Tuna fever sweeps Humboldt

Sam Torgersen of Eureka holds a couple nice Albacore tuna landed under ominous skies on Wednesday out of Eureka. Photo courtesy of Tony Sepulveda/Shellback Sport Fishing

The latest pandemic to grip the North Coast is one that we can all get behind. It’s known as Tuna Fever, and it’s spreading rapidly amongst the saltwater fleet. It started late last week when Marc Schmidt of Coastline Charters found some fish south roughly 45 miles from the entrance. Word spread quickly and quite a few boats made the trek on Friday. Most of the boats scored 15 to 18 big albacore, with only a few peanuts mixed in. Similar scores were reported on Saturday. After a couple of windy days, the ocean calmed on Tuesday and a few boats were back out to the warm water. Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing was one of the few boats that made the 40-mile run and reported some really good fishing. “There’s a big band of fish ranging from a little south of Trinidad to a bit north of Cape Mendocino about 40 miles offshore,” said Sepulveda.  “There were only a few boats out there on Tuesday but everyone was spread out and on fish.  We wrapped it up with 35 and a big grade averaging close to 20 pounds. Some good bait stops where they charged the boat. With quite a few boats expected to be on the water in the coming days, Sepulveda would like to remind anglers to give each other plenty of space on the water. “People did a really nice job of respecting each other’s space on Tuesday. It’s a big ocean out on the tuna grounds and everyone does better when they spread out,” said Sepulveda. The weather window looks to be open through at least Monday. Winds will be light and the seas flat. Expect the local ramps to be plenty busy.

Marine Forecast
Seas will remain relatively small over the next several days, which is perfect for the tuna boats. Out 10 nautical miles from Pt. St. George to Cape Mendocino, Friday’s forecast is calling for SW winds up to 5 knots and S waves 2 feet at 4 seconds and W waves 2 feet at 11 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds to 5 knots and waves out of the NW 2 feet at 8 seconds and SW 2 feet at 17 seconds. Sunday’s forecast looks flat, with winds out of the N up to 5 knots and waves out of the N 2 feet or less. Monday’s forecast looks similar to Sunday. 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
Tuna has taken center stage out of Eureka, and it looks that will be the case through the weekend and into Monday. As of Wednesday, the edge was straight west about 40 miles from the entrance. Quite a few boats hit the grounds on Wednesday, and some good scores were reported. The fish are big this year, with plenty of fish in the 20-pound class with only a few smaller fish mixed in. Ocean conditions are predicted to be flat calm through the weekend. If the tuna water isn’t within your range, this is the weekend to hit the Cape. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, fishing has been really good. “The weather down there wasn’t great earlier in the week, but the fishing has been solid,” said Klassen. “We’re getting about a dozen different species each trip. We’ve been catching lots of big Vermilions as well as lingcod.” The California halibut action in the bay has been decent, with some up and down days. “There’s pockets of fish around according to Klassen, and if you find one, you’ll catch them.

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, last week’s Tuna bite was just ok. “I didn’t do as well as some boats, but it seemed that everyone had 10 to 30 fish both Wednesday and Thursday,” said Mitchell. “Friday was a little slower and boats only had 5 to 10 fish. Everyone was fishing down around or below Noyo Canyon. The water we were fishing was breaking up, which I think led to the slower fishing Friday. The salmon bite was pretty slow for the most part but there is still a few around for those who are trying.” Mitchell will be back on the tuna grounds, which is roughly 45 to 50 miles out, for the next few days.

Crescent City
Crescent City is one of the few ports north of Fort Bragg to not be in range of the tuna water. But they still have some of the best rock fish action around. According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, the bite has been really good for a long time. “Just about all the boats are coming back with limits of rockfish as well as lingcod,” said Carson. “Unfortunately, the California halibut bite has dried up and so has the Thresher shark.”

Brookings
The Brookings fleet is keeping a close eye on the tuna water and exceptional marine forecast this week reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Warm water is around 40 miles northwest of Brookings as of Tuesday evening. Tuna anglers did very well Friday and Saturday, with up to 40 fish a boat and fish to 30 pounds. Pacific halibut also are biting well. The Chetco estuary is slow for salmon.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Fishing is steady on the lower Klamath, with lots of jacks currently in the lower river. A few adults are being caught every day, with a few big ones to 20-pounds mixed in. As of Tuesday, the Spit area is closed to fishing as the quota was projected to be met. For more information, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2020/09/04/cdfw-announces-fishing-closure-at-mouth-of-klamath-river/?fbclid=IwAR1Tmw0558RIvIlb9TGAq3Y_Vu44icpmIovUBTKGBn8x4mCZhMPeoOaKf9U

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, the Rogue Bay once again is full of salmon. “There’s lots of fish splashing near the sand spit during the outgoing tide, but catch rates are slow,” said Martin. “A fish or two a boat is considered a good day right now. Big numbers of salmon shot upriver early last week. Hot weather inland will force the kings to hold up again in the bay.

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

California halibut bite remains strong

Ten year-old Bryson Burns of Eureka landed a nice California halibut while fishing Humboldt Bay on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Patrick Burns

The California halibut fishery has been a bright spot amongst our fisheries this season as Humboldt Bay continues to kick-out quality-sized fish. With both ocean salmon and Pacific halibut closed for the year, the bay fishery has been a life-saver. The charter fleet, whose only real option is a long run to the rockfish or tuna grounds, has taken full advantage as has the sport anglers looking to get out of the house. The weekends have seen the Bay loaded with boats and kayaks of all shapes and sizes looking to land a tasty meal. The fishing has been excellent for most of the season, and one of the reasons is the number of anchovies in the bay. Without an influx of freshwater from the rains and a consistent food source, there’s no reason for the halibut to leave. The best way to catch them is live bait, but guys fishing dead bait and even jigs and swimbaits are having plenty of success. The fishing seems to really improve when we have the smaller tide swings, which was the case last weekend. Water temperature also plays a big role. The temperatures closer to bay entrance has been a little colder than normal, which is one of the reasons the majority of the halibut are up higher in the bay this season. “I think this year’s Bay bite is the best I’ve ever seen,” said Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing. “There’s been so many really nice fish. Ten to twenty-pounders are making up a good portion of a limit.” The recreational fishery for California halibut is open year-round. The daily bag and possession limit is three fish, with a minimum size limit of 22 inches total length.

