Spring Brings New Angling Opportunities

Spring Brings New Angling Opportunities
Photos like this will be much more prevalent in the weeks to come as spring arrives on the coast. Pictured is Fortuna resident Nathan Graham with a pair of male Kelp greenlings caught on the south jetty. Rock fishing is open year-round to shore-based anglers and divers.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Joe Graham

by Kenny Priest

Spring, along with the accompanying nice weather, will arrive eventually. At least that’s what the calendar says. And when it does, a new set of angling opportunities will come with it. As the number of storms begin to lessen, we’ll see some much-improved ocean conditions. With that, anglers will head to the jetties and beaches in search of rockfish and redtail perch. The California halibut fishery will also begin to take off, especially once the influx of freshwater into Humboldt Bay subsides. The same can be said for those in search of Dungeness crab in the bay. The lagoons, including Big, Stone and Freshwater, will also come into play. Both Big and Stone lagoons broke open numerous times this winter and should be full of trout and steelhead. Spring is also the time for salmon. The lower Rogue is one of the best fisheries on the coast for springers, and it’s just starting to heat up. The Klamath River’s spring-run fisheries fate will be decided in the next couple of weeks by the Pacific Fishery Management Council. It’s been an unusually long and wet winter, but spring angling is right around the corner.

Upcoming meetings
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) and its advisory bodies are meeting now through April 7 to address issues related to groundfish, salmon, Pacific halibut, coastal pelagic species and administrative matters. One of the key agenda items is to adopt final management measures for the 2023 recreational and commercial ocean salmon fisheries. Also on the agenda are the 2023 Klamath River Basin quotas and Sacramento fall Chinook fisheries. It is likely these in-river fisheries will be closed this fall. For more information, visit pcouncil.org/documents/2023/03/april-2023-meeting-agenda.pdf.

The California Fish and Game Commission meeting will be held in Fresno, April 19 to 20 to adopt and discuss changes to the upcoming sport fishing seasons. The meeting will be live streamed for viewing or listening. On the agenda are the proposed changes to Klamath River Basin sport fishing as well as Klamath River regulations related to dam removal. Also on the agenda is the fate of the Central Valley fall Chinook fisheries. For a complete agenda and comment submission, and viewing information, visit nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=210870&inline=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.

Weekend marine forecast
South winds are forecast for the weekend along with a large westerly swell. As of Wednesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the south 10 to 20 knots with west waves 8 feet at nine seconds. Saturday, winds will be out of the south 10 to 20 knots with south waves 6 feet at six seconds and west 8 feet at 16 seconds. Sunday, winds will be 10 to 15 knots out of the south with west waves 12 feet at 15 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://www.windy.com. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Shelter Cove crab feed
Shelter Cove Fishing Preservation will be holding its third annual crab feed fundraiser dinner and silent auction April 15 at the Community Center/Club House in Shelter Cove. Tickets are $60 and can be purchased at the launch office. The event starts at 5 p.m. and live music will be provided by The Breakers. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/scfpinc.

The Rivers:
Reminder: The South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mattole, Mad, Redwood Creek and the Chetco all closed to fishing March 31.

Main stem Eel
The main stem is still a long way from being fishable. As of Wednesday, it was running at 11,500 cubic feet per second at the Scotia gauge. Another rise is predicted for Friday with flows reaching 22,000 cfs Saturday. It will need to get down close to 5,000 cfs before it’s fishable. The main stem Eel, from its mouth to the South Fork is open to fishing all year. From April 1 through Sept. 30, only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used.

Smith River
The Smith is in great shape at 9.5 feet at the Jed Smith gauge as of Wednesday. Another rise is predicted to begin Thursday, pushing the river to 12.5 feet by Friday morning. Fishing pressure has been light, but there are some fish around. The main stem of the Smith will remain open through the end of April from its mouth to the confluence with the Middle and South Forks. The Middle Fork will also remain open through April from its mouth to Patrick’s Creek. The South Fork is open through April as well, from its mouth upstream approximately 1,000 feet to the County Road (George Tryon) bridge and Craig’s Creek to Jones Creek.

Lower Rogue
According to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, spring salmon are being caught in the lower Rogue River by boaters anchoring close to shore and fishing anchovies. “Plunkers also are getting a few springers from shore with 4.0 MagLips,” said Martin. The Chetco, Elk and Sixes have closed for the season.

Brookings ocean update
Lingcod and rockfish are biting on calm weather days out of Brookings. reports Martin. “This weekend looks 50-50 weather wise. Lings are in shallow water spawning. Federal fishery managers will adopt ocean salmon seasons this week. A June 17 coho salmon opener is a possibility out of Brookings this summer. There also is talk of a return of the October ocean king season at the mouth of the Chetco.”

Kenny Priest operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com.

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