Rain on the way, Smith could open
by Kenny Priest
If you’ve been waiting for your shot at some Smith River kings, you may get your wish this weekend. It seems likely there won’t be enough rain to open the Humboldt rivers that are currently closed due to low flows, but up in Crescent City, the Smith River could come into play. According to Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service, the Smith River basin could see up to two inches of rain at the coast and possibly three in the higher elevations. If that comes to fruition, the levels could jump substantially.
As of Wednesday, flows were predicted to push well over the minimum flow of 600 cfs at the Jed Smith gauge. After a small rise on Thursday, the river is forecasted to reach nearly 2,500 cfs by late Saturday night. On paper, it looks like the river could open sometime Saturday late morning and close again on Monday. Whether the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife chooses to open the river to fishing will likely be a game-time decision.
Here in Humboldt, rainfall totals will be much less. In the Mad and Eel basins, we could see anywhere from a quarter on the coast and up to an inch in the mountains. Not nearly enough to open the Mad or Eel rivers to fishing.
Weekend marine forecast
Gusty south winds and steep seas will build into Thursday and gradually diminish through the weekend. South winds are forecasted for Friday 5 to 10 knots with waves NW 13 feet at 13 seconds. Saturday forecast is calling for S winds 5 to 10 knots and waves NW 12 feet at 13 seconds. Sunday is looking a little better, with SE winds up to 5 knots and NW waves 9 feet at 13 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.
Local crabs being tested for domoic acid
The season’s first domoic acid crab survey was taken on Oct. 2 in Eureka and Trinidad. Six crab were tested in the Trinidad north region, and another six in the south region. Six crabs were also tested to the north and south of Eureka. Zero percent of the crab’s samples exceeded action levels. Crescent City’s tests were pending as of Wednesday. Results of future testing can be found here: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/Pages/FDBPrograms/FoodSafetyProgram/DomoicAcid.aspx
Entire Oregon coast now open for razor clamming
In a press release issued last Friday, the Oregon Department of Agriculture has opened the Razor clam season for the entire Oregon coast. The elevated presence of domoic acid kept the coastal area between the south jetty of the Umpqua River and the Coquille River closed to shellfish harvesting, but recent samples revealed an amount below the closure limit. Now all areas of the Oregon coast are opening for razor clamming. For more information on shellfish safety, call the ODA hotline at 800-448-2427 or the agency's food safety division at 503-986-4720. For more information, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2019/10_Oct/100419b.asp
Mussels off limits in Humboldt/Mendocino counties
In a press release issued on Tuesday, Oct. 15, The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is advising consumers not to eat sports-harvested mussels, clams, or whole scallops from Humboldt and Mendocino Counties due to dangerous levels of domoic acid. The naturally occurring toxin is also referred to as Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) and can cause illness or death in humans. This shellfish safety notification is in addition to the annual mussel quarantine. The annual quarantine applies to all species of mussels harvested along the California coast, as well as all bays and estuaries, and will continue through at least October 31. The warning against eating sport-harvested razor clams in Del Norte and Humboldt counties also remains in effect, due to continued elevated levels of domoic acid. You can get the most current information on shellfish advisories and quarantines by calling CDPH's toll-free Shellfish Information Line at 800-553-4133. For additional information, visit: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DRSEM/Pages/EMB/Shellfish/Marine-Biotoxin-Monitoring-Program.aspx
Fishing vessel drill conductor training
The Alaska Marin Safety Education Association (AMSEA) will be conducting hands-on survival skills on Oct. 28 and 29 from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Woodley Island Marina in Eureka. The training will include: Cold-water survival skills, EPIRBs, signal flares and mayday calls, man overboard recovery, firefighting and more. Fees are $95 to commercial fisherman, $195 to all others. Training meets the U.S. Coast Guard requirements for drill conductors on commercial fishing vessels, 46 CFR 28.270(c). Register online at www.amsea.org or call 907-747-3287.
Klamath River quota update
According to Dan Troxel, an Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River Project, we’re just about two-thirds through the lower river quota, with angler effort dwindling. Through Oct. 14, 2,463 adult kings have been harvested towards the quota of 3,819, leaving 1,356 left for harvest. The spit fishery still has plenty of fish to catch as well. Anglers have harvested 711 adult kings below the 101 bridge, leaving 434 left to catch. Once this quota is met, only the spit area will close to fishing. Fishing will remain open upriver of the spit until the 3,819 quota is met. Once the lower river quota is wrapped up, anglers may still retain a limit of Chinook salmon under 22 inches in length. Anglers may keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling 800-564-6479.
Trinity flows dropping
Flows coming out of Lewiston Dam were reduced beginning Monday, Oct. 14, going from 450 cfs down to 300 cfs by Wednesday, Oct. 16.
This week’s calm conditions allowed what’s left of the ocean fleet to get back on the water. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the rock fish at the Cape are still biting and there were a few Pacific halibut caught over the weekend. “There’s a real good variety of rockfish coming out of the Cape right now, and they’re a good grade as well,” said Klassen. “The ling cod bite has been a little tougher, but most days we’re getting at least one per angler. The Pacific halibut bite has been a little up and down. One day we boated limits for five and the next day we only landed one. Most of the action has been a little north on the 50-line in 250 to 350 feet of water.” As of Oct. 13, 17,852 net pounds have been harvested towards the 39,000-pound quota.
Rockfish has been the choice for the few boats fishing out of the Cove this week. According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, it’s still worth the effort. He said, “We fished up at Gorda three days and one down at the Hat this past week. Rock fishing was great up north, but the lingcod bite was tough, although we did get limits. There seems to be a lot more ling cod around the Hat, but the quality of snappers down there isn’t as great as up north. There were a few pacific halibut caught over the weekend as well. A couple were caught outside of the Old Man and a handful were caught at Gorda. A couple salmon were also caught this week near the whistle.”
“The ocean has fished very well for rockfish and lingcod in recent days, but swells to 15 feet will keep boats at the docks through the weekend,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters.
Fishing on the lower Klamath has slowed considerably. A few kings are still around, and some more steelhead showed up. There’s also some Coho that are starting to show. Boat pressure has been light as most guides have moved on.
A few salmon were caught at the mouth on Tuesday evening according to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “So far, that’s the most fish I’ve seen caught, with most of them coming on Cleo’s. Not many fish have made it up to the Sand Hole yet.”
The Chetco estuary fished well over the weekend before the action slowed Monday and Tuesday according to Martin. “Big swells and strong southerly winds likely will make it tough to fish the rest of the week. With dry weather expected to return next week, the estuary could heat up again, although a portion of the run will shoot upriver with increased flows from this week’s rain,” Martin added.
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