Coastal saltwater season set to take off

Fishing the NC photo 4_26

Charlie Arce of Smith River and Mike Van Camp of Brookings hold a pair of lingcod caught over the weekend while fishing with Capt. Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. Pacific halibut and rockfish season will open along the North Coast next Tuesday, May 1. Photo courtesy of Andy Martin/Brookings Fishing Charters

Next Tuesday marks day one of our ocean sport fishing season on the North Coast as both rockfish and halibut will finally open, bringing with it tons of excitement, optimism and relief. Following a year in which we had a limited abalone season and total closures of both salmon and razor clams, we could all use a little saltwater therapy. As anglers take to the ocean next Tuesday — weather and conditions permitting – the hope is all the bad news will slowly fade into the horizon, leaving only happy thoughts of big lings and barn door-sized halibut.

May 1 openers:

Pacific Halibut: The 2018 Pacific halibut fishery will have four open periods, May 1-June 15, July 1-15, August 1-15 and Sept. 1-Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. The quota allotment for 2018 will be 30,940 pounds. CDFW will again monitor catches of Pacific halibut during the season and provide catch projection updates on the CDFW Pacific halibut webpage, https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking. The limit remains at one, with no size restrictions. No more than one line with two hooks attached can be used.

Rockfish: Changes made prior to the 2017 season will carry over into 2018 for the Northern Management Area, which runs from the Oregon border to Cape Mendocino. The season for boat-based anglers will again run from May 1 through Oct. 31 within 180 feet and Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 with no depth restrictions. In 2018, the one big change is the sub-bag limit for canary rockfish will increase from one fish to two within the RCG daily bag limit of 10 fish, effective Saturday, April 14, 2018 statewide.

Summary of regulations: The daily bag limit per person is a 10-fish combination. Exceptions include three Cabezon, two Canary, and three black rockfish allowed per person as part of their 10-fish bag limit. Cabezon have a minimum 15-inch size limit and Kelp and/or rock greenlings must be 12-inches. The daily bag limit of Lingcod is two per person and they must be 22-inches in length. The take and possession of Cowcod, Bronzespotted rockfish, and Yelloweye rockfish will remain prohibited statewide. Petrale sole and Starry flounder can be retained year- round at all depths with no size limit. For more information about recreational groundfish regulations within the northern mgt. area, please call the hotline at 831-649-2801 or visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Groundfish-Summary#north

Marine forecast
It’s a little far out to predict what Tuesday will bring, but if Monday’s forecast is any indication, we may see some long faces hanging around the boat launches. Monday’s forecast is calling for NW winds 20 to 30 knots with waves out of the NW 10 feet at 5 seconds and NW 4 feet at 12 seconds. These conditions will most likely change before next Tuesday. For an up-to-date marine forecast, visit http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/

Tuesday, May 1 tides – Humboldt Bay
For anglers who aren’t aware, extreme caution should always be used when crossing the bar. The combination of large swells and outgoing morning tides could make for a dangerous bar crossing. On Tuesday, 7.4 ft. of water will be flowing out down to an -0.7. This could make for a dangerous bar crossing if the swells are large. If you’re planning on hitting the bar at daylight, always check the conditions first. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan or check out the bar cam located at www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/barCam/?cam=humboldtBayBar

Tuesday May 1 (High: 1:22 a.m. (7.4 ft.) and 2:33 p.m. (5.9 ft.) (Low: 7:48 a.m. (-0.7) and 7:38 p.m. (2.1 ft.)

Trinidad launch ready to go
The Trinidad launch will be open on Tuesday and ready to launch boats if the weather allows. The moorings are all in for the season. Hours of business will be 6:15 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather depending. For more info, call 707-677-3625.

Big Halibut Contest
Don’t forget, Eureka’s Englund Marine will be holding its BIG FISH Halibut Contest this again year. The annual event runs from May 1 to October 31, 2018. There is no entry fee and you can enter as many fish as you’d like. Fish do not need to be gutted and gilled. Prizes will be awarded to the top three fish. A complete list of rules and regulations are available at Englund Marine, 2 Commercial St., Eureka, 707-444-9266.

Perch’n on the Peninsula coming Saturday
The Samoa Peninsula Fire District will be hosting their 9th Annual Perch’n on the Peninsula Surfperch Fishing Tournament and Fish Fry Fundraiser this Saturday, April 28.

The fishing tournament begins at sunrise with the check-in deadline at 2:00 p.m., prize presentations will begin at 3:00 p.m. with the fish fry beginning at noon. 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, or Shafer’s Ace Hardware in Eureka. For more information, call (707) 443-9042 or visit www.samoafire.org.

Brookings rockfish update
“Bottom fishing has been very good out of Brookings, with easy limits of rockfish and limits of lingcod on most days, said Andy Martin, who runs Brookings Fishing Charters. “A strong drift of more than 1.5 knots made the lingcod bite tougher on Tuesday. Good conditions are in the forecast all week.”

The Rivers:
Main Stem Eel
The main stem Eel is green and fishable, but is still a little on the big side. As of Wednesday, it was running at just over 4,500 cfs on the Scotia gauge. It should be in really good shape by the weekend and into early next week.

Lower Rogue
Spring salmon fishing has improved on the Rogue, which is also getting crowded on the lower end reported Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “Guides are averaging a fish per boat, with a little more than half hatchery fish. Flows remain good. The bite was late in the day last week, but switched over to the morning with this week’s tides.”

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

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Posted in Current Fishing Reports

Klamath and Trinity River quotas and regulations – Fall 2018

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In 2018, 3,490-adult fall Chinook are available for sport harvest in the Klamath and Trinity Rivers. The daily bag limit is Two (2) Chinook salmon, of which no more than one (1) may be more than 22 inches in length. The possession limit is six (6) Chinook salmon, of which no more than three (3) may be more than 22 inches in length.

Klamath River:

Fall regulations will begin on Aug. 15 and run through Dec. 31.

