Reliable Rockfish Catches Keeping Fleet Afloat

McKinleyville resident Rachel Seaman landed a nice black rockfish on a recent fishing trip out of Trinidad. Photo courtesy of Curt Wilson/Wind Rose Charters

With an early closure of Pacific halibut and a slow start to our salmon season, the one steady fishery at the moment is rockfish. From Shelter Cove north to Crescent City, limits of quality rockfish and ling cod have been the norm. In a season with not much left to fish for, they’ve been a blessing. From charters to private boaters, it’s refreshing to know that you can head to where they live and almost count on coming home with a bounty. For the boats that make a living on the water, it’s been a godsend. With our salmon numbers on the decline and a halibut quota that doesn’t seem to match abundance, rockfish has been the one species we can count on. The season in the Northern Management Area for boat-based anglers, which includes Del Norte and most of Humboldt County, runs from May 1 through Oct. 31, seaward of 30 fathoms (180 feet), and Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 rockfish may be taken at any depth. For a complete list of rockfish regulations, visit

Weekend marine forecast
Northerly winds and seas will increase beginning Thursday. As of Tuesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for north winds 5 to 15 knots and waves northwest 6 feet at seven seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for northwest winds 5 to 15 knots and waves northwest 7 feet at seven seconds. The winds will increase Sunday to 10 to 20 knots with waves northwest 9 feet at nine 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 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

The Oceans:
According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, no one has found the salmon as of yet. “The ocean hasn’t been great, so there hasn’t been much effort,” said Klassen. “As far as I know, no one has really ventured south between the stacks and Trinidad. There’s a lot of water that hasn’t been fished yet, so we’re holding out hope they’re out there somewhere. We did find some really good signs outside of False Cape Rock a couple days ago. Tons of birds and bait and the water dipped to 49 degrees, but we couldn’t find any keeper kings.”

The rockfish bite north of the head remains outstanding for black rockfish according to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. “The weather has been a little chunky, but we did make it to Reading Rock a few days where we found a wide variety of rockfish and some nice lings,” said Wilson. “A few salmon are being caught daily off of the lagoons in 100 to 180 feet of water. The crabbing is starting to slow down as the crabs are molting.”

Mason Mitchell, left, along with Kanyon Cardoza boxed a couple nice kings on July 4 out of Shelter Cove. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

Shelter Cove
Salmon fishing has been pretty slow the last few days, reports Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “Boats are averaging about a half a fish per rod,” said Mitchell. “Most of the effort is happening right off the point in 40 to 50 feet of water. The rockfish bite has really been solid all week as well. The black rockfish bite has been wide-open close to the beach.”

Crescent City
Sport salmon season opened last Tuesday and there were a handful of salmon caught, including some bigger ones,” said Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “There’s a handful of salmon being caught daily, mostly coming from the south. The rockfish bite remains solid, with limits reported by just about everyone. The California halibut bite is decent, with guys tossing swimbaits off the rocks and the kayaks catching a few each day.”

Rough weather has kept boaters in close while fishing for salmon out of Brookings, reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Charter boats are getting a fish or more per rod, with some catching limits. Small anchovies trolled just below the surface are working best. Commercial boats are doing well offshore and a break in the weather could cause catch rates to jump for private boaters. Lingcod fishing is slow, but some are catching limits of rockfish near Bird Island and Twin Rocks. Halibut fishing is fair but windy weather is keeping boaters away from the most productive waters.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Spring-run salmon have been caught daily in the estuary since the July 1 opener. Fresh kings are moving in with the tides and starting to stack up as the water temperatures are over 70 degrees. Anchovies rigged with a spinner blade has been the top producer so far. The best fishing has been on the incoming and a couple hours after the high.

Lower Rogue
“Salmon fishing hit peak season form on the Rogue Bay last week, with many guides getting limits and private boaters also getting a fish per rod or better,” said Martin. “Salmon are holding up in the bay because of warm water upriver. The fish are spread throughout the bay, with a good incoming tide bite. A few summer steelhead also are showing in the bay.”

Kenny Priest operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email