Fishing the North Coast

                                    Kenny Priest
                                   Fishing Report  

 

 

3/23/17

Late-season steelhead anglers slowed by rain

It appears this steelhead season is going to end much like it began. All of the coastal rivers, other than the Smith, are currently high, muddy and not fishable. And more storms are lined up offshore. I swear I’ve written that same sentence about a million times since mid-January. But here we are in late March, with roughly a week left before most of the rivers close, still talking about high water and rain on the way. It’s been that kind of year, and let’s give thanks. Not only did we have plenty of water, we also had plenty of steelhead. When they were fishable, both the Smith and Chetco gave up some pretty good scores. The other coastal streams came into play only a handful of times, but they too fished very well. But now as the rain continues to fall and the rivers rise, it looks to be over for the South Fork Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, and the Mattole. 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
Thursday should be a nice day, but clouds and rain will return sometime in the late afternoon or evening,” said Ryan Alward of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “Thursday’s system will linger into Friday and the rainfall totals are looking pretty decent. The mountain areas of Del Norte County could see up to three inches and we may see two inches locally. Very light rain is in the forecast for Saturday, giving the rivers a chance to recede before the next storm arrives on Sunday. This system could bring another inch and a half to Del Norte and up to an inch in Humboldt. Light rain is predicted for Monday giving way to a dry Tuesday. The models are showing a weak front moving in on Wednesday, but that could change.”

HASA dinner April 15
The annual HASA fundraiser dinner will be held Saturday, April 15, from 6 p.m. to 9 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. Food will be provided by Ramone’s and some great items will be auctioned and raffled off. Tickets are now available from the following Eureka merchants: Bucksport Sporting Goods, Englund Marine, Pacific Outfitters, RMI Outdoors, W&W RV & Sporting Goods, and Mad River Tackle located in Arcata. For more information, email hasa6191@gmail.com

Shelter Cove/Fort Bragg salmon season to open April 1
The recreational salmon season from Horse Mountain, Humboldt County south to the U.S. - Mexico border will open on Saturday, April 1. Between Horse Mountain and Point Arena, which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg, the daily bag and possession limit is two salmon of any species except Coho. The season south of Horse Mountain will extend through various dates in April through Nov. The alternatives can be found at www.pcouncil.org and will be finalized by the council in Sacramento on April 6-11, and submitted to the NMFS for adoption by May 1.

The Rivers:

Chetco River
“The Chetco blew out again this week and looks to be too high to fish through the weekend,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.  “If it comes back into shape before it closes March 31, there may be a few down-runners left, but I expect fishing to be fairly slow. The last few days of the season may fish, but there is still a lot of rain in the forecast.”

Smith River
“The Smith isn’t red-hot, but we’re still catching a couple fish a day,” said guide Mike Coopman. “The majority of the fish we’re catching are fresh ones, there’s only been a trickle of spent fish coming down. It’s possible after the next big rise we’ll see more downers, but there has yet to be a mass exodus. When they do start to come down, we should see some pretty good fishing.”

Eel River (main stem)
The main stem was starting to come around last weekend, but it’s now back up to 28,000 cfs on the Scotia gauge. It will take a couple weeks of dry weather for it to turn green, but that’s not in the foreseeable forecast. The main stem will remain open through April.

Eel River (South Fork)
The South Fork fished late last week and into Saturday all the way to the forks. Most boats landed between two to four fish, with some fresh bluebacks in the mix. On Wednesday, it was back up to 6,000 cfs and predicted to go higher with the storms coming. It closes on March 31 and is likely done for the year.

Van Duzen
Flowing at just over 5,000 cfs on Wednesday with more rain on the way, it probably won’t turn green prior to closing on March 31.

Mad River
The Mad was just starting to turn green on Saturday, but the rain put an end to that quickly. Quite a few fresh fish were reportedly caught on Saturday near the hatchery. With the river now back up to over 12 feet and more storms on the way, the chances of green water before is closes on March 31 are slim.

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@fishingthen....


 

3/16/17

SHUTDOWN! No ocean kings within KMZ in 2017
The Pacific Fishery Management Council on Monday provided three options for recreational salmon fishing within the Klamath Management Zone. Unfortunately, all three included the words “closed.” In an unprecedented decision, the PFMC was left with little choice but to close the recreational salmon fishing this season from Humbug Mt. in Oregon south to Horse Mt. near Shelter Cove. The driving force behind the closure is the lack of Klamath River salmon swimming off our coast, which was primarily caused by poor river conditions brought about by years of drought. The California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife forecasted there are only 54,200 Klamath River adult kings in the ocean this year along with roughly 230,700 Sacramento River fish. The Klamath numbers are the lowest on record, and the number of Sac fish is the lowest since 2009. Pretty easy to see whey the council made the decision.

On a positive note, the upcoming rockfish season, which opens May 1, will have a longer season and less depth restrictions allowing boats to fish depths they haven’t touched in 10 years. We also had an additional 5,000 pounds of Pacific halibut added to our annual quota this season, which is expected to also open on May 1. See, the news isn’t all bad…

Shelter Cove/Fort Bragg salmon season to open April 1
The balance of the west coast, from the Mexico border to the Columbia River, will also have very limited ocean salmon opportunities. The Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg area, which runs from Horse Mt. to Point Arena, will open on April 1. Season lengths and end dates are still up for debate. The three alternatives on the table are:

1. April 1-May 31 and August 15-November 12

2. April 1-May 31 and July 1-12

3. April 1-30

All three alternatives include two salmon per day of any species except Coho, seven days a week, with a 20-inch minimum size. To see all the season proposals, visit pcouncil.org.

All season alternatives will be publicly aired March 27 in Coos Bay and Westport, and March 28 in Fort Bragg. Final season decisions will be made by the council in Sacramento on April 6-12, and submitted to the NMFS for adoption by May 1.

Weekend weather
According to Ryan Alward of Eureka’s National Weather Service, rain is in the forecast off and on for at least the next week. He said, “Following Wednesday’s rain showers, Thursday should be mostly dry with a little sun in the forecast. A 20 percent chance of rain is forecasted for Friday, but Saturday is looking mostly wet. One and a half inches is predicted for the Smith basin and the Eel could see up to an inch. A very slight chance of rain is in the forecast for Sunday, we may see a tenth. The next storm will move in on Monday night and into Tuesday. This will be a much bigger storm with up to two inches predicted.”

Redtails are biting
Right on cue, last weekend’s calm ocean put the redtail perch on the bite. Word has it they’ve been chomping baits at all the local beaches. I’ve been hearing reports of limits coming from the usual spots: Samoa, Centerville, Dry Lagoon, Gold Bluff, and the south spit. Inside Humboldt Bay at the mouth of the Elk River (Stinky Beach) and King Salmon have also been giving up plenty of fish. Redtail Perch have a minimum size limit of 10.5 inches and a daily bag and possession limit of 10.

Perch'n on the Peninsula coming April 8
The Samoa Peninsula Fire District will be hosting their 8th Annual Perch'n on the Peninsula Surfperch Fishing Tournament and Fish Fry Fundraiser on April 8 at the Peninsula Elementary School. This is a fun filled family-oriented fishing event that benefits the Samoa Peninsula Fire District Volunteer Organization. Fish Fry Fundraiser admission is only $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for juniors. Adult fishing tournament entry is $20.00 and junior fishing tournament entry (under 16) is only $10.00. Fishing tournament entry includes admission to the fish fry fundraiser. For registration and door prize information, visit samoafire.org or call 707-443-9042.

