Saltwater season ready for a reset

Ocean conditions look good for Friday

Elk Grove resident Berkeley Munoz landed a nice king salmon this week while fishing out of Shelter Cove. Despite the wind, quite a few salmon were boated out of the Cove this week. The weekend weather looks to be much improved for the entire North Coast, with winds topping out at 10 knots. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

After sitting on the sidelines watching the wind blow for more than a week, it looks like it’s finally laying down, allowing our saltwater fishing season to resume. Boats left the Pacific halibut and rockfish biting, and both should still be there when the boats get back on the water on Friday. The bigger question is will there be salmon. Every port outside of Eureka and Trinidad has had their share of good king fishing this season. But now, conditions are finally looking favorable for us. The blustery north winds that have blown all week dropped the water temps to a very salmon-friendly 50 to 52 degrees. If the salmon aren’t here now, there’s a real chance we won’t have much of season. With decent trolling weather forecasted through the holiday weekend, I’d expect the fleet to employ a full court press hunting for kings. Let’s hope they find em’, it’s getting to be now or never.

Important reminder:
When fishing for halibut, rockfish and salmon, or any combination of the three, the more restrictive gear and depth restrictions apply. When targeting salmon, or once salmon are aboard and in possession, anglers are limited to using barbless hooks (barbless circle hooks if fishing south of Horse Mountain) when fishing for other species.

When targeting rockfish, cabezon, greenling and lingcod, or once any of these species are aboard and in possession, anglers are limited to fishing in waters shallower than 180 feet when fishing for other species.

Weekend Marine Forecast
Strong northerlies and steep wind-driven seas will gradually subside after Thursday. As of Wednesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for N winds 5 to 10 knots and waves NW 6 feet at 8 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for N winds 5 to 10 knots and waves N 5 feet at 7 seconds and SW 2 feet at 18 seconds. More of the same for Sunday, winds coming from the N 5 to 10 knots and waves N 5 feet at 5 seconds and SW 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 https://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 (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Salmon season now open 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) opened on 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.

July 4 is statewide free fishing day
On Saturday July 4, 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, https://wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/free-fishing-days

The Oceans:                                                     
Eureka
There hasn’t been much to report during the last week as boats have been off the water since last Wednesday due to the wind. Prior to the wind, the Pacific halibut bite was still going strong and most boats were heading in with early limits. Hopefully once the ocean comes back down, the fish will still be there. The bit of good news following these howling north winds is the water temperatures off of Eureka. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, temperatures are down to 50 to 52 degrees from a high of 57. “The cold water out front is now connected south to Cape Mendocino,” said Klassen. “Obviously, we’re all hoping that when we get back out on Friday, there’s some salmon around.” With the ocean blown out, there’s been plenty of boats targeting CA halibut in the bay. Skipper Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing was back on the bay Tuesday for halibut and generally found the bite a little tough. He said, “The hard blow the last few days has things stirred up and that always has a way of making them shut down a little. Despite the conditions we put together three-quarter limits on a nice grade. Nothing that had to be measured. Looks like a much better weather week coming.”

Trinidad
“Despite the windy conditions, we were able to get out in the mornings this week,” said Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. “We were pretty limited as far as where we could go, so it was mostly catching limits of black rockfish. We’re also catching some keeper crabs, but we’re having to work hard for them,” Wilson added.

Shelter Cove
Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing has been dealing with windy conditions all week, but managed to get a half-day in just about every day. He said, “Salmon fishing was decent. Overall, for the week, we probably averaged a fish per rod in 4 to 5 hours of fishing. The grade is still pretty good. There hasn’t been much effort on the rockfish because of the wind.”

Crescent City
According to Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, the wind has been blowing all week, making for some tough conditions. “There’s been a few boats getting out early in the morning before the wind picks up,” said Hegnes. “I’ve heard they are catching a few salmon, with most of the effort to the south in 150 feet of water. The fish have been a decent grade, averaging 13 to 15 pounds. It’s been too rough to rockfish this week,” added Hegnes.

Brookings
“Salmon fishing has been very good at times offshore of Brookings, where anglers have caught more salmon in a few days than ocean anglers in the combined other areas have caught in the entire season, which opened as early as March elsewhere,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Through the first full week of the season, 619 adult kings have been checked by ODFW fish checkers in Brookings, including 332 the opening weekend. A total of 141 king salmon have been caught in the balance of the state, from Gold Beach to Astoria, since their seasons opened. Fishing has been open from Bandon north for three months. Late last week, there was a wide-open bite at the mouth of the Chetco, but fishing slowed early this week. Good weather is expected this weekend. Winds have made rockfish and lingcod difficult to reach.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The spring season opened on Wednesday and there were reportedly a few fish caught by trollers in the estuary. There’s some moss coming down the river, which will make it tough to fish on the anchor. The water temperature in the estuary should start to warm up now that the spring flow releases have ended on the Trinity, which should keep the fish holding in the estuary.

Lower Rogue
Salmon fishing is mostly slow on the Rogue Bay, with a few decent days mixed in reports Martin. “Water temperatures have warmed enough to keep salmon held up in the bay, but anglers are waiting for bigger number of fish to arrive. Early July generally kicks off the peak season,” added Martin.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Wind curtails wide-open Pacific halibut action

McKinleyville resident Lawrence Sobolewski hauled in this whopping 37-pound California halibut last Friday inside Humboldt Bay. Photo courtesy of Lawrence Sobolewski

Halibut continues to be the shining light out of both Eureka and Trinidad as the sizzling bite continued into this week. It’s looking like the only thing that will slow it down is if you can’t get to the fishing grounds. And that’s exactly where we are. After a long stretch of good weather and even better fishing, the ocean lumped up, giving the Pacific halibut a breather. Over the weekend and earlier in the week, the charter fleet were reporting limits for six customers as early as 8:30, which is practically unheard of. With virtually no salmon to speak of, hopefully the halibut will still be on the chew once the seas come back down. The California halibut bite hasn’t been quite as hot, which can be attributed to the minus tides and big swings we’ve had this week. Humboldt Bay was packed over the weekend, and there were quite a few boats that reported three fish per angler limits. For a well-known salmon port like Eureka, the lack of salmon is a tough pill to swallow. But at least we have our halibut.

Weekend marine forecast
Northerly winds and steep seas will persist through the weekend. As of Wednesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for N winds 5 to 15 knots and waves NW 9 feet at 8 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for N winds 10 to 20 knots and waves N 8 feet at 8 seconds. The winds will increase on Sunday, coming out of the N 15 to 20 knots and waves NW 8 feet at 10 seconds forecasted. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://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 (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Freshwater Lagoon trout plants
According to the CDFW website, Freshwater Lagoon has been planted with trout since mid-April. 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 http://www.nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FishPlants or call (530) 225-2146.

