The north winds – typical for this time of the year – are in full effect here on the North Coast. Since late last week, the wind machine has been on high, and shows no signs of slowing down – at least through the Monday. There’s been very little offshore activity, though a few boats snuck out on Monday in search of salmon but struck out. The end of June should be prime time for salmon, but it’s been anything but. “I was out on Sunday for a little while, and there just isn’t the signs that we had earlier in the season,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “We didn’t see much bait around and very few birds. And we haven’t seen any whales like we did earlier. We’re hoping these strong north winds will kickstart the food chain and bring in some big schools of salmon.”
But just as one fishery is in limbo, another has taken off. As luck would have it, just as the ocean was getting too rough, the California halibut started moving into Humboldt Bay in pretty big numbers. Sport boats, charters, and even the kayakers have all gotten in on the action. Pacific halibut, which has been closed since June 15, is slated to open back up on Sunday. So, when and if the wind dies down, we’ll have a few more options on the table.
Weekend Marine Forecast
The wind is forecasted to blow at least through Monday, so it looks like the ocean will remain unfishable until sometime next week. As of Wednesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for N winds 15 to 20 knots and waves NW 6 feet at 7 seconds and W 3 feet at 11 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for N winds 15 to 25 knots and swells NW 10 feet at 9 seconds. Sunday’s prediction is similar, with NW winds 15 to 25 knots and waves NW 10 feet at 9 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For up-to-date weather forecast, visit 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 www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan
Halibut season re-opens July 1
The Pacific halibut season will re-open on Sunday, July 1 and will remain open through July 15. The remainder of the seasons open dates are: Aug. 1-15 and Sept. 1-Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. Through June 15, the CDFW has projected 6,592 net pounds have been harvested towards a quota of 30,940 pounds. For up-to-date harvest tracking information, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking
Oregon rockfish daily bag limit reduced to 4 beginning July 1
The daily bag limit for general marine fish (rockfish, greenlings, skates, etc.) will be reduced from 5 to 4 beginning July 1 according to a press release issued on Tuesday by the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. “Participation in this fishery has been really good so far this year with effort higher than even record years seen in two of the past three years,” said Lynn Mattes, Project Leader, ODFW. “Reducing the bag limit to 4 fish on July 1 is necessary to keep black rockfish, other nearshore rockfish and yelloweye rockfish catches within annual limits.” Cabezon retention also opens on July 1 with a 1-fish sub-bag limit (meaning that of the 4-fish marine bag, no more than 1 can be a cabezon). Bag limits for lingcod, flatfish and the longleader fishery remain the same. Last year, recreational bottomfish closed on Sept. 18 after the annual quotas for several species were met early, the first in-season closure since 2004. To read the entire press release, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2018/06_June/062618.asp
July 7 is statewide free fishing day
On Saturday July 7, 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. For more information visit, https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/free-fishing-days
With the ocean too rough, the California halibut fishery inside of Humboldt Bay has taken center stage. “It’s the only game in town right now,” said skipper Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing. “We’ve gotten limits just about every day, and the fish are a real good size. They’re averaging from eight to 12-pounds. The fishing should only get better as more and more bait is showing up in the bay. The best way to catch them is live bait, but guys fishing dead bait and even jigs are having plenty of success. We’re very fortunate to have a fishery this good that most of us consider a plan B. There’s lots of fish and very little pressure, and it’s great for the folks who battle sea sickness.”
“It’s been pretty desolate out of Trinidad this week, very few boats have been on the water due to the wind,” said Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. “There’s been a few of the bigger boats out trying for salmon, but it’s been tough. Guys who are putting in the effort are maybe getting one per trip. The black rockfish have been biting pretty good, so that’s what we’ve been focusing on. It doesn’t take too long to get limits. The crabbing picked up this week, so we’ve able to send home the customers with some nice crab as well,” Wilson added.
Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing spent the early part of the week running rockfish and salmon combos out of the Cove. “The rockfish were biting pretty good outside the whistle, but the ling cod have been harder to come by,” said Mitchell. “There seems to be salmon just about everywhere you go, but they’re mostly shakers and silvers. We’ve only managed a few keeper salmon each day but we did get a few nice ones at the end of the day on Tuesday, so hopefully there’s some more fish moving in. The Hat, Lower Banks, and the Old Man have been the best spots for keeper kings.”
According to Leonard Carter of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, there’s been very little offshore activity this week due to the wind. “There’s been a couple boats that went out very early and fished out front, but I’m not sure how they did. There’s been no one trying for salmon, the oceans been too rough to get out there. The one good report I heard was the perch fishing was really good at the mouth of the Smith River,” Carter said.
Windy weather has made fishing tough the past week out of Brookings reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “A few salmon a day are being caught close to port, but not many people are fishing until the wind subsided. Lingcod and rockfish action is good when boaters can get out,” Added Martin.
With heavy moss still coming downriver, the action has moved to the estuary where boats trolling for fresh kings are doing well. Spinners or anchovies trolled on the incoming tide have been the go to baits. As a reminder, no fishing is allowed from June 15 through September 14 in the Klamath River from 500 feet above the mouth of Blue Creek to 500 feet downstream of the mouth of Blue Creek.
According to Martin, salmon fishing was on the slow side the past week on the Rogue Bay, with the best bite late Tuesday morning right in front of the Jot’s dock. “Around a dozen fish were caught. The water temperature is 72 degrees, which should keep any later springers from leaving the bay,” said Martin.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org