Saltwater Season Ready For a Reset

Elk Grove resident Berkeley Munoz landed a nice king salmon this week while fishing out of Shelter Cove. Despite the wind, quite a few salmon were boated out of the Cove this week. The weekend weather looks to be much improved for the entire North Coast, with winds topping out at 10 knots.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell/Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

by Kenny Priest
7-2-2020
Website

After sitting on the sidelines watching the wind blow for more than a week, it looks like it’s finally laying down, allowing our saltwater fishing season to resume. Boats left the Pacific halibut and rockfish biting, and both should still be there when the boats get back on the water on Friday. The bigger question is will there be salmon. Every port outside of Eureka and Trinidad has had their share of good king fishing this season. But now, conditions are finally looking favorable for us. The blustery north winds that have blown all week dropped the water temps to a very salmon-friendly 50 to 52 degrees. If the salmon aren’t here now, there’s a real chance we won’t have much of season. With decent trolling weather forecasted through the holiday weekend, I’d expect the fleet to employ a full court press hunting for kings. Let’s hope they find em’, it’s getting to be now or never.

Important reminder:
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.

Weekend Marine Forecast
Strong northerlies and steep wind-driven seas will gradually subside after Thursday. As of Wednesday afternoon, Friday’s forecast is calling for N winds 5 to 10 knots and waves NW 6 feet at 8 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for N winds 5 to 10 knots and waves N 5 feet at 7 seconds and SW 2 feet at 18 seconds. More of the same for Sunday, winds coming from the N 5 to 10 knots and waves N 5 feet at 5 seconds and SW 2 feet at 16 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.

Salmon season now open 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.

July 4 is statewide free fishing day
On Saturday July 4, 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, https://wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/free-fishing-days

The Oceans:                                                     
Eureka
There hasn’t been much to report during the last week as boats have been off the water since last Wednesday due to the wind. Prior to the wind, the Pacific halibut bite was still going strong and most boats were heading in with early limits. Hopefully once the ocean comes back down, the fish will still be there. The bit of good news following these howling north winds is the water temperatures off of Eureka. According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, temperatures are down to 50 to 52 degrees from a high of 57. “The cold water out front is now connected south to Cape Mendocino,” said Klassen. “Obviously, we’re all hoping that when we get back out on Friday, there’s some salmon around.” With the ocean blown out, there’s been plenty of boats targeting CA halibut in the bay. Skipper Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing was back on the bay Tuesday for halibut and generally found the bite a little tough. He said, “The hard blow the last few days has things stirred up and that always has a way of making them shut down a little. Despite the conditions we put together three-quarter limits on a nice grade. Nothing that had to be measured. Looks like a much better weather week coming.”

Trinidad
“Despite the windy conditions, we were able to get out in the mornings this week,” said Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. “We were pretty limited as far as where we could go, so it was mostly catching limits of black rockfish. We’re also catching some keeper crabs, but we’re having to work hard for them,” Wilson added.

Shelter Cove
Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing has been dealing with windy conditions all week, but managed to get a half-day in just about every day. He said, “Salmon fishing was decent. Overall, for the week, we probably averaged a fish per rod in 4 to 5 hours of fishing. The grade is still pretty good. There hasn’t been much effort on the rockfish because of the wind.”

Crescent City
According to Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, the wind has been blowing all week, making for some tough conditions. “There’s been a few boats getting out early in the morning before the wind picks up,” said Hegnes. “I’ve heard they are catching a few salmon, with most of the effort to the south in 150 feet of water. The fish have been a decent grade, averaging 13 to 15 pounds. It’s been too rough to rockfish this week,” added Hegnes.

Brookings
“Salmon fishing has been very good at times offshore of Brookings, where anglers have caught more salmon in a few days than ocean anglers in the combined other areas have caught in the entire season, which opened as early as March elsewhere,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Through the first full week of the season, 619 adult kings have been checked by ODFW fish checkers in Brookings, including 332 the opening weekend. A total of 141 king salmon have been caught in the balance of the state, from Gold Beach to Astoria, since their seasons opened. Fishing has been open from Bandon north for three months. Late last week, there was a wide-open bite at the mouth of the Chetco, but fishing slowed early this week. Good weather is expected this weekend. Winds have made rockfish and lingcod difficult to reach.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The spring season opened on Wednesday and there were reportedly a few fish caught by trollers in the estuary. There’s some moss coming down the river, which will make it tough to fish on the anchor. The water temperature in the estuary should start to warm up now that the spring flow releases have ended on the Trinity, which should keep the fish holding in the estuary.

Lower Rogue
Salmon fishing is mostly slow on the Rogue Bay, with a few decent days mixed in reports Martin. “Water temperatures have warmed enough to keep salmon held up in the bay, but anglers are waiting for bigger number of fish to arrive. Early July generally kicks off the peak season,” added Martin.


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