Changes Coming to Sport Rockfish Regulations in 2023

Brookings Fishing Charters deckhand Eric Howard holds a vermilion and tiger rockfish caught July 30 at the Point St. George Reef Lighthouse near Crescent City. Significant changes are coming in 2023 to California’s rockfish regulations. Photo courtesy of Andy Martin

In response to recent scientific information suggesting some nearshore groundfish species are in decline, significant changes to California’s groundfish sport fishing regulations are expected starting next year, according to a press release issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The upcoming changes were developed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) to reduce pressure on these stocks, resulting in shorter fishing seasons in nearshore waters, but new opportunities in deeper water.

In 2022, nearshore groundfish fishing season lengths ranged from eight to 10 months, but in 2023, they are expected to shrink to not more than five-and-a-half months in all areas.

Within the 10-fish daily combined rockfish, cabezon and greenling bag limit, the sub-bag limits of one fish each for quillback and copper rockfish, and four fish for vermilion rockfish will continue in 2023. These sub-bag limits have been in effect since January of 2022 and were necessary because new information in 2021 indicated severe declines in the populations of quillback and copper rockfish off California, and recreational vermilion rockfish catch continued to be greater than sustainable harvest limits.

While groundfish fishing seasons will be shorter for nearshore waters and some bag limits are reduced, new opportunities to fish in deeper water beginning in 2023 will allow anglers to target healthy populations of shelf and slope rockfish in deeper waters, like schooling mid-water widow and yellowtail rockfish, or bottom-dwelling blackgill rockfish. Additionally, the sport fishing seasons for some other federally managed groundfish species like sablefish (sometimes called “black cod” or “butterfish”) will be open year-round without depth constraints. Access to these previously closed depths means new experiences for anglers as they explore new habitats, new fishing locations, new target species, and new gear configurations to assemble and deploy.

“Next year is expected to bring a momentous shift in the sport groundfish fishery as all but one of the overfished shelf species that drove management decisions for the better part of the past two decades are now healthy,” said CDFW Environmental Program Manager Marci Yaremko.  “While concerns for quillback and copper rockfish will impact the nearshore fishery in the coming years, there are also a number of new opportunities for anglers, and CDFW looks forward to supporting their development.”

To stay informed of in-season regulatory changes, call the Recreational Groundfish Hotline at (831) 649-2801 or visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Groundfish-Summary.

Weekend Marine Forecast
Following a breezy mid-week, winds will begin to weaken Friday through the weekend. Friday’s forecast is calling for winds 5 to 10 knots out of the northwest and northwest waves 4 feet at nine seconds and west 5 feet at 14 seconds. Saturday and Sunday are calling for winds up to 5 knots. Saturday waves will be northwest 4 feet at nine seconds while Sunday waves will be from the northwest 3 feet at eight seconds and south 2 feet at 13 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.

Donovan Scott from Scottsdale Arizona was all smiles after landing a nice Albacore tuna on Monday while fishing out of Shelter Cove with Jake Mitchell (pictured right) of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing.

Tuna Update
Fort Bragg and Shelter Cove were the hot ports the last couple days. Bragg boats found the tuna as close as 20 miles offshore. Scores ranged from the high teens to the mid-30s. The fish are big, too, with a hefty number of 30-pounders coming over the rails. The cove boats had it better, having to travel only 10 to 12 miles to find the right water and fish. The average score was about 30 per boat and mostly a nice grade of fish. A Dorado was also reportedly caught Monday.

Pacific Halibut quota update
The CDFW has projected 35,778 net pounds of Pacific halibut have been harvested through Aug. 2. In 2022, the Pacific halibut allocation for California is 38,740 pounds. The Pacific halibut fishery will run through Nov. 15 or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. To view the latest catch projection information, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking.

The Oceans:
Eureka
According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, Monday’s salmon opener was a little on the slow side. “There were a handful of fish caught over a wide area, didn’t sound like anyone found schools of salmon,” said Klassen. “There were a few caught in the Table Bluff area and down at the Eel River canyon, and a few up north. Just no big concentrations of fish. The water has warmed up north of the canyon, that could have something to do with it. We did find some really good sign between False Cape and Centerville on our way back from the Cape and had a couple quick bites, but nothing stuck. The rockfish bite at the Cape is excellent right now, with a wide variety and a really good grade. The Pacific halibut bite is still going strong, with the best bite coming between the 50 and 54 lines in 200 to 220 feet of water.”

Trinidad
“No big schools of salmon were located out of Trinidad on the opener,” said Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. “There were a handful caught but they are definitely scattered. A few were caught south off the beach in 60 to 100 feet of water. The black rockfish bite is still excellent out front, but Sue-Meg (formerly Patrick’s Point) seems to be the best spot at the moment. A bunch of canary rockfish have shown up as well. The ling cod bite has been a bit tougher lately. Pacific halibut has slowed slightly but is still good for the boats putting in some time.”

Shelter Cove
The Cove was the place to be this week for Tuna reports Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “There was a good bite on Monday straight out 10 to 12 miles. The boats that ran averaged about 30 tuna each. We boated a quick 25 then went rock fishing, which is still really good. Still a few Pacific halibut being caught when conditions allow you to get to Gorda. Salmon fishing is still very slow. We dedicated a whole day to it last Thursday and only ended up with two fish for the day.”

Crescent City
According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, Monday’s salmon opener was very slow. “I only heard of a handful of fish caught but it was just one day,” said Carson. “Hopefully they are out there somewhere. The Pacific halibut bite has been on fire this week. We’ve weighed in some big ones in the past few days, including some weighing 70 and 80 pounds. Most of the boats are targeting the halibut south of the South Reef. The rockfish action is steady, with limits coming easily. Lings are a little harder to come by. A few California halibut have been caught this week at South Beach.”

Brookings
Fishing remains decent for Pacific halibut out of Brookings, but slow for salmon reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “A few nice kings were caught last week, but overall catch rates are poor for salmon,” said Martin. “Lingcod and rockfish action has been good, with limits of both for charter boats. Sport crabbing is decent in the Chetco estuary. Several boats ventured offshore for tuna last week without success.