The Rivers:

Chetco/Elk/Sixes
“The Chetco came back into shape on Monday, and has been fishing well for a mix of bright steelhead and spawned out fish heading back to the ocean,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Just a handful of boats are on the river each day right now, so the fishing is pretty good. There are a lot of downers in the upper section of the river. From Ice Box down to Social Security, there are a few bright fish and more downers. Most boats are getting four to six fish a day right now. It looks like the river will remain in good shape for the next few weeks. The Elk and Sixes are both fishing, and have fresh steelhead and downers. With the Umpqua still a little high, the boat traffic remains heavy for this time of year.”

Smith River
The Smith is still full of fresh steelhead reports guide Mike Coopman. He said, “We’ve been averaging anywhere from three to five fresh steelhead a day this week. The downers have yet to show up in any numbers, it’s been pretty amazing. With the rain on Wednesday, we should get a little bump in the flows but the river should be in great shape by the weekend. Quite a few rivers are fishing right now, so the boat pressure has been pretty light.”

Eel River (main stem)
Still running at 12,000 cfs as of Wednesday, the main stem is dropping and starting to turn olive, but won’t likely be fishable prior to the next round of storms.

Eel River (South Fork)
The Miranda area of the South Fork and above is in perfect shape.  Flows were right around 1,700 cfs on the Miranda gauge and dropping slowly. Saturday’s rain could blow if out for a few days, but more rain is in store for early next week. Thursday through Saturday is the time to be there.

Van Duzen
Flowing at just above 1,400 cfs on Wednesday, it’s very close to fishable, if it isn’t there already. It’s predicted to bump up to over 2,000 cfs overnight on Wednesday. Definitely worth taking a look at for Thursday and Friday.

Mad River
The Mad remains off color, flowing at just over 9 feet on Wednesday. With water coming over the Ruth spillway along with the snowmelt, it doesn’t look like it’s going to turn green anytime soon. According to Justin Kelly of Eureka’s RMI Outdoors, the fishing really fell off this week and not many anglers were still trying.

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@fishingthen....


3/9/17

Break in the rain a blessing for steelhead anglers
The miracle winter of 2016/17 has been very stingy when it comes to providing us with extended periods of dry weather. I think I can probably count them on one hand. So when the rain relents, even for a few days, you best make the most of it. If the weather forecasters are true to their word, and I mean that with all due respect, a small window is set to open up. Very little rain is predicted to fall between Thursday and next Wednesday, especially south of the Mad River. The South Fork Eel will drop into fishable shape this weekend and the Van Duzen may come into play sometime early next week. Same goes for the Mattole. The Smith should be in good shape by the weekend, and the Chetco should come around by Sunday. With only a few weeks left in the season, it would be wise to take advantage of the next few days as the rivers will be back on the rise before we know it.

The weather ahead
Scattered showers and periods of light rain are in the forecast for the next few days, but it doesn’t look like it will do much to the river levels. “Light rain is in the forecast for Thursday, with the majority falling in the Smith basin,” said Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The Smith could see up to a half an inch, mostly in the mountain areas. In Humboldt, we’ll see anywhere from a tenth to a quarter. Lingering showers will persist in mountain areas of Del Norte on Friday and Saturday, but everywhere else looks dry. Sunday and Monday are looking dry, but scattered showers are forecasted to return to the Smith basin on Tuesday. By Wednesday, we’ll begin to see a series of storms move in that will stick around through Saturday. It’s a little far out for predictions, but the models are showing two to four inches in the Smith basin and one to three inches in the around the Eel.”

Upcoming events

USCG Boating Class coming March 18
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is offering a one-day “Boating Safety” class on Saturday, March 18, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The class will be held at the Woodley Island Marina conference room and the cost is $20 per person. For more information and to pre-register, contact Maggy Herbelin at 707-445-2401.

The Rivers:

Chetco/Elk/Sixes
“The Chetco was fishing well at the end of last week before it blew out again over the weekend,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Now it looks like it will be too high to fish through Sunday. Before it blew out, there was a mix of fresh and spawned steelhead and bluebacks. The fish also were spread throughout the entire river. The run is winding down, but with less boat pressure catch rates are still good. The Chetco remains open through March 31.

The Elk and Sixes are still fishing well between storms, but spawned out fish are now outnumbering fresh fish. Generally there are some big steelhead that show up through the end of March, so there will still be decent fishing there for the next few weeks.”

Smith River
The Smith was blown out on Wednesday, but is on the drop and should be in good shape by the weekend reports guide Mike Coopman. He said, “Before this last high water, the fishing was still really good. We’re still seeing more fresh fish than downers, which is excellent for March. That, however, could change once the water comes back down from the last rain. Boats have been averaging three to five hookups per trip, and the fishing pressure hasn’t been bad at all.”

Eel River (main stem)
“The river was headed in the right direction, but yesterday’s rain put the main stem back on the rise,” said Paul Grundman of Rio Dell’s Grundmans Sporting Goods.

“On Wednesday, it was big and muddy. It needs a solid 10 days of dry weather before it will get close to fishable.”

Eel River (South Fork)
The South Fork was at 4,500 cfs on the Miranda gauge on Wednesday, and dropping. It’s predicted to be around 2,000 cfs by the weekend, which should be fishable. The stretch above the East Branch should drop in by Thursday or Friday.

Van Duzen
Flowing at roughly 3,500 cfs on Wednesday, it too is dropping quickly. It’s predicted to be below 1,000 cfs by late Sunday, and should drop into shape by Monday. The wild card is the amount of dirty water coming from Yager Creek as well as all of the snowmelt.

Mad River
“There’s been a lot more fish around this last week,” said Justin Kelly of Eureka’s RMI Outdoors. “The last week to 10 days the fishing has really improved. Most of the action is coming right in front of the hatchery, with the anglers on the opposite side of the river doing a little better. There aren’t many fresh ones around; most have been in the river for a while. The river is currently big and muddy, and looks to stay that way with all the snowmelt and water spilling over Ruth dam,” 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


 

2/23/17

Green water and sunshine on the horizon
There’s hope on the horizon for North Coast steelhead anglers. Even though you’ll see off and on rain through the weekend and into Monday, an extended period of sunshine and warmth is expected to arrive early next week. The dry weather will hopefully stick around long enough to give us a shot at some of the other coastal rivers that have been blown out since early January. The South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mad, and Redwood Creek should all have a chance at turning green before the rain returns, which is expected to be sometime around the middle of March. In the meantime, the Smith and Chetco are both receding quickly from the latest storms and will be in great shape this weekend. If you plan to fish either, keep in mind the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery Steelhead Derby is taking place Friday and Saturday. A total of 18 teams, consisting of 36 boats will be splitting time between the two rivers.

The weather ahead
“A series of weak systems are forecasted for the area through Monday, and then we’ll see an extended break in the rain,” said Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The Smith basin will see isolated rain and snow showers on Thursday, but we should be dry in Humboldt. Light showers are on tap for Friday and Saturday, where we can expect around a half-inch of rain over the two-day period. A stronger system is forecasted for Sunday, with the heaviest rainfall hitting Mendocino County. The Eel River should see a slight increase in flows. Up to a half-inch of rain is predicted for Del Norte and Humboldt may see a quarter. We’ll see some lingering showers on Monday, but Tuesday we’ll start to dry out. A warming trend will set in, and it’s possible we’ll stay dry through March 10.”