Weekend marine forecast
Ocean conditions for the long weekend are looking great as winds will be light and the seas calm. Friday’s forecast for coastal waters from Point St. George to Cape Mendocino out 10 nautical miles is calling for S winds to 5 knots with NW waves 4 feet at 11 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for N winds 5 to 10 knots and NW waves 4 feet at 6 seconds. Sunday is calling for NW winds to 5 knots and NW waves 4 feet at 8 seconds. Monday looks similar, with N winds to 5 knots and NW waves 4 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.

Klamath River quota update
According to Dan Troxel, an Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River Project, 255 adult salmon had been harvested from the Highway 96 bridge at Weitchpec to the mouth towards the quota of 648 for the week ending Sept. 2. Of those, 89 adults were caught below the Hwy. 101 bridge. The spit fishery will close when 194 adults are caught below the 101 bridge. Only the spit area will close to fishing once this quota is met, fishing will remain open upriver of the spit until the 648 quota is met. Anglers may keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling 800-564-6479. For Klamath and Trinity fishing regulations, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2020/07/29/2020-klamath-trinity-regulations/

Saturday is statewide free fishing day
The last chance of the year to fish for free arrives over the Labor Day holiday weekend. Free Fishing Day is being offered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on Saturday, Sept. 5. While no fishing license is required on free fishing days, all fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. Every angler must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems. For more information, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2020/09/01/sept-5-is-free-fishing-day-in-california/

The Oceans:
Eureka
The sport fleet hasn’t been offshore since last week due to rough ocean conditions. On Wednesday, the wind finally relented, and boats were making their way to the Cape for rockfish. The best option this past week has been California halibut in Humboldt Bay. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, fishing was good over the weekend. “We’re seeing some bigger fish now, and there seems to be plenty of them,” said Klassen. “The bay is still full of bait, so it’s pretty easy to come by right now. That’s the best option, but plenty of fish are being caught drifting dead bait as well as swimbaits. The best bite has been above the bridge recently,” added Klassen. The tuna water is currently sitting around 65 to 70 miles from the entrance. Some of the faster boats will make the run, especially given the calm ocean conditions over the next several days.

Shelter Cove king salmon. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

Shelter Cove
The salmon bite was pretty good from Wednesday through Saturday, but completely died on Sunday and hasn’t improved since reports Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “We had salmon limits a couple of days after getting limits of rockfish and lingcod,” said Mitchell. “The grade was pretty nice with several fish over 20 pounds. The biggest I saw was 32.5 pounds dressed. Rock fishing was great as well this week, with most of the effort around the Hat. We’ll be chasing tuna for the next three days. Looks like it’s 50 or 60 miles depending on which way we go.”

Crescent City
The big news this week is the return of the Thresher sharks reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “There’s been quite a few caught the past several days, including a 200-pounder on Saturday. South Beach has been the spot from the breakers out to Round Rock. The California halibut fishery has been quiet as not many are targeting them anymore. The rockfish and lingcod bite is still really good when the boats can get out. The reefs, north and south, are producing limits of fish.”

Brookings
The ocean out of Brookings was finally calm enough to fish on Tuesday according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “The forecast looks good all week. Water temperatures are down to 48 degrees after a week of strong winds and upwelling. The tuna are nowhere near Brookings. Just over half of the halibut quota remains for the Brookings and Gold Beach area. The season likely will remain open through October. Fishing was fair for lingcod and rockfish on Tuesday, in part because of the colder-than-normal water.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Fishing is picking up on the lower Klamath. There are still really good numbers of steelhead, both half-pounders and adults, in the river from the Glen to Blue Creek. Quite a few jacks are being caught daily and a few more adults were starting to enter the lower river as of Wednesday.

Lower Rogue
“Salmon fishing has finally hit full stride on the Rogue Bay,” said Martin. “Many of the guides are now getting limits or near limits. The incoming tide has fished well between the green buoy and Jot’s Resort. The water temperature dropped to 70 degrees and some of the salmon have shot upriver. More jacks also have arrived.

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 kings slow to enter the Klamath

Pictured L-R, Ruben Rios, Tyrone Bachus, Ed Tatro, and young Jason Bachus hold salmon caught on Monday in the Klamath River estuary. Salmon fishing in the estuary has been hit and miss this week. Steelhead fishing from the Glen to Blue Creek continues to be excellent, though adult kings have yet to make their way upriver in big numbers. Photo courtesy of Ruben Rios

The fall run of Klamath River Chinook has yet to really take off, which is a little alarming as we head towards the end of August. There’s been flurries of fish moving in the estuary, but not many are choosing to head upriver as of yet. Reportedly, there’s been plenty of fish staging outside of the mouth for quite a while. It should be just a matter of time before they decide to make their way upriver in big numbers.

According to Dan Troxel, an Environmental Scientist on the Klamath River Project, only 141 adult salmon had been harvested from the Highway 96 bridge at Weitchpec to the Klamath mouth towards the quota of 648 for the week ending Aug. 26. Of those, 89 adults were caught at the spit area of the mouth. As of Wednesday, 105 adults remained of the 194-adult sub-quota for the mouth.

If the fishing doesn’t bust open soon, there is some help on the way. Beginning Friday afternoon, increased flows will be coming out of Iron Gate dam via Link River dam for Yurok Tribes ceremonial Boat Dance. Currently flowing at 900 cfs, flows coming out of Iron Gate will reach 2,050 cfs by Friday afternoon and will continue at these target flows until Saturday morning at approximately 6 a.m. Flows will then begin to down-ramp through the weekend before reaching 1,000 cfs by Wednesday afternoon.