The Rivers:

Lower Klamath
There doesn’t seem to be a lack of fish milling about the estuary, but the bite has been pretty tough. The water is extremely warm, which is likely one of the factors.  There are a few being caught on the tides daily, it’s just not red-hot. It will likely be this way until we see the first big push of fall salmon enter the river. Spring-run regulations are in effect through Aug. 14, with a daily bag and possession limit of one salmon of any size.

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, salmon fishing has slowed on the Rogue Bay, but expect action to heat up again any time as August is the peak season. “Water temperatures are in the lower 70s near Agness, forcing kings to hold up in the bay. Fishing was good early last week, but the lull in the action over the weekend continued through Monday.”

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 kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Tough Go for Shelter Cove Salmon Anglers

Calvin Wagner of Boulder City, Nevada, boated this nice king salmon over the weekend while fishing out of Shelter Cove with Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

The ocean sport salmon season re-opened Friday in the Fort Bragg Management Area, which extends from 40°10’00” N. latitude to Point Arena, including Shelter Cove, and the reports weren’t great. During Friday’s opener, roughly 15 to 20 salmon were reported by the 20 to 25 boats. Though the numbers weren’t robust, there were some nice size fish caught, including a 29-pounder.

“The bite was slow over the weekend,” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “We’re seeing less than a fish per boat average, but the few being caught are a pretty decent grade. The water color and temperature are perfect, but there’s just not a lot of bait around. The local commercial guys even gave up after just a couple days. It doesn’t sound like Fort Bragg has been any better either.” The sport salmon season out of Shelter Cove will run through Sept. 5.

Weekend Marine Forecast
Gentle to light breezes will persist through midweek, while seas mostly hovering in the 4 to 5 feet range. Moderate northwest winds will likely return by Friday with some isolated gusts possible. Friday’s forecast is calling for winds 5 to 10 knots out of the north and northwest waves 4 feet at 10 seconds. Saturday winds will be from the north 5 to 10 knots with northwest waves 3 feet at four seconds and northwest 2 feet at nine seconds. Sunday’s forecast is calling for north winds 5 to 10 knots and waves out of the northwest 5 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.

Tuna Update
The first tuna of the season was caught last Thursday out of Brookings by Brookings Fishing Charters. Conditions were good on Monday and Tuesday and boats were fishing out of Fort Bragg, Shelter Cove, Eureka, Trinidad and Crescent City. Fort Bragg had the nearest run, with warm water sitting offshore approximately 31 miles. Top boats reportedly put 8 fish in the box while a boat out of Shelter Cove returned with nine. On Wednesday, Eureka was the top port. A few boats ran southwest roughly 40 miles and found a good bite. One of the local charter boats had at least 20 on board.

Sport Crab season coming to a close
The 2022 sport Dungeness crab season in Humboldt, Mendocino and Del Norte counties will close Saturday, July 30. The season is expected to reopen Nov. 5.

Sport salmon season within KMZ reopens Aug. 1
The local sport salmon season within the KMZ, which runs from the 40°10’00” N. latitude to the California/Oregon border, will open back up Monday, Aug.1, and run through Sept. 5. For more information on the sport salmon seasons, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon#recreational.

Ocean salmon closures begin Aug. 1
Klamath River mouth
The Klamath control Zone will be closed the month of August for ocean sport salmon fishing. The closed zone around the Klamath River mouth is bounded on the north by 41°38.80’ N. lat. (approximately 6 nautical miles north of the Klamath River mouth); on the west, by 124°23.00’ W. long. (approximately 12 nautical miles off shore); and on the south, by 41°26.48’ N. lat. (approximately 6 nautical miles south of the Klamath River mouth).
Eel River mouth
No salmon may be taken during the months of August and September in ocean waters at the Eel River mouth bounded on the north by 40°40.40’ N. lat. (approximately 2 nautical miles north of the Eel River mouth), on the west by 124°21.40’ W. long. (approximately 2 nautical miles offshore), and on the south by 40°36.40’ N. lat. (approximately 2 nautical miles south of the Eel River mouth).

Pacific Halibut quota update
The CDFW has projected 30,155 net pounds of Pacific halibut have been harvested through July 26. In 2022, the Pacific halibut allocation for California is 38,740 pounds. The Pacific halibut fishery will run through Nov. 15 or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. To view the latest catch projection information, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking.

The Oceans:                                                     
Eureka
“When the conditions are good, the Pacific halibut bite is good,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “The ocean forecast for this week looks excellent, so we should see some better scores. Most of the boats are around the 51 line in 215 feet of water. The tuna water is close and a few boats are making a run this week. Friday looks to be the best day. The California halibut bite is heating up in the bay with quite a few limits now being reported.”

Trinidad
“The Pacific halibut bite is still raging on, with limits the norm,” said Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. “They’re straight out and all the way to Patrick’s Point, with some coming as shallow as 150 feet. “The rockfish action is still excellent, with Patrick’s Point being one of the good spots. We’re also catching the occasional ling cod. Crabbing is still showing signs of life and we’re getting quite a few this week.”

Crescent City
According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, the rockfish bite is still wide-open when the boats can get offshore. He said, “The Sisters and the South Reef continue to provide limits. The California halibut bite slowed way down this week; it might have something to do with the water temperatures. August is typically when it gets good. A few Pacific halibut were caught this week, mostly coming from the South Reef. A handful of boats ran for Tuna on Tuesday.”

Brookings
“A few salmon are being caught in the ocean out of Brookings, but overall action is slow,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “The coho have moved north and the kings appear to be elsewhere. Lingcod and rockfish action has been very good, while halibut are also being caught in 200 feet of water just north of the border. The tuna water has moved offshore, about 45 miles out of Brookings. The first fish of the season was caught last week. Calm conditions this week will allow more boats to get offshore in search of albacore. Cloudy weather has prevented anglers from getting a good satellite image so far this week.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The estuary fishery remains slow and the bite varies from tide to tide and day to day. A small handful of adult kings are being caught daily. It will likely be this way until we see the first big push of fall salmon enter the river. Spring-run regulations are in effect through Aug. 14, with a daily bag and possession limit of one salmon of any size.

Lower Rogue
The Rogue Bay continues to fish well for salmon, as hot weather inland has warmed river temperatures and forced early fall kings to hold up in the estuary reports Martin. “Several kings topping 30 pounds have been caught. Most guides are getting at least a fish per rod. Anchovies trolled with small blades are working best. Summer steelhead fishing is slow upriver.”

