Ocean kings on the move

Customers aboard the Miss Brooke of Brookings Fishing Charters hold the salmon they caught July 20 two miles out of the harbor. Photo courtesy of Andy Martin/Brookings Fishing Charters

So much for the kings being right where we left them after last week’s wind-a-thon. After working over some big schools of kings from Eureka to north of Trinidad the previous week, it looks like they may have moved on to greener pastures. The Eureka boats were back on the water in force on Sunday with high hopes. A few were caught, but scores fell well short of where they were prior to the wind. By Monday, it was pretty much belly up. While the salmon bite slowed from Shelter Cove to Trinidad, the kings have finally made their way to Fort Bragg. And they just recently made a return appearance in Brookings. It appears to be a game of hide-n-seek, with no one knowing which port they’ll pop up in next. Luckily for us, we’re in the midst of one of the best Pacific halibut seasons on record. So, when the salmon bite turned off, boats headed west and continued the onslaught. The ocean was also calm enough to allow boats to make the long run south to the Cape, where the rockfish and lingcod have been patiently awaiting some company. Always good to have options…

Weekend Marine Forecast
The weekend forecast looks plenty fishable, and lighter winds and lower seas are expected late in the weekend and early next week. Friday’s forecast is calling for 5 to 15 knot winds out of the N and NW waves 6 feet at 7 seconds and W 2 feet at 9 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds 5 to 15 knots and waves out of the NW 6 feet at 8 seconds. Sunday’s forecast is a little better, with winds out of the NW up to 5 knots and waves NW 5 feet at 8 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.

Sport Crab season coming to a close
The 2020 sport Dungeness crab season in Humboldt, Mendocino, and Del Norte counties will close on Thursday July 30. The season is expected to re-open on Nov. 7.

Ocean salmon closures
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).

No salmon may be taken during the months of August and September in ocean waters at the Eel River mouth bounded on the north by 40°40’24” N. lat. (approximately 2 nautical miles north of the Eel River mouth), on the west by 124°21’24” W. long. (approximately 2 nautical miles offshore), and on the south by 40°36’24” N. lat. (approximately 2 nautical miles south of the Eel River mouth).

The Oceans:
“The salmon bite has been slow since the weekend when most boats got back on the water,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “Boats averaged less than a fish per rod on Sunday, and Monday was tougher. There’s some really good signs around, so hopefully they’re still here,” added Klassen. With salmon on the slow side and favorable ocean conditions, boats opted for the Cape or back out to the Pacific halibut grounds. Neither fishery disappointed. Quick limits were the norm on Tuesday for halibut anglers, with some coming as fast as 45 minutes. The rockfish action was good at the Cape, but not wide-open like the halibut. “The fishing was very good, but not red hot like we’ve seen,” said Klassen. “There’s some super clear water down there, along with some really brown water. The lings bit really well on Tuesday, with limits up to 28-pounds.”

Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters and Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing both fished through some tough weather prior to Sunday. “We were mostly running half-day trips prior to the weekend and getting quick limits of black rockfish and a few salmon right in front of the Trinidad Head,” said Sepulveda. “Nothing is wide open, but rockfish, lingcod, salmon and pacific halibut are all hitting the deck.”. Conditions finally took a turn for the better on Sunday, and according to Wilson, the halibut bit pretty well. “It was real good fishing, not wide-open but almost everyone was catching,” said Wilson. “This week we’ve been targeting rockfish to the north, where the lingcod bite has been good along with a wide variety of rockfish. The salmon bite has slowed down, but you can still go out and get a few opportunities each day.”

Shelter Cove
The salmon bite was pretty darn slow this week according to Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. He said, “We had some pretty decent weather and people were able to look far and wide, but nothing really produced. There’s been quite a bit of bait hanging in some areas, so I’m hopeful that they’ll find it soon. I made the run up to Rodgers a few times this week for rockfish and it was pretty good. We even caught a few halibut up to 77-pounds while rock fishing. Lingcod was a bit slow, but the ones we did get were a very good grade. A couple boats ran 45 miles for tuna on Monday and found a few fish. When we get another weather window, we’ll have another option.”

Crescent City
There’s been a few salmon caught this week reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “There’s tons of anchovies around, and they’re really spread out. And the salmon are as well. I heard of salmon being caught right on the beach, and also out in 300 feet of water. There’s been quite a bit of effort this week on the CA halibut, but without much success. A few were caught off the B Street Pier last Friday. That area was loaded with anchovies too. The rockfish bite continues to be good when the boats can get out. The lingcod bite has been excellent as well. Boats are fishing both reefs, the Sisters, and around the lighthouse.”

The salmon bite is back on out of Brookings, with a few fish right outside the mouth of the Chetco and bigger schools a couple miles offshore according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “The bite kicked into gear early this week, with anchovies trolled just below the surface working best,” said Martin. “Lingcod and rockfish action have been fair with the big tides. A few California halibut also are being caught. The rough seas that kept boats at the dock last week have subsided this week, but it is still fairly rough.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Salmon fishing in the estuary continues to be up and down. Some fish came in last Sunday with the high tide, and quite a few were caught. Monday sounded like the fishing was good, but it was very slow again on Tuesday. 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
According to Martin, the Rogue Bay had its best two days of the season Sunday and Monday before the action slowed on Tuesday. “There are schools of salmon now milling around in the bay. Guides had a fish a rod early in the week before the bite stalled on Tuesday. Still no steelhead upriver near Agness as of yet,” added Martin.

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