Tuna hitting the decks up and down the coast

Fishing the NC 8_31 photo

Robbie Young, left, of Roseville and Rocklin resident Chris Baptista were pretty stoked to land this 27-pound albacore while fishing off the coast of Eureka on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Marc Schmidt/Coastline Charters

Free Fishing Day on Saturday

Calm seas and warm water has descended on the North Coast, and boats headed offshore from Fort Bragg to Gold Beach, and all ports in between, were coming home with coolers full of albacore. Fort Bragg was the place to be last weekend. Flat calm water made for an easy run to where the tuna were schooled up, and the boats put the hurt to em’. Some of the top boats put in over 30, and a lot of boats ended with well over 20 fish. Monday was just as good, with the most of the action coming 45 to 55 miles west of Noyo Harbor. A couple boats fishing out of Eureka got in on the action on Monday. The ocean was a little sloppy, but one of the boats put 40 albies on board while fishing roughly 47 miles from the entrance. With good intel in hand, Captain Marc Schmidt of Coastline Charters set his sights on the finger of warm water sitting roughly 30 miles west of the pinnacles. After a relatively slow start to the day, they found the motherlode in the early afternoon. They boated a total of 46 albacore ranging in size from peanuts to 27 pounds. “There is an inside finger and an outside finger of warm water pushing north “said Schmidt. It sounded like a few fish were caught in the inside break at 30 miles, but it was worth the trip to the outside for us today.” Fish were also caught out of Crescent City as well as Gold Beach on Monday and Tuesday. If you’re looking to chase some tuna, now is the time. The next weather window is shaping up to be Labor Day, but the weekend looks like it may be doable as well.

Marine forecast
The ocean looks like it will be plenty fishable for the long holiday weekend, with NW winds forecasted at 5 to 10 knots through Monday. Out 10 nautical miles, Friday’s forecast is calling for waves N 5 feet at 11 seconds. Saturday is calling for waves NW 5 feet at 8 seconds. Sunday is looking very similar with waves NW 5 feet at 7 seconds. Waves will be out of the N 5 feet at 6 seconds on Labor Day. 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.

Saturday is statewide free fishing day
On Saturday September 2, people may fish California’s waters without a sport fishing license. All regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. On Free Fishing Days, every angler must have the appropriate report card if they are fishing for abalone, steelhead, sturgeon, spiny lobster, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity River Systems. As noted above, salmon punch cards are not required for anglers fishing for steelhead on the Klamath and Trinity Rivers during the salmon closure. For more information visit, https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Fishing/Free-Fishing-Days

No salmon punch cards required for Trinity/Klamath Rivers
According to the CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, during the salmon closures on both the Klamath and Trinity Rivers, you do not need to have a salmon punch card while angling for steelhead. But you will need one if you plan on fishing the Smith River, per usual. As a reminder, the Klamath is currently closed to salmon fishing and the Trinity will close beginning Sept. 1. Both rivers will remain open to steelhead fishing. For the complete list of Klamath/Trinity regulations, visit http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=147891

Halibut season re-opens Friday, Sept. 1
The Pacific halibut season will re-open Friday, September 1 and will remain open through Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. Through August 20, the CDFW has projected 27,989 net pounds have been harvested towards a quota of 34,580 pounds, leaving only 6,591 pounds left to catch. For up-to-date harvest tracking information, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking. Regulations can be found here, https://wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut#31670771-pacific-halibut-regulations

Anglers are reminded to avoid Yelloweye rockfish
In a news release issued on Friday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife would like to remind anglers to avoid yelloweye rockfish when engaging in recreational ocean fishing over the Labor Day holiday weekend. CDFW urges anglers to avoid fishing in areas where yelloweye rockfish are known to occur (e.g., rocky outcrops and pinnacles). If taken, yelloweye rockfish should be immediately returned to the water with a descending device to minimize injury and mortality. CDFW also encourages anglers who encounter them to change fishing locations to prevent catching additional yelloweye rockfish. For more information, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2017/08/25/anglers-reminded-to-avoid-yelloweye-rockfish/

The Oceans:
Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing has been making his way to the Cape since the weekend and reports the rock fishing remains excellent. “The fishing has been really good, per usual”, said Klassen. “We’re getting limits of big lings just about every trip, and a nice mixed bag of coppers, vermilions, and cabezon. California halibut fishing in the bay is still going strong, with limits coming pretty easily. There’s a bunch of bait in the bay, so it’s been pretty easy for the boats to load up in the mornings. The bait has been thick from the Simpson dock all the way to the Samoa Bridge, depending on which way the tide was going. We’re seeing mostly sardines, but there are some anchovies mixed in.”

Shelter Cove
“We’ve been running all different directions chasing tuna, rockfish and salmon since last week,” said Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “Last Wednesday through Friday, we ran rockfish and salmon combo trips. All of the days except one we had limits of rockfish and a handful of salmon. On Saturday, we fished salmon all day and ended up with five. On Sunday, we ran for tuna north off the Cape and boated 18. On Monday, we went down below Fort Bragg, just south of Moho Canyon, and landed 25. There were plenty of fish in both locations, we just didn’t get a whole lot of time on them due to the long run and sloppy conditions.”

Crescent City
The rockfish bite was pretty good this week reports Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “I know some guys who went out to South Reef and caught a few limits of a wide variety of rockfish. I also heard of a couple thresher sharks caught this week. One off the beach and one out front by someone who was rock fishing. There’s quite a bit of interest in Pacific Halibut, so we should see some more boats on the water beginning Friday.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
With only steelhead fishing available, the boat pressure has been fairly light on the Klamath. A good push of steelhead came in with the pulse of water last week, but the bite seemed to slow down on the lower river over the weekend as the fish likely moved up. As steelhead continue to enter the river, the schools will likely be scattered from the Weitchpec area to the Glen.

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