While we wait for the rockfish season to open in the Northern Management area, which includes Eureka, Trinidad and Crescent City, there's a pretty good alternative right across our northern border. Rockfish and lingcod season is open year-round out of Brookings Harbor, and the last couple months have produced some excellent fishing opportunities. When the weather has permitted, the lingcod bite has been better than average, with limits common for private and charter boats. The rockfish bite has been equally good. "The lingcod bite, when the ocean has been flat, has been wide-open," said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. "The Bird Island and House Rock areas have been best." When conditions keep the boats closer to the harbor, there's still good fishing available. "Close-in fishing also has been good, with easy limits of rockfish just past Chetco Point," added Martin. Brookings Harbor features an excellent launching facility with self-payment, courtesy dock, freshwater boat rinse and a large fish-cleaning station. The general marine daily bag limit is six fish per angler per day, along with two lingcod 22 inches or larger. Visit www.myodfw.com/sport-bottomfish-seasons for a complete list of bottom fish regulations.
Ocean conditions are shaping up nicely for the weekend. Friday is calling for north winds to 5 knots and northwest waves 2 feet at six seconds and west 4 feet at 12 seconds. Saturday is calling for winds out of the north 5 to 10 knots with 3-foot swells at six seconds out of the northwest and west 4 feet at 12 seconds. Sunday is looking favorable as well, with winds out of the north 5 to 10 knots with 3-foot swells at five seconds out of the northwest and 3 feet at 12 seconds. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or www.windy.com.
Howling winds over the weekend made for some tough fishing conditions off the beach and jetties. The best option was the mouth of Elk River inside Humboldt Bay for redtail perch. It's one of the few locations not affected by heavy winds. The fishing was good this weekend, with some limits reported. Conditions look excellent through the weekend.
Pacific halibut season set
The PFMC announced recently that the 2021 Pacific halibut season will run from May 1 to Nov. 15, or until the quota is reached, whichever comes first. There won't be any in-season closures as was the case in 2019. The quota in 2021 will again be 39,000 pounds. CDFW will monitor catches of Pacific halibut during the season and provide catch projection updates on the CDFW Pacific halibut webpage, www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking. The limit remains at one, with no size restrictions. No more than one line with two hooks attached can be used.
"Critically Dry" year designation for Trinity River
According to a press release issued by the Bureau of Reclamation April 9, the lack of precipitation and snowpack in the Trinity Mountains this winter means the flow schedule for 2021 is scaled to a "critically dry" water year for the Trinity River. Critically dry is one of five water year types used by the Trinity River Restoration Program to decide 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. This year marks the third critically dry year in the last five for the Trinity watershed. This year's flow schedule will begin April 16. Key dates and flow releases are:
April 16-17: Increase daily average flows from 300 cubic feet per second to 1,300 cfs
April 21: Decrease flows to 500 cfs
April 23: Increase flows to 1,500 cfs
April 28: Increase flows to peak release of 3,550 cfs
Two additional flow increases to 1,950 cfs on May 6 and 1,600 cfs on May 28 are scheduled before flow decreases to summer baseflow (450 cfs) on June 18, which continues until Sept. 30. 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. A schedule of daily flow releases is available at: www.trrp.net/restoration/flows/current/.
Reminder: The South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mattole, Mad, Redwood Creek and Chetco rivers all closed to fishing March 31.
The slow spring salmon fishing on the Rogue continued over the weekend, prompting some guides to start canceling trips, according to Martin. "Very few hatchery springers are being caught. The other Southern Oregon Coast rivers are closed until late May," added Martin.
Eel (main stem)
As of Wednesday, the main Eel dipped under 1,800 cfs on the Scotia gauge. The river is clear and the fish will be holding in the deeper slots. There should be quite a few steelhead making their way downriver, though the fishing pressure has been light. 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.
Read the complete fishing roundup at www.northcoastjournal.com.
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