Kenny Priest (he/him) 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 kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Pacific Halibut Quota Nearly Met

Fortuna resident Johnny Johnson landed a 90-pound Pacific halibut while fishing out of Eureka on July 7. Halibut fishing remains excellent out of Eureka and Trinidad. Photo courtesy of Johnny Johnson Sr.

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.

Marine Forecast
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.

The Oceans:
Eureka
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.”

Trinidad
“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.”

Shelter Cove
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.”

Crescent City
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.”

Brookings
“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 Rivers:
Lower Klamath
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.

Lower Rogue
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 kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Klamath Salmon Season Starting to Heat Up

Shirley Wagner of Loomis, California, landed a nice spring salmon Monday while fishing near the Klamath River estuary. Photo courtesy of Jerry Lampkin

Until recently, it had been somewhat of a slow start to the salmon season on the lower Klamath. And that’s to be expected. The late spring rains that fell in June increased flows and cooled the water. Both scenarios did wonders for the spring salmon, allowing them to make their way upriver to their spawning grounds. And by the looks of it, they have arrived at the upper Trinity in good numbers. To date, the Junction City weir has trapped 26 days and collected a robust 1,666 kings, including 46 jacks. Comparing that to last year, the same weir trapped for a total of 109 days for 1,848 kings. By all accounts, it appears the spring run, so far, is better than the previous few years. But now as the warm inland temperatures begin to warm the water flowing to the estuary, the salmon will likely slow down and hold. This is just what the anglers have been waiting for. Since it opened to fishing July 1, boats trolling near the mouth have caught just a handful of fish. But that is slowly starting to change. Spring-run regulations are in effect through Aug. 14, with a daily bag and possession limit of one salmon of any size. The fall quota won’t begin until Aug. 15.

Weekend Marine Forecast
Strong northerly winds in the outer waters will continue to bring steep seas to the inner waters. Northerlies will push closer to the coast Tuesday afternoon through midweek, then weaken late in the week. As of Wednesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for north winds 5 to 10 knots and waves northwest 5 feet at five seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for north winds 10 to 15 knots and waves northwest 7 feet at six seconds. Winds are forecast to increase Sunday, blowing 10 to 20 knots from the north with waves north 7 feet at seven 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.

King tides coming this week
Nighttime King tides will be in effect through early next week with minor flooding possible around high tide beginning Tuesday. The tide prediction for Wednesday is for a low tide of -2.09 feet at 6:17 a.m. and a high tide of 8.39 feet at 11:57 p.m. Thursday will see a -2.17-feet low at 7:05 a.m. and a high of 8.23 feet at 12:50 a.m. Friday. Areas most likely to see minor flooding are King Salmon and the Arcata bottoms.

Redtail perch/California halibut
The redtail perch bite has really picked the past couple weeks on the local beaches. One of the top spots has been Centerville Beach but you can catch them at just about any beach. Another top producer has been the mouth of the Klamath. The California halibut bite is also heating up. A few limits were reported this week, along with a lot of shorts. The minimum size is 22 inches and the daily bag and possession limit is three.

Pacific halibut quota update
The CDFW has projected 26,706 net pounds of Pacific halibut have been harvested through July 12. In 2022, the Pacific halibut allocation for California is 38,740 pounds. The Pacific halibut fishery will run through November 15, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. To view the latest catch projection information, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking

The Oceans:
Eureka
The Pacific halibut action is still really good, reports Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. He said, “Monday they didn’t bite great due to the conditions but prior to that it’s been pretty easy limits. They’ve moved in a little shallower lately but some are still being caught out in 300 feet of water. The black cod are still prevalent; we’ve been having better luck using sand dabs. The fish are a good size, with 25 to 30 pounds very common. And some bigger ones are being caught as well.”

McKinleyville resident Caddis Lovittt poses with a nice rockfish caught while fishing out of Trinidad aboard the Wind Rose. Photo courtesy of Curt Wilson/Wind Rose Charters

Trinidad
The Pacific halibut bite has slowed quite a bit, according to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. “The action has been hit and miss this week, with a few halibut being caught in shallow water. The rockfish are still on the chew, with plenty of black rockfish to make for great days. We’re also seeing some nice lings. I’ve been fishing between Cone Rock and Patrick’s Point and it’s been really good. When the weather switched, the crab bite definitely slowed down. Hopefully that will pick back up when the ocean settles down.”

Shelter Cove
“We’re still getting easy limits of rockfish,” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “The lings have been a little tougher to come by. The boats that made it to Gorda for Pacific halibut averaged about a half fish per rod.” Recreational ocean salmon fishing from the 40°10’ line, which includes Fort Bragg and Shelter Cove to Point Arena, is closed until July 22. The season will resume July 22-Sept. 5.

Crescent City
“Thresher sharks have showed up on South Beach this week and quite a few were caught,” said Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “Anglers slow trolling a herring or anchovy did really well. A few California halibut are being caught along the beach as well, but it’s not red-hot. The rockfish bite, however, is on fire. Limits of rockfish and lingcod are coming easily by anglers. The South Reef has been really good this year.”

Brookings
Salmon fishing slowed off of Brookings over the weekend, as warm water led to poor catch rates, reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Windy weather this week has already started to cool temperatures, which could give fishing as boost as the weather calms,” said Martin. “Some anglers are considering tuna trips Thursday or Friday. So far, no tuna have been landed out of Brookings. Halibut fishing has been good for Brookings-based boats fishing Point St. George Reef.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Spring salmon fishing improved quite a bit for trollers in the Klamath estuary Tuesday. Anchovies rigged with a spinner blade has been the top producer so far, but some are being caught on spinners and Cut Plugs. Best fishing has been on the incoming and a couple hours after the high.

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, the salmon fishing improved early this week on the Rogue Bay. “Monday was the best day so far this season. Fishing has been good in front of the Jot’s dock. Some of the kings are more than 20 pounds. Hot weather inland will keep water temperatures above 70, forcing salmon to hold up 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 www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Pacific Halibut Bite Remains Strong

Fortuna resident Austin Scilacci landed this monster 80-pound Pacific halibut Sunday while fishing out of Eureka with Marc Schmidt of Coastline Charters. Photo courtesy of Bryan Scilacci

Ocean conditions over the long weekend were just about perfect, and there were no shortage of holiday boaters taking advantage of the flat-calm seas while targeting Pacific halibut and rockfish. There were plenty of rockfish limits from Shelter Cove to Crescent City, but the halibut again garnered most of the attention, especially out of Eureka. Though tides weren’t favorable and the black cod were a nuisance, lots of halibut were still hitting the decks as they have been since the salmon season closed at the end of May. With a long stretch of fishable water in the week ahead, the quota count is sure to pile up. As of July 5, we are well over halfway (23,466 pounds) towards the cap of 38,740 net pounds. If you have yet to get in on the halibut action, and there’s probably very few of you left, this is your week to make it happen.

