Tuna fever hits the North Coast
by Kenny Priest
Tuna fever is spreading like wildfire along the North Coast. Last week’s two-day window fueled the flames, but now we’re dealing with a full-blown inferno. Warm, easily-accessible water that’s loaded with tuna will do that to you. The ocean forecast for the next few days is as good as it gets, and plenty of anglers will be taking full advantage. If you see a convoy of boats headed north or south, now you know why. All ports from Fort Bragg to Brookings will be launching boats on the hunt for tuna. According to reports, the warm water is nearest out of Crescent City where as of Wednesday it was 17 miles offshore. To add a little gas to the fire, a 25-fish limit was taken by a lone angler 20 miles offshore of Crescent City on Wednesday. Plenty of locals will be headed that direction come Thursday morning. Like I mentioned, this all started last Thursday and Friday. Plenty of fish were caught from all the local ports, with the high score coming out of Crescent City at 62 albies. If you’re targeting anything other than tuna, you may want to show up at the ramp a little later – or you could find yourself looking at long wait time.
Weekend marine forecast
Light winds and calm seas are expected tonight through Saturday. Out 10 nautical miles from Pt. St. George to Cape Mendocino, Friday’s forecast is calling for SE winds up to 5 knots and NW waves 2 feet at 9 seconds. Saturday is calling for SW winds up to 5 knots and waves out of the W 2 feet at 3 seconds. The wind and swells will pick up slightly on Sunday. Winds will be out of the N 5 to 10 knots and waves 4 feet at 5 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 fishing out of Eureka is all about location and timing this week reports Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “We had some good days fishing between the 42-45-lines in 180 feet of water, but it was inconsistent. The fish are there, but they’re spread out and not biting like crazy. When they turn on, you need to be there. When the weather has permitted, the Pacific halibut bite has been good. We went out on Saturday and put five in the box pretty quickly. I heard of fish being caught from the 44 to the 52 line in 260 to 300 feet of water. We’ve got some excellent ocean and water conditions for the next several days, so lots of boats will be running for tuna,” Klassen added.
The rockfish and ling cod are really on the bite reports Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. He said, “I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence or not, but it seems when the crab season comes to a close, the rockfish bite goes off. And that’s what’s happening now. The ling cod bite has been wide open, and there’s some big ones around. We boated a 46-pounder a couple days ago. There’s also a wide variety of rockfish around, we’re catching vermilion, coppers, browns, and canary’s and others. Not much is happening with salmon, nobody is really putting in any effort. The Pacific halibut bit really well last week, I saw plenty coming in weighing between 30 and 70-pounds. This week for whatever reason, has been slow. The effort slowed as well.”
The rockfish bite really took off this week reports Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “I heard today some boats with really quick limits of both rockfish and lingcod out at the South Reef. The Thresher and California halibut bites have both slowed, but a few are still being caught. With the ocean being flat, it will be all about the tuna for the next three or four days. The warm water has moved in even further, it sounds like it’s within 20 miles,” Hegnes said.
Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing spent most of the week salmon fishing and struggled to average a fish per rod. “We were mostly fishing near the whistler, but we did get a few up by the canyon today,” said Mitchell. “We’ve all been holding out hope that it would turn on, but when it’s all done, I think this will go down as one of the worst salmon seasons we’ve seen here. We ran up to Rodgers Break on Friday for some fantastic rock fishing where almost half the boats limits were big vermilions. We also fished rockfish at the Hat on Saturday and it was great as well. The tuna water is close, we may run on Thursday and Friday.”
Salmon fishing remains spotty out of Brookings, as warm water close to shore has the fish off the bite reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “A few kings and hatchery Coho were caught over the weekend, but most boats got skunked. Tuna have been reported as close as 15 miles. The biggest surprise out of Brookings is a strong showing of California halibut. I ran charters for them Monday and boated 14 keepers and got seven on Tuesday. We usually see a few California halibut each summer, but the number of fish being caught this year is a pleasant surprise.”
The estuary fishery really took off last Sunday on the incoming tide as the first real push of fall fish entered the river. On Monday the fishing was excellent as well, but it slowed on Tuesday. There are fish being caught every day, but you need to be there when they push in and want to bite. The salmon haven’t moved upriver in big numbers yet, but there are some steelhead being caught by boats side-drifting the riffles with bait. Spring-run regulations are in effect through August 14, with a daily bag and possession limit of one salmon of any size.
The Rogue Bay was slow over the weekend but showed signs of life Monday and Tuesday according to Martin. “Fish are staging along the Jetty jaws on the incoming tide. There also is a bite each morning near the mouth of Indian Creek,” said Martin.
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