High hopes for Saturday’s salmon opener

Fishing the NC photo 7_14

Napa resident Dale Davis, left, along with Steve Egger of Sonoma landed a nice limit of halibut on Tuesday while fishing near Cape Mendocino with Capt. Matt Dallam of Northwind Charters. The halibut weighed 28 and 38 pounds, respectively. Halibut season is set to close after Friday and the sport salmon season will reopen on Saturday morning. Photo courtesy of Matt Dallam/Northwind Charters

The recreational salmon season is set to reopen this Saturday, and all the signs up and down the coast look extremely promising. The entrance, and Humboldt Bay itself, are still teeming with both sardines and anchovies. The coastline —both north and south and two to three miles in length — is also stuffed with bait. The water out front of Trinidad is holding the brown, cool water that salmon crave, and the birds are working over the big schools of bait. Salmon have also been seen swimming on the surface, which is a pretty darn good indicator that the fish are there. North to Crescent City, it’s the same story. The harbor, as well as right out front, is loaded with sardines and anchovies. The lone downside to all of this optimism is the weather. Ocean conditions for Saturday’s opener are looking a little on the blistery side. North winds 10 to 20-miles an hour along with 9-foot swells at 9 seconds are in the forecast. However, both Sunday and Monday look to be much nicer.

Sport salmon regulations
As mentioned above, the third session of the sport salmon season from Horse Mt. north to the CA/OR border will open on Saturday, July 16 and run through August 16. The last session of the season will run September 1 through September 5. Within the Klamath Management zone, the minimum size is 20 inches total length. The daily bag limit is two salmon of any species, except Coho. The possession limit is no more than two daily bag limits when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. For more information about the seasons and regulations, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon

Marine Forecast
Out 10 nautical miles from Pt. St. George to Cape Mendocino, conditions for the weekend are looking a little lumpy. Friday’s forecast is calling for north winds 10 to 20 knots and swells 9 feet at 9 seconds and west 2 feet at 16. For Saturday’s salmon opener, winds will be out of the north 10 to 20 knots and waves NW 9 feet at 9 seconds. Sunday and Monday are looking better. Sunday, winds will be out of the north 5 to 15 knots and waves NW 7 feet at 9 seconds. Monday will see more north winds to 10 knots and waves NW 5 feet at 8 seconds and W 2 ft at 16 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan, or you can also verify the conditions as reported by looking at the bar cam at www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/barCam/?cam=humboldtBayBar. You can also call the National Weather Service at 707-443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 707-443-6484.

Pacific Halibut closes after Friday
The Pacific halibut season will close on July 15 and open back up on August 1 and run through the 15th. As of July 3, the CDFW has projected 9,214 net pounds have been 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. For information about the seasons and regulations, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670771-pacific-halibut-regulations

The Oceans:
Nice weather this past week had the boats on a pretty good little run reports Skipper Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. He said, “The weather was nice enough to run to the Cape or drift for halibut. The rockfish bite at the Cape has been really good, with lights-out ling fishing and nice variety of rockfish. There were even a few Pacific halibut caught down there. The halibut bite was pretty good as well, with most boats getting a few opportunities per trip. Most of the action was either straight out of the entrance or to the north in Trinidad. Most of the focus beginning Saturday will turn to salmon as the waters in and around Humboldt Bay look great. The dump site, and along the coastline between the entrance and Table Bluff both look real fishy.”

According to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters, the halibut bit pretty good earlier this week straight out of the harbor. “There seems to be quite a few halibut around as boats were catching from 120 feet all the way out to 300 feet. The bite did slow down a little the last two days however. The rockfish are still biting, with limits of blacks coming easily. And you don’t need to go far, there’s plenty of fish around Flat Iron and the splash rocks. Signs are looking really good for the salmon opener. The water is really brown, and there’s lots of birds and bait around. We’ve also seen quite a few salmon on the surface too,” Wilson added.

Shelter Cove
Taking advantage of some calm ocean conditions, Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing took his crew 25 miles north to Gorda on Friday and found a wide-open rockfish bite. Black rockfish, vermilions, coppers, and lings were all in abundance, with the top producers being swimbaits and P-Line Cone Zone teasers. The salmon action has been hit and miss lately, but Capt. Jared Morris of C’mon Sportfishing put together a pretty good day on Saturday, boating 9 salmon to 23-pounds. The salmon seemed to really like hoochies behind a dodger. According to Mitchell, the bait hasn’t piled up yet where mooching is a viable option. He said, “The clouds of short-belly rockfish have not emerged like during the past two years. In 2015, schools of the baby rockfish blacked out the meter, and light spoons such as P-Line Laser Minnows were producing limits. So far, trolling has been the only option, and the wind and ocean conditions have been a limiting factor.”

Crescent City
The rockfish bite is still going strong, but the halibut action has been pretty quiet reports Leonard Carter of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “Boats targeting rockfish have been doing well going both north and south. Quite a few lings are in the mix as well. I’ve heard there have been some boats targeting halibut, but I haven’t heard any success stories. There’s quite a bit of sardines and anchovies right out front and in the harbor, so hopefully the boats will find some salmon on Saturday,” Carter said.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The summer steelhead action around the Blue Creek area has been hit and miss this week. There’s been a pretty good flurry first thing in the morning, but the bite tails off pretty quickly. Last weekend’s rain and mild temperatures cooled the water temps and likely put the fish on the move. Quite a few salmon made their way into the estuary late last week, and the trollers put up some pretty decent scores. By Sunday, those fish were gone and the bite has been tough ever since.

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