Eureka salmon bite remains inconsistent

Humboldt County Coast - Eureka, CA (Humboldt County)

Best known for his outlandish cell phone commercials, Humboldt resident Corky Cornwell is also an avid angler. Here he shows off his 46.5 pound Pacific halibut he boated on a recent trip out of Eureka. Cornwell was fishing in 325 feet of water. The first of four sport Pacific halibut seasons off of California will come to a close after Friday, June 15. The season will re-open on July 1. Photo courtesy of Corky Cornwell

by Kenny Priest

Since the opener, the sport salmon season has been somewhat of a roller coaster ride. It started out with a bang, but the fish have been pretty fickle since. With no established pattern or consistent sign, charter and sport boats have been on the hunt almost daily. “Every day has been different,” said Capt. Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing. “We haven’t seen any type of pattern as of yet, nothing really to go back to everyday. And we’ve covered a lot of water, from the Cape to Trinidad from 80 to 300 feet. The fishing is good when we find them – we’ve had a few days where we had limits in 45 minutes. But it’s been pretty inconsistent,” added Sepulveda.

The one bit of good news from this week is the fish being caught have been a better grade. After seeing lots of fish in the 20 to 24-inch range, this week’s fish are averaging a solid six to 15 pounds. The wind is forecasted to howl starting today with a gale warning in effect through Saturday night. A few days of wind-driven coastal upwelling could be just what we need to kick our salmon season into high gear.

Weekend marine forecast
The ocean doesn’t look very fishable for the weekend, with high winds and large swells predicted north of Cape Mendocino. Friday’s forecast is calling for N winds 20 to 30 knots and waves NW 9 feet at 10 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for N winds 15 to 25 knots and swells to 11 feet at 11 seconds. Sunday’s prediction is SW winds 5 to 10 knots and waves NW 6 feet at 9 seconds and W 5 feet at 13 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. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan

Potential dangerous bar crossing
With minus tides lasting through next Tuesday, the Humboldt bar could be a little dicey due to the combination of tides and swells converging. If you’re planning on hitting the bar at daylight, check the conditions first. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan.

Weekend tides
The tidal exchanges will be big once again this weekend, with some very low tides predicted in the morning making for a potentially dangerous bar crossing.

Fri. June 15 -  High: 12:49 a.m. at 8.0 ft. down to a low of -2.1 ft at 7:50 a.m.

Sat. June 16 -  High: 1:39 a.m. at 7.8 ft. down to a low of -2.0 ft at 8:38 a.m.

Sun. June 17 -  High: 2:32 a.m. at 7.4 ft. down to a low of -1.6 ft at 9:28 a.m.

Halibut season closes after Friday
The first of four sport Pacific halibut seasons off of California will come to a close after Friday, June 15. The season will re-open on July 1 and remain open through July 15. The remainder of the seasons open dates are: Aug. 1-15 and Sept. 1-Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. CDFW has projected 6,592 net pounds of the 30,940-pound quota of Pacific Halibut has been harvested through June 3. To view the latest catch projection information, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut#31670772-in-season-tracking

Recreational Ocean Salmon Season Opens from Horse Mountain to Pigeon Point
The 2018 sport salmon fishing season opens Sunday, June 17 in coastal waters south of Horse Mountain to Pigeon Point. Recreational anglers will be allowed to catch two salmon of any species except Coho per day, with a minimum size limit of 20 inches. For more information, visit the Ocean Salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon or call the CDFW Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429.

The Oceans:

The salmon bite was pretty slow the last couple of days reports Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “The fish seem to be real scattered right now. The common theme is here today, gone tomorrow,” said Klassen. “If you’re in the right place at the right time, you can do well. We’ve been looking and covering a lot of water, but there just isn’t any consistency. Hopefully the wind that’s going to blow for the next few days will shuffle things around a bit and bring in some more fish.” With the salmon bite unpredictable at best, Capt. Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing has spent a few of his days jigging up rockfish at Cape Mendocino. “The rockfish bite hasn’t been wide-open down there, but the fish have been a super high grade. We’ve been catching some real nice vermilions, up to eight or nine pounds and we had three lings over thirty last week. But we’re definitely having to hunt for them, they aren’t coming as easy as usual.”

Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters reports the salmon bite has tailed off since last week’s hot action. He said, “I haven’t seen much sign lately, I think it’s moved on along with the salmon. With the lack of fish being caught, most of the effort has switched over to rockfish where the bite has been fair. We haven’t had any trouble catching our share of black rockfish, but all the other species have been tough to come by lately.”

Shelter Cove salmon opener
The wind backed off over the weekend and we were able to get out Friday through Monday reports Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. "We made a couple runs north to Gorda and the rock fishing was fantastic. We had quick limits with big lingcod to 30 pounds on Friday and Sunday. The halibut also bit pretty well up there on Friday, with every boat getting one to three fish. Saturday it blew pretty good and kept us closer to home. We fished the Old Man and got limits of rockfish pretty quickly but the lingcod didn’t want to play and we ended up a few fish short of limits. On Monday, we fished on the Old Man again and got limits but we really had to work hard for them. A few boats tried for salmon north of the 40’05 line over the weekend, but there wasn’t any caught that I know of. It looks really good for salmon just below the Cove and outside the rocks in 50 fathoms, so hopefully it stays that way through Sunday."

Crescent City
There were a couple salmon caught out by the second can a few days ago reports Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “The majority of the fish being caught are still roughly six to nine miles straight out. There has been quite a bit of bait around, so maybe the bite will improve. The rockfish bite is still slow and has been for a few days. The water is really off color from the storms, that may have something to do with it,” Carson said.

“Salmon moved in closer to shore on Tuesday, with several boats limiting out between the red bell and the whistle, fishing in 60 to 80 feet of water, said Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Prior to that, all of the salmon action was 6 to 9 miles offshore. The commercial trollers filled their quota on Monday, with a few boats getting more than 50 fish a trip. Lots of bait close to the harbor should keep the salmon around for a while.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath

Springer fishing has steadily improved this week, with most boats getting one to three chances per trip. The water is starting to get low, and the moss is starting to make its way down to the lower river. The fishing should continue to improve through the month.

Find "Fishing the North Coast" on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com.

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