The Oceans:
Eureka
Eureka is still the place to be for all things Halibut. The only factor that can slow the bite appears to be the ocean conditions, and that’s what’s happening right now. “The Pacific halibut action over the last two weeks is the best I’ve ever seen,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing “But now it looks like they’re going to get a break. We have some pretty rough conditions forecasted through the weekend. Earlier in the week the fishing was lights out, with just about all the boats catching their limit or close to it. The fish have been in the same general area, straight out and ranging from 250 to 320 feet of water. Most of the fish are still on the small side, but we are starting to see a few bigger ones being caught. Inside the bay, the California halibut bite has been fair, mostly due to the minus tides we’ve had this week. There seems to be plenty of fish around, but the big tide swings seem to have slowed the bite.”

Casey Allen fishing Humboldt Bay Wednesday June 10th landed this nice 24-pound California halibut on light tackle. Photo submitted by Marlene Allen

Skipper Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing fished the Cape through Saturday and reports the lingcod bite was on fire. “Limits every day with more 20 pounders for the week than I could count and several over 30,” said Sepulveda. “The top fish was a 37 pounder.  The great weather started breaking down so I’ve moved the boat north to Trinidad.  We’re making a 20-mile run from there for limits of lingcod and colorful rockfish in an area that’s more protected from the wind than the lost coast. Pacific halibut have also been on the chew and we’ve been topping off our bottom fish limits with some shots at them. A 58-pounder was our best fish, but most are running 10 to 20 pounds.”

Trinidad
According to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters, the weather hasn’t been great this week. He said, “We did a few halibut trips, and only caught a few. The fish are definitely still here, but it can be tough to get them in rough water. A lot of the smaller boats didn’t make it out this week. The rockfish bite is still going strong. Flat Iron and the Turtles are some of the better spots. We’ve been finding a better variety out deeper. A few keeper salmon were caught this week, but there isn’t much effort.”

A couple nice kings caught out of Shelter Cove on Monday. Photo courtesy of Jared Morris/C’Mon Sport Fishing

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, the salmon bite was pretty sporadic this week. He said, “Some days were pretty good, but you had to be there at the right time. Most of the salmon effort was inside the whistle in 40 feet of water. The grade this week was pretty good with many fish in the 20-pound class. The rockfish bite was pretty good down off Bear Harbor this week as well.”

Crescent City
A couple of boats came in on Tuesday with limits of salmon reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “The fish are really scattered, and there aren’t many boats trying. The fish that were caught on Tuesday came south of the South Reef. The rockfish and lingcod bite are still going strong, with anglers coming back with limits of both. There hasn’t been much effort on Pacific halibut, and I haven’t heard of any California’s caught this week.”

Brookings
The salmon opener off of Brookings on Saturday was the best in several years, with more than 100 boats returning with salmon onboard reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Most had multiple fish,” said Martin. “The fish were shallow, feeding on schools of anchovies and herring close to the harbor. Fishing also was good Sunday and Monday, but slowed Tuesday, although several dozen kings were caught. Fishing was especially good considering the windy weather and choppy seas early this week. The Miss Brooke of Brookings Fishing Charters had two doubles and a triple on Saturday, with 12 adult kings from 10 to 20 pounds for six anglers. 

Fishing for rockfish has been extremely good, with quick limits. Lots of fish have moved close to the harbor to feed on anchovies. Lingcod fishing is fair, with decent numbers of fish caught this past week. Rough weather has kept boats away from the halibut grounds.”

Lower Rogue
Salmon fishing remains slow on the Rogue Bay, but should improve with quickly warming water temperatures according to Martin. “The temperature at Agness increased from 61 degrees last week to 72 degrees on Tuesday. The warm water halts the upstream migration of salmon and forces them to hold in the bay, sparking the summer fishery in Gold Beach,” added Martin.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Pacific halibut flying over the rails

Rosemary Kelly landed a nice Pacific halibut on a recent trip out of Trinidad. The halibut bite off the North Coast has been red-hot the past two weeks. Photo courtesy of Curt Wilson/Wind Rose Charters

The Pacific halibut bite on the North Coast is sizzling right now. With salmon virtually nonexistent, offshore anglers have honed in on the halibut, and they are coming over the rails at a record pace. Eureka, Trinidad, and eve Shelter Cove have all experienced some exceptional fishing. And we’re not talking about a couple halibut per boat, we’re talking full limits by early morning. It’s akin to how our salmon fishing used to be. A couple passes, load em’ up and head to the barn. Some of the credit should go to the weather. We had solid 10-day stretch of fishable water that started on the salmon opener and ended on Wednesday. As for location, it’s been the same for a long time. You’re in the zone once you reach 250 to 300 feet of water weather you’re fishing out of Eureka or Trinidad. The fish this year have been on the small size. The average is running around 12-pounds, but we’re seeing plenty in the 20-pound class and the occasional 50 to 60 pounder. With the salmon nowhere to be found, a wide-open halibut bite couldn’t have come at a better time.

Weekend marine forecast
Northerly winds and short period seas will persist through Thursday as high pressure builds over the northeast Pacific. Winds and seas are forecast to diminish slightly on Friday and for the weekend. On Friday, NW winds are predicted at 10 to 15 knots and N waves 7 feet at 7 seconds and NW 3 feet at 12 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for N winds 5 to 10 knots and W swells 6 feet at 11 seconds and SW 2 feet at 16 seconds. Sunday’s conditions look similar with N winds 5 to 15 knots and NW swells 6 feet at 7 seconds and SW 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 https://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 (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

The Oceans:
Eureka
Good news and not-so-good news out of Eureka this week. First the good news. The Pacific halibut fishing is as good as it gets right now. “I’ve never seen it like this,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “The fish are mostly small, but there seems to be lots of them. Doubles and triples aren’t uncommon, and limits came pretty easy this week. Most of the action was between the 45 and 54-line in 250 to 320 feet of water. Usually there’s patches of fish here and there, but the patches are bigger right now. The water is a little on the warm side – it was 57 degrees on Tuesday – which explains why we’re seeing lots of Mackerel and Blue sharks. All the usual baits are working, including herring and salmon bellies. And the Mackerel works well too. The rockfish and lingcod bite at the Cape are also holding their own.

