Early last week, we were waiting patiently for the fall run of king salmon to begin their migration upriver. Well, the wait is over. The water temperatures cooled a couple degrees and the schools of ocean-fresh kings moved their way into the lower river. In fact, so many fish came through the mouth beginning last Tuesday that the spit area quota was filled in only a few days. And the fishing was phenomenal further upriver as well all through the weekend. There were plenty of jacks to be had and some nice adults as well. All the fish are dime-bright and moving through the river quickly. "As of Tuesday morning, very preliminary estimates indicate only 32 adults have been added to the quota since last week's count, leaving well over half of the 611 fish quota left for harvest," said Dan Troxel, an environmental scientist on the Klamath River Project. "No expansion estimates have been factored in at this point. Unless the adult catch-rate really takes off, we should be open to keeping adult salmon through the holiday weekend."
Reminder: The spit area, within 100 yards of the channel through the sand spit formed at the Klamath River mouth, is closed to fishing the remainder of the year. Fishing is open from the estuary upriver to State Route 96 bridge at Weitchpec. Once the quota is met, no Chinook salmon greater than 23 inches in length may be retained (anglers may still retain a limit of Chinook salmon under 23 inches in length).
Anglers may keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling (800)564-6479. For Klamath and Trinity fishing regulations, visit www.nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=169262&inline.
Trinity River water release
Beginning Thursday, Sept. 2, the Bureau of Reclamation will begin to increase flows to the Trinity River for the Hoopa Valley Tribe's Ceremonial Boat Dance. Releases will begin to increase above the base summer flow of 450 cubic feet per second at 10 a.m. Sept. 2, and reach a peak flow of 2,650 cubic feet per second between 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. Sept. 4. The releases will then gradually decrease back to the base summer flow, reaching 450 cfs at approximately 11 p.m. Sept. 10. Colder water temperatures and increased turbidity levels are to be expected.
Weekend marine forecast
Ocean conditions will begin to improve Thursday. Out 10 nautical miles north of the cape, Friday's forecast is calling for northern winds 5 to 10 knots and waves out of the northwest 4 feet at seven seconds. Saturday is calling for northern winds 5 to 10 knots and waves north 4 feet at four seconds. Sunday, winds will be out of the north 5 to 15 knots and waves north 7 feet at six seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka or www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.
2021 recreational Pacific halibut fishery to reopen Sept. 3
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced Tuesday that the recreational Pacific halibut fishery will reopen on Friday, Sept. 3 at 12 a.m. and remain open until Nov. 15 or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. Based on the current estimates of catch through June, CDFW estimates that 20,964 net pounds of the 39,260 net pound quota remain for anglers to catch.
The 2021 recreational fishery was closed on June 30 due to projected attainment of the quota. Since that date, new 2021 catch information indicates the catch volume in the early part of the season was much lower than projected. The new information prompted CDFW and its partners at National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) and the Pacific Fishery Management Council to evaluate the updated catch to date against the state's quota, leading to the decision to reopen the fishery.
CDFW is excited to provide this additional opportunity for anglers to participate in the 2021 recreational Pacific halibut fishery. CDFW field staff will continue to collect information from anglers at public launch ramps and charter boat landings to monitor catch through the remainder of the season. Anglers' cooperation aids CDFW field staff in monitoring the progress of the fishery to ensure the quota is not exceeded.
In-season quota tracking can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking.
Saturday is statewide free fishing day
The last chance of the year to fish for free arrives over the Labor Day holiday weekend. Free Fishing Day is offered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Saturday, Sept. 4. While no fishing license is required on free fishing days, all fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. Every angler must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems. For more information, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Fishing/Free-Fishing-Days.
Not much going on this week out of Eureka due to rough ocean conditions. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the seas look good for the upcoming weekend. He said, "The warm tuna water is still sitting off our coast and it looks like it's sliding south, which is good for us. Right now, it's about 30 miles off of Crescent City and 50 miles from Eureka. I'm hoping for a window mid next week."
Curt Wilson, of Wind Rose Charters was on the water Sunday but the rough water has forced him to the dock for a few days this week. "As it's been all season, the black rockfish action is excellent," said Wilson. "It's pretty easy to go out between the Head and Patrick's Point and catch a limit of 10 fish per person. We're not seeing much variety right now. The weather looks to improve by the weekend, which should allow us to make it out to Reading Rock."
According to Jake Mitchell, the salmon bite was pretty solid until about Friday and has slowed considerably since then. "There's still lots of bait but I think the bigger fish might be moving on and heading towards their home rivers," he said. "The majority of the salmon the past couple days have been smaller, but I did see a 36-pounder caught on Sunday. Rock fishing was easy limits as usual and we've even had limits of lingcod the last three days. We've spent most of our time off the Ranch House and the Old Man."
The tuna water is sitting about 30 miles off of Crescent City reports Britt Carson of Crescent City's Englund Marine. He said, "There's a few boats going out this weekend, hopefully the fish are still there. It's been really windy this week, but a few boats are getting out early and getting limits of rockfish and lingcod. The California halibut bite has really died off."
The salmon bite was pretty spectacular over the weekend, with most boats getting limits of adults and jacks. The fish are spread throughout the river now and more are moving in everyday from the ocean. The steelhead bite has slowed as they've made their way further upriver but there are still a few around.
Kenny Priest (he/him) operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email firstname.lastname@example.org