salmon caught. ODFW is conducting a research project tagging up to 100 hatchery and wild fall chinook below Elk River Hatchery.
Radio tags can often be mistaken for leaders as only the antenna is visible protruding from the fish’s mouth. ODFW encourages anglers to check carefully as it is illegal to harvest these fish.
This telemetry study will help determine the spawning migration pattern of returning Elk River fall chinook. Researchers want to establish whether hatchery origin fish return to the hatchery and fall back before spawning or spawn selectively below the hatchery. Staff installed fixed-station receivers to track the fish weekly and will conduct spawning ground surveys to recover tags. For more information, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2018/11_november/112018.asp

Upper Trinity reopens for retention of adult kings
In a press release issued on Nov. 16, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Trinity River Hatchery has determined the hatchery will have taken in more than 4,800 fall Chinook Salmon by the end of this week. According to California 2018-19 supplemental sport fishing regulations, the take of 4,800 fall Chinook Salmon at the hatchery triggers the reopening of the recreational Chinook Salmon fishery on the Upper Trinity River between the mouth of Indian Creek, near Weaverville, and Old Lewiston Bridge, at 12 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 19.

Recreational anglers will be able to harvest two Chinook salmon, with no more than one adult greater than 22 inches, per day in this reach. The possession limit is six Chinook salmon, and no more than three adults. For more information, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2018/11/16/trinity-river-upstream-of-indian-creek-reopens-for-adult-chinook-salmon-harvest-on-monday-nov-19/

The Rivers:
Smith
The Smith should open no later than Friday morning, but could potentially open on Thursday. It’s predicted to peak at 7,100 cfs on Friday evening, but this will likely change. The river should be full of bright kings, along with some darker fish that have been holding in the lower river for a while. With the first big rise of the season, you can expect lots of leaves and debris coming down river. Cleaning your gear will be a must. Also expect a crowd, local salmon anglers have been jonesing for this day for weeks.  The daily bag and possession limit is one (1) Chinook salmon and no more than five (5) wild Chinook salmon over 22 inches per year. To see if the river is open to fishing, call the hotline at 707-822-3164. Visit http://cdec.water.ca.gov/river/smithStages.html for current river levels.

Chetco/Elk/Sixes
This week’s rain should produce the best salmon fishing of the season on the Chetco according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “There are still plenty of salmon in the ocean waiting for the rain,” said Martin. “This week we released three large kings during our ocean charters off of Brookings. Anytime you catch salmon on shrimp flies there are likely a lot of kings around. Leaves will be an issue when the Chetco comes into shape.” Reminder: The anti-snagging, bobber-only regulations will continue at least through the weekend. ODFW has indicated they will wait until next week to make a decision on the lifting the regulation.  The anti-snagging gear restrictions are described on page 18 of Oregon’s 2018 Sport Fishing Regulation Book.

“The Elk and Sixes will both be full of salmon this weekend but also will be very crowded,” said Martin. “With many Oregon rivers closed to salmon fishing this fall, the two Port Orford-area rivers are the closest options for anglers from most areas of the state. The Elk usually fished well for anglers running plugs the first couple of days after the first big rain of fall and then quickly clears and turns to a back-bouncing show,” added Martin.

Upper Trinity
“The much-needed rain will definitely change the game on the upper Trinity after the weekend,” said guide Steve Huber. “The salmon season reopened above Indian Creek, which is good news. The steelhead fishing was tough this week with colder conditions.  Boats are still seeing between one to four steelhead per trip. There’s lots of wild fish around, I didn’t catch any hatchery fish this week. I expect to see some better numbers and some more fish after the weekend. With the holiday, the river will likely be crowded for the next few days.”

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

Banner North Coast opener for Dungeness crab

 

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The sport Dungeness crab season kicked off this past Saturday, and those who ventured offshore reported the crabs were plentiful and good-sized, and much meatier than last year at this time. Captain Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing set gear south of the entrance this week in 90 to 120 feet of water and reported 18 to 25 keepers per pot following an overnight soak. “The reports were similar for boats fishing south of the entrance as well as those who dropped pots right outside the jetties in 60 to 70 feet of water. Reports coming from the bay were mixed. I heard some boats did well, and some got skunked. It sounded like they weren’t everywhere, but if you fished in the right spot you could do well,” added Klassen. Opening day reports from Trinidad were about the same as Eureka – plenty of crabs and a little better grade than last year. There were no shortage of kayaks and small boats which is usually the case on opening weekend. Limits were the norm for just about everyone on a three-hour soak. Reminder: State waters from Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County (41° 8.00’ N. Latitude) north to the California/Oregon state line remains closed due to unhealthy levels of domoic acid. Testing for domoic acid is continuing, to view the results, visit https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/Pages/FDBPrograms/FoodSafetyProgram/DomoicAcid.aspx

Weekend weather and forecast
“Not much in the way of rain on the horizon,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “We may see a couple week fronts pass through next week that could drop a few hundredths in the Smith basin, but it doesn’t look like we’ll see anything in Humboldt. As of now, it’s looking dry through next week and possibly longer.”

