One of the better Pacific halibut seasons came to a close Sunday with boats catching some nice fish right up until the final buzzer. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Sunday's closure late last week with the expectation that quota would be exceeded if the season remained open. And I don't think they were wrong. But as we say goodbye to halibut, we welcome albacore tuna to our decks. The warm water that tuna seek is just a few miles offshore but most boats are looking out in deeper water in hopes of finding large schools. As of Monday, the scores weren't off the charts but the fish being caught are big. Not many peanuts are being caught — most are in the 20-pound class and quite a few 30-plus-pound tuna are being caught. Boats will have a couple more days to search for tuna with windy conditions predicted to return later in the week.
Weekend marine forecast
Winds slowly increase in speed through the end of the week with moderate breezes across the waters by Friday. Friday's forecast is calling for north winds 5 to 10 knots and northwest waves 4 feet at eight seconds. Saturday is calling for north winds 5 to 10 knots and waves out of the northwest 4 feet at seven seconds. Sunday gets a little rougher, with winds out of the north 5 to 15 knots and waves northwest 5 feet at six 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. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.
According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the tuna water is within 20 miles of the entrance. "Sunday and Monday, we found fish roughly 18 miles offshore," said Klassen. "The fish are really scattered, no real big concentrations of fish. Scores were slightly better 35 miles out Monday but still not red-hot. However, the fish being caught are a really good grade with most of the fish being over 20-pounds. The wind is forecast to return Thursday. With all the warm water close to shore, the salmon bite hasn't been great. Most of the fish are being caught right on the bottom. North of the entrance off the stacks in 100 feet of water has produced some quality keepers."
"The halibut season ended with a bang; the fishing was really good Sunday," said Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. "The black rockfish bite has slowed the last few days. We're still catching nice ones and getting limits but it has slowed a little. Not sure what role the ocean conditions are having on the bite; the water is really clear and calm. The lingcod bite is still good if you put in the effort. There are some nice ones around, too, up to 25-pounds. The salmon bite has been slow. A few were caught on the beach and out deep right on the bottom. A couple have also been caught out near Redding Rock."
It continues to be a pretty dismal year out of Shelter Cove, reports Jake Mitchell, of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. "Rock fishing has been pretty good but that's been about the only consistent fishery we've had. Salmon fishing has gone from bad to worse and until the water cools off — it probably won't get any better. We had a decent albacore bite last week, but that has petered out and boats are only getting one to three fish over the last several days. The warm water is only 10 miles out and it's in every direction. I think we need a good blow for a few days to reshuffle the cards. There was a decent halibut bite Sunday up at Gorda for the last day."
According to Britt Carson of Crescent City's Englund Marine, the Sisters and the South Reef continue to provide limits of quality rockfish and lingcod. "The salmon action continues to be slow but we aren't seeing a whole lot of effort," said Carson. "That may change now that halibut season is closed. Currently, there isn't much in the way of tuna water near Crescent City. One boat did run quite a ways south Monday and boated six."
Ocean salmon fishing continues to be mostly a miss with a few kings showing up in the catch reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. "Pacific halibut are biting in 200 feet of water off of Bird Island," said Martin. "Plenty of quota remains on the Oregon side of the border. Lingcod and rockfish action is good. A few boats went out of tuna on Sunday, and found fish well offshore, 50-plus miles out."
The entire river blew out Monday due to heavy rain near last year's fires, sending mud and debris from Happy Camp all the way to the mouth. (Read about the devastating impact of the McKinney Fire on fish in the Klamath River here.) While upriver of the estuary is dirty, boats trolling for salmon did quite well Monday. Your best bet will be to fish the incoming when the tidal influences push back the dirty water. Upriver will be fishable again by the weekend. Spring-run regulations are in effect through Aug. 14, with a daily bag and possession limit of one salmon of any size. The fall quota will begin next Monday, Aug. 15.
According to Martin, the Rogue Bay heated up again over the weekend, but crowded conditions are making fishing tough. "The salmon that are being caught are big, with numerous fish each day over 25 pounds and some topping 30 pounds."
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 email@example.com.