Weekend marine forecast
After a week of calm seas, the wind is forecast to pick up slightly Saturday. As of Tuesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for north winds up to 5 knots and waves from the west 2 feet at 10 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for north winds 5 to 15 knots and waves north 3 feet at five seconds and west 2 feet at nine seconds. Winds will be similar Sunday, blowing 5 to 15 knots from the north with waves north 6 feet at seven 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.

The Oceans:
Eureka
According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the Pacific halibut bite is still going strong. He said, “There was a couple days where the fishing slowed, but I think that was more on account of the tide change in the afternoon. The fish are still here, and I think they have moved in a little. Some have been caught around 220 feet. There are some nice ones around too, we’re seeing quite a few in the 25 to 30-pound range and some bigger ones as well. The rockfish bite at Cape Mendocino is still really good, and there’s some nice lings around too.”

Trinidad
The rockfish bite north of the head remains off the charts for black rockfish according to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. “I’ve been spending some time near Patrick’s Point, but there’s fish all over,” said Wilson. “The halibut bite is still red-hot; most boats are getting limits straight out of the harbor. The crabbing has really picked back up with the calm seas. We’re putting plenty of jumbos on the deck each trip.”

Shelter Cove
“There was a decent salmon bite by the Hat last Monday, but that’s been it,” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “The rest of the week boats were lucky to get one or two. Rock fishing has been great with easy limits at all the usual spots, including the Hat, Ranch House and Rogers Break. There’s been a few halibut caught when the boats can get north to Gorda.” Recreational ocean salmon fishing from the 40°10’ line, which includes Fort Bragg and Shelter Cove to Point Arena, is closed until July 22. The season will resume July 22-Sept. 5. For more information, please visit the ocean salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon.

Crescent City
“Ocean conditions were great over the holiday weekend, and the bottom fish bite was excellent,” said Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “Everyone who went out scored limits. The California halibut bite completely shut off, likely due to the ocean getting a little cooler. Razor clamming continues to be excellent at South Beach, with anglers scoring limits of big clams. The next round of minus tides begins July 10. A few Pacific halibut were caught at the South Reef.”

Brookings
“Salmon fishing busted wide open over the weekend, with limits of hatchery coho, a few kings and big numbers of shakers and wild coho,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “The salmon are in 180 to 270 feet of water, with diver, Fish Flash and anchovy combinations working best. Fishing is decent for Pacific halibut in 200 feet of water. Lingcod action has been good, with limits close to the harbor, and larger fish at the lighthouse. A 44-pounder was caught over the weekend on the Nauti-Lady. Albacore are being caught 40 miles off of Coos Bay, and a few Brookings boats are planning exploratory trips this week.”

Limits of hatchery coho salmon caught July 4 aboard the Miss Brooke of Brookings Fishing Charters with Capt. Sam Stover

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The spring-run salmon opener was slow over the weekend, with just a couple fish landed each day. The water temps have dropped due to the cooler weather and rain, so fish are likely moving upriver quickly. Once the water temperatures rise, a mixture of spring and fall salmon should begin to hold in the estuary. Spring-run regulations are in effect through Aug. 14, with a daily bag and possession limit of one salmon of any size.

Lower Rogue
Salmon fishing is slow overall on the Rogue Bay according to Martin. “A few kings are being caught. Cooler weather and light rain allowed river temperatures near Agness to dip to 63 degrees, allowing any salmon holding up in the estuary to blast upriver.”

Kenny Priest (he/him) 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 kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Pacific Halibut Continue to Chew Up Baits

Red Bluff resident Juan Nava landed a giant Pacific halibut while fishing out of Trinidad Monday aboard the Wind Rose. The big fish taped out at 58-inches and was estimated to weigh in the 90-pound range. Photo courtesy of Curt Wilson/Wind Rose Charters

The halibut bite over the weekend picked up right where it left off, with anglers pulling em’ over the rails at breakneck speeds. Boats were back on the water Saturday following last week’s windy conditions. And the Pacific halibut were ready and willing to take any bait sent their way. It’s been a while since we’ve seen fishing this good, and there’s a good chance it may come to an early end. With an entire month left before salmon season opens, which will command much of the attention, there’s a good chance the 38,740 net pound quota will be gobbled sometime in July. So, if you haven’t yet to get in on the action, you better make it quick. This fishery won’t last long. Through June 28, CDFW projected 18,143 pounds had been caught. But those numbers will be sure to skyrocket after the wide-open bite the last few days. To view the latest catch projection information, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking

Weekend marine forecast
After a nice stretch of calm seas, it looks like the wind will return starting Wednesday. As of Tuesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for northwest winds at 5 to 15 knots and waves northwest 6 feet at six seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for northwest winds at 5 to 10 knots and waves northwest 5 feet at seven seconds. The winds will decrease Sunday, coming from the northwest up to 5 knots. Waves will be from the  north 3 feet at seven 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. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

July 2 is statewide free fishing day
On Saturday July 2, people may fish California’s waters without a sport fishing license. All regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. On Free Fishing Days, every angler must have the appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead, sturgeon, spiny lobster, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems. For more information visit, www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Fishing/Free-Fishing-Days

Razor Clam fishery in Crescent City reopens
In a press release issued last Friday, The CDFW Director has re-opened the recreational razor clam fishery in Del Norte County following a recommendation from state health agencies that the consumption of razor clams in the area no longer poses a significant threat for domoic acid exposure. The razor clam fishery in Del Norte County was re-opened in April 2021 after a five-year closure due to high domoic acid concentrations that persisted in the razor clam population, but was then closed again in December due to public health hazard. Pseudo-nitzschia, a naturally occurring single-celled marine alga, produces the potent neurotoxin domoic acid under certain ocean conditions.