The weekend marine forecast doesn’t look to bad for offshore crabbing, and Sunday is looking really nice. The forecast is calling for winds 10 to 15 knots out of the N on Saturday, with waves N 6 feet at 7 seconds and NW 3 feet at 11 seconds. The wind will lay down on Sunday, coming out of the NW up to 5 knots with waves N 3 feet at 7 seconds and NW 4 feet at 11 seconds. The forecast will likely change, so before you head out, check the marine forecast at www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka and click on the marine tab. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit: www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan

Friends of the Eel file petition to list summer steelhead
On Sept. 28, the Friends of the Eel River, a local non-profit organization based in Eureka, filed a petition with the California Fish and Game Commission to list Northern California summer steelhead under the California Endangered Species Act, as an endangered species. The organization stated that the California summer steelhead are a native subspecies of fish in serious danger of becoming extinct throughout all of its range due to causes including loss of habitat and change in habitat. The Summer steelhead are stream-maturing ecotype fish that enter freshwater with undeveloped gonads, and then mature over several months in freshwater. These steelhead spend the summer in typically deep, bedrock holding pools and remote canyon reaches of streams with some overhead cover and subsurface flow to keep cool until higher flows arrive in winter.

How will this listing effect the current situation with the Potter Valley Project, which PG&E has recently put up for auction? “There are currently two scenarios right now in which the PVP could be transferred to an owner other than PG&E, said Scott Greacen, Conservation Director of Friends of the Eel. “In the first, PG&E’s current efforts to “sell” work out, and the new owners get the whole setup as it now exists. In the second scenario, the auction fails, and PG&E winds up negotiating a deal to remove at least Scott Dam. In that case, it’s likely that a new entity would be created to take ownership of the PVP while dam removal happens – and, most likely, to manage what remains of the PVP as a winter-only water transfer project. What listing will do is make more explicit what’s at stake in the question whether to remove Scott Dam, and/or to relicense it, as FERC is currently in the middle of doing,” said Greacen.

“The summer steelhead that ran up the mainstem above Scott Dam were the longest (distance from the Pacific) run of steelhead in the region. If the upper mainstem run could be restored, the regional population would benefit enormously by gaining another robust population, adding to the Middle Eel and the Van Duzen populations that are now our best hope to keep these fish from blinking out.” It would be easy to believe that the FOER filed this petition to secure more water as the summer run is migrating. But that’s not the case according to Greacen. “There’s a common misunderstanding that the key issue for fisheries in the Eel is summer flows. It’s not. Summer flows are higher now than they would be without the dam (because NMFS requires basically a natural flow equivalent, plus a smallish buffer). What Scott Dam removal would give the fish, especially steelhead, is another 200 plus miles of high-quality spawning and rearing habitat above the “Lake” Pillsbury reservoir, as well as what looks like some great habitat now under the reservoir.

Currently all steelhead in the Eel are federally listed as Threatened. Under the federal ESA, the 4(d) rule allows a certain amount of harm to the threatened species, which is why anglers are allowed to catch and release North Coast steelhead. “If listed, we could see a ban on fishing for summer steelhead, which I’m not eager to see,” said Greacen. “But it seems impossible to justify any unnecessary impacts to summer steelhead at this point.”

The Fish and Game Commission will receive the petition at its December 12-13, 2018 meeting in Oceanside. It is anticipated that the Department’s evaluation and recommendation relating to the petition will be received by the Commission at its February 6-7, 2019 meeting in Redding. Interested parties may contact Kevin Shaffer at Shaffer@wildlife.ca.gov. To read the entire summer steelhead petition, visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=161715&inline

Willow Creek weir counts
For the trapping week of Oct 29 through Nov. 4, 9 jack Chinook were trapped at the weir. To date, 291 jacks have been trapped compared to 865 for the entire 2017 trapping season. This past week, 28 adult Chinook were trapped, bringing the season total to 1,234. In 2017, 1,030 total adult Chinook were trapped. There were 5 adult Coho trapped last week, the season total is now at 20. In 2017, 30 adult Coho were trapped. The steelhead numbers picked up this week compared to the previous week. A total of 54 adult steelhead were trapped during the week of Oct. 29 through Nov. 4 The previous week 7 were trapped. For the season, 527 have been counted compared to 689 for the entire 2017 season.

