Gusty Conditions Slow Halibut and Rockfish Bite

Gusty Conditions Slow Halibut and Rockfish Bite
Chico residents Mike and Christina Plummer are all smiles after landing a large halibut aboard the Reel Steel last Friday. Christina’s catch weighed in at 84 pounds and is the current leader in Englund Marine’s halibut contest. Photo courtesy of Reel Steel Sport Fishing

by Kenny Priest

Gale-force north winds in June are historically common along the North Coast. And this year is certainly no exception. Following four fishable days last week, the north winds have returned in force and look to stick around through the weekend. The good news is when the boats can slip out during these short windows, they are finding some really good fishing. Both Pacific halibut and rockfish have been coming over the rails at a very high clip. With new rockfish regulations in affect for the Southern and Northern Management areas, anglers are able to fish waters that have been off limits for many years. The Pacific halibut fishery continues to grow in popularity as ports where the effort was typically low, are now tapping into the seemingly abundant resource. Fort Bragg and Crescent City are two of the ports where the halibut fishery has increased in popularity. And with that popularity, we’ve seen an increase in the catch rates. Proof of this lies in the quota numbers. At this time last year, only 3,500 pounds had been harvested. This year, as of the first week in June, 12,931 pounds have been harvested towards a 39,520-pound quota. Windy conditions could be a blessing as it looks like the only way to keep the fishery from an early closure.

Weekend marine forecast
Hazardous seas and gusty winds are forecast at least through Saturday. On Friday, north winds are predicted at 15 to 25 knots and waves from the north 9 feet at nine seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for north winds 10 to 20 knots and north waves 7 feet at eight seconds and northwest 4 feet at 12 seconds. The winds will begin to calm on Sunday. North winds will be 5 to 15 knots and north waves 6 feet at six seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit or You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Upcoming kids fishing events
On Saturday, June 17, kids and their families are invited to a fun filled day of surf perch fishing and activities at the Redwood Creek Day Use Area located off of Highway 101 just south of Orick. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All kids under 16 will not need a fishing license. A license is required for those 17 years old and above. Parents are advised to bring water, lunch/snacks, life vest, chairs and sunscreen. Fishing rods and tackle will be provided for participants if needed. The event is put on by the National Parks Service and the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

The 47th annual Kid’s Fish Lake Fishing Derby is taking place on Saturday, June 17 in Orleans. The derby starts promptly at 8 a.m. and runs until noon. It’s open to kids from Pre-K to the 8th grade. Poles and tackle will not be provided and an adult must accompany all children. Hot dogs and lemonade will be provided; adults are encouraged to bring a side dish or salad to share. Hosted by the Orleans Rod and Gun Club and Six Rivers National Forest with sponsors: Coast Central Credit Union, RMI Outdoors, Bassman Dan Custom Rods, California Deer Association, and our awesome river community. For additional information contact Eric Fieberg, Orleans Rod and Gun Club, at 707-951-4453 or LeRoy Cyr, District Fish Biologist, at 530-262-1790.

The Oceans:
The Eureka fleet were finally able to get back to fishing last week following some wind and rough seas. With calm conditions through Saturday, boats were able to head south to the cape for rockfish and spend quality time on the halibut grounds. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing reports the Pacific halibut bite was good, but never wide-open. “There were quite a few days where we had to wait out the tide change, not getting any bites until well after noon,” said Klassen. “But when they came, they came quick. A few days we limited the boat to 40 minutes once they decided to bite. Most of the action remains straight out in 270 to 285 feet. There are some nice fish around, but we’re also seeing some small 6- to 8-pounders. I made just one trip to the Cape and the bite wasn’t red-hot, but we did get limits of rockfish. The variety was incredible, we had about 15 different types of rockfish.”

According to Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing, it’s been a really good week of fishing out of Trinidad. “Flat weather to start the week gave way to big seas, but was very fishable later in the week,” said Sepulveda. “We were able to run every day and produce limits. In general, the grade of pacific halibut has been amazing this year. Lots of fish in the 30-50-pound range with some bigger. Monday, we faltered a bit in that regard with a smaller limit of 8- to 15-pound halibut and rockfish to go with it. We did three remote waters rockfish runs this week with limits of lingcod to 34 pounds and impressive limits of rockfish. Swimbaits and jigs produced the best results.”

Shelter Cove
According to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing, not much has changed at the Cove. “Limits of rockfish are still coming quickly, but it’s a struggle to get one lingcod per rod,” said Mitchell. “We’ve fished up at Rodgers Break a couple times and outside the Hat. Same story both places. The Halibut bite has been decent for those willing to put in the time up at Gorda when weather permits. Crabbing remains excellent, we’re still getting limits every day.”

Crescent City
According to Kevin Hooper of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, not much has changed this week. He said, “When the boats can get out, the Pacific halibut bite is still going strong and quite a few are being caught daily. Most of the boats are fishing near the South Reef in 250 to 280 feet of water. The rockfish bite is excellent per usual at both of the reefs and the Sisters. The redtails are biting too, with Kellogg beach being the top spot. There’s been a few California halibut caught along South Beach by boats trolling anchovies.”

Ocean salmon season opens Saturday out of Brookings reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Hatchery coho may be kept June 17 to Aug. 31. A strong run of hatchery coho is expected, and Brookings generally experiences its best fishing in late June and early July. Windy weather could limit success for the opener, however, as coho are generally caught close to the surface, but over deep water 3 to 8 miles offshore. Pacific halibut limits also increased to two fish a day in Oregon on Monday. Halibut fishing improved out of Brookings last week before rougher conditions returned on Sunday.”

Southern Oregon rivers
A few king salmon have been caught in the Rogue Bay according to Martin. “Fishing improves in the bay throughout June, as warm water forces salmon to hold up closer to the ocean. Springer fishing is good near Medford on the Upper Rogue. Boats anchoring on the lower river are seeing fewer fish as the run tapers off. Smallmouth bass are now biting on the Umpqua River near Elkton. Cutthroat trout fishing is fair in the Chetco tidewater.”

Kenny Priest operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email

< Previous Report Next Report >

< Previous Report Next Report >

More Reports

With no salmon season, Pacific halibut continues to be the focal point out of Eureka, Trinidad and Crescent City after...... Read More

After a hot start to the season, Pacific halibut action out of Eureka has since slowed. Last Monday’s opener was...... Read More