, Shelter Cove, Humboldt County, California
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Wildest North Coast Outdoor Destination

By Casey Allen
Shelter Cove was a secret little community of summer cabins owned by the more successful people of Humboldt County for many years. They enjoyed the unique geography, where the mountains meet the sea, and all the fish and game available there. Now the secret is out and Shelter Cove is poised to be one of the wildest North Coast outdoor destinations that can be reached by road.

Shelter Cove, Humboldt County, Lost Coast
The rocky cliff to the north also known as the point, as seen from the new breakwater, also protects the tiny harbor.

The beauty of a cloud shrouded mountain with blue ocean waves lapping at its feet is hard to do justice with words. It make one feel humble standing on the edge between a huge land wilderness and the vast expanse of sea.

Ocean fishing is one of the major attractions at Shelter Cove and the new breakwater enhanced access to the sea. The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Conservation, and Recreation District managed the Shelter Cove Launch Breakwater Rehab Project which was completed in the fall of 2010. The $1 million project was funded by the California Department of Boating and Waterways to provide a safe place to launch fishing boats.

Shelter Cove Harbor, Launching facilities
Waders are still needed when launching small boats or you can employ the tractor launch and stay dry.

Salmon and bottom fish are plentiful just a short motor from the harbor and there are two 6-pack charter boats operating from the Cove.

The annual “Give Me Shelter” kayak fishing derby is hosted by the NorCal Kayak Anglers on May 15, which is normally the opening day of fishing for rockfish, lingcod, halibut and other bottom-fish.

Under the right conditions, and if properly equipped, a kayaker can bring back a colorful variety of tasty rockfish or an occasional salmon.

yelloweye rockfish

The area around Shelter Cove is good yelloweye rockfish habitat and anglers need to avoid catching these endangered fish. Once the quota of yelloweye by-catch is reached the entire bottom-fish season is closed.

Discerning the difference between yelloweye and other "red" rockfish takes a well-trained eye and knowledge of the fishes' anatomy. Yelloweye are  slow growing, late maturing, and can reach an age of over 100 years. Use of deep water release devices will help return yelloweye safely and extend the rockfish season.

The Cove is also popular with abalone divers and the rocky points can give up some big ones.

Backpacking through part of the Lost Coast Wilderness is also popular here. Hikers usually start at the north end at Petrolia and walk south with the prevailing north wind at their back. It is approximately 29 miles and the trail crosses 15 creeks on its way to the Cove. Some parts of the trail can only be passed at low tide and care is needed to avoid ticks and rattlesnakes. Bear proof food containers are mandatory and can be rented. There is a $150 fine for not having one. This is a truly wild and dangerous place full of unique and diverse beauty.

If you simply like to see the sights there are countless tide pools and long walks on Black Sands Beach or around the Cove to the south. Remember to bring your binoculars and camera to capture one of the best outdoor destinations on the West Coast.

Photos by Casey Allen, Eric Stockwell and the CA DFG


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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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