Fishing in California is open to everyone — sportfishing license or no — as the first of two planned free fishing days in the state goes into effect today.

California anglers must still have the appropriate report card when targetting steelhead or sturgeon, as well as salmon on the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems, but no sportfishing license is required.

The other free fishing day in California is scheduled for Sept. 1. Anglers in Oregon must have a fishing license today, but there are still two free fishing weekends coming up with the first scheduled for Sept. 1–2 and the last on Nov. 23–24.

On the ocean

With Pacific halibut, chinook salmon and bottomfishing all open on both sides of the border, anglers have a lot of options for ocean fishing at the moment. For the first time in several weeks the winds started to die down late in the week on the Wild Rivers Coast, allowing anglers to take advantage of the various openings with at least some success out of both Brookings and Crescent City.

There have been a few chinook salmon caught out of Brookings this week, though the bite seems to have slowed down just a little bit. Meanwhile, down in California anglers are hauling in lots of salmon but not a lot of keepers. Capt. Keith Richcreek of Pacific West Coast Ocean Fishing Guide Service said they were only able to find small chinook salmon below the 20-inch threshold for keeping, along with lots of coho salmon, which are not allowed to be retained in California.

Oregon anglers have also caught some Pacific halibut throughout the week, though the big fish seem to be a little more popular of a target in California, where the season reopened on July 1 after a 15-day closure to the fishery. Richcreek said he has heard of a handful of halibut caught during the week, with most of them around 30 to 40 pounds.

Although bottomfishing is usually pretty good on both sides of the border, flat seas like the ones late this week certainly make it more enjoyable and have yielded fairly easy limits of rockfish out of both Brookings and Crescent City, while the lingcod bite is reportedly on the rise as well.

River fishing

The most popular rivers in the area are still the Rogue River to the north and the Klamath River to the south, where salmon are still making their way into the systems.

Joe Martin of Rogue Coast Sport Fishing said all the salmon on the Rogue are still in the bay at the moment, as the salmon await a little bit cooler water before heading upstream. Martin said the week started out hot for fishermen, with lots of salmon being caught, but it has waned a little through the week. There are still reportedly some salmon being caught in the bay, however, and the bite could pick up at any time.

Fishing contacts: Keith Richcreek of Pacific West Coast Ocean Fishing Guide Service at 218-5573; Jim Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips at 464-8482; Joe Martin of Rogue Coast Sport Fishing at 541-425-7210; Chetco Outdoor Store at 541-469-9151; Englund Marine Supply Company at 464-32306.

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com .

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