Favorable ocean conditions for a good part of July, along with the closure of ocean salmon, has led to anglers putting a very large dent in the Pacific halibut sport quota. So much so that it could be met prior to Aug. 1, when the ocean salmon season opens back up. The hope was the halibut quota would carry into August giving anglers three options — rockfish, salmon and halibut — to target. The one thing we know is once Aug. 1 rolls around, salmon will become the species of choice. But if that fishery doesn’t pan out, it’s nice to have a couple other options in your back pocket. We’ll know where we stand once the quota is updated by California Department of Fish and Wildlife later this week. As of Wednesday, California’s share of Area 2A’s quota, which includes Washington and Oregon, is at 74 percent, with 28,655 net pounds harvested against the 38,740 quota. The recreational Pacific halibut fishery season runs from May 1 through November 15, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. The daily bag and possession limit for Pacific halibut is one fish with no minimum size limit. For more information on Pacific halibut, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut. To monitor the in-season tracking, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking.
After a few days of fishable weather, strong northerly winds are forecast to return this weekend. As of Tuesday, Friday’s forecast is calling for northwest winds 5 to 15 knots and waves north 7 feet at seven seconds. Saturday, the winds will increase slightly with waves out of the north 8 feet at eight seconds. Sunday, winds will be out of the north 5 to 15 knots with waves out of the northwest 8 feet at eight 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.
Shelter Cove, Fort Bragg sport salmon set to reopen
The Fort Bragg Management Area, which extends from 40°10’00” N. latitude to Point Arena (38°57’30” N. latitude), will be reopen to salmon fishing this Friday, July 22, and run through Sept. 5.
Less than ideal ocean conditions along with big King tides made for a tough halibut bite over the weekend. But the fish are still there, according to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “The fish seem like they’re moving around a lot,” he said. “I’m not sure if the tides and currents have something to do with that, but we’re having to move around quite a bit. When the conditions are right, the fishing is still really good. The black cod have thinned out a little, which makes things much easier. Rock fishing is still excellent at the Cape, but we haven’t had a whole lot of opportunity to get down there with the ocean conditions.”
“The ocean has been a little lumpy, especially at low tide, but the rockfish are still biting, “said Curt Wilson, of Wind Rose Charters. “We’re still spending most of our time near Patrick’s Point towards the Turtles catching some nice black rockfish and a few lings. The Pacific halibut bite is still good, I’d say it’s a steady pick. The fish are all over the place from the Head to the Point in 250 to 260 feet of water. The crabbing has slowed way down and it’s likely done for the season, but we’re setting our rings out before each trip.”
The story hasn’t changed much out of Shelter Cove, according to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “Rock fishing has been steady with the ling cod still being pretty difficult to locate,” said Mitchell. “There’s been a few Thresher sharks around and some more bait starting to show up. Hopefully there will be some salmon around when it opens back up on Friday.”
A few California halibut are being caught along South Beach, according to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “Small boats and kayaks trolling bait have had some decent success,” said Carson. “The clamming during last week’s minus tides was excellent. The people who knew what they were doing scored easy limits. The rockfish and lingcod bite is still really good when the boats can get out. The redtail perch bite has really turned on at Kellogg Beach. Sand crabs and the Berkeley Gulp Worms have been the top bait.”
“Salmon fishing has been slow out of Brookings, with an occasional wild coho, but not many keepers,” said Andy Martin, of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Lingcod and rockfish action has been good, with limits common, and a nice grade on calm weather days. Lingcod to 25 pounds are being caught in the Twin Rocks and House Rock areas. Surfperch fishing remains good near Crissy Field.”
The salmon bite has been up and down in the estuary to date. There are ocean-fresh kings pouring in on every tide, but they aren’t always in the biting mood. Water temperatures over the weekend at the mouth reached 71 degrees. Anchovies rigged with or without a spinner blade have been the top producers so far, but Kastmasters are catching quite a few. The best fishing has been on the incoming and a couple hours after the high tide.
Water temperature near Agness have ranged from 72 to 75 degrees, forcing salmon to hold up in the bay, reports Martin. “Fishing in the Rogue Bay has been the best so far this season, with most boats catching multiple fish. Plain anchovies are working well. Tides this week switched to a morning bite near the jetties and in front of Jot’s.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org