Weather permitting, halibut and rockfish on the bite
by Kenny Priest
When the weather has cooperated, both the halibut and rockfish bite out of Eureka has been pretty darn good. Marc Schmidt of Coastline Charters on Tuesday ran out to 300 feet and was able to put three keeper halibut on board before 9 a.m. Conditions weren’t great, but the fish were right where he left them the last trip and they still were in the biting mood. The same can be said for the rockfish and lingcod down at Cape Mendocino. Since the season opened on May 1, only a small handful of boats have made the trip south, and the ones who have were rewarded with wide-open action and easy limits of both. As ocean conditions appear to be settling down for the next few days, we should see our saltwater season finally start to take off.
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.
Pacific Halibut quota update
The CDFW has projected 560 net pounds of Pacific Halibut has been harvested through May 7. The 2017 Pacific halibut quota for the California subarea is 34,580 pounds – about 5,000 pounds more than the 2016 quota. 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 here.
Weekend marine forecast
For coastal water from Pt. St. George to Cape Mendocino out 10 nautical miles, the marine forecast is looking pretty good through the weekend, and even better for the early part of next week. For Friday, the forecast is calling for winds out of the N 5 to 15 knots with waves N 5 feet at 7 seconds. The swells are a little bigger and the wind will increase slightly beginning on Saturday. Winds will be out of the N 10 to 20 knots and waves will be out of the N 8 feet at 11 seconds. Sunday is looking a little better, with N winds 10 to 15 knots and N waves 6 feet at 11 seconds. These conditions can and will change. 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 www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan or check out the bar cam.
Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine reports the rockfish action really picked up on Tuesday and Wednesday. “The South Reef sounded like the place to be. I heard it was a little slower for the boats that headed south towards the Sisters, but the afternoon minus tides could have had something to do with the slow bite. The redtail perch bite is still wide-open at all the beaches, while I have yet to hear of a halibut being caught since the season opened,” Hegnes added.
“I ran north Friday and Saturday to Rodgers Break for rockfish and the fishing was fantastic,” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “We limited out in 3 drifts the first day. We had what looks to be a big algae bloom in the Cove and near shore, which I believe it's a result of all the strong winds we've had creating upwelling. I am also starting to see a little more bait around and they were catching salmon in decent numbers on Tuesday, so I think things are looking up.” Saturday is the 11th Annual Gimme Shelter Kayakfishing Tournament at the Cove, so the launch area could be a little congested.
Shelter Cove salmon temporarily closing
The first of two sport salmon seasons will close on May 31 from Horse Mt. to Point Arena, which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg. The season will open back up on Aug. 15 and remain open through November 12 with a 20-inch minimum size limit for the season and a daily bag limit of two salmon per day of any species except Coho. For more information, visit wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon.
Commercial Rock Crab Fishery Closure extended in Northern California
In a press release issued on Tuesday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has extended the emergency commercial rock crab fishery closure that was due to expire on May 16. Due to public health hazard, the state health agencies determined last fall that rock crabs north of Pigeon Point (37° 11’ N. lat.) to the Oregon border had unhealthy levels of domoic acid and recommended a commercial fishery closure. Subsequently, Director Charlton H. Bonham submitted an emergency rulemaking to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point.
The recreational fishery for rock crab remained open statewide with a warning from the California Department of Public Health to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera of rock crab caught in the closure area. Click for more information.
Main Stem Eel update
“The main stem Eel looks as good as it’s looked all year,” said Paul Grundman of Rio Dell’s Grundmans Sporting Goods. “It doesn’t look like the rain changed the water level or color at all; the river is in great shape.” As of Wednesday, flows were hovering around 3,600 cfs on the Scotia gauge.
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