During the closure, state health agencies have continued to assess domoic acid levels in razor clams. Two separate clam collections from Crescent Beach, Crescent City this month taken more than a week apart all had domoic acid concentrations below the federal action level of greater than or equal to 20 parts per million.

Domoic acid poisoning in humans may occur within minutes to hours after consumption of affected seafood and can result in signs and symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to permanent loss of short-term memory (Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning), coma or death. There is no way to prepare clams that will remove the toxin. Cooking and freezing have no effect.

Health agencies continue to monitor domoic acid in razor clams in Del Norte and Humboldt counties, which are both now open to razor clam harvest.

CDFW reminds clammers that the daily bag limit for razor clams is 20 and the first 20 clams dug must be retained regardless of size or condition. The razor clam fishery is open south of Battery Point, Crescent City (Del Norte County) during even-numbered years. Each person is required to keep a separate container for their clams and is not allowed to commingle their take with another person when digging and transporting clams to shore. For more information on any fishery closure or health advisories, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/health-advisories.

To get the latest information on current fishing season closures related to domoic acid, please call CDFW’s Domoic Acid Fishery Closure Information Line at (831) 649-2883.

For the latest consumption warnings, please call the California Department of Public Health’s Biotoxin Information Line at (510) 412-4643 or toll-free at (800) 553-4133.

The Oceans:
Eureka

Halibut is still the focus out of Eureka, and the fishing is really good even though it slowed down on Tuesday reports Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “Not everyone is getting limits every day, it’s about being in the right place at the right time,” said Klassen. “If those line up, you’ll do well. The bite has moved slightly north, with most of the fish coming between the 48 and 54 lines. The fish are a little bigger now, with most falling in the 20-to-50-pound range. The good news is the black cod seemed to have vanished, which allows you to get the bait to the bottom. It looks like we’re in for windy conditions Wednesday through Friday.”

Trinidad
According to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters, the Pacific halibut bite out of Trinidad is about as good as it gets. “I think roughly 30 boats launched Sunday and I heard just about all the boats caught halibut,” said Wilson. “Most of the action is happening straight out and 265 feet seems to be the magic number. The rockfish bite remains wide-open, with the area between Cone and Turtle Rock being one of the better spots at the moment. The lingcod bite has been excellent, as well, with limits coming quickly most days. The crab bite seems to be dependent on the weather, but the customers are still going home with a few each trip.”

Shelter Cove
“Salmon fishing remains very slow at the Cove with only a few being caught each day,” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “The rockfish bite is consistently good and we’re getting easy limits. The ling cod have been a little tougher to come by. The Hat, Ranch House and Rogers Break are all producing solid action.”

Crescent City
“The ocean has been nice the last few days and the rockfish bite has been excellent,” said Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “California halibut have finally shown up with a few being caught daily off of South Beach by kayaks trolling anchovies and guys fishing off the rocks. The minus tides are producing excellent clamming conditions for the just reopened razor clam fishery. There’s lot of limits being reported, and good tides will stick around through the fourth. A few Pacific halibut are being caught at the South Reef along with plenty of Petrale Sole.”

Brookings
“After a fairly slow start to the ocean salmon season a week ago out of Brookings, catch rates soared on Sunday and Monday as charter boats zeroed in on schools of kings and coho around 4 miles offshore,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Charters averaged a keeper and a half per rod on Monday, with lots of wild coho and shaker kings released. Private boaters also are getting in on the action. The coho are near the surface, while the kings are 80 to 120 feet down in 250 feet of water. Anchovies are out-fishing artificial lures. Fishing for salmon close to shore remained slow. Lingcod and rockfish action has been good, while halibut fishing is slow to fair.”

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, a few salmon a day are being caught on the Rogue Bay, but the ocean is currently the best bet for kings. “Hot weather inland, however, will warm water temperatures on the Rogue and force early fall kings to hold up in the bay. The water temperature at Agness was 68.5 degrees on Monday, up from 59 degrees a week ago. When it reaches 70, the action on the bay typically heats up.”

Salmon season opens July 1 on parts of Klamath and Trinity Rivers
The spring Chinook salmon fishery on the lower Klamath River (downstream of the Highway 96 bridge at Weitchpec) and Trinity River (upstream of the confluence of the South Fork Trinity River) opens Friday, July 1, and will run through Aug. 14 on the Klamath River and through Aug. 31 on the Trinity River. The daily bag limit has been set to one Chinook salmon (no size restrictions), and the possession limit set at two Chinook salmon.

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 kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Windy Conditions Slow Pacific Halibut Bite

Fortuna resident Craig Smith landed a nice Pacific halibut last Wednesday while fishing aboard the Reel Steel out of Eureka. Prior to the wind picking up over the weekend, the halibut fishing was red-hot out of Eureka and Trinidad. Photo courtesy of Craig Smith

Halibut continues to be the focal point out of both Eureka and Trinidad after another week of sizzling action. Eureka charter and sport boats fishing a few miles on each side of the entrance in 250 to 300 feet of water reported quick limits. The Trinidad boats have done equally as good straight out of the harbor. And it’s looking like the only thing that will slow down the onslaught is if you can’t get to the fishing grounds. And that’s exactly what happened when the wind picked up Sunday. But that could be a blessing in disguise. The 38,740-pound quota has the potential to get chewed up quickly with the fleet consistently putting halibut in the box. Best case scenario would be for the quota to last at least through July when the salmon season opens back up Aug. 1. And the way our weather pattern is shaping up, the wind may just see to it. Through June 19, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has projected 8,771 pounds have been caught. To track the quota, visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking.

Weekend marine forecast
Gusty conditions will be prevalent throughout the week, but should improve by the weekend. As of Tuesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for north winds 5 to 15 knots and waves north 10 feet at nine seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for northwest winds up to 5 knots and waves northwest 6 feet at eight seconds. The winds will decrease Sunday, coming from the southwest up to 5 knots. Waves will be northwest 4 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.

Freshwater Lagoon trout plants
According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website, Freshwater Lagoon has been planted with trout almost weekly since early May. Reportedly, the fishing has been excellent this month for keeper-sized rainbows. Freshwater is open to fishing year-round and the limit is 5 trout per day and 10 in possession. For more information, visit www.nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FishPlants or call (530) 225-2146.