George Short landed a 36-pound lingcod while fishing near Cape Mendocino. Photo courtesy of Tony Sepulveda/Shellback Sport Fishing

Skipper Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing has made his way to the Cape six of his last seven trips and reports an excellent grade of ling cod. “Not as abundant as years past, but we’ve been bringing our A game, working hard and putting together limits every day,” said Sepulveda. “Of the 72 lingcod we boxed over that span, about a third were over 20-pounds, with 5 over 30. None have been under 10 and the top fish hit the scales at 36. The rockfish have been easy pickings and we’re finding some smaller pacific halibut on the reef too.  We did one day in the bay – my first of the season – and the California halibut bit well.  We boxed 18 fish to 14 pounds for limits by noon.” Now the not-so-good news. The salmon are nowhere to be found. A few guys have been trying, but without much success. There isn’t much bait around, and the water temps are a little on the warm side. North winds are predicted to blow for a few days, hopefully this will help cool the water.

Trinidad
“Like the rest of the coast, the Pacific halibut bite is the big story in Trinidad,” said Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. “The bite has been wide open, with limits coming pretty easily. There’s no real spot better than the other, boats have been heading 2.5 miles straight out to 250 feet and doing well. Most of the fish are smaller, but there’s a few bigger ones being caught now and then. Most of our rockfish trips lately have been to Reading Rock, where we’re catching a good variety of fish. The Canaries have been the highlight so far, and we’re catching some nice vermilions and blacks as well. The ling cod bite has been slower, but we’re still getting limits. The ling cod bite has also been spotty inshore from Patrick’s Point to the harbor. The salmon effort has been really low. I don’t think many are trying, and for good reason as it seems that there aren’t many around.”

Shelter Cove
The salmon bite turned on and has been wide open for the last few days reports Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. He said, “However, the wind started on Tuesday and ruined the party. Hopefully they’re still around when the weather settles back down. We were getting them off the edge of the banks outside the Hat where there was a lot of krill. There is a mixed grade with a lot of small fish and silvers, but there are quite a few nice ones too. The weather allowed some boats to get up to Gorda on Saturday for halibut and they did pretty well. Sounded like most boats had at least two halibut and a couple fish close to 80lbs.”

Crescent City
The salmon bite remains slow, but there’s a lot of effort reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “The boat launch was packed over the weekend with boats looking for salmon. There were some caught but overall, it’s been slow. There are quite a few silvers around though. There hasn’t been much effort on Pacific halibut this week as most are targeting salmon or rockfish. The rockfish bite has been really good, and lots of lings are coming in too. The California halibut bite remains slow, but did see a few hooked this week.”

Brookings
Ocean salmon season opens this weekend out of Brookings, but windy weather could limit success reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Bottom fish anglers are catching and releasing a few kings in close, and commercial trollers, who are already allowed to fish, are finding lots of smaller salmon. Bottom fishing has been good, while halibut fishing is fair.”

Lower Rogue
The Rogue Bay continues to be slow for salmon according to Martin. “Cooler water is allowing late springers to race upstream. Few salmon appear to be holding in the bay,” added Martin.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Tough opener for salmon anglers

Prior to Saturday’s sport salmon opener, the ocean out front of Eureka was swarming with life. Lots of bait, piles of birds and favorable water temps. All of which typically indicate the salmon are close by. By Saturday, those signs had vanished, taking with it any hopes of a salmon bounty. A couple boats landed on some fish and managed to box limits of small salmon, but that was far from typical. Overall, it was disappointing start to what was supposed to be decent season. After watching the Bay Area boats load up on big kings daily and plenty of quality fish coming out of Shelter Cove, hopes were high. But it wasn’t meant to be. At least not yet. For all we know the fish could be out in deeper water, right on the beach, or they could still be making their way here. Crescent City had a good opener, so that’s encouraging. Until the kings arrive, halibut and rockfish will suffice.

Weekend marine forecast
Light winds and long period swells will continue through the weekend. Saturday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the S 5 to 10 knots and W swells 5 feet at 9 seconds. Sunday’s prediction is winds out of the N 5 to 10 knots and W swells 6 feet at 9 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://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 (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

The Oceans:
Eureka

After the first weekend, it doesn’t look like the salmon are here reports Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “Most of the fish caught were shakers, and it doesn’t seem like there’s many of those around either,” said Klassen. “The keepers caught over the weekend were small, most in the 22 to 24-inch range. Whatever signs of life we saw prior to the opener is gone now. There isn’t much bait, birds, and we haven’t seen any whales. It’s pretty lifeless, but the water temps are still good. Boats spread out over the weekend covering water from the Eel Canyon north to the 50-line and couldn’t locate any schools. Hopefully they’re around and we just haven’t found them yet. The Pacific halibut bite is really good right now, but the fish are mostly small.” With salmon being tough to come by, Skipper Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing has been making his way to the Cape daily in search of quality rockfish. “It’s been the usual deal,” said Sepulveda. “Limits of lingcod to 25 pounds and rockfish the size of basketballs.  Lots of reds, coppers and canary. And in the middle of a great stretch of weather too.”

Trinidad
“The salmon opener out of Trinidad was similar to Eureka – a few small kings around,” said Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. “I’ve only heard of a couple caught since the weekend. The Pacific halibut action is still really good, with just about everyone getting limits up to 20-pounds. Rock fish have been on the bite at Redding Rock, with lots of variety and lings up to 40-pounds. The sport crabbing is spotty, but we’re getting limits or close to it every trip.”

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, the salmon bite has slowed way down the last few days. “There was a decent amount of fish caught on Saturday, but it has dropped off to nearly nothing last couple days,” said Mitchell. “Most of the effort has been right around the whistle, but boats have been spreading out the last couple of days looking but didn’t find anything.  The rockfish action at Rogers Break is still excellent and the lingcod bite has really picked up.”

Michael McGahan of Brookings fished the salmon season opener out of Crescent City with friends, landing eight keeper kings and losing a few more trolling anchovies. The kings were 5 to 18 pounds. Photo courtesy of Ray Fairfax

Crescent City
There were a few nice kings caught on the opener, but it wasn’t stellar reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “A few boats were able to score limits of salmon, and some decent size fish were caught. Overall, it seems the fish are really spread out and there’s lots of shakers around. Boats have been looking from 175 out to 300 feet of water. The rockfish bite continues to be good, with easy limits including lings. A few small pacific halibut have been caught, but the California’s have yet to show.”

Brookings
Anglers fishing out of Brookings are catching limits of rockfish and some lingcod as they wait for the June 20 salmon opener on the Oregon side of the border reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Lots of bait schooled up near the harbor combined with promising reports from Crescent City have Brookings anglers optimistic about the opener at the end of next week.”

