Pacific halibut bite heating up on the coast
by Kenny Priest
Triples, doubles, limits, back to the dock by 10 a.m.! No folks, we’re not talking about salmon or California Halibut — we’re talking Pacific Halibut. The bite was fast and furious over the weekend out of Eureka, the type of action that is rarely seen in this neck of the woods. Charter and sport boats alike were landing on large schools of flatties, making for some short days and big smiles. The bite was, and has been, equally as good in Trinidad. Limit-style fishing has been going on there pretty much since the season opened back up on the first. Good reports have also been coming out of Shelter Cove and Crescent City. They don’t have quite the number of boats, but they’ve put up some pretty impressive scores this week. If you need a halibut fix, you better make it quick. The season will close again on Aug. 15 and re-open on Sept. 1 and run through Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. With the amount of fish that have been flying over the rails lately, I’m guessing the quota took a pretty good hit. For up-to-date harvest tracking information, visit ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking
Weekend Marine forecast
After a week of beautiful ocean conditions, we’re going to start to see a little more wind and swell. Out 10 nautical miles from Pt. St. George to Cape Mendocino, Friday’s forecast is calling for NW winds 5 to 10 knots and waves out of the N 4 feet at 4 seconds. Saturday’s forecasts is calling for NW winds 5 to 15 knots and waves NW 4 feet at 5 seconds. Sunday is looking similar, with winds out of the NW 5 to 15 knots and waves NW 6 feet at 6 seconds. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit weather.gov/eureka/. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit 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.
North Coast tuna
Late last week and over the weekend, ocean conditions were about perfect for tuna. Quite a few boats ran offshore from Shelter Cove, Eureka, Trinidad and Crescent City. Shelter Cove seemed to be the top port, with boats coming back with 30 to 60 albacore. According to the Humboldt Tuna Club, the Eureka fleet scores were ranging from 10 to 30 fish per boat, but were hampered by the longer run to the fish. One boat from Crescent City boated 26 on Friday. The weather is definitely looking better out of the northern ports this week, with quite a few launching out of Brookings on Thursday and Friday.
Shelter Cove/Fort Bragg salmon seasons set to reopen
The recreational salmon season from Horse Mtn. to Point Arena will reopen next Tuesday, Aug. 15 and remain open to Nov. 12. The minimum size limit is 20 inches total length with a daily bag limit of 2 salmon of any species except Coho. For more information, please visit the Ocean Salmon webpage at wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at 707-576-3429.
Halibut and rockfish have been the two main targets this week according to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. He said, “The halibut bite finally slowed down on Monday after a few days of red hot fishing. The last few days boats were averaging about three fish per trip. Most of the action is happening just south of Trinidad in 150 feet of water. I’m not sure what slowed the bite, but it likely has something to do with the tides. The rockfish bite at the Cape is still really good, with lots of variety to be had. We’re still getting limits of quality ling cod, and we’re seeing quite a few quillbacks around.”
According to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters, the Pacific halibut bite out of Trinidad was wide-open this week. He said, “Almost all of the Trinidad boats have been scoring limits each day. They’ve been in shallower water, with most of the action coming in 100 to 150 feet of water. It hasn’t really mattered if you went north or south. The rockfish and lingcod bite has been really good as well. We’ve been getting limits or close to it just about every trip. There’s fish from outside Flat Iron all the way to Patrick’s Point.”
“We ran a halibut and rockfish combo trip on Wednesday up near Rodgers Break area,” said Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “We landed two halibut to 47-lbs and had limits of rockfish, but fell a couple of lings short. Thursday through Saturday we fished albacore and put 140 fish on the boat in those three days. Our best day was Friday with 60 fish by 1:30 p.m. Most of our tuna success was on the edge of the Vizcaino Canyon. The weather doesn’t look good for tuna for the rest of the week, but it’s been a lot nicer that I was expecting the last couple days. Sunday we were back on the halibut grounds but we weren’t able to bring any on board. We switched over to bottom fish and got limits of lings and rockfish in just a couple hours. I spent the last two days down at the Hat for quality limits of rockfish and lingcod. Looks like it will mainly be rock fishing and halibut this week unless the forecast changes.”
According to Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, the Pacific halibut bite really picked up this week. He said, “I saw a half-dozen come in on Wednesday, and there’s definitely more anglers out fishing. The best bite has been outside the South Reef in 220 to 250 feet of water. We had a pretty decent albacore bite over the weekend too. A couple boats came back with 21-26 fish and another came in with 60. I’m not sure the weather will hold for this weekend, it looks a little better to our north.” Hegnes said.
The steelhead action picked up the last couple days on the Lower Klamath as a group of adults and half-pounders made their way through the mouth over the weekend. The salmon bite is still sporadic, but there’s definitely more salmon in the estuary at the moment. The key is to be there when they go on the bite. Both Kastmasters and spinners have worked well.
A reminder that the Klamath River will close to Chinook salmon fishing after Aug. 14. This includes the Spit Area. During the salmon season closure, steelhead angling will still be allowed.
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