The Super Bowl of saltwater sport fishing will take place this Sunday on the North Coast as salmon, rockfish and Pacific halibut are all set to open. It's pretty rare for the big three to all open on the same day, and there's a ton of excitement around the docks. And it's looking like the key marine factors are lining up. The water temperatures off Eureka are right around 51 to 52 degrees, perfect for salmon. The recent north winds have spurred the ocean upwelling, kicking the food chain into high gear. The tide will bottom out when most boats are heading out, making for an easier bar crossing. And as of Wednesday, for 10 miles offshore, winds will be out of the northwest 5 to 10 knots with waves 8 feet at 12 seconds. All that's left to do now is find the fish.
May 1 openers:
Salmon: Our 2022 ocean sport salmon season will open this Sunday and run through May 31. The season will open back up Aug. 1 and run through Sept. 5. It will be open from the Oregon-California border south to the 40°10' line (near Cape Mendocino), (Klamath Management Zone). Fishing is allowed seven days per week for all salmon except coho, two fish per day and a minimum size limit of 20 inches total length. The possession limit is no more than two daily bag limits in possession while on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. No salmon punch card is required for ocean salmon fishing. The sport season from the 40°10' line to Point Arena, which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg, will also open May 1 and run through July 4. It will reopen July 22 and run through Sept. 5. For complete ocean salmon regulations, please visit the Ocean Salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at 576-3429.
Pacific Halibut: The 2022 Pacific halibut season will run from May 1 to Nov. 15, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. The 2022 quota for the California sport fishery is 38,740 pounds — approximately the same as the 2021 quota. 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.
Rockfish: The boat-based rockfish season in the Northern Management Area, which runs from the California-Oregon border to the 40°10' North latitude (near Cape Mendocino), will run through Oct. 31 within 180 feet. From Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, rockfish may be taken at any depth.
New sport rockfish regulations for 2022
In December of 2021, CDFW announced multiple changes to the sport rockfish regulations starting in 2022. Changes to the sub-bag limits within the 10-fish daily Rockfish, Cabezon, Greenling (RCG) complex bag and possession limit include:
• A decrease to the statewide sub-bag limit for vermilion rockfish from five to four fish
• A new statewide sub-bag limit for quillback rockfish of one fish
• A new statewide sub-bag limit for copper rockfish of one fish
The daily bag limit of lingcod remains at two per person and they must be 22 inches in length. The take and possession of cowcod, bronzespotted rockfish and yelloweye rockfish is prohibited statewide. Petrale sole and starry flounder can be retained year-round at all depths with no size limit. For more information about recreational groundfish regulations within the northern management area, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Groundfish-Summary#north.
When fishing for halibut, rockfish and salmon, or any combination of the three, the more restrictive gear and depth restrictions apply. When targeting salmon, or once salmon are aboard and in possession, anglers are limited to using barbless hooks (barbless circle hooks if fishing south of Horse Mountain) when fishing for other species.
When targeting rockfish, cabezon, greenling and lingcod, or once any of these species are aboard and in possession, anglers are limited to fishing in waters shallower than 180 feet when fishing for other species.
Humboldt Bay tide
Sunday May 1: High: 12:22 a.m. (6.9 feet), Low: 7:04 a.m. (-0.7 feet) and High 1:36 p.m. (5.4 feet), Low 6:47 p.m. (2.2 feet)
Trinidad launch ready to go
The Trinidad launch will be in service and launching boats beginning Sunday, May 1 at 6 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Cost to launch is $45. Call 677-3625 for more information.
Brookings ocean update
"Calmer ocean conditions allowed anglers to get out of Brookings over the weekend," said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. "Rock fishing has been good, while lingcod action has been fair because of bigger swells. Calmer weather is expected later this week. Sunday's halibut opener out of Brookings should be good, with light winds and a smaller swell expected. Most halibut are caught in 180 to 220 feet straight out from the harbor. Salmon season won't open until June 18 out of Brookings."
Main Stem Eel
The main stem is dropping back into shape, flowing at 5,800 cubic feet per second as of Wednesday at Scotia. It should be fishable by the weekend. The main stem Eel to the South Fork is open all year. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used through Sept. 30.
The Smith River from its mouth to the confluence of the Middle and South Forks; Middle Fork Smith River from mouth to Patrick Creek; South Fork Smith River from the mouth upstream approximately 1,000 feet to the County Road (George Tryon) bridge and Craigs Creek to Jones Creek, will close after Saturday, April 30.
Spring salmon fishing has kicked into high gear on the lower Rogue River, with guides getting two to four kings a day reports Martin. "About half of the springers being caught are hatchery fish," said Martin. "It's been the best springer fishing in several years. Good flows this week should continue to pull in new salmon from the ocean. Anchovies and spinner blades have been the best bait."
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.