Tuna fever sweeps Humboldt

Sam Torgersen of Eureka holds a couple nice Albacore tuna landed under ominous skies on Wednesday out of Eureka. Photo courtesy of Tony Sepulveda/Shellback Sport Fishing

The latest pandemic to grip the North Coast is one that we can all get behind. It’s known as Tuna Fever, and it’s spreading rapidly amongst the saltwater fleet. It started late last week when Marc Schmidt of Coastline Charters found some fish south roughly 45 miles from the entrance. Word spread quickly and quite a few boats made the trek on Friday. Most of the boats scored 15 to 18 big albacore, with only a few peanuts mixed in. Similar scores were reported on Saturday. After a couple of windy days, the ocean calmed on Tuesday and a few boats were back out to the warm water. Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing was one of the few boats that made the 40-mile run and reported some really good fishing. “There’s a big band of fish ranging from a little south of Trinidad to a bit north of Cape Mendocino about 40 miles offshore,” said Sepulveda.  “There were only a few boats out there on Tuesday but everyone was spread out and on fish.  We wrapped it up with 35 and a big grade averaging close to 20 pounds. Some good bait stops where they charged the boat. With quite a few boats expected to be on the water in the coming days, Sepulveda would like to remind anglers to give each other plenty of space on the water. “People did a really nice job of respecting each other’s space on Tuesday. It’s a big ocean out on the tuna grounds and everyone does better when they spread out,” said Sepulveda. The weather window looks to be open through at least Monday. Winds will be light and the seas flat. Expect the local ramps to be plenty busy.

Marine Forecast
Seas will remain relatively small over the next several days, which is perfect for the tuna boats. Out 10 nautical miles from Pt. St. George to Cape Mendocino, Friday’s forecast is calling for SW winds up to 5 knots and S waves 2 feet at 4 seconds and W waves 2 feet at 11 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds to 5 knots and waves out of the NW 2 feet at 8 seconds and SW 2 feet at 17 seconds. Sunday’s forecast looks flat, with winds out of the N up to 5 knots and waves out of the N 2 feet or less. Monday’s forecast looks similar to Sunday. 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.

The Oceans:
Tuna has taken center stage out of Eureka, and it looks that will be the case through the weekend and into Monday. As of Wednesday, the edge was straight west about 40 miles from the entrance. Quite a few boats hit the grounds on Wednesday, and some good scores were reported. The fish are big this year, with plenty of fish in the 20-pound class with only a few smaller fish mixed in. Ocean conditions are predicted to be flat calm through the weekend. If the tuna water isn’t within your range, this is the weekend to hit the Cape. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, fishing has been really good. “The weather down there wasn’t great earlier in the week, but the fishing has been solid,” said Klassen. “We’re getting about a dozen different species each trip. We’ve been catching lots of big Vermilions as well as lingcod.” The California halibut action in the bay has been decent, with some up and down days. “There’s pockets of fish around according to Klassen, and if you find one, you’ll catch them.

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, last week’s Tuna bite was just ok. “I didn’t do as well as some boats, but it seemed that everyone had 10 to 30 fish both Wednesday and Thursday,” said Mitchell. “Friday was a little slower and boats only had 5 to 10 fish. Everyone was fishing down around or below Noyo Canyon. The water we were fishing was breaking up, which I think led to the slower fishing Friday. The salmon bite was pretty slow for the most part but there is still a few around for those who are trying.” Mitchell will be back on the tuna grounds, which is roughly 45 to 50 miles out, for the next few days.

Crescent City
Crescent City is one of the few ports north of Fort Bragg to not be in range of the tuna water. But they still have some of the best rock fish action around. According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, the bite has been really good for a long time. “Just about all the boats are coming back with limits of rockfish as well as lingcod,” said Carson. “Unfortunately, the California halibut bite has dried up and so has the Thresher shark.”

The Brookings fleet is keeping a close eye on the tuna water and exceptional marine forecast this week reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Warm water is around 40 miles northwest of Brookings as of Tuesday evening. Tuna anglers did very well Friday and Saturday, with up to 40 fish a boat and fish to 30 pounds. Pacific halibut also are biting well. The Chetco estuary is slow for salmon.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Fishing is steady on the lower Klamath, with lots of jacks currently in the lower river. A few adults are being caught every day, with a few big ones to 20-pounds mixed in. As of Tuesday, the Spit area is closed to fishing as the quota was projected to be met. For more information, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2020/09/04/cdfw-announces-fishing-closure-at-mouth-of-klamath-river/?fbclid=IwAR1Tmw0558RIvIlb9TGAq3Y_Vu44icpmIovUBTKGBn8x4mCZhMPeoOaKf9U

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, the Rogue Bay once again is full of salmon. “There’s lots of fish splashing near the sand spit during the outgoing tide, but catch rates are slow,” said Martin. “A fish or two a boat is considered a good day right now. Big numbers of salmon shot upriver early last week. Hot weather inland will force the kings to hold up again in the bay.

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