California Ocean Fishing Fun: Humboldt Sportfishing

King salmon and Pacific halibut

If you’re interested in ocean fishing I’ve got a recommendation for you. My wife Pam and I just returned from a very excellent two days of fishing with Humboldt Sportfishing in Eureka, California and we had a blast. Here are the details.

We opted for two days of halibut and salmon fishing, but other options available include rockfish and tuna fishing. Halibut and rockfish are the mainstays. Halibut season varies but usually starts around the first part of May. Rockfish fishing is usually available about then also. Those two fisheries are very friendly to anglers, and limits are common. We easily limited with halibut on both days. The limit for halibut is one per day per person, but many are good sized (20 pounds plus). There are a few smaller chickens around, too. It’s the luck of the draw, and that’s why we opted for two days. Salmon season varies as does the bite. We caught a couple and were happy because the bite was slow while we were there. Rock fishing is super, although we didn’t opt for that on this trip, but it gets rave reviews from everyone who tries that option. The tuna bite is later in the summer, usually beginning in late August. I recommend the halibut-rockfish trip if you really want to fill the freezer. For the tuna and salmon bite, you should call and get updated information before chartering. We brought home plenty of tasty fillets on this trip (well worth our time and energy).

On the halibut fishing grounds

Contact information for Humboldt Sportfishing charters is best done by phone. Call Captain Reef Twibell at (707) 496 7899. You can also look up Humboldt Sportfishing in Eureka, California on the web and on Facebook. Be sure to check out his website – it has all the information you’ll need to book a charter. Expect to pay $200-$250 per person per day, except for tuna charters which cost more because of the extra time and gas involved. On a normal charter you’ll be on the water for up to 8 hours unless you limit early.

Captain Reef onboard the Tahina II

Reef’s boat is called the Tahina II. It’s a 2013, 25-foot, deep-V-hulled Parker outfitted with a 300 horsepower Yamaha outboard plus an extra 9 HP kicker if needed. It has all the other essential equipment such as radio, bait tank, flush toilet, etc., and there is a small heated cabin. The boat holds up to 6 people but if you charter at least 4 persons, you get the whole boat for the day. All fishing equipment and bait are included in the price, and Reef will also fillet your catch and package it in ziplocks. Bring your own food and drinks, and of course, a valid California fishing license is required. Call or check the web for more details.

The skipper, Reef, is a big, likable guy who goes way out of his way to see that you are comfortable. He’s also extremely helpful with the fishing. Reef is a local whose father was a commercial fisherman. He’s full of energy and enthusiasm and will keep you entertained with local stories during transit times. The boat is a good one, the gear is excellent, and Reef is a very knowledgeable and capable fisherman. I would fish with him again in an instant, he’s one of the good ones. So, if you’re going to be in the area and want to go ocean fishing, give Humboldt Sportfishing a try, I think you’ll like the results, I know we did.

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Fishing is going to be a little different around the Mammoth Lakes area this year. After all the snowfall this last winter, the season is going to be late starting, figure at least three weeks. We were camped at the New Shady Rest campground near the end of June expecting to fish all the usual early spots where we’ve had luck during many past years. Surprise!

Snow covered road beyond Mammoth Lodge

The road above Mammoth Lodge was still covered with snow, so no fishing down in the San Joaquin River gorge for now. Also forget about hiking to most of the upper lakes unless you want to wade through lots of snow. Those areas should be open later in the season though, and the fishing should be excellent when you are able to gain access. Think mid to late July, and check the reports from all the other usual sources for up-to-date information.

Rush Creek on the June Lake Loop

All of the areas along the June Lake loop were open, and the Twin Lakes loop was open too, with the snow there melting fast. Mammoth Creek is fishable, but the water is running high and fast.

The Owens River was its usual self – lots of fish but they were mostly on the small side for this time of the year. We did have a fun fishing buddy on the Owens River this year – a bald eagle flying overhead trying his luck on the river.

Fishing pressure in most of these areas was heavy while we were there, probably because of the restricted access to waters in most of the back country. Still, these are great places to drop a line, as always. Those were the only places we visited during this short trip, but I think you can expect similar conditions throughout the rest of the Sierras, so plan accordingly.


Many of the higher elevation campgrounds were not open as of this time, including all of those above Twin Lakes. They are still covered with lots of snow and there is restricted road access. Both Shady Rest Campgrounds are open and running, but because of the closures of many of the other area campgrounds, sites are at a premium, and unless you have reservations, you are not likely to find any last-minute openings.

Camping in our Roadtrek at Brown’s Owens River Campground

There is an excellent alternative campground we’d like to recommend for your consideration:  Brown’s Owens River Campground. It usually has sites available, especially during midweek. You can also make reservations in advance should you choose to do so. We tried it out for the first time, and we were quite pleased with the accommodations. Brown’s Owens River Campground is located along the banks of the Owens River just across the bridge on Benton Crossing Road about 5.3 miles off Highway 395. The Benton Crossing Road turnoff is immediately south of the Mammoth Airport on Highway 395.

