Conditions permitting, halibut and rockfish on the bite
by Kenny Priest
When the ocean conditions have been right, both the halibut and rockfish bite out of Eureka has been pretty spectacular. The only thing that has slowed down either fishery has been the wind. And there’s been plenty of it since late last week, although it finally relented enough on Wednesday for the Eureka fleet to get back on the water. Prior to the blow, the halibut action had been nothing short of amazing. The bite has been in the same location for most of the season, in between the 50 and 53 lines in roughly 300 feet of water. The same can be said for the rockfish and lingcod down at Cape Mendocino. Since the season opened on May 1, the boats that have made the trip south were rewarded with wide-open action and easy limits of both.
A reminder that the recreational salmon season opens next Friday, June 1. And hearing the reports of all the good signs – birds, bait, whales, dirty water and salmon themselves – the opener can’t get here soon enough.
Weekend marine forecast
The ocean conditions are looking good for the next couple days, but the holiday weekend forecast is looking a little breezy. Friday’s forecast is calling for NW winds up to 5 knots and W waves 5 feet at 12 seconds. The winds will increase on Saturday, coming out of the NW 5 to 15 knots and waves will be NW 5 feet at 5 seconds and W 4 feet at 10 seconds. Sunday looks a little worse with NW winds 10 to 20 knots and NW waves 6 feet at 6 seconds and 5 feet at 12 seconds. The Memorial Day forecast doesn’t look too good either, with winds out of the N 10 to 20 knots and waves NW 5 feet at 6 seconds and NW 5 feet at 13 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit https://www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan/
Pacific Halibut quota update
The CDFW has projected 2,764 net pounds of the 30,940-pound quota of Pacific Halibut has been harvested through May 13. This season’s open dates are May 1-June 15, July 1-15, Aug. 1-15 and Sept. 1-Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. To view the latest catch projection information, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking
“Prior to Wednesday, we haven’t been on the water since last Saturday,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “We did try to get a trip in on Tuesday, but it was a little too sloppy. It looks like we’ll have some decent weather leading up to the weekend, but after that it looks like the wind will pick back up. When we can get out, the halibut bite is still going strong. The rockfish action at the Cape is as good as it gets, with lots of nice lings in the mix. The California halibut action in Humboldt Bay is starting to pick up. I tried for a while on Tuesday, and there were lots of shorts. They aren’t thick in there yet, but they are starting to show up in better numbers now. It’s still relatively early.”
Halibut fishing definitely slowed down this week according to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters out of Trinidad. He said, “The scores dropped to about a fish per boat from what I’ve seen. Hopefully we’ll get some decent weather soon so we can start looking around a little more. I think the fish everyone was working on just moved. The rockfish bite is still good, we’re starting to see more vermillion and lings being caught now,” Wilson said.
It’s been a bit windy down here this past week, but we’ve still been getting out," reports Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. He said, “We got pushed off the water early by the wind a couple of the days. We’ve spent the majority of our time fishing The Hat and the Old Man. The lingcod have been biting really well, but the rockfish were a little harder to come by this week. Not much effort on the halibut due to the wind. It looks like we have a few days of good weather coming our way.”
Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine reports the rockfish action really slowed down the past couple days. “I’m not sure if it’s the tides or what, but even the ling bite slowed down. The water’s been a little sloppy in the mornings, but nicer in the afternoon. Not much has been happening with the halibut, I haven’t heard of any being caught in the last few days. The commercial salmon guys have been doing well, so we could have a good sport opener next Friday,” added Hegnes.
Salmon season opened Saturday and the fishing started out slow, reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “By mid-day, a few boats found the fish offshore, six to eight miles straight out next to the California border. The overall average was a fish for every four rods and one fish for every other boat, but some boats had three to four kings. Sunday and Monday were rough, but on Tuesday more kings were caught in the deeper water, fishing 100 feet down in 300 feet of water. There is a ton of bait offshore right now. The salmon that are being caught are 24 to 26 inches, with some shakers, and a few 20-plus-pounders, probably late Rogue springers. The lingcod and rockfish action continues to be really good.”
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, Mattole and Smith will re-open on Saturday, May 26th. On most rivers, only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. For a complete list of river openings and regulations visit http://www.eregulations.com/california/fishing/freshwater/
Lower Klamath springers
Spring salmon fishing on the Lower Klamath is just getting started. The river is still pretty high, but it’s nice and green. A few spring salmon were reportedly caught on the lower river earlier this week. The season typically really gets going in June and will go through July.
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