Haven’t seen your neighbor’s boat in the driveway lately? Co-workers not showing up to work or calling in sick? I’m pretty sure I know where they are. The red-hot salmon bite that’s happening inside Humboldt Bay and at the entrance has boats coming from far and wide, and lots of anglers playing hooky from work. And for good reason as the bite here is as good as anywhere in the state. It’s not just a big-boat show either – kayaks, drift boats, and boats of all shapes and sizes are getting in on the action. Not to be left out, jetty anglers are catching their share as well tossing swimbaits and Kastmasters.
The bay is still plugged with anchovies and sardines, so it’s no real coincidence the salmon are stacked up at the tips of the jetties waiting for the outgoing tide to bring them dinner. It’s been well over 10 years since we’ve seen this kind of bite so close to home, so take advantage of it if you can.
It won’t last forever…
Following an extended period of calm seas, it looks like the ocean won’t be very nice this weekend. Out 10 nautical miles from Pt. St. George to Cape Mendocino, Friday’s forecast is calling for 5 to 15 knot winds out of the north and northwest waves 5 feet at 9 seconds. Saturday is calling for north winds 10 to 20 knots and waves out of the northwest 8 feet at 9 seconds. Sunday’s forecast is roughly the same, with winds out of the north 10 to 20 knots and waves 9 feet at 9 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.
California halibut in the bay
As if having king salmon swimming in the bay wasn’t enough, the California halibut bite went wide-open last weekend. Reportedly, the kayakers did really well drifting live bait. The fishery is open year-round and the daily bag and possession limit is three fish north of Point Sur, Monterey County. The minimum size limit is 22 inches total length.
Crabs close/Abalone opens
The 2016 sport Dungeness crab season in Humboldt, Mendocino, and Del Norte counties will close on Saturday July 30. Recreational abalone season will re-open on August 1, following a July closure. For more information, visit www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/abalone.asp
Monday’s wide-open salmon bite right outside of the entrance was about as good as it gets reports Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “We never did get all the lines in the water and we boated 12 nice salmon by 8 o’clock. It was the best bite we’ve seen this year, and the grade was real nice too. All the fish were in the 12 to 18-pound range,” Klassen added. That good of a bite that close to home will obviously draw a crowd. Reportedly over 70 boats were shoehorned in near the tips of the jetties making for some crowded conditions. Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing, along with the rest of the charter fleet, was in the mix and bringing fish over the rails as quick as he could net em’. “Limits were coming fast in 40 feet of water and 20 feet on the wire. The fish were biting hard and pulling hot,” said Sepulveda. The bite slowed slightly on Tuesday and Wednesday and there were some smaller kings and silvers in the mix. The eel grass was heavy at times, making it tough to keep your gear fishing.
The ocean got flat, and the fishing got good reports Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. “The salmon bite was really good on Monday and Tuesday. There’s a wide area of fish ranging from the 06 line to the 00 line in 120 to 180 feet of water. There’s lots of brown water and bait. The calm water also put the black rockfish on the bite, and the grade has been real good,” Wilson added.
With the ocean being flat the last few days, I was hoping for a good salmon report this week. That doesn’t sound like the case according to Leonard Carter of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “There’s definitely been more effort the last few days, but I haven’t heard of any salmon being caught. Conditions are good — I’m hoping they just haven’t showed up yet. The rockfish bite remains really good, and the lings are biting too. Boats are having success fishing both north and south of the harbor,” Carter said.
The bite has been wide-open for salmon in Shelter Cove with Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing saying, “We’ve had limits of salmon by 9:00 for the last week. On Monday, we had our 16 salmon by 8:20. On both Monday and Tuesday we had boat limits of salmon, lings, blacks and crab and were back on shore by noon. I started mooching and jigging irons the last couple days, but the trollers are getting them good as well. We’ve spent most of our time fishing at the Hat. It’s been a good grade, with plenty of fish in the high twenty to low thirty pound range.”
The bite remains hit and miss for anglers targeting summer steelhead in the Blue Creek area. The good news is there’s quite a few hatchery steelhead around, with some real nice ones in the mix. A few fall salmon were also caught upriver this week. Trollers in the estuary were getting one to four opportunities up until Wednesday, when the bite turned off.
Junction City weir in business
The Junction City weir was installed and trapping was set to begin on Tuesday, July 19th. According to Mary Claire Kier, an Environmental Scientist with the CDFW Trinity River Project, the flows from Lewiston Dam should have been down to roughly 1,000 cfs by then. The first TRP weekly trapping summary should be out one or two weeks after installation. The Willow Creek weir will go in right around the 23rd of August. Questions about the Junction City weir should be directed to John.Hileman@wildlife.ca.gov.
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