With no advance scouting, the dozen or so Eureka boats struggled to find schools of salmon during Sunday’s opener. In a typical year, we’ll see rockfish and Pacific halibut open a few weeks prior to salmon, giving anglers some clues on where the bait is stockpiled and where the birds are spending their time. But this year, there was no time on the water prior to the opener, and the boats were at somewhat of a disadvantage. The weather also played a role. Swells were too large for boats to travel far and look for fish. Despite all that, anglers caught some salmon. The few charters who ventured out all caught a few. This is really encouraging to see fish here this early in the season. Once the weather cooperates, it should be game on.
Weekend marine forecast
Ocean conditions don’t look great for the rest of the week and weekend. As of Wednesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for south winds 15 to 20 knots and waves southwest 7 feet at seven seconds and west 8 feet at 15 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for northwest winds at 5 to 10 knots and west waves 11 feet at 12 seconds. Sunday looks slightly worse, with 10 to 15 knot winds coming out of the west and west waves 11 feet at 11 seconds.
These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or www.windy.com. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.
Sport-Harvested Mussels quarantined
In a press release issued on April 26, The California Department of Public Health announced the annual quarantine of sport-harvested mussels gathered along the California coast. The quarantine began May 1 and applies to all species of mussels that are recreationally harvested along the California coast, including all bays and estuaries. The quarantine is in place to protect the public against poisoning that can lead to serious illness, including coma and death. The quarantine is designed to prevent paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and domoic acid poisoning, also known as amnesic shellfish poisoning, in people who might otherwise consume sport-harvested mussels. Both of these syndromes are from naturally occurring toxins produced by certain phytoplankton consumed by shellfish, including mussels and clams. Cooking does not destroy the toxins. Commercially harvested shellfish are not included in the annual quarantine because all commercial harvesters in California are certified by CDPH and subject to strict testing requirements to ensure that all oysters, clams, and mussels entering the marketplace are safe. Visit www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/OPA/Pages/SN22-002.aspx for more information.
The weather did not do any favors for the boats that fished Sunday’s opener. The 9-foot swells kept the fleet close and didn’t allow for much looking around. “Most of the fish were straight out in 150 to 220 feet of water roughly a mile north and south of the entrance,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “But they were definitely spread out, no real schools. We didn’t see any edges, rips or color changes, which is what we’re looking for. The fish that were caught were full of crab larvae and krill. Ocean conditions don’t look great this week for halibut or rockfish, but we may be able to troll for salmon.”
Salmon, rockfish and Pacific halibut all opened Sunday. Reportedly, seven boats launched but caught no salmon. There were a few Pacific halibut landed, however. The Trinidad launch will be in service and launching boats at 6 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday. It will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Cost to launch is $45.
The saltwater opener was good, according to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “The rockfish bit really well at the Hat on Sunday and around the whistle on Monday,” said Mitchell. “There were some salmon caught on Sunday around the bell buoy, with boats averaging a little less than a fish per rod. It was pretty rough on Monday and only four boats launched. I heard of four salmon caught.”
Crescent City was definitely the hot spot for salmon on the opener. Sport and charter boats reported quite a few limits, with most of the action straight out front just south of the second buoy. The fish were shallow, with most coming at 50 feet. Reportedly, more than 40 salmon were counted by Fish and Wildlife staff. Only a couple boats braved the conditions on Monday and again boated limits. The rockfish opener was also successful, with limits coming fairly easily. The ling bite was reportedly a little tougher.
Pacific halibut season opened Sunday out of Brookings with fairly large swell and a strong wind drift, reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Fishing was slow,” said Martin. “Lingcod fishing remains good along the near-shore reefs from Chetco Point to House Rock. Lings to 30 pounds were caught last week. Salmon won’t open until June 28 out of Brookings. Bottom fish anglers continue to encounter large numbers of kings in close, a promising sign for next month.”
Main Stem Eel
The main stem is in perfect shape, running at 3,200 cfs as of Wednesday at Scotia. There are some steelhead around, mostly downers. The main stem Eel to the South Fork is open all year. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used through Sept. 30.
The lower Rogue River continues to experience its best spring chinook run in at least 15 years reports Martin. “Hatchery and wild springers are being caught by boaters on anchor as well as plunkers fishing Spin-N-Glos from the gravel bars at Huntley Park and Lobster Creek. Only hatchery springers may be kept. Wild salmon can be kept beginning June 1.”
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 www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email email@example.com