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Plenty of river salmon left to catch

Fishing the North Coast by Kenny Priest, author badge,

ater conditions are slowly getting back to normal on the Klamath River, and hopefully the salmon bite will follow suit. It’s been a crazy year so far; with three different flow increases along with a nice bump from last week’s rain. With higher water levels and cooler temperatures, the salmon have had a much easier and healthier migration this fall. But in turn, it has made the salmon catching a little more difficult. Higher than usual flows have kept the salmon on the move, and they are tough to catch in travel mode. As the river drops to a more typical level, we should start to the see the bite be a little more on the consistent side. With plenty of time left in the season and just under 2,500 adults left to catch, there should be plenty of good days on the horizon.

This nice king salmon was landed by Travis Schneider of Eureka on a recent trip to the Klamath River. Photo courtesy of Mike Coopman's Guide Service
This nice king salmon was landed by Travis Schneider of Eureka on a recent trip to the Klamath River. Salmon fishing should remain solid through October on both the Klamath and Trinity rivers. Photo courtesy of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service

Klamath River quota update
According to Sara Borok, an Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River, after Tuesday’s scores, 4,595 adult salmon have been harvested below the Hwy 96 Bridge since August 15. The number of adults left to catch for the quota is 2,472. As a reminder, the spit area reached its quota last Tuesday and is closed. The estuary remains open to fishing.

Weekend marine forecast
After a few calm days, it looks like the wind and swells will begin to increase late Friday. Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the north 5 to 10 knots with swells to 4 feet at 11 seconds. Saturday looks a little worse, with winds up to 15 knots and NW swells 7 feet at 9 seconds and SW 2 feet at 13 seconds. Sunday the winds will be from the north 10 to 20 knots, with swells 7 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.

2015 Chetco River Bubble Fishery
The 2015 Chetco River fall Chinook State Waters Terminal Area Recreational Season will be open from October 1 through the 11th. The fishable area is within three nautical miles of shore between Twin Rocks and the Oregon/California border. The bag limit is two Chinook per angler per day, but no more than one non fin-clipped Chinook per day. Anglers are allowed five non fin-clipped for the season. Minimum length is 24 inches and the terminal tackle is limited to no more than two single point barbless hooks. For more information, visit

Tuna out of Eureka
Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing ran straight west of Eureka on Wednesday to where the warm water has been holding steady for weeks, roughly 20 to 25 miles out. He trolled all day, but never did find the clear blue edge, or any tuna.

Despite that report, quite a few boats are taking advantage of the calm ocean and heading offshore on Thursday. Ken Bates still has live bait available at Woodley Island; call 498-1904 to let him know you’re coming.

The Oceans:

With salmon and halibut both done for the year, it’s just a rockfish show out of Eureka until the end of October. We’ve had some decent weather the past few days, and a couple of the charters ran south to the Cape and found plenty of willing biters. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing ran a few trips last week as well as Saturday and said not much has changed. “The lingcod bite is as good as it’s been all year, with limits coming easily. We also found a good variety of the other species including blacks, coppers, and vermilions,” Klassen added.

Crescent City
Not much happening out of Crescent City, with most of the effort coming from a few of the locals reports Chris Hegne’s of Englund Marine. “From what I’m hearing, the rockfish bite hasn’t changed much, it’s still wide-open,” Hegnes added.

Low Flow River Closures begin Oct. 1
North Coast rivers that are regulated by low flow closures, including the Eel River, Mad River, Mattole River, Redwood Creek, Smith River and Van Duzen River will begin angling restrictions on October 1st, except for the Mad River, which went into effect September 1st. The Department of Fish and Game will make the information available to the public by a telephone recorded message updated, as necessary, no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any stream will be closed to fishing. The rivers can be opened up at any time. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164. NOTE: The main stem Eel from the South Fork to Cape Horn Dam and the Mattole River will be closed until January 1, 2016

Areas subject to low flow closures:
Mad River:
The main stem Mad River from the Hammond Trail Railroad Trestle to Cowan Creek. Minimum flow: 200 cfs at the gauging station at the Highway 299 Bridge.

Eel River: The main stem Eel River from the paved junction of Fulmor Road with the Eel River to the South Fork Eel River. Minimum flow: 350 cfs at the gauging station near Scotia.

The South Fork of the Eel River downstream from Rattlesnake Creek and the Middle Fork Eel River downstream from the Bar Creek. Minimum flow: 340 cfs at the gauging station at Miranda.

Van Duzen River: The main stem Van Duzen River from its junction with the Eel River to the end of Golden Gate Drive near Bridgeville (approximately 4,000 feet upstream of Little Golden Gate Bridge. Minimum flow: 150 cfs at the gauging station near Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park.

Mattole River: The main stem of the Mattole River from the mouth to Honeydew Creek.

Minimum flow: 320 cfs at the gauging station at Petrolia.

Redwood Creek: The main stem of Redwood Creek from the mouth to its confluence with Bond Creek. Minimum flow: 300 cfs at the gauging station near the Highway 101 Bridge.

Smith River: The main stem Smith River from the mouth of Rowdy Creek to its confluence with Patrick Creek; the South Fork Smith River from the mouth upstream approximately 1000 ft. to the County Road (George Tyron) bridge and Craigs Creek to its confluence with Jones Creek; and the North Fork Smith River from the mouth to its confluence with Stony Creek. Minimum flow: 600 cfs at the Jedediah Smith State Park gauging station.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath

The salmon action on the lower Klamath has been hit and miss this week with guides having to really work for their fish. With the flows back down to 2,200 cfs, the hope is the fish will finally start to slow down and hole up. On most days, the average has been about one adult salmon per rod.

The releases are back down to 450 cfs and there’s definitely some salmon being caught reports Tim Brady of Weaverville’s Trinity Outdoors. He said, “I haven’t heard how the guide boats are doing in the Douglas City area, but I know there’s quite a few people fishing below Junction City and they’re catching a few salmon and lots of steelhead. The bank anglers are doing well tossing spinners and the boats are catching fish on plugs and side-drifting roe. Since the water has come down, the fishing pressure has been pretty heavy.”

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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