Weather, water lining up for Friday tuna run

Fishing the NC 10_4 photo

Jeffery Holland of Eureka landed a nice albacore tuna back on Sept. 14 while fishing on the boat “Fire Escape” captained by Dick Woolsey. If the ocean conditions hold, boats will be headed offshore on Friday chasing tuna. Photo courtesy of Michael Holland

Humboldt tuna fisherman looking for a little redemption may soon get another opportunity. The ocean on Friday is looking good, and the warm water is close – roughly 30 miles northwest of the Eureka entrance. The middle of September produced some of the best tuna fishing anyone can possibly remember, but the fishing since has been mostly a bust. A fleet of boats ventured out last Thursday, but the scores weren’t very encouraging. Especially considering the few fish caught were roughly 70 miles offshore. After that trip, most everyone was beat up and tired, and probably ready to throw in the towel on the season. But the warm water has again pushed in close to shore, and memories of those 12-hour fish-less days has faded. Marc Schmidt of Coastline Charters did some exploring on Tuesday and found good signs and 61-degree water 38 miles out of Eureka. That was just enough to peak some interest. With winter weather on the way, you don’t miss out on what could be the last opportunity of the year.

Weekend marine forecast
Northerly winds are expected to ramp up this weekend and possibly approach gale force strength on Saturday. Friday looks to be the best day and possibly nice enough for a tuna run with winds forecasted up to 5 knots with waves N 2 feet at 5 seconds and W 5 feet at 14 seconds. Winds will increase on Saturday, coming out of the N 10 to 20 knots and NW waves 9 feet at 9 seconds and NW 7 feet at 15 seconds. Sunday doesn’t look much better, with N winds 10 to 20 knots and NW waves 7 feet at 9 seconds and NW 7 feet at 17 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.

Salmon trapping on the upswing in Willow Creek
We’re finally starting to see some bigger numbers of salmon showing up at the Willow Creek weir. “Last week we had two days with 200-plus fish and an additional day of over a hundred,” said Mary Claire Kier, an Environmental Scientist on the Trinity River who manages the Willow Creek weir. “It was a Chinook show last week, but this week we’re finally starting to see some steelhead.” Since the week of Aug 27, 200 jacks have been trapped compared to 865 for the entire 2017 trapping season. This past week, 583 adult Chinook were trapped, bringing the season total to 942. In 2017, 2,114 Chinook were trapped during the season.

Low Flow River Closures now in effect
North Coast rivers that are regulated by low flow closures, including sections of the Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen are all closed to fishing as of Oct. 1 due to low flows. The Mattole, also falls under low flow regulations, but doesn’t open to fishing until Jan. 1. For more information and up-to-date closure info, call the North Coast low-flow closure hotline at 707-822-3164 or visit https://bit.ly/2QsZUQ9

2018 Chetco River bubble fishery opens Saturday
The Chetco River bubble fishery will open this Saturday, Oct. 6. The recreational season will be Oct. 6-7 and Oct. 13-14 so more anglers can take advantage of the weekend dates. The fishable area is within three nautical miles of shore between Twin Rocks and the Oregon/California border. The bag limit is one (1) Chinook per angler. Minimum length is 26 inches and the terminal tackle is limited to no more than two single point barbless hooks. For more information, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/salmon/Regulations/docs/2018_Chetco_State_Waters.pdf. According to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, weather conditions are not favorable at the mouth of the Chetco, but the ocean will still be fishable. “Don’t get too close to the beach with the big swell as breakers can form unexpectedly. Plug-cut herring generally works well during the bubble,” added Martin.

The Oceans:
Eureka
The rockfish bite at the Cape is still really good reports Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. “We were down there on Monday and the fish bit really well, which is nothing new. The ling cod bite remains excellent. It looks like we may have a tuna window on Friday before the ocean gets nasty over the weekend,” Klassen added.

Crescent City
The rockfish bite has really turned on reports Chris Hegne’s of Englund Marine. “There’s been quite a bit of effort lately, and I’m hearing it’s red-hot. The ling bite is wide-open, and they’re catching some big ones too. Most of the action has been out near the South Reef and north. I haven’t heard of anyone fishing the Sisters lately,” Hegnes added.

The Rivers:
Chetco Estuary
The Chetco estuary has been fair to good, with a lot of kings staging at the tips of the jetties reports according to Martin. He said, “The mouth of the river is plugged with anchovies, so the best action is at the edge of the bait balls. A few dozen fish a day are being caught on the better days, with fish to 40 pounds. The appears to be a lot of fish around, as boats bottom fishing have been releasing salmon as well.”

Smith River
There are a few salmon being caught every day at the mouth of the river according to Hegnes. He said, “There was a 35-pounder reportedly caught on Tuesday. Most of the fish are being caught tossing Kastmasters and Cleo’s on the outgoing tide.”

Lower Klamath
There are still plenty of fresh salmon pouring into the Klamath according to guide Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. “The fishing is still unbelievable, and there’s a good mix of jacks and adults. I’d say roughly two-thirds of the fish we’re catching have sea lice. We keep waiting for it to slow down, but they’re still coming in good numbers,” Coopman added.

Lower Rogue
The Rogue Bay is still producing, although it is hit and miss according to Martin. He said, “The salmon are blasting upriver, but new fish are entering the bay every day, with the best bite along the north jetty. Expect the Rogue to produce until the first big rain of fall.”

Middle Trinity
The fishing remains steady on the middle Trinity reports Tim Brady of Weaverville’s Trinity Outdoors. He said, “The little bit of weather helped out over the weekend. The reports I’m getting are anglers are catching enough fish, and there’s enough fish in the river, to keep everyone interested. I wouldn’t say it’s red-hot, but it’s pretty solid for both salmon and steelhead. Most of the action for bank anglers is still between Cedar Flat and the North Fork.”

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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About fishingthenorthcoast

Fishing guide/outdoor writer located in Humboldt Co., Calif.
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