Ocean fishing is steady for rockfish and lingcod, as other fish are hard to find. The closer winter gets, the less chance there will be to catch albacore and halibut.
Ocean fishing is slowing down, and rockfish closures are starting to take place. On Sept. 1, the season closed from Point Arena to the Oregon border. Our area remains open, though, and lingcod counts are on the rise from the North Coast. Local fishing has been fair for bottom fish, and for lingcod, the theme has been to avoid the swells and red tide.
Halibut are coming in, but not in huge numbers. Albacore are tough to find — both private boats and commercial boats have been looking but are not catching many fish.
Freshwater fishing, meanwhile, has started the switch from warm-water fish like bass to fall fishing patterns for trout. Rivers are back on the chart, as salmon and steelhead start to return.
The hot spots seem to be the rivers. With the salmon season closed on the Sacramento River this year, most anglers are heading for the mighty Klamath River in the northern reaches of the state, and the Trinity River as well. These are great destinations for fall fishing, with abundant returns of fall salmon and early steelhead starting to show.
As the runs begin, the lower river is the best area in Klamath Glen. The guide boats are catching 10 to 20 fish per day. Most of the fish on the Klamath right now are jack salmon and small steelhead. If you head to the Klamath River, be sure to buy a salmon punch card if you would like to keep a fish, and a steelhead punch card will also be required.
The Smith River is starting to see early fall salmon, too. These salmon are caught at the mouth of the river, where it meets the ocean. Casting spoons during a high tide that’s staring to drop is your best beat. Most of the salmon hooked here escape, but it is well worth the try. The Smith and Klamath rivers offer some of the only opportunities in the state to catch and keep a salmon.
Local lakes and reservoirs are closed or very low and in need of water. In the northeastern portion of the state, Eagle and Almanor lakes are great fall destinations.
Eagle is producing limits of trout between 2 and 4 pounds. Almanor Lake is in transition from slow fishing and will pick up when temperatures start to drop. Almanor has had a great year for brown trout that also range from 2 to 4 pounds, along with rainbows and land-locked king salmon.
Mike Baxter has fished in the Monterey Bay Area since he was a boy and has been a licensed charter boat captain for more than 15 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also hosts a fishing show on radio station KSCO (1080) Thursdays from 7:06 to 8 p.m. April through September.