Pacific Halibut Bite Slows
by Kenny Priest
After a hot start to the season, Pacific halibut action out of Eureka has since slowed. Last Monday’s opener was blown out but boats were able to make it back out Wednesday. And what they found were plenty of hungry halibut looking as though they haven’t seen bait in a long time. Quick limits were had by most of the small fleet, with some quality fish reported. But since, it’s been a tough scratch. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, there seems to be plenty of fish around. “The boats were pretty spread out last week, and all were catching fish,” said Klassen. “That tells me there’s a good-sized area of fish. I think there’s a few factors that have been working against us this past week. We’ve had some big tide swings, up, some of, to 8 feet, but there’s been very little current offshore. This keeps the boats from covering much ground. Throw in a south wind and a full moon and you’ve got some finicky halibut.” Ocean conditions are now changing for the better, so look for this fishery to take off very soon.
Weekend marine forecast
Ocean conditions should remain fishable through the weekend. Friday, north winds will be 5 to 15 knots with north waves 5 feet at seven seconds and west 5 feet at 13 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for north winds 5 to 10 knots with northerly waves 5 feet at seven seconds and west 5 feet at 12 seconds. Southwest winds return Sunday with winds 5 to 10 knots with northwest waves 4 feet at seven seconds and west 7 feet at 16 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit http://www.weather.gov/eureka/ or www.windy.com. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.
Rockfish season opens May 15
The 2023 rockfish season will kick-off Monday, May 15, with a variety of changes. The new regulations were adopted in 2022 and will be in effect when the season opens. For groundfish, including rockfish, cabezon and greenling (RCG), as well as lingcod, the boat-based seasons will bring a mix of increased and reduced fishing opportunities, depending on the species. Unlike prior years, all Groundfish Management Areas will have a portion of the season when all-depth fishing is allowed and anglers are not subject to the Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) depth constraints. This allows new fishing opportunities for deeper-water shelf and slope rockfish, which are most abundant in areas that have been previously closed to recreational groundfish fishing. Anglers will need to identify rockfish species they catch and be able to determine if the fish is categorized as a nearshore, shelf or slope rockfish species, as different seasons and depths apply to each category depending on the Groundfish Management Area and month.
There are also changes for several species that have been subject to boat-based closures in the past, which may offer new alternatives for boat-based anglers. They include:
- New year-round opportunities: ocean whitefish, California scorpionfish, leopard shark, soupfin shark, Dover sole, English sole, arrowtooth flounder, spiny dogfish, skates, ratfish, grenadiers, finescale codling, Pacific cod, Pacific whiting, sablefish and thornyheads will now be open year-round in all depths, statewide.
- Boat-based fishing for California sheephead, will be open from March 1 through Dec. 31, statewide. The bag limit, regardless of fishing mode, will decrease from five fish to two fish.
For a summary of the recreational groundfish fishing regulations, visit wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Groundfish-Summary.
In the Northern Management (Eureka, Trinidad, and Crescent City) area, which runs from the California/Oregon border to the 40°10′ N. latitude (near Cape Mendocino), the season opens at all depths May 15 and runs through Oct. 15, closed Oct. 16 through Dec. 31, for all species of rockfish, cabezon and greenlings. The RCG bag limit will remain at 10 fish in combination of rockfish, cabezon and greenlings, with sub-bag limits of not more than four vermilion rockfish, one copper rockfish and one quillback rockfish. Take and possession of cowcod, yelloweye and bronzespotted rockfish will remain prohibited. The limit for lingcod remains at two with a minimum size of 22 inches.
In the Mendocino Management area between 40°10′ N. latitude (near Cape Mendocino) and 38°57.5′ N. latitude (Point Arena), which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg:
- The season opens May 15 through July 15 seaward of the 50 fathom (300 feet) RCA line for shelf and slope species and lingcod only. Take is prohibited shoreward of the 50 fathom RCA line.
- The season opens all depths July 16 through Dec. 31 for nearshore rockfish, cabezon, greenling, shelf, slope, and lingcod.
The RCG bag limit is 10 fish in combination of all species of rockfish, cabezon and greenlings, with sub-bag limits of not more than four vermilion rockfish, one copper rockfish and one quillback rockfish. Take and possession of cowcod, yelloweye and bronzespotted rockfish is prohibited. The limit for lingcod remains at two with a minimum size of 22 inches.
For more information on the Mendocino Management area, visit wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Groundfish-Summary#mendocino
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fish and Game Commission meeting coming May 17
The California Fish and Game Commission meeting will be held at Monterey County Fair & Event Center, Seaside Room 2004 Fairground Road in Monterey. The meeting will also be live streamed at http://www.fgc.ca.gov for viewing and listening purposes only. The meeting will start at 8:30 a.m. to adopt and discuss changes to the upcoming sport fishing seasons.
On the agenda, the commission will consider Chinook salmon emergency closures in the Klamath, Trinity, Eel, and Smith rivers. Closures for fall Chinook fisheries in the Klamath River basin and the Central Valley will also be adopted.
Also on the agenda is the potential to adopt emergency regulations for California halibut to reduce daily bag and possession limits in anticipation of greater fishery pressure due to salmon fishing closures.
For a complete agenda and comment submission, and viewing information, visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=211281&inline
Kids free fishing derbies
On Saturday, May 20, 2023 all kids 15 years old and younger are invited to the Ruth Lake Marina for the Kids Free Fishing Derby. The event will be from 8 a.m. until noon. Kids must bring their own fishing poles and must be accompanied by an adult. There will be a hot dog feed at noon. For more information, call the Ruth Lake Community Services District at 707-574-6332 or visit ruthlakecsd.org/kids-free-fishing-derby/.
On Saturday, May 20 2023 all kids age 4 to 15 are invited to the Carrville Dredger Pond for the 49th annual Trinity Lake Lions Fish Derby. The pond is located five miles north of the Trinity Center. Registration is from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and the fishing derby will last until 11:00 a.m. Free fishing tackle will be provided to the first 100 kids registered. Kids must bring their own fishing poles and only bait will be allowed. Prizes will be awarded in many categories along with a grand prize. Free hot dogs, chips, and drinks for everyone. For more information, visit trinityjournal.com/calendar/sport/event_691c2422-b481-11ed-bd66-c73a9d26ca40.html
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, the weather was good enough last week to target halibut. He said, “We were able to make it up to Gorda twice last week, but the fishing wasn’t great. Over the two days, we had a total of ten anglers and we only managed to land seven fish to 44 pounds. We were able to boat limits of Dungeness crabs both days.”
Brookings rockfish update
“Halibut started off slow out of Brookings, in part because of rough weather,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Southerly winds have limited the window to get offshore. Lingcod and rockfish have been good on calm weather days. Anchovies, and pelicans, have arrived off of Brookings. Calm weather returns this week.”
The spring king salmon run on the lower Rogue continues to be one to remember, according to Martin. “Some guides are limiting their customers before 10 a.m. Shore anglers are also catching fish plunking Spin N Glos and Brads baits. Peak season continues through May.”
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 www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email email@example.com.
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