Fishing the North Coast: Off and running -- Halibut season opens today; Swells predicted to build this weekend

Julianna Forkner, bottom left, her brother James, and father Robert are all smiles after Julianna landed her first-ever steelhead last week on the Smith River. The young angler managed to land the fish without any assistance from her family, which made for one proud dad. The Smith River closed on Wednesday April, 30 but will re-open to fishing the fourth Saturday in May.

There is nothing more disconcerting than my cell phone not ringing before a big, North Coast fishing opener.

All of my un-returned phone calls from my tackle shop buddies on Wednesday pretty much told me all I needed to know: The tight-knit community of die-hard saltwater anglers were eagerly stocking up on last-minute gear and bait in anticipation of the Pacific Halibut opener today, most likely keeping my fishing contacts busy.

In addition, the salmon and rockfish seasons will both open in the next couple weeks and the fishing folks are -- to put it mildly -- a tad bit excited.

There is even a little icing on the opener cake.

The ocean is forecasted to be somewhat flat through Friday, allowing some of the smaller boats to get in on the fun. The tough part, as always, will be trying to find the fish without the benefit of having been on the water for a few months.

Most anglers will head to where they've caught them before, which is always a good place to start. A popular area in the past has been straight out of the jaws in 250 to 300 feet of water.

According to Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sportfishing, your best bet is to not spend too much time at one location and always look for sea life.

"With the ocean being fairly calm, take advantage and move around if you aren't getting bit. The last time I was out, there wasn't much life near shore, but when we ventured out past 200 feet we started to see a bunch of krill and bait," Klassen said. "That's what you're looking for."

Weekend marine forecast

As of Wednesday, Friday's forecast for coastal waters out 10 nautical miles is looking very nice with waves out of the SW 4 feet at 9 seconds. Unfortunately, the weekend isn't looking quite as good. Saturday's forecast is for winds 5 to 10 knots out of the SW with waves to 9 feet at 13 seconds. Sunday, the wind will pick up slightly, blowing 10 to 15 knots. Waves will be out of the west 9 feet at 12 seconds. These conditions can and will change.

For up-to-date weather forecast, visit You can also call the National Weather Service at 707-443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at 707-443-6484.

Halibut Contest

Don't forget, Eureka's Englund Marine will again be holding its BIG FISH Halibut Contest again this year. The 8th annual event runs from May 1 to Oct. 31, 2014. There is no entry fee and you can enter as many fish as you'd like. Fish do not need to be gutted and gilled. Prizes will be awarded to the top three fish. A complete list of rules and regulations are available at Englund Marine Supply, Co., 2 Commercial St., in Eureka or call 707-444-9266.

Razor clam update

Chris Hegnes of Crescent City's Englund Marine reports the clamming on South Beach has been excellent this week, with limits coming pretty easy. "I was out there on Wednesday morning, and the full length of the beach had clams," Hegnes added. This year, the beach south of Battery Point is open to clamming. Here in Humboldt, the reports haven't been quite as good for Clam Beach. The reports I'm hearing are the clams are few and far between.

Trinidad Harbor information

As posted this week on the Humboldt Tuna website, the seasonal mooring rate will again be $600 this season, with in and out launch. The monthly rate will be $325 and the weekly rate is $165. The daily cost to launch is $35. The launch and moorings will open Saturday, May 3. For more information, call 707-599-0125.

Shelter Cove salmon update:

The weather has been nice and the salmon are biting, but we're not seeing many anglers reports Russ Thomas of Mario's Marina in Shelter Cove. "The charter boat guys have been getting limits just about every trip, so there's definitely some fish around. There's been some nice ones caught too, Jared Morris of C'Mon Sport Fishing boated a 30-pounder last Saturday," Thomas added.

Klamath River quota correction

In last week's "Fishing the North Coast" column, I incorrectly stated that the quota of 2,064 adults covers from the 101 Bridge upriver to the 96 Bridge in Weitchepec. The lower river quota actually covers from the ocean to 96 bridge. The spit area, which is 100 yards of the channel through the sand spit formed at the mouth of the river, will close once it reaches 15 percent of the lower river quota, which is 619 adults.

The Rivers:

Trinity/ Klamath

The water release out of Lewiston Dam down the Trinity River has leveled off at 1,500 cfs and the Lower Klamath is in great shape. It's currently flowing at just over 9,000 cfs, which is low but expected due to the lack of rainfall. A couple springers have already been caught and we should start to see more and more fish enter the river.

Lower Rogue

Last week's rain and cloudy conditions brought the first real good push of fish into the lower river, reports guide Steve Huber of Steve Huber's Guide Service. "Boats were getting ones and twos, and some limits were also reported last week. But now we're back to warm conditions and a dropping river. The bite has been real tough for most this week, with lots of zeroes. The fish are coming in with the tides, but with four to five feet of visibility, it's getting harder to get in front of them" Huber said.

Send in your fish photos

Land a big halibut or perch lately? Or maybe your friend or relative has reeled in their first trout. Email your fishing photo to and I'll run them with the "Fishing the North Coast" weekly column and also post them on the digital version on Just include the name of the person in the photo, where and when it was taken and any other details you'd like to share.

Find "Fishing the North Coast" on Facebook for fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to