by Kenny Priest
A series of rain storms moved across the North Coast late last week bringing sizable rises to the Chetco and Smith rivers over the weekend. With off and on rain in the forecast, both rivers will be up and down through the week and into the weekend. With the increase in flows, the rivers should see a pretty good influx of new kings, and should push the older fish into their spawning grounds. For the Humboldt rivers, including the Mad, Eel, and Van Duzen, the rain coming over the next few days will put them out of commission for a while. All three are forecasted for dramatic rises beginning Wednesday and more coming late in the weekend.
Weekend weather and forecast
Some pretty decent rainfall totals are expected in the Eel basin on Wednesday according to Ryan Aylward of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The heaviest rain should fall to our south on Wednesday, and we can expect off and on showers locally here on Thursday. Totals will be anywhere from an inch to a half-inch. The weekend is looking mostly dry, with the next system set to arrive late on Sunday. This system has a chance to be a big one, but we’re seeing conflicting models. The Smith basin could see up to two inches, and an inch and a quarter could fall in the Eel basin. Looking out further, we should continue to see storms coming one after another, but it’s hard to predict how long the breaks will be in between,” Aylward added.
The weekend marine forecast is calling for winds 5 to 10 knots out of the SE on Saturday, with waves NW 4 feet at 9 seconds. Sunday looks a little rougher, with winds out of the SE 10 to 20 knots and S waves 5 feet at 6 seconds and NW 4 feet at 13 seconds. The forecast will likely change, so before you head out, check the marine forecast at www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka and click on the marine tab. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit: www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan
Crabs plentiful for offshore anglers
Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing is reporting excellent crabbing out of Eureka. On an overnight soak, he’s getting between 25 to 30 keepers per pot. According to Klassen, both the north and south side of the entrance are fishing really well, with limits coming easily. “The crabs are still light, but we’ve seen a slight improvement this week,” Klassen added. Crabbing has also been excellent inside of Humboldt Bay. It’s the same story as outside, plenty of crabs, but they’re light.
CA Dungeness crab update
The next round of quality testing is currently being scheduled, and will take place prior to Dec. 7. For more info and test results on commercial Dungeness crabs, visit https://www.psmfc.org/crab/
Domoic Acid testing is continuing, and the latest results show the crabs in the Eel River Area have come back clean. Back to back testing has resulted in zero percent of the samples exceeding action level, which means no more testing is required in that area. To see the latest DA test results, visit https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/CDPH%20Document%20Library/FDB/FoodSafetyProgram/DomoicAcid/CrabDA17-18.pdf
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. As of Wednesday morning, the South Fork Eel River remained closed to fishing. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164. To see all the forecasted river levels, visit http://www.cnrfc.noaa.gov/index.php?type=ol&product=fcstPointsFcst
Main stem Eel
A few salmon were caught earlier in the week prior to the river becoming muddy on Tuesday. A big rise is predicted for the next couple days, it will likely take a couple weeks of dry weather for it to clear.
Conditions continue to be up and down on the Smith reports Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. He said, “There’s been lots of debris in the river, which makes it tough to fish plugs. Since the weekend, we’re seeing about a fish per boat. I think there’s more fish around than it seems, but it’s been tough to get them to bite and as tough to land them. Another big rise is expected tonight, so we’ll have to wait and see what that brings,” Coopman added.
Reminder: A North Coast Salmon Report Card is required to fish for salmon on the Smith River. The daily bag and possession limit is 1 Chinook salmon and no more than 5 wild Chinook salmon over 22 inches per year.
The Chetco was high and unfishable most of last week, but dropped below 4,000 cfs on Sunday and fished well for a day before blowing out again Monday morning,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “It hit 10,000 cfs on Monday and was dropping back into shape, but will be out again with the storm expected the middle of the week. Plugs worked well on Monday, with just about every boat getting a fish or two early in the day. There were a lot of fish over 30 pounds caught on Monday. We caught a 47-inch, 48-pound king above Ice Box.”
“The Sixes was the best river on the coast over the weekend, with most boats catching the wild portion of their limits on Saturday and Sunday,” according to Martin. “It blew out again Monday, and even though it was pretty dirty on Tuesday it fished OK. The Elk has been in decent shape but the fishing has been slower there. It will probably be the best bet this week, however, with more rain expected.”
The rains earlier in the week really helped get the fish moving reports Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service. “It’s starting to get cold, which definitely tells me it’s steelhead season. Fishing was good from Lewiston all the way down into Willow Creek this week. Methods used right now are the fly fishing with a stone and a pin bead. We ran a combination of side drifting roe and mag lips 3.5’s and 3.0 this week. We’re seeing one to three adults per day. The weekend was really busy with the clear weather making pressures extremely tough and watching our counts go down. The forecast of heavy rains will help push more fish from the lower Klamath up to the Trinity,” added Huber.