  • 1,745 adults will be allowed for sport harvest from the Highway 96 bridge at Weitchpec to the river mouth.
  • 593 adults will be allowed for sport harvest above the 96 bridge at Weitchpec to 3,500 feet downstream of the Iron Gate Dam.
  • 523 adults can be harvested below the 101 bridge. The Spit Area (within 100 yards of the channel through the sand spit formed at the Klamath River mouth) will close when 15 percent (523) of the total Klamath River Basin quota is taken downstream of the Highway 101 bridge. Only the spit area will close to fishing once this quota is met, fishing will remain open upriver of the spit.
    • All legally caught adult salmon must be retained.
    • Anglers must leave the spit area once their adult daily bag is met
    • Anglers can fish other areas of the Klamath to fill their jack component of their daily bag.

Spring-run Chinook salmon fishing regulations began on Jan. 1 and will run through Aug. 14, with a daily bag and possession limit of two Chinook salmon. The take of salmon is prohibited on the Klamath River from Iron Gate Dam downstream to Weitchpec from Jan. 1 through Aug. 14.

Trinity River:

Fall regulations will begin on Sept. 1 and run through Dec. 31, with a quota of 1,152 adults

  • 576 adults for the main stem Trinity downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat
  • 576 adults for the main stem Trinity downstream of the Denny Road bridge at Hawkins Bar to the confluence with the Klamath
  • The main stem downstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to the Denny Road Bridge in Hawkins Bar is closed to all fishing September 1 through December 31.
  • The take of salmon is prohibited from the confluence of the South Fork Trinity River downstream to the confluence of the Klamath River from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31.

The Trinity is open to spring-run Chinook salmon fishing from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31. The daily bag and possession limit is two Chinook salmon.

Once these quotas have been met, no Chinook salmon greater than 22 inches in length may be retained (anglers may still retain a limit of Chinook salmon under 22 inches in length).

Klamath -Trinity River hotline is 800-564-6479. All anglers on the Trinity and Klamath rivers must have Salmon Harvest Cards in their possession when fishing for salmon.

Posted in Current Fishing Reports

Quotas set for Klamath and Trinity rivers

In an interesting twist of events, the Klamath River will likely provide better fishing opportunities than the mighty Sacramento this season. That’s quite a turnaround from last year when fears of extremely low salmon returns prompted a full closure for ocean salmon within the KMZ and fall kings on the Klamath and Trinity. But it turned out the adult returns weren’t as bad as feared – 31,838 returned compared to 18,410 predicted. The rebuilding process was boosted by the 21,903 jacks (two-year old salmon) that also made their way upriver. These surprisingly-good jack counts led the CDFW to predict roughly 93,500 adult kings would return to the Klamath this fall. An average year will see roughly 122,000 adults returning.

Along with a healthy in-river return, 359,200 Klamath River fall Chinook adults are said to be swimming in the ocean. Together, Klamath fall king numbers will provide a generous ocean salmon season within the KMZ and a modest adult salmon quota for the Klamath/Trinity Rivers. And speaking of quotas, the CA Fish and Game Commission last Thursday unanimously approved the 3,490-adult fall Chinook in-river quota that was recommended by the PFMC for the Klamath and Trinity.

On the Klamath, fall regulations will begin on Aug. 15 and run through Dec. 31 with a daily bag limit of 2 Chinook salmon, of which no more than 1 may be more than 22 inches in length. The possession limit is 6 Chinook salmon, of which no more than 3 may be more than 22 inches in length. On the Lower Klamath, from the Highway 96 bridge at Weitchpec to the mouth, 1,745 adults will be allowed for sport harvest. The section above the 96 bridge at Weitchpec to 3,500 feet downstream of the Iron Gate Dam will get 593 adults.

The Spit Area (within 100 yards of the channel through the sand spit formed at the Klamath River mouth) will close when 15 percent of the total Klamath River Basin quota is taken downstream of the Highway 101 bridge. In 2018, 523 adults can be harvested below the 101 bridge. Only the spit area will close to fishing once this quota is met, fishing will remain open upriver of the spit.

Spring-run Chinook salmon fishing regulations began on Jan. 1 and run through Aug. 14, with a daily bag and possession limit of two salmon. The take of salmon is prohibited on the Klamath River from Iron Gate Dam downstream to Weitchpec from Jan. 1 through Aug. 14.

On the Trinity side, which will be open to fall-run Chinook salmon fishing Sept. 1 and run through Dec. 31, the quota is set at 1,152 adults. The quota will be split evenly; 576 adults for the main stem Trinity downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat and 576 adults for the main stem Trinity downstream of the Denny Road bridge at Hawkins Bar to the confluence with the Klamath. The main stem downstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to the Denny Road Bridge in Hawkins Bar is closed to all fishing September 1 through December 31.

The Trinity is open to spring-run Chinook salmon fishing from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31. The daily bag and possession limit is two Chinook salmon. The take of salmon is prohibited from the confluence of the South Fork Trinity River downstream to the confluence of the Klamath River from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31.

Once these quotas have been met, no Chinook salmon greater than 22 inches in length may be retained (anglers may still retain a limit of Chinook salmon under 22 inches in length). The 2018 sport seasons, dates, locations and bag limits will be published in the 2018-2019 Sport Fishing Regulations Supplement, which will be posted online in May. Additional season information is available on the Klamath-Trinity River hotline at 800-564-6479. All anglers on the Trinity and Klamath rivers must have Salmon Harvest Cards in their possession when fishing for salmon.

Trinity River restoration program water releases
The official water year designation for the Trinity River in 2018 is “Critically Dry” according to the Trinity River Restoration Program. With that, the Bureau of Reclamation announced on Monday releases from Lewiston Dam into the Trinity River would increase to a peak flow of only 1,900 cfs as part of the Trinity River Restoration Program.