Lower Rogue
The first few salmon have been caught in the Rogue Bay according to Martin. “It is still early, and fishing is slow, but a few kings are holding in the bay. The water at the tips of the Gold Beach jetties is extremely shallow, as low as 2 feet during the minus tide. Bar conditions have been extremely rough all spring. The dredge will arrive in July. Moss is making spring salmon fishing tough upriver,” added Martin.

Send in your fish photos
Land a big salmon 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 and also post them on the digital version on times-standard.com. Just include the name of the person in the photo, where and when it was taken and any other details you’d like to share.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Excitement abounds – salmon season opens Saturday

Garberville resident Broc Contreras landed a nice salmon this week while fishing out of Shelter Cove. The ocean sport salmon season from Shelter Cove north to the CA/OR border will open on Saturday and run through Aug. 9. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

The crown jewel of our ocean fishing season will kick off on Saturday, and it couldn’t come at a better time. To say we could use a break or a distraction from what’s happening in the world would be an understatement. Though the effects of the on-going pandemic and protesting will likely take a little luster off the opener, there will be plenty of full boats loaded with smiling anglers headed out come Saturday morning. What will they find? No one knows for sure, but I like what I’m hearing from our surrounding ports. The bite out of Shelter Cove picked up this week, and the grade of fish was excellent. Though not open until Saturday, there’s been quite a few salmon caught incidentally in Crescent City by boats targeting rockfish and anglers fishing close to the beach for CA halibut. In the Eureka area, the nearshore water temperatures have cooled to a salmon-friendly 52-53 degrees, and there appears to be plenty of birds and bait. All signs are pointing towards a very good opener, and boy can we use it.

Weekend Marine Forecast
If the forecast holds, salmon anglers should get in a decent weekend of fishing. Saturday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the W 5 to 10 knots and waves W 5 feet at 10 seconds. The forecast is a little rougher on Sunday, with winds coming out of the NW 5 to 10 knots and W waves 7 feet at 10 seconds. A chance of showers is in the forecast for Saturday. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://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 (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Use extreme caution when crossing Humboldt Bar
There could be potential early morning hazardous bar conditions beginning on Saturday due to the combination of tides and swells converging at the time when boats could be headed out the entrance. For the salmon opener on Saturday, 8 feet. of water will be flowing out down to a -2.0 feet at 7:03 a.m. You should always error on the side of caution — even if it means waiting until the out-flowing water from the bay has slowed, which usually occurs within 30 to 45 minutes prior to the tide bottoming out. Recreational anglers can provide bar reports on VHF channel 68 while the Coast Guard emergency channel is 16 on the VHF. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. The bar cam, located at http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/barCam/?cam=humboldtBayBar, remains off line.

Weekend tides
The tidal exchanges will be big this weekend, with minus tides in the morning making for a potentially dangerous bar crossing.

Saturday June 6: High: 12:02 a.m. (8.0) and Low: 7:03 a.m. (-2.0 ft.), High 1:51 p.m. (5.6 ft.) and Low 6:44 p.m. (2.6 ft.)

Sunday June 7: High: 12:46 a.m. (7.8) and Low: 7:49 a.m. (-1.9 ft.), High 2:43 p.m. (5.6 ft.) and Low 7:34 p.m. (2.8 ft.)

General sport salmon regulations:
Our 2020 ocean sport salmon season runs from June 6 through August 9 and is open from the OR/CA border south to Horse Mountain, (Klamath Management Zone). Fishing is allowed seven days per week for all salmon except Coho, two fish per day and a minimum size limit of 20 inches total length for Chinook. The possession is no more than two daily bag limits in possession while on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. No salmon punch card is required for ocean salmon fishing. For complete ocean salmon regulations, please visit the Ocean Salmon webpage at https://wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon#recreational or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline (707) 576-3429.

Big Salmon Contest
Eureka’s Englund Marine will be holding its BIG FISH Salmon Contest again this year. The annual event runs from June 6 to August 9. There is no entry fee and you can enter as many fish as you’d like. Salmon need to be gutted and gilled. Prizes will be awarded to the top three fish. A complete list of rules and regulations are available at Englund Marine, 2 Commercial St., Eureka, 707-444-9266.

RMI Outdoors fishing contest
RMI Outdoors of Eureka will be holding their second Screamin’ Reels fishing contest beginning on June 6 and running through Aug. 9. There are three categories: ocean salmon, Pacific halibut, and California halibut. You can enter up to six fish per day: two ocean salmon, three CA halibut, and one Pacific halibut per day. An RMI Outdoors associate will weigh your catch, fill out an entry form, and take your picture for the brag wall. All salmon must be gutted and gilled; anglers must have a valid 2020 fishing license; Fish and Wildlife regulations apply. Each angler that brings in a fish has a chance to win a $100 RMI Gift Card. Visit https://www.facebook.com/RMIOutdoors

Fish for free this weekend in Oregon
Oregon will be having a Free Fishing Weekend on June 6 and 7. 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 https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2020/06_June/060320b.asp for more info.

The Oceans:
Eureka
“The Eureka fleet hasn’t been offshore since last Thursday,” said Skipper Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “The wind has been blowing and it’s just been too rough. When we did get out, the halibut bit pretty well. There were some limits caught on the 48-line in 300 feet of water. Most of the fish were on the small side. Looking ahead to salmon, it looks like the wind will die down for the opener on Saturday. The last time we were on the water, the salmon signs looked pretty good. There were lots of birds from the entrance to the whistle buoy and lots of bait in 40-50 fathoms.”

Trinidad
The Pacific halibut fishing has been really good this week reports Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. He said, “We’ve been able to get limits every day, but most of the fish have been on the small side. We’ve been fishing a mile north in 240 feet of water. The rockfish bite has been good as well, but the lingcod have been a little tougher to come by. The salmon opener is looking promising. Out in 240 feet of water there’s been lots of life. Birds, bait, whales and we’ve seen a few salmon on the surface. That’s probably where we’ll start on Saturday,” added Wilson.

Shelter Cove
Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing reports there’s been a pretty decent salmon bite around the whistle the last few days. “The water temps are about perfect, and more bait is starting to show up,” said Mitchell. We’ve been getting them mooching, but the trollers are doing well too. The fish have been a really good grade so far. The rockfish bite has been good around the Hat this week as well with the exception of lingcod, which have been a little tougher to come by lately. Looks like wind is going to blow for a few days.”

Crescent City
“All signs are pointing to a good salmon opener,” said Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “The water temps are good, and there’s lots of birds and bait. And quite a few salmon have been seen finning on the surface. The salmon seem to be in close too, with good signs around Round Rock. The rockfish bite has picked up as well, with boats getting easy limits of lings as well. Just a few California halibut have been caught, but that should get going soon,” Carson added.

