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Salmon finally start to show off Eureka

Fishing the North Coast by Kenny Priest, author badge,

he salmon bite is finally showing signs of life out of Eureka, and just in time for the holiday weekend. Kings started hitting the decks consistently on Sunday for the boats fishing south of Eureka on the edge of the Eel River canyon. This general area has produced a few fish this season, and it’s been stacked with krill and whales for quite a while now. Tony Sepulveda of Shellback Sport Fishing found the hot spot on Sunday, and was able to bring 14 keepers over the rail in 45 minutes. Since then, all the charters and a handful of sport boats have been working over the same area with limits coming fairly easy the last couple days. It may not be as wide-open as the past few years, but it’s by far the best bite we’ve seen this year. It’s worth mentioning that the fish are coming deep, anywhere from 150 to 200 feet on the wire. Along with fish being caught off the canyon, a few have also been caught near the 43-line in 120 to 140 feet of water. There hasn’t been as many boats working this area, but word has it the fish have been a little bigger than those coming from canyon.

Batista Bregante from Santa Cruz smiles over a nice king. Photo courtesy of Green Water Fishing Adventures
Batista Bregante from Santa Cruz smiles over a nice king caught on Wednesday out of Eureka with Green Water Fishing Adventures aboard Shellback. The salmon bite has really turned on the past few days, with most of the boats coming back to port with limits. Photo courtesy of Green Water Fishing Adventures

Weekend Marine Forecast
Ocean conditions might be challenging for the next couple days if the forecast holds. According to the National Weather Service, Friday’s marine forecast is calling for winds out of the northwest 5 knots and northwest swells 6 feet at 9 seconds. Saturday forecast is for west winds to 10 knots, with swells out of the northwest 6 feet at 9 seconds and southwest 2-feet at 16 seconds. Sunday’s forecast looks much better, with winds 5 to 10 knots out of the south. Swells will be west 2 feet at 4 seconds and northwest 5 feet at 11 seconds. These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For an up-to-date weather forecast, visit click here. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit this webpage or you can also verify the conditions as reported by looking at the bar cam. You can also call the National Weather Service at 707-443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 707-443-6484.

Statewide free fishing day
On Saturday July 4, people may fish California's waters without a sport fishing license. All regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. On Free Fishing Days, every angler must have the appropriate report card if they are fishing for abalone, steelhead, sturgeon, spiny lobster or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems. For more information see Free Fishing Days.

Take a veteran fishing: Volunteers wanted
Purple Heart Anglers, made up of a group of volunteers who take disabled veterans into the outdoors to fish or hunt, are looking for volunteer fisherman to take a group of vets ocean fishing one Saturday this summer in Humboldt County. The dates they are shooting for are August 1, 8, or 15, with the ocean conditions dictating which day is chosen.

With this being the first trip in Humboldt County, the event will be open to all veterans, disabled or not. After the event, there will be a gathering at a local veteran’s hall or park for a big fish fry and potluck.

Purple Heart Anglers is a nonprofit, nonpolitical group that exists only to support disabled veterans with the therapeutic value of the outdoors. Purple Heart Anglers has one goal: to produce a program that aids in the healing of the disabled veterans of the United States Military. So nothing interferes with the job at hand, Purple Heart Anglers does not take help from corporations or any group wanting a commercial or advertising presence.

If you are willing and able to accommodate one or more veterans on your boat for a day, please call Marcus De La O at 707-726-9040 or email to sign up.

Pacific Halibut season opened July 1
The recreational Pacific halibut seasoned opened up again on Wednesday, July 1 for boat-based anglers. For more information, please call the National Marine Fisheries Service hotline at 800-662-9825 or visit the Pacific Halibut webpage.

Halibut carcasses wanted
Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers (HASA) is again partnering with Humboldt State University Fisheries on a Pacific halibut study this season. Anybody with a halibut carcass is asked to contact HSU graduate student Miki Takada at 858-472-4938 and she will come to you to pick up the carcass (or they can be left in the halibut totes on Dock A and Dock D at Woodley Island Marina in Eureka.) This study will provide age, length, and sex data for halibut caught in our area compared to halibut caught in northern waters, and will provide important information about growth, productivity, and reproduction that will help inform Pacific halibut harvest management in California. Unfrozen carcasses (with as much of the gonads intact as possible) are preferred.

Eureka tuna run
With the ocean somewhat flat and the warm water within reach, a small fleet of boats went out of Eureka on Sunday in pursuit of tuna. Most of the boats ended up roughly 15 miles offshore of Punta Gorda, about 35 miles from the jaws. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing was one of the boats looking and reports the water color and temperature was good, but void of fish. Only one boat got into any sort of bite, Marc Schmidt of Coastline Charters, who boated four albies. The next weather window is looking like next week, possibly beginning on Wednesday.

The Oceans:

Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sport Fishing, Matt Dallam of Northwind Charters along with Sepulveda and Klassen have been working the edge of the Eel River Canyon since Sunday, with pretty good results. It was quick limits on Monday and Tuesday for all, but the ocean roughed up a little on Wednesday and the going got a little tougher. Limits were still had, but they didn’t come as quickly as the previous two days. The salmon have been ranging in size from barely legals to 12-pounds, with the occasional bigger fish in the mix. A few boats have also had some success working around the 43-line off of Table Bluff. Not as many fish have been caught there, but the fish were reportedly a little bigger.

Though the ocean has been a little breezy for a run to the Cape, boats that fished it Sunday reported the ling bite is still on fire, and the black rockfish is wide-open as well. Not much has changed since the season opened.

The lingcod bite is really good, and getting better by the day reports Curt Wilson of Wind Rose Charters. “The rockfish are still biting strong, but how many and how quickly you get them depends on the drift. Some days it doesn’t take long to catch what you need. The salmon bite hasn’t taken off yet, but my guess is it won’t be long. The crabbing is still pretty consistent, we’re able to give our customers their 10-crab limit almost every trip," Wilson added.

Crescent City
According to Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, there isn’t much going on with salmon, but the lings and rockfish are still biting. He said, “I did hear of a couple salmon caught yesterday off the Sisters. One weighed 30 and the other 20 pounds, so there are a few around. There just isn’t much effort and there isn’t a lot of sign either. The ling cod continue to bite anything that swims and the rockfish action remains strong. The perch bite has also been real good down at South Beach when the oceans been nice.”

The Rivers:
Lower Klamath

All the salmon action has taken place at the mouth this past week as not many fish are moving up river. Boats trolling spinners in the estuary have landed a few salmon.

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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