Breezy conditions forecasted for North Coast salmon, halibut openers

Eureka, Trinidad, Crescent City ports may sit out opener due to wind

This Friday marks day one of our sport ocean season on the North Coast as both salmon and halibut seasons will commence, bringing with it tons of excitement and loads of optimism. Anglers will take to the ocean — weather and conditions permitting – with hopes of another year of fantastic fishing. However, ocean conditions for Friday are looking a little on the blistery side. North winds have been howling all week and are forecasted to continue through the weekend. If the wind miraculously lies down, it will be game on. If not, expect to see some long faces hanging around the docks.

KP CC salmon

Though we may never again see the salmon abundance similar to 2012 and 2013, this year’s forecast is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Over a million adult salmon, which includes 652,000 Sacramento and another 423,000 Klamath River salmon, are thought to be swimming off our coast. This year’s forecast is slightly above last year (933,000), and we all know how last season turned out — phenomenal! With the drought entering its 3rd year and no relief in sight, there’s talk of this season being the last big one before we start to feel the effects of poor river conditions that may have stifled juvenile salmon working their way back to the ocean. But we’ll cross that bridge next year.

With salmon season opening prior to the rockfish and at the same time as halibut, the sport boats haven’t had any time on the ocean to scout the conditions. Tim Klassen, who runs Reel Steel Sport Fishing out of Eureka’s Woodley Island, is confident we’re in for another good year. “Between the good reports coming from down south and the forecasted abundance, I think that we should have another good year. A couple of weeks ago I had heard the water was clear and on the warm side, but since then the north winds have picked up and kick started the upwelling. Everything is lining up for a good season and this early wind will make for better conditions later. Typically we find the fish further offshore early in the season, but you never know. I’ve heard there’s been some bird activity close to the beach.” Klassen added.

Crescent City salmon outlook
Leonard Carter of Crescent City’s Englund Marine has heard some good reports of birds and bait in close to the beaches. “Both South and Pebble beach has seen some bird activity, so there’s probably some fish around. The wind could be a factor for the opener and the weekend, but you may be able to get out early before the wind kicks up the swells,” Carter added.

Weekend Marine forecast
The north winds could be a problem for boats heading out for the salmon and halibut openers. As of Wednesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast from Cape Mendocino to Pt. St. George out 10 nautical miles is calling for north winds 5 to 15 knots with waves out of the NW 10 feet at 10 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is similar, with winds out of the north 10 to 20 knots and NW waves 10 feet at 11 seconds. Sunday is looking slightly better with north winds 5 to 15 knots and NW waves 9 feet at 13 seconds. These conditions can and will change. For up-to-date weather forecast, visit http://www.weather.gov/eureka/. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Weekend tides
The tidal exchanges will be moderate this weekend with the tides flooding in the morning, making for an easier bar crossing. If you’re planning on hitting the bar at daylight, always check the conditions first. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan or check out the bar cam located at http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/barCam/?cam=humboldtBayBar

Fri. May1 (High: 11:14 a.m. and 11:11 p.m.) (Low: 5:04 a.m. and 4:55 p.m.)
Sat. May 2 (High: 11:58 a.m. and 11:42 p.m.) (Low: 5:41 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.)
Sun. May 3 (High: 12:41 p.m.) (Low: 6:17 a.m. and 6:05 p.m.)

Trinidad boat launch
The Trinidad launch should be open on Friday, but it will depend on the ocean conditions if they’ll be launching. Best to call ahead at 707-677-3625. Salty’s Supply Co. in Trinidad is also a great resource and can be reached at 707-677-0300 or online at www.saltystrinidad.com.

General sport salmon regulations:
Our 2015 ocean sport salmon season runs from May 1 through September 7 and is open from Humbug Mountain, OR south to Horse Mountain, CA. The daily bag limit is 2 salmon of any species except Coho, with a minimum size limit of 20 inches. The possession is no more than two daily bag limits in possession while on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. No salmon punch card is required for ocean salmon fishing. For complete ocean salmon regulations, please visit the Ocean Salmon webpage at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/oceansalmon.asp or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline (707) 576-3429.

Gear restrictions:
North of Pt. Conception: No more than two (2) single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used and no more than one rod per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat or floating device with salmon on board.
Horse Mt. to Pt. Conception: When fishing with bait and angling by any other means than trolling, no more than two (2) single-point, single-shank barbless circle hooks shall be used. The distance between the two hooks must not exceed five (5) inches when measured from the top of the eye of the top hook to the inner base of the curve of the lower hook and both hooks must be permanently tied in place (hard tied). Barbless hooks are required and anglers are limited to one rod per person when salmon fishing or when fishing from a boat with salmon on board.

Halibut opener
Friday will also mark the opening of the Pacific Halibut season, which runs from May 1 through October 31 (see below for closures). There are, however, several new regulations for 2015:

  • The quota for landings into ports south of the Oregon/California Border and along the California coast is 25,220 lb.
  • The fishing season will be open from May 1-15, June 1-15, July 1-15, August 1-15, and September 1 thru October 31, or until the subarea quota is estimated to have been taken and the season is closed by the Commission, or October 31, whichever is earlier. NMFS will announce any closure by the Commission on the NMFS hotline (206) 526-6667 or (800) 662-9825.
  • The daily bag limit is one halibut of any size per day per person.

For the full details on the new regulations, visit https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/04/01/2015-07329/pacific-halibut-fisheries-catch-sharing-plan or call the Recreational Groundfish Regulations Hotline (831) 649-2801.

Important reminder:
When fishing for halibut, rockfish (opens May 15), and salmon, or any combination of the three, the more restrictive gear and depth restrictions apply. When targeting salmon, or once salmon are aboard and in possession, anglers are limited to using barbless hooks (barbless circle hooks if fishing south of Horse Mountain) when fishing for other species.

When targeting rockfish, cabezon, greenling and lingcod, or once any of these species are aboard and in possession, anglers are limited to fishing in waters shallower than 120 feet when fishing for other species.

Big salmon and halibut contests
Eureka’s Englund Marine is once again holding its annual Big Salmon and halibut contests. The salmon event runs from May 1 to September 7 and the halibut contest runs from May 1 through the end of the halibut season. All fish must be gilled and gutted prior to weigh-in and there is no entry fee or pre-registration required. There will be prizes for the top three fish in each category. For all the rules and regulations, visit Englund Marine at 2 Commercial St., or call (707) 444-9266.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and http://www.fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com.

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