Rohnert Park resident Tony Sargans landed this big Chinook salmon on a recent trip to the Smith River. With more rain the in the forecast, the quick-clearing Smith will likely be the only option this weekend for late-run fall king action. Photo courtesy of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service
Coastal king season winding down
Other than the Smith and Chetco, all of the North Coast rivers were still off color as of Wednesday. And with more rain in the forecast, all of the local rivers will likely see another bump in flows starting late Saturday. If you’re looking to get in on some coastal king action this weekend, the Smith may be your only option. But the Smith, along with the Chetco, have both seen the fish counts tail off this week. The good news with all of the rain that has fallen in November is the late run of coastal kings have had plenty of opportunity to make their way upriver and into their spawning areas. This is all perfectly normal, and hopefully we’ll reap the rewards of these excellent river conditions two or three years from now.
When the rivers do drop back into fishable shape, my guess is we’ll see the first signs of the impending winter steelhead run. There’s already been a few caught on all the rivers, but with more high water coming, expect the steelies to start showing in numbers. But don’t give up entirely on salmon just yet. The Smith is still seeing fresh fish coming in daily and there should be some smaller spurts of fish coming into the Chetco, Eel and Mad.
Weekend weather and marine forecast
Very little rain is forecasted for Humboldt on Thanksgiving Day, but the Smith River area could see anywhere from a half to an inch according to Ryan Aylward of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “We may see a couple tenths here locally on Thursday, with the bulk of the rain staying to the north. Friday is looking mostly dry, but two systems will arrive over the weekend. The heaviest rain will hit Saturday night and sometime late Sunday. Rainfall totals will be two to five inches in the Smith basin, with the larger totals falling in the mountains. The Eel and Mad basins will likely see two to three inches, with the mountain areas picking up the higher rainfall totals. A few lingering showers are in the forecast for Monday, with most of the rain falling to our north. Right now, Tuesday through Thursday is looking dry,” Aylward added.
Friday’s offshore forecast looks good, but the weekend is looking pretty rough for offshore crabbing. Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the NE up to 5 knots with SW waves 8 feet at 11 seconds. The wind will start to pick up on Saturday, coming from the S 10 to 20 knots. Waves will be out of the S 7 feet at 7 seconds and NW 10 feet at 15 seconds. Sunday is looking similar with SW winds 10 to 20 knots and S waves 6 feet at 8 seconds and W 13 feet at 14 seconds. The forecast will likely change, so before you head out, check the marine forecast at www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka and click on the marine tab. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit: www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan
Humboldt Steelhead Days announce fishing contest dates for 2018
The founders of Humboldt Steelhead Days, Mad River Alliance — in their 5th year of producing this annual wintertime event — announced this year’s fishing contest will occur on the Mad and Trinity Rivers and will be limited to hatchery fish only. The three biggest hatchery fish on both rivers, caught and measured, from Jan. 13 to Feb. 17, 2018 will be eligible to win prizes and bragging rights. Anglers must register with a $10 donation in order to be entered into the contest. For more info, visit http://www.humboldtsteelheaddays.com/
Crabs plentiful for offshore anglers
Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing reports the sport crabbing remains excellent out of Eureka. He said, “On an overnight soak, we’re getting up to 25 keepers per pot. The crabs are big, and there starting to get a little heavier. Both the north and south sides of the entrance are fishing well, there’s lots of crabs out there. I’m hearing the same type of crabbing inside the bay as well,” Klassen added.
Nov. 24 and 25 free fish days in Oregon
ODFW is waiving all fishing licensing requirements on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to #optoutside with friends and family during the long holiday weekend. All fishing, crabbing and clamming in Oregon will be free for both Oregon residents and non-residents. No licenses, tags or endorsements are needed on those days, but all other fishing regulations apply.
Commercial crab season delayed north of Point Arena
In a press release issued on November 17, 2017, the Coastal Dungeness Crab Tri-State policy representatives from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife agreed to delay the opening of the 2017-18 Coastal Dungeness crab fishery from Point Arena, California north to the US/Canada border until at least December 16, 2017. This decision was based on crab condition tests conducted by WDFW, ODFW and CDFW which shows that all test areas do not currently meet the minimum meat recovery criteria. The Tri-State Dungeness Crab Pre-Season Testing Protocols specify that after the first round of testing, if any area does not meet the minimum meat recovery criteria (23% north of Cascade Head and 25% south of Cascade Head) a delay is required and additional testing is required before a season opening date can be confirmed. A second round of both meat recovery and domoic acid testing is scheduled to be conducted after Thanksgiving. For more info on commercial Dungeness crab, visit https://www.psmfc.org/crab/
All North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Smith, Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, and Van Duzen are currently open to fishing. Be sure and call the low flow closure hotline, (707) 822-3164, to determine if the river is open prior to fishing.
It was pretty tough fishing last weekend reports Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. He said, “Scores were about a fish per boat, or less. Fish were rolling, but the bite was definitely off. The river went big on Tuesday, up to 35,000 cfs, and it was full of debris and leaves. Only a couple boats were out and I didn’t hear of any fish caught. This was the blowout that we needed, now we’ll see how many new fish move in on the drop. The river should be in good shape through Saturday. I haven’t seen any steelhead caught as of yet, but I’ve heard of a few. Steelhead season should start to take off in the next couple weeks,” Coopman added.
According to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, the Chetco was fishable over the weekend before it blew out again on Monday. He said, “It went from 3,000 cfs on Sunday to over 15,000 cfs on Monday and will probably be out of shape all week. Steelhead are now being caught. A plunker got one on Friday, then there were four caught on Saturday and another three on Sunday. A few boats that were salmon fishing caught steelhead on plugs, including a 15-pound hatchery fish caught by Mike Van Camp of the Chetco Outdoor Store. A few have also been caught by boater’s side-drifting roe. Salmon fishing was decent over the weekend, but the run will quickly wind down after this latest high water.”
The Elk and Sixes both fished late last week and over the weekend according to Martin. “The Sixes is fishing better than the Elk. Both blew out on Monday and will be out for a few days. These will be the best bets for salmon from this point on.”
If you’re headed to the Trinity, expect some heavy pressure over the holiday weekend reports Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service. “The rain we received definitely moved some fish around. Most of the concentration has been from Lewiston down to the Junction City area, with multiple boats and bank fisherman tossing mostly flies. Some of the boats are having success backtrolling plugs. The rain earlier in the week made the lower river a little big, but with no rain since, the Junction City to Willow Creek area will start fishing this week. The river is dropping quickly.” Huber added.