Northern CA Saltwater

Eureka: Boats find consistent salmon

Lots of Pacific halibut but no tuna

BY CAPT. DAVID BACON/WON Staff WriterPublished: Jul 17, 2019

EUREKA — There was plenty of good fishing news for Eureka anglers last week and a consistent salmon bite put some great food on family tables. Large Pacific halibut hit the deck of local boats and rockfish action was excellent. Boats tried for tuna with no luck.

The salmon bite off Eureka wasn’t red hot, but it was satisfyingly consistent. The action is still south from the 46 line down to the 42 line in 60 to 120 feet of water. The salmon have been in this area for some time now. The grade has really improved, with several salmon reported in the low to high teens to 20 pounds caught. On Tuesday, charter boat Reel Steel had limits of salmon that were the biggest grade in two years. Larry Bigg's of Arcata had big fish with a 17-pound, 11-ounce king.

explosivekingEXPLOSIVE KING — King salmon caught in the salt are explosive, and retired guide Hank Mautz caught this nice king on board Reel Steel fishing the Fourth of July. It was big fish for the day.

WON Field Reporter Lonnie Dollarhide said, “There is a lot of bait around and the best thing to do is work the bait balls. Heed a little warning: There are a ton of coho silver salmon around now and the wardens are writing tickets at the boat ramps for those who don’t know how to tell the difference between a coho and a king.”

The week provided the best Pacific halibut bite in some time. The currents backed off and made fishing conditions perfect. Out of Eureka there were 14 caught and the sizes ranged from 25 pounds to 78 pounds. Trinidad also put up some good numbers through the week.

The rockfish and lingcod bite down at the reefs at Cape Mendocino was off the charts with big rockfish and heavy lings. Limit's came fast and easy. When conditions are right the Cape is a very special place along the Lost Coast.

Capt. Tony Sepulveda on Shellback said, “Good weather and great fishing here on the north coast. Made the run to the Loat Coast most days and everything bit well. Easy limits of lingcod with lots of fish in the 20- to 25-pound range. Every day this week had at least one Pacific halibut hit the deck with the biggest being a 78 pounder caught by Dennis Zack of Monterey fishing a dead herring.” That big fish came as a double hookup, with the other fish being 35 pounds.

Dollarhide reported that out of Shelter Cove the rockfish bite has been good, but the lingcod bite slowed to one per rod. The salmon fishing has picked up for boats fishing right out front and south down off an area called the Old Man. Salmon to over 20 pounds were caught.

Out of Crescent City a few salmon were caught, though not many people were trying. South Reef is the area holding salmon. Michael McGahan fished with friend Ray Fairfax to catch a 14-pound salmon, according to Capt. Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing and Brookings Fishing Charters in Brookings, Oregon. The rockfish bite is good but not great because the water color is brown and that affected the bite.

Two boats ran offshore out of Eureka with high hopes of catching the first albacore of the year. One boater went as far as 78 miles out but came up empty. Water temps and color is there, but no tuna. It's a little early yet so everyone is hoping that by next month the longfins will show.


DENNIS ZACK OF Monterey used a dead herring to entice this 78-pound Pacific halibut caught aboard the Shellback out of Eureka. The boat also landed a 35 pounder.

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