The boat-based rockfish season on the North Coast is still three weeks away but that certainly doesn't mean rockfish can't be on the dinner menu. The jetties, the breakwater constructed to protect Humboldt Bay, are currently providing some excellent rockfish action. Over the weekend, the north jetty was the place to be for black rockfish, along with the occasional lingcod. A few anglers were lucky enough to land their limit of 10 rockfish, while most caught enough to make plenty of fish tacos. The south jetty hasn't been as good but that will likely change as water conditions improve. There are a few different techniques anglers use on the jetties. One of the most popular is fishing with small swimbaits or scampi jigs. You can use a half-ounce or three-quarter ounce, depending on the tide and depth of water. Another popular method is a two-hook setup rigged with bait. For bait, squid or shrimp work well. You can also cast and retrieve egg sinkers or banana weights rigged with a herring. This works well for lingcod. While we wait for the May 1 boat-based rockfish opener, the jetties are always an excellent year-round option to put fresh fish on the table. For a complete list of rockfish regulations, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Groundfish-Summary#north.
Ocean conditions don't look promising for the weekend. Friday is calling for north winds to 15 knots and north waves 6 feet at six seconds. Saturday is calling for winds out of the north 15 to 25 knots with 12-foot swells at 10 seconds. Sunday looks a little better. Winds will be from the north 10 to 20 knots with waves 9 feet at 11 seconds. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or www.windy.com.
Brookings ocean update
Fishing for rockfish and lingcod has been very good out of Brookings, especially on calm weather days, reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He says, "Boat limits of lingcod have been common when swells and winds allow anglers to get to House Rock or Mack Arch. Close-in fishing also has been good, with easy limits of rockfish just past Chetco Point. Crabbing is slow. Halibut season opens May 1 out of Brookings."
Bucksport Sporting Goods fishing contests
Bucksport Sporting Goods will be holding its third annual California Halibut Contest beginning April 1 and running through Sept. 31. Entry is free, and can be completed before or during a weigh in. The top three halibut will win various prizes from the store. Bucksport will also be holding its third annual Redtail Perch Contest beginning on April 1. The contest will run through September and you can enter up to 10 fish per month. A point will be given for each ounce and each quarter inch. The perch, redtails only, must be measured and weighed at Bucksport. The top three fish at the end of the contest will win a prize. Entry is free but limited to in-store registration only. Also starting April 1 is its 13th annual Lingcod Spearfishing Contest. Limit two fish per month. A point will be given for each pound and each inch. Top three fish will win prizes. Bucksport is located at 3650 Broadway in Eureka.
Reminder: The South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mattole, Mad, Redwood Creek, and Chetco rivers all closed to fishing March 31.
Spring salmon fishing continues to be slow on the lower Rogue River, according to Martin. "Very few hatchery springers are being caught," says Martin. "Boaters are anchoring close to shore and running anchovies with spinner blades. Flows at Agness are 2,900 cubic feet per second, with a water temperature near 55 degrees. Steelhead fishing also is slow."
The Smith was right around 1,750 cfs on the Jed Smith gauge Wednesday. Fishing reports have been hard to come by as most anglers have moved on for the season. There should be some downers around a few fresh ones still making their way upriver.
Eel (main stem)
As of Tuesday, the main Eel was running at 2,350 cfs on the Scotia gauge. The river is in perfect shape and there should be quite a few steelhead making their way downriver. 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.
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