On one of the most popular holidays for boats targeting ocean salmon, it looks like the North Coast will be blessed with favorable offshore conditions. Inland anglers who are considering making the long trek to Humboldt to enjoy our beautiful, coastal weather and to fish for salmon will want to pay close attention to the tides. Very large tidal exchanges are predicted through the holiday weekend, which could create hazardous bar crossing situations. Once safely outside, you can expect to find plenty of hungry kings. It’s been solid fishing for close to 10 days now, with the best bite taking place south of the entrance off of Table Bluff. Rockfish at the Cape as well as Pacific halibut should all be within reach for the weekend. If you’re more comfortable inshore, the California halibut inside Humboldt Bay are really snapping. Sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers are now open to salmon fishing, and there’s plenty of redtail perch to be had at all the beaches. If you’re looking to wet a line this long holiday weekend, the North Coast has no shortage of opportunities.
Weekend Marine Forecast
According to National Weather Service, light to moderate winds are in the forecast through the rest of the week and weekend. Thursday through Sunday, NW winds are predicted at 5 to 10 knots with N swells 4 feet at 5 seconds and SW 2 to 3 feet at 16 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an 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.
Potentially dangerous bar crossing
With large tidal exchanges in effect through the weekend, there could be potential early morning hazardous Humboldt bar conditions. High tides will be over seven feet and will drop to minus tides. With a large volume of water flowing out of the bay and running into 5-foot swells, you’ll want to error on the side of caution — even if it means waiting until the out-flowing water from the bay has slowed, which usually occurs within 30 to 45 minutes prior to the tide bottoming out. If you’re planning on hitting the bar at daylight in the next few days, check the conditions first. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit https://www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan/. For the latest tide and current predictions, visit https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/noaatidepredictions.html?id=9418767
Low tides — Thurs. July 4 (-1.87 at 7:51 a.m.), Fri. July 5 (-1.72 at 8:37 a.m.)
Sat. July 6 (-1.35 at 9:24 a.m.), Sun. (-0.81 at 10:12 a.m.)
Boat ramp etiquette
With the holiday weekend approaching, the local boat ramps at lakes, rivers and bays will likely see an influx of traffic. While it can be a frustrating experience at times, it could go a lot smoother if people would follow some very simple, common sense rules at the ramp.
When arriving at the launch parking lot:
- Remove all tie-downs except the winch hook attached to the bow, and disconnect the trailer wiring plug.
- Make sure the drain plug is in, batteries are charged, fuel levels are good and boat lights work.
- Load all gear, including fishing gear and coolers.
- Attach stout lines to bow and stern cleats.
When you’re ready to back the boat down the ramp:
- Back the trailer into the water until the vessel is in sufficient water depth to lower the drive unit.
- Start the engine and let it idle for a few moments to prevent stalling.
- Remove the trailer winch hook from the boat’s bow eye.
- Finish backing the boat down the ramp, lower the drive unit and slowly back off the trailer and head to the courtesy dock (if available) to wait for the tow vehicle driver.
When you’re back at the ramp:
- Tie up at the courtesy dock (if available) and drop off the tow vehicle driver.
- Avoid blocking the ramp for boats entering or exiting the water.
- Important note: The tow vehicle’s place in line determines the order boats will be retrieved, not where a boat is tied to a launch dock.
- As the trailer is backed down the ramp, the boater should leave the dock and slowly motor to the trailer. Or guide with bow line.
- The boater can slowly drive onto the trailer, or the tow vehicle driver can winch the boat on the trailer.
- Raise the motor’s lower unit so it won’t scrape the ramp.
- Head for an open area of the parking lot before unloading any gear, removing the drain plug, plugging in trailer lights and attaching tie-down straps.
With space limited on our boat ramps, being as efficient and quick as possible will help save a lot of grief and raised tempers. If you see people who need assistance, help out. Be conscious and courteous of others.
July 6 is statewide free fishing day
On Saturday July 6, 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 steelhead, sturgeon, spiny lobster, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity River Systems. For more information visit, https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2019/06/24/july-6-is-free-fishing-day-in-california/
“The oceans been flat, there’s lots of boats out, and the salmon fishing has turned on,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “Salmon fishing this week was a lot like the old days with most boats, both private and charters, scoring limits. Almost all of the action this week has been to the south between the 42 and 45 lines. We’re basically getting about halfway to the whistle, making a left turn, and putting out the gear. The fish have been in shallow, between 80 and 100 feet and they’re averaging a solid 10 pounds. Some bigger fish in the teen are starting to show up as well. The bay entrance is loaded with bait, and there were a couple kings caught there this week. I’d expect that bite to really turn on at some point,” said Klassen.
The salmon bite was really good over the weekend according to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. “The action was best between Eureka and Trinidad, from the 50 to the 57 line in 25 fathoms. There wasn’t a lot of sign, but the fish were there. The rockfish bite is still good, with lots of blacks and blues around. I’ve been spending most of my time around Patrick’s Point due to the weather being a little nicer. I haven’t heard much regarding halibut, but I know some of the regulars are catching a few. There hasn’t been much effort though. Crabbing remains outstanding, we’re sending home limits for all the passengers each trip,” Wilson added.
The salmon bite has finally picked up, but has been a little inconsistent reports Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. He said, “The fish are spread out from the Banks to the whistle. We’re seeing mostly smaller fish, but there are a few nice ones mixed in. I ran some rockfish and salmon combo trips over the weekend and boated limits of salmon, rockfish, crab and half limits of lings. On Monday the salmon bite slowed for us and we only landed three. The last couple days were spent fishing the Banks and the whistle for salmon.
According to Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, a few salmon are being caught, but it’s not red-hot. “Most of the fish are being caught out near the South Reef in 200 to 300 feet of water, and we’re starting to see a little more effort. The Pacific halibut are still biting, we had a 92-pounder come in this week. The rockfish has been a little spotty the last couple days, likely due to the minus tides,” added Hegnes.
There are plenty of salmon off of Brookings, but the majority are short kings or wild Coho reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Charters are sorting through a lot of fish and getting a keeper per rod. In Oregon, the minimum size for kings is 24 inches, and many of the shakers are just an inch short. They will be keeper size in about a week. A few halibut also are being caught.”
The spring season opened on Monday and the reports weren’t great. There’s quite a bit of moss coming down the river, which makes it tough to fish on the anchor. Reportedly, only a couple were caught upriver on Monday and trollers in the estuary didn’t have much luck either. The water temperature in the estuary is still a little cold, so the fish aren’t holding. That should change now that the spring flow releases have ended on the Trinity. Look for water levels to drop and the temps to increase.
According to Martin, the Rogue Bay has yet to yield a consistent bite. “On Sunday a dozen boats caught a dozen kings. On Monday it was dead. It is still a little early, so the bay should take off any time. Peak season isn’t until the end of July and August,” said Martin.
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