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Reel Deal: Slow fall fishing

Recreational crabbers have hit the sea since the season started on Saturday. Crab catches have been low in number, but high in meat.
Recreational crabbers have hit the sea since the season started on Saturday. Crab catches have been low in number, but high in meat. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
The first Dungeness crabs caught out of Crescent City this season are reportedly in good shape and full of meat, but the crabs have not been filling the traps of local sport crabbers in great numbers during the first few days of the recreational season that started Saturday.

Meanwhile, salmon fishing on local rivers has been plagued by a fairly dry fall, and about the only waterway worth trying right now is the Chetco, which opened for fall chinook fishing Saturday.

Chetco River

Numerous chinook and even a few steelhead were reportedly caught on the Chetco during the first few days of fishing, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Bobbers and eggs” is how guide Andy Martin, of Wild Rivers Fishing, describes the type of fishing best suited for the current low-water conditions.

Martin said there has been a good bite early in the morning in  the five-mile stretch below the North Fork Chetco confluence  while using sand shrimp and salmon roe below a bobber.

“Between Loeb (State) Park and Social Security Bar there are a lot of fish spread out,” Martin said. “Any hole that has any depth to it is stacked with fish.”

Martin said he has been fishing his bait 6 to 8 feet below the bobber.

One angler reportedly caught a 45-pound salmon from the bank since the season opened, Martin said.

There are many bank anglers using questionable fishing tactics in the Chetco’s current low-water conditions (i.e. snagging, flossing, lining, etc.), according to Scott Stewart at the Chetco Outdoor Store, but bank anglers fishing under bobbers or casting spoons with a single hook at the mouth are playing by the rules and still catching fish.

“This year anglers are encouraged to turn in chinook salmon snouts from hatchery fish that are kept,” according to the ODFW. “The chinook salmon snouts may contain coded wire tags that tell where they come from. ODFW and South Coast Fishermen have placed collection sites at Social Security gravel bar and at the Port of Brookings fish cleaning station.”

Customers of guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing hold lingcod and rockfish caught out of the Port of Brookings last week as well as a jack salmon from the estuary.
Customers of guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing hold lingcod and rockfish caught out of the Port of Brookings last week as well as a jack salmon from the estuary. Courtesy Andy Martin
Crabs in Crescent City

Popular crabbing spots, like B Street Pier, had many anglers out throwing pots this weekend, but the amount of sport crabbers on public piers has dwindled with reports of crabs in short supply.  

The Dungeness crabs that have been caught, however, are filled with plenty of meat.

“They’re in good shape, but it doesn’t sound like there’s a whole lot of volume,” said Leonard Carter of Englund Marine Supply in Crescent City Harbor.

Klamath/Trinity rivers

No substantial rain “has made the Trinity and Klamath Rivers low and clear, which has in turn made fishing very hard,” according to E.B. Duggan’s fishing report. “I have seen and talked to many fishermen on the river and they all say ‘fishing is slow’ or ‘where are the fish?’ and I can’t give them a good answer.”

The Klamath/Trinity River system is at less than 50 percent of the projected return of 273,000 fall chinook, but not all of the numbers are in yet for the season, Duggan said.

There were zero adult fish reportedly caught in the Lower Klamath River below the Trinity confluence, although California Department of Fish and Wildlife scientists said a very small number of fish are still being caught by tribal subsistence nets.

Fishing contacts: Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 541-813-1082; E.B. Duggan “D” Fishing Guide at 530-629-3554; Englund Marine Supply at 707-464-3230; Chetco Outdoor Store at 541- 469-9151.

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