Boats leave the halibut biting

Fishing the NC 8_16 photo

Santa Maria residents Anthony Fuller, left and his father David enjoyed a great day on Tuesday fishing for Pacific halibut out of Eureka. Pacific halibut season closed on Wednesday, Aug. 15 but will re-open on Sept. 1. The season will run through Oct. 31 or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. Photo courtesy of Matt Dallam/Northwind Charters

It’s almost a blessing that the Pacific halibut fishery will be closed for the next two weeks. If allowed to stay open, there’s a real good chance the quota would’ve been gobbled up fairly quickly. The halibut have been on the chew for over a week now, with the only thing slowing down the catch rate is the heavy currents. When fishable, they’ve been flying over the rails at a pretty decent clip out of both Eureka and Trinidad. There were quite a few limits reported this week by the charter and sport boats. The halibut will now get a break as the season closed on Wednesday, Aug. 15. The season will open back up on Sept. 1 and run through Oct. 31, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. The in-season tracking information, which is supplied by the California Recreational Fisheries Survey, shows 18,146 pounds of halibut has been caught through Aug. 5 towards the quota of 30,940. That number is sure to rise, but we should have plenty of days on the halibut grounds come September.

Wide-open tuna bite out of Eureka
A nice flat ocean and warm water within reach is all the tuna fleet needed. A few boats made the 40-mile run on Friday, and they all came home with tuna. Boats averaged nearly 20 tuna for the day, with the top boat landing 38 mixed-grade albacore. The ocean wasn’t forecasted to be as good on Saturday, but a couple boats took the chance and headed back to Friday’s numbers. One of the boats had an epic day, landing 68 albies between three anglers. The ocean calmed down again on Wednesday and a whole slew of boats launched from Eureka and Trinidad. The bite was said to be wide-open, with lots of boats landing between 40 and 60 albacore.

Changes coming for recreational groundfish
The CDFW announced on Wednesday new recreational fishing restrictions will soon go into effect for groundfish in waters north of Point Conception to the CA/OR border. The changes to the authorized fishing depths will take effect Saturday, Aug. 25 at 12:01 a.m. In the Northern Management Area, which runs from the CA/OR border to Cape Mendocino, take will be prohibited outside of 120 feet (20 fathoms) through Dec. 31. These changes are based on recent bycatch estimates for yelloweye rockfish from the California sport fishery. The CDFW projects that the harvest guideline specified in federal regulation for 2018 (3.9 metric tons) will be exceeded unless changes are made. To see all of the area regulation updates, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2018/08/15/changes-to-recreational-groundfish-regulations-effective-aug-25/

Marine Forecast
The ocean was beautiful on Wednesday, but steep seas will build Thursday night through Friday and continue through the weekend in response to stronger northerly winds. Friday’s forecast is calling for N winds 10 to 20 knots and waves NW 9 feet at 9 seconds. On Saturday, winds will be out of the NW 10 to 15 knots and waves NW 9 feet at 9 seconds. On Sunday, winds will be out of the NW 5 to 15 knots and waves NW 7 feet at 8 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan. You can also call the National Weather Service at 707-443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 707-443-6484.

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A good of happy anglers with Pacific halibut caught on Wed. Aug. 15 near Cape Mendocino. Photo courtesy of Reel Steel Sport Fishing.

The Oceans:
Eureka
The salmon bite has slowed again, but the great halibut bite more than made up for it. “When the current has allowed, the fishing has been really good,” said Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. The best action has been straight out in 300 feet of water. A few of the charters had limits, and most of the boats caught fish.” The salmon continue to be a mystery. The bite is slow to the point where the effort is dwindling quickly. According to Klassen, the fish are really spread out and they’re at all different depths. “There’s no big concentration of fish, and there’s not pattern whatsoever,” added Klassen. The one consistent fishery remains rockfish at the Cape. “The rockfish bite is as good as it gets,” said Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing. “We’re catching lings over 30 pounds as well as a great variety of rockfish. The halibut bite was pretty good down there as well, there was only one day where we didn’t land at least one.”

Trinidad
According to Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters, the halibut bite was wide-open this week, with lots of limits reported. “There’s a lot of fish around, with most boats starting straight out in 200 or so feet of water. There’s some salmon around too, but the bite definitely slowed down from last week. The fish that are being caught are still really deep, right on the bottom. The rockfish action is pretty much the same, limits of blacks are coming easy,” Wilson added.

Shelter Cove
The salmon bite has been really up and down this past week reports Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sport Fishing. He said, “On Tuesday, the salmon the bit pretty good and we had our limits by 11:30.  We did a couple halibut/rockfish combos up at Rodgers Break last week and we ended up with four halibut the first day but none the second. The rockfish and lings bit good both days and we got limits pretty easily. A couple boats ran out for tuna on Tuesday and did really well just 22 miles out. One boat had 47 and the other had 52, along with a few Bluefins.”

Crescent City
A few salmon were caught this week reports Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “There isn’t a lot of effort, but I heard some fish were caught off the Sisters in 200 feet of water. One boat had limits and another was pretty close. The rockfish bite was a little slower this week, likely due to the morning minus tides and the big swings. The ling cod bite has slowed down south past the Sisters as well. The Thresher bite is over, but there were quite a few caught last week. One boat landed six,” Hegnes added.

Brookings
Salmon fishing continues to be fair off of Brookings according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Bigger fish have now moved close to shore, but anglers are having to put in several hours per fish. Lingcod and rockfish has been good. There were some albacore caught last week,” said Martin.

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath
The fishing has been good this week reports Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. He said, “The river is full of steelhead, both adults and half-pounders. We’re also starting to see more and more kings show up. Overall, there’s lots of fish around and the bite is really good. We’re seeing some nice steelhead caught, up to 12 pounds. The average is right around 5 -pounds however,” Coopman added. A reminder that the fall regulations went into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 15. The daily bag limit is 2 Chinook salmon, of which no more than 1 may be more than 22 inches in length.

Lower Rogue
The Rogue Bay has entered peak season reports Martin. He said, “The weekends are extremely crowded but the weekdays are fine. Fishing is good, with Monday and Tuesday producing some of the best action of the season, including limits for most guides. The bay is full of fish right now.”

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