Pacific halibut, rockfish openers set for May 1

Twenty-five days and counting. That’s how long North Coast saltwater anglers will have to wait before the lengthy offseason is over and we ‘re back on the water. May 1 will bring two openers – Pacific halibut and rockfish. The 2018 Pacific halibut fishery will have four open periods, May 1-June 15, July 1-15, August 1-15 and Sept. 1-Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. California lost about 4,000 pounds in quota allotment from 2017, and is penciled in at 30,940 for this season. Hopefully, with the addition of a sport salmon season it will take some of the pressure off of halibut and prolong the quota and allow us to fish into October. CDFW will again monitor catches of Pacific halibut during the season and provide catch projection updates on the CDFW Pacific halibut webpage,

Fishing the NC_4_5 Photo

Frank Anderson of Snelling, CA landed a nice Pacific halibut last July while fishing out of Eureka. The 2018 Pacific halibut season will open on May 1 and will have four open periods, the last of which ends on Oct. 31. For season lengths and regulations, visit Photo courtesy of Reel Steel Sport Fishing

Rockfish season in the Northern Management Area will also open May 1, with the same regulations as in 2017. The season for boat-based anglers will run from May 1 through Oct. 31 within 180 feet and Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 with no depth restrictions. Changes that went into effect in 2017 include: A new sub-bag limit of one canary rockfish within the 10-fish Rockfish, Cabezon and Greenling Complex bag limit; a decrease in the sub-bag limit of black rockfish from five to three within the 10-fish RCG Complex bag limit; elimination of the sub-bag limit of bocaccio within the 10-fish RCG Complex bag limit; a decrease in the lingcod bag limit from three to two fish; allowance of petrale sole and starry flounder to be retained year- round at all depths. For a complete list of 2018 regulations, visit

North Coast recreational ocean salmon season could start as early as June 16. The PFMC will meet from April 5-11 in Portland to tentatively adopt final regulatory measures. According to the agenda, final management measures will be adopted on Tuesday, April 10. Three alternatives are currently on the table for the KMZ: Alternative 1) June 20 to July 31 and August 20 to Sept. 3; Alternative 2) July 1 to Sept. 3; Alternative 3) June 16 to Sept. 3.

Fish and Game Commission meeting on April 12
The California Fish and Game Commission will meet on Thursday, April 12 in Sacramento at 3 p.m. to adopt and discuss changes to the upcoming Klamath River sport fishing season. Members of the public may participate in the teleconference at the CDFW Conference Room, 50 Ericson Court in Arcata. The meeting will be live streamed at, for listening purposes only. If you’re interested in the Klamath River fall salmon fishery, you’ll want your voice to be heard. Also on the agenda is the adoption of proposed changes to the Central Valley salmon sport fishing regulations. To view the meeting agenda, visit

2018 Trinity River flow recommendation meeting
The Trinity River Restoration Program will host a public information meeting to present the 2018 spring restoration flow releases from Lewiston Dam and gravel augmentation plans for the Trinity River. The public meeting will be held in Weaverville on Thursday, April 12, from 6 – 7:30 p.m., TRRP Office, 1313 S. Main Street. In 2018, a “dry” or “critically dry” water year is expected. In a “dry” water year, 453,000 acre-feet of water is allocated for restoration flows or 369,000 acre-feet for a “critically dry” water year. Flows are proposed to begin increasing in mid-April and reach their highest peaks in early May. The river could remain elevated above summer base flow as late as July. For additional information, please contact Kevin Held at 530-623-1809 (TTY 800-877-8339) or or visit

HASA dinner April 14
The annual HASA fundraiser dinner will be held Saturday, April 14, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The popular event will be held at the Arcata Community Center, 321 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway in Arcata. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children under 12. Food will be provided by Ramone’s and some great items will be auctioned and raffled off. Each ticket will get you a HASA annual 2018 membership as well as entry into the door prize. Dinner, auction and raffle tickets are available from any HASA board member or from the following Eureka merchants: Pacific Outfitters, Englund Marine, Bucksport Sporting Goods, and W&W RV & Sporting Goods. For more information, email or visit

North Coast Red Abalone Fishery Closed for 2018
In a press release issued on Monday by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, they would like to  remind anglers that the north coast red abalone fishery will be closed in 2018. The reopening of the fishery will be determined by the new Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan (RAFMP) currently being developed under the direction of the Fish and Game Commission. The California Fish and Game Commission will be discussing the RAFMP at their April 18-19, 2018 meeting in Ventura. The press release can be viewed here,

Brookings ocean update
“Lingcod and rockfish continues to be very good out of Brookings,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “We have been catching limits of both, even on days when the wind has kept us from getting out very far. The lingcod are still spawning, and some have not spawned yet, so the shallow-water action should continue for a while.

There is already a lot of bait off of Brookings, and a few salmon have been caught and released by people bottom fishing in the past week. That is a good sign for this year’s ocean salmon seasons in our area. Stormy weather is expected this weekend, so boats will be at the dock for several days..”

The Beaches
When the ocean’s been calm, the redtail perch action has been excellent along the beaches. There are some spots that are typically better than others, but you can catch them just about anywhere this time of the year. Conditions don’t look good for the weekend, with swells in the 13 to 14-foot range along with lots of wind. A couple of good spots to get away from the rough seas are inside Humboldt Bay at the mouth of the Elk River (Stinky Beach) and King Salmon Beach.

The Rivers:
As a reminder, the South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mattole, Mad, Redwood Creek, and the Chetco all closed to fishing on March 31.

Main Stem Eel
The main stem Eel was just dropping down into fishable shape and turning green. With the incoming storm, we’ll be right back to high and muddy conditions. The amount of rain falling between Thursday and Saturday has the river peaking at just under 109,000 cfs on the Scotia gauge Saturday night. In Fernbridge, the river is predicted to rise above monitor stage, reaching nearly 17 feet on Saturday evening. It will take at least a couple weeks of dry weather to get back down to a fishable level and color.

Smith River
Not many fishing reports are coming out of the Smith, most anglers have moved on for the season. The river is in great shape, but that looks to change with the storms that will begin to hit the coast on Thursday. The river will be big over the weekend, hitting 16,000 cfs on Saturday night. These high flows should put the downers on the move and the fishing could be decent by next week. The Smith will remain open to fishing through April.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to