The Rivers:
Smith River
According to Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service, fishing on the lower end of the Smith has slowed down the last few days. “We have some pretty big tides right now, so I think the fish are able to move through the Sand Hole pretty easily,” said Coopman. “There hasn’t been much angling pressure, but there’s a lot of seals around. I think they’re working the fish over pretty good below the hole, and the fish are just blowing through. The rain we had last week moved a lot of the fish out from the lower river, and I don’t think as many moved in,” added Coopman.

Fishing the NC 11_8 photo

Tom Fritz of Brookings, right landed this 45-pound king salmon on a recent trip to the Chetco River estuary. Pictured left is guide Kenton Bansemer of Gold River Lodge. Photo courtesy of Gold River Lodge

Chetco River
The Chetco is low and clear and currently too low to get a drift boat down reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “We had one successful day bobber fishing last week and then got skunked the next day,” said Martin. “There are some kings in the tidewater area, but not a lot of room for drift boats there. Flows are down to 108 cfs with no rain in sight. Friday through Monday were good on the Chetco estuary, with most boats getting fish. We were getting two to five adult kings a day on my boat until the bite shut off Tuesday with only a few salmon for a couple dozen boats. There have been quite a few hatchery kings. The tide has now shifted to an afternoon bite period.”

 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

Sport crab season set to open Saturday

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The 2018 sport Dungeness crab season will open on Saturday along most of the North Coast. State waters from Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County (41° 8.00’ N. Latitude) north to the California/Oregon state line will remain closed due to unhealthy levels of domoic acid. Photo courtesy of Kenny Priest/Fishing the North Coast

The always-popular recreational Dungeness crab season will open state-wide this Saturday, with one big exception. State waters from Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County (41° 8.00’ N. Latitude) north to the California/Oregon state line will remain closed due to unhealthy levels of domoic acid. This closure, which will keep Crescent City anglers off the water, will remain in effect until domoic acid no longer poses a significant risk to public health. CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in Dungeness crab to determine when the Dungeness crab recreational fishery in this area can safely be opened.

South of the closure, the season’s first traps can legally be deployed at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday morning. Anglers will get their first peak into the health and weight of this season’s crop as the results from the pre-season quality tests have not been made public. Word on the street is there’s plenty of crab, but they aren’t as meaty as we’d like. A typical year will find the meat content at around 20 percent, with the theory being that crabs will add one percent of meat a week and reach the 25 percent mark for the commercial opener of Dec. 1. Meaty crabs or not, we’re just happy that the season is opening on time for the majority of the North Coast.

In areas where season isn’t delayed, including parts of Humboldt and Mendocino, the season runs from Saturday, Nov. 3 through July 30, 2019. The minimum size is five and three-quarter inches measured by the shortest distance through the body from edge of shell to edge of shell directly in front of and excluding the points (lateral spines) and the limit is 10. A valid California sport fishing license is required. For more information regarding recreational Dungeness crab fishing regulations and other crab species, visit http://www.eregulations.com/california/fishing/saltwater/invertebrate-fishing-regulations/

CDFW is reminding crabbers of the new state regulations that went into effect on Aug. 1 2016, regarding the crab fisheries and crab trap requirements. Dungeness crab size and bag limits are now uniform statewide.

1) Crab trap buoys must display the “GO ID” number of the operator of the trap.

2) Crab traps must contain at least one destruct device made from a single strand of untreated cotton twine size No. 120 or less that creates an unobstructed opening anywhere in the top or upper half of the trap that is at least 5 inches in diameter when this material corrodes or fails.

3) Crab traps must not be deployed or fished seven days prior to the opening of the Dungeness crab season.

4) Every crab trap must be outfitted with two rigid circular escape openings that are a minimum of 4.25 inches in diameter and located so that the lowest portion is at the most five (5) inches from the top of the trap. This is to allow small crabs to easily escape from the trap.

For a complete list of crab trap regulations, visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=150181&inline

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

If you don’t have means to head offshore, you can still find plenty of crab. One of the top spots to soak a few rings is Crab Park, located at the end of Cannibal Island Rd., 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 Rd., 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 looks to be the case this weekend.

Woodley Island sport crab trips
Captains Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing and Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sport Fishing are both booking crab trips out of Woodley Island beginning Saturday. Trips will generally last two hours. Departure times will depend on the tides, but most often they’ll leave sometime in the morning. To book a trip with Reel Steel Sport Fishing, call 707-499-4925. Full Throttle can be reached at 707 498-7473 The weekend trips fill up quick, so you’ll want to call early to reserve your spot.