2017 Salmon Information Meeting
The Department of Fish and Wildlife is holding its Annual Ocean Salmon Information Meeting on March 1 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Sonoma County Water Agency office located at 404 Aviation Blvd. in Santa Rosa. A review of last year’s ocean salmon fisheries and spawning escapement will be presented, in addition to the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries. Anglers are encouraged to provide input on potential fishing seasons to a panel of California salmon scientists, managers and representatives who will be directly involved in the upcoming Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meetings in March and April. For more information on the meeting, please contact California Department of Fish and Wildlife Environmental Scientist Kandice Morgenstern at (707) 576-2879 or visit the Department’s Ocean Salmon web page at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon

IF4: International Fly Film Festival showing this Saturday
As part of Humboldt Steelhead Days, the IF4: International Fly Film Festival comes to Humboldt on Saturday, February 25 at the Minor Theater in Arcata. The IF4 consists of short and feature length films produced by professional filmmakers from all corners of the globe, showcasing the passion, lifestyle and culture of fly fishing. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children under 12 years old. For more information, visit http://www.flyfilmfest.com

The Rivers:

Chetco/Elk/Sixes
The Chetco is high and muddy, but looks like it will fall into shape just in time for the Rowdy Creek Derby, which kicks off on Friday,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “It has been unfishable since last week. A couple of boats tried on Sunday but it was still a little too high and there weren't any fish caught. The plunkers did catch some fish on Saturday at Loeb Park. The Elk was in great shape Saturday and Sunday, but blew out on Monday. It was up to 7 feet on Tuesday, but should be fishable by sometime Thursday. The Elk has been fishing pretty well, although heavy boat traffic has dropped the catch rates. The Sixes has been too high and off color to fish.”

Smith River
Water levels on the Smith continue to fluctuate wildly. The only thing that’s been consistent is the steelhead. Drift boats were back on the water over the weekend, with quite a few fish being caught on Saturday. The rain machine kicked back in on Sunday, and the catch rate went way down due to the rising water. The river was blown out on Monday and Tuesday, but dropped enough on Wednesday to get the plunkers back on the water. With very little rain in the forecast for the next few days, the Smith will be in great shape for the weekend.

Eel and Van Duzen rivers
The main stem Eel, South Fork Eel, and the Van Duzen all remain high and unfishable. They are all currently receding, but Sunday’s storm, which will bring heavier rain amounts to Mendocino, will put them back on a slight rise. Dry weather is in the forecast after Monday, so the Van Duzen and South Fork Eel could be down to fishable levels by next weekend. Slides however, could keep both off-color.

Mad River
With the river high and muddy, there’s been very little fishing pressure this week reports Justin Kelly of Eureka’s Redwood Marine “I haven’t heard of any fish being caught, I don’t think there’s many around right now. The river will take a couple weeks with no rain to even have a chance of turning green,” 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


 

2/16/17

Record low returns for fall Klamath kings

Still reeling from four years of drought and less than ideal ocean and river conditions, it’s no surprise that the number of returning Fall Chinook to the Klamath Basin in 2016 were the lowest on record. According to the CDFW, the 2016 preliminary postseason river run size estimate for Klamath River Fall Chinook was 27,353 adults compared to the preseason-predicted river run size of 54,000. Only 15,818 adults escaped to natural spawning areas, which was well below the 40,700 adults needed for the conservation objective. While this is the lowest return since 1978, it’s also worth noting that the creel surveys and counts were hampered by storms that began in early Oct.

The estimated hatchery return was 3,578 adults. Jack returns to the Klamath Basin totaled 2,786 including 1,894 that escaped to natural spawning areas. Spawning escapement to the upper Klamath River tributaries (Salmon, Scott, and Shasta Rivers), totaled 5,462 adults. The Shasta River has historically been the most important Chinook salmon spawning stream in the upper Klamath River, supporting a spawning escapement of 27,600 adults as recently as 2012 and 63,700 in 1935. The escapement in 2016 to the Shasta River was 2,889 adults. Escapement to the Salmon and Scott Rivers was 1,058 and 1,515 adults, respectively.

Next up is the annual Ocean Salmon Information meeting, which will be held March 1 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency office located at 404 Aviation Blvd. in Santa Rosa. Ocean abundance will be discussed, which will then trickle down to river quotas. For more information on the meeting, please contact CDFW Environmental Scientist Kandice Morgenstern at 707-576-2879 or visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon

The weather ahead
“After a nice little break from the rain, we’re once again heading into a wet pattern,” said Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. ”Precipitation is in the forecast for Thursday, where we could see up to an inch of rain throughout the day and evening. A system coming up from the south will bring unstable and cooler air on Friday and Saturday, but not much in the way or rain.  We may see only a quarter inch. Light rain on Sunday will be followed by heavier rain in the evening. We’ll see anywhere from a half to an inch and half during the night. Monday looks to be the wettest day, where we could see up to three inches of rain. Lingering showers will persist on Tuesday and Wednesday, but not much will accumulate. As of now, Thursday and Friday are both looking dry.”

Sport-harvested bivalve shellfish not safe for consumption 
In a press release issued on Monday, The California Department of Public Health is advising consumers not to eat recreationally harvested mussels, clams or whole scallops from Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. Dangerous levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins have been detected in mussels from this region. The naturally occurring PSP toxins can cause illness or death in humans. Cooking does not destroy the toxin. Consumers are also reminded to avoid consumption of crab viscera from crabs caught in the affected area as crabs do consume bivalve shellfish and could accumulate some of the PSP toxin in their gut. Crab meat is not affected by PSP toxin. There have been no reports of illnesses related to this event. For additional information, please visit http://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/NR17-022.aspx

The Rivers:

Chetco/Elk/Sixes 
The Chetco fished surprisingly well on Monday, even though it was running at 6,000 cfs,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “I was set to go to the Elk, but heard the plunkers did well over the weekend on the Chetco, so we launched at the South Fork and had 10 hookups on Monday. A slide overnight, however, made the Chetco unfishable on Tuesday. The water was the dirtiest it’s been all season. The slide is somewhere above the South Fork, and as of Tuesday night the river was still too dirty to fish, even though it was down to 3,900 cfs. With more rain, it looks like the Chetco will be too high to fish through the weekend.

The Elk fished well Sunday and Monday, while the Sixes was fair on Tuesday. Most boats had multiple fish on the Elk on Sunday, when it got down to 5.2 feet. On Monday it was down to 4.5 and fished well. The Sixes was in shape Tuesday, but most boats go only one fish.”

Smith River 
The Smith dropped back into driftable shape on Sunday, and boats are catching good numbers of big and bright steelhead. Scores ranged from one to four fish per boat, with some real big ones in the mix. As of Wednesday, flows were just above 6,000 cfs at the Jed Smith gauge and the color a perfect emerald green. The forecast is calling for off and on heavy rain starting Wednesday night and into Thursday, pushing the height up to 16-feet by mid-day Thursday. It might be a little high to side-drift on Friday, but the weekend and Monday are looking good.

Eel and Van Duzen rivers 
Much like last week, the main stem Eel, South Fork Eel, and the Van Duzen were all on the drop this week. But with the rain returning on Wednesday and Thursday, all are forecasted to be back on the rise. With the storm door open, it’s doubtful any of these rivers will turn green before the end of next week.

Mad River 
The Mad was roughly 10-feet as of Wednesday and still off color. According to Justin Kelly of Eureka’s RMI Outdoors, the river is dropping quickly, but is forecasted to rise starting Thursday morning. “There hasn’t been many fish around; the liners haven’t been doing very well. Hopefully this next rise will bring in some new fish,” added Kelly.                  

Upper Trinity
“The upper Trinity has dropped back into shape,” said Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service. “Water levels are a little high right now, but the color is good. As of Wednesday, the river was fishable from Lewiston down to the North Fork. If the rain comes as forecasted, it will push everybody back to Lewiston to Indian Creek Lodge. The fishing pressure has been light, which is to be expected with Hwy. 299 still closed and the issues with the Feather 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


 

2/9/17

Smith best option for weekend steelhead
After another week of heavy rain and soaring river levels, green water is finally on the horizon for two of the quick-clearing coastal rivers. Sunshine is in the forecast for the weekend, and Monday and Tuesday are looking dry as well. For steelhead anglers, this means both the Smith and Chetco will be on the drop and heading towards greener waters. Boats should be back to side-drifting Sunday on the Smith, and possibly by Monday on the Chetco. For the rest of the coastal rivers, no such luck. They’ll remain high and muddy and won’t clear before the next round of storms roll through starting next Wednesday. As it’s been the case all year, expect a crowd if you plan to fish either of these rivers once they turn green.

