Jetties Heating Up for Rockfish

Eight-year-old Isabell Kelly, of Arcata, holds a rockfish she caught last Saturday from the north jetty.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Brian Kelly

by Kenny Priest

The boat-based rockfish season on the North Coast won’t open until May 15 but that certainly doesn’t mean fish tacos can’t be on the menu. The jetties, the breakwater constructed to protect Humboldt Bay, are starting to provide some good fishing opportunities for both rockfish and lingcod. Over the last couple weeks, the North Jetty has started giving up some nice rockfish, along with the occasional big lingcod. While no limits have been reported as of yet, most are catching enough to make plenty of fish tacos. The South Jetty hasn’t been as good, but that will likely change as water and weather conditions improve.

There are a few different techniques anglers use on the jetties. One of the most popular is fishing with small swimbaits or scampi jigs. You can use a half-ounce or three-quarter ounce, depending on the tide and depth of water. Another popular method is a two-hook setup rigged with bait. Bait, especially herring, under a float is also a deadly technique for big lingcod.

For bait, squid or shrimp work well. You can also cast and retrieve egg sinkers or banana weights rigged with a herring. This also works well for lingcod. While we wait for the May 15 boat-based rockfish opener, the jetties are always an excellent year-round option to put fresh fish on the table. For a complete list of rockfish regulations, visit

Weekend marine forecast
Ocean conditions look to be improving throughout the week with decent conditions forecast for the weekend. Friday is calling for north winds 5 to 15 knots and west waves 6 feet at 10 seconds. Saturday is calling for winds out of the north 5 to 10 knots with northwest waves 5 feet at five seconds and northwest 4 feet at 14 seconds. Sunday looks similiar. Winds will be from the northwest 5 to 15 knots with northwest waves 5 feet at five seconds and west 4 feet at 15 seconds. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit or

Increased flows coming down the Klamath
In a press release issued Monday, the Bureau of Reclamation, in coordination with PacifiCorp, will increase flows at Link River Dam and below Iron Gate Dam to reduce the risk of disease for salmon in the Klamath River. From April 19 through the end of the month, flows will vary on the Link and Klamath rivers.

Releases from Upper Klamath Lake through Link River Dam will increase to 5,300 cubic feet per second the morning of April 19. The increased flows will reach Iron Gate Dam late in the day, resulting in increased flows below Iron Gate Dam from the current 1,330 cfs up to a peak of around 6,030 cfs beginning late afternoon on April 19. The peak will last for 72 hours. Flows will begin ramping down at Link River Dam the morning of April 22 and that evening at Iron Gate Dam. The rampdown will last through the end of April. The public is urged to take appropriate safety precautions while flows are increased.    

Upon completion of the surface flushing flow event, Reclamation will continue to maintain Klamath River flows in accordance with the 2020 Interim Operations Plan. This surface flushing flow is an environmental compliance requirement and was implemented in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA Fisheries, Tribal Nations, and Klamath Project water contractors.

For more information about Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office’s work to manage and protect water and related resources in Klamath Basin communities, and Klamath Project hydrologic and operations updates visit

Spring releases on the Trinity River
The Bureau of Reclamation announced on April 13 that this year’s restoration flow schedule for the Trinity River will begin on April 16. Each year, the Trinity Management Council advances a flow schedule based on the expected amount of water available to support salmon restoration efforts on the Trinity River.

The California Department of Water Resources determined April 10 the Trinity watershed falls into the “wet” category with 1.6 -million-acre feet of projected inflow to the reservoir from the watershed. A “wet” determination is one of five water year types used by the Trinity River Restoration Program to determine how much reservoir water will be released in support of the program’s goals to improve habitat for anadromous fish—fish that migrate to fresh water from salt water to spawn—like salmon and steelhead. ​​​​​​​

The planned release schedule attempts to maximize benefits to the physical and biological character of the Trinity River.

Visitors near or on the river can expect river levels to increase during the flow releases and should take appropriate safety precautions. Landowners are advised to clear personal items from the floodplain prior to the releases.

Key components of the flow release schedule are:

  • April 15-16: Increase daily average flows from 3,550 cubic feet per second to 6,750 cfs
  • April 17-18: Flows increase to 10,258 cfs then to 10,875 cfs
  • April 19-22: Flows decrease to 9,250 cfs then to 6,625 cfs, and then increase to 10,792 cfs
  • May 8-June 3: Flows will be maintained between 1,000 to 2,000 cfs
  • June 21: Flows will return to 450 cfs summer baseflow, which continues until September 30

Reclamation continues to work cooperatively with multiple federal, state, local agencies, and partners in conserving water, advancing water storage projects, and maximizing regulatory flexibilities to respond quickly to fluctuating conditions.

An up-to-date daily schedule of flow releases is available at the program’s website The public may subscribe to automated notifications of Trinity River release changes (via phone or email) at

The Trinity Management Council is the governing body of the Trinity River Restoration Program. The council’s membership includes Hoopa Valley Tribe, Yurok Tribe, Trinity County, state of California, USDA-Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA Fisheries, and the Bureau of Reclamation. For additional information, visit

Englund Marine Eureka Grand Opening May 5
Englund Marine Eureka will be holding a grand opening celebration on Friday, May 5 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. with the Eureka Chamber of Commerce. There will be sale prices on clothing, boots and raingear all day long. Englund Marine’s new location is 590 West Waterfront Drive, Eureka.

HASA dinner and fundraiser coming May 13
The annual Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers (HASA) fundraiser dinner and auction will be held Saturday, May 13, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Sequoia Conference Center, 901 Myrtle Ave. in Eureka. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for kids. Guest speaker will be Del Stephens on how to improve your albacore fishing skills. There will be a kids raffle and table, as well as other raffles. Tickets are available from Englund Marine and board members. Local sponsors include Englund Marine, RMI Outdoors, and Redwood Coast Spreader Bars. For more information, email

The Rivers:
Reminder: The South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mattole, Mad, Redwood Cree and Chetco rivers all closed to fishing March 31.

The Smith was right around 9.5 feet on the Jed Smith gauge Thursday and should be in excellent shape through the weekend. Fishing reports have been hard to come by as most anglers have moved on for the season. There should be some downers around a few fresh ones still making their way upriver.

Eel (main stem)
As of Thursday, the main Eel was running at 7,750 cubic feet per second on the Scotia gauge and dropping slightly. It’s predicted to drop through Friday before rising again on the weekend, likely due to snowmelt. It’s getting close to being fishable but needs to get down to 5,000 cfs. That could happen next week. The main stem Eel to the South Fork is open all year. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used from Apr. 1 through Sept. 30.

Lower Rogue
Spring salmon fishing has been surprisingly good on the lower Rogue, according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Plunkers are catching fish on Spin-N-Glos, 4.0 MagLips and Brads plug cut lures at Huntley Park and Lobster Creek,” said Martin. “Guides anchoring near Elephant Rock and the Willows caught limits of salmon over the weekend with anchovies and spinner blades, as big numbers of hatchery springers moved through. Conditions remain good for this weekend.”

Brookings ocean update
Lingcod and rockfish continue to be good out of Brookings on nice weather days according to Martin. “Lingcod remain in shallow water, while thicker schools of rockfish have moved inshore. The forecast for Friday and Saturday looks promising. Surfperch are biting well at numerous Brookings-area beaches, although fishing along the jetties is slow because of high water in the Chetco. Pacific halibut season opens May 1. Coho salmon season opens in the ocean out of Brookings June 17.”

Kenny Priest operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email