The timing couldn’t have been any better. The upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend will coincide with some of the best ocean conditions of the season. And it just so happens the warm tuna water is right on our doorstep. While the salmon bite has picked up, the talk of the town is tuna. Boats will be headed southwest out of Eureka beginning on Thursday roughly 25 nautical miles from the entrance. Confidence is high that the water is full of tuna based on the reports coming from Fort Bragg and Shelter Cove. Both of those ports have experienced wide-open bites this week, and this is the same connected water that’s now within our reach.
Like I mentioned above, the salmon bite has improved. Some nice limits were boated on Sunday and Monday straight out of the entrance in 220 feet of water. The calm seas will also make for an easy Cape run and there’s plenty of Pacific halibut left to catch before the quota is reached. The California halibut bite remains excellent, with fish being caught up to 20 pounds. The Klamath is another option for the weekend, although it’s off to a slow start for returning fall kings. Reportedly, there were quite a few jacks caught in the estuary on Wednesday, so this could be the beginning of better fishing to come. If fishing is part of your holiday itinerary, the North Coast has plenty of options for you.
Weekend marine forecast
Ocean conditions for the long weekend are looking great as winds will be light and the seas calm. Friday’s forecast for coastal waters from Point St. George to Cape Mendocino out 10 nautical miles is calling for N winds to 5 knots with W waves 2 feet at 9 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for NW winds to 5 knots and W waves 3 feet at 8 seconds. Sunday is calling for NW winds to 5 knots and W waves 4 feet at 9 seconds and SW 2 feet at 17 seconds. Monday looks the same, with NW winds to 5 knots and W waves 3 feet at 9 seconds and SW 2 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.
Saturday is statewide free fishing day
On Saturday August 31, 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, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity River Systems. For more information visit, https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Fishing/Free-Fishing-Days
Eureka tuna/ live bait availability
As of Wednesday, the warm water is steadily moving north and is well within reach of the Eureka fleet. The target area is 27N x 43W, which is about 28 nautical miles from the entrance. Boats will be running through the weekend if ocean conditions hold. Ken Bates will have live bait available on Friday morning starting at 5:00 a.m. He will be anchored in the channel across from Englund Marine. Price is $20 per scoop.
Klamath River quota update
According to Dan Troxel, an Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River Project, 72 adult salmon had been harvested from the Highway 96 bridge at Weitchpec to the mouth towards the quota of 3,818 for the week ending Aug. 26. Of those, 38 adults were caught below the Hwy. 101 bridge. The spit fishery will close when 1,145 adults are caught below the 101 bridge. Only the spit area will close to fishing once this quota is met, fishing will remain open upriver of the spit until the 3,818 quota is met. Anglers may keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling 800-564-6479.
Trinity River quotas begin on Sept. 1
The Trinity River will open to fall-run Chinook salmon fishing Sept. 1 and run through Dec. 31, with a sport quota of 2,520 adults. The quota will be split evenly; 1,260 adults for the main stem Trinity downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat and 1,260 adults for the main stem Trinity downstream of the Denny Road bridge at Hawkins Bar to the confluence with the Klamath. The main stem downstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to the Denny Road Bridge in Hawkins Bar is closed to all fishing September 1 through December 31.
Trinity River water release
Beginning Sunday, Sept. 1, the Bureau of Reclamation will begin to increase flows to the Trinity River for the Hoopa Valley Tribe’s Ceremonial Boat Dance. Releases will begin to increase above the base summer flow of 450 cfs at 5 p.m. Sept. 1, and reach a peak flow of 2,650 cfs between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Sept. 2. The releases will then gradually decrease back to the base summer flow about 3 p.m. on Sept. 5. Colder water temperatures and increased turbidity levels are to be expected.
The salmon bite came back to life over the weekend according to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. He said, “Sunday and Monday were really good, most everyone had limits early. Fishing was tougher on Tuesday due to the south swells and current. Most of the boats have been targeting the 47 line in 220 to 240 feet of water. It’s been a mixed grade, with fish from 24 inches up to 15 to 16 pounds. The average has been in the six to 12-pound range,” Klassen added. Salmon season will be closed as of Tuesday, Sept. 3 from the CA/OR border south to Horse Mtn. Weather permitting, the Cape has continued to produce big rockfish according to Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing. “We got to the Lost Coast one day last week and loaded the boat with limits of lingcod and rockfish, including 34 giant vermillion,” said Sepulveda. “Top fish that day was a 64-pound Pacific halibut. The California halibut bite was as good as it gets this week on a nice grade of fish up to 20 pounds.”
Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing has been targeting a wide variety of species all week out of Shelter Cove. He said, “The rockfish bite has been great at Rogers, but the lingcod have been tough to come by. The salmon bite has picked up a little bit, with some boats getting a fish per rod along the beach off White Rock. With the warm water close by, we’ve been targeting tuna the last few days and averaging about 35 per trip. On Tuesday we did a tuna/rockfish combo and had 34 tuna, 37 rockfish and eight lings.”
According to Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, the offshore activity is starting to slow down, which is typical for this time of the year. “There are a few California halibut still being caught along South Beach. I heard a guy scored limits fishing from the jetty this week. The rockfish bite has been spotty, but the lings are biting. Most of the boats are fishing Big or South Reef. The salmon never materialized, and there really hasn’t been any effort lately,” Hegnes added.
Ocean salmon fishing is extremely slow out of Brookings heading into this weekend’s big salmon derby according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Very few kings are being caught. Limits of rockfish have been easy to come by, with some nice lingcod mixed in. Boats are planning tuna trips this weekend.”
Fishing remains tough on the lower Klamath, the adult salmon have yet to show in big numbers. A few more jacks are starting to move in and the boats are getting a couple each trip. There are some adult steelhead in the river along with some half-pounders. With the influx of cold water coming early next week, we should see the first push of adult kings push in.
Salmon fishing busted wide open on the Rogue Bay last Friday, with upwards of 80 fish caught, but action has slowed since reports Martin. “The fishing is still fair, with a few dozen fish a day being caught. Lots of salmon appear to be staging at the mouth, but warm water is keeping them from heading much further upstream than the jetties,” added Martin.
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