Salmon and Pacific Halibut Seasons Come to an End
by Kenny Priest
It was a tough week for North Coast saltwater fishermen. First off, Mother Nature did a number on the last several days of our sport salmon season. High winds and big seas forced the fleet to sit on the sidelines while the season quietly came to an end. It wasn’t necessarily a season that we’ll remember. It wasn’t very good in the beginning, was decent in the middle, and fizzled at the end. The best thing about it was some nicer fish were caught. Salmon season will remain open in the Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg areas through Nov. 8. The second punch to the gut was the abrupt closure of the Pacific halibut season. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, based on the latest catch projections, closed the fishery at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday. The CDFW expects the 2020 California recreational quota of 39,000 pounds had been taken. According to the press release issued on Aug. 7, the last week of July and beginning of August, CDFW field staff recorded a record high number of Pacific halibut being caught. “Reports from the public also confirmed an extremely hot Pacific halibut bite during the second half of July, with some anglers catching their limits by 8 a.m.,” said Marci Yaremko, Environmental Program Manager with CDFW. “The significant number of fish caught during this time is unprecedented in California’s fishery, and the quota was reached very quickly.” Using this information, CDFW conferred with the National Marine Fisheries Service, the IPHC and the Pacific Fishery Management Council to review projected catch amounts and to determine the 2020 quota had been attained.” So, until the tuna water comes within reach, it’s all about the rockfish.
Weekend Marine forecast
The weekend is looking plenty fishable. Out 10 nautical miles north of the Cape, Friday’s forecast is calling for N winds 5 to 10 knots and waves out of the NW 6 feet at 8 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds up to 5 knots and waves NW 4 feet at 8 seconds. Sunday’s forecast looks better, with winds out of the S 5 to 10 knots and waves NW 5 feet at 11 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.
2020 Klamath/Trinity fall regulations and quotas
Fall regulations go into effect on the Klamath River for fall-run Chinook salmon beginning Aug. 15 and run through Dec. 31. On the Trinity, the fall quota will begin on Sept. 1 and run through Dec. 31. The in-river quota for the entire Klamath Basin is 1,296 adult fall Chinook. The daily bag limit will be two Chinook, no more than one adult (greater than 23 inches) and the possession limit is six, no more than three adults. Two hatchery steelhead or hatchery trout may also be retained, with a possession limit of four each. For more information, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2020/07/29/2020-klamath-trinity-regulations/
- The Spit Area (within 100 yards of the channel through the sand spit formed at the Klamath River mouth) – 194 adults *
- From the Klamath mouth to the Hwy. 96 bridge at Weitchpec – 648 adults
- From the Hwy. 96 bridge at Weitchpec to 3,500 feet downstream of the Iron Gate Dam – 220 adults
* Only the Spit Area will close once 194 adults are harvested. The rest of the area below Highway 101 (estuary) will remain open to recreational fishing.
Important Reminder: All legally caught Chinook salmon must be retained while fishing the spit. Once the adult component of the total daily bag limit has been retained, anglers must cease fishing in the spit area. Also, the new six-foot leader length restriction remains in effect.
- Downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat – 214 adults
- Downstream of the Denny Road bridge at Hawkins Bar to the confluence with the Klamath – 214 adults
Downstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to the Denny Road Bridge in Hawkins Bar is closed to fishing September 1 through December 31.
The take of salmon is prohibited from the confluence of the South Fork Trinity downstream to the confluence of the Klamath from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31.
Once these quotas have been met, no Chinook salmon greater than 23 inches in length may be retained. Anglers may still retain a limit of Chinook salmon under 23 inches in length.
The 2020-2021 sport seasons, dates, locations, bag limits and gear restrictions can be found at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=180470&inline. Additional information can be found on the Klamath-Trinity River hotline at 800-564-6479. All anglers on the Trinity and Klamath rivers must have Salmon Harvest Cards in their possession when fishing for salmon.
Free fishing this weekend in Oregon
It’s free to fish, crab or clam in Oregon on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 15-16, 2020.
