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Hit & miss salmon bite along North Coast

Fishing the North Coast by Kenny Priest, author badge,

he good news is the Eureka area is once again the hot spot for salmon up and down the coast of California. The bad news is the bar has been set so low by the rest of the state; it didn’t take much for the light to shine squarely upon Eureka. And our fishing has been somewhat of a roller coaster ride at best. One day you find a bunch of fish and you’re thinking maybe the fish have finally shown up and things will get back to normal. The next day, you’re right back to the exact location and it looks like a desert. That pretty much sums up the season so far, as well as the last few days. If there’s a million adult salmon swimming off our coast, they’re sure doing a heck of a job staying out of sight.

The only place where boats have been able to put some fish aboard has been down around the Eel River Canyon. Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sport Fishing found limits of kings there on Saturday and that’s where the majority of the salmon have been taken since. Boats did well on Tuesday fishing amongst the krill and pods of whales, but didn’t fair quite as well on Wednesday. Hopefully this ride will come to an end soon.

Jake Martin of Eureka landed this 15-lb. lingcod on Wednesday while fishing near Cape Mendocino with Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, photo courtesy of Reel Steel sport fishing

Jake Martin of Eureka landed this 15-lb. lingcod on Wednesday while fishing near Cape Mendocino with Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing. The rockfish action has been wide-open from Shelter Cove to Crescent City, but the salmon bite has been hit and miss. Photo courtesy of Reel Steel Sport Fishing

Weekend marine forecast
The ocean looks to be much improved heading into the weekend. Saturday’s forecast is calling for NW winds 5 to 10 knots and swells to 5 feet at 11 seconds. Sunday’s prediction is W winds 5 to 10 knots and swells 4 feet at 7 seconds. Monday is looking real good, with winds coming out of the NW up to 5 knots and W waves 4 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. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit or check out the bar cam located at

Halibut season re-opens June 1
As part of the new state and federal sport regulations for the Pacific halibut fishery off of California, the Pacific halibut season will re-open June 1 and will remain open through June 15. During the first session of the season, which went from May 1 to 15th, a projected amount of 310 net pounds were harvested towards a quota of 25,000 pounds. For up-to-date harvest tracking information, visit

More clam tides coming
Another round of minus tides will begin on Sunday and last through June 8. Lowest tides will be next Thursday and Friday, both with a low of -1.3. With the ocean forecasted to lie down nicely on Monday, conditions should be ideal.

The Oceans:

With the salmon bite unpredictable at best, Capt. Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing has spent most of his days jigging up rockfish at Cape Mendocino. “The lingcod bite is wide-open, and as good as I’ve seen it in years with fish to 35 pounds devouring anything that you drop in the water,” Sepulveda said. “On Friday we kept our limit of 18 in the first hour so we took all the lingcod gear off and switched everything over to shrimp flies to keep them off and get the rockfish we needed. We still landed another 20 plus lings. It really doesn’t get any better. The salmon have been a little harder to come by, though we did manage to put together a good day on Tuesday boating nine fish for six passengers. The best bite has been at the southern edge of the Eel River canyon. There’s tons of krill down there along with lots of whales.” Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sport Fishing has been after salmon since the opener, and has had more success than most. His best days have also come down off of the Eel River Canyon, which is where he scored limits for his 6 clients on Saturday. He was back down that way on Tuesday with the rest of the fleet, and put in seven salmon for his crew of four fishing deep at 200-feet on the wire. He said, “The ocean conditions have been changing every day, there is no real pattern yet. Our best days have come fishing around all the krill and whales. We’ve caught a few fishing out front of Eureka, but they don’t seem to be there in any big numbers yet. We did see a bunch of bait around the entrance on Tuesday afternoon, so things could be changing.”

Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters reports the salmon bite continues to be slow out of Trinidad, with a couple salmon being caught straight out each day. He said, “The conditions are decent, the water has some good color and there’s scattered bait, but the salmon aren’t around in big numbers as of yet. There have been just a handful of boats out each day. The rockfish bite has been a different story. The bite has been wide-open, with easy limits of rockfish as well as lings. We’re also finding a few keeper crabs in our pots.”

Shelter Cove
Commercial fish buyer Pat O’ Shea reports a solid salmon bite between Delgada and the Hat, with commercial boats bringing in 30 to 40 fish per day. The sport boats have been doing well on the rockfish, but salmon reports have been hard to come by.

Crescent City
There were a few salmon caught this past weekend reports Leonard Carter of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “I heard about eight to 10 fish were caught, but not in any one area. Guys were fishing both north and south, and a few were caught in each direction. It’s good to see a few more starting to show up. The rockfish bite remains excellent; boats working around the Sisters and the south reef were doing well. All the usual spots have been producing plenty of fish,” Carter said.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to

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