Chetco Estuary Kicking Out Quality Kings

Doug and Nick Ebert hold limits of salmon caught Oct. 2 while fishing the Chetco River estuary with guide Mick Thomas of Brookings Fishing Charters.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Brookings Fishing Charters

by Kenny Priest
10-8-2021
Website

If you’re looking for an opportunity to catch big, ocean-fresh kings, the Chetco estuary is the place to be. Salmon have been staging in the tidewater since the beginning of September. They’ll be there until rain allows them to make their way upriver. Following last Monday’s rain, which bumped the flows from under 100 cubic feet per second to nearly 1,000 cfs, some salmon were able to navigate out of the tidewater. But there should be plenty more heading in from the salt to take their place. “Salmon fishing has kicked into high gear on the Chetco estuary,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Upwards of 50 kings were landed on Saturday and several dozen more on Monday. There is a good mix of jacks and wild and hatchery kings. The good fishing has attracted a crowd of boats. Anchovies and plug-cut herring are producing fish the second half of the incoming tide and beginning of the outgoing.”

On the Chetco, the daily bag limit for salmon is two adult fish per day, no more than one adult wild Chinook. Anglers may harvest adult hatchery Chinook until the daily bag limit has been met. Once the adult daily limit is harvested, anglers cannot continue to fish for jack salmon. The river remains closed above mile 2.2 because of low flows.

Over on the Smith River, the tidewater fishing hasn’t been as good. But that may not be for a lack of fish. The rain that fell last week pushed the flows over 900 cfs, and schools of jacks and darker adults moved through. According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, there aren’t many fish staging in the estuary right now. “There’s been a few boats trolling sardines and anchovies, as well as bank anglers tossing Kastmasters and Cleos,” he said. The Smith River is currently closed above the mouth of Rowdy Creek due to low flows.

Weekend marine forecast
Winds will begin to decrease Friday and the ocean looks to be plenty fishable over the weekend. As of Wednesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the north 5 to 10 knots with northwest waves 5 feet at five seconds and west 3 feet at 16 seconds. Saturday, winds will be out of the north 5 to 10 knots with northwest waves 5 feet at nine seconds. Sunday looks a little worse with winds coming from the north 5 to 15 knots and north waves 6 feet at six seconds and northwest 4 feet at 13 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.

Dungeness crab testing underway
Dungeness crabs testing for Domoic Acid has begun on the West Coast. To date, two locations have posted results. Monterey Bay was tested on Sept. 21 and just one of the six samples tested above the threshold of 30 ppm. Trinidad was also tested on Sept. 21 and there was no detection of Domoic Acid. .” For more information on Domoic Acid and current test results, visit http://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/Pages/FDBPrograms/FoodSafetyProgram/DomoicAcid.aspx

The Oceans:
Eureka
Prior to Monday, there hadn’t been much offshore activity out of Eureka due to rough seas. Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sport Fishing ventured to the halibut grounds in less than ideal conditions Monday and put in quick limits. The weather was better Tuesday but the bite was slower. Very few boats were on the water.

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, the rockfish bite has been excellent this week. “It’s been a little slow at times but still getting good limits every day,” he said. “Most of the effort was at the Old Man this week.  The salmon bite picked up the last couple days and most boats have been getting limits over the weekend right at the Coast Guard buoy.

Brookings
Rough ocean conditions kept the Brookings fleet at the docks all of last week and the weekend reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Better weather is expected this weekend, with a shot at late-season Pacific halibut. Lingcod fishing had been improving before the rough weather.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The salmon effort and harvest has slowed considerably on the lower Klamath. Reportedly, the mouth is still sanded over making it difficult for fish to enter the river. If and when it blows open, we should see more fresh kings along with coho move in. For the week ending Oct. 7, 43 jacks were harvested and 43 adults were released above the Highway 101 bridge. The daily bag limit is two jack Chinook at 23-inches or smaller and two hatchery steelhead.

Willow Creek weir update
For the week ending Sept. 30, a total of 821 adult kings were counted at the weir. The jack count for the week was 97. For the season to date, 2,201 (adults and jacks) have been counted, including both hatchery and wild. The totals are the highest since 2012 when a combined 2,609 adults and jacks were counted for the season. This year’s totals include only four weeks of trapping.


Find "Fishing the North Coast" on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com.


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