Halibut, rockfish take center stage

Fishing the NC 6_2 photo

Tracy McCormack, right, of Eureka landed and released this 4-foot Leopard shark while fishing in Humboldt Bay on Monday with Phil Glenn of Celtic Charter Service, pictured left. Leopard sharks are found along the pacific coast from Oregon to Mexico. They typically measure four to five feet and are often found in bays and estuaries. Photo courtesy of Kenny Priest

With Tuesday’s closing of the recreational salmon season, halibut and rockfish will once again become the main course on the menu. The off again, on again halibut closures are very much warranted, but it does make the finding the bottom dwellers a little more difficult right off the bat. Boats will likely need a little time on the water in order find the fish and put up some decent scores. Rockfish on the other hand, have been fairly easy to find. And so far this in this young season, they’ve been more than willing to bite. Boats fishing from Shelter Cove north to Crescent City have reported solid action. No real surprise there. As a reminder, halibut season will remain open through June 15. The next rounds of openings are July 1-15, Aug. 1-15 and Sept. 1-Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. The limit remains at one, with no size restrictions. During the first session of the season, CDFW projected 4,011 net pounds were harvested towards a quota of 29,640 pounds. For up-to-date harvest tracking information, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-2016-in-season-tracking

Marine Forecast
The next couple days look pretty good, but the seas are forecasted to build back by the weekend. Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the NW 5 to 10 knots and waves from the NW 4 feet at 8 seconds and SW 2 feet at 12 seconds. Saturday is looking a little rougher, with winds out of the north 5 to 10 knots and waves 8 feet at 11 seconds. The wind picks up slightly on Sunday, blowing 5 to 15 knots out of the north and NW waves 8 feet at 9 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For up-to-date weather forecast, visit 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. 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

Ruth Lake Bass tournament coming this Saturday
Fortuna Fire Department CO-2’s will be holding the 23rd annual “Paul Jadro Memorial Bass Tournament” this Saturday, June 4. Blast off will be at 5:45 a.m. The one day tournament event offers a first prize award of up to $1,000 with payout to 1 in 3 in addition to door prizes, and sponsor products. The entry fee is $120 per team with a big fish buy in option of $10. The tournament is catch and release and all competitors must fish from boats that are required to have operational live-wells on board. Life jackets are required. Check in at the Marina on Friday June 3 at 4:30-7 p.m. or Saturday 4-5 a.m. For more information, contact Mike Ransford at 725-6310 or Lon Winburn at 725-5021 or 725-7880. Additional information can be found online at http://fortunafire.com/bass-tournament

Public meeting coming up on Chetco River motor ban
A reminder that a public meeting will be held on June 13 at 7:00 p.m. regarding the recent petition submitted that would potentially prohibit the use of motors on portions of the Chetco River. The meeting will be held at the Best Western Beachfront Inn Conference Room, 16008 Boat Basin Road, Brookings, OR. The petitioners, which include private boater and bank anglers Paul LeFebvre, Shane Hendren, Richard Heap, Ken Range and Ted Olson, all of Brookings; and Chetco riverfront property owners Richard Behrens, Peter Celli, Randy Warren and Rhonda Seymore, state a new rule is needed to reduce the conflict between user groups on the river (bank anglers, non-motorized drift boats, and drift boats with motors). Specifically, the petitioners refer to motorized boat anglers who are engaged in “side drifting” and the increase in boat traffic as the source of conflict. Written comments are also welcome, and can be mailed, faxed, or emailed to: June LeTarte, Rules Coordinator, Oregon State Marine Board, 435 Commercial St NE Salem, OR 97301; Fax: 503-378-4597; Email: osmb.rulemaking@state.or.usWritten comments due are due by 9 p.m., Monday, (close of meeting) June 13, 2016
For more information, visit http://www.oregon.gov/OSMB/info/Pages/Rulemaking-and-Public-Notices.aspx

The Oceans:
The first two-week salmon season closed on Tuesday, and most were pretty excited, and surprised, about the number of fish that seem to be off the coast of Eureka. On most days, the charter boats scored easy limits well before noon. The last few days of the season, the fish were definitely a little more scattered, with fish being caught from the 38-line all the way to the 52. “There seems to be a fair number of fish around, it seemed like they were just spread out. There’s a lot of bait out there and the water temps are staying low,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. But now it’s on to halibut and rockfish. Wednesday’s report sounded like the halibut bite was pretty tough. A few were caught, though some of the boats threw in the towel early and headed to the Cape where the rockfish bite was its usual stellar self.

Shelter Cove:
Captain Jared Morris of C’Mon Sport Fishing has been limited to half days on the water as of late due to the high winds. He said, “The weather has been holding us back as it has been blowing 20 knots every afternoon. We have been able to get out on our half-days to fish for rockfish along the local reefs, but we really can’t venture more than 5 miles from the harbor due to the wind coming up by mid-morning. Rock fishing has been good, but there are so many short-belly rockfish around, you have to work for them. Salmon remains slow, but it has been very hard to get out and search for them. We are still pulling up limits of Dungeness crab.”

Crescent City
There wasn’t much effort this past week due to the ocean being a little rough according to Leonard Carter of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “There were a few boats targeting salmon, but I didn’t hear of any fish being caught. The wind has been keeping the boats close to home, and blowing them off the water early. Same goes for the rockfish, boats that have been getting out early are catching plenty of rockfish, but not many have been trying. As soon as we get some decent weather, we should see the scores improve,” Carter said. Just a reminder, the recreational salmon season closed on May 31, but will reopen June 16.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The river is in great shape, but the spring salmon bite has been hit and miss this past week. We should see the bite begin to improve as the water coming down the Trinity has been scaled back. The fishing pressure has been light, but that will likely change as the scores increase.

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