The ocean salmon seasons for both Oregon and California Klamath Management Zone (KMZ) zones were set last week at the PFMC meeting in Portland, Oregon. Normally at these meetings, all the PFMC representatives sit down together and start crunching numbers for the entire week. But all three salmon options this season practically resolved themselves.
What ended up for the KMZ (Brookings and Eureka) were two very liberal seasons that will last from May 1 through September 8. That's 131 consecutive days that fishermen will be able to harvest Chinook in the ocean.
The boundary of the Oregon KMZ is from Humbug Mountain (just south of Port Orford) south to the Oregon/California border, while the California KMZ is from the California/Oregon border south to Horse Mountain (just south of Humboldt Bay).
Both KMZ zones will again be seeing record numbers of Sacramento and Klamath River Chinook this year.
In addition to Chinook, the Oregon KMZ will be included in a mark-selective coho fishery from Cape Falcon south to the Oregon/California border from July 1 through July 31, or until the quota of 10,500 coho is caught. "Mark-selective-coho" is a term that refers to a hatchery coho with a missing, healed adipose fin.
Furthermore, there will also be a non-mark-selective coho fishery taking place from Cape Falcon south to Humbug Mountain from September 1 through the earlier of September 30, or until a quota of 16,000 non-mark-selective coho is reached. "Non-mark-selective coho" refers to wild coho salmon.
There will be specific dates and times for the aforementioned fishery. As anyone who has caught a coho in September knows, these silvers can get quite large, with 20-pound-plus fish being common.
Last year was the best year for catching Chinook on the ocean I've ever seen, with several long-term Eureka residents echoing the same sentiments.
The forecast for age-4 Chinook from both Sacramento and Klamath River systems is predicted to be quite high this year. In particular, the prediction for Klamath 4-year-old kings is the highest projection in 29 years. This means anglers will be seeing a lot of big Chinook this season. 4-year-old Chinook will probably be in the 20- to 25-pound range in the beginning of the season. By the end of the season in September, these fish will have probably put on another 10 pounds.
So with only 17 days left for opening day, and that's less than three weeks away, it's time to start stocking up on necessities.
Your tackle boxes should be well-stocked with Les Davis Herring Dodgers and Big Al's Fish Flash flashers. Last season, the color chartreuse seemed to be the hot color, but keep plenty of chrome colors in your boxes as well.
You'll also want to keep plenty of 2- and 4-ounce Delta Divers on hand. Any Delta Diver is a great warhorse, but you can't beat the polycarbonate laser colors in chartreuse and silver.
Trollers will also want to have plenty of slip-tie mooching leaders on hand. Pre-tied leaders made by Eagle Claw are always available for less than a dollar, but there will be a lot of people wanting to tie their own leaders.
For the latter group of fishermen, I highly recommend using Gamakatsu Octopus hooks. Since this year is expected to have a lot of big fish, big hooks are going to be the call. I'm going to tie most of my leaders using at least size 6/0 hooks. Don't forget to either buy barbless hooks or pinch the barbs on your hooks.
Last year, I used predominantly 40-pound Trilene Big Game to tie my leaders. Berkley makes inexpensive large-diameter leader spools just for this purpose.
I also like to keep a variety of sizes of ball-bearing swivels, bead-chain swivels, crane swivels and corkscrew snap swivels on hand as well.
You'll also want to check your downrigger wire. If it has corroded or has obvious kinks, replace it.