The weather ahead
“Precipitation will be with us through Friday, but we’ll finally see a few nice days beginning this weekend,” said Ryan Aylward of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “We’ll likely see anywhere from three to five inches fall between Wednesday and Thursday, with the heaviest rain falling Thursday morning. Showers are in the forecast for Friday, with possibly an inch falling in Del Norte and a half-inch in Eureka. A high pressure will build, keeping us dry from Saturday through Monday. We may see a slight shower on Tuesday, with rain returning on Wednesday as we head into another wet pattern. Several systems are forecasted to hit the North Coast through the following weekend.”

HSD Peak of the Run dinner this Saturday
The Sequoia Conference Center in Eureka will be hosting the Humboldt Steelhead Days “Peak of the Run” dinner starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday Feb. 11. Over 250 guests are invited to watch presentations from anglers and river experts concerning Humboldt Steelhead. There will be a silent auction, raffles, prizes, steelhead photo slideshow, fine art show, Mad River beer on tap, plus wine donated by Moonstone Crossing and the Fish Friendly Farming Organization. A tri-tip dinner will be catered by Blackberry Bramble BBQ. Tickets are available at humboldtsteelheaddays.com/register, Wildberries Marketplace, or at the door.

2017 rockfish regulations approved
The state’s 2017 recreational groundfish fishing regulations became effective as of Feb. 7 following the California Fish and Game Commission adoption back in December.

For the first time in more than a decade, anglers will be allowed to retain canary rockfish beginning in 2017. After being declared overfished in 2000, the population has been rebuilt to healthy levels quicker than anticipated based on a combination of conservation efforts and restrictive management.

Additional changes 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.

Within the Northern Management Zone, which runs from the Oregon border to Cape Mendocino, the season for boat-based anglers will now run from May 1 through Oct. 31 within 180 feet and Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 with no depth restrictions. For more information about recreational groundfish regulations, please call the hotline at 831-649-2801 or visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/groundfish

The Rivers:

Chetco/Elk/Sixes
“The Chetco was fishing fair last week before the big rain started on Friday”, said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Now it looks like it will be blown out until early next week. We should see good numbers of hatchery and wild fish when it comes back into shape, although there were some down runners already being caught before the river blew out. The Elk and Sixes, along with the Rogue, are also blown out and will be for several days. Fishing was good late last week on the Rogue before the rain.”

Smith River
The Smith has been bouncing back and forth between 14 and 19 feet on the Jed Smith gauge since last weekend. It was back on the rise as of early Wednesday, and predicted to reach nearly 25 feet by midday Thursday. With very light rain forecasted for Friday, it will drop quickly and should be under 13 feet and driftable by Sunday. Earlier this week, boats plunking between Ruby and the water tower were picking up a few steelhead while the flows were receding.

Eel and Van Duzen rivers
The main stem Eel, South Fork Eel, and the Van Duzen were all on the drop as of Wednesday. That’s the good news. Bad news is they are all forecasted for steep rises on Thursday, with the main Eel and Van Duzen both predicted to surpass flood stage. The South Fork Eel is supposed to hit monitor stage Thursday evening. It’s doubtful any of these rivers will fish prior to the next round of storms, especially the main Eel.

Mad River
According to Justin Kelly of Eureka’s RMI Outdoors, the liners did pretty well this past weekend. “From what I heard, it was probably the best fishing so far this season. I also heard there’s quite a few fish in the ladder. The next storm coming will likely push the water level past monitor stage on Thursday, but it looks like it will drop quickly. Liners should be able to get back on the water by Sunday,” 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


 

2/2/17

Steelhead season on hold once again due to rain
I know we need the rain, but “C’Mon Man!” It’s getting a little discouraging, especially for steelhead anglers hoping to fish somewhere other than the Smith or Chetco. Since early January, each time the Humboldt rivers started to turn green, another round of storms blew through and turned them all back to brown. Redwood Creek, the Mad, Van Duzen, and South Fork Eel — all were headed towards emerald green this week. But now with rain in the forecast for at least the next week, we’ll be right back to square one. The Smith and Chetco on the other hand, will welcome the rain as both were dropping and clearing. For the foreseeable future, it appears those two rivers will remain the only options for coastal steelhead fishermen.

The weather ahead
“After a nice break from the rain, our weather pattern is changing back to a wet one,” said Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “A series of frontal systems are moving in beginning Wednesday night, bringing rain for the next seven days. On Thursday and Friday, we could see anywhere from one and a half to three and a half inches of rain in the Smith and Eel basins. Light rain is forecasted for Saturday, with heavier rain in store for Sunday, with up to two inches falling. More light rain is forecasted for Monday, with up to an inch predicted to hit the ground. Tuesday and Wednesday are looking wet, with another one to three inches falling over the two-day period.”

Razor Clam fishery remains closed in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties
Due to lingering high levels of domoic acid, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has acted to extend the closure of the recreational razor clam fishery in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. According to the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and the California Department of Public Health, the fishery will remain closed until the health agencies determine clams to be safe and recommend reopening the fishery.

State health agencies determined last spring that razor clams in Humboldt and Del Norte counties had unhealthy levels of domoic acid and recommended fishery closure in April 2016. The California Fish and Game Commission closed the fishery under emergency rules from April to October 2016 and extended the closure to Jan. 26, 2017.

Halibut Commission announces 2017 catch limits and seasons
The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) completed its Ninety-third annual meeting in Victoria, BC, Canada on January 27, 2017.  More than 200 halibut industry stakeholders attended the meeting, with over 80 more participating in web broadcasts of the public sessions. The Commission is recommending to the governments of Canada and the U.S. catch limits for 2017 totaling 31.40 million pounds. The California sport harvest will be 34,580 pounds, up from 29,640 pounds in 2016.

Fish and Game Commission meeting next week
California Fish and Game Commission meeting will be held Feb 8-9 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Sonoma Wine Country, One DoubleTree Drive, Rohnert Park. The meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 8 and 8 a.m. on Feb. 9. To view the meeting agenda, visit http://www.fgc.ca.... Topics include recommendations concerning the Klamath River Basin salmon sport fishing regulations, recreational ocean salmon fishing regulations, and Pacific halibut regulations.

The Rivers:

Chetco River
“Fishing was really good at the end of last week on the Chetco before things slowed down over the weekend,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “I think the heavy pressure had something to do with the bite slowing down. It seemed to be hit and miss on Monday and Tuesday. My customers only hooked two on Monday, and then hooked five on Tuesday. The river is getting low, but still has great color on the lower end. The fish have been spread out, so there hasn't been a need to race down river.”

Smith River
The Smith has dropped and cleared, creating tougher conditions this week for steelhead anglers. The fishing has dropped off from last week, but most boats are still landing a couple fish per trip. If the rain comes as planned, the Smith will see a significant rise beginning Friday morning. Rain is in the forecast for all of next week, so we’ll have to see if the river will drop back down to a driftable level in between storms.

Eel River (main stem)
The Main stem was still off color and big as of Wednesday, and it’s set to get even bigger with more rain on the way. “We were about four to five days away from the river starting to turn,” said Paul Grundman of Grundman’s Sporting Goods in Rio Dell.

Eel River (South Fork)
The South Fork dropped into fishable shape and was running around 1,800 cfs on the Miranda gauge as of Wednesday. It’s predicted to blow out again sometime Thursday with the latest rounds of storms.