Brookings
Windy weather has limited ocean fishing to the early morning, but it isn’t taking anglers long to limit on rockfish and get a few lingcod reports Andy Martin, of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Bottom fishing has been very good close to the harbor,” said Martin. “Ocean salmon season doesn’t open until June 20. The surfperch action is at its peak right now as the fish have just begun spawning at Brookings-area beaches.”

Lower Rogue
Salmon fishing remains slow on the lower Rogue, mainly because of the amount of moss in the river according to Martin. “Baits must be continually reeled in and cleaned, limiting their effectiveness. Wild kings may now be kept on the Rogue. The bay has yet to produce any salmon,” said Martin.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Offshore angling hampered by wind

It was a very quiet holiday weekend, especially for the boats that wanted to head offshore. The north wind was prevalent out of Eureka all weekend, never letting up enough to allow boats to venture outside Humboldt Bay. But, judging by the number of boats, kayaks, and even bank anglers fishing in the bay, there was clearly a pretty good alternative. California halibut was the main focus for anglers, and the fishing was either good or bad – depending on who you talked to. Scores ranged from limits to skunks, and everything in between. Halibut are currently scattered from North bay all the way down to the Coast Guard Station. The Fairhaven area was the scene of some pretty good fishing the last few days by both bank anglers and boats. The mouth of Elk River also produced some decent action. Live bait always seems to produce more fish, but plenty were caught this weekend drifting and trolling dead anchovies. Swimbaits also caught their share of fish. This fishery will only get better as we move through the summer. Halibut should continue to move into the bay in bigger numbers, and they should continue to get bigger as well. The limit is three and the minimum size is twenty-two inches total length.

Weekend marine forecast
Strong north winds and steep seas will continue through Friday, but it looks like seas will settle down over the weekend. On Friday, W winds will be 5 to 15 knots with N waves 8 feet at 8 seconds and W 7 feet at 14 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for W winds 5 to 10 knots with NW swells 6 feet at 11 seconds. Sunday’s prediction is for N winds 5 to 15 knots with NW swells 6 feet at 9 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://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 (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Big Halibut Contest
Eureka’s Englund Marine is once again holding their BIG FISH Halibut Contest. The annual event started May 1 and will run through October 31, 2020, or until the quota is reached. There is no entry fee and you can enter as many fish as you’d like. Fish do not need to be gutted and gilled. Prizes will be awarded to the top three fish. A complete list of rules and regulations are available at Englund Marine, 2 Commercial St., Eureka, 707-444-9266.

The Oceans:
Eureka
Ocean conditions were terrible over the weekend reports Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “We haven’t been out in a couple weeks, and conditions don’t look great heading into the weekend. Thursday is looking like the best day.”

Shelter Cove
Like the rest of the North Coast, Shelter Cove didn’t have much action over the weekend due to the wind according to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. He said, “It was very windy and hardly anyone was out. I think only two boats made it out for a while, and I heard they caught one salmon. Looks like we should be getting a little break from the wind this weekend.”

Crescent City
“When the boats have been able to get out, the rockfish bite has been excellent,” said Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “The weather wasn’t great over the weekend, but boats that went out came back with limits. There were also a couple Pacific halibut caught at South Reef using B2 squid. The California halibut are starting to trickle in, I heard a few were caught this weekend. The big news is there were several salmon caught and released recently. They were in close and some were caught off the lighthouse jetty. This is encouraging with our salmon season opener right around the corner,” Carson added.

Jake Schwab of Logan, Utah, holds a black and canary rockfish caught May 24 with Brookings Fishing Charters. Photo courtesy of Brookings Fishing Charters

Brookings
Lingcod and rockfish action remains very good out of Brooking reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Pacific halibut are being caught on calm days when boats can get offshore. Fishing is still slow for California halibut. Ocean salmon season opens June 20 out of Brookings,” added Martin.

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, spring salmon fishing improved a little on the lower Rogue last week, as more hatchery fish arrived. “Fishing remains slow, but anglers putting in their time are finding an occasional springer in the Elephant Rock area.”

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Fall salmon quotas set for Klamath and Trinity rivers

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted the Klamath River basin fall-run adult salmon quota, which will begin on Aug. 15 on the Klamath and Aug. 31 on the Trinity. The basin-wide quota in 2020 is set at 1,296 adult salmon, which is much smaller than last year’s quota of 7,637. Photo courtesy of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service

Following last year’s low returns and with only 186,600 adult Klamath kings said to be in the ocean this fall, anglers are facing a much lower sport quota in 2020. During last Thursday’s meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission adopted bag and possession limits for the Klamath Basin based on a quota of 1,296 fall-run adults. The Commission also adopted a size change for jacks (grilse), or two-year-old salmon within the Klamath River basin. The size used to delineate adult fall Chinook salmon, currently set at greater than 22 inches total length, has been changed to greater than 23 inches total length. In the past, the Department has used a provisional standard of 55 centimeters fork length to estimate the jack harvest of KRFC during the season. This equates to 21.7 inches when converted to fork length, and 23.2 inches when converted to total length. The new jack size will now be consistent between what’s used for recreational harvest and what’s used for research and monitoring.

On the Klamath, the fall season begins on Aug. 15 and closes Dec. 31. 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. On the Lower Klamath, from the Highway 96 bridge at Weitchpec to the mouth, 648 adults will be allowed for sport harvest. The section above the 96 bridge at Weitchpec to 3,500 feet downstream of the Iron Gate Dam will get 220 adults. The take of salmon is prohibited from Iron Gate Dam downstream to Weitchpec from Jan. 1 through Aug. 14.

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 Highway 101 bridge. In 2020, 194 adults can be harvested below the 101 bridge before the closure at the mouth is implemented. The rest of the area below Highway 101 (estuary) will remain open to recreational fishing.

On the Trinity, where the fall season begins Sept. 1 and closes Dec. 31., the quota is set at 428 adults. The quota will be split evenly; 214 adults for the main stem Trinity downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat and 214 adults for the main stem Trinity downstream of the Denny Road bridge at Hawkins Bar to the confluence with the Klamath. The main stem downstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to the Denny Road Bridge in Hawkins Bar is closed to all fishing September 1 through December 31. The take of salmon is prohibited from the confluence of the South Fork Trinity River downstream to the confluence of the Klamath River from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31.

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 under 23 inches in length.

Important Reminder
: Spring-run Chinook salmon fishing regulations will run from July 1 through Aug. 14 on the Klamath and through Aug. 31 on the Trinity. The bag limit is one salmon per day, with two in possession.

