Humboldt Bay continues to kickout CA halibut

If you thought the California halibut season was over, you might want to rethink that. While the swells are too big to get offshore, and the rivers are too low to fish, Humboldt Bay just keeps producing. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, who fished the bay a couple times last week, there’s plenty of fish around to make for a great day. “The fish aren’t in every spot like they were earlier in the year, so you may have to hunt around a little to find them,” said Klassen. “We’ve had some good success in the middle channel just above the bridge. The fishing should continue to be excellent as there’s still plenty of bait in the bay, which should keep the halibut close by.” According to Klassen, about the only thing that can slow the bite is the rain. Once the freshwater infiltrates the bay, both the halibut and the bait will likely head back to the ocean. The recreational fishery for California halibut is open year-round. The daily bag and possession limit is three fish, with a minimum size limit of 22 inches total length.

Betty Chinn of Eureka, left, is all smiles after landing her first-ever California halibut in Humboldt Bay last Thursday. Also pictured is Capt. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. Photo courtesy of Paul Shanahan

No rain in sight
We’re looking at dry weather at least through early November according to Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “A ridge of high pressure continues to sit off our coast, which is moving systems to the north. As of now, there isn’t any rain forecasted through the first week in November,” Zontos added.

Focus group study seeks participants
The NNC is recruiting participants for focus group studies as part of a research project with NOAA about the use of National Weather Service flood forecast and warning tools. Nurture Nature Center (NNC) is a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit organization with a focus on flood issues, and has been working with NWS to help improve its flood forecast products. The focus groups, one for Humboldt County residents and the other for water resource and emergency management professionals, will help inform product recommendations to improve the display and delivery of forecast information in the region and nationally. The meeting for water and emergency professionals will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday, November 4 at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center. The meeting for residents is Monday, November 4 at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Participants should live or work in the Humboldt County area and be at least 18 years of age. To participate, contact Rachel Hogan Carr at or 610-253-4432 for more information. You can also register online at 

Willow Creek weir counts
For the trapping week of Oct 15 through Oct. 21, 42 jacks were trapped at the weir. To date, 646 jacks have been trapped compared to 251 for the entire 2018 trapping season. This past week, 122 adult Chinook were trapped, bringing the season total to 819. In 2018, 1,341 total adult Chinook were trapped. Twenty-eight were Coho trapped last week, bringing the season total to 61. In 2018, 25 adult Coho were trapped. The steelhead numbers picked up this week as well compared to the previous week. A total of 240 adult steelhead were trapped. The previous week 13 were trapped. For the season, 649 have been counted compared to 510 for the entire 2018 season.

Pacific Halibut season coming to the end
The recreational Pacific Halibut season will come to a close next Thursday, Oct. 31. As of Wednesday, 17,852 net pounds have been harvested towards the 39,000-pound quota.

Shelter Cove
Rockfish remain the focus for the few still fishing out of the Cove according to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. He said, “Rock fishing was good around the Old Man the couple days I went. We’re starting to see some nice ling cod move in on the reef. I didn’t hear of any salmon caught this week and only heard of one boat trying.”

Ocean fishing has been fair out of Brookings, but a big swell and northwest winds have limited the window to fish early in the morning reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “We ran trips Monday and got limits of rockfish and a few lingcod, but had to run up the coast to Mack Arch. 

The Rivers:
River Closures
Currently, all the North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen are closed. Sections of rivers that are open include the main stem Eel River from the paved junction of Fulmor Road to its mouth, the main stem Mad River from the Hammond Trail Railroad Trestle to its mouth and the main stem Smith River from the mouth of Rowdy Creek to its mouth.

The Department of Fish and Game will make the information available to the public no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any river will be closed to fishing. The rivers can be opened up at any time. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164.

Lower Klamath
A few fish are still being caught at the mouth, but the effort has dwindled. Same can be said for upriver where a total of four adult salmon were caught last week. Through Oct. 21, 2,473 adult kings have been harvested towards the quota of 3,819, leaving 1,346 left for harvest. The spit fishery still has plenty of fish to catch as well. Anglers have harvested 718 adult kings below the 101 bridge, leaving 427 left to catch. Anglers may keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling 800-564-6479.

Lynn Mimidas of Lancaster, Pa., and Kathie Jeffery of Emerson, N.J., hold a pair of king salmon caught Sunday on the Smith River with guide Rye Phillips They used 4.0 MagLip plugs. Submitted

Enough rain fell late last week to open the Smith River to fishing last Friday. Reportedly, fishing was slow on the lower river although a few fish were caught. Most of the fish landed were on the small side. The river closed on Tuesday morning, and with no rain in the forecast, it probably won’t open again until sometime in November.

The Chetco estuary slowed with higher water, which is allowing salmon to move into the upper tidewater according to Martin “Fishing should improve as the river drops. Tides are ideal this week, with an incoming in the morning. A few salmon were caught early in the week on the Rogue Bay,” added Martin.

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