Calm seas and 60-degree water within 20 miles — the ideal scenario that will make any fanatical tuna angler go nuts — or not show up to work. North Coast fishermen have been devoid of an ocean salmon season this year, but the current tuna frenzy has helped ease that pain. Screaming drags will do that. Since Saturday, boats have set their sights on the warm, blue water, which has been moving steadily closer to shore. The water was 30 miles out over the weekend, but was only 20 miles offshore as of Tuesday. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, who’s been on the tuna grounds almost daily, reports the bite isn’t quite wide-open, but everyone is catching fish. “We haven’t had this good of water this close in several years, which has allowed more boats to get in on the fun,” said Klassen. “Most of the action has been between the 38 and 48-lines, where the water temps are ranging between 61 and 64 degrees.
I don’t think there’s big schools of fish, it seems we’re just running into random patches of fish, and they all want to bite. If you can keep the fish around after catching a few on the troll, you can put some big numbers onboard quickly using live bait.” According to Klassen, scores are ranging from six to 30 fish per boat and the fish are anywhere from peanuts (6 to 8 lbs.) to 25 pounds. While it’s been great to have a tuna window that’s lasted for a week, it looks like its’s about to close. The wind is forecasted to blow up to 15 knots on Friday, which will likely bring about rougher seas. Let’s hope this is only a temporary setback.
It’s looking like the tuna window is about to slam shut for now. Thursday still looks fishable out 20 or so miles, but that will change on Friday. Inshore, Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the NW 5 to 15 knots and waves NW 4 feet at 5 seconds and NW 4 feet at 14 seconds. Saturday is calling for NW winds 5 to 15 knots and waves N 6 feet at 6 seconds and W 5 feet at 12 seconds. Sunday is looking very similar with N winds 5 to 15 knots and waves N 6 feet at 6 seconds and W 5 feet at 12 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.
Klamath and Trinity both closed to salmon fishing
A reminder that both the Klamath and Trinity Rivers are currently closed to salmon fishing. During the salmon closures, both rivers will remain open to steelhead fishing and no salmon punch card is required for either river. On the Klamath, steelhead fishing is allowed from 3,500 feet downstream of the Iron Gate Dam to the estuary. The daily bag limit is 2 hatchery steelhead. The Trinity is open to steelhead angling from downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the confluence of the Klamath River through Dec. 31. The one exception is the area downstream of the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat to the Denny Road bridge at Hawkins Bar. This area is closed to all fishing from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31. The daily bag limit is 2 hatchery steelhead. When you’re fishing for steelhead and you catch a salmon, it’s a good idea to either move or change up your gear or method. If you do hook a jack or an adult salmon, it is illegal to remove them from the water by any means. For the complete list of Klamath/Trinity regulations, visit http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=147891
The halibut opener came and went last Friday without too much fanfare. Warm water loaded with albacore sitting 25 miles offshore will do that. The focus has been almost entirely on Tuna this week, and rightfully so. Pacific and California halibut, as well as rockfish, will all still be there when the wind and rough seas return. A few halibut were caught this week, including an 81.5 pounder caught by Lonnie Dollarhide while fishing with Klassen near the Eel River Canyon. The big flattie is currently atop the leaderboard of the Englund Marine “Big Halibut” contest. With non-tuna weather expected to return on Friday, look for boats to turn their attention back to halibut and rockfish.
“Salmon fishing has been very mediocre, most days you can grind up a few and then some days it will go wide-open,” said Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “Last Wednesday we had limits of salmon to 25 pounds by 11 a.m. fishing just south of the whistle. On Thursday, we had four salmon onboard before the clients decided they’d like to rockfish. The rock fishing remains solid, with limits coming pretty easily. The warm tuna water is within 40 miles, but it seems the water that’s holding fish is a bit further at about 50 miles. There’s been tuna both to the north and south, but the water straight out hasn’t had many fish. My plan for now is to fish tuna on Thursday.
The rockfish and halibut are both going off right now reports Leonard Carter of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “The ocean hasn’t been great, but guys are coming in with rockfish limits daily. All the usual spots are giving up fish, both north and south. The halibut bite is going strong, fish are being caught every day, and some boats are coming in with limits. Most of the action is coming from the backside of the South Reef in 180 to 210 feet of water,” Carter added.
A little tougher to get reports with salmon season being closed, but I’m hearing the lower river is full of fresh steelhead. Anglers tossing spinners, spoons, and flies are catching quite a few steelhead from half-pounders up to eight-pounds. Blakes riffle has been one of the better spots, but fish are being caught all the way past Blue Creek.
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