Suddenly, this is the place for ocean fishing
The only problem for fishermen at the Crescent City Harbor on Wednesday was having enough space at the filet station to clean the bucket-loads of salmon that kept pouring in.
Tom Bunch holds up a 17-pound salmon caught Wednesday outside of the Crescent City Harbor. Del Norte Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
Ziploc bags full of pink dinners were methodically produced by almost any angler lucky enough to get out on the water.
“No farm-raised salmon for us!” exclaimed Alex Zubchonok as he started carving another king salmon.
Last year, sport fishermen launching from Crescent City were granted a generous salmon season, but there was hardly any salmon to catch, Zubchonok said.
Although salmon fishing reports on the North Coast have been good this year, the last few days mark the first time that anything resembling a fleet of fishing boats targeted salmon out of Crescent City in years.
Anglers reported that droves of salmon were caught within one to two miles west of the second buoy Wednesday, and almost every fishermen reported catching the limits of two salmon per person.
Zubchonok’s pole, equipped with a 5-inch apex, triggered the most bites out of the gear on board with him, but the biggest fish of the crew was a 17-pound king salmon caught by Tom Bunch. It was the first fish of the day and the first salmon ever caught in Bunch’s life.
“They’re running right now,” Bunch said. “Now’s the time to go.”
Captain Craig Strickhouser mans the helm of his Tally Ho II charter fishing boat. Del Norte Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
The Tally Ho II charter boat has new owners who were gearing up Wednesday to go salmon fishing today.
Craig and Bonnie Strickhouser have been learning the ropes from previous owners Bob and Goldie Ginocchio, and the boat and business officially switched hands last Friday.
Bonnie already answers the phone with the same, perky “Tally Ho!” that Goldie Ginocchio has honed over the years.
Craig Strickhouser was a charter fishing boat skipper throughout the ’80s in Long Beach and Oceanside before he moved to Crescent City to work a more profitable job at Pelican Bay State Prison.
“I had to decide if I wanted to eat or drive boats,” he said.
After 22 years at the prison, Strickhouser’s ready to “go back to what I love,” he said. “I needed something to do to keep me out of trouble.”
Operating a charter business out of Crescent City was enticing for the Strickhousers because there is far less fishing pressure here than they are used to in Southern California.
“This area is almost like being back in time 50 years as far as the fishing resources,” he said.
The Tally Ho’s phone number hasn’t changed (707-464-1236) and the Strickhousers are ready to go fishing.
The salmon bite has slowed down just slightly out of Eureka. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the bite simultaneously picked up in Crescent City.
Gary Blasi of Full Throttle Sport Fishing said the salmon near Eureka are in deeper waters, contrary to most of the season thus far when they’ve been found in shallow waters.
The Reel Steel charter boat caught three halibut Wednesday, including a 52 pounder, by heading straight out from the Eureka harbor, said Sherry Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing.
Rockfish and lingcod fishing near Brookings-Harbor have been phenomenal, according to Tidewind Sportfishing.
On Wednesday, the crew netted 22 lingcod fishing with 12 people.
Catching a limit of 10 rockfish per person is a cinch, most commonly accomplished with black snappers.
The case of the mysteriously missing Klamath River spring salmon continues on the lower river, but steelhead trout are showing up early, according to fishing guide Steve Huber.
The steelhead have arrived about three weeks earlier than usual, a great sign of a strong summer steelhead season to come, Huber said.
Spring salmon reports on the Klamath have been holding steady at zero to three fish per day.
“The bite’s been in the morning and evening if at all,” Huber said. “It's nothing to write home about, but there's nothing like the taste of a springer too.”
Fishing report for the lower Rogue River from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife:
“Water conditions continue to be excellent for late season spring chinook fishing and anglers are being rewarded with 1 to 3 fish per boat. Bank anglers are not fairing as good, but are picking up the occasional fish. Anglers have not started trolling the bay because fishing up river has been so good. As water temperatures begin to climb, anglers will want to move to the Rogue Estuary and start looking for those first fall chinook.
“Summer steelhead have been moving up river, but there is very little fishing pressure. Most of the steelhead are being caught by spring chinook anglers.
“The surf perch bite in the lower Rogue Bay has slowed. Perch fishing should pick up when the weather warm ups. Most of the fishing pressure is on the south side where a sand spit has formed and provides great bank access.”
Larger salmon have accompanied fishermen pulling their boats into Shelter Cover, according to Russ Thomas of Mario’s Marina.
Several 30- to 20-pound king salmon were caught over the weekend, and more people are reeling in halibut as well.
Anglers who targeted tuna came back empty-handed, Thomas said.
Tally Ho Sportfishing at 707-464-1236; Full Throttle Sportfishing at 707-498-7473; Reel Steel Sportfishing at 707-499-4925; Tidewind Sportfishing at 541-469-0337; Steve Huber Guide Service at 530-623-1918.