On Saturday, California’s recreational ocean salmon season will open from Horse Mountain south to the U.S./Mexico border. The area to the north of Horse Mountain, which includes Eureka, Trinidad, and Crescent City, will be sitting on the sidelines this season due to a record low 54,200 Klamath River fall Chinook salmon forecasted to be swimming in the ocean. The ocean abundance of Sacramento River kings is also low, but there’s enough to give the anglers to our south at least a limited season.
Between Horse Mountain and Point Arena, which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg, the minimum size limit is 20 inches total length. The daily bag limit is two Chinook per day and no more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land. The PFMC will meet April 6-11 to determine the season lengths. The three options 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.
For more information, visit pcouncil.org. For salmon regulations for the month of April, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon
Shelter Cove outlook
“It’s going to be a pretty tricky launching situation this weekend with big swells and low tides.” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “I would try to avoid coming or going during low tide. My guess is it will be fishable on Saturday and questionable on Sunday. The cove can surprise you quite often, for better or worse, and you never really know until you see it. The launch hours have yet to be determined, but they will be there at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday. They won’t be launching boats without side bunks during big swells as it’s too dangerous.” Anglers are encouraged to call Matt Kempe, who operates the Shelter Cove launch for the Humboldt Bay Harbor District, ahead of time at 707-223-3399. Cost to launch is $35.
“With all the rough weather we’ve had, there hasn’t been much time to go scouting,” said Mitchell. “It’s been a while since I’ve been out, but there was some good sign down on the inside near the crab gear. Also, there seems to be quite a few whales hanging around on the outside of the whistle so that may be a good spot to go look as well. And it’s been a good spot the past few years on the opener.”
As of Wednesday, winds were forecasted to blow from the N 10 to 20 knots on Saturday with NW waves 12 feet at 15 seconds. Sunday is looking worse, with winds out of the NW predicted at 15 to 25 knots and waves out of the NW 14 feet at 15 seconds. Visithttp://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lon=-123.82128&lat=39.44792 for an up-to-date marine forecast. On Saturday, a low tide of -0.4 will be at 9:35 a.m. and Sunday’s low will be -0.34 at 10:40 a.m.
Upcoming steelhead river 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. Bait can be used and barbless hooks are still required. 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 last Saturday in May. 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. Sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers are open to fishing, but are subject to in-season changes. For more information, visithttps://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations and click on the Freshwater Sport Fishing link.
The following rivers will close to fishing on March 31: the South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mattole, Mad, Redwood Creek, and the Chetco.
Humboldt Steelhead Days
The Humboldt Steelhead Days Fishing Contest will end Friday, March 31st at sunset said Dave Feral, founder of HSD and the executive director of Mad River Alliance. Find the fishing contest leaderboard on the HSD Facebook page. Winners will be announced on Saturday at 1:30pm at the McKinleyville Teen Center during the HSD Carnival that goes until 2pm. Mad River Brewing Co., Steelhead Extra Pale Ale on tap. Winners need not be present to win or collect their prizes. Winners will be contacted by the HSD crew after the event.
The Chetco was still too high to fish this week and will probably be above 4,000 cfs through Friday, the last day of the season,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “The river has been blown out for the past two weeks, pretty much ending steelhead season early. The river re-opens in late May for cutthroat trout. The Elk River dropped to a fishable 4.9 feet on Tuesday. It should be low enough to fish for the last few days of the season. There should still be a few late steelhead around. The Sixes is still high and muddy and will probably remain so through the week.”
“Fishing is pretty tough on the Smith right now,” said guide Mike Coopman. “For whatever reason, we haven’t seen a good push of downers in the lower river yet. They’re getting some upriver, but they seem to be just trickling down. We’ve been getting one to two hookups per trip this week.”
Eel River (main stem)
“The main stem is still big and brown,” said Paul Grundman of Rio Dell’s Grundmans Sporting Goods. “We’ll need a couple weeks of dry weather before it drops into shape.”
Eel River (South Fork)
The South Fork is fishable above the East Branch, and should fish below Benbow on Friday if the rain doesn’t pan out. You’ll want to take advantage as the South Fork will close on Friday, March 31.
Tyler Jabbour captured first place in last year’s Perch’n on the Peninsula Surfperch Fishing Tournament with his 16.34 inch Redtail. This year’s event, which benefits the Samoa Peninsula Fire District Volunteer Organization, will take place on April 8. For registration information, visit samoafire.org or call 707-443-9042. Photo courtesy ofSamoa Peninsula Fire District
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.
Reminder: Abalone Season Opens May 1 in 2017
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reminds divers and rock-pickers gearing up for the start of the red abalone season that the season has been shortened by two months, with an opening date of May 1 instead of April 1, and a closing date of October 31 instead of November 30. In addition, the annual limit has been lowered from 18 abalone to 12. The California Fish and Game Commission approved a shortened season and reduced take limit at their Dec 7, 2016 meeting due to concerns about the declining health and number of red abalone on the northern California coast. For more info, visithttps://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/north-coast-abalone-season-dates-regulations-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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org