Trinity River quotas begin on Sept. 1
Fall regulations for Chinook salmon fishing on the Trinity River will go into effect on Sept. 1 and run through Dec. 31, with a sport quota of 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. Anglers may keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling 800-564-6479. For Klamath and Trinity fishing regulations, visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=169262&inline

Marine forecast
Northerly winds will increase through the week, with gale force conditions expected over portions of the outer waters through the weekend. Winds nearshore will generally be lighter, however seas will grow steeper through the end of the week and over the weekend. Out 10 nautical miles north of the Cape, Friday’s forecast is calling for N winds 5 to 15 knots and waves out of the N 8 feet at 8 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds 10 to 20 knots and waves NW 10 feet at 10 seconds. Sunday’s forecast looks similar, with winds out of the N 10 to 20 knots and waves NW 10 feet at 10 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
Windy conditions the past few days have kept the boats from heading towards the Cape for rockfish. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing was there late last week and reports the fishing is still good. “Some days you have to move around a little down there, but the fishing is still excellent overall,” said Klassen. “We’ve been able to get limits just about every trip. And the variety is really good, we’re catching nine to 10 species of rockfish each trip. It looks like the wind will keep us from heading back down there at least through the weekend.” 

Trinidad
Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing has been back fishing Trinidad the last few days. “We’ve actually seen more giant lingcod come off the northern grounds the last few weeks than to the south,” said Sepulveda. “Top fish of the week was a 36-pound giant lingcod on a live horse mackerel.  Limits of 10 to 20-pound lingcod have come in short order every day. Beautiful limits of rockfish with copper, canary and quillback making up the majority of the catch.”

Shelter Cove
“The salmon fishing wasn’t red hot, but there’s definitely still some fish around,” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “Boats putting in the time were averaging a fish per angler. Most the action was right between the two cans, and still a really nice grade. Rock fishing was a bit slow this week and we really had to bounce around between the Old Man and the Hat to get our limits. I did make it up to Rogers last Friday and we put in limits pretty quickly.”

Crescent City

The rockfish and lingcod bite remains excellent reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “When the boats can get out to the reefs, it’s been pretty easy limits. The California halibut bite picked up over the weekend, but slowed down on Monday. Quite a few were caught off the rock wall along South Beach. The Threshers must have moved on, I haven’t heard of any being caught in quite a while.”

Brookings
Fishing has been good for lingcod and rockfish out of Brookings on calmer days according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Bigger lings have started to move into shallow water. Fishing remains good for Pacific halibut when boats can get three to five miles offshore,” added Martin.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The stellar steelhead fishing is still going strong on the lower Klamath. The river is full of half-pounders, along with lots of adults running three to six pounds. There have been a few jacks caught each day, along with a handful of adults. The estuary fishery isn’t red-hot by any means, but there were a few caught earlier in the week by boats trolling anchovies.  

Lower Rogue
The salmon bite has improved on the Rogue Bay, with several dozen fish a day being caught reports Martin. “The bay is crowded, so overall catch rates are somewhat low, although some boats are getting up to five fish a day,” said Martin. “The best action has switched to the Indian Creek area at the top of the tide, followed by decent action near the sand spit as the tide ebbs. Summer steelhead also are biting above Lobster Creek.”

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

Eureka boats find the tuna

The ocean and water conditions aligned for tuna last Sunday, and a handful of boats from Eureka took full advantage. The run was long, 55 or so miles, but the reward was well worth it. After hearing good reports from Saturday, Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing went all in for Sunday. “The edge of the warm water was about 53 miles from Humboldt Bay,” said Klassen. “Once we got in the area, it took us a little while to find some fish. We found some fish boiling and put a few on the deck pretty quickly. From there we moved around for a fish here and there. Our last stop produced 14 fish, with some coming on live bait. With a long boat ride home, we pulled the plug at 1:30 p.m. with 29 tuna aboard. The fish are good sized. We only had two peanuts, with the rest between 15 to 25 pounds,” added Klassen. Reportedly, one of the other boats fishing in the same general area boated 50 albies.

Lonnie Dollarhide with a nice tuna caught on live bait. Photo courtesy of Reel Steel Sport Fishing

Shelter Cove as well as boats from Fort Bragg also got in on the weekend action. Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing boated 39 after running 45 miles from Shelter Cove. The next weather window will be a short one. Conditions look excellent for Thursday, and quite a few boats will be making the run out of Eureka. After that, it looks like we’re back to the wind.

Marine forecast
Northerly winds and steep seas will increase over the weekend as high pressure rebuilds and a thermal trough reforms near the coast. Friday’s forecast for coastal waters from Point St. George to Cape Mendocino out 10 nautical miles is calling for NW winds 5 to 10 knots with 6-foot waves at 10 seconds out of the N and SW 2 feet at 16 seconds. The forecast for Saturday is calling for N winds 10 to 20 knots, with N waves 8 feet at 7 seconds. Sunday’s forecast is for N winds 5 to 15 knots and N waves 8 feet at 8 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
A fairly quiet week for the Eureka fleet with the closing of salmon and Pacific halibut seasons. The only real option, other than tuna on Sunday, has been rockfish at the Cape. Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing spent the last few days at that exact spot and reports some good fishing. “The last couple days it’s been breezy, but the fishing has been easy,” said Sepulveda. “A 20-knot breeze and screaming fast drift made combing flats the game. Limits of giant rockfish and quality lingcod have been no problem. On Tuesday, we had 60 rockfish and 12 lings wrapped up in just 2 hours.”

Damon Collicut of Willits, right, is all smiles after boating a nice tuna on Sunday with the help of Jake Mitchell. Tuna fishing was red-hot on Sunday for Shelter Cove and boats fishing out of Eureka. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, the salmon bite was pretty good this past week. He said, “We only fished for them four days and had full boat limits twice, with fish up to 26 pounds. Trolling and mooching were both catching fish around the whistle. We fished up at Rodgers on Saturday and the rockfish and ling’s bit pretty well. We were able to get limits pretty quickly. On Sunday we took advantage of the conditions and ran 45 miles west to Gorda Valley looking for tuna. They were there, and ready to play. They didn’t bite really well for us in the morning, but it picked up a little bit for us in the afternoon. We ended the day with 39 good-grade albacore.”

Crescent City
The rockfish and lingcod bite has been excellent reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “Most of the boats are fishing the North or South Reefs. Limits have been the norm this week. The California halibut bite has picked up, and they’ve been biting pretty well along South Beach. Boats trolling as well as bank anglers fishing off the rock wall caught quite a few this week. The Thresher bite has slowed way down this week, I didn’t hear of any being caught.”

Capt. Michael McGahan of Brookings Fishing Charters holds a lingcod that hitchhiked on another lingcod Aug. 18 near the Point St. George Reef lighthouse. Photo courtesy of Brookings Fishing Charters

Brookings
Halibut fishing continues to be a solid bet out of Brookings according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “With 70-percent of the allocation still remaining for the zone that includes Brookings and Gold Beach, the Pacific halibut season should last at least through September,” said Martin. “The best action is in 180 to 240 feet of water straight out from Bird Island. Fishing for lingcod is wide open near the Point St. George lighthouse. Sport crabbing is still open out of Brookings and is improving now that the commercial pots are out of the water.”

Mason Kinkeirn from Cincinnati landed a nice fall-run adult salmon Tuesday on the Klamath River. Photo courtesy of Kenton Bansemer/Gold River Guides

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The steelhead fishing remains excellent and a few fall salmon are starting to trickle in. There were a few adult salmon caught this week, along with some jacks. The number of adult steelhead and half-pounders around however, is more than making up for the lack of salmon.

Fall regulations in effect on the Klamath Fall regulations went into effect on the Klamath River for fall-run Chinook salmon beginning Aug. 15 and run through Dec. 31. On the Trinity, the fall quota will begin on Sept. 1 and run through Dec. 31. The in-river quota for the entire Klamath Basin is 1,296 adult fall Chinook. The daily bag limit will be two Chinook, no more than one adult (greater than 23 inches) and the possession limit is six, no more than three adults. Two hatchery steelhead or hatchery trout may also be retained, with a possession limit of four each. Anglers may keep track of the Klamath and Trinity river quotas by calling 800-564-6479. For Klamath and Trinity fishing regulations, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2020/07/29/2020-klamath-trinity-regulations/

Lower Rogue
The salmon action on the Rogue Bay has been slow for the past week, as the temperature in the bay is in the low 70s and the kings holding along the jetties are lock-jawed reports Martin. “There was a decent bite on Tuesday, the best in several days. Summer steelhead are now being caught upriver.”

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

Salmon and Pacific halibut seasons come to an end

McKinleyville resident Kris Broadus landed this nice Pacific halibut on Tuesday while fishing out of Eureka. Tuesday marked the end of the halibut season in California as the CDFW projected the 2020 quota of 39,000 pounds had been attained. Photo courtesy of Gary Blasi/Full Throttle Sport Fishing

It was a tough week for North Coast saltwater fishermen. First off, Mother Nature did a number on the last several days of our sport salmon season. High winds and big seas forced the fleet to sit on the sidelines while the season quietly came to an end. It wasn’t necessarily a season that we’ll remember. It wasn’t very good in the beginning, was decent in the middle, and fizzled at the end. The best thing about it was some nicer fish were caught. Salmon season will remain open in the Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg areas through Nov. 8. The second punch to the gut was the abrupt closure of the Pacific halibut season. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, based on the latest catch projections, closed the fishery at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday. The CDFW expects the 2020 California recreational quota of 39,000 pounds had been taken. According to the press release issued on Aug. 7, the last week of July and beginning of August, CDFW field staff recorded a record high number of Pacific halibut being caught. “Reports from the public also confirmed an extremely hot Pacific halibut bite during the second half of July, with some anglers catching their limits by 8 a.m.,” said Marci Yaremko, Environmental Program Manager with CDFW. “The significant number of fish caught during this time is unprecedented in California’s fishery, and the quota was reached very quickly.” Using this information, CDFW conferred with the National Marine Fisheries Service, the IPHC and the Pacific Fishery Management Council to review projected catch amounts and to determine the 2020 quota had been attained.” So, until the tuna water comes within reach, it’s all about the rockfish.

Weekend Marine forecast
The weekend is looking plenty fishable. Out 10 nautical miles north of the Cape, Friday’s forecast is calling for N winds 5 to 10 knots and waves out of the NW 6 feet at 8 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds up to 5 knots and waves NW 4 feet at 8 seconds. Sunday’s forecast looks better, with winds out of the S 5 to 10 knots and waves NW 5 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.

2020 Klamath/Trinity fall regulations and quotas

Fall regulations go into effect on the Klamath River for fall-run Chinook salmon beginning Aug. 15 and run through Dec. 31. On the Trinity, the fall quota will begin on Sept. 1 and run through Dec. 31. The in-river quota for the entire Klamath Basin is 1,296 adult fall Chinook. The daily bag limit will be two Chinook, no more than one adult (greater than 23 inches) and the possession limit is six, no more than three adults. Two hatchery steelhead or hatchery trout may also be retained, with a possession limit of four each. For more information, visit https://fishingthenorthcoast.com/2020/07/29/2020-klamath-trinity-regulations/

Klamath quotas

  • The Spit Area (within 100 yards of the channel through the sand spit formed at the Klamath River mouth) – 194 adults *
  • From the Klamath mouth to the Hwy. 96 bridge at Weitchpec – 648 adults
  • From the Hwy. 96 bridge at Weitchpec to 3,500 feet downstream of the Iron Gate Dam – 220 adults

* Only the Spit Area will close once 194 adults are harvested. The rest of the area below Highway 101 (estuary) will remain open to recreational fishing.

Important Reminder: All legally caught Chinook salmon must be retained while fishing the spit. Once the adult component of the total daily bag limit has been retained, anglers must cease fishing in the spit area. Also, the new six-foot leader length restriction remains in effect.

Trinity quotas

  • Downstream of the Old Lewiston Bridge to the Highway 299 West bridge at Cedar Flat – 214 adults
  • Downstream of the Denny Road bridge at Hawkins Bar to the confluence with the Klamath – 214 adults

Downstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to the Denny Road Bridge in Hawkins Bar is closed to fishing September 1 through December 31.

The take of salmon is prohibited from the confluence of the South Fork Trinity downstream to the confluence of the Klamath 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.

The 2020-2021 sport seasons, dates, locations, bag limits and gear restrictions can be found at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=180470&inline. Additional information can be found on 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.

Free fishing this weekend in Oregon
It’s free to fish, crab or clam in Oregon on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 15-16, 2020.
During these two days, no fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement) are required to fish, crab or clam. While nonresidents can also fish for free, there are still special restrictions in place on the coast due to Covid-19. Currently, clamming and mussel harvesting is closed to nonresidents coastwide. Crabbing is open to nonresidents along most of the Coast but is closed to nonresidents in the Columbia River and in ocean areas north of Cape Falcon (nonresidents may crab in bays and estuaries north of Cape Falcon e.g. Necanium River estuary). A few other clamming and crabbing closures are in effect (including razor clamming on Clatsop beaches). For more information, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2020/08_Aug/081020.asp

Cabezon off limits for Oregon boats
Effective 12:01 a.m. Friday, Aug. 14, sport anglers fishing from boats can no longer retain cabezon. This restriction does not impact shore-based anglers. According to the press release issued on Tuesday, the boat-based recreational harvest of cabezon is approaching the 16.2 metric ton quota, and the restriction is necessary to keep total year-end impacts within that quota. Anglers have been encountering more cabezon the last couple of years, and the average weight is up, similar to last year.

Anglers fishing from shore may still retain a one fish sub-bag limit of legal sized cabezon (16 inches or greater). Harvesting these fish from shore is infrequent, contributing a very small amount of mortality and is excluded from the retention closure.

Sport anglers fishing from boats who catch a cabezon after Aug. 13 must release it.

Cabezon have an excellent survival rate of 93 percent when released. Unlike rockfish, cabezon do not have a swim bladder, and therefore do not suffer from barotrauma (expansion or rupture of the swim bladder when fish are brought up from deep waters) that can cause stress, injury, and sometime death. Most released cabezon will live to see another day, and perhaps reproduce again. For more information, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2020/08_Aug/081120.asp

The Oceans:
Eureka
The Pacific halibut season came to an end on Tuesday, and the boats lucky enough to be on the water left the fish biting. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing was one of the charters that fished right until the end. “There’s still quite a few fish out there,” said Klassen. “We had to move around a little today to get limits. Once they started biting, it was pretty fast and furious. A pretty good way to end one of the best seasons I can remember. With salmon also closed, we’ll be focusing on rockfish trips. The weather looks pretty good for Cape runs this weekend. The tuna water is still about 60 to 70 miles offshore of Eureka, so that’s not an option as of yet.”

Tyler Vaughn with a 75-pound halibut caught on Tuesday out of Trinidad. Photo courtesy of Tyler Vaughn

Trinidad
Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters reports the rockfish action is cranking right along, with lots of variety coming over the rails. “We’ve been spending some time at Reading Rock, and the fishing is really good,” said Wilson. “We’re seeing a pretty wide variety of fish, and catching nice limits of lings as well. Closer to home, the spots between the Head and Patrick’s Point have produced a good number of blacks, blues, and canaries. The Pacific halibut bite went out with a bang on Tuesday. It was a pretty wide-open bite until the end.”

Shelter Cove
“The salmon bite picked up for a couple days over the weekend and we got quick limits with a light load a couple of days” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “It has since slowed down quite a bit and not very many were caught last couple days. Most of the fish were coming right around the buoy. Rock fishing was a little slow, but we still managed limits. We made it up to Rodgers a couple days for rockfish. There are a few California halibut being caught, but the bite has slowed down a little.”

Crescent City
When the boats have been able to get out, the rockfish and lingcod bite have been excellent reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “Most of the boats are hitting North or South Reef, as well as the Sisters. The California halibut bite has slowed down along South Beach as the water has really cooled. The Threshers have moved out as well. Last week the Thresher bite was red-hot, with six or seven being landed each day.”

Brookings
“Salmon season closed last Friday out of Brookings”, said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “The last week was slow. Halibut fishing has been a pleasant surprise, with big numbers of Pacific and California halibut being caught. The Pacific halibut are generally small, less than 20 pounds, but are abundant this summer in 200 feet three miles off the coast. California halibut are now biting at the beaches near Brookings, with a few even caught from the South Jetty. Rockfish action is good, with a fair lingcod bite.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The estuary fishery has slowed down over the last 10 days. There aren’t many boats fishing, and very few are being caught right now. The better tides this week have been in the evenings. Hopefully we’ll start to see the fall fish come in and make their way upriver. As of Wednesday, there weren’t many salmon being caught above tidewater, but there are plenty of half-pounders and adult steelhead around. Fall regulations go into effect on Saturday. The daily bag limit will be two Chinook, no more than one adult (greater than 23 inches) and the possession limit is six, no more than three adults

Lower Rogue
Salmon fishing is still slow on the Rogue Bay, but kings are being caught according to Martin. “A dozen to two dozen total fish a day are showing in the catch out of 75-plus boats. Favorable tides this weekend could boost catch rates,” 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

Eureka halibut continue to chew up baits

Fortuna resident James Huffman holds a large Pacific halibut caught on Sunday while fishing out of Eureka. The big fish tipped the scales at 80-pounds. Photo courtesy of Tim Klassen/Reel Steel Sport Fishing

Death, taxes – and Pacific halibut? That’s what it’s starting to feel like as the wide-open halibut bite continues out of Eureka. Since mid-June, the fishing has been unstoppable. And it’s showing no signs of slowing down. In years past when the salmon were thick, boats would spend an hour or two loading the boats with kings and then head to the halibut grounds to see if they could get one or maybe two for the boat. This year, it’s been the polar opposite. Boats are making a beeline for 300 feet of water, spending all of an hour reeling in limits of halibut, and then trying to scratch out a few salmon. You have to take what the sea provides, and right now it’s a steady stream of Pacific halibut. As it’s been since the opener, the fish are mostly on the small side. But we are finally starting to see more and more in the 40 to 60-pound range. With salmon season coming to a close after this weekend, you can bet some of that effort will shift towards halibut. If the last few weeks are any indication, there should be plenty to go around.

Pacific Halibut quota update
The CDFW has projected 14,760 net pounds of Pacific Halibut has been harvested through July. In 2020, the Pacific halibut allocation for California is 39,000 pounds. To view the latest catch projection information, visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking

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
It’s looking like it could be a windy final weekend to the salmon season. Out 10 nautical miles from Pt. St. George to Cape Mendocino, Friday’s forecast is calling for N winds 10 to 20 knots and NW waves 6 feet at 7 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds 10 to 20 knots and waves out of the NW 8 feet at 10 seconds. Sunday is looking similar, with winds out of the N 10 to 15 knots and waves 7 feet at 9 seconds and NW 5 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.

