Halibut bite wide-open off Eureka

Fishing the NC 5_10 photo

Chad Gaser of Eureka landed this monster 70-lb. halibut on Sunday while fishing out of Eureka. Gaser was fishing in 300 feet of water straight off the stacks. Photo courtesy of Chad Gaser

A little more than a week on the water isn’t a huge sample size, but if the halibut fishing is anything remotely close to the level of the past week, we’re in for a heck of a season. And potentially a short one. But talk of the impending quota can wait, let’s bask in the glory of a halibut bite that’s been on fire for the better part of a week. The first two days of the season were a bust due to weather, but it’s been pretty good fishing since. Charter boats as well as sporty’ s have been in on the action in what Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing is calling “one of the best May starts ever.” Most of the action has been between the 50 and 53 lines (straight off the stacks) in 280 to 350 feet of water. According to Klassen, it’s been almost a fish per rod, and there’s been many days where it’s been just that. Herring, salmon and tuna bellies have all been catching fish.

The rockfish action down at the Cape has been equally spectacular reports Klassen, but that’s nothing we didn’t already know. “Every trip down so far has resulted in limits of everything. It’s really nice to have the extra depth and adding the second Canary to the bag limit was a nice little bonus,” added Klassen. And the good news just keeps coming. According to Klassen, there’s some really good salmon signs off of Eureka. “On Tuesday, we saw quite a few whales feeding on krill and salmon chasing baitfish on the surface. With the salmon opener right around the corner, let’s hope that’s starts off with a bang as well.

Important reminder:
When fishing for halibut and rockfish, the more restrictive gear and depth restrictions apply. When targeting rockfish, cabezon, greenling and lingcod, or once any of these species are aboard and in possession, anglers are limited to fishing in waters shallower than 180 feet when fishing for other species. If you’re targeting both halibut and rockfish, you’ll want to get your halibut first.

Weekend marine forecast
For coastal water from Pt. St. George to Cape Mendocino out 10 nautical miles, the marine forecast is not looking very pleasant beginning on Thursday. For Friday, the forecast is calling for winds out of the NW 20 to 30 knots with waves NW 11 feet at 10 seconds and NW 7 feet at 16 seconds. The swells and wind will decrease slightly beginning on Saturday. Winds will be out of the N 10 to 20 knots and waves will be out of the NW 8 feet at 9 seconds and NW 6 feet at 14 seconds. Sunday is looking better, with S winds up to 5 knots and NW waves 3 feet at 5 seconds and NW 6 feet at 11 seconds. These conditions can and will change. For up-to-date weather forecast, visit http://www.weather.gov/eureka/. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit https://www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan/

“Lingcod and rockfish action continues to be great, with limits most days,” said Andy Martin, who runs Brookings Fishing Charters. “The rockfish have been feeding on the surface the past week, so we have been getting them with top-water lures. The pelicans are now diving on anchovies in the Bird Island and Twin Rock area, a great sign for the May 19 salmon opener. Halibut fishing has been slow so far out of Brookings. I ran one trip and we had three good bites that resulted in two halibut between 40 and 45 inches. A lot of boats have come back fishless.”

Crescent City
Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine reports the rockfish bite is wide-open. “The South Reef sounded like the place to be. The ling cod bite has been over the top, and a couple halibut have been caught this week as well, including one that weighed 108-pounds.” Hegnes added.

Shelter Cove
Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing reports the rockfish bite has been excellent out of Shelter Cove while the halibut bite was a bit on the slow side. “Last Wednesday, we fished The Hat and The Old Man and put together limits of some real nice rockfish and lingcod,” said Mitchell. “The next four days the weather was absolutely outstanding and we ran north to Gorda for rockfish and halibut combos each day. The rock fishing was lights out as expected and we got limits of rockfish and lings each day. Halibut was a bit slower for us and we only averaged a fish per day for our efforts. Although the crabbing isn’t red hot we still were able to grind up limits of crab everyday as well.

Emergency dilution water releases from Iron Gate Dam
Water flows increased below Iron Gate Dam early Monday morning to address disease concerns in salmon in the Klamath River according to a press release issued by The Bureau of Reclamation on May 7. Releases from Upper Klamath Lake via Link River Dam started early Monday morning, with flows anticipated to reach 3,000 cfs below Iron Gate Dam by mid-day. Subsequent flows below Iron Gate Dam could reach up to 4,000 cfs during the event. The higher flows will continue for 14 days, through May 21.

The public is urged to take all necessary precautions on or near the river while flows are high. For the 2018 water year, BOR is required to implement winter-spring surface flushing flows and emergency dilution flows. The emergency dilution flows will utilize approximately 50,000 acre-feet of water from Upper Klamath Lake.

For more information, visit https://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=62155

Ruth Lake Bass tournament coming June 2
Fortuna Fire Department CO-2’s will be holding the annual “Paul Jadro Memorial Bass Tournament” on Saturday, June 2. Blast off will be at 5:45 a.m. or at first safe light, by draw. The one-day tournament event offers a first prize award of up to $1,000 with payout to 1 in 3 in addition to door prizes, and sponsor products. The entry fee is $120 per team with a big fish buy in option of $10. The tournament is catch and release and all competitors must fish from boats that are required to have operational live-wells on board. Life jackets are required. Check in at the Marina on Friday June 1 at 4:30-7 p.m. or Saturday 4-5 a.m. For more information, contact Lon Winburn at 725-5021 or 725-7880. Or visit http://fortunafire.com/bass-tournament/ Free boat inspections will be held at Reynolds R V Repair, 988 Hwy. 36. Inspections are by appointment only, call 707-725-3426.

Lower Rogue River
The Rogue has been hit and miss, but some guides on the lower river have been getting one or two fish a day reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “More wild fish than hatchery fish are now being caught. Wild salmon cannot be kept until June 1.”

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