Additional season information can be found on CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage or by calling CDFW’s ocean salmon hotline at (707) 576-3429 or the Klamath-Trinity River hotline at (800) 564-6479. All anglers on the Trinity and Klamath rivers must have Salmon Harvest Cards in their possession when fishing for salmon.

Weekend Marine Forecast
The marine forecast for the holiday weekend is looking extremely blustery. On Saturday, winds will be out of the N blowing 10 to 20 knots and waves N 8 feet at 7 seconds. The wind will start to come down slightly on Sunday, coming out of the N at 10 to 15 knots with N waves 6 feet at 7 seconds and NW 5 feet at 14 seconds. On Monday, winds will be out of the N 10 to 15 knots with N waves 7 feet at 7 seconds and W 5 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 https://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 (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

HASA hosting “Big Fish” contests
Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers is currently hosting two big fish contests, the “Biggest Lingcod” and the “Biggest Pacific Halibut. Both began on May 15, 2020 and will end June 15, 2020. Winners will be announced the following day with verifiable entry. Entries into each contest are $10 and can be purchased online at https://humboldtasa.com/the-biggest-fish-contests/. Contestants must submit two pictures, one of your fish being measured with a closed mouth from the tip of its nose to middle of tail down the lateral line of the fish. The second being a picture of you with the fish. Submit entry by posting pictures to HASA Facebook page or email to hasa6191@gmail.com to be entered. Please include name and where you are from, type of fish with length and weight if possible, and location caught (not limited to Humboldt County but still limited to California).

First Place winners of each contest will receive a $150 prepaid Coast Central Credit Union Mastercard. Additionally, a randomly drawn contestant from each contest will receive $50 prepaid CCCU Mastercard. Winners will be announced on our website, Facebook Page and http://humboldttuna.com/ on June 17. Other Big Fish Contests scheduled throughout the summer include: black snapper, salmon, California halibut, albacore, and exotic fish. For more information along with rules and regulations, visit https://humboldtasa.com/2020/05/15/open-season-on-pacific-halibut-ling-cog-biggest-fish-contest/

The Oceans:

Eureka
“Most of the boats have been tied up since last week, and it looks like more marginal weather is on the way,” said Skipper Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “Friday was the last really good day weather-wise. Quite a few boats went south for rockfish and plenty went straight out targeting halibut. And plenty of fish were caught in both locations. The rockfish bite wasn’t wide-open for us at the Cape as we had to move around a little. The lingcod however, bit really well and the limits came easy. I heard there were quite a few halibut caught and some boats were able to boat limits. It sounded like some of the best fishing was between the 46 and 48-lines,” said Klassen.

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, ocean conditions haven’t been very good since last week. He said, “It’s been pretty lousy for the most part and hardly anyone has been out. Last Friday was really the only decent day and quite a few boats were on the water. We got our limits of rockfish and lingcod at the Hat and then came back up to the whistle to finish the day trolling for salmon. We ended up putting five in the box. We snuck out on Tuesday and got a half-day of rock fishing in. We boated limits of lingcod and just short of limits on snappers off the Ranch House. I did hear that a few salmon were caught on Tuesday at the whistle, but for the most part, it’s been spotty. The wind is predicted to blow through Memorial Day.”

Crescent City
Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine reports the rockfish and lingcod action are kicking into high gear. “Conditions haven’t been great this week, but a few boats have been out almost every day,” said Carson. “The lingcod bite has really turned on, and most guys are getting limits along with their rockfish. Boats are getting fish at all the usual spots, including the Sisters and both reefs. A couple Pacific halibut have also been caught this week. Both came out near the South Reef in 250 feet of water,” Carson added.

Brookings
Bottom fishing has been good, weather permitting, out of Brookings according to Andy Martin, of Brookings Fishing Charters. “The bar at the mouth of the Rogue in Gold Beach has been very rough,” added Martin.

River openings
Sections of the main Eel (South Fork to Cape Horn Dam), South Fork Eel (South Fork Eel River from mouth to Rattlesnake Creek) Van Duzen, Mad, Little River, Mattole and Smith will re-open on Saturday, May 23rd. On most rivers, only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. For a complete list of river openings and regulations visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=177572&inline

Lower Rogue
“Rain over the weekend seemed to draw some fresh springers into the lower Rogue, with perhaps the best fishing so far this season,” said Martin. “Catch rates are still poor, but many guides anchoring all day are averaging a fish or two. Wild springers still must be released through the end of the month.”

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Offshore conditions look good for Friday

The weekend doesn’t look as promising

Twin brothers Connor, left, and Logan Petrusha of Eureka landed a nice twin pair of Pacific halibut while fishing out of Eureka on Sunday. The boys were fishing with their father Chuck along the 48-line in 300 feet of water. Photo courtesy of Chuck Petrusha

If you’ve been waiting to feel the tug of a big ole’ halibut or a feisty lingcod, Friday looks to be the day. As of Wednesday, the forecast was calling for winds up to 5 knots and waves 5 feet at 12 seconds. Those are ideal for both halibut and rockfish, as well as salmon in Shelter Cove. Ocean conditions haven’t been great this week, but we did hear some encouraging reports from the weekend. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, quite a few Pacific halibut were caught. “It was a pretty good start to the season,” said Klassen. “We boated limits on Saturday and I heard the fishing was better on Sunday. Most of the boats were right around 48-line in 250 to 300 feet of water.” The rockfish bite at the Cape remains excellent as well. Plenty of boats took advantage of the weather and made the run on Sunday, including Klassen. “The rockfish bite was fast and furious, and they’re really a good grade too. The lingcod didn’t bite as well, but we managed half limits with fish to 20-pounds.” A good way to kick off the saltwater season indeed.

Important reminder:
When fishing for halibut, rockfish and salmon (Shelter Cove), or any combination of the three, the more restrictive gear and depth restrictions apply. When targeting salmon, or once salmon are aboard and in possession, anglers are limited to using barbless hooks (barbless circle hooks if fishing south of Horse Mountain) when fishing for other species.

When targeting rockfish, cabezon, greenling and lingcod, or once any of these species are aboard and in possession, anglers are limited to fishing in waters shallower than 180 feet when fishing for other species.

Weekend marine forecast
For coastal waters from Pt. St. George to Cape Mendocino out 10 nautical miles, Friday looks like your best day to get offshore. The forecast is calling for NW winds to 5 knots with waves out of the W 5 feet at 12 seconds. On Saturday, winds will be out of the S 10 to 15 knots with W waves 8 feet at 12 seconds and W 4 feet at 18 seconds. The south wind is predicted to blow up to 15 knots on Sunday, with W waves 6 feet at 6 seconds and W 8 feet at 14 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://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 (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

California halibut in Humboldt Bay
The California halibut bite continues to be hit and miss in the bay. There were lots of boats trying over the weekend, and a few limits were reportedly caught. The freshwater coming into the bay shouldn’t keep the halibut from moving in, but it could slow the bite.

The Beach/Jetty’s
The Redtail perch bite along the beaches continues to be red hot. There are some spots that are typically better than others, but you can catch them just about anywhere this time of the year. Some of the better locations recently have been Table Bluff and Centerville. Conditions look good for Friday, with swells in the 4 to 5-foot range. Both the north and south jetty’s have been fishing well for the past few weeks. Five to six-inch Gulp jerk shads are a popular bait as well as smaller swimbaits. Egg sinkers or banana weights rigged with a herring or anchovies are also catching rockfish and lingcod.

Brookings
“Bottom fishing has been good out of Brookings on the calmer days,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Halibut are being caught in 180 feet of water off of Bird Island. Surfperch fishing is at its peak.”

Crescent City
Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine reports the rockfish bite was good over the weekend. “I heard quite a few limits were caught, with most of the boats fishing near the reefs. The lingcod bite hasn’t been as good. Most of the lings are being caught closer to shore due to them spawning. We haven’t seen much success on the Pacific halibut yet, I’ve heard of one caught so far. Same goes for the California halibut, though not many have been trying. The conditions were pretty bad this week, but Friday and Saturday are looking better,” Carson added.

Shelter Cove
“We had a decent salmon bite on Friday, but it shut down before the weekend,” said Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “I only heard of a handful caught on Saturday and Sunday. The salmon bite was mostly around the whistle. There hasn’t been as much effort towards rockfish, but I did hear some good reports from some guys who fished around the Old Man. The boat pressure has been fairly light. Our busiest day was Friday when we launched 15. This Friday and Saturday look fishable, but it looks like it might blow back out by Sunday.”

Lower Rogue River
Spring salmon fishing remains slow on the Rogue River, but fish are expected to move in with the latest series of storms according to Martin. “So far, the run has been disappointing, but the river has been low and clear for much of the spring,” added Martin.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Saltwater season off to a slow start

Beth Hendry of McKinleyville landed a nice California halibut last Sunday while fishing in Humboldt Bay. The California halibut bite is picking up in the bay, with peak season usually being towards the end of May through July. Photo courtesy of Ben Herring

Whether it’s lack of effort, lack of reports, the weather, or dealing with COVID-19 – the saltwater season came out of the gates a little slower than usual. Fish were caught, but things just felt a little off. Maybe it’s because the charter boats aren’t taking customers as of yet? As the weather improves, and the county begins to relax some of the shelter in place guidelines, let’s hope we can get back to some sort of normalcy. Until then, we do have plenty of options. A few boats on Friday ran south to Cape Mendocino for rockfish. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the fishing was very “Cape-like”, with full limits of rockfish and lingcod for all. “A few boats also ran straight out for Pacific halibut over the weekend,” said Klassen. “The weather wasn’t great on Friday, but has been a little better since. I did hear of a couple being caught, but there hasn’t been much effort yet.

Beth Hendry of McKinleyville with a couple nice California halibut. Photo courtesy of Ben Herring

There’s also been quite a few California halibut caught in the bay. It’s not wide-open, but it does look like we’ll have a good season again this year.” The one bit of concerning news is the water temps out front of Eureka. According to Klassen, they’re currently in the 55-degree range, which is a little warmer than what we’d like to see. “We haven’t had any sustained north winds as of yet. Hopefully by the time salmon season opens up the water will have cooled down.”

Pacific halibut season length set
The fishing season along the California coast will be open May 1 through October 31, or until the subarea quota is estimated to have been taken and the season is closed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission, whichever is earlier. In 2020, the quota is 39,000 pounds.

Important reminder:
When fishing for halibut and rockfish, the more restrictive gear and depth restrictions apply. When targeting rockfish, cabezon, greenling and lingcod, or once any of these species are aboard and in possession, anglers are limited to fishing in waters shallower than 180 feet when fishing for other species. If you’re targeting both halibut and rockfish, you’ll want to get your halibut first.

Weekend marine forecast
For coastal waters from Pt. St. George to Cape Mendocino out 10 nautical miles, the marine forecast is looking good for the weekend, especially on Sunday. Saturday’s forecast is calling for NW winds 5 to 10 knots with waves out of the NW 4 feet at 6 seconds and W 6 feet at 12 seconds. On Sunday, winds will be out of the SW 5 to 10 knots with W waves 4 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 https://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 (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Shelter Cove
“Salmon fishing has been pretty slow, but there are some around and the grade is pretty decent,” said Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “Boats have been averaging 0-1 fish per rod since the opener. I’ve heard of more fish in the 20 pound-class class this year already than I did all of last year. There hasn’t been much bait around and the fish seem to be pretty spread out. Since the opener, when we launched over 30 boats, we’ve been launching about 15 per day. Most of the effort has been towards salmon. The rockfish bite has been really good, with most of the action around Rodgers Break. We fished that area on Tuesday and after getting all of our rockfish, we ran in to a fair amount of bait in the canyon. We trolled for four hours and went 2-4 on salmon.  The majority of the salmon caught over the last few days have been outside the whistle in 25 fathoms.”

Steve Mitchell with a nice Shelter Cove king from Tuesday while fishing with son, Captain Jake Mitchell. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell

Brookings
Ocean fishing continues to be good out of Brookings, with a few halibut caught on the May 1 opener and limits of rockfish for most boats reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Surfperch also are biting well at most beaches anglers are able to access. Good weather is expected this weekend.”

Crescent City
Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine reports the rockfish bite was good on the opener, with about 30 boats out. “Since then, the ocean hasn’t been very cooperative. I haven’t heard of anyone trying for halibut yet as it’s been too rough. There have been quite a few lingcod caught off the jetty’s recently,” Hegnes added.

Fish and Game Commission meeting on May 14
The California Fish and Game Commission will meet on Thursday, May 14 in Sacramento at 10 a.m. via webinar and teleconference to adopt and discuss changes to the upcoming Klamath River sport fishing season. The PFMC recommended 1,296 adult salmon be allocated for recreational fishing for the Klamath and Trinity Rivers. The tribal allocation is 8,632, split between the Yurok and Hoopa tribes. The Commission will make final decisions on bag and possession limits. At the previous Commission meeting, the CDFW suggested a two-fish bag limit, with no more than one adult. The recommendation for possession limit was 6 salmon, no more than 3 adults. A couple other Department proposals are also on the agenda. One, the proposal to make the jack (grilse) salmon size limit cutoff range of less than or equal to 22 inches to 23 inches total length for discussion before the Department makes a final recommendation. The Department is also proposing to increase the daily bag and possession limit for Brown Trout on the main stem of the Trinity River from a five fish daily bag/10 fish possession limit to a 10 fish daily bag/20 fish possession limit.