The Oceans:
Eureka
Salmon fishing out of Eureka hasn’t been great this week reports Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “The fish are scattered all over the place, and I don’t think there’s huge schools around,” said Klassen. “I did hear of a decent bite north around the Mad River area earlier in the week, but it’s been pretty inconsistent. Conditions have been excellent out front of the entrance – we’ve had tons of bait and piles of birds, but the salmon were nowhere to be found. Guys who are really grinding it out all day are getting a few each. The Pacific halibut bite on the other hand, hasn’t slowed down a bit. Most of the action this week was around the 51-line between 280 to 320 feet of water. Most of the fish are still in the 10 to 20-pound range, but we are starting to see more bigger fish caught.” Last weeks calm ocean conditions and the warm water within reach allowed for a few boats to target albacore. A handful of boats ran 55 to 60 miles on Thursday and most scored over twenty albies. A couple boats made a shorter run on Friday and boated numbers in the high teens.

Trinidad
The rockfish and ling cod are really on the bite reports Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. He said, “There’s a wide variety of rockfish around, including lots of blues. We’ve been targeting the spots between the Head and Patrick’s Point. We had a pretty decent salmon bite up until Wednesday when it dried up. Most of the action was south of Trinidad. Guys who put in the effort were getting a fish per rod. There are a few halibut being caught, but it’s not as good as Eureka.”

Crescent City
The rockfish bite really took off this week reports Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “The bite has been excellent, with quick limits of both rockfish and lingcod coming off the South Reef. The salmon bite was decent last week, but slowed on Sunday. Most of the effort was outside of the South Reed on a 240 heading. A couple of Thresher sharks were caught this week along South Beach. The California halibut have also showed up in better numbers, with most of the anglers targeting them getting one or two per trip,” Hegnes said.

Shelter Cove
The salmon bite has been pretty slow this week according to Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing.  He said, “The average is about a half a fish per angler right inside the whistle. A small fleet of commercial boats showed up for the opener, but left after the first day as they weren’t able to find anything either. The rockfish bite was really good. I made it up to Gorda one day and had limits for the boat in two drifts. We also did a couple days down around the Hat and it was pretty good as well. I’ve spent a little time fishing for California halibut and we’re getting about a fish per person fishing around the moorings for a couple hours effort.”

Brookings
Salmon fishing is fair out of Brookings, with the best action five to seven miles out in 300 feet of water reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “The kings are deep, 120 to 170 feet on the wire,” said Martin. “The season closes Friday. Fishing has been surprisingly good for Pacific halibut. The fish are small, around 15 pounds with an occasional 40- to 60-pounder, but anglers are consistently getting fish in 200 feet of water straight out from Bird Island. Lingcod and rockfish action is good.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The salmon action in the estuary continues to be hit and miss, with a handful of fresh kings being caught daily on the high tide. The warm water in the estuary is forcing the kings to stay close to the mouth and in the colder salt water, and that’s where most of the fish are being caught. Trolling anchovies behind a Rogue River spinner bait is catching the majority of the fish.
Spring-run regulations are in effect through August 14, with a daily bag and possession limit of one salmon of any size.

Darrell Christensen of Boise, Idaho, holds a 22-pound king caught Aug. 4 on the Rogue Bay with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He was trolling an anchovy and gold Hildebrandt blade. Photo courtesy of Andy Martin/Wild Rivers Fishing

Lower Rogue
The Rogue Bay is improving but still only fair at best according to Martin. “Morning minus tides have made fishing slow in the morning, but there has been a decent bite on the afternoon outgoing tide. Around 25 total fish a day are being caught for 60-plus boats,” 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

Shelter Cove gets the tuna season started

Laytonville resident Patrick Warner holds a good-sized albacore tuna caught on Sunday while fishing out of Shelter Cove. Shelter Cove, as well as Fort Bragg, both saw good scores of tuna over the weekend. Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

The warm tuna water came within reach of the Shelter Cove fleet, and anglers jumped at the chance to bring the season’s first albacore over the rails. Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing out of Shelter Cove targeted tuna on Sunday and Monday and caught fish both days. “We ran outside the Vizcaino Knoll on Sunday where we found the break at 40 miles from the Cove, said Mitchell. “It took us a while to get them located, but we ended the day with 20 nice grade albacore. On Monday, we found the break a little closer at 35 miles. The fish bit pretty good in the morning, but was a slow pick the rest of the day. We ended up with 20 again and all the Cove boats had 10 to 30 fish apiece. We had a couple peanuts each day, but on average the fish were 12 to 25-pounds. We may get another shot at them on Thursday, but it looks like the wind will pick up for the weekend. Seems there’s plenty of fish around and it should be another good year for albacore.”

The Fort Bragg boats also were in on the hot bite over the weekend. The water was mostly straight west 35 to 37 miles. Scores ranged from the high teens to over forty per boat. Lots of big fish in the mix as well. The forecast looks good for the next few days. I expect this is just the start of very successful albie season on the North Coast.

Weekend Marine Forecast
Ocean conditions are looking excellent the next few days and through the weekend. Friday’s forecast is calling for winds up to 5 knots out of the N and W waves 4 feet at 10 seconds. Saturday is calling for N winds 5 to 10 knots and waves out of the W 4 feet at 11 seconds. Sunday’s forecast is similar, with winds out of the N 5 to 10 knots and waves W 4 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.

Ocean salmon closures coming in Aug.
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°38’48” 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°40’24” N. lat. (approximately 2 nautical miles north of the Eel River mouth), on the west by 124°21’24” W. long. (approximately 2 nautical miles offshore), and on the south by 40°36’24” N. lat. (approximately 2 nautical miles south of the Eel River mouth).

Pacific Halibut quota update
The CDFW has projected 14,760 net pounds of Pacific Halibut has been harvested through July 26. In 2020, the Pacific halibut allocation for California is 39,000 pounds. To view the latest catch projection information, visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking

Larry Biggs from Arcata with a nice Pacific halibut. Photo courtesy of Reel Steel Sport Fishing

The Oceans:
Eureka
After a slow bite over the weekend, the salmon action really took off on Tuesday according to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “There’s fish from the south side of Table Bluff north to the entrance in roughly 70 feet of water,” said Klassen. ‘We found them on Tuesday around the 44-line, and it was really good fishing. There are some really nice ones around too, with the average right around 15-pounds. There’s a lot of bait around, including a bunch of baby herring, which is what they’re feeding on. The Pacific halibut bite is still red hot, nothing has really changed. They’ve been biting a little later, but once they start, it’s easy limits. They’re still running six to 20 pounds, with the occasional 40 to 60-pounder.” The really good tuna water is sitting roughly 50 miles SW of Eureka. One boat reportedly made the run on Tuesday and boated 27.

