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Calm seas likely for Friday rockfish opener

Kenny Priest author badge for, fishing the north coast

ith the weather forecasted to cooperate, it should be a great weekend to be on or near the salt. Ocean conditions have been far from perfect since the salmon season opened on May 1, and the small fleet has yet to string together enough consecutive days on the water to find the large schools of salmon that are sure to be swimming out there somewhere. Two things may change that this weekend. One is the weather. The northerly gale-force winds have subsided and are forecasted to be relatively light this weekend, blowing between five to ten knots. The swells are also coming down to a very-fishable five feet. The other factor is the opening of the 2015 rockfish season. That alone should put some more boats on the water, and in turn, help the fleet find the birds and bait that will lead them to the salmon. And don’t forget about the razor clams. Some of the lowest tides of the summer will be here starting Friday.

Vic Haskett of Benicia landed this nice early-season king salmon while fishing out of Trinidad last Saturday. Haskett was fishing with Wind Rose Charters. Photo courtesy of Wind Rose Charters
Vic Haskett of Benicia landed this nice early-season king salmon while fishing out of Trinidad last Saturday. Haskett was fishing with Wind Rose Charters. Photo courtesy of Wind Rose Charters

Rockfish opener
The 2015 rockfish season will commence on Friday to boat-based anglers within the Northern Management Area -- which runs from the Oregon border south to the Cape Mendocino Area. The recreational groundfish and lingcod season will run from May 15 through October 31. The daily bag limit per person is a 10 fish combination, except only three Cabezon and Boccaccio are allowed per person. Cabezon have a minimum 15-inch size limit. There is no size limit for Boccaccio. There are two substantial changes to the regulations this year. One, anglers are only allowed five black rockfish as part of their 10-fish bag limit. The other is the daily bag limit of Lingcod will go from two to three. The take and possession of bronze spotted rockfish, canary rockfish, cowcod and yelloweye rockfish will remain prohibited statewide.

Important reminder:
When fishing for halibut (closes Friday), rockfish, and salmon, or any combination of the three, the more restrictive gear and depth restrictions apply. Once you have rockfish aboard and in possession, anglers are limited to fishing in waters shallower than 120 feet when fishing for other species.
When targeting salmon, or once salmon are aboard and in possession, anglers are limited to using barbless hooks (barbless circle hooks if fishing south of Horse Mountain) when fishing for other species.

Pacific Halibut closes after Friday
Per the new state and federal sport regulations for Pacific halibut, the season’s first closure will begin after this Friday, May 15. The season will open back up on June 1. For information about the seasons and regulations, visit this webpage.

Weekend marine forecast
After a windy start to the ocean season, good weather is on tap for the next several days. For the rockfish opener on Friday, winds are predicted from 5 to 15 knots with NW waves 5 feet at 11 seconds. Saturday’s forecast is calling for NW winds 5 to 10 knots and swells to 5 feet at 9 seconds and W 3 feet at 16 seconds. Sunday’s prediction is NW winds 5 to 10 knots and swells 5 feet at 12 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For up-to-date weather forecast, visit You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

Weekend tides – Humboldt Bay
For the anglers who aren’t aware, extreme caution should always be used when crossing the bar. The combination of smaller swells and incoming morning tides should make the bar crossing a little easier this weekend. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit or check out the bar cam located at this webpage.

• Fri., May 15 (High: 10:30 a.m. (5.5ft). and 10:31 p.m. (7.4ft) (Low: 4:16 a.m. (-0.1ft) and 4:08 p.m. (1.0ft)

• Sat., May 16 (High: 11:30 a.m. (5.7 ft). and 11:14 p.m. (7.6ft) (Low: 5:07 a.m. (-0.8ft) and 4:57 p.m. (1.2ft)

• Sun., May 17 (High: 12:26 a.m. (5.8 ft) and 11:56 p.m. (7.7ft) (Low: 5:55 a.m. (-1.3 ft) and 5:45p.m. (1.5ft)

Spring’s best clam tides arrive Friday
Clam diggers had a good deal of success during last week’s minus tides, and it should only get better this weekend. Beginning Friday, some of the lowest tides of the summer will arrive. They’ll begin this Friday and run through Saturday, May 23. The lowest tides will be Monday through Wednesday, with tides ranging from -1.6 to -1.5 feet.

The Oceans:

To put it bluntly, Eureka has been very un-Eureka-like the first couple weeks of the sport salmon season. The boats that have been out consistently are averaging about a fish per rod, which isn’t typically bad fishing. But then again, we’re talking about Eureka, which has been the King capital of the West Coast for three years running. Saddled with heavy winds and cold water since the opener, conditions have improved vastly since the weekend. Skipper Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing reports the water sitting off of Eureka is the brown water that the bait, and therefore the salmon, prefers. He said, “The band of water that moved in is the same water that the commercial guys have been fishing out of Fort Bragg, and they’ve done well. We’re seeing quite a bit of bait around and the temperature has warmed to about 52 degrees, so we should see the bite pickup.” Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sport Fishing has been working out front in 200 feet of water and picking up between two and six fish per trip. “The conditions have definitely improved since the weekend, so hopefully we’ll start to see more fish move in. It just doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of fish around at the moment, but that could change overnight. The conditions are perfect and we’ve got some good weather, it’s just a matter of time before we zone in on them,” Blasi added.

Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters reports the salmon bite has been a little slow out of Trinidad, but there’s plenty of good water and sign around. He said, “The water was 46 degrees on Wednesday, which is probably not helping the bait or the salmon. There’s a ton of squid around, so hopefully we’ll start to see the bite pick up. Right now we’re getting one here and one there. There’s been a few boats out for halibut, and it sounds like they’re catching a few.”

Crescent City
Not many boats have been venturing out as of yet, but we did hear a couple salmon were caught on Tuesday reports Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “The ocean conditions have really improved this last week, so we should start to see more salmon caught. There have been some pretty good sightings of bait and birds working. We haven’t had many boats on the water yet to go out and look, but that should change with the rockfish opening. There’s been a few halibut caught, we weighed an 82-pounder on Saturday,” Hegnes said.

Shelter Cove
Reports have been hard to come by out of Shelter Cove, but with the nice weather and the opening of rockfish, we should start to hear some consistent reports. If you plan to head that way this weekend, expect a crowd. Saturday is the 9th Annual Gimme Shelter Kayak Fishing Tournament and up to 200 entries are expected.

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