It has been a decent week of fishing for anglers throughout the Wild Rivers Coast, but the biggest news of the week came from dry land with the Pacific Fisheries Management Council announcing the Ocean salmon seasons on both sides of the California-Oregon border and the California Fish and Game Commission voting to lift the spring salmon fishing ban on the Klamath River starting on July 1.
Ocean salmon season
After a full closure to the ocean salmon season in 2017 and a slow season on the ocean last year, the 2019 ocean salmon season is looking promising on both sides of the border.
The Pacific Fisheries Management Council announced the regulations for the upcoming ocean salmon seasons on Monday. Sportfishermen will be allowed to target Chinook salmon in Southern Oregon and Northern California from May 25 through Sept. 2.
“We have a Memorial Day to Labor Day season, and that is historically what our good seasons are,” said Andy Martin of Wild River Fishing. “The forecasts are good for the Klamath, the Sacramento, and the Rogue, so there should be plenty of salmon out there.”
In California north of Horse Mountain, the daily bag limit for Chinook salmon is two, with a minimum size of 20 inches in total length. Coho salmon are not allowed to be retained in California.
In Oregon south of Humbug Mountain, the daily bag limit will also be two Chinook salmon with a minimum size of 24 inches. Oregon anglers will be allowed to retain up to two marked coho salmon per day starting June 22 until Aug. 25, or until the quota of 90,000 marked coho has been met. Coho can only be retained if they have been fin-clipped and they must be at least 16 inches in length.
“On the Oregon side we have a coho season,” Martin said. “We didn’t have one last year but there is a pretty good opportunity to fish for coho starting on June 22. People out of Brookings target kings, but when there are hatchery silvers around that is a good thing. The ocean abundance forecast for coho off the Oregon Coast this year is over a million fish, so there should be some coho around that people will be catching.”
Klamath River salmon
Salmon fishermen in Klamath got some good news this week as the California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to open spring salmon fishing on the Klamath River starting on July 1.
In most years there have been no regulations for Klamath Spring Chinook salmon fishing. But an emergency regulation was adopted by the commission at its meeting in February, closing Klamath to salmon fishing until Aug. 15, which is the traditional dividing date between the spring and fall Chinook runs on the Klamath River. The closure was adopted in conjunction with the Klamath Spring Chinook Salmon becoming a candidate for listing under the California Endangered Species Act at the same meeting.
Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Fishing Guide Service said the recent vote basically amounts to a shorter 45-day spring salmon fishing season rather than a full closure as originally proposed.
The Commission also announced a one-fish daily bag limit and two-fish possession limit for spring salmon on both the Lower Klamath and Upper Trinity Rivers.
“The river remains closed for salmon fishing until July 1,” Coopman said. “You can fish for steelhead and you can fish for trout once trout opens, but you cannot retain a chinook salmon during that closure. That is the important side of things because people can get confused about that.”
The fall salmon season is also looking promising for the Klamath River this year.
“After August 15 the quota starts, so those will be ‘fall fish,’” Coopman said. “They are working on that bag limit right now.”
The PFMC allocated 7,637 adult Chinook salmon for recreational fishermen on the Klamath River this season, which is more than twice as much as the quota of 3,490 for the fall run in 2018.
The Klamath tribal allocation is 32,401 Chinook.
The California Fish and Game Commission announced that it is considering increasing the daily bag limit on the Klamath and Trinity Rivers to three salmon, with no more than two adults. The possession limit would be nine salmon with no more than six adults.
The Commission will officially adopt the regulations for the Klamath Fall Chinook salmon at its May 16 meeting.
After a tough week of bottomfishing out of Brookings, the bite started to pick up on Wednesday with limits of rockfish, and a few lingcod through the end of the week.
“The bottomfishing is improving now. It was really slow for about a week with all the muddy water coming down the river but now it is fishing well,” Martin said. “In the last few days we have gotten pretty easy limits of rockfish, and we are averaging about a lingcod per person. The fishing is still best north of Brookings — we aren’t getting a whole lot to the south — but the fish are moving back in. It is going to keep on getting better.”
It may be difficult fishing over the weekend with high winds, but the forecast looks much more friendly starting early next week.
The ocean is still closed to bottomfishermen in California, but not for too much longer. Sportfishermen will be allowed to start fishing for rockfish and lingcod out of Crescent City starting on May 1.
It has been a slow season for recreational crabbers on both sides of the border, but sportcrabbers in Oregon are picking up a few keepers, especially if they are able to drop their pots outside the harbor.
“The crabbing is not really hot in close to the harbor, but there are a few crab and it is decent if you get away from the harbor,” Martin said.
Meanwhile, to the south, sport crabbers have noted an uptick in the number of crab wandering into pots in Crescent City Harbor recently. The vast majority of the crab near B Street Pier are much too small to keep, but it bodes well for crabbing in a few years after an underwhelming season in 2019.
Although it is getting late in the season, anglers on the Smith River are still seeing some nice flows with decent color and have been able to nab some down running steelhead throughout the week.
The Chetco River is now closed to fishing, but farther north the Rogue River is starting to pick up steam.
It is still fairly early for salmon on the Rogue but the spring bite has been picking up in the last few days with about half a dozen keepers caught per day by all the anglers combined.
“Spring salmon is starting to pick up now, and we are coming up on the peak season,” Martin said. “It hasn’t been red hot yet, but there are some fish being caught.”
There are still a few steelhead in the Rogue River, but Martin said everyone has switched to targeting salmon this time of year.
Mike Coopman’s Guide Service at 707-218-4501; Joe Martin of Rogue Coast Sport Fishing at 541-425-7210; Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 206-388-8988; Englund Marine Supply Company at 464-323.
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .