Rockfish, Pacific Halibut Set to Open Friday

Kristine Miller of Grants Pass holds a lingcod caught last Saturday aboard the Miss Brooke of Brookings Fishing Charters. The rockfish season in Humboldt and Del Norte counties will open this Friday, May 1. Pacific halibut will also open on Friday in California and north to central Oregon.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Brookings Fishing Charters

by Kenny Priest
4-30-2020
Website

On Tuesday, the CDFW announced that the May 1 Pacific halibut, rockfish, and salmon openers would open as planned. The timing couldn’t be better as the entire North Coast could use a nice little distraction about now. As our community starts to get more and more divisive on which businesses can and can’t open and what we as individuals should and shouldn’t do, heading offshore for a day of fishing sounds pretty relaxing. Even if it means abiding by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing.

While the Pacific halibut season will open on May 1, CDFW has yet to set a closing date. We do know that this year’s quota will be the same as in 2019, 39,000 pounds. The limit remains at one, with no size restrictions. When angling, no more than one line with two hooks attached may be used. A harpoon, gaff, or net may be used to assist in taking a Pacific halibut that has been legally caught by angling. For more info on Pacific halibut, visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut.

The boat-based rockfish season in the Northern Management Area, which runs from the CA/OR border south to near Cape Mendocino, will run through Oct. 31within 180 feet. From Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, rockfish may be taken at any depth. For more info, visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Groundfish-Summary. The recreational salmon fishery will open on May 1 from Horse Mtn., which includes Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg, south to the U.S./Mexico border. The recreational salmon season from Horse Mtn. north to the Oregon border, which includes Humboldt and Del Norte, will open June 6 and run through Aug. 9. For more info, visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon.

As anglers take to the ocean on Friday — weather and conditions permitting – the hope is all the turmoil surrounding the world-wide pandemic will slowly fade into the horizon, leaving only happy thoughts of big lings and barndoor-sized halibut. Even if only for a day.

Shelter Cove salmon outlook
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, there hasn’t been much salmon sign from what we’ve seen so far out of Shelter Cove. “There’s been a bunch of mackerel around, but they’re in the 2 to 3-pound class and too big for salmon feed,” said Mitchell. “Typically, that’s not a good indicator for salmon. With that said no one has ventured too far to look so well see what happens come Friday.”

Marine forecast
Conditions look decent for Friday’s offshore opener, but the weekend looks a little nasty. Friday’s forecast is calling for S winds 5 to 10 knots with waves out of the W 6 feet at 12 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for S winds 10 to 20 knots with waves out of the W 8 feet at 13 seconds. On Sunday, winds will be out of the NW 5 to 10 knots with W waves 11 feet at 13 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or https://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 (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Humboldt County boat ramp status:

Trinidad: According to their website, the Trinidad launch will open on Friday and will launch boats from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m., weather permitting. For more info, call 707-677-3625 or visit http://www.seascape-pier.com/

Shelter Cove: Open from 6:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Only Humboldt County residents will be allowed to launch, and ID will be required. People must be able to maintain 6 ft. of distance from each other while on the vessel. Only people from the same household/family can be on the vessel together. Cost to launch is $35. For more info, visit https://www.facebook.com/scfpinc/

Friday, May 1 tides – Humboldt Bay
For anglers who aren’t aware, extreme caution should always be used when crossing the bar. The combination of large swells and outgoing morning tides could make for a dangerous bar crossing. On Friday, 6 feet of water will be flowing out down to an -0.1. This could make for a dangerous bar crossing if the swells are large. If you’re planning on hitting the bar at daylight, always check the conditions first. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan.

Friday May 1: Low: 12:45 a.m. (3.4) and High: 6:41a.m. (6.0 ft.), Low 1:37 p.m. (-0.1 ft.) and High 8:54 p.m. (5.6 ft.)

Saturday May 2: Low: 2:05 a.m. (2.8) and High: 8:02 a.m. (5.9 ft.), Low 2:35 p.m. (-0.1 ft.) and High 9:39 p.m. (6.0 ft.)

Sunday May 3: Low: 3:12 a.m. (2.0) and High: 9:17 a.m. (6.0 ft.), Low 3:28 p.m. (-0.0 ft.) and High 10:20 p.m. (6.7 ft.)

USCG Auxiliary boat exams
The Eureka area no longer has a local USCG Auxiliary vessel examiner, but if there’s enough interest, the Crescent City flotilla can send someone down. If interested, email [email protected]. Include your name, phone, address, type of vessel, and if moored in the water or on a trailer.

Brookings rockfish update
Lingcod and rockfish have been very good out of Brookings reports Andy Martin, who runs Brookings Fishing Charters. “Pacific halibut season open May 1 and continues through October. Friday’s opener looks good before stormy weather arrives this weekend,” added Martin.

The Rivers:
Main Stem Eel

The main stem Eel is still in fishable shape, but it’s clear. It was flowing at 1,300 cfs on the Scotia gauge as of Wednesday. Fishing reports have been hard to come by.

Smith
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 Friday, April 30.

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, spring salmon fishing remains slow on the Rogue River. “Anglers expected more fish with last week’s rain, but fishing is still poor. More rain is expected the beginning of next week.”


Find "Fishing the North Coast" on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to [email protected].


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