Marine Forecast
Ocean conditions don’t look too bad for the weekend, with no advisories posted as of Wednesday. Saturday’s forecast is calling for N winds 5 to 10 knots with N waves 3 feet at 5 seconds and W 5 feet at 11 seconds. Sunday is looking similar, with winds out of the NW 5 to 10 knots and NW waves 3 feet at 5 seconds and NW 8 feet at 13 seconds. The forecast will likely change, so before you head out, check the marine forecast at www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka and click on the marine tab. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit: www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan

Weekend Tides – Humboldt Bay

  • Sat., Nov. 3 (High: 9:23 a.m. and 9:20 p.m.) (Low: 2:36 a.m. and 3:24 p.m.)

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

  • Sun., Nov. 4 (High: 9:05 a.m. and 9:24 p.m.) (Low: 2:29 a.m. and 3:18 p.m.)

Weekend Weather forecast
“We may see a little bit of rain this Sunday, but it won’t be much,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The Smith basin may see a tenth, and less than that will fall in Humboldt. Next week is looking dry as well, though we will see some weak fronts trying to move into the area. Until the high pressure breaks down off the coast, it looks like all of the storms will be pushed to the north.”

River Closures
As of Thursday morning, all the North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen are closed. Sections of rivers that are open include the main stem Eel River from the paved junction of Fulmor Road to its mouth, the main stem Mad River from the Hammond Trail Railroad Trestle to its mouth and the main stem Smith River from the mouth of Rowdy Creek to its mouth. 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.

Klamath re-opens above I-5
On Monday, Oct. 29, the Klamath River between Interstate 5, near Hornbrook, and 3,500 feet below the hatchery reopens to the take of Chinook salmon over 22 inches. The Iron Gate Hatchery has met the 8,000 adult fish number needed for spawning purposes. Recreational anglers will be able to harvest two Chinook Salmon, but no more than one adult greater than 22 inches, per day in this reach. The possession limit is six Chinook Salmon with no more than three adults. Reopening this stretch of the Klamath River is designed to allow anglers to catch surplus hatchery Chinook salmon now that the number of adults needed for spawning has been achieved at the hatchery. For more information, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2018/10/26/klamath-river-upstream-of-interstate-5-to-reopen-to-adult-chinook-salmon-harvest-on-monday-oct-29/

Smith River
Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service reports quite a few fish are being caught at the Sand Hole by boats and bank anglers. He said, “The fishing has been pretty good first thing in the morning, and then it gets a little tougher when the sun hits the water. It’s been fairly crowded, with up to 20 boats a day and an equal number of bankies. The rain we had last weekend was enough to move the fish out of the lower river and bring in some new ones. I’ve heard there’s fish as far up as Gasquet.” The Smith remains closed to fishing above Rowdy Creek due to low flows.

Chetco
“There were big numbers of salmon in the Chetco tidewater before Monday’s rain, but many appear to have shot upriver above the fishing deadline at Nook Bar,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “They could be seen splashing through the riffles as they quickly moved upstream throughout the day on Monday. A few salmon are holding at Social Security Bar and the Highway Hole. From there to Nook, fishing has been spotty. The river was high enough for drift boats to get down Monday and Tuesday. Overall fishing was slow. ODFW netted 30 salmon for the hatchery on Tuesday at the Highway Hole. The bobber-only regulations will continue until a major rain. ODFW announced the bobber regulation could continue into December, but also assured guides and other anglers the special anti-snagging regulation will be lifted with the first major rise in flows. Biologists are concerned about salmon being held up at Social Security Bar by low water and the snag fest that could ensue if the bobber regulation was lifted.”

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

Sport crab opener delayed north of Trinidad

Fishing the NC 10_25 photo

Tim Klassen, left, and Lonnie Dollarhide sort through a pot of sport-caught Dungeness crab in 2017. Due to dangerous levels of domoic acid, the California Department of Public Health is recommending a delay in the opening of the recreational crab season near Patrick’s Point north to the Oregon border. Photo courtesy of Kenny Priest/Fishing the North Coast

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a press release on Wednesday advising recreational anglers not to eat Dungeness crab caught between Patrick’s Point North and the Oregon border. This warning is due to the detection of elevated levels of domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxin.

The statewide recreational Dungeness crab season is scheduled to open on Saturday, Nov. 3 and the commercial season on Dec. 1. The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with CDPH, has recommended a delay in the opening of the recreational crab season near Patrick’s Point North to the Oregon border.

On Thursday, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham enacted the delay to the opening of the recreational Dungeness crab fishery from Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County (41° 8.00’ N. Latitude) north to the California/Oregon state line. The recreational fishery for Dungeness crab will open for remaining areas as scheduled on Saturday, Nov. 3.

The recreational crab season in Oregon was halted on Oct. 15 due to high levels of domoic acid. It remains closed from Cape Blanco south to the California border.

