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News arrow News arrow Sports arrow Cabezon season opens, salmon in KMZ ports­

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Cabezon season opens, salmon in KMZ ports­

Jessica Pearson and Kevin Pearson, both from Redding, California slew the fatted Chinook on Wednesday while fishing with Jim Bithell of Charthouse Sportfishing.

Cabezon aficionados were in seventh heaven last week when the season opened last Tuesday, July 1, with plenty of large cabbies being filleted at the Port of Brookings Harbor’s cleaning station.

I have a lot of cabezon stories, all of which are pretty boring, so one day I swore to myself that I would never tell another cabezon fable again as long as I lived.

On this one day while I was fishing in the kelp beds, a dead cabezon floated by that looked like it might have just met its maker. Looking like it was fresh dead and easily over 10 pounds, a fellow fishermen found nothing wrong with making the comment, “How’d you like to take that beast home for dinner?”

Another compadre on board quickly quipped, “Do you know what it takes to kill a cabezon?”

That last comment was pretty much right on, since cabezon are harder to kill than a catfish, and they’re almost always the last fish to stop quivering at the fillet tables.

The limit is one cabezon per day, and it is considered part of the seven-fish daily groundfish bag limit, not including the two-lingcod limit.

Chinook averaging between 15 and 25 pounds, and coho salmon averaging between 6 and 10 pounds were caught in the ocean out of the Port of Brookings Harbor last week.

There are numerous Chinook hotspots, but folks regularly caught their kings 6 miles out of port in 240 feet of water off of Bird Island. Other anglers found their salmon near the California/Oregon border in 200 feet of water.

While anglers continue to find action by putting their bait 80 to 100 feet off of their downriggers, many anglers claimed to have caught their fish 50 feet on-the-wire last week.

In addition to the Port of Brookings Harbor, Crescent City Harbor also had a flurry of activity as well, with many anglers limiting out on Chinook.

I fished with a friend on Thursday out of Crescent City Harbor and caught a nice Chinook that weighed exactly 22 pounds, but I assure you that by tomorrow it will have gained another pound. Next week? — Who knows!

The action out of Crescent City occurred as close to port as the second red can, while we caught our fish approximately 3 miles out to sea in about 150 feet of water.

Whether you’re fishing out of Brookings or Crescent City, remember the saying, “If you find a slick, that’s the trick.” More salmon are caught in these isolated glassy-water areas that are amidst more active water. Usually within slicks you’ll find birds. Where you find birds, you’ll find bait, and where you find bait, you’ll find salmon. So slicks are, well, pretty slick!

The same things that work in Oregon will work in California. So you can’t go wrong by trolling a 4-ounce Delta Diver in chrome/chartreuse, followed by some sort of dodger and then a 36-inch leader ending up with an anchovy pinned to the hooks. I caught my largest Chinook on 70 pulls, which is approximately 140 feet of line off of the reel. If you have a line-counter reel, you could conceivably just let out your rig 140 feet, but I think it’s much better luck to let out your line manually by using the pull method.

I am absolutely amazed at the size of some of these hatchery coho that are being caught. I caught and released one that would have easily tipped the scales at 10 or possibly even 11 pounds.

But even as good as the salmon fishing has been out of Brookings and Crescent City, the hot port in the Klamath Management Zone has been Eureka, where anglers have been trailering their boats for some wicked-white-hot salmon action.

“We’ve had 21 days of perfect fishing conditions and they were all 40-minute limits,” said Gary Blasi from Full Throttle Sportfishing out of Humboldt Bay.

Tight lines! 

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