Winds could disrupt epic tuna fishing

Arcata resident Noah Jenkins landed a nice albacore last Saturday while fishing off the coast of Eureka. Photo courtesy of Marc Schmidt/Coastline Charters

Canning jars right now are about as hard to find as a two-dollar bill. That should tell you all you need to know about what’s happening off the coast of Eureka. An epic offshore tuna bonanza has been going full tilt since Sept. 8, and boats were still chasing them as of Wednesday. When the frenzy began, the warm water was sitting roughly 35 miles west of Eureka. It’s now within 25 miles, which is well within striking distance for most of the fleet. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing has been on the tuna grounds just about daily along with the other charter boats and reports some real solid action. “It started for us last Wednesday, and it’s been fishable ever since,” said Klassen. “There’s about a 20-mile range of fish from north to south, so there’s been plenty of room for all of the boats. The fish have been really big, easily a 20-pound average. It doesn’t take many to plug the boat.” The average scores have been around twenty per boat, though some boats have put up bigger numbers.

Dylan Gustaves of Honeydew landed a rare Bluefin Tuna on Tuesday while fishing aboard the Shellback. Photo courtesy of Tony Sepulveda/Shellback Sport Fishing

Looking ahead, the wind looks like it will start to blow on Friday, which will likely put an end to this impressive run of fishable days. It doesn’t happen often where the ocean is flat calm and the warm water is within 25 miles. Hopefully everyone took advantage and got all the tuna they needed.

Weekend marine forecast
Northerly winds will develop offshore this weekend, which could curtail the hot tuna action. As of Wednesday, the forecast out 10 nautical miles for Friday is calling for winds out of the S 5 to 15 knots and waves W 5 feet at 10 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds 5 to 15 knots and waves N 4 feet at 8 seconds. Sunday’s forecast is calling for NW winds 5 to 10 knots and waves N 4 feet at 6 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit or To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit 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
The lower Klamath adult salmon quota was met on Monday, Sept. 14, but the rest of the lower main stem of the Klamath River below the Highway 96 Bridge at Weitchpec will remain open to the harvest of jack (2-year-old) Chinook salmon (less than or equal to 23 inches). All adult Chinook salmon caught must be immediately released and reported on the angler’s report card. The fishery at the mouth of the Klamath was closed as of Tuesday, Sept. 8 and will remain closed to all fishing for the rest of the calendar year. Anglers may still fish for adult Chinook salmon in other sections of the Klamath Basin, including the main stem of the Klamath River above Weitchpec and the entire Trinity River until their quotas are met. Anglers may keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling 800-564-6479.

Humboldt Bay Navigational Aids out of position
The Coast Guard has temporarily relocated Aids to Navigation HUMBOLDT BAY LB 9 (LLNR 8195) and HUMBOLDT BAY LB 10 (LLNR 8200) to facilitate dredging operations through the months of September, October and possibly into November 2020, by the US Army Corps of Engineers. HUMBOLDT BAY LB 9 is now established in position 40-45.83N 124-13.08W, HUMBOLDT BAY LB 10 is now established in position 40-45.27N 124-13.10W.

Electronic AIS positions for these aids remain in their original published NOAA chart positions to assist mariners in avoiding these shoal areas. Safety updates will continue to be announced via Broadcast Notice to Mariners VHF-FM channel 16, and published through the local Notice to All Mariners. Any vessel needing assistance, or updates, shall contact Sector Humboldt Bay on VHF-FM channel 16 or at 707-839-6113.

The Oceans:
Tuna has taken center stage the past couple weeks, so not much to report on the rockfish front. Klassen did make one trip to the Cape earlier this week and reports the fishing wasn’t red hot. “It was slightly below average. The blacks bit really well and we still got limits of rockfish, but it was tougher,” added Klassen.

Shelter Cove
Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing has been on the tuna grounds all week and reports a pretty solid bite. He said, “We were fishing 45 miles early in the week, but now we’re getting them as close as 20 miles. We’ve been just about everywhere as the fish are spread out. We’ve had the best success off of Cape Vizcaino, where we’re averaging about 20 fish a day. The fish are a good size, about a 15-pound average. There are also a few salmon being caught. It’s not wide-open, but boats trying are still getting a few opportunities a day. And there’s been several fish caught over 30-pounds.”

Crescent City
“I heard the warm tuna water was within eight miles,” said Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “There’s been a few boats out, maybe six on Wednesday, but I didn’t hear of any good scores. The fishing season is starting to slow down, but there’s still a handful of boats targeting rockfish. Ocean conditions have been pretty flat, so most are heading out to the Big Reef and doing well on rockfish and lingcod,” Hegnes added.

Pacific halibut fishing continues to be unusually good out of Brookings, with limits for the charters and private boaters who have it dialed in reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Roughly 20 percent of the South Coast quota remains, so the season should be open for a few more weeks,” said Martin. “The halibut are in 200-300 feet of water. Tuna fishing was good last week but the fish have scattered and moved out. Boats were getting them 45-50 miles offshore. A few salmon are now being caught daily in the Chetco estuary.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The water cooled down late last week and the river saw a real good push of fresh kings move in over the weekend. Just about all the boats reported limits of jacks and adults. With the cold water arriving on Monday from the Trinity, the fishing should remain good for the next few weeks. A few silvers have also been caught this week. As stated above, the lower river quota has been met. You can still retain two jacks along with two hatchery steelhead.

Lower Rogue/Coos
The Rogue is hot-and-cold for salmon according to Martin. “On a good day, several fish a boat are caught. Summer steelhead fishing has improved upriver. Many guides have switched to the Coos, where salmon fishing has been good, with lots of larger 4-year-olds in the mix,” added Martin.

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