Releases from Lewiston Dam began increasing on Tuesday, April 17, and will reach approximately 1,900 cubic feet per second (cfs) by Sunday, May 13, and remain at peak flow for one day. Four sub-peaks are scheduled at discharges of 1,390 cfs on Wednesday, April 18; 1,400 cfs on Sunday, April 29; 1,600 cfs on Saturday, May 5; and, 1,620 cfs on Friday, May 25. On May 26, the flow will begin gradually decreasing to a summer base-flow of 450 cfs on June 30. The total water allocation for Trinity River restoration flows in a “critically dry” water year, such as this, is 369,000 acre-feet.

People residing near the river or recreating on the river can expect river levels to increase and should take appropriate safety precautions. Landowners are advised to clear personal items from the floodplain prior to the releases. A schedule of daily flow releases is available at: http://www.trrp.net/restoration/flows/current. For additional information, please contact Kevin Held at 530-623-1809 or kheld@usbr.gov or visit www.trrp.net

Ruth Lake Bass tourney coming in May
The Southern Trinity Volunteer Fire Department is hosting its 12th annual Ruth Lake Bass Tournament on Saturday, May 5. Blast off begins at 6:00 a.m. Entry fees are due May 4. 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 4:15-5:30 p.m. or Saturday 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 Todd Perras at (707) 273-9621.

Freshwater Lagoon trout plants continue
According to the CDFW website, Freshwater Lagoon continues to be planted with trout. Reportedly, the fishing has been excellent this month for keeper-sized rainbows. Freshwater is open to fishing year-round and the limit is 5 trout per day and 10 in possession. For more information, visit www.nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FishPlants or call (530) 225-2146.

The Rivers:
Main Stem Eel
The main stem Eel remains big and off color, but it’s on the drop. As of Wednesday, it was running at just under 10,000 cfs on the Scotia gauge. It could fish towards the end of next week.

Fishing the NC_4_19 photo

Napa resident Dan Sherilo landed this nice hatchery spring salmon on the Lower Rogue near Elephant Rock last week. Springer fishing has been good, with most guides getting a fish or two a day. Only hatchery salmon can be retained through May 31. Photo courtesy of Gene Garner/Gold Beach Guide Service

Lower Rogue
Springer fishing is pretty good right now on the Lower Rogue according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “It is rarely red hot, so when guides are getting a fish a day, or two fish a day, the fishing is solid. That is what is happening this week. Flows and conditions are good, and the lower river is not too crowded yet. Anchoring with anchovies and small green spinner blades is working best. The morning minus tides this week are best for fishing the lower river.”

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

Posted in Current Fishing Reports

2018 CA Recreational Ocean Salmon Regulations

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OR/CA Border to Horse Mountain (KMZ)

June 1 – September 3

  • Open seven days per week
  • Minimum size limit: 20 inches total length
  • Klamath Control Zone* (KCZ) closed in August
  • Additional closures around mouth of Klamath, Smith & Eel rivers

Horse Mountain to Point Arena (Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg)

June 17 – October 31

  • Open seven days per week
  • Minimum size limit: 20 inches total length

Point Arena to Pigeon Point (San Francisco)

June 17 – October 31

  • Open seven days per week
  • Minimum size limit: 20 inches total length

Pigeon Point to U.S./Mexico Border (Monterey and South)

April 7 – July 2

  • Open seven days per week
  • Minimum size limit: 24 inches total length

General Sport Regulations 

  • Daily bag limit: 2 salmon of any species except Coho.
  • Possession limit: No more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit.
  • 2018 Sport Ocean Salmon Season Flyer (PDF)

*Klamath Control Zone: The ocean area at the Klamath River mouth bounded on the north by 41°38’48” N. lat. (approximately 6 nautical miles north of the Klamath River mouth); on the west, by 124°23’00” W. long. (approximately 12 nautical miles off shore); and on the south, by 41°26’48” N. lat. (approximately 6 nautical miles south of the Klamath River mouth).

Posted in Current Fishing Reports

Game (back) on! Salmon opener slated for June 1

Fishing the NC_4_12 photo

Salmon, as well as smiling faces, will both be returning to the North Coast come June. The PFMC on Tuesday announced our recreational ocean salmon season will run from June 1 through Sept. 3 in Eureka, Trinidad, and Crescent City. In 2017, the entire season was shut down due to low salmon numbers. Photo courtesy of Coastline Charters

After suffering through a complete shutdown of our salmon season in 2017 within the KMZ, one thing is for certain – absence truly does make the heart grow fonder. Halibut and rockfish are fun, but salmon is king in Eureka – always has been, always will be. And not being able to fish for them last year really stung. Needless to say, there were a lot of nervous anglers waiting while the different agencies poured through data last month trying to determine what our ocean salmon season would look like in 2018 – or if we’d even have one.

In all my years living here, I can’t recall such anticipation and excitement revolving around the recreational salmon opener. What was once just a mere formality, has taken on the feel of a lottery. While the PFMC were holed up in Portland this week crunching the final numbers and doing their best to divide the salmon numbers across the entire state, local anglers held their collective breath. When it was all said and done on Tuesday, the outcome was just what we wanted to hear. The North Coast will have a salmon season, and a lengthy one at that.

Encouraged by a recovering Klamath River fall Chinook stock, the PFMC adopted a very generous season for the California KMZ, which runs from the CA/OR border south to Horse Mountain. The season will run from June 1 straight through September 3. Fishing will be allowed seven days per week for all salmon except Coho, two fish per day and a minimum size limit of 20 inches total length for Chinook. According to the PFMC, 359,200 Klamath adult salmon are swimming in the ocean, opening the door for fall salmon seasons on the Klamath and Trinity Rivers as well. Though still awaiting approval from the F&G Commission, the sport in-river quota will be 3,490 adults divided between the two rivers.

