Tuna remains all the rage

Tim Klassen, left, along with Dean and Forrest Ester from Freshwater landed a nice Albacore tuna on a recent trip out of Eureka. Photo courtesy of Tim Klassen/Reel Steel Sport Fishing

If tuna fever was a real virus, there’d be a lot of ailing anglers in Humboldt County. The madness started back at the beginning of August, and except for a few days of rough water, hasn’t slowed down. The combination of flat ocean conditions and easily accessible water has stuck around longer than anyone would have ever imagined. And it’s worth mentioning that the warm water is stuffed with tuna. The warm water doesn’t look like it’s moving out of reach anytime soon either. As the water moves north past Trinidad, there’s another warm patch moving north from Fort Bragg/Shelter Cove to take its place. While it’s a real treat being able to take a leisurely cruise after work and load up on tuna, there is a downside to the warm water. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has identified another expanse of warm water stretching from Alaska to California. The warm mass, which formed as a ridge of high-pressure over the Pacific Ocean decreased the winds that mix up ocean waters and cool the surface, could turn out to be as strong as the “blob” that began forming off our coast in 2013. Impacts of the blob are still felt today. The algal bloom created by the warm water shut down crabbing and clamming, and greatly reduced food sources for our salmon. I love a calm ocean, but right now I’m praying for wind, and lots of it.

Weekend marine forecast
Northerly winds will gradually increase through the end of the week, with the strongest winds across the outer waters south of Cape Mendocino. As of Wednesday, the forecast out 10 nautical miles for Friday is calling for winds out of the N 5to 15 knots with NW swells 7 feet at 9 seconds. Saturday looks similar, with winds from the NW 5 to 10 knots and NW swells 5 feet at 7 seconds. Sunday the winds will be from the W up to 5 knots and NW swells 6 feet at 12 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.

Klamath River quota update
According to Dan Troxel, an Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River Project, we are a little over a third of the way through the sub-area quota for closure at the mouth, and a solid quarter of the way through the entire lower river quota. “It seems that things are picking up on the river. Anglers are getting them pretty good upriver and fairly well in the estuary. However, the mouth is still on the slow side,” said Troxel. Through Sept. 9, 979 adult salmon had been harvested from the Hwy. 96 bridge at Weitchpec to the mouth towards the quota of 3,819. Of those, 419 adults were caught below the Hwy. 101 bridge, leaving 726 adult salmon left to catch below the 101 bridge prior to the spit fishery closing. 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. The lower river, from the Hwy. 96 bridge at Weitchpec to the mouth has roughly 2,840 adults remaining for sport harvest. Once the quota has been met, anglers may still retain a limit of Chinook salmon under 22 inches in length. Anglers may keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling 800-564-6479.

Pacific Halibut quota update
The CDFW has projected 16,819 net pounds of Pacific Halibut has been harvested through Sept. 8. In 2019, the Pacific halibut allocation for California is 39,000 pounds. To view the latest catch projection information, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking

The Oceans:
With nice weather and close water, it’s been all about the tuna for the Eureka fleet. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, boats have been heading offshore since last Thursday. “There’s a large mass of warm water from the 46-line to Trinidad,” said Klassen. “Boats have been finding fish anywhere from 10 to 18 miles offshore where the water temps range from 62 to 64 degrees. The fish are a decent grade, with most in the 12 to 18-pound range along with the occasional fish in the 20’s. Tuna Clones, Cedar Plugs, and Rapalas are all catching fish. We’ve also had some good live bait stops,” added Klassen. Looking ahead, Thursday might be fishable, but Friday and Saturday are looking a little rough. The winds will start to come back down on Sunday. 

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, the tuna water pushed out a little bit and the weather has come up slightly. He said, “The closest water is about 20 miles right now. I fished tuna last Thursday and boated 26. We were out again on Tuesday, and landed 25. The fish are there, it’s just a little tougher to get to them right now. There isn’t a whole lot of effort on salmon, but the ones trying aren’t doing very well. I have only heard of two salmon caught this past week. The rockfish bite has been great. I fished down off Bear Harbor for limits two days this past week.”

Rough weather kept boats at the docks in Brookings early this week, but conditions are forecasted to be much better through the weekend reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Several Pacific halibut were caught last week out of Brookings. Fishing for rockfish has been very good,” said Martin

Crescent City
There aren’t many anglers fishing, but there are fish to catch reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “The rockfish bite is still going strong. Guys fishing over the weekend did well at the Sisters, and the South and North Reefs. There were also a few Pacific halibut caught south of the South Reef in 230 to 300 feet of water. The California halibut bite was really good over Labor Day, but has since died.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The steelhead action was red-hot over the weekend from the Glen to Blue Creek. The river is also loaded with jacks, and a few more adult kings are starting to show up every day. Fish are being caught side-drifting the riffles and dragging bait through the deeper holes. The daily bag limit is two Chinook, no more than one adult (greater than 22 inches) and the possession limit is six, no more than three adults. Two hatchery steelhead or hatchery trout may also be retained, with a possession limit of four each.

Lower Rogue/Coos Bay
According to Martin, large numbers of jacks are providing plenty of action on the Rogue Bay, where nearly every boat is catching fish. He said, “Only a handful of adult kings are being caught. Lots of salmon headed upstream with the rain and are already near Agness. The Coos is off to a good start, with a salmon per rod to begin the week. Tides are prime for the remainder of the week, and the recent rain likely has fish moving in from the ocean.”

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