Mother Nature can be so cruel. In the week leading up to Saturday's rockfish and Pacific halibut openers, ocean conditions out of Eureka were pristine. Then, as if someone was playing a bad joke, the north winds picked up and the ocean swells grew steep, spoiling the weekend plans of the Eureka fleet. That's the bad news. The good news is the seas have since subsided and boats will be headed out through Humboldt Bay Wednesday in search of the season's first haul of halibut and rockfish. But the weather window could be small. Winds will begin to pick up Friday and the weekend is again looking very breezy. There's plenty of season ahead of us and this won't be the last time Mother Nature has her way.
Razor clam fishery opens back up in Del Norte
After a five-year closure, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife director has re-opened the recreational razor clam fishery in Del Norte County following a recommendation from state health agencies that the consumption of razor clams in the area no longer poses a significant threat for domoic acid exposure according to a press release issued Friday. During the closure, state health agencies have continued to assess domoic acid levels in razor clams. Razor clams have consistently exceeded the federal action level of 20 parts per million. However, clams recently collected from Crescent City in March and April 2021 all had lower concentrations. CDFW, the California Department of Public Health and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment continue to monitor domoic acid in razor clams to determine when the recreational fishery in Humboldt County can be opened safely. CDFW reminds clammers that the daily bag limit for razor clams is 20 and the first 20 clams dug must be retained regardless of size or condition. The fishery in odd-numbered years is open north of Battery Point, Crescent City in Del Norte County. Effective March 8, each person is required to keep a separate container for their clams and is not allowed to commingle their take with another person when digging and transporting clams to shore. Visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Sport-Fishing/Invertebrate-Fishing-Regs#mollusks for specific razor clam regulations.
Sport-Harvested Mussels quarantined
In a press release issued April 30, The California Department of Public Health announced the annual quarantine of sport-harvested mussels gathered along the California coast. The quarantine began May 1 and applies to all species of mussels that are recreationally harvested along the California coast, including all bays and estuaries. The quarantine is in place to protect the public against poisoning that can lead to serious illness, including coma and death. The quarantine is designed to prevent paralytic shellfish poisoning and domoic acid poisoning, also known as amnesic shellfish poisoning, in people who might otherwise consume sport-harvested mussels. Both of these syndromes are from naturally occurring toxins produced by certain phytoplankton consumed by shellfish, including mussels and clams. Cooking does not destroy the toxins. Commercially harvested shellfish are not included in the annual quarantine because all commercial harvesters in California are certified by CDPH and subject to strict testing requirements to ensure that all oysters, clams, and mussels entering the marketplace are safe.
Visit www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/OPA/Pages/SN21-003.aspx for more information.
Weekend marine forecast
Breezy conditions are once again in the forecast for the weekend. Saturday is calling for north winds 10 to 20 knots with waves out of the northwest 9 feet at 10 seconds. Sunday is looking similar, with winds out of the north 15 to 25 knots. Waves will be northwest 10 feet at 9 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or www.windy.com. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484. The Oceans:
Ocean conditions improved dramatically Wednesday and a few boats took advantage. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing was one of the boats making the trip to the halibut grounds and he reported some pretty good fishing. Klassen was targeting the area out 300 feet around the 50-line where he boated limits for his clients of halibut in the 10 to 20-pound range. Conditions look excellent for Thursday but the wind is forecast to blow starting Friday.
Captain Curt Wilson, who runs Wind Rose Charters, was able to put clients on limits of black rockfish and crab over the weekend. "We only had a to hit a couple spots towards Patrick's Point to score limits of quality black rockfish," said Wilson. "Conditions weren't great but we were able to get in and out early before the wind picked up. We'll have a little more time this week to look around for some variety as conditions will be much better."
The wind was howling all weekend, which kept most of the boats off the water according to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. He said, "Jared Morris of C'Mon Sport Fishing and one other boat made a quick run to the rockfish grounds Saturday morning and found some hungry rockfish. Each boat came home with one ling apiece. The weather looks decent starting Wednesday before the wind comes back on Saturday."
Despite the conditions, a few boats trudged their way to the rockfish grounds before the winds came up Saturday. Steve Huber, who runs Crescent City Fishing Charters, battled minus tides and rough water to put his clients on some quality rockfish. "We started north of the harbor and found a decent bite," said Huber. "We made a couple of moves before the weather go too bad." Huber was back on the water Monday and found plenty of hungry rockfish and a few lingcod south near the Sisters.
Brookings rockfish update
"Rough ocean conditions put a damper on the halibut opener out of Brookings as well as the Point St. George Reef opener south of the border," said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. "The inshore reefs still produced limits of rockfish and a few lingcod during the windy weekend. Calmer conditions are expected Wednesday before a storm brushes the area Thursday and Friday."
A few spring salmon were caught on the lower Rogue after last week's rain but overall catch rates remain poor, reports Martin. "This year's springer run has been well below average. Rogue anglers looking for action are waiting with anticipation for the salmon fly hatch on the upper river, which produces the best trout fishing of the year," added Martin.
Kenny Priest (he/him) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org