During these two days, no fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement) are required to fish, crab or clam. While nonresidents can also fish for free, there are still special restrictions in place on the coast due to Covid-19. Currently, clamming and mussel harvesting is closed to nonresidents coastwide. Crabbing is open to nonresidents along most of the Coast but is closed to nonresidents in the Columbia River and in ocean areas north of Cape Falcon (nonresidents may crab in bays and estuaries north of Cape Falcon e.g. Necanium River estuary). A few other clamming and crabbing closures are in effect (including razor clamming on Clatsop beaches). For more information, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2020/08_Aug/081020.asp
Cabezon off limits for Oregon boats
Effective 12:01 a.m. Friday, Aug. 14, sport anglers fishing from boats can no longer retain cabezon. This restriction does not impact shore-based anglers. According to the press release issued on Tuesday, the boat-based recreational harvest of cabezon is approaching the 16.2 metric ton quota, and the restriction is necessary to keep total year-end impacts within that quota. Anglers have been encountering more cabezon the last couple of years, and the average weight is up, similar to last year.
Anglers fishing from shore may still retain a one fish sub-bag limit of legal sized cabezon (16 inches or greater). Harvesting these fish from shore is infrequent, contributing a very small amount of mortality and is excluded from the retention closure.
Sport anglers fishing from boats who catch a cabezon after Aug. 13 must release it.
Cabezon have an excellent survival rate of 93 percent when released. Unlike rockfish, cabezon do not have a swim bladder, and therefore do not suffer from barotrauma (expansion or rupture of the swim bladder when fish are brought up from deep waters) that can cause stress, injury, and sometime death. Most released cabezon will live to see another day, and perhaps reproduce again. For more information, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2020/08_Aug/081120.asp
The Pacific halibut season came to an end on Tuesday, and the boats lucky enough to be on the water left the fish biting. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing was one of the charters that fished right until the end. “There’s still quite a few fish out there,” said Klassen. “We had to move around a little today to get limits. Once they started biting, it was pretty fast and furious. A pretty good way to end one of the best seasons I can remember. With salmon also closed, we’ll be focusing on rockfish trips. The weather looks pretty good for Cape runs this weekend. The tuna water is still about 60 to 70 miles offshore of Eureka, so that’s not an option as of yet.”
Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters reports the rockfish action is cranking right along, with lots of variety coming over the rails. “We’ve been spending some time at Reading Rock, and the fishing is really good,” said Wilson. “We’re seeing a pretty wide variety of fish, and catching nice limits of lings as well. Closer to home, the spots between the Head and Patrick’s Point have produced a good number of blacks, blues, and canaries. The Pacific halibut bite went out with a bang on Tuesday. It was a pretty wide-open bite until the end.”
“The salmon bite picked up for a couple days over the weekend and we got quick limits with a light load a couple of days” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “It has since slowed down quite a bit and not very many were caught last couple days. Most of the fish were coming right around the buoy. Rock fishing was a little slow, but we still managed limits. We made it up to Rodgers a couple days for rockfish. There are a few California halibut being caught, but the bite has slowed down a little.”
When the boats have been able to get out, the rockfish and lingcod bite have been excellent reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “Most of the boats are hitting North or South Reef, as well as the Sisters. The California halibut bite has slowed down along South Beach as the water has really cooled. The Threshers have moved out as well. Last week the Thresher bite was red-hot, with six or seven being landed each day.”
“Salmon season closed last Friday out of Brookings”, said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “The last week was slow. Halibut fishing has been a pleasant surprise, with big numbers of Pacific and California halibut being caught. The Pacific halibut are generally small, less than 20 pounds, but are abundant this summer in 200 feet three miles off the coast. California halibut are now biting at the beaches near Brookings, with a few even caught from the South Jetty. Rockfish action is good, with a fair lingcod bite.”
The estuary fishery has slowed down over the last 10 days. There aren’t many boats fishing, and very few are being caught right now. The better tides this week have been in the evenings. Hopefully we’ll start to see the fall fish come in and make their way upriver. As of Wednesday, there weren’t many salmon being caught above tidewater, but there are plenty of half-pounders and adult steelhead around. Fall regulations go into effect on Saturday. The daily bag limit will be two Chinook, no more than one adult (greater than 23 inches) and the possession limit is six, no more than three adults
Salmon fishing is still slow on the Rogue Bay, but kings are being caught according to Martin. “A dozen to two dozen total fish a day are showing in the catch out of 75-plus boats. Favorable tides this weekend could boost catch rates,” said Martin.
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