Fishermen reeling in salmon weighing up to 30 pounds recently
From Shelter Cove to Crescent City, the lingcod bite is furious.
Ocean salmon fishing seems to be fulfilling this year's prophecy of abundance, but Klamath River spring salmon aren't as hot as usual for mid-May.
Crescent City rockfish
Calm waters off of Crescent City's coast on Sunday afternoon enticed fishing guide Jim Mitchell to give it a go.
He spoke to ocean anglers returning to port who didn't have good reports.
"There's just too much bait fish out there" was the reason for not
finding fish that they told Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips.
Still, heading north from the harbor, Mitchell's group had better luck.
"We were in action from the get-go," he said. "Lingcods were just on fire!"
After catching their limit of lingcod (two per person with a minimum
length of 22 inches) the group tried going for black snappers, but
couldn't avoid getting more lings on the line.
Mitchell was reeling in a black snapper when the line suddenly got
heavier. A 15-pound lingcod had bit his snapper, "piggy-backing" to the
In addition to the snappers and lingcod, the group also landed five
cabezons and a vermillion rockfish. Mitchell noted that vermillions can
be distinguished from yelloweye rockfish by their rough chin.
On a calm day, Mitchell was using 4-ounce jigs with a rubber scampi
or rubber anchovy, bouncing off the bottom in depths around 70 to 80
If your line isn't straight up and down, you're not using enough weight, he said.
For scent, he uses homemade anchovy smell on the rubber baits. If he gets his hands on octopus, that's his favorite bait.
"I get excited when I see a lingcod puke up an octopus. I'll put it on my hook and drop it back down," he said.
Reel Steel Sport Fishing, based in Eureka, has been putting customers
on salmon, sometimes getting off the water after catching their limits
early in the morning.
On Monday, Tim Klassen's group got its limit by 9 a.m., and Tuesday
it was off the water with limits by 7:45 a.m. after fighting through
some double hookups.
Klassen had clients who were out on the ocean for the first time and
got tangled up during the double hookup, but they were still able to
land both fish.
The salmon coming in are "cookie cutter" size, around 10 to 12 pounds.
After two short, productive trips at sea, Wednesday proved much
different, taking all day to get the limit of salmon. Albeit, still
getting the limit.
The Reel Steel crew reported that the lingcod bite is also hot in Humboldt.
Birthday surprise in Cove
Last week, Suzie Fox, of Shelter Cove, caught a 34-pound salmon on
her birthday, the largest chinook hauled into that port this season,
according to Russ Thomas of Mario's Marina.
Thomas said there's also been a handful of 20- to 30-pound salmon caught recently.
"Looks like big salmon are moving in," he said.
Just like reports farther north, Thomas said that "lingcod are thick."
Also in the cove, rock cod has been good, the surfperch bite is
slowing down and halibut are hardly being caught at all, Thomas said.
The spring run of Klamath chinook hasn't been biting in droves like it typically does in mid-May, but several boats have tried.
"The river's relatively high, but very fishable," said fishing guide
Mike Coopman. "It just doesn't seem like they're here in big numbers as
Fishing tip of the week
Once your lead jigs get dull, fishing guide Jim Mitchell said, "I
will hit them with a wire brush so they are shiny again. I will also use
reflective tape on them."
Fishing guide contacts: Jim Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips at
707-464-8482; Reel Steel Sport Fishing at 707-499-4925; Mike Coopman's
Guide Service can be reached at 707-465-1367.
Reach Adam Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org.