With the closing of the first part of our salmon season, offshore anglers now have their sights set on Pacific halibut. And since Monday, there's been a slew of them coming over the rails for both the Eureka and Trinidad fleets. The Eureka boats have had a little tougher go on account of the abundance of black cod lurking on the halibut grounds. In some spots it's tough to get a bait to the bottom without it being eaten or mangled by the hungry cod. But when you find that spot where your baits can hit the bottom unmolested, it's been game on. Trinidad has been producing limits for the charters and private boats since salmon season closed. Most of the fish are coming straight out of the harbor in 250 to 300 feet of water. No monsters have been reported yet, with the average size right around 20 to 30 pounds. With fishable water in the forecast through at least Saturday, now's the time to get in on the action.
Weekend marine forecast
Ocean conditions look plenty fishable through Saturday. Friday, winds will be from the west to 5 knots with west waves 6 feet at 10 seconds. Saturday's forecast is calling for west winds 5 to 10 knots and west swells 5 feet at 10 seconds. On Sunday, north winds will begin to increase and predicted to blow up to 15 knots. Waves will be from the northwest 6 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.
Following a blustery and rainy weekend, boats were back on the water Monday in search of halibut. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, there's a wide area of fish outside of Eureka. "Halibut have been caught from the 42 line north to the 51 line," said Klassen. "There seems to be a lot of fish out there but the black cod are still making it difficult to keep your bait. If you can find an area free of cod that has halibut, you'll do well. The rockfish bite at Cape Mendocino is producing as expected. There's plenty of variety right now — on our last trip we boated 12 different varieties."
According to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters, the halibut bite is wide-open for the guys who are putting in the time. "Most of the fish are coming straight out of the harbor in 250 to 300 feet," said Wilson. "There have been quite a few limits caught the last few days. The rockfish bite is still good, and we're seeing more lings this year than in years past. The crabbing has been excellent, we've moved our rings in shallow and we're seeing lots of quality keepers." Trinidad Harbor and the Seascape Pier are hosting a big fish (salmon and halibut) and photo contest starting June 1. Sign-ups are at the bait shop and are free.
"The salmon fishing was pretty slow last week, with the best boats averaging a half a fish per angler," said Jake Mitchell, of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. "Most of the effort has been around the buoys. Rock fishing remains great with easy limits but lingcod have been a little more difficult to find. We, along with a few other boats, took advantage of the flat weather the last couple of days and ran to Gorda and Rogers Break for rockfish and halibut. The halibut fishing has been really good.
A few Pacific halibut have been caught but there aren't a lot of boats trying, reports Britt Carson, of Crescent City's Englund Marine. He said, "The few halibut caught have come from the South Reef in 220 to 240 feet of water. The rockfish action is steady, with limits coming fairly easy. There are quite a few lingcod around as well. The California halibut haven't shown up in big numbers yet. There is some effort but I think the water is still a little cold."
While anglers wait for the June 18 salmon opener out of Brookings, they have been targeting rockfish and lingcod with good success, reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. "High water from last weekend's rain turned the Chetco muddy and slowed ocean fishing close to the mouth, making the Bird Island and Twins Rocks area the best bet," said Martin. "Halibut fishing is slow, but a few fish a day are being brought in."
According to Martin, the Rogue is between runs, with spring salmon almost over and fall kings still several weeks away. "With high flows, bay trolling won't begin anytime soon. Fishing has improved in the Shady Cove and Gold Hill areas of the upper Rogue."
Send in your fish photos
Land a big lingcod or halibut lately? Or maybe your friend or relative has reeled in their first perch. Email your fishing photo to email@example.com and I'll run them with the Fishing the North Coast weekly column. Just include the name of the angler in the photo, where and when it was taken, and any other details you'd like to share.
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