Humboldt Bay kicking out the Halibut

Miles Sotelo of McKinleyville had his hands full landing a nice California halibut on a recent trip in Humboldt Bay. The California halibut bite has been excellent as of late and should be a good weekend option. Photo courtesy of Redwood Coast Fishing with Mike Stratman

Humboldt Bay continues to kick out some quality-sized California halibut, and there doesn’t seem to be a shortage. The fishing has been really good for the entire month of July, but has gotten even better the last week for boats drifting live bait in the north and middle channels. “The California halibut bite really hit its stride through most of the week with easy limits the norm,” said Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing. “The grade was a little better than what we saw the last couple years with quite a few fish running in the 8 to 12-pound range,” added Sepulveda. The California halibut fishery has been a blessing these past few years. We’re pretty fortunate that when fishing offshore isn’t a good option, we have a world-class fishery to fall back on. With breezy offshore conditions and the lack of good salmon fishing, the bay could be the top choice for the weekend. As a reminder, the daily bag limit is three, and the minimum length is 22 inches. Also, according to Sepulveda, if you’re using live perch for bait, you’ll want to know your limits on them. “They’re legal to fish, but there are several different species in our waters and they have varying bag limits. Make sure you’re within the regulations when you load your bait tank,” added Sepulveda.

Weekend Marine Forecast
Strong breezes will persist across the outer waters through at least the weekend. Wind waves will also begin to steepen in response to the winds. Friday’s forecast is calling for 5 to 10 knot winds out of the NW and N waves 5 feet at 7 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds 10 to 15 knots and waves out of the NW 5 feet at 6 seconds. Sunday’s forecast is a little worse, with winds out of the N 5 to 15 knots and waves N 6 feet at 7 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit or To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Pacific Halibut quota update
The CDFW has projected 12,594 net pounds of Pacific Halibut has been harvested through July 21. In 2019, the Pacific halibut allocation for California is 39,000 pounds. To view the latest catch projection information, visit

Sport Crab season coming to a close
The 2019 sport Dungeness crab season in Humboldt, Mendocino, and Del Norte counties will close on Tuesday July 30. The season will re-open on Nov. 2.

The Oceans:
Salmon fishing out of Eureka has definitely hit a lull. At least we hope it’s just a lull. “Fishing was tough this week,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “Ocean conditions don’t look bad, the water is the right temperature and color, but there isn’t much bait around. As the bite has slowed, the effort kind of died as well, so not a lot of boats out looking either. There were some fish caught on Monday off of Table Bluff in deeper water, but that dried up as of Tuesday. Weather conditions don’t look good through the weekend, which will keep us close to the beach or in the bay,” added Klassen. The one bit of good news is the rockfish bite at Cape Mendocino. It very rarely disappoints, and it hasn’t this week. “We fished some breezy conditions at the cape this week but the lack of swell made it very doable,” said Sepulveda. “As is so often the case, the ocean was nice out front of Eureka but the wind would build as you went south. The drift was generally fast and we had some uphill current to fight but it ran light enough that lines stayed down reasonably well. Under those conditions, I generally stay clear of high relief structure (like pinnacles) and opt to comb hard bottom flats. In these areas, coppers, quillback, canary and medium size lingcod running eight to 20 pounds make up the bulk of my catch. Everything bit well,” added Sepulveda.

The crew aboard the Seaweasel II with limits of nice kings caught on Monday out of Eureka. Photo courtesy of Gary Blasi/Full Throttle Sport Fishing

According to Tyler Vaughn, who’s running the Wind Rose, there are salmon being caught but there aren’t many boats trying. He said, “Most of the action has been out deep in 250 feet of water off of Cone Rock and the fish are coming at 150 otw. I know one sport boat that put in quick limits two days straight. The fish were right around 10 to 12 pounds. The rockfish bite is still going strong. We’re getting easy limits of blacks and catching a handful of vermilions and canaries as well. And there’s a good number of lingcod around too. We’re catching anywhere from one to six per trip,” Vaughn added.

Shelter Cove
The report out of Shelter Cove hasn’t changed much – the salmon bite remains slow according to Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “Some guys are running into a flurry every now and again and getting a handful, but nothing has been consistent or lasted more than a few hours. The little bit of salmon action has been right at the whistle. It’s still very windy on the outside so we’re not able to venture to far. The lingcod bite picked up this last week and we got limits of nice ones to go along with limits of rockfish. We’ve been mainly fishing the Old Man,” added Mitchell.

Crescent City
The story this week has been the arrival of the Thresher Sharks. According to Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, they showed up in pretty big numbers this week. “I weighed one that was over 160 pounds on Wednesday. They are right on South Beach, and guys are getting them drifting herring. The California halibut are still there as well. The salmon bite continues to be spotty at best for the sport guys. The commercial boats having been doing well near the Klamath and down deep. The rockfish bite is still going strong, and it looks like the lingcod action is heating up,” Hegnes added.

Salmon fishing is good at times out of Brookings, but hasn’t been consistent reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “There was a good bite Tuesday in close near the buoys. A few boats ventured offshore for tuna on Monday, but struck out. Sport boats caught tuna this week further north out of Charleston 30 miles offshore,” said Martin.

Klamath Control Zone closure
The Klamath Control zone will be closed the month of August for ocean sport salmon fishing. The closed zone around the Klamath River mouth is bounded on the north by 41°38’48” N. lat. (approximately 6 nautical miles north of the Klamath River mouth); on the west, by 124°23’00” W. long. (approximately 12 nautical miles off shore); and on the south, by 41°26’48” N. lat. (approximately 6 nautical miles south of the Klamath River mouth).

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The salmon action in the estuary slowed over the weekend, but a few limits were landed. Boat traffic on Sunday was heavy, and the bite was decent. Some boats caught a few, but the majority put up zeroes. Like any tidal fishery, the bite can be fickle. You need to be there when the fish are in and want to bite. Trolling anchovies behind a Rogue River spinner bait is still catching the majority of the fish. Spring-run regulations are in effect through August 14, with a daily bag and possession limit of one king salmon of any size.

Lower Rogue
The Rogue Bay fished well through the weekend, but slowed Monday and Tuesday according to Martin. He said, “Heavy moss has made fishing tough. Fish are showing, but baits must be suspended to have any chance and to avoid mossing up. Several fish topping 20 pounds have been caught.” 

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to