Van Duzen
The Van Duzen dropped to a fishable level earlier in the week. It was hovering around 850 cfs on Wednesday, but is predicted to rise beginning Thursday morning.

Mad River
According to Justin Kelly of Eureka’s RMI Outdoors, fishing has improved, but it’s still not red-hot by any means. “There was about a foot of visibility on Wednesday, and the liners were doing just ok. A few were also being caught on bait above the Blue Lake Bridge. With the rains coming again, we’ll be back to muddy conditions by Friday,” 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


 

1/26/17

Smith and Chetco full of bright steelhead
After what seems like a couple months of solid rain, things are finally looking up for North Coast steelhead anglers. Not only are the Smith and Chetco in pristine condition following the latest round of storms, but the rest of the coastal rivers are dropping quickly as well. The South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, and the Mad could all be some shade of green as early as the weekend. If you’re looking to land your first steelhead of the year, you’ll want to take advantage of this break in the weather because it’s looking like it may be short-lived. Rain is back in the forecast for next Wednesday and Thursday, which could potentially put the Humboldt rivers right back at square one.

The weather ahead
“Expect another five or six days of dry weather along the coast,” said Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “It’s looking dry through next Tuesday, with the next rain event moving in on Wednesday and Thursday. We could see anywhere from two to four inches of rain over those two days. As of now, Friday and Saturday are looking dry, with another front moving in next Sunday.”

Humboldt Steelhead Days weekend events
In conjunction with Humboldt Steelhead Days, there will be an all day tour of the Van Duzen watershed, a 420 square mile tributary to the Eel River this Saturday Jan. 28. The tour will view three to four restoration and watershed management sites and have in-the-field presentations from resource experts Scott Downie, and Randy Klein, who will discuss the sediment and fish dynamics of the lowest reaches of the Van Duzen; Keith Lackey with Humboldt Redwood Co. presents a restoration success story on Lawrence Creek; and Eric Stockwell with Loleta Eric Guide Service will lead the group in hunting for spawning evidence or live action. The event begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m. at the Eel River Brewery. Participants will be shuttled to tour stops in the Pacific Outfitters van. Space is limited and the cost is $55. More info at http://www.humboldtsteelheaddays.com/event/caltrout-eel-river-restoration-and-south-fork-of-the-eel-spawning-tour-for-board/

HASA membership meeting coming in February
HASA (Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers) will be having their general membership meeting on Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 7 p.m. at the Grace Baptist Church, 220 Buhne Street, Eureka. For more information, email hasa6191@gmail.com or call 707-845-0101.

Humboldt Bay Entrance Safety Zone established
In a press release issued last week, the Coast Guard established a safety zone in the navigable waters of the Humboldt Bay Entrance Channel to promote the navigational safety of all vessels near Humboldt Bay, when extreme environmental conditions are present. The safety zone will run through March 31, 2017. The safety zone prohibits vessels from transiting the Humboldt Bay Entrance Channel as a result of extreme environmental conditions.

During times of extreme environmental conditions the temporary safety zone applies to the navigable waters of the Humboldt Bay Bar Channel and the Humboldt Bay Entrance Channel, of Humboldt Bay. This safety zone is effective from the time of promulgation through March 31, 2017; this safety zone will be enforced when on-scene conditions reach 20 feet breaking seas or as the Captain of the Port determines that the on scene environmental conditions are hazardous and unsafe for vessel transits, as announced via Broadcast Notice to Mariners. During times of enforcement, all vessels are prohibited from transiting through or remaining in the safety zone.

Any vessel requesting permission to transit the safety zone during times of enforcement shall contact Station Humboldt Bay on VHF-FM channel 16 or at 707- 443-2213 between 6:30 a.m. and 10 p.m., or to Sector Humboldt Bay on VHF-FM channel 16 or at 707-839-6113 between 10 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.
For more information on boating safety and required and recommended safety equipment, please visit www.uscgboating.org. For more information on weather conditions, please visit www.weather.gov.

The Rivers
Chetco/Elk/Sixes
The plunkers got into some steelhead on Monday and Tuesday as there were some pretty good numbers of fish going through Social Security Bar,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Boats were back on the water Wednesday as the river dropped to 4,700 cfs. We launched at the South Fork and even though the water looked great up there, we didn't land a fish until Ice Box. We went 3 for 4 between Ice Box and Loeb.  With the clear forecast, the Chetco should be in prime shape through the weekend. With warmer temperatures, this will be the best conditions so far this season.

Several boats went up to the Elk on Tuesday and did well according to Martin. “Guide Mark Papazian went two for four, and he was behind 10 boats all day. The Elk should fish well until the weekend, when it will start to get clear, but the Sixes should be prime by the weekend. Late January is peak season on both rivers.”

Smith River
The Smith has fished great since Monday, with boats landing four to six chrome-bright steelhead per outing. The river is dropping slowly, and is in great shape and should stay that way through the weekend. The boat pressure eased somewhat now that the Chetco has dropped into shape, but expect a pretty crowded river this weekend.

Main stem Eel
Running at nearly 30,000 cfs on Wednesday, it needed a couple more weeks of dry weather to drop and clear. With rain in the forecast next week, it could be out for a few more weeks.

South Fork Eel
The middle South Fork could be fishable by Monday and possibly even Sunday. Forecasted to be right around 2,200 cfs on the Miranda gauge on Monday morning. The Benbow area could fish by the beginning of the weekend, depending on snowmelt.

Van Duzen
Flowing at just over 1,500 cfs on Wednesday, it’s predicted to drop to 1,000 cfs by Saturday afternoon. There’s quite a bit of snow in the hills, which if it melts, the river will remain off color. Your best bet will be above Yager Creek.

Mad River
According to Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors, the Mad is dropping quickly and should start to turn green early next week. “From what I’m hearing, the fishing is pretty slow right now, only a few fish are being caught daily. It should start to pick up as the flows recede. It’s been tough even for the liners, but that should change this weekend. It looks like early next week we’ll see some green water.” Kelly added.

Trinity
The upper Trinity is dropping back into shape, but it still has a little color reports Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service.  He said, “It will definitely fish above Indian Creek by the weekend. There’s a chance the Junction City area could also be in by the weekend, but it will likely by pushy. Prior to the last storm, there was a pretty good batch of new fish in the Junction City area. Most of them were wild and in the five to six pound range. With the water height and color, plugs were the go-to bait.”

 

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


1/26/17

Smith and Chetco full of bright steelhead
After what seems like a couple months of solid rain, things are finally looking up for North Coast steelhead anglers. Not only are the Smith and Chetco in pristine condition following the latest round of storms, but the rest of the coastal rivers are dropping quickly as well. The South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, and the Mad could all be some shade of green as early as the weekend. If you’re looking to land your first steelhead of the year, you’ll want to take advantage of this break in the weather because it’s looking like it may be short-lived. Rain is back in the forecast for next Wednesday and Thursday, which could potentially put the Humboldt rivers right back at square one.

The weather ahead
“Expect another five or six days of dry weather along the coast,” said Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “It’s looking dry through next Tuesday, with the next rain event moving in on Wednesday and Thursday. We could see anywhere from two to four inches of rain over those two days. As of now, Friday and Saturday are looking dry, with another front moving in next Sunday.”

