Rains during the week have ushered lots of chinook salmon into both the Smith and Chetco rivers, but anglers are still seeing a lot more salmon than they are catching due to plenty of debris in the water. The Chetco River blew out on Thursday and will likely remain too high to fish by boat through the weekend, but the Smith River should start dropping today, which will help the leaves and branches in the river dissipate.

Meanwhile, the sport crabbing season opened up in Northern California on Saturday. Although crabbers are reportedly hauling in lots of crustaceans, including several fairly good sized crab, anglers are reporting that there is still not much meat on them.

River fishing

It has been a promising, if not overly productive, week of fishing on local rivers this week. With some of the first big rains of the season both the Smith and Chetco rivers were on the rise, especially late in the week.

Anglers on the Chetco River were able to nab about a fish per day early in the week before the river blew out. Prior to the river rising too high to fish by boat, Fishing Guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing saw a rare sight on the Chetco River when his clients hauled in a chum salmon. Martin said chum salmon are common in rivers to the north, but there are no chum salmon runs south of the Tillamook River. The salmon they hooked likely got lost somewhere along the way.

The Smith River was also running high, but anglers were still able to catch a fish or two per boat throughout the week. Running plugs was made a little bit more difficult, however, due to lots of leaves and branches in the river after one of the first big rains of the season.

The river should start to clear as the water level drops over the weekend. Fishing Guide Jim Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips guessed that anglers may have a good window as early as Saturday afternoon or Sunday.

Sport crabbing

The 2017 sport crabbing season kicked off on Saturday in Northern California and there are reportedly lots of crab pretty much everywhere people are throwing pots, both inside and outside of Crescent City Harbor.

Early reports suggest that while some of the crab are decent sized, with fairly thick shells, there is still not much meat on the crab being hauled in.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has issued a warning to discard the viscera of the crab, commonly referred to as “crab butter” where domoic acid is most highly concentrated.

According to the first round of testing by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, crab out of Crescent City have yielded an average of 16.7 percent meat. That is slightly better than the 16.1 percent found out of Eureka, and 14.6 percent out of Trinidad, but crab out of Oregon have measured a little bit better. Crab caught near Brookings came in with 18.2 percent meat and 23.6 percent in Coos Bay. Crab must reach the 25 percent meat threshold before the commercial season will open.

Although crabbing is now open in Northern California, the season out of Southern Oregon is closed.

Fishing contacts: Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 206-388-8988; Englund Marine Supply Company at 464-32306; Jim Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips at 464-8482; Keith Richcreek of Pacific West Coast Ocean Fishing Guide Service at 218-5573.

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com.

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