Brown’s is open from late April until late September, and you can call them for reservations or information at (760) 920 0975. The campground is large with sites for both RV and tent camping. The entrance is via a smooth dirt road, and most campsites are covered with rough grass, so there is very little blowing dust. The office is open from 8am until 5pm, and there is a small store there where you can buy a limited supply of basic items such as milk, hot dogs, worms and beer. Everything else you should bring with you. They advertise that they have a small restaurant, but that was closed while we were there. They have free restrooms, hot showers for $2 per seven minutes (if you are camped there – $6 if you are not camped there), and laundry facilities, all of which are in a ‘bath house’ that are clean and well maintained. There are also clean outhouse-type restrooms and trash cans strategically located throughout the campground. Because Brown’s is on the river you can fish right in front of the campground, but I would suggest working downriver where the angling pressure isn’t so great. The area upriver (above the Benton Crossing Bridge) has special regulations you should consult before trying your luck there.

The evening view of the snowy eastern Sierra Nevada from Brown’s Owens River Campground

As the campground is on the river, there were a few mosquitos in the early am and late pm hours, but nothing a little Deet couldn’t handle. The breeze that often comes up in the afternoon blows all the flying critters away, too. And you can’t beat the view of the surrounding eastern Sierra Nevada mountains, especially when they are still sporting a covering of snow. All-in-all this spot is pleasant, provides reasonable accommodations, and is located alongside one of my favorite fishing areas. It’s less than half an hour from Mammoth, it’s clean, it’s quiet, and it satisfies most of a camper/fisherman’s basic needs. We will go back there again, and I think that once you try it, you’ll like it, and maybe go back again, too.

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Yellowstone National Park – 2018

This August we went back to Yellowstone National Park for our third time, and if you’ve never been there, you should put it on your bucket list, you won’t be disappointed. Instead of tent camping on this trip, we traveled in our small Roadtrek camper van which made things considerably easier for us. No setting up or taking down a tent for a change, but the rest of the experience wasn’t much different than before – it was as wonderful as ever.

Our Roadtrek Simplicity SRT at Grant Village Campground

We stayed at Grant Village again, a campsite that is centrally located and very convenient for day excursions. You can reserve a space, but all campsites are distributed by the park service when you arrive, and you cannot reserve specific sites in advance. Grant has a gas station, a store with a small quick-lunch counter, great free showers for camping guests, clean restrooms, and nice campsites. There is also a full-service restaurant there if the tasty burgers in the store’s restaurant don’t appeal to you. Although many campsites are close to each other, most of them allow enough room for setting up the necessities, and still give you some evening privacy.

Old Faithful draws big crowds

It seems like you learn something new every time you return to Yellowstone and this trip was no exception. Mid-August is very busy in the park, and parking at most of the major attractions during mid-day can be complicated. We got around that problem by rising early each day, between six and seven am, driving to the area we wanted to visit, securing our parking space, and then having breakfast on site before moving on to the attractions. Visiting later or earlier in the year is recommended, even though the weather can be a problem, especially in late September when it may snow.



A hot spring pool and colorful mats of heat-loving bacteria

Otto and Old Faithful

The morning of our first day was spent taking pictures at the geyser basin around Old Faithful, visiting the Old Faithful Lodge (nice restrooms!), checking out the tourist shops, and reading the information signs to remind us that we were indeed right in the middle of a volcanic caldera. In the afternoon we stopped on the way back to Grant at West Thumb Basin for another geyser walk. Not as spectacular as the Upper geyser basin where Old Faithful is located, but still an interesting walk, and no one seems to stay there for extended periods, so you can usually find parking.

Elk in Hayden Valley


The next day we drove to Hayden Valley, home to the Yellowstone River and several herds of bison, almost guarantying quality pictures of wildlife. There are several other attractions in this area including the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone try (Inspiration Point or Artist Point), and of course the Yellowstone River where ducks, geese, and fishermen can be found. After leaving there, a visit to the area around the Fishing Bridge can round out your day.



The Sapphire Pool at Biscuit Basin

On our third day we drove back past Old Faithful to the Biscuit Basin, which features the Sapphire Pool and Mustard Spring along with a few other colorful geysers.

Pam at Mystic Falls

Mustard Spring and the Sapphire Pool

There is also a nice one-mile-long trail to see Mystic Falls on the Little Firehole River. This easy trail features some of the local flora and very nice views of the falls and the river along the way. There are several other geyser basins in this area, and one can also chose several different trails if you want to stretch your legs a little farther.


A herd of bison in Lamar Valley

A bison in Lamar Valley

Pronghorn antelope

We spent our fourth day in Lamar Valley, and that was one of the best days of the trip. Lamar Valley is located by traveling through Hayden Valley past Canyon Village, over a range of hills on the Grand Loop Road, then down to a right-hand cutoff near the Roosevelt Lodge. You’ll drive through another valley first before reaching the Lamar Valley. We saw herds of bison, antelope, and elk, but we didn’t see the wolves that make this valley their home. Pam thought this place reminded her of the movie Dances with Wolves, and it was tops on our list for viewing wildlife up close and personal.

A bison controlling traffic in the Hayden Valley

There are a large number of well documented trails for hiking in Yellowstone, lots of wildlife, geysers everywhere, and scenic grandeurs galore. This is our country’s first National Park, and it remains one of the best to visit. One word of caution, however: tourists can be crazy. They will stop and park in the middle of the road to jump out and take a picture, relentlessly pursuing wildlife in all forms. Defensive driving is a must, and if you get stuck briefly in traffic, just relax and join the crowd. Very few people seem to be in any hurry here, and that’s not all bad when you think about it. We highly recommend Yellowstone for a trip, its right there near the top of our list.

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