The widely anticipated Pacific halibut opener was slated for Monday, but good ol’ Mother Nature had other plans. Ocean conditions up and down the coast were horrible, with gale force winds keeping fleets from the Bay Area to Brookings tied to the dock both Monday and Tuesday. That’s the bad news. The good news is the seas have since subsided and boats headed out through Humboldt Bay Wednesday in search of the season’s first haul of Pacific halibut. And once the boats made it to the halibut grounds, it didn’t take long to find the season’s first biters. A few charter and private boats took advantage of decent weather and put in quick limits of halibut up to 50 pounds. Ocean conditions look fishable at least through the weekend, and we now know the fish are there.
The Pacific halibut season will be open until Nov. 15 or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. The fishery will be open seven days a week, and the limit remains at one with no size restrictions.
Weekend marine forecast
After wind and rough conditions curtailed the first two days of the Pacific halibut season, better conditions lie ahead. Friday is calling for west winds 5 to 10 knots and waves northwest 4 feet at 12 seconds. Saturday winds will be out of the northwest 5 to 10 knots with northwest waves 4 feet at five seconds and northwest 3 feet at 11 seconds . Sunday winds will be out of the south up to 10 knots with northwest waves 5 feet at 11 seconds and southwest 4 feet at 15 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka or windy.com.
Updates to commercial and recreational Dungeness crab fishing
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced Tuesday it has assessed entanglement risk under the Risk Assessment Mitigation Program and implemented a 30-fathom depth constraint for fishing zones 1 and 2 (Sonoma/Mendocino county line to the Oregon state line) effective May 15 at noon for the commercial Dungeness crab fishery. Traps used in the commercial fishery will be prohibited in waters seaward of the 30-fathom contour.
Recreational crab traps will be prohibited in fishing zones 3-6 (all areas south of the Sonoma/Mendocino County line) effective at noon on May 15.
CDFW reminds recreational crabbers that take of Dungeness crab by other methods, including hoop nets and crab snares, is still allowed through the close of the season on June 30. For more information, visit wildlife.ca.gov/News/cdfw-announces-depth-restriction-for-the-commercial-dungeness-crab-fishery-in-fishing-zones-1-and-2-and-recreational-crab-trap-prohibition-in-zones-3-6-to-#gsc.tab=0
Kids free fishing derby coming May 20 to Ruth Lake
On Saturday, May 20, 2023 all kids 15 years old and younger are invited to the Ruth Lake Marina for the Kids Free Fishing Derby. The event will be from 8 a.m. until noon. Kids must bring their own fishing poles and must be accompanied by an adult. There will be a hot dog feed at noon. For more information, call the Ruth Lake Community Services District at 707-574-6332 or visit ruthlakecsd.org/kids-free-fishing-derby/.
Englund Marine Eureka Grand Opening May 5
Englund Marine Eureka will be holding its grand opening celebration this Friday, May 5 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. with the Eureka Chamber of Commerce. There will be sale prices on clothing, boots and raingear all day long. Englund Marine’s new location is 590 West Waterfront Drive, Eureka.
RMI Outdoors fishing contest
RMI Outdoors of Eureka will be holding their annual Screamin’ Reels fishing contest beginning on May 1 and running through Sept. 4. To enter, take a picture with your fish and like the RMI Facebook page at facebook.com/RMIOutdoors. Message RMI or email your picture to email@example.com. There are two categories, youth and adult youth. The youth with the most likes wins a fishing package and $50 RMI gift card and the adult youth with the most likes wins a $50 RMI gift card and a fishing rod. Visit rmioutdoorseureka.com/whats-going/screamin-reels-contest for more information.
The wind has made the beaches tough for anglers looking for redtail perch. When the ocean is rough, the mouth of the Elk River (stinky beach) or King Salmon are two of the better options to get out of the wind. Both can produce quality perch action. Conditions look much better the next few days. Centerville, Table Bluff, Samoa, and any of the lagoon beaches can provide excellent fishing. The north jetty, weather permitting, has been giving up some nice black rockfish and some quality lingcod. The south jetty hasn’t been as good, but that will likely change as water and weather conditions improve. Small swimbaits or scampi jigs are catching fish as well as herring fished under a float.
Brookings rockfish update
“Halibut season opened Monday with rough weather, big swells and strong winds,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “The conditions kept boats at the docks in Brookings, but a few charters out of Coos Bay returned with limits. Calmer conditions are expected the second half of the week. Lingcod and rockfish action continues to be good on calm weather days. Surfperch fishing is at its peak along Brookings-area beaches, with limits of anglers using raw shrimp or Gulp sandworms at high tide. Ocean salmon opens June 17 out of Brookings.”
Spring salmon fishing remains good on the lower Rogue, with the best fishing in years underway, reports Martin. “Springers also are beginning to show up in the catch near Shady Cove on the upper Rogue. Early May remains a peak season on the lower Rogue. Wild kings may 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 fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email firstname.lastname@example.org