It's been one heck of a season for albacore tuna off the North Coast, and it looks like it's not over yet. In a typical year, you get a few shots at the warm water over the course of the summer and into early fall. But this year has seen opportunities every week since the latter part of July. The first tuna of the season was caught out of Brookings on July 21, and it's been good fishing at selective ports from Fort Bragg north to Brookings ever since. And the good weather and ocean conditions appear they'll stick around a little longer. The forecast looks good through Thursday of this week, with the warm water sitting straight west of Eureka 20 to 25 miles. Boats that chased tuna Saturday out of Eureka were rewarded with a wide-open bite 20 miles offshore. If you haven't got your fill of tuna yet, and I'm willing to bet most have, there's still time to fill the jars, freezers and smokers.
Weekend marine forecast
Ocean conditions are expected to get a little rougher by the weekend as winds are forecast to increase. As of Wednesday, the forecast out 10 nautical miles for Friday is calling for winds out of the north 5 to 15 knots with north waves 4 feet at five seconds. Saturday is calling for winds from the north 5 to 15 knots and north waves 5 feet at seven seconds. Sunday the winds will be from the north 5 to 10 knots and north waves 4 feet at six seconds and northwest 3 feet at 12 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.
A 90-day extension on the table for emergency rockfish regulations
The California Fish and Game Commission approved an emergency rulemaking amending Section 28.55 that went into effect Jan. 6, 2022. The emergency rulemaking reduced the vermilion rockfish sub-bag limit from five to four fish, added a sub-bag limit for quillback rockfish of one fish within the daily 10-fish bag and possession limit, and added a sub-bag limit for copper rockfish of one fish within the daily 10-fish bag and possession limit. The emergency regulations were readopted on June 16. With the emergency adoption set to expire Oct. 3, the Commission sent out a notice on Sept. 15 of a proposed 90-day extension. For more info on the extension, visit www.nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=203540&inline.
According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the tuna bite fell off quite a bit on Monday. "The ocean was a little sporty and the storm system could have had something to do with the bite," said Klassen. "The warm water is straight out of the entrance roughly 20-25 miles. Boats that fished the same general area did well on Saturday. Conditions for tuna look good through Thursday. The rockfish bite at the Cape is still excellent. We're still catching a wide variety and some nice lings as well."
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, it was a quiet weekend at the Cove. "Rock fishing was the only real option, and the bite was good at the Old Man. We got in on some pretty good top water action. The ling cod bite remains on the slow side. We should have a shot at tuna by midweek."
According to Britt Carson of Crescent City's Englund Marine, it's been pretty quiet. "The warm tuna water is still within reach but I think most guys who've been out a few times have all they need," said Carson. "There are a few charters that are planning on running this week if there's interest. The rockfish bite is still going strong. Both reefs, along with the Sisters area is producing limits of both rockfish and lings."
Pacific halibut action remains good out of Brookings according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. "The limit has been increased to two a day, and six-pack charter boats are getting limits,' said Martin. "Lingcod and rockfish action also is good. Bottom fish anglers are encountering lots of adult kings, which must be released, but are an indicator a big run is headed to the Chetco and Smith rivers."
Salmon fishing remains good for both jacks and adults on the lower Klamath. Side-drifting soft beads in the riffles and dragging roe through the deeper holes are both producing fish from the Glen to Johnson's. Fresh fish are coming into the river daily, but the best fishing was above Blue Creek over the weekend. The water remains off color, but the fish do not seem to mind. Anglers can keep two jacks (less than or equal to 23 inches) per day with a possession limit of six.
The Chetco estuary has heated up as big numbers of kings stage at the mouth of the river, waiting for rain, reports Martin. "Up to two dozen kings a day are being caught. A 42-pounder was weighed in over the weekend. Anchovies and plug-cut herring are both working. The Rogue Bay also is fishing good, with lots of jacks and adults being caught."
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 fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.