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Water release may kick-start Klamath kings

Fishing the North Coast by Kenny Priest, author badge,

he fall run of Klamath River Chinook has yet to really take off, but that could change over the next few days. The cold water released from Lewiston Dam for the Hoopa Boat Dance last weekend made its way to the mouth on Wednesday, with the hope it will trigger the beginning of the fall salmon migration. Flows peaked at just over 4,100 cfs early Wednesday morning and are now on the drop. River levels should be back to where they were prior to the release by the weekend. The river was a little off-color and mossy on Wednesday, but conditions are looking great for the weekend. Another note regarding the Klamath: the pulse of water helped changed the direction of the mouth on Wednesday night. It is now flowing straight out, eliminating the long south spit that was home to hundreds of liners. Hopefully the new location will hold, giving the fish a much safer passage while entering the river.

North Carolina resident Maurice Martinez landed a nice pair of kings on a recent trip out of Eureka Photo courtesy of Casey Lu
«North Carolina resident Maurice Martinez landed a nice pair of kings on a recent trip out of Eureka while fishing with Reel Steel Sport Fishing. After being off the water for a few days due to weather, the Eureka fleet headed back to the salmon grounds on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Casey Lu

Fall regulations in effect on the Klamath
The new fall regulations went into effect on the Klamath River for fall-run Chinook salmon fishing on Aug. 15 and will run through Dec. 31. The daily bag limit is 3 Chinook, no more than 2 adults (greater than 22 inches). The possession limit is 9, of which no more than 6 can be adults. Two hatchery steelhead or hatchery trout may also be retained, with a possession limit of 4 each.

The 2015 quota for the Klamath River basin is 14,133 adult fall-run salmon based on 120,000 adult salmon predicted to return. On the Lower Klamath, from the mouth to the Highway 96 Bridge at Weitchpec, 7,067 adults will be allowed for sport harvest. The mouth of the Klamath (spit area) will get 15 percent of the basin quota in 2015, or 2,120 adults. The spit area will close to all fishing after the quota has been met. And new in 2015, all legally caught Chinook salmon must be retained. Once the adult (greater than 22 inches) component of the total daily bag limit has been retained, anglers must quit fishing in the spit area.

Trinity River salmon trappings
As of Aug. 12, 339 adult Chinook salmon had been counted at the Junction City weir. Of those, 51 were hatchery fish. The 2014 season total for adults was 1,108, so we have a ways to go to match last year’s numbers. With the release of water from the dam, the fall run kings should begin to make their way upriver in bigger numbers starting this week.

Weekend Marine forecast
The ocean conditions have been a little sloppy since last weekend, but it looks like they’ll begin to improve on Sunday. Out 10 nautical miles north of the Cape, Friday and Saturday’s forecast is calling for N winds 5 to 15 knots and waves out of the NW 7 to 8 feet at 9 seconds. Sunday is looking much better with W winds up to 5 knots and waves NW 5 feet at 8 seconds. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit You can also call the National Weather Service at 707-443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 707-443-6484.

Trinidad Rockfish Wars V coming in Sept
Pacific Outfitters will be hosting the 5th annual Trinidad Rockfish Wars kayak fishing tournament on Saturday, September 12. The tournament is open to Kayak, Canoes and SUP's. Only 200 spots will be available and registration ends on September 5. This year, awards will be given in several categories, including Biggest Fish (in each species), Handline Challenge and Barbie Pole Challenge. For more information and complete details of the tournament, visit

The Oceans: Eureka
The charter fleet had been tied up since last Friday due to rough seas, but the ocean relented just enough on Tuesday for a couple of boats to make it out. Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing and Matt Dallam of Northwind Charters both ran south to the Cape, where the fish have been holed up for well over a month. “We fished in the slop all day, it wasn’t pretty by any means, but the fish are still there,” said Sepulveda. “We were able to get limits, but the conditions were tough. The water down there has cooled quite a bit since last week. Last Friday it was approaching 60 degrees and Tuesday it was back down to 54. The Cape still looks like the best bet, but we did see some goods signs on our way down. At some point the fish will move into the beach like they do this time of the year, but I don’t think it’s happening yet.”

Shelter Cove
The salmon bite has been spotty near the harbor according to Captain Trent Slate. He said, “Weather permitting, we’ve been going north to Gorda targeting rockfish. In addition to limits of huge rockfish, we’ve been getting limits of lings, with a few fish ranging between 20 and 30 pounds.

Crescent City
Not a lot of fishing opportunities over the past week due to weather reports Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “Wednesday was the first day boats have been back out, and there weren’t many. The rockfish and ling bite is still on fire, and I did hear of a couple of California halibut caught off Mussel Rock along South Beach. The water temps did cool down, but I haven’t heard of any salmon being caught.”

The Rivers: Lower Klamath
The water coming down from the Trinity hit the lower river on Wednesday, and the bite, as expected, was a little tougher. There were still plenty of steelhead landed amongst the few boats that were out, but it definitely slowed down. The water colored up a little and there was quite a bit of moss flowing, but it should get better every day. Conditions for the weekend should be excellent.

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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