For at least the past few weeks, there were all sorts of signs indicating salmon were plentiful off the coast of Eureka and Trinidad. But somehow those signs, and the salmon, all but vanished by the time the sport salmon season opened Tuesday. While the majority of boats opted for Pacific halibut, a group including Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing dedicated a good part of the day hunting for salmon. And what they found was pretty disappointing. According to Klassen, there were no keeper kings caught that he had heard of. The overall salmon abundance numbers weren't projected very high for our area, but there should have been at least a handful caught.
But it wasn't meant to be. At least not yet. For all we know the fish could be out in deeper water, or they could still be making their way here. Shelter Cove had a decent opener, so that's encouraging. Until the kings arrive, rockfish will suffice.
Pacific Halibut closed as of June 30
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Tuesday that the recreational Pacific halibut fishery will close Wednesday, June 30, at 11:59 p.m. for the remainder of 2021. Based on the latest catch projections, CDFW expects the 2021 California recreational quota of 39,260 net pounds will be exceeded unless the fishery is closed. Similar to the hot Pacific halibut bite observed in 2020, the 2021 season has proven to be very successful. During the second half of June, CDFW field staff recorded a very high number of Pacific halibut being caught. Visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/News/recreational-pacific-halibut-fishery-to-close-june-30-for-rest-of-the-year# for more information.
Weekend marine forecast
Ocean conditions look fishable through the weekend. As of Tuesday afternoon, Friday's forecast is calling for north winds at 5 to 10 knots and waves northwest 6 feet at nine seconds. Saturday's forecast is calling for northwest winds at 5 to 10 knots and waves northwest 5 feet at 9 seconds. The winds will be the same on Sunday, with waves northwest 5 feet at eight 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. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.
July 3 is statewide free fishing day
On Saturday July 3, people may fish California's waters without a sport fishing license. All regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. On Free Fishing Days, every angler must have the appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead, sturgeon, spiny lobster, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity River Systems. For more information visit, www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/free-fishing-days
The salmon fishing was tough for the sport boats that gave it a whirl on Tuesday's opener. Some undersized kings and a couple silvers were all the fleet could muster. The majority of the boats opted to fish Pacific halibut and leave the salmon for later. A wise move as it turns out. While the boats were on the water, it was announced that the season would be closing after Wednesday, following a full quota. Hopefully the salmon bite will pick up, otherwise it's going to be rockfish from here on out.
The salmon opener didn't produce much, but the rock fishing is still outstanding. Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters, along with the other charters, has yet to come back to port shy of limits. "There's just a lot of fish between the Head and Patrick's Point this year," said Wilson. "It's been pretty easy to get 10 rockfish per person. The crabbing is still good, we're sending clients home with limits each day."
The sport salmon opener was decent, according to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. "There were probably over 50 kings caught by the 35 or so boats on the water," said Mitchell. "We opted to put some rockfish on the boat first before salmon. We ended up with only three kings, but a lot of boats did better. Overall, the rock fishing has been great with limits of nice quality fish every day. The lings continue to be a little more stubborn but the grade is good and we got limits all but one day."
Sport salmon season opened Tuesday and there were a handful of salmon caught, including some bigger ones," said Britt Carson of Crescent City's Englund Marine. "The rockfish bite remains solid, with limits reported by just about everyone. The California halibut have finally shown up with quite a few being caught daily off of South Beach by boats and kayaks trolling anchovies. Last week's minus tides produced excellent clamming conditions. Anglers reported limits of razors, and some bigger ones are starting to show."
"Salmon fishing out of Brookings has been good overall, with charters getting better than a fish per rod," said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. "Kings are close to the harbor, while hatchery coho are showing up in the catch near the whistle buoy and in deeper water offshore. Both kings and silvers are biting anchovies and Fish Flash flashers fished just below the surface. The salmon are shallow. The first thresher shark of the season was hooked Tuesday morning. Still no reports of California halibut, but a few Pacific halibut are being caught in 200 feet of water. Rockfish are biting just about everywhere, while lingcod fishing is fair."
According to Martin, the Rogue Bay has heated up as sizzling inland water temperatures have forced late-arriving spring salmon to hold up in the estuary. "Guides are now getting two to four kings a day trolling anchovies from the Jot's dock to Indian Creek," said Martin. "A few summer steelhead also have been caught. Dredging operation could begin anytime, as the survey boat has completed its depth soundings."
Salmon season opens July 1 on parts of Klamath and Trinity Rivers
The spring Chinook salmon fishery on the lower Klamath River (downstream of the Highway 96 bridge at Weitchpec) and Trinity River (upstream of the confluence of the South Fork Trinity River) opened on July 1 and will run through Aug. 14 on the Klamath River and through Aug. 31 on the Trinity River. The daily bag limit has been set to one Chinook salmon (no size restrictions), and the possession limit set at two Chinook salmon.
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