Humboldt Steelhead Days weekend events
In conjunction with Humboldt Steelhead Days, there will be an all day tour of the Van Duzen watershed, a 420 square mile tributary to the Eel River this Saturday Jan. 28. The tour will view three to four restoration and watershed management sites and have in-the-field presentations from resource experts Scott Downie, and Randy Klein, who will discuss the sediment and fish dynamics of the lowest reaches of the Van Duzen; Keith Lackey with Humboldt Redwood Co. presents a restoration success story on Lawrence Creek; and Eric Stockwell with Loleta Eric Guide Service will lead the group in hunting for spawning evidence or live action. The event begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m. at the Eel River Brewery. Participants will be shuttled to tour stops in the Pacific Outfitters van. Space is limited and the cost is $55. More info at http://www.humboldtsteelheaddays.com/event/caltrout-eel-river-restoration-and-south-fork-of-the-eel-spawning-tour-for-board/

HASA membership meeting coming in February
HASA (Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers) will be having their general membership meeting on Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 7 p.m. at the Grace Baptist Church, 220 Buhne Street, Eureka. For more information, email hasa6191@gmail.com or call 707-845-0101.

Humboldt Bay Entrance Safety Zone established
In a press release issued last week, the Coast Guard established a safety zone in the navigable waters of the Humboldt Bay Entrance Channel to promote the navigational safety of all vessels near Humboldt Bay, when extreme environmental conditions are present. The safety zone will run through March 31, 2017. The safety zone prohibits vessels from transiting the Humboldt Bay Entrance Channel as a result of extreme environmental conditions.

During times of extreme environmental conditions the temporary safety zone applies to the navigable waters of the Humboldt Bay Bar Channel and the Humboldt Bay Entrance Channel, of Humboldt Bay. This safety zone is effective from the time of promulgation through March 31, 2017; this safety zone will be enforced when on-scene conditions reach 20 feet breaking seas or as the Captain of the Port determines that the on scene environmental conditions are hazardous and unsafe for vessel transits, as announced via Broadcast Notice to Mariners. During times of enforcement, all vessels are prohibited from transiting through or remaining in the safety zone.

Any vessel requesting permission to transit the safety zone during times of enforcement shall contact Station Humboldt Bay on VHF-FM channel 16 or at 707- 443-2213 between 6:30 a.m. and 10 p.m., or to Sector Humboldt Bay on VHF-FM channel 16 or at 707-839-6113 between 10 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.
For more information on boating safety and required and recommended safety equipment, please visit www.uscgboating.org. For more information on weather conditions, please visit www.weather.gov.


The Rivers
Chetco/Elk/Sixes
The plunkers got into some steelhead on Monday and Tuesday as there were some pretty good numbers of fish going through Social Security Bar,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Boats were back on the water Wednesday as the river dropped to 4,700 cfs. We launched at the South Fork and even though the water looked great up there, we didn't land a fish until Ice Box. We went 3 for 4 between Ice Box and Loeb.  With the clear forecast, the Chetco should be in prime shape through the weekend. With warmer temperatures, this will be the best conditions so far this season.

Several boats went up to the Elk on Tuesday and did well according to Martin. “Guide Mark Papazian went two for four, and he was behind 10 boats all day. The Elk should fish well until the weekend, when it will start to get clear, but the Sixes should be prime by the weekend. Late January is peak season on both rivers.”

Smith River
The Smith has fished great since Monday, with boats landing four to six chrome-bright steelhead per outing. The river is dropping slowly, and is in great shape and should stay that way through the weekend. The boat pressure eased somewhat now that the Chetco has dropped into shape, but expect a pretty crowded river this weekend.

Main stem Eel
Running at nearly 30,000 cfs on Wednesday, it needed a couple more weeks of dry weather to drop and clear. With rain in the forecast next week, it could be out for a few more weeks.

South Fork Eel
The middle South Fork could be fishable by Monday and possibly even Sunday. Forecasted to be right around 2,200 cfs on the Miranda gauge on Monday morning. The Benbow area could fish by the beginning of the weekend, depending on snowmelt.

Van Duzen
Flowing at just over 1,500 cfs on Wednesday, it’s predicted to drop to 1,000 cfs by Saturday afternoon. There’s quite a bit of snow in the hills, which if it melts, the river will remain off color. Your best bet will be above Yager Creek.

Mad River
According to Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors, the Mad is dropping quickly and should start to turn green early next week. “From what I’m hearing, the fishing is pretty slow right now, only a few fish are being caught daily. It should start to pick up as the flows recede. It’s been tough even for the liners, but that should change this weekend. It looks like early next week we’ll see some green water.” Kelly added.

Trinity
The upper Trinity is dropping back into shape, but it still has a little color reports Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service.  He said, “It will definitely fish above Indian Creek by the weekend. There’s a chance the Junction City area could also be in by the weekend, but it will likely by pushy. Prior to the last storm, there was a pretty good batch of new fish in the Junction City area. Most of them were wild and in the five to six pound range. With the water height and color, plugs were the go-to bait.”

 

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


 

1/19/17

Storms slow solid steelhead action on Smith, Chetco
North Coast steelhead anglers breathed a collective sigh of relief this week as the first real push of winter steelhead entered the Smith and Chetco rivers. The unusually slow start had anglers a little nervous. Were we finally seeing the effects of the drought? Were the steelhead waiting out the huge river flows? Could be a little of both, but for now, it was sure nice to see rivers full of bright steelhead again. Hopefully once the rivers begin to recede down to fishable levels, the fishing will pick up where it left off. While the spotlight is shining on the only two coastal rivers that are green, there’s good news on the horizon for the rest of our rivers. An extended dry period is in the forecast beginning next Tuesday, and it’s possible we’ll see up to two weeks with no rain. This should be more than enough time for all of the coastal rivers to turn green and maybe even enough time for the main stem Eel to come into play for the first time this winter.

The weather ahead
The North Coast can expect more of the wet stuff to stick around through next Monday according to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The wettest system will have moved through on Wednesday. The next system will hit us Thursday night and stick around through the day on Friday. This will be followed by another one hitting land on Saturday night and lasting through Sunday. In between the two systems, we’ll see some showery weather along with some lulls. Rainfall totals for the next five days will be between two and a half and five inches for both Del Norte and Humboldt Counties. On Tuesday, we’ll see a dry pattern settling in which will last at least through next weekend, and possibly longer,” Kennedy said.

Humboldt Steelhead Days weekend happenings
As part of Humboldt Steelhead Days, the Mad River Brewing Co. Tap Room will be hosting the Mad River Kickoff Party on Friday, January 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. There will be live music from Cadillac Ranch, games, prizes and auction. This is also a pints for non-profit event, so $1 from every pint sold will go toward future river restoration.

Weekend festivities will include Little River and Mad River Basin Tours on Saturday, January 21 starting at 9 a.m. at Wildberries Marketplace. This special tour by Mad River Alliance will allow participants a front row seat on the spawning and rearing grounds that are the vital to the success of our wild salmonid populations.
Also on Saturday, the Steelhead Expo will be held from 10 a.m. to 4.p.m. at the Mad River Brewing Company Tap Room and Mad River Business Park with presentations, casting workshop and seminars on getting rigged for steelhead. Games and activities will be provided for the kids. For more information, visit http://www.humbol...

Fishing Report Cards Due Soon
CDFW wants to remind anglers and divers that the due date for turning in steelhead, sturgeon, abalone and North Coast salmon report card data is Jan. 31, 2017.

Anglers and divers must report even if the report card was lost, they did not fish or they did not catch any fish. Cards should be reviewed carefully for accuracy prior to submitting. Harvest reporting can be submitted online at https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing#758846-harvest-reporting or by mailing the cards to the address listed on the report card. For more information and a complete list of mail addresses, visit https://cdfgnews....

The Rivers
Chetco/Elk/Sixes
“The Chetco fished the best it has so far this season over the weekend and early this week, although it is expected to blow out again for several days,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “The plunkers did very well on Thursday and Friday, and the drift boaters did well last weekend. There are fish spread throughout the river, including a lot of hatchery fish. The best bite has been after 10 a.m. on the lower river, while the upper section has fished well right off the bat. Most guides reported two to three fish a day the last several days.
According to Martin, the Elk and Sixes were both in good shape early this week, with the Sixes fishing better than the Elk. “There are still some old salmon in each, but they are dark. With the new storms, the Elk will be one of the first options in Southern Oregon. The Rogue stayed high, hitting 90,000 cfs last week and dropping to 12,000 cfs on Tuesday just as it started raining again.”

