Humboldt Bay offers some excellent opportunities for the fisherman, from clams to shark the bay offers a wide variety of species to pursue. There are also many methods the Bay can be fished from fly fishing to crab nets. Over the spring and summer I will add to this site as I gather more information.
The spring offers the best opportunity to catch Redtail perch. They enter the Bay in March to breed and provide lots of fun for the light tackle enthusiast. On calm days the fly fisherman can also coax them with small flies.
Structure and currents are the two keys to catching perch. Structure type includes rocky banks, docks, piers, boat slips, pilings, and wharfs. The incoming tide is the best time to fish, especially when there is a 3 to 4 foot difference between low and high. Watch for a good minus tide and fish as it starts to turn, the perch will be grabbing food being brought in.
An good spot to fish in Humboldt Bay is near the power plant at King Salmon. Also at the mouth of the Elk River.
Light gear is the funnest way to catch perch ,trout or panfish tackle works fine. If fishing from break waters or rocky banks, where longer casts are needed, a heavier rig may be needed. Size 6 or smaller hooks are needed for the perchs' small mouths. From shore a straight line usually works best, however a bobber may also be used for top to mid water schools. From a boat, one can straight line while anchored or drift the offerings with the current. Baits for perch include pile worms, clams, mussels, sand crabs, grass shrimp, squid strips, and anchovies. Small trout lures and crappie jigs will also work when a school is encountered.
California and Pacific halibut are both found in the waters off Humboldt county. California halibut are the main focus of the Bay fishermen, while these fish can reach a size of 50-75 lbs. The average keeper runs from 8-16 lbs. The Pacific halibut is the monster of the family reaching weights of 400 lbs in Alaskan waters. These fish are generally found outside the Bay.
Halibut fishing is generally in shallow water with sanding bottoms. This offers the shore fishermen a chance for these tasty fish. Piers and break waters located adjacent to sanding bottoms allow one the opportunity for halibut. The best fishing is on an incoming tide, about 2 hours before the high tide being the best. also, the period of slack water at high tide can produce. In Humboldt bay the fishing is best during June, July, and August with halibut starting to show up around April.
Boat fishing is the preferred method for taking halibut, however the shore angler can also be productive.
The biggest key to catching halibut is to remember that they are not a scavenger they are a predator. Therefore if your bait just sits on the bottom, you probably will get skunked. Casting lures and using a slow retrieve is the best method for the shore angler. I have had the best luck with a 4-5 inch Scampi lure with split tail in a dark color.
Boat fishermen have the advantage in taking halibut over shore fishermen, as they do in the pursuit of most fish. Trolling, with a similar rig as non-downrigger salmon trolling, works well when the lure is allowed to bounce the bottom. Drift fishing also works well for halibut.
Bat rays, while not being good table fare, are a blast to catch. In Humboldt bay one can catch these in the 60-100 lb range. The largest caught in California, was 181 lbs.
Bat rays spawn during the early summer, so large concentrations can be found in shallower water during high tide. The incoming tide at night is the best time to fish, as bat rays are nocturnal.
Bat rays large size requires corresponding gear. A good boat rod with a conventional reel loaded with 20-30 lb test is optimal. From shore cast out as far as possible and keep the bait on the bottom with a tight line, set the clicker on the reel, and let the ray run with the bait a while before you set the hook. A sliding sinker rig with a 4/0-6/0 hook, baited with a whole squid is the ticket for bat rays. Also, use a barbless hook, so release of the fish is made easier. These fish are great to catch, but offer little in food value.