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Hit and miss salmon opener at the Cove

Fishing the North Coast by Kenny Priest

urns out the recreational salmon opener at Shelter Cove wasn’t half bad, though if you followed the ocean forecasts all week you probably would have waited for a better day. Saturday’s forecast was calling for lots of wind and big swells, but it turned out to be much nicer day than predicted. The boats and kayakers who rolled the dice and showed up anyway were rewarded with the North Coast first salmon of the year. At least one of the boats found limits, and it sounded like just about everyone caught at least one fish. Most of the fish were in the 10 to 12-pound range, with the biggest fish coming in at 15-pounds.

 Loleta resident Eric Stockwell, left, and Domenic Belli of Grizzly Bluff picked up a pair of opening-day kings while fishing from their kayaks at Shelter Cove on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Eric Stockwell
Loleta resident Eric Stockwell, left, and Domenic Belli of Grizzly Bluff picked up a pair of opening-day kings while fishing from their kayaks at Shelter Cove on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Eric Stockwell

Saturday’s scores had everyone excited for what Sunday would bring. And what Sunday brought was a nasty, unfishable ocean. It had been forecasted to be much nicer, with swells to seven feet and light winds. Not the case. The wind howled out of the south, keeping the boats safely on the beach and the anglers wondering what the heck happened to the forecast.

Weekend marine forecast
The ocean forecast is looking good through Saturday at Shelter Cove, and should be plenty fishable. Friday’s forecast is calling for winds 5 to 10 knots with NW swells 5 feet at 12 seconds. Saturday is looking similar, with winds to 15 knot and NW swells 7 feet at 10 seconds. The wind will pick up on Sunday, coming out of the north at 10 to 20 knots. Waves will be 3 feet out of the north at 5 seconds and NW 9 feet at 12 seconds. These conditions can and will change. For an up-to-date forecast, visit this webpage.

New Pacific halibut regulations announced
The 2015 Federal Regulations for recreational Pacific halibut fishing in California are as follows:

· The quota for landings into ports south of the Oregon/California Border and along the California coast is 25,220 lbs.

· The fishing season will be open from May 1-15, June 1-15, July 1-15, August 1-15, and September 1 thru October 31 or until the subarea quota is estimated to have been taken and the season is closed by the Commission, or October 31, whichever is earlier. NMFS will announce any closure by the Commission on the NMFS hotline (206) 526-6667 or (800) 662-9825.

· The daily bag limit is one halibut of any size per day per person.

For the full details on the new regulations, visit this webpage or call the Recreational Groundfish Regulations Hotline (831) 649-2801, send an email to or call your nearest CDFW office for the latest regulatory information.

Ruth Lake Bass tourney
The Southern Trinity Volunteer Fire Department is hosting its 9th annual Ruth Lake Bass Tournament on Saturday, May 2. Blast off begins at 6:00 a.m. Entry fees are due May 1. Entries are $150 per team (includes Big Fish). First Place is $1,500 and second place is $1,000. Big Fish will win $100. There will be a one in five payback based on a full slate of 40 boats. This is a catch and release tournament, live wells and life jackets are required. Check in is Friday at Journey's End at 4:30-6:00 p.m. or Saturday 4:45 a.m. at the Marina parking lot. For more info call Cliff Brown at 707-574-6601.

The Beaches
When the ocean’s been calm, the redtail perch action has been excellent along the beaches. There are some spots that are typically better than others, but you can catch them just about anywhere. Conditions are forecasted to be nice the next few days, with swells in the 3 to 5-foot range.

The lowest morning tides to date will begin next Friday, April 17 and run through Friday, April 24. The lowest tides will be Sunday through Tuesday, ranging from -1.2 to -1.3. The clamming at Clam Beach was reportedly pretty good during the last round of minus tides in March.

Proposed closure to part of the Sacramento River
The CDFW held a public meeting on Tuesday evening in Redding regarding the proposed temporary closure of part of the Sacramento River due to the drought. The ban would stretch from 5.5 miles from the Keswick Dam south to the Highway 44 Bridge in Redding. The closure is expected to last from April 27 to July 31. The need for the closure, according to state officials, is to protect the endangered winter-run Chinook salmon. Roughly 98 percent of the spawning takes place in this stretch of the river. Other alternatives were brought forward at the meeting, including gear restrictions and moving the southern line of the restricted area to north of the Sundial Bridge. The next step is a public teleconference meeting to be held April 17 at the Caltrans offices in Redding.

The Rivers:
Main Stem Eel

The main stem Eel muddied up with all the rain this week, but is starting to turn reports Paul Grundman of Rio Dell’s Grundmans Sporting Goods. “It should be fishable by the weekend, but it’s likely to be a little off-color,” Grundman added. Flows jumped from 1,260 cfs and topped out at 4,550 cfs on Tuesday night. As of Wednesday morning, it was back down to 3,500 cfs and dropping.

Smith River
The Smith is in great shape right now and there should be plenty of downers around reports guide Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. “I fished it over the weekend and the bite was pretty good. I’d expect with this last rise, we’ll see more fish start to make their way down,” Coopman said.

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

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