Halibut, rockfish filling the salmon void

This very hungry lingcod latched onto a 7-lb Vermillion that was being reeled in and refused to let go. The lucky angler, John Scoczylas of Bellflower, was fishing aboard the Shellback near Cape Mendocino.
Photo Credit: Tony Sepulveda/Green Water Fishing Adventures

by Kenny Priest
6-1-2017
Website

There’s no doubt the salmon closure has left a huge void in our saltwater season that can’t be filled. There’s really nothing that compares to the thrill, taste, and the tradition of salmon fishing off of our coast. However, if the halibut and rockfish continue to chew up baits like they are now, it will certainly lessen the sting. Charter and sport boats alike have been dragging halibut over the rails at a pretty hefty pace this past week. If the ocean current was a little slower on a consistent basis, the 34,580 pound quota would be in danger of being met much earlier than the October closure. The rockfish bite has been fantastic as well. Along with Cape Mendocino, I’ve heard some really good reports coming from Trinidad as well Crescent City. Though rockfish and halibut are both delicious, it’s just seems like something is missing.

Salmon, halibut closures
The first of two sport salmon seasons came to a close on Wednesday, 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. The first Pacific halibut season will come to a close on June 15, and open again on July 1. 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. As of May 28, CDFW has projected 2,798 net pounds of the 34,580 pound quota of Pacific Halibut has been harvested. To view the latest catch projection information, visit here

Marine Forecast
The next couple of days look decent, but the wind is predicted to pick up by the weekend. Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the N 10 to 15 knots and waves NW 5 feet at 5 seconds and W 4 feet at 10 seconds. Saturday is not looking good, with NW winds 10 to 20 knots and waves NW 8 feet at 5 seconds and W 4 feet at 11 seconds. Sunday looks a little worse, with N winds 20 to 30 knots and N waves 9 feet at 5 seconds and W 4 feet at 11 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For up-to-date weather forecast, visit 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 wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan or check out the bar cam.

Fish for free this weekend in Oregon
Oregon will be having a Free Fishing Weekend on June 3 and 4. On those two days, no license, tag or endorsement is required to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon. This applies only to waters already open to fishing, crabbing or clamming. All other regulations, such as bag limits, still apply.

Ruth Lake Bass tournament this Saturday
Fortuna Fire Department CO-2's will be holding the annual “Paul Jadro Memorial Bass Tournament” this Saturday, June 3. Blast off will be at 5:45 a.m. The one day tournament event offers a first prize award of up to $1,000 with payout to 1 in 3 in addition to door prizes, and sponsor products. The entry fee is $120 per team with a big fish buy in option of $10. The tournament is catch and release and all competitors must fish from boats that are required to have operational live-wells on board. Life jackets are required. Check in at the Marina on Friday June 2 at 4:30-7 p.m. or Saturday 4-5 a.m. For more information, contact Lon Winburn at 725-5021 or 725-7880.

Youth fishing derby coming June 10
The 10th annual SkyCrest Lake Youth Fish Derby & Firewise Day will be held Saturday, June 10. The free event for youths 3 to 15 years old will be held at SkyCrest Lake, Burnt Ranch-Underwood Mountain Road and is hosted by the Willow Creek Fire Safe Council. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and fishing will be from 9 a.m. to noon. There is a free hot lunch for all from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Shore fishing only and no pets or alcohol. For more information, call 707-499- 0767 or 530-629-2770, or email barbaradarst@yahoo.com

Freshwater Lagoon trout plants
Freshwater Lagoon near Orick has been planted with trout on a monthly schedule since April. The last plant was on Sunday and the next one is scheduled for Sunday, June 4. The limit is five trout per day, 10 in possession.

The Oceans:
Eureka

“The rockfish bite at Cape Mendocino has been absolutely amazing,” said Skipper Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “Even with the three black rockfish limit, we’re still finding enough variety to get everyone their 10 fish. The lings are really biting too; the extra depth has really been nice. We’ve been able to stay on some of the structure where in years past we’ve only been able to fish part of it. The Pacific halibut — when the current was good — bit really well this week. On Saturday we had limits for the whole crew by 9:30 a.m. We went back out on Monday and the current was ripping and we didn’t land a fish. That’s the way it’s been all year.” said Klassen.

Shelter Cove
The salmon bite has been pretty wide-open all week,” said Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “On Sunday I had a light load and we got a late start due to the tide. By the time we got to where the salmon bite was that morning, it had completely died. So after trolling with no luck for a few hours, we took a gamble and ran 12 miles the other direction. It paid off and we got our limits in just a couple hours. On Tuesday, I only had three clients and we had our limits of salmon by 9:30. We also released over 15 silvers. The last few days we’ve been getting them up in the canyon. Prior to that, we were getting them at the lower end of the Banks below the Hat. The rockfish action has also been excellent. On Friday and Saturday we ran north and had limits of lings and blacks by noon. We also boated a 66-pound halibut on Saturday. We’ve been catching the rockfish just outside the whistle and on the Old Man.”

Crescent City
The ocean has been pretty nice the past few days, and boats were able to get out to the halibut grounds reports Leonard Carter of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “There were boats fishing for halibut on Wednesday, but I didn’t hear how they did. Boats targeting rockfish were able to get out to the Big Reef and further south as well. It sounds like the rockfish and lings were biting, most of the guys I talked to had easy limits. The perch bite is still good at South Beach, and I heard there was a striper caught there earlier in the week.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath

Springer fishing on the Lower Klamath over the holiday weekend was extremely slow. There wasn’t a ton of effort, and very few fish were caught. The river is still big, running at nearly 25,000 cfs. The beginning of June is typically when the season takes off.

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.