Life + Outdoors » Fishing the North Coast

Plenty of Holiday Options for North Coast Anglers



For anglers across the North Coast, Memorial Day weekend provides an excellent opportunity to try your luck at a variety of fishing locations. With plenty of options on the table, the biggest decision might not be if you want to go, but where. Here are a few of the options that will hopefully make your decision a little easier this holiday weekend:

Jetties for rockfish and lingcod — When the wind isn't howling, the jetties have been providing excellent rockfish and lingcod action. Small swimbaits or scampi jigs are catching fish as well as herring fished under a float.

Dungeness Crab — Anglers dropping pots outside of the bay entrance are still catching Dungeness crab when the weather cooperates. If it's too rough, there's some good locations inside Humboldt Bay. Out in front of the PG&E plant is a good spot as well as the flat off the South Jetty parking lot. Another top location is either side of the channel leading into the South Bay.

Freshwater Lagoon trout — Planted regularly with catchable-sized trout, there should be ample opportunities for shore-based anglers as well as boat fishermen. An easy rig to fish is a Berkley PowerBait with an egg sinker.

Ruth Lake trout and bass — Nice weather and a family-friendly atmosphere make this a great spot for the weekend. Reportedly, the trout and bass bite are heating up.

Elk River redtail perch — If it's perch you're after and the ocean is too rough, Elk River Beach is a great spot to target redtails. Two hours prior to high tide and an hour after typically are the optimal times. Shrimp, clams and sand crabs all work.

Trinidad Harbor rockfish — A great option for rockfish and crab, especially if the ocean is rough. Launching a small boat from the beach is fairly easy. You'll want to get an early start before the afternoon wind kicks in.

California halibut — If bank angling is your only option, check out Fairhaven Beach on the bay side of the Samoa Peninsula. Fishing is best a couple hours before and after high tide. Swimbaits attached to a ¾-ounce jig head is a good bait choice.

North Coast rivers — Many of the local rivers will re-open to fishing beginning Saturday, May 27. Rivers that will open include sections of the main Eel (South Fork to Cape Horn Dam), South Fork Eel (South Fork Eel River from mouth to Rattlesnake Creek) Van Duzen, Mad, Little River, Mattole and Smith. Be sure to check the regulations prior to fishing.

Weekend marine forecast

After Wednesday, the north winds will begin to subside and the first part of the weekend is looking fishable. Friday, winds will be out of the northwest 5 to 10 knots with northwest waves 5 feet at eight seconds. Saturday is looking a little windier, with north winds 10 to 20 knots and northwest waves 6 feet at eight seconds. Sunday, the wind will lie down slightly and come out of the north 10 to 15 knots with northwest waves 7 feet at eight seconds. Monday is looking better, with north winds 5 to 15 knots forecast along with northwest waves 5 feet at nine 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 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

Weekend tides

The latest round of minus tides will end Thursday, but low tides will occur in the afternoons over the holiday weekend when boats could be returning to the bay. Coupled with decent-sized swells, this could create a dangerous Humboldt Bay bar crossing. Saturday May 27: Low: 12:25 p.m. (.62 feet); Sunday May 28: Low: 1:14 p.m. (.95 feet); Monday May 29: Low: 2:00 p.m. (1.29 feet)

Ruth Lake Bass tournament coming June 4

Fortuna Fire Department CO-2's will be holding the annual "Paul Jadro Memorial Bass Tournament" on Saturday, June 3. Blast off will be at 5:45 a.m. or at first safe light, by draw. The one-day tournament event offers a first prize award of up to $1,000 with payout to 1 in 3 in addition to door prizes and sponsor products. The entry fee is $150 per team with a big fish buy in option of $10. The tournament is catch and release and all competitors must fish from boats that are required to have operational live wells on board. Life jackets are required. Check in at the Marina on Friday June 2 at 4:30-6 p.m. or Saturday 4-5 a.m. For more information, visit

Junior Angler Fishing Day coming June 17

On Saturday, June 17, kids and their families are invited to a fun filled day of surf perch fishing and activities at the Redwood Creek Day Use Area located off of Highway 101 just south of Orick. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All kids under 16 will not need a fishing license. A license is required for those 17 years old and above. Parents are advised to bring water, lunch/snacks, life vest, chairs and sunscreen. Fishing rods and tackle will be provided for participants if needed. The event is put on by the National Parks Service and the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

Fish Lake Kid's fishing derby coming June 17

The 47th annual Kid's Fish Lake Fishing Derby is taking place on Saturday, June 17 in Orleans. The derby starts promptly at 8 a.m. and runs until noon. It's open to kids from Pre-K to the 8th grade. Poles and tackle will not be provided and an adult must accompany all children. Hot dogs and lemonade will be provided; adults are encouraged to bring a side dish or salad to share. Hosted by the Orleans Rod and Gun Club and Six Rivers National Forest with sponsors: Coast Central Credit Union, RMI Outdoors, Bassman Dan Custom Rods, California Deer Association, and our awesome river community. For additional information contact Eric Fieberg, Orleans Rod and Gun Club, at 707-951-4453 or LeRoy Cyr, District Fish Biologist, at 530-262-1790.