Members of the public may participate in the teleconference via Zoom on your computer or mobile app. You can also listen via phone call. The meeting will also be livestreamed at https://fgc.ca.gov/ for listening purposes only. If you’re interested in the Klamath River fall salmon fishery, you’ll want your voice to be heard. Also on the agenda is the adoption of proposed changes to the Central Valley sport fishing salmon regulations. For more information, visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=178907&inline

Lower Rogue River
Spring salmon fishing is still slow on the Rogue River, with low, clear water according to Martin. “The rain over the weekend didn’t do much to raise flows. A few springers are being caught above Lobster Creek. Fishing is very slow near Elephant Rock and the Willows. A bigger rain storm is expected early next week,” added Martin.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Rockfish, Pacific halibut set to open Friday

On Tuesday, the CDFW announced that the May 1 Pacific halibut, rockfish, and salmon openers would open as planned. The timing couldn’t be better as the entire North Coast could use a nice little distraction about now. As our community starts to get more and more divisive on which businesses can and can’t open and what we as individuals should and shouldn’t do, heading offshore for a day of fishing sounds pretty relaxing. Even if it means abiding by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing.

While the Pacific halibut season will open on May 1, CDFW has yet to set a closing date. We do know that this year’s quota will be the same as in 2019, 39,000 pounds. The limit remains at one, with no size restrictions. When angling, no more than one line with two hooks attached may be used. A harpoon, gaff, or net may be used to assist in taking a Pacific halibut that has been legally caught by angling. For more info on Pacific halibut, visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut.

The boat-based rockfish season in the Northern Management Area, which runs from the CA/OR border south to near Cape Mendocino, will run through Oct. 31within 180 feet. From Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, rockfish may be taken at any depth. For more info, visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Groundfish-Summary. The recreational salmon fishery will open on May 1 from Horse Mtn., which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg, south to the U.S./Mexico border. The recreational salmon season from Horse Mtn. north to the Oregon border, which includes Humboldt and Del Norte, will open June 6 and run through Aug. 9. For more info, visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon.

As anglers take to the ocean on Friday — weather and conditions permitting – the hope is all the turmoil surrounding the world-wide pandemic will slowly fade into the horizon, leaving only happy thoughts of big lings and barndoor-sized halibut. Even if only for a day.

Shelter Cove salmon outlook
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, there hasn’t been much salmon sign from what we’ve seen so far out of Shelter Cove. “There’s been a bunch of mackerel around, but they’re in the 2 to 3-pound class and too big for salmon feed,” said Mitchell. “Typically, that’s not a good indicator for salmon. With that said no one has ventured too far to look so well see what happens come Friday.”

Marine forecast
Conditions look decent for Friday’s offshore opener, but the weekend looks a little nasty. Friday’s forecast is calling for S winds 5 to 10 knots with waves out of the W 6 feet at 12 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for S winds 10 to 20 knots with waves out of the W 8 feet at 13 seconds. On Sunday, winds will be out of the NW 5 to 10 knots with W waves 11 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 https://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 (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Humboldt County boat ramp status:

Trinidad: According to their website, the Trinidad launch will open on Friday and will launch boats from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m., weather permitting. For more info, call 707-677-3625 or visit http://www.seascape-pier.com/

Shelter Cove: Open from 6:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Only Humboldt County residents will be allowed to launch, and ID will be required. People must be able to maintain 6 ft. of distance from each other while on the vessel. Only people from the same household/family can be on the vessel together. Cost to launch is $35. For more info, visit https://www.facebook.com/scfpinc/

Friday, May 1 tides – Humboldt Bay
For anglers who aren’t aware, extreme caution should always be used when crossing the bar. The combination of large swells and outgoing morning tides could make for a dangerous bar crossing. On Friday, 6 feet of water will be flowing out down to an -0.1. This could make for a dangerous bar crossing if the swells are large. If you’re planning on hitting the bar at daylight, always check the conditions first. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan.

Friday May 1: Low: 12:45 a.m. (3.4) and High: 6:41a.m. (6.0 ft.), Low 1:37 p.m. (-0.1 ft.) and High 8:54 p.m. (5.6 ft.)

Saturday May 2: Low: 2:05 a.m. (2.8) and High: 8:02 a.m. (5.9 ft.), Low 2:35 p.m. (-0.1 ft.) and High 9:39 p.m. (6.0 ft.)

Sunday May 3: Low: 3:12 a.m. (2.0) and High: 9:17 a.m. (6.0 ft.), Low 3:28 p.m. (-0.0 ft.) and High 10:20 p.m. (6.7 ft.)

USCG Auxiliary boat exams
The Eureka area no longer has a local USCG Auxiliary vessel examiner, but if there’s enough interest, the Crescent City flotilla can send someone down. If interested, email hasa6191@gmail.com. Include your name, phone, address, type of vessel, and if moored in the water or on a trailer.

Kristine Miller of Grants Pass holds a lingcod caught last Saturday aboard the Miss Brooke of Brookings Fishing Charters. The rockfish season in Humboldt and Del Norte counties will open this Friday, May 1. Pacific halibut will also open on Friday in California and north to central Oregon. Photo courtesy of Brookings Fishing Charters

Brookings rockfish update
Lingcod and rockfish have been very good out of Brookings reports Andy Martin, who runs Brookings Fishing Charters. “Pacific halibut season open May 1 and continues through October. Friday’s opener looks good before stormy weather arrives this weekend,” added Martin.

The Rivers:
Main Stem Eel
The main stem Eel is still in fishable shape, but it’s clear. It was flowing at 1,300 cfs on the Scotia gauge as of Wednesday. Fishing reports have been hard to come by.

Smith
The Smith River from its mouth to the confluence of the Middle and South Forks; Middle Fork Smith River from mouth to Patrick Creek; South Fork Smith River from the mouth upstream approximately 1,000 feet to the County Road (George Tryon) bridge and Craigs Creek to Jones Creek, will close after Friday, April 30.

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, spring salmon fishing remains slow on the Rogue River. “Anglers expected more fish with last week’s rain, but fishing is still poor. More rain is expected the beginning of next week.”

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com