Quillback Rockfish Off the Menu Starting Aug. 7

Quillback Rockfish Off the Menu Starting Aug. 7
Quillback rockfish, like the one pictured here, will be prohibited from retention statewide effective Aug. 7 for both recreational and commercial fisheries.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Jake Mitchell, Sea Hawk Sport Fishing

by Kenny Priest

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife projects the combined recreational and commercial take of quillback rockfish will exceed the harvest limits specified in federal regulation for 2023 is prohibiting retention of the fish statewide in both the recreational and commercial fisheries effective Aug. 7.

From the CDFW July 28 announcement:

“The 2021 stock assessment for quillback rockfish off California indicated severe population declines. As a result, a recreational one-fish limit and reduced commercial limits were implemented in 2022 to reduce catch. Further constraints to the groundfish seasons for 2023 have not sufficiently reduced catch for quillback rockfish to meet federal harvest guidelines.

CDFW urges anglers to use best fishing practices to reduce impacts to quillback rockfish and other prohibited species. These include reducing mortality when releasing fish by utilizing a descending device and relocating to different fishing grounds or switching targets if you are catching and releasing quillback rockfish or other prohibited species.

The Rockfish, Cabezon, Greenling (RCG) complex bag and possession limit will remain 10 fish daily, with a one-fish sub-bag limit for copper rockfish, and a four-fish sub-bag limit for vermilion rockfish. Along with quillback rockfish, take of bronzespotted rockfish, cowcod and yelloweye rockfish continue to be prohibited year-round at all depths.

To better assist anglers with identifying rockfish species while fishing, CDFW has prepared informational flyers to distinguish quillback rockfish from similar looking species, such as China and black-and-yellow rockfish. Additional fish identification materials on rockfish and other species can be found on CDFW’s Fish and Shellfish Identification web page.

CDFW will continue to monitor groundfish species of concern, such as quillback rockfish. If the current in-season change prohibiting take of quillback rockfish is not sufficient to reduce harvest, additional in-season actions such as modifications to the season dates and/or depth constraints may be implemented. Anglers are strongly encouraged to minimize catch of quillback rockfish and other prohibited species to reduce the possibility of further in-season actions in 2023 and beyond. CDFW recommends reviewing the Summary of Recreational Groundfish Fishing Regulations web page before each trip to ensure anglers are up to date on the most recent groundfish regulations.”

For information, visit content.govdelivery.com/accounts/CNRA/bulletins/367d83d

Weekend Marine Forecast
Within 10 nautical miles, ocean conditions look to remain fishable through the weekend, though the wind will pick starting Friday. Friday’s forecast is calling for winds 5 to 15 knots out of the north and north waves 5 feet at six seconds. Saturday is calling for winds 5 to 15 knots from the north and waves from the north 6 feet at seven seconds. Sunday, winds will be from the north 5 to 15 knots with waves north 6 feet at eight seconds and west 2 feet at 10 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.

Recreational Pacific halibut fishery to close August 4
The recreational Pacific halibut fishery will close statewide on Friday, Aug. 4 at 11:59 p.m., the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced in a press release Aug. 2. Based on the latest catch projections, CDFW expects the 2023 California recreational quota of 39,520 net pounds will be reached by this date. For more information, visit https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/CNRA/bulletins/3689d1e

Tuna Update
Thursday’s calm forecast has North Coast tuna anglers on alert. The closest water is sitting roughly 35 miles off of Crescent City and quite a few boats are planning a run. Same goes for the Brookings fleet. Prior, Charleston and all the ports to the north have been getting some decent scores. A couple Dorado have been landed out of Garibaldi, where boats are getting 20 to 30 albacore per trip.

The Oceans:

A few fishable days provided some good Pacific halibut fishing, according to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “The bite has been excellent and limits have been coming quickly, if you’re located in a good spot,” said Klassen. “Most of the action has been between the 45 and 52 lines, and there’s fish scattered throughout. Most are still coming between 250 to 300 feet. The good news is the black cod seem to have lessened, but there’s still plenty of Hake to deal with. Rock fishing remains excellent at the Cape, but the lingcod bite is still on the slow side.”

Shelter Cove
“Fishing was a little slower for a few days this week, but we still managed limits of rockfish each day,” said Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. “We did have a couple days of lingcod limits as well, but overall lingcod fishing remains slow. We’ve been fishing off the Ranch House and down as far as Mistake Point. There are lots of anchovies in the harbor, but so far not very many California halibut. The salmon are thick in there as well so it’s hard to get a presentation on the bottom. Ocean conditions have been crappy for weeks and no one has gone Pacific halibut fishing since the Fourth of July week.”

Crescent City
According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, quite a few California halibut are now being caught daily. “On a good day, we’re seeing 10 to 15 caught along South Beach,” said Carson. “And we’re seeing some big ones too. I’ve seen quite a few better than 30 inches, including one that measured 42. There hasn’t been much effort for Pacific halibut lately, seems that everyone has what they need. The rockfish and lingcod bite are still wide open when the boats can get out. Both reefs are producing quality limits.”

“Lingcod and rockfish action has been good out of Brookings, but many anglers are turning their attention to Thursday’s calm offshore forecast to run for tuna,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Several Brookings-based boats are heading out for albacore on Thursday. Salmon fishing has been slow in the ocean but a few kings are biting in the Chetco estuary.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
As of the weekend there weren’t any big concentrations of steelhead, but reportedly adults started to show up mid-week. Fishing should only get better as we head into the first few weeks of August. The daily bag limit is two hatchery steelhead or hatchery trout per day on both the Klamath and Trinity rivers, with a possession limit of four. Anglers must have a Steelhead Fishing Report and Restoration Card in their possession while fishing for steelhead trout in anadromous waters. For more information, visit nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=202686&inline

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, the Rogue Bay is kicking out big numbers of bright kings, but since it’s the only show in town, there are plenty of boats fishing. “Upwards of 100 boats are day are kegged up in the bay, but many are catching a fish per rod or better. Anchovies fished behind large Pro Troll 360 flashers are working best.”

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 www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com.

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