Dangerous levels of domoic acid have been detected in the body meat and internal organs of Dungeness crab from this region. Cooking crabs neither decreases nor destroys the toxin. To date, five of the six crabs tested out of Crescent City (George Reef) were above the FDA action level of 30 parts per million. The six crab tested near the Klamath River were clean. In Trinidad, six crab were tested in the north region, and another six in the south region. The Trinidad north crabs ranged from 3.3 to 46 ppm, resulting in 33 percent exceeding the action level of 30 ppm. The Trinidad south crabs fell below the action level. Elevated levels of domoic acid was also found in Bodega Bay, but San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, Monterey and Morro Bay regions were clean in the first round of testing.
CDPH will continue to coordinate its efforts with the CDFW and the fishing community to collect and test Dungeness crab samples from the impacted areas until domoic acid levels have dissipated. Test results are updated as laboratory results become available and can be viewed at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/Pages/FDBPrograms/FoodSafetyProgram/DomoicAcid.aspx

Weekend Weather
“A weak front will pass through on Friday, but most of the precipitation will fall to our north,” said Kathleen Lewis of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “We don’t expect much rain to fall in the Smith basin, maybe a few hundredths of an inch. The next chance for rain will be on Sunday and into Monday morning. The Smith could see from a quarter to three-quarters, and possibly more in the mountains. Here locally we could see up to a half-inch and up to three-quarters in some areas. There will be a few weak glancing systems coming next week, but none are expected to raise the river levels,” Lewis added.

Eel River salmon movie showing on Saturday
The Eel River Recovery Project has produced a new movie that will be shown at the Monday Club in Fortuna on Saturday, October 27. The film debut is part of the annual ERRP Volunteer Awards Dinner, which will follow the movie. The movie is entitled Signs of Resilience: 2012-2017 Eel River Fall Chinook Salmon Trends and documents the fact that there have been between 10,000 and 50,000 Chinook annually since surveys began.

The movie was produced by Sirius Studios and provides a window on the beauty of the Eel River watershed in all seasons.  The movie will be shown at 3 PM and will be followed by an hour of acoustic music during which appetizers and beer and wine will be served.  There is a $10 charge for dinner, which starts at 5:30 PM and includes delicious rock fish from Pacific Choice Seafoods and oysters from Coast Seafood.  For more information, see www.eelriverrecovery.org, follow ERRP on Facebook or call 223-7200.

Willow Creek weir counts
For the trapping week of Oct 15 through Oct. 21, 10 jacks were trapped at the weir. To date, 275 jacks have been trapped compared to 865 for the entire 2017 trapping season. This past week, 129 adult Chinook were trapped, bringing the season total to 1,112. In 2017, 1,030 total adult Chinook were trapped. There were no adult Coho trapped last week, the season total remains at 14. In 2017, 30 adult Coho were trapped. The steelhead numbers slowed way down this week as well compared to the previous week. A total of 5 adult steelhead were trapped during the week of Oct. 15 through 21. The previous week 68 were trapped. For the season, 467 have been counted compared to 689 for the entire 2017 season.

Upper Trinity closing to the take of adult kings
According to Dan Troxel, Environmental Scientist with the CDFW Klamath River Project, the upper Trinity River, from the Old Lewiston Bridge down to the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat, will be closed to adult Chinook salmon harvest as of Monday October 29. He said, “The Department estimates that the quota for this sector will have been met as of 11:59 p.m. Monday, October 28. As with the other sectors in the basin, it will remain open to recreational angling for jack Chinook (22” or less) and hatchery marked steelhead.” The daily bag limit is two jacks and two hatchery steelhead. For more information, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2018/10/24/upper-trinity-river-quota-met/

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Ben and Jared Boorman holds some of the late-season lingcod and rockfish they caught last week off the coast of Brookings. Photo courtesy of Brookings Charter Fishing

Brookings Harbor
According to Andy Martin, who runs Brookings Fishing Charters, rough weather conditions have limited ocean trips to a day or two a week out of Brookings. “This weekend’s big swell may keep boats at the dock. Fishing is very good for rockfish, but slower for the lingcod, in part because of the large swell,” added Martin.

The Rivers:
River Closures
Currently, all the North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen are closed. Sections of rivers that are open include the main stem Eel River from the paved junction of Fulmor Road to its mouth, the main stem Mad River from the Hammond Trail Railroad Trestle to its mouth and the main stem Smith River from the mouth of Rowdy Creek to its mouth.

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.

Lower Klamath
A few bright fish are still being caught, but the run is definitely at the tail end. The boat pressure is light, most anglers are now waiting for rain to open up the Smith and Chetco. The daily bag limit is two jack Chinook 22-inches or less and two hatchery steelhead.