With only 229,432 Sacramento fall Chinook said to be swimming in the ocean, the seasons to our south were a little more restricted this year. The area from Horse Mountain south to Point Arena, which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg, will open on June 17 and run through Oct 31. The San Francisco area will have the same season opening and closing dates. To the north in the Brookings area (Oregon KMZ), the season will open on May 19 and run through Aug. 26. Fishing will be allowed seven days per week for all salmon except Coho, two fish per day and a minimum size limit of 24 inches total length for Chinook. For more information on the recreational fishing seasons, visit  https://www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/T2_Sport_draft-041018.pdf

Fish and Game Commission meeting today
The California Fish and Game Commission will meet on Thursday, April 12 in Sacramento at 3 p.m. to adopt and discuss changes to the upcoming Klamath River sport fishing season. The PFMC recommended 3,490 adult salmon be allocated for recreational fishing for the Klamath and Trinity Rivers. The tribal allocation is 18,122, split between the Yurok and Hoopa tribes. Members of the public may participate in the teleconference at the CDFW Conference Room, 50 Ericson Court in Arcata. The meeting will be live streamed at http://www.cal-span.org, for listening purposes only. If you’re interested in the Klamath River fall salmon fishery, you’ll want your voice to be heard. Also on the agenda is the adoption of proposed changes to the Central Valley salmon sport fishing regulations. The full agenda can be viewed here: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=155576&inline

Limit increases for Canary rockfish
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced on Tuesday a statewide increase to the recreational canary rockfish daily limit within the Rockfish, Cabezon and Greenling (RCG) bag limit. The sub-bag limit for canary rockfish will increase from one fish to two fish within the RCG daily bag limit of 10 fish, effective Saturday, April 14, 2018. Limited retention of canary rockfish in California’s recreational fishery began last year as a result of the stock being declared rebuilt. Because retention of canary rockfish had been prohibited in recreational fisheries off California for more than a decade, a one fish daily sub-bag limit was implemented as a matter of precaution. Catches were monitored weekly to ensure harvest limits were not exceeded. Pursuant to California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.20(e), CDFW has the authority to make in-season modifications to the recreational fishery, including adjustments to bag and sub-bag limits. For more information, visit  www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Groundfish.

HASA dinner Saturday night
The annual HASA fundraiser dinner will be held this Saturday, April 14, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Arcata Community Center, 321 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway in Arcata. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children under 12. Food will be provided by Ramone’s and some great items will be auctioned and raffled off. Each ticket will get you a HASA annual 2018 membership as well as entry into the door prize. Tickets are available from the following Eureka merchants until Thursday: Pacific Outfitters, Englund Marine, Bucksport Sporting Goods, Sportsmen’s Warehouse, and W&W RV & Sporting Goods. For more information, email hasa6191@gmail.com or visit http://humboldtasa.com/event/hasa-2018-annual-fundraising-dinner-auction/

Perch’n on the Peninsula coming April 28
The Samoa Peninsula Fire District will be hosting their 9th Annual Perch’n on the Peninsula Surfperch Fishing Tournament and Fish Fry Fundraiser on Saturday, April 28, 2018. 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, or Shafer’s Ace Hardware in Eureka. For more information, call (707) 443-9042 or visit www.samoafire.org.

Eel River steelhead returns
As of April 9, a total of 169 steelhead have entered the Van Arsdale fish count station according to Scott L Harris, an associate Biologist with the Northern Region. Making up that total is 74 males, 85 females, and 10 unknowns. The Chinook count stands at 232. According to Harris, the ladder was shut down Friday evening in anticipation of Scott Dam spilling. For more information, visit https://eelriver.org/the-eel-river/fish-count/

The Rivers
Main Stem Eel
As of Wednesday, the main Eel was running at 16,300 cfs on the Scotia gauge and holding due to the rain this week. It remains high and dirty, and will need a couple weeks of dry weather to clear.

Lower Rogue
The Rogue has dropped into prime shape for springers with 5,000 cfs flowing at the Agness gauge according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “The water temperature hit 53 degrees on Tuesday, sparking the best bite so far this season with nearly a dozen keepers reported in the Elephant Rock area.”

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

Posted in Current Fishing Reports

Pacific halibut, rockfish openers set for May 1

Twenty-five days and counting. That’s how long North Coast saltwater anglers will have to wait before the lengthy offseason is over and we ‘re back on the water. May 1 will bring two openers – Pacific halibut and rockfish. The 2018 Pacific halibut fishery will have four open periods, May 1-June 15, July 1-15, August 1-15 and Sept. 1-Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. California lost about 4,000 pounds in quota allotment from 2017, and is penciled in at 30,940 for this season. Hopefully, with the addition of a sport salmon season it will take some of the pressure off of halibut and prolong the quota and allow us to fish into October. CDFW will again monitor catches of Pacific halibut during the season and provide catch projection updates on the CDFW Pacific halibut webpage, https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking.

Fishing the NC_4_5 Photo

Frank Anderson of Snelling, CA landed a nice Pacific halibut last July while fishing out of Eureka. The 2018 Pacific halibut season will open on May 1 and will have four open periods, the last of which ends on Oct. 31. For season lengths and regulations, visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut Photo courtesy of Reel Steel Sport Fishing

Rockfish season in the Northern Management Area will also open May 1, with the same regulations as in 2017. The season for boat-based anglers will run from May 1 through Oct. 31 within 180 feet and Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 with no depth restrictions. Changes that went into effect in 2017 include: A new sub-bag limit of one canary rockfish within the 10-fish Rockfish, Cabezon and Greenling Complex bag limit; a decrease in the sub-bag limit of black rockfish from five to three within the 10-fish RCG Complex bag limit; elimination of the sub-bag limit of bocaccio within the 10-fish RCG Complex bag limit; a decrease in the lingcod bag limit from three to two fish; allowance of petrale sole and starry flounder to be retained year- round at all depths. For a complete list of 2018 regulations, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Groundfish-Summary#north

North Coast recreational ocean salmon season could start as early as June 16. The PFMC will meet from April 5-11 in Portland to tentatively adopt final regulatory measures. According to the agenda, final management measures will be adopted on Tuesday, April 10. Three alternatives are currently on the table for the KMZ: Alternative 1) June 20 to July 31 and August 20 to Sept. 3; Alternative 2) July 1 to Sept. 3; Alternative 3) June 16 to Sept. 3.