Fish Lake Kid’s fishing derby this Saturday
The 46th annual Kid’s Fish Lake Fishing Derby is taking place this Saturday, June 25 in Orleans. The derby starts promptly at 8 a.m. and runs until noon. It’s open to kids from Pre-K to the 8th grade. Poles and tackle will not be provided and an adult must accompany all children. Hot dogs and lemonade will be provided; adults are encouraged to bring a side dish or salad to share. The Orleans Rod and Gun Club, Six Rivers National Forest, Coast Central Credit Union, CA Deer Assoc., RMI Outdoors, AmeriCorps Watershed Stewards, and Our River Community host the event. For more information, contact Eric Fieberg at orleansrodandgun@gmail.com or 707-951-4453.

The Oceans:
Eureka
The boats left the Pacific halibut biting Saturday after being chased off the water due to the forecast of high winds and rough seas. And those conditions will continue through at least Thursday. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the Pacific halibut bite is still really good. “The fish are a little better grade this year, we’re seeing a lot of them in the 30-to-50-pound range,” said Klassen. “Boats are still having to deal with black cod, but if you can keep a bait on the bottom, your chances of catching a halibut are good. Cape Mendocino is providing excellent rockfish action as usual. There’s lots of variety, you can catch 8 to 10 different species on any given day. The ling cod bite isn’t as wide-open, but you can get limits if you put in the time.”

Trinidad
Rough water kept the charter boats close to port the last few days, but conditions should improve towards the end of the week. Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters reports the Pacific halibut bite is still raging. “Limits are pretty much the norm, with most coming straight out in roughly 250 feet of water,” said Wilson. “The rockfish bite continues to be really good, with lots of black rockfish being caught. The ling bite has also picked back up. The crabbing slowed down over the weekend.” added Wilson. Dungeness crab season using hoop nets and crab snares is open through July 30.

Shelter Cove
“Salmon fishing is still very slow with only a handful caught this week,” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “There isn’t much bait around and the water is clear blue in every direction. The rockfish bite is consistently good with limits the norm. The Hat and Ranch House are two of the better spots. I only heard of a couple halibut caught this week.”

Crescent City
“When the boats can get out, which hasn’t been the case the last few days, there are Pacific halibut to be had,” said Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “Most boats are fishing the South Reef in roughly 250 feet of water. Quite a few were caught last week, with fish all the way to 40 pounds. The rockfish action is still red-hot, with easy limits coming to those who put in the time. And you don’t need to go far, especially if it’s rough. There’s plenty of good spots outside the harbor going towards Castle Rock. A few more California halibut were caught this week. Some of the guys trolling South Beach who know what they’re doing are catching a few.”

Brookings
“The ocean salmon season opened on Saturday out of Brookings, with anglers allowed to keep two hatchery coho a day,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Wild or hatchery kings may be kept as part of the two-fish bag limit beginning this Saturday. Charters averaged a keeper coho per rod over the weekend and released numerous wild coho and kings. Plenty of bait in close has anglers excited about the king opener. Fishing has been good for lingcod and rockfish on calm weather days.

Lower Rogue
A few salmon are being caught daily in the Rogue Bay, with fishing also decent upriver reports Martin. “Hot weather inland this week should boost water temperatures in the bay and improve estuary trolling. Dredge operations are under way in the Rogue 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 www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Klamath/Trinity Rivers 2022 Salmon Season Set

Montana resident Sue McCormack with a fall-run Klamath salmon from a recent season. Photo courtesy Kenny Priest/Fishing the North Coast Guide Service

With the number of ocean kings destined for the Klamath River trending upwards, Klamath/Trinity river anglers will have a few more fall Chinook salmon to harvest this fall. During last month’s meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission adopted bag and possession limits for the Klamath Basin based on a quota of 2,119 fall-run adults.On the Klamath, the fall season begins Aug. 15 and closes Dec. 31. The fall season on the Trinity begins Sept. 1 and closes Dec. 31.

On the Lower Klamath, from the State Route 96 bridge at Weitchpec to the mouth, 1,060 adults will be allowed for sport harvest. The section above the State Route 96 bridge at Weitchpec to 3,500 feet downstream of the Iron Gate Dam will get 360 adults.

The Spit Area (within 100 yards of the channel through the sand spit formed at the Klamath River mouth) will close when 15 percent of the total Klamath River Basin quota is taken downstream of the U.S. Highway 101 bridge. In 2022, 318 adults can be harvested below the bridge before the closure at the mouth is implemented. The rest of the area below U.S. Highway 101 (estuary) will remain open to recreational fishing.

On the Trinity side, the quota is set at 699 adults. The quota will be split almost evenly; 350 adults for the main stem Trinity downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the State Route  299 West bridge at Cedar Flat and 349 adults for the main stem Trinity downstream of the Denny Road bridge at Hawkins Bar to the confluence with the Klamath.

The daily bag limit will be two Chinook salmon, no more than one of which may be greater than 23 inches, and a possession limit of six, of which only three may be greater than 23 inches. Once these quotas have been met, no Chinook salmon greater than 23 inches in length may be retained (anglers may still retain a limit of Chinook salmon less than or equal to 23 inches in length).

Klamath/Trinity spring salmon fishery
The spring Chinook salmon fishery on the lower Klamath River (downstream of the State Route 96 bridge at Weitchpec) and Trinity River (upstream of the confluence of the South Fork Trinity River) will open July 1 and will run through Aug. 14 on the Klamath River and through Aug. 31 on the Trinity River. The daily bag limit has been set to one Chinook salmon (no size restrictions), and the possession limit is set at two Chinook salmon.

All anglers on the Trinity and Klamath rivers must have Salmon Harvest cards in their possession when fishing for salmon.