Smith
Quite a few salmon are being caught between the mouth and the Sand Hole reports Britt Carson of Englund Marine. “We started out seeing lots of jacks, but now we’re seeing some really nice salmon. There’s been some pretty big ones caught already. Most of the fish are coming on gold and copper Cleo’s, but some are being caught on sand shrimp too,” added Carson

Chetco
Salmon fishing is fair in the Chetco estuary, as fish move from the ocean into the upper tidewater reports Martin. He said, “Lots of fish are stacking up at the head of tide, but fishing is tough with low, clear conditions. ODFW collected fish for the hatchery program by netting the deep hole Social Security Bar. Nearly 70 kings were transported to the hatchery for the broad stock program. Anglers are having fair success with bobbers and roe or anchovy tails.”

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

Upper Trinity
The fishing pressure remains heaviest in the Junction City area, but there are fish spread throughout the Trinity reports guide Steve Huber. “Our trips have been a combination of both salmon and steelhead, there’s plenty of both around ” said Huber. “We’re catching some salmon that are in really good, shape, but there’s also quite a few that are past their prime. There’s quite a few jacks around, but most of them are dark. With the water level now at 300 cfs, there’s a few spots that are pretty shallow. You’ll need to drag your boat through a couple areas. Plugs, roe, spinners and flies are all catching fish,” added Huber.

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

 

Rockfish, tuna still viable options out of Eureka

Fishing the NC 10_18 photo

Eureka resident Dee Lehman landed a nice albacore tuna on Oct. 5 while fishing out of Eureka. Photo courtesy of Tim Klassen/Reel Steel Sport Fishing

Even though the calendar is creeping towards November, there’s still a few viable options for Eureka offshore anglers. A few boats ran for tuna out of Eureka on Monday, and even more made the trek out of Crescent City. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing made the run from Eureka and found good conditions roughly 45 miles from the Humboldt Bay entrance. “The water color and temperature were good, but we didn’t find any big concentrations of fish,” said Klassen. “We got a handful on baits stops and the rest came on the troll. We ended the day with 10, and one of the other boats landed 15.” The scores coming from Crescent City weren’t as good, the top boat reportedly boated three. The warm water is still out there, and weather conditions look good through the weekend. I won’t be surprised if more boats give it a go. The calm weather also opened the door for easy trips down to Cape Mendocino, where the ling cod continue to chew up any and all baits. The rockfish bite is still going strong as well, but the 20-fathom depth limit has made it a little tougher to find the bigger fish. And to top it all off, the California halibut are still roaming the bay. Klassen spent Saturday morning in the middle channel and boated limits for his crew. “The bite wasn’t wide-open, but it was pretty good. We had limits before noon after a late start. We didn’t land anything big, most of the fish were right around 24-inches,” added Klassen. With our weather pattern potentially changing next week, this could be one of the last opportunities for offshore adventures.

Rain coming next week
According to Kathleen Lewis of Eureka’s National Weather Service, we could see a pattern shift beginning next week. “We have a couple systems moving in, with the first one arriving on Tuesday and Wednesday. In the Smith basin we could see about a half inch to an inch over the course of two days. Here locally we’ll see less, with up to a half-inch forecasted. The next system will arrive for Thursday and Friday. Right now, the models are conflicting, one is showing dry conditions and the other wet. The wet model is predicting from one to two inches of rain along the North Coast, including the Smith and Eel basins,” Lewis added.

Weekend Marine Forecast
As of Wednesday, the weekend marine forecast is looking very fishable, possibly good enough for a tuna run. Friday’s forecast is calling for N winds 5 to 10 knots and waves out of the N 3 feet at 5 seconds and W 5 feet at 13 seconds. Saturday, NW winds are forecasted up to 5 knots with waves NW 3 feet at 7 seconds and NW 3 feet at 13 seconds. Winds will be similar on Sunday, up to 5 knots coming out of the S with N waves 2 feet at 6 seconds and NW 5 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/. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 707-443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 707-443-6484.

Crabs being tested for domoic acid
The season’s first domoic acid crab survey was taken in Trinidad on Sept. 27. Six crab were tested in the north region, and another six in the south region. The Trinidad north crabs ranged from 3.3 to 46 ppm, resulting in 33 percent exceeding the action level of 30 ppm. The Trinidad south crabs fell below the action level. For current test results, visit https://bit.ly/2J5X2Gj. Results of future testing can be found here: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/Pages/FDBPrograms/FoodSafetyProgram/DomoicAcid.aspx

Fishing the NC 10_18 photo salmon

Timi Schleiger of Sacramento landed a beautiful Chinook salmon while fishing outside of the Chetco river on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Steve Huber/Steve Huber’s Guide Service

Chetco bubble season wrap-up
There were some quality kings caught during the Chetco Bubble season, but the last two days were really hampered by windy conditions. Some big fish were weighed in, with a 42-pounder the largest fish reported. There were quite a few in the 25 to 30-pound class, but overall, the number of fish landed wasn’t great. According to Eric Schindler of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the four-day bubble season in the ocean off of Brookings produced 427 adult salmon. There were 288 caught Oct. 6-7 with 796 angler trips during the opening weekend. There were also 129 salmon released. Effort was up and catches were down the second weekend, with 140 salmon kept out of 1,312 angler trips.

