Salmon, rockfish, Pacific halibut, and California halibut in the bay – a plethora of options are here for the taking for North Coast saltwater fishermen. After a two-week closure, the Pacific halibut season opened back up on Wednesday. Prior to the closure, the halibut action was wide-open, and the fleet left them biting. Conditions weren’t quite as good for Wednesday’s opener, and according to reports, most boats chose another option due to heavy currents and either trolled for salmon or headed south to the Cape. Over the last week or so, the salmon bite has been steady for boats fishing between the Eel River and Table Bluff out in 180 to 300 feet of water. The salmon are coming deep in the water column too, anywhere from 100 to 180 feet on the wire. Most of the charters have scored limits every day, but it hasn’t been fast and furious. “It’s not wide-open, but it’s pretty darn good fishing,” said Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing. “We’ve had limits each day we fished, but some days it took a little longer than others. If you grind it out, you’ll end up with your fish.” The rockfish action at the Cape remains red-hot, much like it’s been all season. There’s also been a pretty decent Pacific halibut bite down there in some of same water where the big rockfish and lings live. And if that wasn’t enough, we also have a world-class California halibut fishery that’s absolutely on fire inside of Humboldt Bay. The last few weeks have been stellar, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. If it’s saltwater action you’re after, the North Coast is the place to be.
When fishing for halibut, rockfish and salmon, or any combination of the three, the more restrictive gear and depth restrictions apply. When targeting salmon, or once salmon are aboard and in possession, anglers are limited to using barbless hooks (barbless circle hooks if fishing south of Horse Mountain) when fishing for other species.
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.
Weekend Marine forecast
The wind will pick up on Friday and Saturday, but the ocean should remain fishable. Out 10 nautical miles north of the Cape, Friday’s forecast is calling for NW winds to 5 to 15 knots and waves out of the NW 6 feet at 7 seconds and NW 3 feet at 11 seconds. Saturday is calling for NW winds 10 to 15 knots and waves NW 5 feet at 6 seconds and NW 2 feet at 10 seconds. Sunday’s conditions are looking much improved, with winds out of the NW up to 5 knots and waves 3 feet at 4 seconds and W 5 feet at 11 seconds. 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. You can also call the National Weather Service at 707-443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 707-443-6484.
Abalone Cook Festival
The 2018 Abalone Cook Festival and Cook Off will be held on August 11 at South Noyo Harbor. Proceeds will go to the Northern California Sea Urchin eradication and Kelp reforestation effort. Tickets are available for purchase to the general public at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/
The Abalone Cook Festival and Cook Off will directly support commercial sea urchin divers in Mendocino County that are already eradicating purple sea urchins. One dive team is almost finished clearing out the north side of Caspar Cove. Abalone is provided by Ocean Rose Abalone Farm located in Cayucos CA. For more information, visit the Abalone Cook Festival event on Facebook.
“The salmon bite to the south off of Table Bluff is still going strong, and we’re getting limits almost every day,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “There’s lots of whales and krill in the area, and the water where the salmon are living is much cooler. We’re also seeing tons of shakers as well as silvers around too. The fish are being caught deep, but the keeper-size kings seem to be mid-level in the water column. The little flurry of salmon action that was happening at the whistle buoy last week looks like it’s dried up for now. The California halibut bite in the bay has been very consistent this week. There’s plenty of bait around, and the fish are spread out. We’ve been catching them in a lot of different places.”
Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters found a pretty good salmon bite on Tuesday just north of Trinidad in 240 feet of water. He said, “The fish were coming fast and furious, one of the better bites that I’ve seen this year. They were coming deep on the wire – 120 feet. We got a couple that were in the 20-pound range and landed fish of all sizes down to just legal. We lost a few to the sea lions as well, and they were catching them on their own too. There was definitely a lot of fish in the area, and they were still there on Wednesday. The ocean was flat all week and the rockfish were on the chew. South of the Turtles and all the high points produced.”
“We had a decent salmon bite going on right out front this past week, but it has really dried up the last couple days,” said Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “Sounds like there are some salmon south of us, but it’s been hard to get a report cause the weather hasn’t allowed too many people to get there. Rock fishing has been pretty good, with most of our effort taking place at The Hat.”
A few salmon are being caught, but the bite has been real spotty reports Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “Most of the action is still to the south between Round Rock and the Sisters in 60 to 80 feet. The lingcod bite really turned on, especially near the Sisters. The rockfish action continues to be good as well, with most boats having very little trouble getting their limits. The South Reef has been good, but fish are being caught at all the usual spots. There was a lot of halibut effort on Wednesday, but I didn’t hear any scores,” Hegnes said.
Salmon fishing has greatly improved out of Brookings reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “The fish are four to six miles offshore in 240 to 320 feet of water. There are a ton of shakers, so bring lots of bait, but there are plenty of nice kings from 10 to 25 pounds. The fish have been at 65 feet down first thing in the morning and then 95 to 130 feet later. Dozens of nice kings are being brought in daily since Saturday.”
The fishing has slowed in the estuary the past couple days reports Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. “With the water that was released from the Trinity, I thought the bite would really turn on, but it’s been tough. The fish that are being caught are nice ones, there’s been a couple in the high twenties caught in the last couple days. With this fishery, you just have to be here. The bite can turn on at any time. There isn’t much happening upriver as of yet, boats fishing from Blue Creek down are catching a few steelhead early in the morning,” Coopman added.
The Rogue has been fairly good, but extremely crowded according to Martin. “The bite has switched over to mid-morning on the incoming tide. The jetties and bar are now producing the greatest numbers of fish,” added Martin
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