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North Coast: A huge grab bag for anglers

Frank Galusha author photo,

By Frank Galusha
07/10/15 -- Fishing for anything but lingcod and rockfish is still a matter of hit or miss for anglers leaving ports in search of other game fish along California’s North Coast. Salmon are still being taken here and there, mostly from deep waters and on the wire with lead weights as close to the bottom as possible. Bottom line: Orange meat is scattered and simply hard to find.

Halibut angling has been tough for most of the two prior 15-day seasons. Not now! The bite has improved since July 1. Captain Marc Schmidt on the Scrimshaw (Coastline Charters) found some great Pacific Butts for his three anglers yesterday.

“The halibut bit great again today and we got limits today including one better fish. The big one went 64 lbs. on the length/weight table. We didn’t see it bite but we sure noticed it just start peeling off line. The other two were 28 and 32 lbs.,” Schmidt reported on the Humboldt Tuna Club forum.

“We spent a few hours in the morning trolling for salmon where they bit yesterday and beyond and all looked great except the salmon left the area,” Schmidt said.

Pacific halibut are being caught in 250 to 350 feet of water due west of Eureka. Photo courtesy of Coastline Charters
Pacific halibut are being caught in 250 to 350 feet of water due west of Eureka. The best charter boat skippers keep track of where they catch these huge flatties. You may have to put in lots of time to find these fish but it’s worth every minute. Just sit back and relax but be sure check your bait and refresh it with attractant fairly often. Photo courtesy of Coastline Charters

Schmidt is back out today for more halibut and hopefully salmon. He has a few days open for halibut so call soon if you want to try for one this year.

A number of boats have tried for albacore and other exotics in the past few days but most have not found the fish. An exception was “Real Toy” who found some “slugs right along the edge of a temperature break.” To reach these longfins, anglers were doing overnight trips in order to reach the 125.30 line, which is 75 to 80 miles offshore. A few other boats reported taking up to 13 albies in the past week but they were all hard-earned and almost as far out.

Man holding large tuna caught off Pacific coast, Photo courtesy of RealToy
Most of the albacore caught so far have been small peanuts, 10 to 16 pounds, which is typical for albies early in the run -- the big longfins to 20 to 40 pounds usually arrive in late summer and early fall. This exact weight of this longfin, described as a “slug” by the “RealToy” on the HTC forum, was not given. Photo courtesy of RealToy

Based on predictions of the approaching El Niño, this year could be like the 1997-98 El Niño when albacore were taken within sight of shore. Scuttlebutt says the albacore could break lose at any time, which would be good for all those who love fishing and those who serve anglers along the coast.

A row of lingcod and rock cod lined up, Photo courtesy of Prisoner Rock Charters
The White Cadillac, skippered by veteran angler and USCG licensed Captain Jason Rau (center), who some may remember from his years on the boat Shenandoah also out of Trinidad, is a 26' long by 8.5' wide Glacier Bay catamaran powered by twin 150 HP Yamaha outboards. His catch yesterday included limits of rockfish and lingcod. Photo courtesy of Prisoner Rock Charters

Meanwhile, fishing for bottomfish has been very good from all the ports with many blacks, some coppers and a few reds in the mix. The lingcod bite is simply amazing. It’s actually hard not to catch a ling and with a three-ling limit an angler can put up 10-15 pounds of these great eating fish from just one trip.

Captain Jason Rau of the new Trinidad Charter boat, White Cadillac (Prisoner Rock Charters) reported, “The boat is in the harbor and we are fishing. The bottomfishing remains excellent with lots of lings in the mix. We're also seeing a good amount of large coppers and browns. Quite a few flatties (Pacific Halibut) are coming across the dock, too.” For a great experience, give Capt. Rau a call at 707-677-2035 and fish from the Cadillac.

For the latest dock totals from all Northern California Ports, visit and click on “Dock Totals” or “Saltwater Reports.” New reports are listed every day, including audio reports direct from the charter boat skippers. Click on the calendar in the reports to see totals for previous days.

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