Willow Creek weir counts
For the trapping week of Oct 8 through Oct. 14, 26 jacks were trapped at the weir. To date, 265 jacks have been trapped compared to 865 for the entire 2017 trapping season. This past week, 157 adult Chinook were trapped, bringing the season total to 983. In 2017, 1,030 total adult Chinook were trapped. Also last week, 11 adult Coho were trapped, bringing the season total to 14. In 2017, 30 adult Coho were trapped. The steelhead numbers slowed down this week as well compared to the previous week. A total of 68 adult steelhead were trapped during the week of Oct. 8 through 14. The previous week 176 were trapped. For the season, 462 have been counted compared to 689 for the entire 2017 season.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Bright kings are still being caught on the lower Klamath, but most of the boats are finding better success above Blue Creek. There isn’t much pressure this time of the year, but the fishing can be lights out as some of the late-run kings start to stage in front of the bigger creeks. The daily bag limit is two jack Chinook 22-inches or less and two hatchery steelhead.

Chetco
The Chetco estuary fished well on Monday and was fair on Tuesday, with mostly jacks reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “Big numbers of salmon have already moved upriver, with fish from the Highway 101 bridge all the way to Social Security Bar. There is a decent bobber bite at first light, but with sunny, warm weather, the action is short lived. We have rain coming next week, and early indicators show it could be enough to make the river driftable.”

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

Smith
A few salmon are being caught at the mouth reports Chris Hegne’s of Englund Marine. “Cleo’s and Kastmasters have been the ticket, and they’re getting a few at the Sand Hole using the same gear,” added Hegnes

Upper Trinity
You’ll find fish from Lewiston all the way down to Willow Creek reports guide Steve Huber. “We’re finding plenty of salmon, and the steelhead action is improving. With the water down to 300 cfs, most of the salmon are now sitting in the holes. This week we’re seeing more salmon in the 10-pound range and we’re hooking up to five per trip. The steelhead are running three to five pounds, and we’re getting a chance at two to four per day.  We’ve been running plugs for the salmon and side-drifting roe for the steelhead,” said Huber. The Trinity remains open to the retention of one adult king and one jack, (or two jacks) and two hatchery steelhead.

Lower Trinity
Curt Wilson of Curt Wilson CA Fishing Guides reports the lower Trinity is still seeing a constant push of bright kings moving in. “The bite isn’t wide-open, but it’s been pretty easy to get your one adult limit There hasn’t been very many jacks around lately. There’s lots of half-pounders in the river, and we’re catching the occasional adult steelhead,” Wilson added.

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

Chetco Bubble fishery kicking out some big kings

Fishing the NC_10_11 photo

Paul Bochner of Reedsport, OR holds a 30-pound king salmon caught Oct. 7 off the mouth of the Chetco. The Chetco Bubble fishery will close this Sunday, Oct. 14. Photo courtesy of Andy Martin/Wild Rivers Fishing.

The Chetco bubble season got off to another slow start, but quickly rebounded with plenty of big kings hitting the net over the weekend. “Fishing was fair on Saturday and good on Sunday once everyone figured out where the fish were,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing out of Brookings. “Big swells to 10 feet and strong northwest winds made trolling tough at times, but good numbers of salmon were holding between Salmon Rock and the red buoy. Sand was churned up from the swell, so Fish Flash flashers were more effective with the dirty water. A few salmon to 40 pounds were weighed in, but most were 15 to 25 pounds. There also were a lot of jacks and small adults landed. The minimum keeper size is 28 inches.” According to Martin, the forecast looks better this weekend, with a smaller swell and lighter winds, especially on Sunday. “With less swell, the areas near the beach and right at the mouth of the Chetco will be more productive, added Martin.”

