King Salmon – Shelter Cove to Humboldt Bay
After an epic trip many weeks ago, I’ve had chrome on my mind –All the time!
This was the last shot of the season up north and I had to give it one more shot.
I sent out a flier to some friends to gauge their interest for a three-day trip. Some said yes, some said no, but I got one client willing to give it a go.
We decided to meet up half way at Santa Rosa and caravan up over night. After a quick stop at the local safeway, where college kids were making their midnight beer runs, we headed to the promise land. T- Minus 5 hours.
Day1 (Give me Shelter): We arrived at daybreak and unloaded the yaks. The flag at the campground as blowing steadily and the outside waters were sheeping, although the inside was calm. Crazy and I made our way to pt. Delgado in search for life. There was bait floating on the surface so we were hopeful.
Hope eventually became despair as the Lingcod’s raked the bait and the kayaks got beat down by the swells and wind. We called it quits by 1 p.m. , unwilling to withstand the beatings for sea dragons.
Camping at Burlington Campgrounds:
We packed the car and decided to drive to Burlington campgrounds in Humboldt; one of the most scenic campgrounds in the state. (IMHO).
We managed to snag a site (on labor day weekend without a reservation), so things were starting to look up. We made camp, drank a few beers and got some rest after a long drive and snotty fishing.
Day 2 (Humboldt Bay)
We left the campgrounds in the dark and drove to King Salmon beach in Eureka. The sun was coming over the horizon and the clouds were pushing south to a light breeze. The gulls were clamoring for some life but the bay was still slumbering. We unpacked and hulled our yaks to the beach. The tide pushed us outside the safety of the bay where ominous waves and wind battered the boats.
The fish finder marked arches up and down the water column with scattered bait moving in 30 ft of water.
“Jon, you seeing arches? ”
“Yeah, they are on the bottom, but I see some at 25-30ft too”
“Damn…I hope it’s fish.”
There were no boats in the vicinity and I was questioning the call to move to Humboldt bay. when suddenly my rod tips loads ups and erratically bounces in the direction of the attacking fish. I quickly reel in the line to set the hook and get her to surface.
CHROME!! (12 lbs)
I frantically reeled back line when a large swell pushes my line down and POP! The hook drops off!! ARgH!
“Well at least they are around”, I radioed Crazy half-heartedly.
“You lost it?”
“Yup hook popped off”, I signed.
By 10 a.m. Crazy spots a group of diving birds in the distance working a ball of stressed out bait and radios me that he’s going to check it out.
“Keith. Yeah, there is bait here, and I see arches around them”
“Cool. Keep working that area, I’m going to work this area here.”
Ten minutes pass and from the corner of my eye I see a hit on my rod tip. It taps taps taps before going full bendo. I grab the pole and feel the fish fighting the line and swells. I get her to surface and see a smaller 8 lb chrome working to spit my hook. I get her closer and another swell pushes her back and pops the hook!! WTF!?
I was pissed. NO, I was pissed!!
I radioed Crazy that I lost another fish at the boat, and was little ashamed of myself. Well a lot ashamed! Losing two fish on the same trip is simply put– embarrassing.
The action slowed down after the feeding frenzy as the swells and wind became bigger. We rode the incoming tide into the bay, and as a testament to the day, or a swift kick to the balls, Crazy gets a big take down on the drift back, and misses the hook set. I started to worry it was trending the wrong way.
Day 3 (Righting the ship captain! Humboldt Bay)
We pulled to calm waters inside the bay as the sun was coming over the horizon.
The water was a light murkey green color, and the temperature was chilly 54 degrees – Perfect salmon waters.
We rolled our kayaks down the sandy hill and got swept out with the outgoing tide. I trolled along the north jetty wall not expecting much action until we reached the outside. However, from the distance I noticed a school of birds working a pod of anchovies. The gulls pecked the surface of the water awaiting the frantic bait jumping from below to escape whatever was below.
“Jon, you see that?”, I radioed
“What?” Jon radioed back
“The chovies!!! look they are jumping like crazy. I think something is chasing them. Work that bait and try to pull some up,” I clamored over the radio
Jon rushes the bait ball while I engaged the outside.
Suddenly, my rod tips loads up and goes bendo. It twitches and jerks frantically.
“Fish on!”, I radioed Crazy
This fish rips off 30 ft of line before I had a chance to handle it. It runs under the boat lifting my rod vertical as I try not to horse it or pull the hook. Suddenly it changes direction and heads towards the bow and tangles with the keel guard!!
My heart braces for the line to snap as the braid rubs against the bow.
From the corner of my thoughts Aaron Rodgers yells his champion caliber phrase.
“It’s the Fourth Quarter Keith, Get it together champ!!!”
I get the fish off the keel guard and work it steadily to the boat.
After a few more blistering runs and two failed net attempts it come home!
“One on the boat” I radio crazy.
I bleed the fish and get it strung up.
The bait thinned out and the arches disappeared. We worked the outside and inside but nothing much happened. We rode the incoming to the launch and called it a trip.
Hey 15 lbs of chrome, I’ll take it!
We packed the cars and looked back and took the 101 south exit. The drive home is always easier with fish in the box. The season ended the way it started –Strong and hopeful. The north coast never cease to disappoint and fishing its bounties is a gift granted to the few and dedicated.—The lost anchovy