Larry Ellis

The three ocean salmon alternatives everyone in the California and Oregon Klamath Management Zones (KMZ) have been waiting for are finally out and listed on the PFMC website (

Fishermen hoped that if they weren’t able to fish the Oregon KMZ (from the Oregon/California border up to Humbug Mountain), that they would at least be able to experience some opportunity in the California KMZ (from Horse Mountain up to the California/Oregon border).

But the news does not contain even a glimmer of hope for KMZ aficionados.

For the California KMZ, the three salmon alternatives indicate their KMZ component will be completely closed this year to the retention of any salmon species for both recreational and commercial anglers.

The options for the Oregon KMZ are not much better. Alternative I and III call for a completely-closed salmon season. Alternative II calls for no Chinook retention, however it does allow for a mark-selective (adipose fin-clip) coho season from June 24 through August 17, or until a landed catch of 20,000 marked coho is attained, whichever comes first.

But because Chinook are frequently caught when fishing for coho — with many of them being of Klamath River origin — and with the PFMC stressing for a zero-impact rate on Klamath River Chinook, I predict the mark-selective coho fishery will be voted down at the PFMC April 6-11 meeting in Sacramento. That would leave Oregon with a completely-closed salmon season in its KMZ as well.

The PFMC will also narrow down the Pacific coast’s three salmon alternatives for the coast’s various salmon-fishing areas at the April meeting.

Lingcod Fishing Superb

With the weather dying down, the ocean has laid down, enabling more anglers to slay the fatted lingasaur.

March is when male lingcod begin moving into underwater pinnacles and irregular rock formations off the coast of Oregon. They guard the nests made by the females, and where you find one lingcod, you will usually find other toothed warriors. It is common to find between six and 10 males stacked up in one location, each guarding just one female nest.

The males are the smaller of the sexes, averaging between 5 and w8 pounds, with an occasional 10- to 12-pounder being caught.

The females are generally larger, averaging between 8 and 25 pounds, and the big girls will often have a bulging gut cavity if it has not yet spawned.

Most anglers werecatching their lings on herring they jigged in Crescent City Harbor last February.

Leadfish have also been working well for the lings, but they don’t really start to become effective until the water warms up. Most lingcod will strike a leadfish-type lure as it sinks, so make sure to fish them purposefully on-the-drop.

Five- to 6-inch plastic jerkbaits have also been catching their fair share of lings.

Don’t forget, it is now a requirement to have a working descending device onboard your boat if you are fishing for bottomfish.

In addition to lingcod, various varieties of rockfish have been caught. I prefer catching my rockfish and lings on the aforementioned jerkbaits.

When the ocean settles down, March is also a great time to catch striped and redtail surfperch. Both varieties fight like the dickens. It is common to find striped surfperch weighing more than 2 pounds and not unusual to have redtails between 2 and 4 pounds.

You will tend to find more striped surfperch in the nooks of jetties and around rocky formations, while redtails seem to prefer steep, sloping sandy beaches.

The number one bait is small pieces of raw shrimp, the kind bought 30 or 40 to the bag in the frozen-food section of a supermarket.

Use a two-hook surf rig. Tie a sinker on the end of your mainline, then a dropper loop 18 inches above the sinker and another dropper loop 18 inches above the first loop. Inside the loops attach size 4 to 6 snelled hooks.

Tight lines!