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​Rough seas kibosh sport crab opener

Kenny Priest

ough seas last weekend spoiled what would have likely been a very successful sport crab opener. On Monday, the swells relented just enough for Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sportfishing to quickly dump a half-dozen test pots offshore. After a mere two-hour soak, the pots were pulled with roughly 15 keepers in each. “The crabs weren’t jumbo’s, but the meat content was great,’ said Klassen. Thursday looks to be the next best opportunity to get offshore as the swells are looking a little dicey this weekend. With the ocean not being an option, quite a few pots were dropped in Humboldt Bay over the weekend. From what I heard, the catching was very slow. A few guys did well, but ones and twos per trip was the norm. The combination of large swells and plenty of freshwater from the rains likely kept the crab sitting offshore. Hopefully the weather will calm down and the sport guys can tug on some full pots prior to the start of the commercial season.

Corey Allen with salmon, by Kenny Priest
McKinleyville resident Corey Allen landed a nice king salmon on a recent trip to the Smith River. Without much rain this week, fishing on the Smith has gotten tougher as the river is low and clear. Photo courtesy of Fishing the North Coast Guide Service

Commercial crab season to set to open Nov. 15 down south
The commercial crab will open from Point Reyes south on Nov. 15, but 60 miles of coastline will remain closed due to elevated levels of domoic acid. At the recommendation of state health agencies, the commercial Dungeness crab fishery will remain closed between Point Reyes and the Sonoma/Mendocino county line. This closure will remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fisheries be open. Recreational season will remain open under a warning to anglers not to eat the viscera of crab caught in the affected areas.

The fishery north of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line is not scheduled to open until Dec. 1.

Pre-season crab quality test results
According to CDFW Senior Marine Biologist Pete Kalvass, who oversees the Invertebrate Management Project, the recently completed meat yield tests came in above the 25 percent needed, so no further testing is required this season. Here are the results: Crescent City 29%; Trinidad 26.3%; Eureka 25.4%, and Bodega (Point Reyes Area) 25.6%.

Weekend weather and forecast
According to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service, the next chance of rain will be Friday evening, with showers lingering into Saturday morning. The Smith basin could see up to three-quarters of an inch and Humboldt could see a half. Saturday afternoon and Sunday will be dry, with an unsettled pattern returning on Monday and sticking around through Wednesday. Rainfall totals for the 3 days will be in the neighborhood of three and a half inches in the Smith basin and possibly two and a half inches in the Eel/Mad basins,” Kennedy added.

The weekend marine forecast is calling for winds 5 to 10 knots out of the N on Saturday, with waves W 12 feet at 16 seconds. Sunday looks much better offshore, with winds out of the E up to 5 knots and S waves 2 feet at 5 seconds and W 8 feet at 13 seconds. The forecast will likely change, so before you head out, check the marine forecast at 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:

Industry Notes

Proposed Sacramento River closure
The CDFW is holding a public meeting on Monday, Nov. 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. to solicit public comments on the proposed fishing closure alternatives for the 5.5-mile stretch above the Highway 44 Bridge to the Keswick Dam. The meeting will be held at the Redding Public Library, 1100 Parkview Ave. CDFW is proposing multiple closure options to protect endangered winter-run Chinook, including a motor ban and a fly fishing-only regulation. For more information, visit public-meeting-to-be-held-on-proposed-sacramento-river-fishing-closure-alternatives

Proposed regulation changes on the Smith River
Friends of Del Norte County, led by Ted Souza, are proposing two regulation changes that could heavily impact Smith River salmon and steelhead anglers. The first proposed change is to ban the use of roe for fishing salmon and steelhead. The rationale behind this according to the group is female salmon are being killed solely for their eggs since roe is the bait of choice for salmon fishermen. Also, using roe results in more deeply hooked fish and doubles the chance of fatally harming the fish than if caught using artificial lures. The second proposed change would be to close the Smith to all fishing above the Middle and South Forks during November and December to protect spawning salmon. According to the group, the financial impact to the fishing guides would be negligible since they rarely fish above the forks. After December when the majority of the salmon have spawned, the river could be opened back up for steelhead fishing. These regulation change requests will be heard by the CA Fish and Game Commission on Dec. 7th and 8th in San Diego. To read the entire petition, visit PublicForum.pdf#page3.

The Rivers:
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. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164.

Smith River
The salmon fishing has slowed considerably the past few days as the river has dropped and cleared. As of Wednesday, flows were just above 8 feet on the Jed Smith gauge and are predicted to drop through the weekend. It will need another good shot of rain and a pretty good rise to bring in the next wave of kings.

There are good numbers of salmon in the lower Chetco, from Loeb to Social Security Bar reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Fishing was good on Thursday through Saturday and again Monday, but slower for many of the boats on Tuesday. That may help ease the pressure as the week goes on. The river is dropping fast, but there were signs of quite a few new fish below the North Fork Tuesday afternoon. The far lower end still has plenty of color for plugs. Back-bouncing roe is best from Moffit Rock upstream,” Martin added.

The Elk is low and clear according to Martin. He said, “A few fish are being caught close to the hatchery. With the Elk low, all the pressure has shifted to the Sixes, where salmon are being caught from Edson Creek to the Grange. Fishing has been pretty good on the Sixes.”

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

Fishing Reports

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