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Ocean salmon still elusive; reefs productive

Fishing the North Coast by Kenny Priest author badge,

t’s been awhile since the North Coast has seen such a slow start to the salmon season. The bar has been set so incredibly high based on the last few seasons that we really have nowhere to go but down. But with a million adult salmon forecasted to be swimming in the ocean this year, the fishing should be a whole lot better. For whatever reason, the fish aren’t here yet, and honestly, it’s making us all a little nervous. The action has been spotty at best, with a little bite popping up here and there, but nothing consistent. Word has it the commercial boats are doing well fishing out in deep water with their baits down 500 to 600 feet. If that’s the case, there’s hope those fish will eventually move closer to shore where the sport fleet will have a shot at them. Another sign things could be looking up is a few boats fishing out of Shelter Cove on Saturday really put the wood to the salmon. The wind is predicted to howl pretty good for the next few days, let’s hope that when the boats get back on the water, the salmon are here waiting.

Rob Hoggan from Redway with a 17 lb. lingcod taken at Cape Mendocino on June 10, 2015 while fishing with Capt. Matt Dallam on the boat Fishy Business. Photo courtesy of Northwind Charters
Rob Hoggan from Redway with a 17 lb. lingcod taken at Cape Mendocino on June 10, 2015 while fishing with Capt. Matt Dallam on the boat Fishy Business. Photo courtesy of Northwind Charters

Rough seas predicted for the weekend
After a week of decent ocean conditions, the wind and seas are forecasted to pick up through the weekend. Friday’s forecast is calling for 15 to 25 knots winds out of the north and swells to 10 feet at 11 seconds. Saturday is calling for north winds 15 to 25 knots with 12-foot swells at 11 seconds. Sunday’s forecast is calling for more of the same, north winds 10 to 20 knots with swells 10 feet at 10 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.

Potential dangerous bar crossing
With minus tides beginning Saturday and lasting through next week, there could be potential early morning hazardous bar conditions due to the combination of tides and swells converging at the time when boats may be crossing the bar. Hard charging water flowing out of the bay and running straight into large swells can be extremely dangerous and you should always error on the side of caution -- even if it means waiting until the out-flowing water from the bay has slowed, which usually occurs within 30 to 45 minutes prior to the tide bottoming out. If you’re planning on hitting the bar at daylight, check the conditions first. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit or you can also verify the conditions as reported by looking at the bar cam.

Youth fishing derby this Saturday
The Willow Creek Fire Safe Council will be holding their 8th annual SkyCrest Lake Youth Fish Derby and Firewise Day on Saturday, June 13. The event will be held at SkyCrest Lake on Underwood Mtn. Road in Burnt Ranch. This is a free event for any youth and their family. It is open to youths 3 to 15 years old for fishing, prizes, and a goody bag containing bait, stringers, hooks, and promotional items from sponsors. This event gives the W.C.F.S.C. an opportunity to educate the attendees on wildfire safety to make their homes, neighborhoods, and community fire safe. For more information, call (707) 499-0767 or 530-629-2770. You can also email

More clam tides coming
Another good set of minus tides will begin on Saturday and will run through next Sunday, June 21. The lowest tides will range from a low of -1.3 on Monday, June 15 to -1.0 on Friday June 19. The best tide will be on Tuesday, June 16 with a low of -1.5. According to Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors in Eureka, the clamming was real good last week. He said, "The guys that I talked to who were out there did the best in ankle-deep water hitting the newly formed sandbars. It wasn’t as good up on the dry sand.” Ocean conditions are forecasted to be rough this weekend, which could make the digging a little tougher.

Sport Fishing Regulation Supplement now available online
CDFW's annual California sport fishing regulations supplement is now available online. This year, the supplement includes 2015 ocean salmon fishing regulations, updated groundfish (rockfish, lingcod, and other species) fishing regulations, updated Pacific halibut fishing regulations, and information about upcoming changes this summer to bluefin tuna fishing regulations.

Paper copies of the supplement are expected to arrive at license sales locations and CDFW offices by mid-June. The supplement also includes freshwater salmon regulations for the anadromous waters of the Klamath River Basin and other, related sport fishing information.

Pacific Halibut closes after Monday
Per the new state and federal sport regulations for Pacific halibut, the season will close again on June 15. The season will open back up on July 1. Check here for information about the seasons and regulations.

The Oceans:

The excellent rock fishing around Cape Mendocino remains the focus for the Eureka charter and sport fleet. The salmon fishing was tough all week, with only a handful landed. Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sport Fishing spent the day on Tuesday trolling for kings, and came up empty. He said, “Everything is here except the fish. We’ve got the brown water, birds and bait, but there just isn’t many salmon around. The water has warmed to 56 degrees in spots, but there are areas that are colder that should be holding fish. Like everyone else, I’m hoping they’re still out deep and haven’t made their way in yet.”

With the weather just good enough to make the run to the Cape, skipper Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing has opted to stick with what’s biting. “The rockfish bite continues to be amazing. We’ve been catching some real big lings, with quite a few in the 30 to 35 pound range. The halibut have been a little more fickle. I spent all day Tuesday targeting halibut and came up empty. And I didn’t hear of any being caught by the other boats. There are a few salmon around, but they’re pretty scattered. The conditions have been ideal, but it just hasn’t lined up yet. There’s still a long way to go in the season though,” Sepulveda added.

The rockfish bite is still excellent, but there seems to be very few salmon around reports Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters out of Trinidad. He said, “The rockfish bite, particularly the blacks, is still wide-open, but we’ve been forced to fish out in a little deeper water lately due to the bumpy ocean. I’ve spent a few days trolling for salmon, and we’re getting a couple opportunities per trip. There are a few around, but it’s been tough. A few halibut are still being caught, with the best spot being straight out of the harbor in 250 to 300 feet of water.”

Crescent City
Rockfish and halibut have been the main focus for anglers reports Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. “There hasn’t been any salmon to speak of, and not many people have been trying. After this weekend’s blow, I think we’ll see a lot more boats on the water looking. There’s lots of bait around, so they we should be able to find a few. In talking with the commercial guys, it sounds like the fish are out in deep water and are staying deep. There’s been a few halibut caught this week, including a 68-pounder,” Hegnes said.

Shelter Cove
Captain Trent Slate of Shelter Cove Sport Fishing said, “The salmon bite was on for a day, but things slowed way up with only one salmon taken out of a number of boats. I do think the bite will go off soon since there is so much bait in the area.” He reported terrific rockfish and ling cod action, and he was heading to Punta Gorda on Tuesday to take advantage of the weather. They went below the point on Monday for limits of big rockfish, lings, and Dungeness crab. He added, “When I say big rockfish, I mean we have been landing some huge vermilions, coppers, and even Boccaccio.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath

The spring salmon action has been real hit-and-miss this past week. Boats are getting a chance at one to two fish per day, and there’s been lots of zeros as well.

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

Fishing Reports

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