Offshore Anglers Take Advantage of Calm Seas

San Jose resident Jeff Ewing boated this 50-plus pound halibut Tuesday while fishing aboard the Shellback out of Trinidad.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Tony Sepulveda/Green Water Fishing Adventures

by Kenny Priest

Ocean conditions can make all the difference when it comes to catching – or not. And favorable conditions have been few and far between this season. But when the stars align like they did Wednesday, good things happen. The Eureka fleet took full advantage and boats made their way to the halibut grounds while some pointed south to Cape Mendocino. Both locations provided anglers with plenty of bent rods and coolers full of fish. The halibut bite was some of the best we’ve seen this season, with lots of boats headed in early with limits. The boats who made their way south also reported some wide-open fishing, with plenty of rockfish to fill the buckets. The lingcod bite was red-hot, providing some of the best action in a couple years. But just as soon as the ocean calmed, winds will once again pick up starting Friday and the weekend and into next week look iffy.

Weekend marine forecast
Following a few days of calm seas, near gale to locally gale force gusts is possible across the outer waters Friday. This will generate steep seas, with short period seas picking up to around 8 to 10 feet at 8 to 9 seconds Friday afternoon. Winds will diminish throughout the weekend as another upper level trough moves over the area. As of Thursday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for northwest winds at 15 to 20 knots and waves northwest 6 feet at seven seconds and northwest 5 feet at 11 seconds. Saturday forecast is calling for north winds at 10 to 15 knots and waves northwest 5 feet at seven seconds. Winds will be out of the north Sunday 10 to 15 knots with northwest waves 6 feet at 12 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit or You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

July 6 is statewide free fishing day
On Saturday, July 6, people may fish California’s waters without a sport fishing license. All regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. On Free Fishing Days, every angler must have the appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead, sturgeon, spiny lobster, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems. For more information visit,

Eel River fish counts
As of May 26, 2024, the final counts for salmonids and lamprey are: 270 steelhead (97 female, 83 male, 38 unknown adults, 52 subadults). 255 Chinook (73 female, 72 male, 21 unknown adults, 89 jacks). 1,827 Pacific lamprey. These counts don’t reflect the entire population; only the fish who travel over 150 miles to the fish ladder at Cape Horn Dam. Historic fish count numbers can be found here.

California halibut update
The CA halibut bite has been slowed this week according to Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors. He said, “The big tides at the end of last week and earlier this week are the culprit. Humboldt Bay is pretty dirty as well. Live bait, swim baits or tube jigs seem to be the ticket still. The second and third channels seem to be the most productive.” The California halibut bag and total possession limit is two in California waters north of Point Sur, Monterey County. The minimum size limit is 22 inches total length.

The Oceans:

The ocean finally laid down for a few days, and the catch rates for rockfish and Pacific halibut both soared reports Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “Conditions were decent Tuesday, and quite a few halibut were caught by the handful of boats who made it out,” said Klassen. “On Wednesday, the seas were really calm and we made the run south to Cape Mendocino where the rockfish and lingcod bite was excellent. The area was full of life, with lots of bait on the surface and the fish plugged full of krill. Half of our catch were blacks, but we also had some good variety. Vermilion, coppers, yellowtail, and some cabezon rounded out the limits. The lingcod bite was the best I’ve seen in a couple years. Wednesday’s halibut scores were also good. Lots of limits were reported by charters and private boats fishing off the stacks in 300 feet of water. There were also a couple caught down at the Cape.”

Shelter Cove
The rockfish bite remains a little tougher than usual according to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “We’re still getting limits, but having to work at it with all the brown water,” said Mitchell. “The lingcod bite continues to be hit and miss. A couple days we got easy limits, and others we struggled to get just a few. We’re spending our days fishing around the whistle and Old Man.”

Crescent City
“The rockfish bite is still going strong,” said Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “The lingcod bite has also really picked up and we’re seeing some nice ones caught. The Pacific halibut bite, however, is still really slow. Very few have been caught since the season opened. The California halibut action is heating up, with trollers along South Beach catching quite a few. The fish have been bigger this year, with plenty of fish over 30 inches being caught. Anchovies have been the bait of choice. The redtail bite remains steady at Kellogg Beach.”

“Salmon fishing has improved in the ocean out of Brookings, even as windy weather has kept boats in close,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “A few kings and big numbers of coho salmon are being caught. Plenty of hatchery keepers are in the mix. A big return of coho is expected on the Columbia River this fall, and those fish first appear on the southern Oregon Coast. Trolling anchovies behind Fish Flash flashers and divers close to the surface is working best. Better weather is expected this week. A few halibut are being caught, and catches should improve with the calmer conditions offshore.”

Lower Rogue/Chetco
According to Martin, a few kings are now being caught in the Rogue Bay. “Water temperatures are close to 70 degrees, which will force salmon to hold up in the bay, where kings begin to stack up where the warmer water from upriver and cooler ocean water mix. Summer steelhead are biting near Agness. A few sea-run cutthroat trout are being caught on spinners in the Chetco tidewater.”

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