Fish and Game Commission meeting on April 12
The California Fish and Game Commission will meet on Thursday, April 12 in Sacramento at 3 p.m. to adopt and discuss changes to the upcoming Klamath River sport fishing season. Members of the public may participate in the teleconference at the CDFW Conference Room, 50 Ericson Court in Arcata. The meeting will be live streamed at http://www.cal-span.org, for listening purposes only. If you’re interested in the Klamath River fall salmon fishery, you’ll want your voice to be heard. Also on the agenda is the adoption of proposed changes to the Central Valley salmon sport fishing regulations. To view the meeting agenda, visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=155576&inline

2018 Trinity River flow recommendation meeting
The Trinity River Restoration Program will host a public information meeting to present the 2018 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 12, from 6 – 7:30 p.m., TRRP Office, 1313 S. Main Street. In 2018, a “dry” or “critically dry” water year is expected. In a “dry” water year, 453,000 acre-feet of water is allocated for restoration flows or 369,000 acre-feet for a “critically dry” water year. Flows are proposed to begin increasing in mid-April and reach their highest peaks in early May. The river could remain elevated above summer base flow as late as July. For additional information, please contact Kevin Held at 530-623-1809 (TTY 800-877-8339) or kheld@usbr.gov or visit http://www.trrp.net/

HASA dinner April 14
The annual HASA fundraiser dinner will be held Saturday, April 14, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The popular event will be held at the Arcata Community Center, 321 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway in Arcata. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children under 12. Food will be provided by Ramone’s and some great items will be auctioned and raffled off. Each ticket will get you a HASA annual 2018 membership as well as entry into the door prize. Dinner, auction and raffle tickets are available from any HASA board member or from the following Eureka merchants: Pacific Outfitters, Englund Marine, Bucksport Sporting Goods, and W&W RV & Sporting Goods. For more information, email hasa6191@gmail.com or visit http://humboldtasa.com/event/hasa-2018-annual-fundraising-dinner-auction/

North Coast Red Abalone Fishery Closed for 2018
In a press release issued on Monday by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, they would like to  remind anglers that the north coast red abalone fishery will be closed in 2018. The reopening of the fishery will be determined by the new Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan (RAFMP) currently being developed under the direction of the Fish and Game Commission. The California Fish and Game Commission will be discussing the RAFMP at their April 18-19, 2018 meeting in Ventura. The press release can be viewed here, https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2018/04/02/north-coast-red-abalone-fishery-closed-for-2018/

Brookings ocean update
“Lingcod and rockfish continues to be very good out of Brookings,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “We have been catching limits of both, even on days when the wind has kept us from getting out very far. The lingcod are still spawning, and some have not spawned yet, so the shallow-water action should continue for a while.

There is already a lot of bait off of Brookings, and a few salmon have been caught and released by people bottom fishing in the past week. That is a good sign for this year’s ocean salmon seasons in our area. Stormy weather is expected this weekend, so boats will be at the dock for several days..”

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 13 to 14-foot range along with lots of 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.

Main Stem Eel
The main stem Eel was just dropping down into fishable shape and turning green. With the incoming storm, we’ll be right back to high and muddy conditions. The amount of rain falling between Thursday and Saturday has the river peaking at just under 109,000 cfs on the Scotia gauge Saturday night. In Fernbridge, the river is predicted to rise above monitor stage, reaching nearly 17 feet on Saturday evening. It will take at least a couple weeks of dry weather to get back down to a fishable level and color.

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 Thursday. The river will be big over the weekend, hitting 16,000 cfs on Saturday night. 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

Posted in Current Fishing Reports

Winter steelhead season coming to a close

Fishing the NC 3_29 photo

Arcata resident Scott McBain landed this nice winter steelhead on a drift down the South Fork Eel River in early February. Steelhead season will come to a close after Saturday for most rivers, including the South Fork Eel. The Smith and the main stem Eel will remain open to fishing. Photo courtesy of Kenny Priest/Fishing the North Coast

Last weekend’s storms brought a little more rain than expected, with enough falling to keep the majority of the coastal rivers high and off color leading into the final week of steelhead season. As of Wednesday, only the Smith, Chetco, and the very upper reaches of the South Fork Eel were green. And it looks like those are the only rivers that will fish prior to the season closing after Saturday. The South Fork Eel could fish down to the Miranda area on Saturday if it drops as predicted.

As we head into April, it’s time to start preparing for ocean salmon and rockfish, spring salmon on the Klamath and Rogue, and redtail perch from just about all of the local beaches. The lagoons are full of trout, and what better way to get kids into fishing on a warm spring day. It’s been an interesting winter steelhead season to say the least, but I for one am ready for spring and all the new angling opportunities that come with it.

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 http://www.eregulations.com/california/fishing/freshwater/. The following rivers will close to fishing after March 31: the South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mattole, Mad, Redwood Creek, and the Chetco.

Freshwater Lagoon trout plants
According to the CDFW website, four trout plants have taken place at Freshwater Lagoon in March. The most recent plant was Sunday, March 25. Reportedly, the fishing has been excellent this month for keeper-sized rainbows. For more information, visit www.nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FishPlants or call (530) 225-2146.

Ban on lead fishing tackle being considered by Sacramento
Assembly Member Bill Quirk (Hayward) recently introduced Assembly Bill 2787, legislation that would ban lead fishing weights that are 1.75 ounces or less. Quirk claims the ban is needed because birds eat the lead weights and die. Five other states have banned lead weights to protect bottom-feeding and threatened loons.

According to California Sportfishing League, these weights can be found in just about every California angler’s tackle box. If this bill passes, fishing will become too costly and less accessible and could have a devastating impact on the state’s tourism industry and communities dependent on outdoor recreation for tax revenue and jobs. A hearing is scheduled for April 10 at 1:30 PM at the State Capitol, Room 44. For more information on the Assembly Bill 2787, visit http://www.savefishing.com/stopthefishingtackleban/

Brookings ocean update
“Ocean fishing has been good out of Brookings, although wind will keep boats in close for the remainder of the week,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “The lingcod spawn is under way, so there are a lot of fish in shallow. Fishing for red tail surfperch has been very good at the port beach in Brookings.”

