Despite some pretty drastic changes to sport crab fishing regulations, jumbo crabs in good numbers are now starting to fill the hoops and rings of sport fishermen. Between the rough ocean conditions and a steep learning curve on how best to fish the new hoops and rings, the sport season got off to a bit of a slow start.
But now anglers are getting the hang of things and results are starting to pick up. “We’ve only been on the water a few days so we’re still trying to dial in the hoop nets,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “From what I’ve learned, the crabs don’t stay on the bait as long as the traps. They move pretty quickly. Timing is the key, fill bait jars with squid and check the hoops every 30 minutes or so. to be working”. According to Klassen, most Eureka boats have been fishing south of the inlet in 40 to 100 feet of water.
The bright spot so far this season has been Trinidad. Small boats and kayakers that leave from the beach have been setting fast limits inside the harbor. When the ocean has permitted, boats have been fine close to the bell buoy in 200 to 300 feet of water. Just outside Prisoner Rock has also been a standout spot.
Although unofficial, quality tests show Eureka crabs to be 19.5 percent, Trinidad 20.4 percent and Crescent City 18.7 percent. A typical year will find the meat content around 20 percent, with the theory that the crabs will add one percent of meat a week and reach the 25 percent mark by the commercial opening on January 1.
Reminder: CDFW encourages anglers to follow the Fishing Best Practices Guide developed by the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Team Task Force. Voluntary actions that anglers can use include keeping the line between the pot and the main buoy taught and vertical, reducing the amount of vertical line on the surface, avoiding putting gear in the vicinity of whales and turtles, and marking the equipment in accordance with the regulations. The Good Fishing Practices Guide can be found here: nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=195428&inline.
Marine weekend forecast
The marine forecast this week looks good for offshore crab and rockfish with very little wind in the forecast. As of Tuesday, Thursday’s forecast calls for southwest winds up to 5 knots and west 6-foot waves at 15 seconds. Friday looks similar with northerly winds of 5 to 10 knots and northerly swells of 4 feet to five seconds and westerlies of 4 feet to 12 seconds.
Saturday’s forecast calls for southeast winds up to 5 knots with westerly swells of 4 feet to 11 seconds. Sunday winds will be southerly 5 to 10 knots with westerly swells of 4 feet to 12 seconds. These conditions can and will change over the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the Woodley Island office at 443-6484.
365 day fishing licenses are now available
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will begin selling 365-day fishing licenses much earlier than expected. Beginning November 15, 2022, California anglers will be able to purchase a 2023 fishing license that will be effective January 1, 2023 and will last for the entire year. All licenses purchased on or after January 1, 2023 will be effective from the date of purchase for 365 continuous days.
Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) introduced AB 817 in February 2021, allowing a transition of California fishing license validity from one calendar year to a total of 365 days from the purchase.
Before this change, anglers who buy their license after New Year’s Day were charged the same price for fewer days of fishing, and some are unwilling to pay the full price of a license when buying -later in the year, which results in fewer licenses sales. This change will allow fishermen to receive 365 days worth of benefits after purchasing a license at any time of the year.
“Thanks to the efforts of the dedicated staff at CDFW, California will move to our new 365-day fishing license even sooner than expected,” Wood said. “This license will encourage more Californians to fish and increase fishing license revenue that funds the state’s critical fisheries and conservation programs. Making fishing more accessible really supports communities that depend on recreation and outdoor tourism, like my district in Northern California.”
To purchase a fishing license, visit CDFW’s online sales website. At checkout, there is an additional option to sign up for automatic renewal of fishing licenses, which allows anglers to purchase and automatically receive their new license when their current one expires, so California anglers don’t never miss a day of fishing! For more information, visit wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Fishing#445183569-365—day-sport-fishing-licences
As of Wednesday, only the main Eel and Smith rivers are open to fishing. However, Smith will remain closed as of Thursday. All other North Shore rivers under low-flow fishing closures, including the South Fork Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek and Van Duzen, are closed.
The Mad River from the mouth to 200 meters upstream, the Main Eel from the South Fork to Cape Horn Dam, and the Mattole River are closed until January 1, 2023. The Department of Fish and Wildlife will make the information available to the public. no later than 1 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to find out if any rivers will be closed to fishing.
Rivers can open at any time. The low flow closure hotline for North Shore rivers is (707) 822-3164.
Main stem eel
The main eel near Scotland was running at 400 cubic feet per second as of Wednesday. Flows are not expected to drop below the 350 cfs threshold over the weekend, so it could remain open. There were some fish caught over the weekend by bank anglers and drift boats from the lower river. Most fish are dark. There are also some coho around.
The Smith, even with flows remaining above the minimum of 600 cfs, was closed over the weekend. As of Tuesday, the river was back open to fishing with flows around 660 cfs, but CDFW has determined it will close after Wednesday. Minimum flows are 600 cfs at Jedediah Smith State Park to enact fishing restrictions.
“Salmon fishing was good all last week on the Chetco, with large numbers of hatchery and wild kings,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Low water slowed the action over the weekend and catch rates dropped significantly. More rain is needed now. Anglers are also waiting for rain to get back to Elk and Sixes, where fishing was fair last week. The two northern rivers generally fish better. after the second big rise of the season, which could happen next week.”
Brookings Ocean Update
According to Martin, the ocean has been rough outside of Brookings, but smaller waves late last week allowed boats to get out. “Cod fishing was very good near Bird Island. Conditions look good this week.”