The long wait for ocean salmon is finally coming to an end today, with the Chetco Bubble Fishery allowing anglers out of Brookings to target chinook salmon on the ocean today and Sunday. With solid salmon fishing in the Chetco Estuary throughout the week, anglers are expecting a strong couple days of salmon fishing over the weekend.
Anglers are also catching lots of bottomfish out of Crescent City, where salmon fishing remains off limits all year long. Anglers in Northern California have been catching a few salmon at the Mouth of the Smith River throughout the week, but since Oct. 1 the Smith River has been subject to a low flow closure, barring fishing above Rowdy Creek.
The big news on the ocean this week is the annual Chetco River Fall Chinook State Waters Terminal Area Season, more commonly called the Chetco Bubble Fishery.
A strong week of fishing on the Chetco Estuary this week, including several big salmon up to 45 pounds, has many anglers chomping at the bit to target ocean salmon, which has been closed all year in both Southern Oregon and Northern California.
“There are a lot of salmon coming in and out of the river right now, and there are definitely a lot offshore,” said Any Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “So we are definitely excited about the bubble season (today).”
The Chetco Bubble Fishery will close at the end of the day on Sunday, but will reopen on Oct. 14-15.
Anglers are also still allowed to go crabbing out of Brookings through Oct. 16. Martin said anglers are having pretty good luck bringing in Dungeness crab in Southern Oregon. The sportcrabbing season usually opens in Northern California on the first Saturday in November.
Bottomfishing is now closed in Oregon, but it has remained strong out of Crescent City throughout the week with anglers nabbing rockfish and lingcod whenever the weather has been cooperative this week. Englund Marine Supply Co. weighed in a new leader in its annual biggest lingcod competition this week, which tipped the scales at 38 pounds.
Although bottomfishing should remain strong on the Wild Rivers Coast through the end of the season in December, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife released some in-season changes to bottomfishing restrictions that will go into effect on Oct. 16.
North of Cape Mendocino, bottomfishing will be prohibited in water deeper than 120 feet, down from the current depth limit of 180 feet. The all-depth groundfishing originally scheduled for November and December has also been cancelled.
According to the CDFW, the restrictions for bottomfishing have been put in place due to higher-than-expected bycatch estimates for yelloweye rockfish.
“Yelloweye rockfish are a long-lived, slow-growing shelf rockfish species that were declared overfished in 2002 and cannot be retained in the recreational fishery,” according to the CDFW press release.
The new depth regulations, which are identical to the regulations for the 2016 season, are not likely to effect bottomfishermen much locally, where anglers generally don’t have to go out too far to catch limits of black snappers and lingcod.
Fishing has been a little inconsistent from day to day, but anglers are catching several salmon per day at the Mouth of the Smith River, as well as at the Chetco Estuary throughout the week.
Big, but not a record
James Bemrose of Crescent City stopped into the Triplicate with something that got the attention of many in the intersection of 3rd and H streets Thursday morning. Bemrose didn’t say exactly where he caught this 37-pound lingcod, but he was sure it had to be a record catch.
While it was certainly impressive, the big fish fell a bit short. According to California state fishing records, the largest lingcod in California was caught in Crescent City by Carey Mitchell in 1992 and bent the scales at 56 pounds. According to the International Game Fish Association, the world record lingcod was caught in 2007 in Alaska by Robert Hammond. The IFGA world records database states that it weighed in at 82 pounds, 9 ounces.
Fishing contacts: Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 206-388-8988; Englund Marine Supply Company at 464-32306; Keith Richcreek of Pacific West Coast Ocean Fishing Guide Service at 218-5573.
Reach Michael Zogg at email@example.com; Triplicate Staff Writer Tony Reed contributed to this column.