Coast Guard reminds mariners to participate in Pacific Seacoast study
The Coast Guard reminds boaters that there is still time to participate in a survey related to a study of aids to navigation in U.S. Pacific waters including the California coast. The survey is open to all categories of mariners to include commercial, passenger, recreational and sail and power boaters. Survey topics include international requirements, environmental concerns, user capabilities, available technology and available resources. Those interested can participate in the study by completing the survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PacSeacoastWAMS.

The Rivers:
Chetco/Rogue
According to Martin, the Chetco was back in fishable shape on Tuesday and still had a few fresh steelhead around, along with some down runners. “A handful of boats have been fishing the upper section, and all are catching fish. It should remain decent through the March 31 closure. Snowmelt had the Rogue dirty but fishable. There were a few hatchery spring salmon caught last week, and conditions are shaping up to be perfect this weekend.”

Smith River
The Smith is in perfect shape, sitting right at 10 feet on the Jed Smith gauge as of Wednesday. Pressure has been extremely light, but it could be a good choice for the weekend.

Eel River (main stem)
It will be at least 10 before the main stem is fishable reports Paul Grundman of Rio Dell’s Grundmans Sporting Goods. Running at 14,000 cfs as of Wednesday, it’s on a slow drop due to the snowmelt.

Eel River (South Fork)
As of Wednesday, flows were 3,100 cfs on the Miranda gauge and the river was still dirty below Benbow according to Darren Brown of Brown’s Sporting Goods in Garberville. Flows are predicted to be around 1,700 cfs by Saturday, so we should be able to get one day in prior to the river closing.

Van Duzen
Hovering just above 1,675 cfs, as of Wednesday, it’s predicted to get down to 1,000 by Saturday. Depending on the snowmelt, it could fish in the higher reaches on Saturday.

Mad River
The Mad is likely done for the season as it remains high and muddy. Flows are predicted to be right around 3,000 cfs on Saturday, which should keep it on the dirty side.

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

Posted in Current Fishing Reports

Rain could put an end to steelhead season

Other than the Smith and Chetco, all of the coastal rivers are currently running a little high and off color. And with more storms barreling their way towards the North Coast, the end is in sight for the winter steelhead season. The barrage forecasted for the weekend is predicted to turn the coastal rivers into raging muddy messes. And with plenty of snow in the hills still left to melt, it’s likely the rivers won’t clear in time prior to closing for the season. These late-season rain and snow storms may not bring much joy to the anglers, but 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.

So as we head into another rainy and snowy weekend, it could be over for the South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mattole, Mad, Redwood Creek, and the Chetco, which all close after March 31. The Smith will remain open through April, and the main stem Eel is open year-round. It would be nice to get a couple more days on the river, but I’m not holding my breath.

Weather ahead
More rain and snow is forecasted for the next few days, but the weather looks to improve following the weekend. “It’s going to be fairly wet overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning,” said Ryan Alward of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “We could see up to an inch and a quarter at the coast and two to four inches in the mountains, with snow falling above 7,000 feet. A cold front will move in on Thursday night into Friday morning, adding another quarter to half-inch of rain. Snow levels will drop to 2,000 to 2,500 feet. More rain is expected through Friday night, where Del Norte could see up to two inches and we could see an inch in Eureka. Another system will arrive on Saturday afternoon, which could dump another half to an inch of rain in the hills. Showers will linger into Sunday morning, but after that we’re looking dry. So far all of next week is looking sunny.”

Freshwater Lagoon trout plants
Mad River Fish Hatchery has begun its springtime planting of Rainbow Trout in Freshwater Lagoon. The first plant occurred the week of March 4, with approximately 4,000 trout released. Plants are scheduled for every Sunday in March. For more information, visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FishPlants/ or call (530) 225-2146.

Upcoming events

HASA dinner April 14
The annual HASA fundraiser dinner will be held Saturday, April 14, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The popular event will be held at the Arcata Community Center, 321 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway in Arcata. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children under 12. Food will be provided by Ramone’s and some great items will be auctioned and raffled off. Each ticket will get you a HASA annual 2018 membership as well as entry into the door prize. Dinner, auction and raffle tickets are available from any HASA board member or from the following Eureka merchants: Pacific Outfitters, Englund Marine, Bucksport Sporting Goods, and W&W RV & Sporting Goods. For more information, email hasa6191@gmail.com or visit http://humboldtasa.com/event/hasa-2018-annual-fundraising-dinner-auction/

Perch’n on the Peninsula coming April 28
The Samoa Peninsula Fire District will be hosting their 9th Annual Perch’n on the Peninsula Surfperch Fishing Tournament and Fish Fry Fundraiser on April 28, 2018.
The fishing tournament begins at sunrise with the check-in deadline at 2:00 p.m., prize presentations will begin at 3:00 p.m. with the fish fry beginning at noon. 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, or Shafer’s Ace Hardware in Eureka. For more information, call (707) 443-9042 or visit www.samoafire.org.

Fishing the NC 3_22 photo

Larry Jonas of Brookings, Ore., holds one of two steelhead he caught and released March 20 while fishing with guide Rye Phillips on the lower Chetco River. Photo courtesy of Rye Phillips

The Rivers:
Chetco River
The Chetco dropped back into shape over the weekend and fished well, with a mix of fresh fish and downers according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Guides drifting the upper river reported four to six fish a day, while boaters on the lower end caught two to three a day. Most of the lower river fish are still fresh. Rain will likely blow the river out by Thursday. The Elk and Sixes fished well at the beginning of the week according to Martin, with some guides getting close to double-digit hookups. There are still plenty of fresh steelhead.
“A few spring salmon were caught Monday on the lower Rogue, where fresh hatchery steelhead also are being caught. This week’s rain will probably bring in more springers,” added Martin

Smith River
The Smith has been at a fishable level since the weekend, but reports have been hard to come by. Most of the anglers have put away their steelhead gear for the winter, but the Smith is a real good option if you haven’t got your fill. It’s predicted to blow out on Thursday, jumping to 16 feet on the Jed Smith gauge by the afternoon. If the predictions are right, it should fish again early next week.

