Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

Several hours before this newspaper reached a single news rack or doorstep, dozens of Del Norters with a taste for sweet, sweet Dungeness crab may have descended on B Street Pier and other popular crabbing spots.

California's annual recreational Dungeness crab season opened at 12:01 a.m. today, kicking off the season where prized seafood is just a trap's throw away.

Meanwhile, coastal river fishing is really slow, with anglers praying for rain.

Sport crabbing

Whether crabbers set hoop nets or crab traps from boats and piers, dive in to take crabs by hand, or use a loop net attached to the end of the fishing rod, the daily bag limit is the same: recreational crabbers may keep up to 10 Dungeness crabs per day of either sex. No one may possess more than one daily bag limit.

There is no limit to the number of devices used to catch crabs, except when fishing from a public fishing pier, like B Street or Citizens Dock, where only two fishing devices may be used. It is not necessary to obtain a fishing license when fishing from a public pier.

The recreational size limit for Dungeness crab is a minimum of 5andfrac34; inches measured across the shell, directly in front of and excluding the lateral spines.

"Crab populations appear to be strong coming off another record-setting year in the commercial fishery," said Pete Kalvass, lead Dungeness scientist for California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Kalvass said that crabs north of Cape Mendocino may be underweight for a few weeks due to a late molt.

Fish carcasses, squid, shrimp and raw chicken are all popular baits for Dungeness crabbing.

Chetco River

Also opening on Saturday is fall chinook fishing on the Chetco River, although it's hard to say if the small amount of rain in the weekend forecast will be enough to draw any significant amount of fish into the river system.

Guide Andy Martin, of Wild Rivers Fishing, predicted that fishing will be tough, with low, clear water. After scouting the Chetco by drift boat on Wednesday, Martin said that there were lots of fish spread throughout the river's lower 10 miles, but without hardly any current, it will be hard to drift for salmon. Anglers might have better luck bobber fishing, he said.

From Nov. 2 to Dec. 31, there is a daily bag limit of two adult salmon or steelhead, only one of which can be a wild chinook.The daily bag limit for jacks - chinook less than 24 inches - is up to five hatchery or wild fish.

Lower Klamath River

Fishing on the Lower Klamath River is reportedly "dead" with anglers waiting on rain.

"I have heard that the subsistence nets are still picking up a few Chinook here and there in the estuary, so a few stragglers are coming in," wrote Sara Borok, scientist from California Department of Fish and Wildlife, in her Klamath creel update.

Smith River

The Smith River is closed to fishing above Rowdy Creek while the river is below 600 cubic feet per second at the Jed Smith gauge and this weekend's rain isn't predicted to be enough to open the river.Just a few salmon have reportedly been caught near the mouth.

Fishing guide contacts: Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 541-813-1082.

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