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Pacific halibut closes Sunday

Kenny priest, fishing the north coast, author badge,

he ball is about to get rolling here on the North Coast, and it looks like the weather and the ocean conditions are starting to align. Both Friday and Saturday should be excellent for Halibut, with 4-foot waves forecasted for both days. It’s been about a week since the ocean’s been nice enough to drift for flatties, so you’d be wise to take advantage of the next few days as the first halibut closure begins Monday morning. Ocean conditions, especially for salmon, are starting to look real fishy. Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing, who’s been targeting halibut the last couple days, reports there’s plenty of good looking water outside of Humboldt Bay. “Offshore is starting to look really good. There’s lots of brown water, and we’re seeing quite a bit of bait on the outside as well as in the bay .We’ve also seen a few whales, which could be feeding on krill. The water temps are nice and cool as well, it’s been ranging from 50 to 53 degrees, which is perfect for salmon,” Klassen added. As a reminder, Halibut closes on Sunday, rockfish opens on Sunday, and the sport salmon opener is Monday. Let the good times roll….

Use extreme caution when crossing Humboldt Bar
Current conditions in the Humboldt Bar channel are extremely dangerous and unpredictable. Where you’ve crossed in previous years may no longer be navigable. You’ll want to use caution, check the marine forecast and know the tides. You should avoid crossing during an outgoing tide when there are large swells on the outside. Recreational anglers can provide bar reports on VHF channel 68 while the Coast Guard emergency channel is 16 on the VHF. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit or check out the bar cam located at cam=humboldtBayBar

Marine forecast
After a rough start to the halibut season, the wind and seas are finally predicted to subside. Friday’s forecast is calling for winds out of the west at 5 knots and north waves 3 feet at 11 seconds. Saturday is looking nearly the same, with waves out of the NW 4 feet at 12 seconds. The wind starts to build on Sunday, with north winds forecasted 10 to 15 knots. Waves will be from the NW 4 feet at 6 seconds...and NW 3 feet at 14 seconds. Monday’s weather for the salmon opener is looking plenty fishable, with north winds 10 to 20 knots and waves NW 4 feet at 6 seconds and NW 3 feet at 11 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.

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

Rockfish opener slated for Sunday
The 2016 rockfish season will open this Sunday to boat-based anglers within the Northern Management Area — which runs from the Oregon border south to the Cape Mendocino Area. The recreational rockfish 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 three bocaccio, and five black rockfish are allowed per person. Cabezon have a minimum 15-inch size limit. There is no size limit for Boccaccio. The lingcod limit remains the same as last year, three fish per person with a minimum size of 22 inches. The depth limit remains the same as last year; fish may only be taken or possessed in less than 120 feet (20 fathoms) of water. The take and possession of bronzespotted rockfish, canary rockfish, cowcod and yelloweye rockfish will remain prohibited statewide.

Sport salmon season opens Monday
Our 2016 ocean sport salmon season from Horse Mt. north to the CA/OR border will open on Monday, May 16 and run through May 31. The remainder of the season is as follows: June 16 through June 30, July 16 through August 16, and September 1 through September 5.

The daily bag limit is 2 salmon of any species except Coho, with a minimum size limit of 20 inches. Fishing is permitted seven days a week. The possession is no more than two daily bag limits in possession while on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. No salmon punch card is required for ocean salmon fishing. For complete ocean salmon regulations, please visit the Ocean Salmon webpage at or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline (707) 576-3429.

Gear restrictions:
North of Pt. Conception: No more than two (2) single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used and no more than one rod per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat or floating device with salmon on board.

Horse Mt. to Pt. Conception: When fishing with bait and angling by any other means than trolling, no more than two (2) single-point, single-shank barbless circle hooks shall be used. The distance between the two hooks must not exceed five (5) inches when measured from the top of the eye of the top hook to the inner base of the curve of the lower hook and both hooks must be permanently tied in place (hard tied). Barbless hooks are required and anglers are limited to one rod per person when salmon fishing or when fishing from a boat with salmon on board.

Perch’n on the Peninsula results
The 7th Annual Perch’n on the Peninsula fishing tournament was held on last Saturday, May 7. A total of 26 adults and 8 juniors entered this year’s tournament with 13 adults and 6 juniors registering catches. This year’s top catch was a 16.34-inch redtail caught by Tyler Jabbour at Hidden Beach. Marlene Allen took second place with her 15.31-inch redtail and Casey Allen held onto third place with a 14.96-inch redtail.

Six year-old Otis Lee Zepp of McKinleyville took first place in the Juniors category with his 13.27-inch redtail caught at Gold Bluff Beach. The second place winner was Breanna Tatro, 12 years old from Manila, with her 13.19-inch redtail followed by eight year-old Ella Hart of Eureka with her 12.60-inch fish.

Boy grimacing while holding a fish, photo courtesy of Samoa Peninsula fire department
Six year-old Otis Lee Zepp of McKinleyville took first place in the Juniors category of the Perch'n on Peninsula fishing tournament, which took place last Saturday. The young anglers redtail perch measured 13.27 inches. Photo courtesy of Samoa Peninsula Fire District

Trinity/Klamath Rivers
Water releases from Lewiston Dam into the Trinity River will rapidly increase to 10,000 cfs on Friday, May 13 through Saturday. Release rates will then gradually decrease over approximately 11 weeks to return to the 450 cfs summer baseflow rate around August 2. Spring salmon fishing on both the Trinity and Klamath should pick up when the flows taper off and the rivers begin to clear, which should be in the next couple weeks.

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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