Klamath basin and Central Valley rivers closed for Chinook

In the May 17 California Fish and Game Commission meeting, Commissioners voted unanimously to enact a full closure of California's recreational salmon fishing season in the Klamath River Basin and Central Valley rivers through its annual process for adjusting seasons and bag limits. The Commission also voted to close recreational salmon fisheries in the Smith River and Eel River, and the springer fishery in the Klamath and Trinity rivers. The regulations are expected to take effect no later than July 1, 2023, following approval by the Office of Administrative Law. In the same emergency action and to the surprise of many, the Commission voted to allow federally recognized tribes that currently or historically used the river segments affected by the recreational fishing closures, to continue fishing under existing inland sport fishing regulations. The low ocean abundance forecasts, coupled with low 2022 returns, led the Commission to recommend closure of California's in-river recreational salmon fisheries, which include the Klamath and Trinity rivers within the Klamath Basin, the Sacramento, Feather, American and Mokelumne rivers in the Central Valley, the Smith River and the Eel River. For more information, visit

California halibut bag limit reduced

Also coming out of the Fish and Game Commission meeting, the Commission voted unanimously to reduce the daily bag and possession limit for California halibut from three fish to two fish in California waters north of Point Sur, Monterey County. The regulations are expected to take effect June 1, 2023. The reduced California halibut limit is designed to protect the resource amid increased recreational fishing pressure due to limited fishing opportunities and changes in other ocean fisheries including salmon. 

Pacific halibut quota update

The CDFW has projected 3,233 net pounds of Pacific halibut have been harvested through May 21. In 2023, the Pacific halibut allocation for California is 39,520 pounds. The Pacific halibut fishery will run through November 15, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. To view the latest catch projection information, visit

The Oceans:


The Pacific halibut bite has been really good, with easy limits for most boats reports Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. "Poor conditions have kept us off the water since Saturday, but prior to that it was good," said Klassen. "Most of the boats are fishing straight out of the entrance and north to the stacks in 270 to 300 feet of water. Some boats have tried in deeper water and had good success. The grade might be a little better out deeper. The rockfish action at the Cape has been excellent, with boats catching a wide variety including blacks, browns, vermilions and canaries. The lingcod bite has been a little tougher due to ocean conditions keeping us from fishing deeper water."


The boat launch will open for business starting Thursday, May 25. Hours of operation will be 7 a.m. until 4p.m., Thursday through Monday. The cost to launch is $45. Call 707-677-3625 for more information. Friday, Saturday, and Monday's conditions look good for small boats and kayaks to launch from the beach.

Shelter Cove

"We were able to make it out to the edge of the canyon for rockfish a few times last week," said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. "Limits came pretty quickly on quality rockfish, but we have only been able to scratch up about a lingcod per person on average. We're still getting limits of crabs as well. We briefly tried for halibut in some new places last week, but no takers. It looks like we'll have fishable conditions Thursday through Saturday."

Crescent City

The ocean's been rough the last several days, so there hasn't been much going on, reports Britt Carson of Crescent City's Englund Marine. He said, "Over the weekend, quite a few Pacific halibut were brought in by anglers fishing near the south reef. Plenty of boats were able to boat limits. The rockfish and lingcod bite remains excellent. The north reef and the Sister have been a couple of the top locations."


"Ocean fishing has been good out of Brookings on calm weather days," said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. "Charters are getting easy limits of rockfish and decent numbers of lingcod. Boats from Brookings venturing to the Point St. George Reef Lighthouse are returning with limits of lingcod and a few halibut. Sport crabbing has been fair to slow. Ocean salmon opens June 17 in Oregon for hatchery coho."

River openings

Sections of the main Eel (South Fork to Cape Horn Dam), South Fork Eel (South Fork Eel River from mouth to Rattlesnake Creek) Van Duzen, Mad, Little River, Mattole and Smith will re-open on Saturday, May 27. On most rivers, only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. For a complete list of CA river openings and regulations visit The Chetco opened to trout fishing Monday. Spinners are tricking sea-run cutthroat trout.

Lower Rogue

According to Martin, Spring salmon continue to be caught on the lower Rogue, where anglers may begin keeping wild springers on June 1, while spring king fishing has busted wide open on the upper river near Shady Cove. "Anglers are limiting out from top to bottom on the Rogue, with drift boaters running MagLip plugs or back-bouncing roe catching fish upstream from the Medford area, and jet boaters still getting good numbers of fish on the lower river just above Gold Beach. With lots of hatchery fish still moving into the lower river, and ocean anglers catching salmon while bottom fishing, this year's spring run and fall run will likely overlap. The bay fishing could pick up as soon as late June."

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 For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email

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