Weekend marine forecast
Fishable conditions are in the forecast at least through Saturday. Friday, winds will be from the southt up to 5 knots with west waves 6 feet at 10 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for north winds 5 to 10 knots and west swells 6 feet at 10 seconds and south 2 feet at 15 seconds. On Sunday, northwest winds will begin to increase and predicted to blow 15 to 20 knots. Waves will be from the north 6 feet at six seconds and northwest 2 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 www.windy.com. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

Pacific halibut quota update
The CDFW has projected 5,473 net pounds of Pacific halibut have been harvested through June. 12. In 2022, the Pacific halibut allocation for California is 38,740 pounds. The Pacific halibut fishery will run through November 15, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. To view the latest catch projection information, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking

Minus tides this week
Minus tides that began last Sunday will continue through Monday. These are some of the lowest tides of the year and could create a dangerous Humboldt Bay bar crossing. Local boat ramps will also be affected. Thursday June 16: Low: 8:09 a.m. (-2.3 feet); Friday June 17: Low: 9:00 a.m. (-2.0 feet); Saturday June 18: Low: 9:50 a.m. (-1.5 feet); Sunday June 19: Low: 10:41 a.m. (-.9 feet)

The Oceans:
Eureka
Boats have been off the water since Saturday due rough water. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the Pacific halibut fishing was good prior to the latest blow. “Boats were still working in the same 9- or 10-mile area, from the 42 to 51-line,” said Klassen. “The biggest issue remains the number of black cod that you have to deal with. There doesn’t seem to be any shortage of halibut.”

Trinidad
According to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters, the halibut bite is still good out of Trinidad. “We had one tough day last week when we didn’t get limits, but it’s been good since,” said Wilson. “The best bite is still straight out of the harbor in 250 to 300 feet. The rockfish bite is red-hot, we’re catching lots of black and blue rockfish. The ling bite has tapered off a little. The crabbing is really good and the crabs are an excellent quality right now.”

Shelter Cove
“Rock fishing has been really good this week, but the salmon are nowhere to be found,” said Jake Mitchell, of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “Some silvers showed up, so hopefully the kings are behind them. The Hat and Ranch House are two of the better spots for rockfish. When we can get north to Rogers Break, there’s plenty of halibut to be had. We were able to put in limits on Saturday. Salmon fishing out of Fort Bragg has been wide-open since late last week.”

Crescent City
It’s been quiet the last few days due to rough ocean conditions, reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “It looks like we’ll see some calmer water the next few days. When the boats can get out, the rockfish bite continues to produce some good numbers. Either one of the reefs and the Sisters have been good. The big news of the week is a couple California halibut were caught off the rocks at South Beach. Hopefully we’ll start to see them show up in better numbers.”

Brookings
Ocean salmon season opens June 18 out of Brookings for hatchery coho. Anglers can begin keeping wild or hatchery kings, along with the hatchery silvers, June 25. According to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters, there’s lots of bait near the harbor and anglers are anticipating good fishing. “Limits of rockfish and a few lingcod are being caught, but Pacific halibut action is still slow,” said Martin. “Sport crabbing has improved.”

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, the first few salmon of the season are being caught by trollers in the Rogue Bay. “Warmer weather this week in the Rogue Valley could make fishing even better, as late spring kings are quickly moving through the estuary and blasting upriver. Typically, an early start to the bay fishery indicates an above-average run.”

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 kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com.

Pacific Halibut Takes Center Stage

Joey Winkler, of Stockton, landed a nice Pacific Saturday while fishing out of Trinidad. Photo courtesy of Tony Sepulveda/Green Water Fishing Adventures

With the closing of the first part of our salmon season, offshore anglers now have their sights set on Pacific halibut. And since Monday, there’s been a slew of them coming over the rails for both the Eureka and Trinidad fleets. The Eureka boats have had a little tougher go on account of the abundance of black cod lurking on the halibut grounds. In some spots it’s tough to get a bait to the bottom without it being eaten or mangled by the hungry cod. But when you find that spot where your baits can hit the bottom unmolested, it’s been game on. Trinidad has been producing limits for the charters and private boats since salmon season closed. Most of the fish are coming straight out of the harbor in 250 to 300 feet of water. No monsters have been reported yet, with the average size right around 20 to 30 pounds. With fishable water in the forecast through at least Saturday, now’s the time to get in on the action.

Weekend marine forecast
Ocean conditions look plenty fishable through Saturday. Friday, winds will be from the west to 5 knots with west waves 6 feet at 10 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for west winds 5 to 10 knots and west swells 5 feet at 10 seconds. On Sunday, north winds will begin to increase and predicted to blow up to 15 knots. Waves will be from the northwest 6 feet at six 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.

The Oceans:

Deaundray Robinson with a nice Pacific halibut caught Monday while fishing out of Eureka. Photo courtesy of Gary Blasi/Full Throttle Sport Fishing.

Eureka
Following a blustery and rainy weekend, boats were back on the water Monday in search of halibut. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, there’s a wide area of fish outside of Eureka. “Halibut have been caught from the 42 line north to the 51 line,” said Klassen. “There seems to be a lot of fish out there but the black cod are still making it difficult to keep your bait. If you can find an area free of cod that has halibut, you’ll do well. The rockfish bite at Cape Mendocino is producing as expected. There’s plenty of variety right now — on our last trip we boated 12 different varieties.”

Trinidad
According to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters, the halibut bite is wide-open for the guys who are putting in the time. “Most of the fish are coming straight out of the harbor in 250 to 300 feet,” said Wilson. “There have been quite a few limits caught the last few days. The rockfish bite is still good, and we’re seeing more lings this year than in years past. The crabbing has been excellent, we’ve moved our rings in shallow and we’re seeing lots of quality keepers.” Trinidad Harbor and the Seascape Pier are hosting a big fish (salmon and halibut) and photo contest starting June 1. Sign-ups are at the bait shop and are free.

Shelter Cove
“The salmon fishing was pretty slow last week, with the best boats averaging a half a fish per angler,” said Jake Mitchell, of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “Most of the effort has been around the buoys. Rock fishing remains great with easy limits but lingcod have been a little more difficult to find. We, along with a few other boats, took advantage of the flat weather the last couple of days and ran to Gorda and Rogers Break for rockfish and halibut. The halibut fishing has been really good.

Crescent City
A few Pacific halibut have been caught but there aren’t a lot of boats trying, reports Britt Carson, of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “The few halibut caught have come from the South Reef in 220 to 240 feet of water. The rockfish action is steady, with limits coming fairly easy. There are quite a few lingcod around as well. The California halibut haven’t shown up in big numbers yet. There is some effort but I think the water is still a little cold.”

Brookings
While anglers wait for the June 18 salmon opener out of Brookings, they have been targeting rockfish and lingcod with good success, reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “High water from last weekend’s rain turned the Chetco muddy and slowed ocean fishing close to the mouth, making the Bird Island and Twins Rocks area the best bet,” said Martin. “Halibut fishing is slow, but a few fish a day are being brought in.” 