The bubble season will wrap up on Sunday, Oct. 14. The daily bag limit is one (1) Chinook per angler. If you plan on making the trip to Brookings for the weekend, make sure and check the forecast prior to leaving home. For a complete list of regulations, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/salmon/Regulations/docs/2018_Chetco_State_Waters.pdf

Weekend marine forecast
The gusty north winds and steep seas will gradually diminish during Thursday, leaving good conditions beginning on Friday. Northeast winds are forecasted for Friday up to 5 knots with waves NW 3 feet at 5 seconds and NW 2 feet at 13 seconds. Saturday forecast is calling for N winds up to 5 knots and waves N 7 feet at 7 seconds and NW 2 feet at 12 seconds. Sunday is looking a little better, with N winds up to 5 knots and NW waves 5 feet at 9 seconds and SW 3 feet at 18 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 707-443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 707-443-6484.

Free recreational vessel exams
On Saturday October 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., there will be free recreational vessel exams at Woodley Island Marina. H and I parking lots will be available for people wishing to bring their vessel in on a trailer for an inspection. If you would like to schedule an inspection for another date and time, you may contact Floyd Spencer at 707-677-2077.

Upper Klamath quota update
In a press release issued on Wednesday, the CDFW projects the recreational catch of fall Chinook salmon will meet the Upper Klamath adult fall Chinook Salmon quota below Iron Gate Dam for the 2018 season as of 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Oct.14. This triggers the closure of the adult Chinook Salmon fishery on the main stem of the Klamath River from 3,500 feet downstream of the Iron Gate Dam to the Highway 96 bridge at Weitchpec. All reaches on the main stem Klamath (except the within 100 yards of the mouth) remain open for harvest of jack (two-year-old) Chinook Salmon (22 inches or less). 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 Upper and Lower Trinity River sub-quota areas. You can monitor the quota status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling the information hotline at (800) 564-6479.

Trinity flows dropping
Flows coming out of Lewiston Dam will be reduced beginning Sunday, Oct. 14, going from 450 cfs down to 300 cfs by next Tuesday.

Willow Creek weir trappings
“We had some success at the Willow Creek weir this past week, but it wasn’t quite what we were hoping for,” said Mary Claire Kier, an Environmental Scientist on the Trinity. “The steelhead showed up and we got a few Coho, but the Chinook numbers dropped from the prior week, partially due to bear damage to the weir.” For the trapping week of Oct 1 through Oct. 7, 39 Chinook jacks were trapped at the weir. To date, 239 jacks have been trapped compared to 865 for the entire 2017 trapping season. This past week, 169 adult Chinook were trapped, bringing the season total to 826. In 2017, 1,895 total adult Chinook were trapped.

The Oceans:
Eureka
Rough water since the weekend has kept the ocean fleet tied up. Last Friday a few boats took advantage of a short weather window and ran for tuna. Among the boats was Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “The warm water was roughly 30 miles from the entrance, west of Trinidad,” said Klassen. “There were two good patches about a mile and a half apart that both had tuna. We worked those areas for 25 albacore, with sizes ranging from 12 to 25 pounds. We had some really good live bait stops, and got a few on the troll as well. The next weather window looks to be early next week, we’ll just have to see where the warm water ends up after the wind comes down.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The mouth has sanded over, but it’s not completely plugged reports Alan Borges of Alan’s Guide Service. “There isn’t a lot of fish on the lower river right now. The fish that are there are moving quickly. The bigger concentrations of fish are upriver now, and all the ones we’re catching are bright. This time of the year, you really need to chase the fish, they aren’t holding at any of the spots very long. We’re starting to see some nice adult steelhead around and some Coho have shown up” Borges said.

Upper/Middle Trinity
According to guide Steve Huber, the slide on Deadwood Creek blew out the upper Trinity earlier in the week. He said, “That was one of the creeks impacted by the fire. Once the water started to clear, the fishing picked right back up. There’s plenty of both salmon and steelhead on the upper and middle sections. All methods – pulling plugs, roe, and fly fishing – are catching fish. There’s a lot of salmon already on their spawning beds, which is a really good sign. The water levels will be dropping starting on Sunday, so we could use a good shot of rain,” added Huber. The Trinity remains open to the retention of one adult king and one jack, (or two jacks) and two hatchery steelhead.

Lower Trinity
Curt Wilson of Curt Wilson CA Fishing Guides reports the Trinity has been really good, with lots of fish on the lower end. “The river was pretty dirty on Monday due to a slide up river, but it cleared back up by Tuesday,” said Wilson. “We’re catching our share of adult kings, and there’s lots of jacks around as well. All of the kings are coming on Kwikfish or back-bounced bait. We’re starting to see some nice steelhead show up too,” Wilson added.

Lower Rogue
The Rogue Bay has slowed with only a few fish a day being caught according to Martin. “Many of the silvers also have moved upriver. Boat pressure is now light on the Rogue,” said Martin

Chetco
Jacks are being caught on bobbers and roe at Social Security Bar up the Chetco reports Martin. “Last week’s rain was not enough to raise the river enough for drift boats to navigate the river,” added Martin. 

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