Eel River (main stem)
Running at 10,000 cfs on Wednesday and predicted to peak at 34,500 cfs on Saturday afternoon.  It will need at least a couple weeks of dry weather before it drops into fishable shape.

Eel River (South Fork)
As of Wednesday, flows were 2,400 cfs on the Miranda gauge and likely fishable above Benbow. That’s all forecasted to change with the rain beginning Wednesday night that will push the flows up to 9,600 cfs on Sunday. It’s going to have to drop quickly for it to be fishable before closing next Saturday.

Van Duzen
Hovering just above 1,575 cfs, as of Wednesday, it’s also predicted for a big rise on Thursday. Flows are predicted to be back down to 1,900 cfs by Monday, but snow melt will likely keep it from turning green prior to closing next Saturday.

Mad River
The Mad is still a little high and off color reports Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors in Eureka. He said, “The fishing pressure is pretty minimal, it looks like it’s done for the year. The ladder was turned off on Tuesday, and we’re going to see a big rise on Thursday. With all the snow melting, it probably will remain off color through next week.” The Mad will close to fishing after next Saturday, March 31.

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

Posted in Current Fishing Reports

Salmon seasons return to the North Coast

Ocean salmon, Klamath River king seasons are back after year hiatus…

In a process that had more twists and turns than San Francisco’s Lombard Street, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) on Wednesday released three preliminary alternatives for managing salmon fisheries from Humbug Mountain (OR) to Horse Mountain (which includes Humboldt County). According to the PFMC, 359,200 Klamath and 229,432 Sacramento fall Chinook are said to be swimming in the ocean, which should provide what we didn’t have last year – opportunity. As you recall, in 2017 the California KMZ was completely shut down, as was the Klamath River fall Chinook fishery. So the fact that we have a season this year is a huge step in the right direction. The three alternatives that are currently on the table:

Alternative 1) June 20 to July 31 and August 20 to Sept. 3
Alternative 2) July 1 to Sept. 3
Alternative 3) June 16 to Sept. 3

All three scenarios are the same, two fish per day, seven days a week, Chinook only, 20-inch minimum size. In August, the ocean salmon closure expands into the “Klamath Control Zone.” The Klamath Control Zone is defined in federal regulations as the ocean area at the Klamath River mouth bounded by 6 nautical miles north of the Klamath River mouth, on the west by 12 nautical miles offshore, and on the south by 6 nautical miles south of the Klamath River mouth.

From Horse Mountain to Point Arena, which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg, the three alternatives are:
Alternative 1) July 15 to Oct. 31;
Alternative 2) July 1 to Oct. 31;
Alternative 3) July 21 to Oct.31

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/2018/03/E6a_Supp_STT-Rpt1_MarBB2018.pdf

Next up, the PFMC will tentatively adopt final regulatory measures for analysis by the Salmon Technical Team during the April 5-11 meeting to be held in Portland. More information is available at http://www.pcouncil.org.

Fishing the NC 3_15 photo

Brothers Nathaniel (left) and Finnigan Holmes of Loleta hold a pair of kings taken during the 2016 ocean salmon season. After a full closure in 2017, the North Coast is slated to have an ocean recreational salmon season in 2018. Season dates and lengths will be determined in April. Photo courtesy of Marc Schmidt/Coastline Charters

Klamath/Trinity fall salmon allocations
Not only will we have a recreational ocean salmon season, sport anglers will have an opportunity to harvest Klamath River fall Chinook this year. The recreational allocations, or quotas, as proposed by the PFMC will range from 5,762 to 1,785 adult fall Chinook in 2018 across the three alternatives. Tribal allocations run from 17,568 to 12,083 adult fall Chinook. These numbers are not final, next step is public review with a decision coming from the PFMC meeting on April 5-11. 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, 2018.

Weekend weather
A wet pattern will continue to hang around the North Coast for the next week according to Ryan Aylward of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The next system will hit Thursday morning, and it’s going to be a colder system with snow expected at the 2,000 foot level,” said Aylward. “Rainfall totals could reach three-quarters along the coast. Rain will taper off on Friday, but we could see another quarter-inch. Lingering showers are likely into Saturday morning, but the weekend and into Monday should be relatively dry. Another fairly large system is sitting off the coast that’s expected to arrive on Tuesday and Wednesday, but right now we’re not sure where it’s going to hit. Expect showers to stick around through next week.”

Brookings ocean report
The ocean out of Brookings has been fishing very well in between storms for lingcod and rockfish according to Andy Martin with Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “With high water from the Chetco, boats are having to run up toward Bird Island to get into the fish, but the lings and nice-size rockfish are biting well. The deeper spots, from 80 to 120 feet, seem to be fishing best. Fishing for surf perch off the beaches near Brookings has been very good, with plenty of redtail and striped perch.”

The Rivers:
Chetco/Elk
According to Martin, the Chetco dropped enough for drift boats to get on the water Monday, with most of the upper river guides catching a mix of fresh and spawned out steelhead. “Heavy rain Monday night sent the river from 4,000 cfs to 10,000 cfs on Tuesday, and now it looks like it will be blown out all week. A few boats got into some steelhead on the Elk on Monday and again Tuesday, even though the river was on the verge of blowing out.”

Smith River
Since late last week, fishing has been tough on the Smith reports Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. He said, “I fished over the weekend and it was a grind. There’s some downers around, but I didn’t see many new fish. Between lack of fish and the seals, conditions aren’t very good right now.”

Eel River (main stem)
Running at 17,000 cfs on Wednesday, it will need a couple weeks of dry weather before it drops into fishable shape.

Eel River (South Fork)
As of Wednesday, flows were 3,200 cfs on the Miranda gauge and predicted for another rise Friday afternoon. Depending on snow melt, it could be fishable by sometime early next week.

