Fishing the North Coast: Salmon are here, anglers scarce

May 26th, 2011
 

 
 
 

Bumpy ocean predicted for weekend

Kenny Priest/For the Times-Standard

Posted: 05/26/2011 08:57:13 AM PDT

Marginal ocean conditions and a lack of boats continue to play key roles in the success – or lack thereof – for North Coast salmon anglers. A snotty ocean, along with heavy currents, have combined to keep most boats off the water since Saturday. The good news is there doesn’t appear to be a lack of fish, but the lack of boats is helping keep the catch-rates low. Most anglers who’ve spent time on the water are reporting no shortage of take-downs, but getting the bigger kings to hold on to the bait has proved difficult. Scratch baits and short bites seem to be the name of the game at the moment, along with silvers and short kings. All this makes for a busy day and lots of empty bait treys, but it’s not putting a lot of fish in the cooler. A few days of nice weather will certainly change things.

Team effort

I’ve heard about it, read about it, and on Saturday while fishing with Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sportfishing, I witnessed it first-hand. The teamwork amongst ocean anglers fishing out of the Eureka and Trinidad – both sport and charter boats alike – is truly amazing. As soon as one of the boats gets into some salmon action, no sooner are they on the radio relaying numbers to the other boats. This isn’t just between the sport boats. The charter boats skippers are all eager to share information as well. I’ve fished out of most ports from the Bay Area to Crescent City and I haven’t seen anything like what goes on here. This is


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a true testament to all the Humboldt ocean anglers. 

Crab gear warning

If you’re planning on getting out on the ocean for the first time this weekend, be aware there is a tremendous amount of crab gear in and around where the majority of the salmon are being caught. On Saturday, I heard of at least seven boats getting their downriggers wrapped around either rope or buoys. You’d be wise to keep an eye out for buoys and carry a few extra downrigger balls just in case.

More clam tides coming

John Corbett of Eureka’s Pacific Outfitter’s reports another series of minus tides will begin next Tuesday, May 31. These aren’t as low as the previous weeks, but it shouldn’t matter. There should be lots of clams to be had. This year, Little River Beach is open to razor clamming between Strawberry Creek and Moonstone Beach. The limit is 20 clams and you must keep the first 20 dug regardless of size or broken condition

Freshwater Lagoon is still being planted regularly with catchable-size trout so that’s a real good option for the holiday weekend. Berkley PowerBait rigged with an egg sinker works great and is easy to fish,” Corbett added.

Marine forecast

Ocean conditions for the long holiday week are looking borderline fishable. Saturday out 5 nautical miles, winds are forecasted out of the NW 5 to 10 knots in the morning. Swells will be mixed WNW 7 to 8 ft and WSW 1 ft. Wind waves will be around 1 ft. There is also a chance of showers. Sunday, winds will be out of the NNW around 13 knots. A mixed swell is forecasted WNW 7 to 8 ft and WSW 1 ft. Wind waves will be around 2 ft.

These conditions can and will change by the weekend. For up-to-date weather forecast, visit www.weather.gov/eureka/. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484.

The Oceans:

Eureka Skipper Phil Glen of Celtic Charter Service continues to grind away, putting his clients onto salmon each trip. Monday he boated five for his five customers and put in another four on Tuesday. Most of Glenn’s fish are coming on the 45-46 line if 180 feet of water. “Once we get some more boats on the water and we all spread out, we should start to see better numbers,” Glenn added.

Captain Tim Klassen on the Reel Steel hasn’t given up on the halibut bite, and put in three nice keepers to 60 lbs on Tuesday down off the Eel River. With a little time still left in the day, Tim made the eight-mile run south to the False Cape to see if could coax up any rockfish off the bottom. He managed to catch a few, but the bite wasn’t red hot. “With a little more time I think we could have found some better schools, but the ocean conditions weren’t ideal,” Klassen added

Captain Gary Blasi on the Seaweasel had the hot hand late last week and had consecutive days with limits of salmon. The weather has since made the fishing a little more difficult, though he managed to put two nice keepers in the box Saturday. Tuesday, his trip was cut short due to a couple clients reeling from the effects of a bumpy ocean. He was back at the dock at 10:30 a.m. with only a couple scratch baits to show for his efforts. “The south wind we’ve had is really putting the hurt on the salmon bite, but better days are coming,” Blasi said.

Skipper Matt Dallam, of Northwind Charters, fishing out of Trinidad reports a wide-open rockfish bite, but not a lot else is happening right now. “There’s just a couple boats out each day, so it’s really been tough to find any schools of salmon. We’re spending most of the days searching. Hopefully the holiday weekend will bring out more boats and we can get a better idea on where the salmon are,” Dallam added.

Shelter Cove

According to Russ Thomas of Mario’s Marina in Shelter Cove, the weather is keeping most of the boats off the water. “We’re only launching three to four per day, but hopefully that will pick up this weekend. When the boats have gotten out, they’re finding a red hot rockfish bite along with a few halibut still being taken. With anglers mostly focused on rockfish, there’s very few salmon being caught. When the weather gets nicer, I imagine we’ll start to see more boats going after salmon,” Thomas added.

Crescent City

Due to the weather, very few boats have been out on the water reports Chris Hegnes of Crescent City’s Englund Marine. A few boats have been fishing for salmon and it sounds like they’re getting a few each trip. There’s still quite a bit of bait around. When the weather permits, the boats targeting rockfish have been scoring limits, but we haven’t had many days where the smaller boats can get out to the reef. There are some high spots right out front of the harbor near the can that guys have been doing well on,” Hegnes said.

The Rivers:

Lower Klamath

According to guide Mike Coopman, the Lower Klamath is still a bit on the high side. “There’s definitely fish coming into the river, but the boats aren’t posting any real big numbers yet. Most boats are averaging one to two hookups per trip, but it’s due to bust open any day. Right now it’s all about being in the right place at the right time. Most boats are congregated from the 101 bridge up to Blakes Riffle, but that should change this weekend due to the holiday,” Coopman said

Fishermen’s fund benefit

A Benefit Concert for the Fisherman’s Fund will take place at The Eureka Woman’s Club on Saturday, May 28 at 8 p.m. The Del Norte Lighthouse Community Center for Crescent City, whose harbor was devastated by the recent tsunami, is sponsoring the event. The concert headliner is New York-based jazz vocalist Deborah Latz, and also features Humboldt County’s finest with Tim Randles on piano, Dave Wilson on guitar, Shao Way Wu on bass and Mike LaBolle on drums. Tickets are $20 and are available at The Works in Eureka, make reservations by calling Susan at (707) 445 0396 or take your chances at the door.

Questions, comments, tips, and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com