Smith River
“The fishing was really good all week,” said guide Mike Coopman. “The river was in absolutely perfect shape, and there were lots of fish around. We had a couple days of double-digit hookups. The river was on its way out on Wednesday morning, so we’ll have to see what happens when it comes back down. If the rain falls as forecasted, it looks like we may be plunking this weekend with the river coming back down enough on Monday to side-drift,” Coopman added.

Eel and Van Duzen rivers
The main stem Eel was a long way from fishable, but at least it was headed in the right direction. That all changed with Wednesday’s storm as its back on the rise and predicted to hit monitor stage early Thursday morning. The South Fork was a few days away from fishing, but it too is on a steep rise. The Van Duzen dipped below 1,000 cfs on Wednesday, but was reportedly still muddy below Yager Creek. It’s predicted to surpass monitor stage early Thursday morning, but should recede quickly.


Mad River
According to Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors, fishing remains slow on the Mad. “Fishing in dirty conditions, the liners didn’t fair very well this past week. It doesn’t seem like there’s many fish in the river right now, and there isn’t a ton of effort either. Hopefully once the water drops back down, we’ll see a good push of fish come in.” Kelly added.


Trinity
Conditions on the upper Trinity have improved dramatically over the past couple days reports Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service. He said, “We fished the Junction City area this week, and the water was about perfect. There’s still a little color to it, making it perfect for pulling plugs. The winter steelhead have definitely made it into the system, with most of the fish being wild. With more rain on the way this week, the action will be above Indian Creek.”

 

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@fishingthen...


 

1/12/17

Record rains blow out North Coast rivers
The parade of storms that pounded the North Coast earlier this week pushed some of our coastal rivers above flood stage, and the ones that didn’t flood, were right on the verge. We haven’t seen this much water flowing in our rivers since the floods of 97’, at least that’s what I’ve been hearing. Needless to say, our steelhead season is now in a bit of a holding pattern for all rivers not named Smith. Speaking of the quick-clearing Smith, it should be in plunkable shape by Thursday and in excellent condition for side-drifting by the weekend. If you do plan to be there this weekend, you may see a few of your close friends as it could be the only game in town. The Chetco was still big on Wednesday, but dropping quickly and it could fish by the weekend as well. For all of the Humboldt County rivers, from Redwood Creek to the South Fork Eel, they are likely done for the foreseeable future. The next round of storms is forecasted for next Tuesday, which likely won’t give the rivers enough time to clear. Hey, whatever happened to the term “low flow?”

Weather ahead
According to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service, some dry weather is finally on the horizon. “After some light showers on Thursday, a high pressure system will move in keeping us dry beginning Friday and lasting through Monday. The next rain system will arrive on Tuesday and will stick around through Friday. We could see two to four inches combined for Tuesday and Wednesday and another two to four for Thursday and Friday,” Kennedy added.

Crabs good to go statewide
On Wednesday, the California Department of Public Health lifted the last remaining health advisory for Dungeness crab caught along the California coast. CDPH lifted this advisory today due to recent tests showing that traces of domoic acid have declined to low or undetectable levels in Dungeness crabs caught in the area, indicating they are safe to consume.

The final health advisory lifted was for Dungeness crabs caught in state waters in areas north of 39° 33.3' N lat. (near Ten Mile River) and south of 40° 01' N lat.(near Shelter Cove). For more information, visit www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/NR17-002.aspx

Major changes ahead for ab divers
Due to concerns about the declining population of California’s popular red abalone sport fishery, some drastic regulation changes are coming in 2017.

The upcoming season will be shortened by two months, starting a month later and closing a month earlier. The traditional opening date of April 1 will  now be delayed until May 1. The fishery will also close a month earlier than usual, on Oct. 31.
The annual bag limit is reduced from 18 abalone to 12. No more than nine abalone may be taken south of the boundary between Sonoma and Mendocino counties, which stays in place from years past.

The reason behind the  red abalone catch reduction is because surveys conducted by the CDFW found that red abalone populations in deeper waters are on the decline due to unfavorable environmental conditions. Over the past three years, growth of kelp — a major food source for abalone – has declined significantly. Dramatic increases in purple sea urchin populations have further reduced the food available for abalone.

Fishing for abalone will be allowed from 8 a.m. to one half-hour after sunset in waters north of San Francisco Bay. People may travel to fishing locations before 8 a.m. but may not actively search for or take any abalone before that time. The daily bag and possession limit remains at three. Parts of Fort Ross State Historical Park remain closed to the take of abalone.

The changes to the abalone regulations were approved by the Fish and Game Commission at their Dec. 7 meeting, under emergency rulemaking provisions that allow fast-tracking of the approval process when there is an urgent need for regulatory change. For more information, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/north-coast-abalone-season-dates-regulations-change/

The Rivers:

Chetco River
“All of the Southern Oregon rivers blew out this week, and may take several days to drop”, said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers. “We are hopeful we will be able to get back on the Chetco this weekend, otherwise we will fish the Smith. The Chetco was still slow last week, before the big, storm, with only a few fish reported for several boats. The people living between Tide Rock and Morris Hole said they could see pretty good numbers of steelhead holding in the upper tidewater section last week. With water temperatures down to 38 degrees, they probably didn't want to leave the slightly warmer tidewater. We also saw some pretty good-size schools below the South Fork, near Little Redwood and near Loeb and Moffit Rock, but they were hold in such shallow water you couldn't get a drift without spooking them.”

According to Martin, the Elk was fishable over the weekend, but hit 6.9 feet on Tuesday. The Rogue, has been fishing the best of any of the rivers for steelhead, is expected to hit minor flood stage this week.

Smith River
“The Smith was still blown out as of Wednesday, but should be driftable by the weekend,” said guide Mike Coopman. “The river blew out last Sunday, but we did start to see some signs of life. A few guys were plunking on Sunday as the river was rising and they hooked a few. The boats I was fishing around also hooked a few, so I think we’re starting to see some more fish move in. The river should be plunkable by Thursday, and the weekend should be in good shape to side-drift.”

Mad River
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Mad was at 18 feet, which is still three feet above monitor stage. It was dropping fairly quickly, but won’t be bait fishable anytime soon. It typically starts to fish between eight and seven feet.

Eel and Van Duzen rivers
As of Wednesday, the main stem Eel at Fernbridge remained above flood stage. It’s going to take weeks of dry weather before the main Eel drops back into fishable shape. The South Fork dipped back under monitor stage early Wednesday, and is forecasted to be less than 4,000 cfs by Monday. It should start to fish at around 2,500 cfs on the Miranda gauge.

The Van Duzen is on a pretty steep drop and was back under 8,500 cfs on Wednesday afternoon after peaking at nearly 22,000 cfs on Tuesday evening. With a dry weekend ahead, it’s forecasted to be back down to 1,200 cfs by Monday morning. Once it gets below 1,000 cfs, it should start to look fishy.

Trinity
The Upper Trinity might have a chance to fish over the weekend with water levels starting to come down reports Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service. He said, “Looking at the river in the Douglas City area on Tuesday evening, it was starting to get muddy again, probably from the snowmelt. The only real option for the weekend will be above the Indian Creek area, and that’s looking iffy. From all the increased flows, we should see another push of fish from the Klamath making their way up.”

