Return of the king! Salmon season opens Friday
Humboldt County Coast - Eureka, CA (Humboldt County)
by Kenny Priest
It’s been a long wait, but the time is finally here. After suffering through a complete shutdown of our salmon season in 2017, beginning Friday morning sport salmon anglers will once again set their sights on ocean kings. I’m not sure whether it’s the year-long hiatus or the fact that nearly 360,000 adult Klamath kings are said to be swimming off our coast – but there’s a buzz around town like I’ve never heard. It’s all anyone wants to talk about. Standing in the checkout line at the supermarket or waiting in line to get your morning coffee, it’s all about the salmon. And for good reason. It’s clear that last year’s closure left a huge void in our saltwater season that wasn’t filled. There’s really nothing that compares to the thrill, taste, and the tradition of salmon fishing off of our coast. And now the kings have returned, enjoy…
Weekend Marine Forecast
If the forecast holds, salmon anglers may only get a couple days on the water at the most. Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the NW 5 to 10 knots and waves NW 6 feet at 10 seconds. The forecast begins to go downhill on Saturday, with NW winds 5 to 15 knots and waves NW 6 feet at 7 seconds and NW 4 feet at 11 seconds. The wind returns in force on Sunday, coming out of the NW 10 to 20 knots with NW waves 9 feet at 8 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.
Use extreme caution when crossing Humboldt Bar
For the anglers who aren’t aware, there could be potential early morning hazardous bar conditions beginning on Friday due to the combination of tides and swells converging at the time when most boats will be headed out the mouth of the harbor. Hard charging water flowing out of the bay and running straight into large swells can be extremely dangerous and you should always error on the side of caution — even if it means waiting until the out-flowing water from the bay has slowed, which usually occurs within 30 to 45 minutes prior to the tide bottoming out. For the salmon opener on Friday, 6.6 ft. of water will be flowing out down to an -0.8 when boats will be crossing the bar. Recreational anglers can provide bar reports on VHF channel 68 while the Coast Guard emergency channel is 16 on the VHF. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. The bar cam, located at http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/barCam/?cam=humboldtBayBar, is currently off line.
The tidal exchanges will be big this weekend, with minus tides in the morning making for a potentially dangerous bar crossing.
Fri. June 1 (High: 1:28 a.m.(6.6 ft.) and 3:24 p.m.) (Low: 8:30 a.m.(-0.8 ft.) and 8:18 p.m.)
Sat. June 2 (High: 2:04 a.m.(6.3 ft.) and 4:08 p.m.) (Low: 9:09 a.m.(-0.5 ft.) and 9:02 p.m.)
Sun. June 3 (High: 2:43 a.m. (6.0 ft.) and 4:53 p.m.) (Low: 9:50 a.m. (-0.3 ft.) and 9:52 p.m.)
General sport salmon regulations:
Our 2018 ocean sport salmon season runs from June 1 through September 3 and is open from the OR/CA border south to Horse Mountain, CA. Fishing is allowed seven days per week for all salmon except Coho, two fish per day and a minimum size limit of 20 inches total length for Chinook. The possession is no more than two daily bag limits in possession while on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. No salmon punch card is required for ocean salmon fishing. For complete ocean salmon regulations, please visit the Ocean Salmon webpage at https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/regulations/salmon or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline (707) 576-3429.
Big Salmon Contest
Don't forget, Eureka's Englund Marine will be holding its BIG FISH Salmon Contest again this year. The annual event runs from June 1 to September 3, 2018. There is no entry fee and you can enter as many fish as you’d like. Salmon need to be gutted and gilled. Prizes will be awarded to the top three fish. A complete list of rules and regulations are available at Englund Marine, 2 Commercial St., Eureka, 707-444-9266.
Fish for free this weekend in Oregon
Oregon will be having a Free Fishing Weekend on June 2 and 3. On those two days, no license, tag or endorsement is required to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon. This applies only to waters already open to fishing, crabbing or clamming. All other regulations, such as bag limits, still apply.
“The Eureka fleet hasn’t been offshore since last Thursday,” said Skipper Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “The wind has been blowing and it’s just been too rough. But, as luck would have it, it looks like the wind will die down for the salmon opener on Friday. Prior to the wind, it was looking real good straight out in 250 to 300 feet of water. Some really good edges, lots of birds and bait, and salmon boiling on the surface. That’s where we’ll likely start looking on Friday. The wind is predicted to pick back up on Sunday, so we may only get a couple days on the water. And the morning tides don’t look good for crossing the bar, hopefully everyone will error on the side of caution. The California halibut bite inside the bay has been good and is getting better. There’s not tons of bait yet, we should start to see more as we move into summer.” said Klassen.
The rock fishing over the weekend was really good reports Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters out of Trinidad. He said, “There was a lot of fish caught right in the bay, including some real nice lings. Everyone is geared up for the salmon opener on Friday. The last time we were offshore, the signs looked really good straight out in 300 feet of water. Lots of birds, bait and good looking water. That’s probably a good place to start,” added Wilson.
Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing ran a few halibut and rockfish combo trips at Gorda late last week, and had some good success on the rockfish. “The halibut did not cooperate for us, but the rockfish bit pretty well. On Friday, we ran up too Rodgers Break in pretty sloppy conditions and boated limits of lings and plenty of rockfish. Over the weekend, we fished south off the Ranch House and Bear Harbor. The fish bit pretty well and we got limits both days. The crabbing is still going strong, we’re getting limits of every trip. With the wind continuing to blow, it looks like we’ll be off the water for the next few days,” said Mitchell.
The ocean has been too rough to get out this week reports Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. He said, “Like everywhere else, the wind has been howling here. I haven’t seen many boats going out. And if they went out, it wasn’t for long. It will be interesting to see what’s out there when the salmon season opens on Friday. I’d start either above or below the South Reef in 150 to 180 feet of water. There always seems to be fish there. The commercial guys were catching down below the Sisters in 240 feet, that would be another place to look. We’ve got some anchovies in the harbor, which we haven’t had in big numbers in recent years. Hopefully that’s another good sign that there’s salmon around.”
Windy weather has made fishing tough this week, but calm seas are expected Friday and Saturday reports Andy Martin, of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Last Saturday, the boats that ventured 6 to 8 miles offshore, right on the California border, did well for salmon, with several limiting out. Nearly 30 salmon were caught, which was the best day so far this season. The best fishing was in 250 to 300 feet of water, fishing 80 to 100 feet down. A few more salmon were caught early Sunday before the ocean became unfishable for several days. The kings are running 24 to 26 inches, with a few in the 15- to 20-pound range. Several hatchery fish have been caught, likely Klamath or Sacramento fish since the Rogue fall salmon run is mainly wild fish.”
Springer fishing improved over the weekend on the Lower Klamath, with the rain likely spurring them on. The bite slowed down by Monday, with only a few fish being caught. Quite a few boats were on the river for the holiday weekend, but it’s been fairly quiet during the week. The beginning of June is typically when the season takes off.
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