Excitement abounds for salmon opener

FNC 6_16 photo

Shelter Cove resident Eric Kaai landed this nice salmon on Sunday while fishing out of Shelter Cove with Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. Salmon fishing has really picked up this week at the Cove, with boats limiting out daily. Sport salmon season reopens on Thursday from Horse Mtn. north to the OR/CA border. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

Sport salmon season reopens through end of June

The excitement and anticipation for Thursday’s salmon opener is as thick London fog in November. I’m not sure if it’s the two-week hiatus – or the fact that there’s so much promise in the ocean right now – but anglers are chomping at the bit to get back on the troll. The fish have arrived big-time in Shelter Cove and there’s good sign up north in Crescent City. Since Monday, the Eureka fleet has been seeing birds, bait and whales while heading both directions upon leaving Humboldt Bay. And there’s been a large amount of birds and bait right at the tip of the entrance, which begs the question if the salmon aren’t right out front? Given the amount of bait that’s inside of the bay right now, anything is possible. Who knows what the boats will find come Thursday morning, but I can almost guarantee there were plenty of salmon anglers tossing and turning and staring at the clock Wednesday night.

Weekend Marine Forecast
The ocean is forecasted to get a little sloppy this weekend, but should remain fishable. Out 10 nautical miles, Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the north 5 to 10 knots with NW swells 4 feet at 11 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the north 5 to 10 knots and 5 foot swells at 7 seconds out of the NW and SW 2 feet at 16 seconds. The winds pick up slightly on Sunday as do the swells. North winds are predicted to be 5 to 15 knots, with waves NW 6 feet at 8 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. 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.

Eel River Forum releases Action Plan to recover watershed and native fish
In a press release issued on Tuesday, the Eel River Forum, comprised of 22 public agencies, tribes, non-profit conservation organizations and other stakeholders, released the Eel River Action Plan. The plan identifies priority actions needed to recover the Eel River watershed and its native fish. It aims to achieve these goals while maintaining multiple land uses and recreation in the watershed. Priority actions in the plan address water diversions, water quality issues, habitat restoration, community engagement and protecting the Eel River Delta.

“This plan is the culmination of years of hard work and collaboration among a broad group of stakeholders,” said Darren Mierau, North Coast Director for California Trout. “The Eel River has seen decades of resource extraction and land use changes. The Forum has identified numerous high priority actions that will allow the river to recover and native fish to thrive while we maintain many of its economic benefits to the region.”

A wide variety of human activities have led to poor conditions along the Eel River and its tributaries. Competition for domestic and agricultural water supplies, increasingly for marijuana cultivation, have led to low flows during the hottest and driest months, which are also the times when native fish most need abundant, cool flows to survive. Water is also stored and then released during dry months to ensure sufficient flows to support hydropower generation at the Potter Valley Project.
For more information about the Eel River Forum, go to: http://caltrout.org/regions/north-coast-region/keystone-initiative-eel-river-recovery/eel-river-forum. To download the Action Plan, visit http://caltrout.org/wpfb-file/eel-river-action-plan-2016-pdf/

Pacific Halibut closed until July 1
The Pacific halibut season closed as of Wednesday, but will open back up on July 1. For information about the seasons and regulations, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut. To view the monthly catch estimates, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-2016-in-season-tracking

Boating safety class coming June 18
The US Coast Guard Auxiliary is offering a one-day “About Boating Safety” class this Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 3p.m. The class will be held at the Woodley Island Marina conference room and the cost is $20.00 per person. For more information and to pre-register, contact Maggy Herbelin at 707-445-2401.

The Oceans:
Prior to today’s salmon opener, the Eureka fleet has split their time between rockfish at the Cape or Halibut. Captain Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing has spent the last few days south on the rockfish grounds enjoying a wide-open bite. And as an added bonus, he’s been able to boat a few nice halibut as well. “The rock fishing has been awesome, and the lings have been plentiful. It’s been nice to get a few halibut too. We boated a 40-pounder last week and lost a bigger one at the boat. We’ve also pulled limits of jumbo crab daily for the clients,” Sepulveda added. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing had one of the best days of the halibut season to date, landing five by noon on Tuesday. He added, “There seems to be quite a few halibut around right now. They were doing well up north near Trinidad as well as south to the Eel River, and at most spots in between including the dump site,” said Klassen.

Halibut fishing has been the main focus this week according to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters out of Trinidad. He said, “There’s been quite a few caught the last few days, with most coming in 180 to 200 feet of water. There seems to be quite a few around, not one real hot spot. If the drift is right, the boats have been getting em’. The rockfish bite has been day to day. There seems to be quite a few blacks around, but the lings have been a little harder to come by the last couple days,” Wilson said.

Crescent City
The halibut bite was pretty good on Wednesday according to Leonard Carter of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “One of the charter boats landed four outside of the South Reef. And the salmon signs looked really good out there too. Lots of bait and whales – that would be a good place to start on Thursday when the salmon season opens again. The rockfish action has been really good at all the usual spots when the boats have been able to get out,” Carter added.

Shelter Cove:
Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing reports the salmon have showed up and they seem to be everywhere. He said, “Boats are getting them straight out and all the way down to the lower end of the Banks. It’s been limits every day since Sunday. It’s been a solid grade as well with about a 14-pound average. The rockfish and lingcod bite remains phenomenal to the north but pretty slow close to port.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Spring salmon fishing remains up and down, with boats getting one to three chances per outing. The river is still in really good shape, with no signs of moss as of yet.

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.