, Humboldt Bay, Humboldt County, California
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Humboldt Bay -- Now an outdoor enthusiast's paradise

By Casey Allen
Humboldt Bay, once a working industrial port has been transformed into an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Long ago, it was once an important gateway to Northern California and shipping not only brought settlers but provided for the export of redwood logs and lumber. Commercial fishermen sailed the rough waters offshore in search of salmon and crab and a boat building industry sprang up to support timber and fishing.

Humboldt Bay Harbor Entrance,
History shows it was a rough and dangerous life working on Humboldt Bay and sea captains had trouble finding the entrance to the harbor in rough seas.

In 1891 the jetties were built to stabilize the location of the entrance and improve the safety of the seafarers. Today, a dredge works to keep the bar at the entrance clear for the safety of the small boats that still fish from Humboldt Bay.

Commercial fishing is still an important activity with Dungeness crab being the biggest catch. Humboldt Bay is the state’s largest supplier of commercially raised oysters and other fish like rockfish, sole, and albacore are commercially sought.

Eureka, Humboldt Bay
Today, with the pulp and paper mills closed and just a fraction of the logs still exported, the Bay is lacking in industry but is rich in outdoor recreational opportunities and tourism.

Eureka has a great old town waterfront area with shopping and restaurants. Many activities and events take place there like Blues on the Bay, the Jazz Festival, and the 4th of July fireworks. The Great Kinetic Sculpture Race crosses Humboldt Bay on Memorial weekend and collegiate and club rowing competitions are held.

Woodley Island Marina, Humboldt Bay
Recreational anglers can find a lot to do around Humboldt Bay. There are four boat ramps and two public marinas. Three fishing charter boats operate out of Humboldt Bay.

In the Bay, salmon can occasionally be found near the entrance and California halibut are available in the channels of North Bay. Redtail perch are a lot of fun as are the sharks and rays.

Pacific Halibut, Woodley Island Marina, Reel Steel Sportfising, Humboldt Bay
Salmon, Pacific halibut and rockfish are the main targets outside the bay with a few avid anglers chasing albacore when offshore conditions permit.

The relatively new sport crab season opens a month before the commercial season in December and attracts a lot of boats. 

Horseneck clams, Humboldt Bay
Gaper clams like horse neck clams, Washington clams and steamer clams can be dug during any minus tide.

Waterfowl hunting is popular in many places on Humboldt Bay. Ducks and geese including the Aleutian goose and black brant are the main quarry while the common snipe keep shotgunners busy along the shore. The Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge on the South Bay holds a lottery drawing on Saturdays and Tuesdays for 15 waterfowl blinds. Winning hunters pick their favorite blind and those new to the area can get statistics to help them choose. The stilt blinds of South Bay, used to hunt black brant, are all gone now but sculling is very popular on the bay. This sneak boat was developed on Humboldt Bay around 1900 by market duck hunters and is still used by sportsmen today.

Bird watching around Humboldt Bay can be spectacular and is a year round activity. From the massive flights of Aleutian Geese to the elusive flitting of a goldfinch there is something to interest every bird watcher and photographer. The Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the Arcata Marsh offer miles of easy trails leading into the wetlands where all kinds of waterfowl, sea birds, and other marsh species can be seen.

Kayaking, Humboldt Bay
Canoe and kayak rentals are available and a future kayak trail is being developed for up close nature viewing.

If you like to hunt and fish or just look around and take pictures, the Humboldt Bay area is a great place to enjoy the outdoors all year.

Welcome to Humboldt Bay!

Photos by the author

For additional information about Humboldt Bay, visit these websites:

Humboldt Bay Area Beaches & Dunes Map

Humboldt Bay Wildlife Refuge

Mad River Slough Wildlife Area

Samoa Watchable Wildlife Site

Samoa Boat Ramp County Park

Map of North Bay Wildlife Areas


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Website Design Photo Credits: thanks the following individuals for contributing photographs for use on our Home and Section pages: Anders Tomlinson of, Casey Allen of Bayside, CA; Jason Haley of Medford, OR; Steve Breth of Burney, CA; Tracy McCormack of Eureka, CA; Grant Thompson of Grand Junction, CO; Richard Bott of Shingletown, CA; Ron Loftus of Yreka, CA; Scott Caldwell of Montague, CA; Lorissa Soriano of Alturas, CA and the late Dave Menke, formerly with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

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