 

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1/5/17

Steelhead season off to a slow start

As the North Coast is once again on the verge of being pounded by more wet winter storms, there’s a collective questioning happening amongst anglers. Where are the steelhead? Just about every river has dropped into fishable shape at some point within the last couple weeks, but the fish have yet to show in any of the rivers in good numbers. The calendar now reads January, so we’ll cross that off the list of reasons why the fishing has yet to kick into gear. Could this be the year that we finally begin to see the effects of the drought? There’s certainly no shortage of theories floating around. As more days come of the calendar with no big pushes of fish, the concern will dive a little deeper. The good news is we have storms lined up that will trigger some very large river rises, let’s hope the steelhead are riding those waves into our coastal rivers.

The weather ahead
“After a couple of nice days, which should allow the rivers to recede, more rain is on the way beginning Friday evening,” said Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service.  “The next storm is forecasted to arrive late Friday evening or early Saturday morning. The bulk of this rain will fall to the south, where the Eel basin could see up to two and a half inches. A couple inches is likely to fall in the Smith basin as well. Another system will arrive right on top of Saturday’s, which will be much wetter. On Sunday, we can expect from one and a half to three inches in the Smith basin. To the south along the Eel, up to two and a half inches is possible. Showery weather is in the forecast for Monday, bringing another inch to Del Norte as well as Humboldt. After a short break, a big bigger system will roll in Tuesday night and stick around through Thursday. Rainfall totals for the three days could be from three to five inches in Del Norte and Humboldt counties,” Kennedy added.

Steelhead report cards due
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds anglers that they are required to return their 2016 Steelhead Fishing Report and Restoration Cards between Jan. 1 and Jan. 31, 2017. Anglers are requested to review their cards carefully and complete the information as accurately as possible. Information collected from report cards provides CDFW with data necessary to monitor and manage California’s steelhead fisheries.

Anglers are encouraged to submit steelhead report card data online at https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Inland-Fisheries/Steelhead-Report-Card, but report cards can still be submitted by mail. Information must be submitted regardless of whether or not the angler fished for steelhead. Additional information can be found on CDFW’s Steelhead Fishing Report and Restoration Card Program webpage listed above.

The Rivers:

Chetco River
“The Chetco has been slow for the past several days,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “There doesn't seem to be a lot of fish in the river right now. I fished up high on Saturday, at a private launch above the South Fork, and we only hooked one fish there. On the lower river on Sunday, with light boat pressure, I was able to run plugs at several holes that normally hold fish, and we didn't encounter many fish. Hopefully the next big storm, expected this weekend, will bring in better numbers of steelhead, while also warming the water up a bit.

According to Martin, the bright spot on the Southern Oregon Coast has been the lower Rogue River. He said, “People anchoring in jet boats and running MagLip 3.5 plugs are catching steelhead between Clay Banks and Lobster Creek. Some boats are hooking four or more a day. Right now conditions are very good on the lower Rogue. That may change with the next storm.”

Smith River
The steelhead bite has been a little tough on the Smith this past week, with scores ranging from zero to a couple fish per trip. The river has been on the clear side, and there’s not a lot of fish around at the moment. Hopefully the next big rise will bring in a good push of fish.

Eel River

Main Stem
The main stem Eel was just dropping down to a fishable level and the color was turning green on Tuesday, but that has all changed now due to the rain. It is expected to reach and exceed monitor stage on Sunday, so we’re back to square one. It will need a couple weeks of dry weather to fish, and that’s not likely to happen any time soon.

South Fork
Like the rest of the southern rivers, the South Fork blew out on Wednesday, jumping from 1,800 to 11,000 cfs. Fishing had been tough, with most boats reporting zero to two fish per trip.

Van Duzen
The Van Duzen blew out on Tuesday, and was flowing at 5,000 cfs as of Wednesday. It may drop to a fishable level by Friday, but river color will be an issue. Predicted for a big rise late Friday. The fishing had been slow, with boats finding up to a couple fish per outing.

Mad River
According to Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors, fishing remains slow on the Mad. He said, “The river is blown out now, but prior to that the fishing was still slow, even for the liners. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of fish in the river, just a few small schools here and there. Returns to the hatchery are slow as well. We have some pretty big rises coming in the next week, hopefully that will bring in some fish.”

Trinity
The Trinity conditions have stayed relatively good with a mixture of rain and snow,” said Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service. “The wild fish have moved into the system, but a few hatchery fish are still being caught. Water conditions are really cold so you need to slow down your presentation. All methods — flies, eggs and plugs — have been working well. The pressure was a little heavy with the good weather during the New Year's break. The snow is starting to melt and Weaver Creek has started to push some mud, making the conditions good above Indian Creek. Junction City should start to fish in a couple 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


 

    North Coast Fishing Information:

LAUNCH SITES

-Eureka Public Marina, 1 Marina Way, Eureka

-Fields Landing, 5 miles south of Eureka, Fields Landing

-Samoa Boat Ramp County Park (near the Coast Guard Station) New Navy Base Road, Samoa

-Seascape Trinidad Harbor, 1 Bay Street, Trinidad


BAIT DEALERS

Pacific Outfitters (Eureka) 443-6328; Englund Marine (Eureka) 444-9266; Redwood Marine (Eureka) 443-7029; Bucksport Sporting Goods (Eureka) 442-1832; Mad River Outfitters (Arcata) 826-7201; CVS Pharmacy (Eureka) 443-7045; CVS Pharmacy (Arcata) 822-2414; Shafers Ace Hardware (Eureka) 442-5734; Broadway Gas & Deli (Eureka) 442-5507; Live bait on the breakwater access, Woodley Island Ship Shop (in the marina complex) (Eureka) 442-7115


GEAR RESTRICTIONS

North of Pt. Conception:
No more than two (2) single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used and no more than one rod per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat or floating device with salmon on board.

Horse Mt. to Pt. Conception:
If fishing with bait and angling by any other means than trolling, no more than two (2) single-point, single-shank barbless circle hooks shall be used. The distance between the two hooks must not exceed five (5) inches when measured from the top of the eye of the top hook to the inner base of the curve of the lower hook and both hooks must be permanently tied in place (hard tied). Barbless hooks are required and anglers are limited to one rod per person when salmon fishing or when fishing from a boat with salmon on board.


FUEL AVAILABLE ON HUMBOLDT BAY

Englund Marine (Eureka: 444-9266) hours: Mon.–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 30 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; E-Z Landing (King Salmon: 442-1118) hours: Mon.–Sat., 8 a.m.–4 p.m.; Sun. 8 a.m. to noon; Johnny’s Marina (King Salmon: 442-2284) hours: Every day 8 a.m.–6 p.m.

PHONE NUMBERS AND RADIO CHANNELS

Note: all area codes start with (707)

• U.S Coast Guard Humboldt Bay Samoa Station, 443-2212

• Group Air Station (McKinleyville), 839-6113

• For a bar report or to contact the Coast Guard, marine VHF channel 16

• Recreational boats, marine VHF channel 68

• Woodley Island Marina, marine VHF channel 14

• CA Dept. of Fish and Game, Eureka office, 445-6493

• DFG Cal-Tip, 888-334-2258


COAST GUARD/SAFETY INFORMATION

Petty Officer Todd Midgett of Coast Guard Station Humboldt Bay passed along a few safety tips to ensure everyone has a safe and successful salmon season.

1) File a float plan with family or friends. Let them know where you’re leaving from, where you’re going and when you expect to be back. A description of the vessel as well as the names of the anglers you’re fishing with is also helpful.

2) Make sure you have life jackets on board for everyone and those life jackets will fit each person.

3) You are required by law to carry flares on board. Check with the local marine dealers for exact number of flares needed based on the size of your vessel.

4) Bring your cell phone. You want to have some means of communication if an emergency situation arises.

5) Be aware of the bar conditions prior to crossing. An outgoing tide combined with rough seas will create a dangerous situation. If you’re new to the area and have never crossed the bar, talk to somebody who has before heading out.

 

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