Van Duzen
Hovering just above 2,500 cfs, as of Wednesday, it will take a week or more of dry weather for it to turn green. There’s lots of snow in the hills, which will keep the flows high through the weekend and into early next week.

Mad River
The Mad is currently running high and dirty, and not many anglers are fishing reports Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors in Eureka. He said, “There were a few fish caught on Sunday and Monday prior to it blowing out, but not much happening since.” Flows are predicted to stay above nine feet through the weekend and into early next week.

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

Posted in Current Fishing Reports

Jack returns bolster Klamath ocean abundance

Fishing the NC 3_8 photo

Ruben Rios and sister Deanna Rios Glaser landed a couple Klamath River kings last fall prior to the season closing on Aug. 15. CDFW predicts 59,733 fall adult Chinook will return to the Klamath basin this fall, compared to 31,838 last year. Photo courtesy of Kenny Priest/Fishing the North Coast

The ocean abundance numbers are in for the Klamath and Sacramento Rivers, and the reviews are mixed. The Klamath stocks hit rock bottom last year, and the bottom wasn’t as far down as first thought. In 2017, 18,410 adult kings were predicted to return to the Klamath. But the actual numbers were much better – 31,838 to be exact. While these numbers still pale in comparison to the average returns (roughly 120,000), at least we’re headed in the right direction. And I think we’re going that way a little quicker than most people thought. At last Thursday’s annual Ocean salmon Information meeting in Santa Rosa, CDFW suggested 359,200 Klamath River fall Chinook adults are swimming in the ocean. At first glance, that’s not a very big number. Especially when you compare it to the 1.6 million Klamath salmon that were in the ocean in 2012. But in reality, this year’s ocean forecast is higher than the average of the previous five years. And you have the 21,903 jacks that returned last fall to thank for that. According to the Preseason Report 1 prepared by the PFMC, 59,733 adults are forecasted to return to the Klamath this fall. With a minimum 40,700 natural-area spawners needed for escapement, we could see a surplus of 19,000 kings this fall. Hopefully we’ll see some type of ocean season along with a fall sport quota in the Klamath basin.

Over on the Sacramento, the numbers weren’t as encouraging. The 2017 preseason ocean abundance was forecasted to be 230,700, but it turns out only 139,997 adult Sac Chinook were in the ocean. Of those, 70,000 were harvested in the ocean and 25,000 were harvested in the Sacramento River basin. That left an all-time low of 44,574 hatchery and natural area spawners. A long way from the expected 122,000. A total of 24,375 jacks were estimated to have escaped to Sacramento River basin hatcheries and natural spawning areas. These numbers equate to an ocean abundance of 229,432 fall Sacramento Chinook adults in 2018. You can count on a restricted ocean season down south as well as changes to the salmon regulations in the Sac basin this year to insure the 122,000 escapement goal is met.

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 8 through 14 in Rohnert Park. 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 14. 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. To view the PFMC Preseason Report I, visit https://www.pcouncil.org/2018/03/52584/2018-preseason-report-i-available-online/

The weather ahead
A series of small storms will be moving through the region beginning on Wedneday. “The first system will hit Wednesday night and stick around through Thursday morning,” said Karleisa Rogacheski of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “Rainfall totals will be small, anywhere from a tenth to a quarter inch. Another system will arrive mid-day on Thursday and will be with us through Saturday evening. Over the three-day period, the Smith basin could see up to an inch and a half of rain. Down in the Eel and Mad basins, a quarter to an inch is predicted. Sunday and Monday are looking mostly dry, with maybe a few sprinkles. A wetter system will arrive on Tuesday and stick around overnight into Wednesday morning. The Smith basin could see up to an inch, and Humboldt could see up to three-quarters. The next system arrives on Wednesday night, with the Smith seeing an inch or more and Humboldt getting up to three-quarters.”

The Rivers:
Chetco/Elk/Rogue
“The Chetco was in prime shape to begin the week, with good numbers of fish on the upper end,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Many of the guides who fished high hooked four to six fish a day. Fishing was slow on the lower end, however, partly because the river was still high below Loeb. It appears this next storm will blow the Chetco out for several days. The Elk fished well Sunday and Monday, with quite a few fresh fish. It will be the first Southern Oregon river to fish again after the storm.
The lower Rogue was really good over the weekend and early in the week. Some of the guides anchoring and running plugs caught half a dozen or more fresh steelhead, with several hatchery fish. MagLip plugs are working best.” 

Smith River
The river is in perfect shape, and there’s some fish around reports Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. He said, “We’ve been hooking two to four a day, but landing them is a different story. The water is really cold, it was 39 degrees on Monday so we’re seeing some really light biters. We’ve seen some big fish around this week, and the fishing pressure continues to be light.”

Eel River (main stem)
As of Wednesday, the main was flowing at 8,000 cfs on the Scotia gauge. The river remains muddy from the forks down, and it predicted to rise to 12,000 cfs on Saturday. With more rain predicted for next week, it could be a while before it becomes fishable.

Eel River (South Fork)
The upper South Fork has been fishable for a couple days, and reports are there’s some downers around along with some fresh ones. As of Wednesday, flows were right around 1,800 cfs and dropping. It’s now forecasted to rise beginning Friday afternoon and peaking at 3,000 cfs on Saturday morning. The forecast center is calling for flows to be back under 2,000 cfs by Sunday morning.

Van Duzen
The Van Duzen has also been fishable for a couple days, and bank anglers are catching a few. It’s forecasted to rise on Wednesday night and is predicted to peak at 2,500 cfs on Friday night. Whether it drops back into shape early next week will depend on the rain and snowmelt.

Mad River
A few fish are being caught, but it’s not red hot reports Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors in Eureka. “The fish that are being caught have been super bright. The river is in good shape, with two to two and a half feet of visibility as of Wednesday. It looks like it will blow out beginning Wednesday evening and will likely be muddy through the weekend.” Kelly 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

Posted in Current Fishing Reports