With no prior reconnaissance, the dozen or so Eureka boats struggled to find schools of salmon during Sunday’s opening. In a typical year, we’ll see rockfish and Pacific halibut open a few weeks before the salmon, giving anglers clues as to where the bait is stored and where the birds are spending their time. But this year there was no time on the water before the opening, and the boats were at a bit of a disadvantage. The weather also played a role. The swell was too big for the boats to travel far and look for fish. Despite all this, the fishermen caught salmon. The few charters that ventured out all caught a few. It’s really encouraging to see fish here so early in the season. Once the weather cooperates, that should be game.
Weekend Marine Forecast
Ocean conditions do not look good for the rest of the week and weekend. Wednesday afternoon, the forecast for Friday calls for southerly winds of 15 to 20 knots and waves from the southwest of 7 feet to seven seconds and from the west of 8 feet to 15 seconds. Saturday’s forecast calls for northwesterly winds of 5 to 10 knots and westerly waves of 11 feet to 12 seconds. Sunday looks a little worse, with winds of 10 to 15 knots coming from the west and westerly waves of 11 feet to 11 seconds.
These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For up-to-date weather forecasts, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/ or www.windy.com. You can also call the National Weather Service at 443-7062 or the Woodley Island office at 443-6484.
Sport fishing mussels quarantined
In a press release issued on April 26, the California Department of Public Health announced the annual quarantine of sport-harvested mussels gathered along the California coast. The quarantine began May 1 and applies to all recreationally harvested mussel species along the California coast, including all bays and estuaries. The quarantine is in place to protect the public from poisonings that can lead to serious illness including coma and death. The quarantine is designed to prevent paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and domoic acid poisoning, also known as amnesiac shellfish poisoning, in people who might otherwise consume mussels harvested from sporting purposes. Both syndromes are caused by natural toxins produced by certain phytoplankton consumed by shellfish, including mussels and clams. Cooking does not destroy toxins. Shellfish harvested for commercial purposes are not included in the annual quarantine, as all commercial harvesters in California are CDPH certified and subject to strict testing requirements to ensure that all oysters, clams and mussels entering the market are safe. To visit www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/OPA/Pages/SN22-002.aspx for more information.
The weather was not favorable to the boats that fished Sunday’s opening. The 9ft swell kept the fleet close and didn’t allow much looking around. “Most of the fish were straight out in 150 to 220 feet of water about a mile north and south of the entrance,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “But they were definitely scattered, not real shoals. We didn’t see any edges, tears or color changes, which is what we’re looking for. The fish that were caught were full of crab larvae and krill. The ocean conditions don’t look great this week for halibut or redfish, but we might be able to troll salmon.”
Pacific salmon, redfish and halibut all opened on Sunday. Reports say seven boats cast but caught no salmon. A few Pacific halibut were however landed. The Trinidad Launch will be in service and launching boats from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday. It will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The introductory cost is $45.
The saltwater opening was good, according to Sea Hawk Sport Fishing’s Jake Mitchell. “Redfish bit very well at the Hat on Sunday and around the whistle on Monday,” Mitchell said. “There was salmon being caught around the bell buoy on Sunday, with boats averaging just under one fish per rod. It was pretty tough on Monday and only four boats cast. I heard of four salmon sinned.”
Crescent City was definitely the hot spot for salmon when it opened. Sport and charter boats reported quite a few limits, with most of the action ahead just south of the second buoy. The fish were shallow with most coming in at 50ft. More than 40 salmon were reportedly counted by Fish and Wildlife staff. Only a few boats braved the conditions on Monday and crossed the limits again. The rockfish opener was also a hit, with the limits being fairly easy. Ling’s bite would have been a little harder.
Pacific halibut season kicked off in Brookings on Sunday with fairly large swells and strong wind drift, reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “The fishing was slow,” Martin said. “Lingcod fishing remains good along the near shore reefs from Chetco Point to House Rock. Lings weighing up to 30 pounds have been caught in the past week. Brookings bottom anglers continue to encounter large numbers of kings in close, a promising sign for the next month.”
Main stem eel
The main stem is in perfect condition, running at 3,200 cfs Wednesday at Scotia. There are steelheads around, mostly downers. The Main Stem Eel at the South Fork is open year round. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks can be used until September 30.
The lower Rogue River continues to see its best spring chinook run in at least 15 years, Martin reports. “Hatchery and wild springers are caught by boaters at anchor as well as divers fishing Spin-N-Glos in the gravel bars of Huntley Park and Lobster Creek. Only hatchery springers may be caught. Wild salmon may be preserved from June 1.”
Kenny Priest (he/him) operates Fishing the North Coast, a Humboldt fishing guide service specializing in salmon and rainbow trout. find it on Facebook, instagram, Youtube and www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up to date fishing reports and information on the North Coast River email [email protected]