Shelter Cove
While the tuna are biting at a pretty good clip, the salmon bite has been slower. According to Mitchell, it was slow all week but improved a little over the weekend. “Boats mooching right inside the whistle were getting two to six fish a day. The rockfish bite was relatively slow this week. We were still able to get limits when we tried, but really had to work for them.”

Crescent City
Salmon fishing has been pretty good this week reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “There was a good report on Wednesday that salmon were being caught roughly five miles SW of the harbor. Guys who are fishing everyday and know what they’re doing are consistently catching fish. The rockfish bite and lingcod are both red-hot right now. Most of the boats are fishing the reefs. A few California halibut have been caught by kayakers working South Beach.”

Brookings
Salmon fishing has been fair to good out of Brookings, with charters finding nice kings and sorting through shakers reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “The fish are further offshore now, in 300 feet of water, 100 feet below the surface,” said Martin. “With plenty of bait around, expect the kings to keep biting through the end of the season, which runs through Aug. 7. Lingcod fishing is fair, with some big fish around. The limit for rockfish is now seven fish a day in Oregon.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The salmon action in the estuary is really hit and miss, with a handful of fresh salmon being caught daily. With all the moss in the river as well as warm water temps, the incoming tide has been the best. Typically, the outgoing tide fishes better, but this year the fish seem to be coming in better on the high tide. Trolling anchovies behind a Rogue River spinner bait is catching the majority of the fish.

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, the Rogue Bay continues to be hit and miss, but larger schools of salmon are now milling around in the estuary. “After a good day, there are a few days of slower fishing, but most guides are getting a fish or two a day on a consistent basis,” 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

Eureka Kings finally make a showing

Chris Pinkham of San Francisco landed this 25-pound king salmon last Sunday while fishing out of Eureka. After getting off to a slow start, the salmon have finally shown up in Eureka as well as Trinidad. Boats fishing over the weekend scored limits of kings up to 30-pounds. Photo courtesy of Gary Blasi/Full Throttle Sport Fishing

The salmon have finally shown up in Eureka. That’s the good news. The bad news is so did the wind. Following a fairly hot bite that started last Wednesday and lasted through the weekend, the wind has kept the Eureka boats from staying on the fish. Back to the good news. The fish are here, they’re close, and they’re big. Boats fishing between the 48 and 50 lines in roughly 120 feet of water were treated to some pretty good action on Thursday and Friday. The word quickly spread – and by the weekend – boats were out in force. And everyone was catching. This year’s crop of kings is substantially bigger than last years. These fish are amped up on krill, and running 10 to 25 pounds. While the wind and bar crossing has stifled the Eureka fleet, some of the bigger boats fishing out of Trinidad have been able to push through the tough conditions. Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing was on the water all week and reported a really good salmon bite. “The lagoon area has been loaded with birds, krill, whales and fish,” said Sepulveda. “Deep sixes and downriggers at 40 feet on the wire are crushing limits of 8 to 20-pound kings, with a few bigger ones in the mix. The last few days mornings have been a little slow and then they come on strong around midday.” Fishable conditions look like they are returning for the weekend. Hopefully the kings will be sitting right where we left them.

Marine Forecast
Conditions for the weekend are looking a little rough, but may be doable for salmon trolling. As of Wednesday, Friday’s forecast is calling for N winds 10 to 20 knots and N swells 6 feet at 7 seconds and NW 3 feet at 12 seconds. On Saturday, winds will be out of the NW 10 to 15 knots and waves will be out of the NW 6 feet at 10 seconds. Sunday is looking better, with winds out of the N 5 to 10 knots and waves NW 5 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.

Sport Crab season coming to a close

The 2020 sport Dungeness crab season in Humboldt, Mendocino, and Del Norte counties will close on Thursday July 30. The season is expected to re-open on Nov. 7.

The Oceans:
Eureka
Salmon fishing finally busted open last week out of Eureka, and there were some quality kings coming over the rail. The action started on Wednesday, with Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sport Fishing and Matt Dallam of Northwind Charters both finding some fish near the dumpsite. On Thursday, the fleet converged. “The bite was off the stacks in 120 feet of water,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “Boats averaged roughly a fish per rod, but there were some nice fish landed. The story was pretty much the same on Friday. Saturday the fishing improved, and a solid bite materialized around the whistle buoy where there was lots of bait. The bite remained solid on Sunday around the whistle, with fish ranging from barely keepers to a solid 18-pounds. The bite was best when the tides weren’t moving the bait too far out or in. The bigger fish were in close, but there were quite a few jelly fish to contend with. Overall, it was really good fishing for the four days, with the grade of keepers running from 10 to 25 pounds.” With all the salmon excitement, the Pacific halibut got a reprieve. Boats that dedicated a little time over the weekend were rewarded with easy limits. No change there.

Trinidad
The salmon bite was outstanding Thursday through Sunday according to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. He said, “There were salmon scattered from Reading Rock to Patrick’s Point. There were some big ones in the mix too, quite a few 30-pounders were boated. There were plenty of shakers as well. The wind picked up Sunday afternoon, so we haven’t been able to get back up to where the bigger schools are. Since Monday we’ve been running half-day trips. We’re getting our limits of black rockfish and then trolling for salmon. We’re catching a handful each day venturing as far north as Cone Rock,” Wilson added.

Shelter Cove
Salmon has been a slow pick for the most part according to Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. He said, “We’ve been averaging about a fish per rod this week. The weather hasn’t allowed us to venture too far and look elsewhere, so we’re fortunate that there’s been some fish hanging close. The salmon fishing is still happening right inside the whistle. And the fish are still a really good grade, with fish running 10 to 25 pounds. The rockfish bite was great this week but the lingcod have been pretty inconsistent. Most of the rock fishing I did this week was around the Hat. Looks like we’ve got some decent weather coming our way for the next several days.”

