After a few weeks of rough weather and big swells on the ocean, anglers were finally able to head back out to sea this week. In Oregon sportfishermen were out in search of bottomfish, and found conditions hadn’t changed much since before the rough weather hit, hauling in lots of bottomfish and especially lingcod.
Oregon sportfishermen got more good news this week as the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that recreational crabbing season opened on Thursday out of Brookings.
Bottomfishing is closed in Northern California, but the drop in swell has once again allowed sportcrabbers to more easily drop their pots outside of the harbor. Meanwhile a school of herring have made their way into Crescent City Harbor, where they have stayed for most of the week.
Steelhead fishing on the Wild Rivers Coast has been solid on both sides of the border this week. Anglers are reporting there are steelhead all throughout both the Smith and Chetco rivers though both streams have been slowly dropping and clearing without rain over the past week, and were starting to get a little more difficult for drift boats by the end of the week.
A week of rain last week had local rivers running high at the start of the week and in prime shape for plunkers. As the week wore on without more rain, however, the rivers slowly started shifting into good shape for drift boats through the middle of the week.
By Friday, both the Smith and Chetco rivers were reportedly a little bit slow. Although still driftable, both rivers had dropped significantly from early in the week, and both have started to lose some of their color.
Still, anglers are reporting that there are lots of steelhead all throughout the system.
Andy Martin, of Wild Rivers Fishing said he has been on the Chetco River all week, where his clients have been hauling in about two fish on a slow day, and as many as six steelhead when fishing is hot. Martin said a decent number of the steelies being hooked are hatchery fish.
Jim Mitchell, of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips said his boat was able to land a pair of steelhead on the Smith River on both Thursday and Friday, while getting a couple more bites each day.
Mitchell said anglers are definitely having to work to get the steelhead on the Smith River right now, but they are out there and all throughout the river. Mitchell said he has heard of increasing numbers of steelhead in the South Fork, and upstream near Gasquet.
On the ocean
Oregon anglers were back out on the Pacific this week as an extended period of storms, wind and large swells finally gave way to calmer seas. Martin said there have been a fair amount of anglers cleaning bottomfish in the Port of Brookings this week, and anglers are reporting that lingcod fishing has been especially hot. Lingcod were also biting exceptionally well prior to the forced break due to bad weather.
On Thursday, the ODFW issued a press release announcing that recreational crabbing from Cape Blanco south to the California-Oregon Border is now open. According to the release, crab samples from the area have finally dropped below the alert level for the marine biotoxin called domoic acid.
Commercial crabbers in Oregon will be allowed to start dropping their pots for a three day soak on Sunday, and can start pulling pots on Wednesday.
Crabbers out of Brookings have been chomping at the bit to drop some pots, especially since the stretch of Southern Oregon Coast from the border to Cape Blanco has been the only stretch in the state closed to crabbing due to domoic acid levels. Crabbing has also been open in Northern California since December.
In California the bottomfishing season is over, but the break from big waves has allowed sportcrabbers an opportunity to easily drop pots once again. Crabbers have had similar luck this week as they have had all season, with lots of crab in their pots. Although crab are still not as full as they can be, they is much more meat on them than when the recreational season first opened.
Sportcrabbers in California will have considerably more competition for crustaceans starting today, however, as the commercial fleet is finally ready to start dropping pots.
This week Crescent City Harbor received its annual visit from a large school of herring, which have set up shop near Citizens Dock. Although the school of herring has been known to come into and out of the harbor fairly quickly and without warning, the little fish have been hanging around for most of the week.
Many fishermen like to catch lots of herring when they come into the harbor, which they can then freeze and use as bait later in the year.
Fishing contacts: Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 206-388-8988; Englund Marine Supply Company at 464-32306; Jim Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips at 464-8482.
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .