Up and down week for halibut anglers

Joshua Auckland landed this nice Pacific halibut last Thursday while fishing out of Eureka. The Pacific halibut bite has been off and on this week, mostly due to changing ocean conditions. The marine forecast for the coming weekend is looking favorable for saltwater anglers. Photo courtesy of Joshua Auckland

Up and down would best describe the Pacific halibut season after a full week on the water. Last Wednesday’s opener was slow overall, but improved on Thursday and Friday. Saturday was the day to be there, with plenty of boats getting into nice size halibut. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing was one such boat, hauling in an impressive 6-fish limit. “Most of the action has been around the 50-line in 300 feet of water,” said Klassen. “There was lots of bait around and the water color was good. Sunday the water was back to clear blue, but we managed to land a couple. Overall, I’d say most boats are averaging two to three per trip.” Through Sunday, 2,436 pounds have been harvested towards our 39,000-pound quota. For in-season tracking, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking.
Sloppy ocean conditions have kept most of the Eureka boats from heading south to the Cape for rockfish. On Tuesday, one private boat made the run and found plenty of willing biters, including some jumbo-size blacks. No surprise there. With the weekend marine forecast looking favorable, I would venture to say plenty of boats will head that direction.

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 waters from Pt. St. George to Cape Mendocino out 10 nautical miles, the marine forecast is looking great for the weekend. For Friday, the forecast is calling for winds out of the NW to 5 knots with waves NW 5 feet at 8 seconds. The swells will decrease slightly beginning on Saturday. Winds will be out of the W to 5 knots and waves will be out of the NW 3 feet at 6 seconds and W 2 feet at 12 seconds. Sunday is looking better, with NW winds up to 5 knots and NW waves 2 feet at 9 seconds. These conditions can and will change. For up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://www.windy.com. 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.

“Fishing for lingcod was wide open late last week out of Brookings, with limits for most boats, before windy weather returned over the weekend,” said Andy Martin, who runs Brookings Fishing Charters. “Good weather is in the forecast this weekend. Rockfish have moved close to shore eating crab spawn, fueling a good topwater bite. Sport crabbing is good close to Brookings, with several keepers per pot on a half-day soak.”

Crescent City
Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine reports the rockfish bite was tough this week as the water is really dirty. “The ocean hasn’t been very nice since the opener, and the offshore winds have everything turned up. The water is dirty all the way out to 180 feet. Hopefully once the wind dies down and changes direction, the water will clear up. I haven’t heard of any halibut being caught as of yet, but the sport crabbing is going strong,” Hegnes added.

Shelter Cove
Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing spent the last few days fishing north in the Gorda and Rogers Break area for halibut and rockfish. “The halibut bite was very slow up there and we only landed one for the two days we tried,” said Mitchell. “The rockfish bite and grade were excellent, but the lingcod didn’t bite very well. Last Thursday I fished the Old Man for rockfish and we had limits for the boat by 10 a.m. We’ve been pulling crab gear every trip as well and are getting limits most days.”

Fish and Game Commission meeting on May 16
The California Fish and Game Commission will meet on Thursday, May 16 in Sacramento at 10 a.m. to adopt and discuss changes to the upcoming Klamath River sport fishing season. The PFMC recommended 7,899 adult salmon be allocated for recreational fishing for the Klamath and Trinity Rivers. At the previous Commission meeting, the CDFW suggested a three-fish bag limit, with no more than two adults. The recommendation for possession limit was 9 salmon, no more than 6 adults. The tribal allocation is 32,405, split between the Yurok and Hoopa tribes. 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 http://www.cal-span.org, 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 sport fishing salmon regulations. For more info, visit

Ruth Lake Bass tournament coming June 1
Fortuna Fire Department CO-2’s will be holding the annual “Paul Jadro Memorial Bass Tournament” on Saturday, June 1. 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 May 31 at 4:30-6 p.m. or Saturday 4-5 a.m. For more information, contact Lon Winburn at 707-725-5021 or 7707-25-7880. 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 slowed for springers, although fish are still moving through reports Martin. “Usually there is a lull sometime in early May before the action picks up again. The river is down to 5,000 cfs at Agness, a good flow for springers. The water temperature is already up to 62 degrees,” added Martin.

Send in your fish photos
Land a big halibut, lingcod or perch lately? Or maybe your friend or relative has reeled in their first fish. Email your fishing photo to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com and I’ll run them with the “Fishing the North Coast” weekly column and also post them on fishingthenorthcoast.com. Just include the name of the person in the photo, where and when it was taken and any other details you’d like to share.

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