Crescent City
According to Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, a few salmon are being caught.  He said, “Not very many people are trying. There were a few small fish caught roughly 8 miles from the entrance on a 270 heading. The rockfish bite is still pretty good at all the usual spots,” added Hegnes.

Brookings
Salmon fishing remains hit and miss, with poor catches for most, out of Brookings reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “A few boats scored multiple fish early this week near the mouth of the Chetco,” said Martin. “The schools of fish that provided wide-open action early in the season appear to be north of Brookings, as fishing has been good from Bandon to Newport. Lingcod and rockfish catches are good, with lots of bigger lingcod last week. A few Pacific halibut also are being brought in.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Spring salmon fishing has been fairly slow for trollers in the Klamath estuary. A small handful of fish are being caught each day, though the boat pressure has been light. Anchovies rigged with a spinner blade has been the top producer so far, but some are being caught on Cut Plugs. Best fishing has been on the incoming and a couple hours after the high.

Lower Rogue
The Rogue Bay is still slow according to Martin. “A handful of salmon a day are being caught, but most boats are going fishless. Lingcod fishing has been very good at the Rogue Reef, but bar conditions limit the window to fish,” 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

Salmon season showing signs of life

Vacaville resident Darell Odland landed this nice 17-pound king on Wednesday while fishing north of Trinidad. The salmon have finally shown up on the North Coast. Boats fishing out of Trinidad scored limits on Wednesday, and quite a few kings were caught out of Eureka as well. Photo courtesy of Tony Sepulveda/Shellback Sport Fishing

Well, it looks like we may have a salmon season on the North Coast after all. After the first month of the season produced basically nothing, salmon are finally starting to show up. The hot spot has been north of Trinidad, near the mouth of Redwood Creek. A handful of private boats found some fish late last week, and the charters have been boating limits since the weekend. “Salmon sign was spread over a huge range from straight out front of Trinidad to as far north as I ventured,” said Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing. “There’s been a band of life from 120 to 190 feet running north and south. Whales, murres, krill and salmon. Action wasn’t wide-open, but midday limits were the norm. Lots of shakers kept things busy while the keepers were a mixed grade. About half were really solid fish, running 10 to 15 pounds.” And the bite seemed to get better as the week progressed. On Wednesday, Sepulveda put in limits of quality kings in just a few hours of fishing. Eureka had been the last remaining port still waiting for the kings to show up. And they finally did on Wednesday. Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sport Fishing and Matt Dallam of Northwind Charters both landed a fair number of keeper kings working the dumpsite area. This is the first report of any kings being caught out of Eureka, and it’s just what we’ve been waiting to hear.

Marine Forecast
Conditions for the weekend are looking plenty fishable as the winds will be coming out of the north, blowing 5 to 10 knots. Friday’s forecast is calling for N swells 3 feet at 5 seconds. On Saturday, waves will be out of the NW 4 feet at 9 seconds. On Sunday, winds will be out of the N 5 to 15 knots with waves out of the NW 5 feet at 6 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
Pacific halibut remains the top story out of Eureka after another week of wide-open fishing. “I’ve never seen the bite hold on this long,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “It’s been limits every trip. The fish are still running small, from six to 25 pounds with the occasional bigger one. There’s fish spread from the 47 to the 54-line in 240 to 320 feet of water. Herring and salmon bellies have been the go-to baits.” As mentioned above, salmon were caught out of Eureka on Wednesday by two of the charters. Reportedly, the grade was excellent and they’re only three miles from the bar. This is the first real solid salmon report of the season.

Aaron Michalovic with a couple of nice kings from Trinidad. Photo courtesy of Wind Rose Charters

Trinidad
According to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters, salmon are finally being caught out of Trinidad. “The bite started late last week, with some of the private boats heading north and picking up a few kings,” said Wilson. “Since then, the charter boats have been making the run anywhere from 7 to 17 miles where there’s lots of life. There’s tons of krill, along with lots of birds and whales. There’s been quite a few small ones we’ve had to weed through, but the keepers have been a solid 8 to 15 pounds. The variety of rockfish around the Patrick’s Point area has been phenomenal. The lings are starting to show up as well, we’re getting anywhere from 2 to 6 per trip. We’re also seeing a lot of shorts, which is good,” Wilson added.

Eureka resident Rowdy Mendes with a nice Shelter Cove king. Photo courtesy of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

Shelter Cove
The salmon bite was wide-open late last week, but has slowed down a little the last few days reports Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “It got a lot of pressure over the weekend and a lot of the bait moved out,” said Mitchell. “All the salmon action was right inside the whistle buoy where there’s been lots of krill. We’ve been doing well mooching, with fish running from 10 to 30 pounds. Last Thursday we had our limits by 9:30, and on Friday we were done by 8:00 and ended the day on a double. The rockfish bite has been good as well. We did pretty good off the Ranch House a couple days. The wind has really put a damper on things here the last few days as well, and it doesn’t look like it’s going stop anytime soon. We’ve still been able to get out each morning before the wind forces us off the water around 11:00.”

Crescent City
According to Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, a few salmon are being caught, but not many. He said, “There hasn’t been much effort on salmon. We had one boat come in with four nice fish the other day, but it’s been slow. There isn’t much sign out there, and the water temps have been on the cold side. The rockfish bite is still going strong, with most boats targeting the reefs. A few Pacific halibut have been caught in 250 feet of water outside of the South Reef,” added Hegnes.

Brookings
After a really good start to the season, salmon fishing has slowed out of Brookings reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Cold water from offshore upwelling has spread fish out. The water temperate was down to 47 degrees, but is rising. Salmon fishing improved further up the Oregon Coast, at Winchester Bay and Depoe Bay, an indication the big schools may have moved north. Albacore were caught in decent numbers this week 60 miles out of Charleston. Lingcod and rockfish have been biting well out of Brookings.”

The Rivers:

Lower Klamath
Ten to 15 salmon were being caught daily in the estuary since the opener, but the number has slowly dwindled. Only a handful of fish were caught each day over the weekend. Fresh kings should start to move in with the tides and start to stack up as the water temperatures are rising to nearly 70 degrees. Anchovies rigged with a spinner blade has been the top producer so far. Best fishing has been on the incoming and a couple hours after the high.

Lower Rogue
The Rogue Bay continues to be slow for salmon according to Martin. “A few jacks were caught in the past week, but the main run has yet to arrive,” 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 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