Pacific Halibut Season Closes, Tuna and Rockfish on Deck

Pacific Halibut Season Closes, Tuna and Rockfish on Deck
Customers of Brookings Fishing Charters hold tuna caught aboard the Papa B on Aug. 3. Photo courtesy of Brookings Fishing Charters

by Kenny Priest

One of the better Pacific halibut seasons came to a close last Friday, with boats catching limits right up until the end. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Friday’s closure late last week with the expectation that quota would be exceeded if the season remained open. And I don’t think they were wrong.

But as the halibut season fades in the rearview mirror, albacore tuna season is dead ahead. The warm water that tuna seek isn’t too far offshore of Eureka, and coupled with south winds starting early next week, it won’t be long. Wednesday’s calm seas provided a window for boats out of Crescent City and Brookings. And we know there’s fish out there. Ports from Charleston to Ilwaco have been hammering the longfins all week. Soon, it will be our turn.

Weekend marine forecast
Winds slowly increase in speed through the end of the week with moderate breezes across the waters by Friday. Friday’s forecast is calling for north winds 5 to 15 knots and north waves 5 feet at six seconds. Saturday is calling for north winds 5 to 15 knots and waves out of the north 6 feet at seven seconds. Sunday gets a little rougher, with winds out of the north 5 to 15 knots and waves northwest 8 feet at nine seconds and southwest 3 feet at 15 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 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 443-6484.

CDFW offshore fishing closures/openings

Pacific halibut season closed
The recreational Pacific halibut fishery closed statewide on Friday, Aug. 4 at 11:59 p.m., CDFW announced August 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

Quillback rockfish closed for retention
Retention of quillback rockfish is prohibited statewide in both the recreational and commercial fisheries effective Aug. 7, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced July 28. For more info, visit

Razor clam fishery reopens
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has reopened Humboldt County beaches to sport clammers seeking tasty North Coast razor clams, effective August 7, 2023. CDFW reopened the fishery following a recommendation from state health agencies that eating razor clams from this area no longer poses a significant public health threat. In odd-numbered years, between Moonstone Beach and north of the boundary line due west from the Clam Beach south parking lot trailhead (40° 59.67′ N. lat.) is open. The limit is 20 and the first 20 clams dug must be retained as the bag limit regardless of size or broken condition. For more information, visit

The Oceans:
According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, the halibut season ended on a high note. “The last four days of the season was pretty wide-open action,” said Klassen. “The ocean was too rough over the weekend to head south for rockfish, but excellent conditions look to begin Wednesday. I’m sure there will be plenty of boats headed to the Cape for rockfish. The tuna water is still a little too far out there for us, but we have some southerly winds starting early next week which should bring the warm water closer.”

Shelter Cove
Spending most of this week fishing off the Ranch House, Jake Mitchell, of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing reports a pretty good rockfish bite. “We had easy limits every day, but the lingcod are still hit and miss,” said Mitchell. “A couple of days we had limits while others were a struggle.”

Crescent City
According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, one boat did well last Thursday on tuna, landing 16. “If the weather holds, boats will be headed out Wednesday as the warm water looks to be only 25 miles out,” said Carson. “The California halibut bite exploded over the weekend, with plenty of limits being caught along South Beach. They were really thick, and anglers trolling anchovies did really well. The rockfish and lingcod bite are still going strong, with both reefs and the lighthouse giving up plenty of nice limits.”

Charter boats out of Brookings found big schools of tuna last week, but had to venture well offshore to get them,” said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters “The five boats fishing out of the Brookings Fishing Charters office averaged 50 fish a boat last Thursday, fishing halfway between Brookings and Gold Beach, 30 miles offshore. Pockets of warmer water along the border didn’t produce for private boaters from Brookings that headed south instead of turning north. A break in the weather Wednesday and Thursday will give anglers another shot at tuna. Pacific halibut fishing has been good, with the best action in 180 to 240 feet of water. Combinations of herring and squid are working best.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
Steelhead fishing has improved on the lower Klamath, but it’s still not red hot. Fishing pressure has been light, and the few boats out are catching a handful of adults each day. Some more half-pounders are finally starting to show up. 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

Lower Rogue
According to Martin, the Rogue Bay is fishing well, but is crowded. “Most fish are coming on 360 flashers and anchovies. Lots of big fish are being caught, with salmon topping 40 pounds showing up daily at Jots or Lex’s Landing.”

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

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