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, the Rogue is between runs, with spring salmon almost over and fall kings still several weeks away. “With high flows, bay trolling won’t begin anytime soon. Fishing has improved in the Shady Cove and Gold Hill areas of the upper Rogue.”

Send in your fish photos
Land a big lingcod or halibut lately? Or maybe your friend or relative has reeled in their first perch. Email your fishing photo to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com and I’ll run them with the “Fishing the North Coast” weekly column. Just include the name of the angler in the photo, where and when it was taken and any other details you’d like to share.

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 kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Eureka Boats Leave the Salmon Biting

Eureka resident Peter LaVallee with a nice king caught Tuesday. The ocean sport salmon season in the KMZ closed after Tuesday, but will reopen Aug. 1. Photo courtesy of Tim Klassen, Reel Steel Sport Fishing

Last Friday and Saturday produced some of the best ocean sport salmon fishing we’ve seen in years — or maybe ever. It was nearly impossible not to get limits if you were anywhere near the right spot. And then the winds blew in and the seas turned rough, keeping the fleet tied up Sunday and Monday. Ocean conditions were much improved Tuesday, the last day of salmon season until Aug. 1., and the small fleet made the run to the last known location of a large school of kings, hoping for the magic to strike again. And it did. The fish weren’t in that exact location but they didn’t go far. After a little scouting and the schools located, it was whack and stack. What a way to end the first half. So now with salmon closed for a couple months, the focus will be squarely on the white meat variety: Pacific halibut and rockfish. 

Weekend marine forecast
Ocean conditions look excellent through the work week before the wind picks Saturday. Friday’s forecast calls for winds out of the southwest up to 5 knots and waves west 4 feet at 11 seconds and southwest 2 feet at 18 seconds. Saturday is looking a little rougher, with south winds 10 to 20 knots and waves south 5 feet at five seconds and southwest 2 feet at 17 seconds. Sunday looks a little better, with southwest winds 5 to 10 knots and west waves 5 feet at eight seconds and southwest 2 feet at 16 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. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

Ruth Lake Bass tournament this Saturday
Fortuna Fire Department CO-2’s will be holding the annual “Paul Jadro Memorial Bass Tournament” on Saturday, June 4. Blast off will be at 5:45 a.m. or at first safe light, by draw. The one-day tournament event offers a first prize award of up to $1,000 with payout to 1 in 3 in addition to door prizes and sponsor products. The entry fee is $140 per team with a big fish buy in option of $10. The tournament is catch and release and all competitors must fish from boats that are required to have operational live wells on board. Life jackets are required. Check in at the Marina on Friday June 3 at 4:30-6 p.m. or Saturday 4-5 a.m. For more information, contact Cody Waddell at 707-496-1717.

Fish for free this weekend in Oregon
Oregon will be having a Free Fishing Weekend June 4 and 5. On those two days, no license, tag or endorsement is required to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon. This applies only to waters already open to fishing, crabbing or clamming. All other regulations, such as bag limits, still apply. Visit www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2022/05_May/052622b.asp

Trinidad Big Fish and Photo Contest
Trinidad Harbor and the Seascape Pier are hosting a big fish (salmon and halibut) and photo contest starting June 1. Sign-ups are at the bait shop and are free. Fish must be caught by boats launched or moored at Trinidad Harbor. Halibut and/or salmon must be weighed and photographed by Harbor crew members. The contest ends when the 2022 quota is met. The Best Fish Photo can include lingcod, rockfish, salmon, halibut, and albacore. Send your photos to fishtrinidad22@gmail.com. Prizes include items from Redwood Coast Spreader Bars and Migration Clothing.

The Oceans:
Eureka
Boats looking for salmon got back on the water Tuesday after a couple days off due to rough seas and wind. The salmon were in roughly the same spot as when they left them biting Saturday. It was limit-style fishing for the fleet  that wanted another shot prior to the salmon season closing until Aug. 1. There were some Pacific halibut caught last Friday while conditions were ideal. Not many have ventured to the Cape but, with salmon closed, that will likely change. Ocean conditions look good through at least Friday.

Alex Fulton of Salyer with a nice king caught Friday out of Eureka with Andy Peterson.
Photo courtesy of Kenny Priest

Trinidad
The salmon bite was good over the holiday weekend out of Trinidad. According to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters, there was a good bite on the 00 line in 240 feet of water on Friday. He said, “Some halibut were also caught, with most coming straight out in 250 to 275 feet of water. The rockfish bite remains excellent and the ling cod have showed up in good numbers. The crabbing is good, with limits or close to it for the boats fishing rings/nets.” Salmon season will close after May 31 and open again Aug. 1.

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport fishing, the salmon fishing has slowed down a little bit with boats getting about a fish and a half per rod. “There hasn’t been any concentration of fish,” said Mitchell. “Boats are getting them from the whistle to the Hat. You don’t have to go far for rockfish, it has been pretty good just south of the whistle to the Old Man.” Salmon season will run through July 4, reopening on July 22 and running through Sept. 5.

Crescent City
According to reports, the salmon bite went belly up on Tuesday after having consistent bite for the entire month of May. The water temperatures could have slowed it down, it was a chilly 48 degrees Tuesday. The rockfish bite remains excellent and there were some big lings to 30 pounds caught prior to the wind picking up. There have only been a few Pacific halibut caught but there should be much more effort now that salmon season has closed until Aug. 1.

Brookings
Lingcod and rockfish action has been good out of Brookings, while just a few Pacific halibut are being caught, reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Catch rates for halibut improve in June and peak in July and August. Anchovies have arrived in the Port of Brookings and are thick outside the harbor, a good sign for the June 18 coho salmon and June 25 king salmon openers out of Brookings. The later-than-normal ocean salmon openers in Brookings coincide with what is typically the peak season. May and early June are closed on the Oregon side to reduce harvest of salmon bound for the Klamath River.”

Lower Rogue
Wild salmon can be kept on the Rogue River beginning June 1 according to Martin. “Although this year’s springer run has been much better than recent seasons, most of the spring kings have already moved through. High flows and cool water will allow late-arriving fish to blast through, keeping the summer bay fishery from heating up for several more weeks. Springers are now being caught in the upper river near Shady Cove.”

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 kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com.