By Kenny Priest
The lack of rain isn’t doing the run of late-fall kings any favors but it is keeping the California halibut fishery alive. Without an influx of freshwater from the rains and with enough food to keep them happy, there’s no reason for the halibut to leave. Though the effort has dwindled, there are still enough halibut in the bay to make for a great day. The few boats still targeting them are finding success using artificial baits, with swimbaits being the top producer. Most of the live bait left the bay toward the end of September but enough halibut have hung around to make it worth your while. And the smaller tide swings we’ve had lately also play a role, as the halibut seem to bite better when there’s less water moving in and out. If you haven’t had your fill of halibut, there are still plenty left to catch. The north channel above the bridge, near the Coast Guard station and South Bay have been some of the best spots. The recreational fishery for California halibut is open year-round. The daily bag and possession limit is three fish, with a minimum size limit of 22 inches total length.
More dry weather ahead
We’re looking at dry weather through this week, as the high pressure is staying put, according to Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “There are some weak systems in the forecast for next Tuesday and Thursday, but they don’t look like they’ll do much for the river levels,” Zontos added.
Currently, all the North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, Smith and Van Duzen, are closed. Sections of rivers that are open include the main stem Eel River from the paved junction of Fulmor Road to its mouth and the main stem Smith River from the mouth of Rowdy Creek to the Smith’s mouth. The Mad River from the mouth to 200 yards upstream is closed until Jan. 1. The Department of Fish and Wildlife will make the information available to the public no later than 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday as to whether any river will be closed to fishing. The rivers can be opened at any time. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is 822-3164.
Very few salmon, if any, are entering the mouth of the Klamath. Most are in the upper reaches or are in the Trinity. There are a few adult steelhead and some half-pounders making their way through the lower river.
I’m starting to hear of salmon in the Douglas City area, so it sounds like there’s fish spread throughout the river. Junction City Store owner Frank Chapman reports, “We’re not seeing a whole lot of steelhead right now. One boat drifted the upper end on Monday and only got a couple small ones. We really need some rain to put both salmon and steelhead on the move.”
According to Britt Carson of Crescent City’s Englund Marine, there are a few salmon being caught at the mouth. “Guys tossing Cleos are catching a few each day,” said Carson. “There are quite a few jacks being caught and I’ve seen adults up to 30 pounds landed. Upriver, most of the deeper holes are full of salmon. We just need some rain in order to open the river to fishing,” added Carson. The river is currently closed to fishing above the mouth of Rowdy Creek due to low flows.
Read the complete fishing report at www.northcoastjournal.com.
Kenny Priest (he/him) operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email email@example.com.