Insider recently had the pleasure of spending time on the water with Captain Matt Dallam of Northwind Charters in Eureka and Captain Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sportfishing, operating out of Shelter Cove. The genuine enthusiasm these guys show for what they do is well — catching!

Captain Dallam's 35-foot boat Fishy Business came here from Massachusetts where it was a commercial lobster boat. Dallam, charming and relaxed in the captain's chair, has a B.S. degree in environmental science and, as he likes to say, "a fishermen's B.S. degree from the Pacific Ocean." Dallam works closely with Humboldt State University and the California Department of Fish and Game, and possesses a wealth of knowledge about area marine life. We caught our limit of salmon (less the wily one that slipped off my hook) and had a great day with the captain and his guests.

Captain Jake Mitchell is a third-generation fisherman and has been on the ocean since he was 5. Mitchell knows every inch of fishing waters off the coast of Shelter Cove and uses his experience and state-of-the-art electronics onboard to hunt for fish. We fished with the maximum number on board and kept Mitchell busy baiting our hooks. And it paid off, as we pulled up lingcod and rockfish two at a time. As a bonus, Mitchell hauled in his crab pots for us at the end of the day.

Both Northwind Charters and Sea Hawk Sportfishing provide all the gear and bait, clean your catch at the end of the day and can accommodate up to six people. For more information or to book online visit: and

What to bring:

  • A valid California fishing license
  • Food and drink, especially water. If you leave the dock at 6:30 a.m., chances are you'll eat your lunch by 9 a.m., so bring extra snacks. For some reason, out on the water a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a bag of jalapeno potato chips never tasted so good.
  • Your smartphone or camera
  • Sunscreen and lip protection

What to wear:

  • Sunglasses
  • A hat for warmth and sun protection
  • Waterproof boots or fishing pants if you have them.
  • Layers. It's cold early in the morning and some days the sun doesn't show itself at all, some days you can fish in a tee shirt. Be prepared.

Avoid Seasickness:

  • A fishing trip can seem like an eternity if you're nauseated. Even experienced fishermen can suffer on days when the horizon is blanketed by mist or fog. Don't be the one hanging your head over the side.
  • Don't overindulge or stay up too late the night before your trip.
  • Wear an acupressure wristband from your local pharmacy. These are great and reusable. We paired them with a small dose of non-drowsy Dramamine and had no problem in choppy waters.
  • If you're taking over-the-counter anti-emetics such as Dramamine, down it before you board the boat. Be sure to take the anti-drowsy formula or the rocking of the vessel could lull you to sleep.
  • When heading out. keep the wind in your face and your eye on the horizon if possible.
  • Chewing ginger candies or saltines can help. Ginger ale and soda water bubbles soothe, as well.

What's in Season?

  • Salmon: April 4 through November 8 Halibut: May 1-15, June 1-15, July 1-15 and August 1-15
  • Rockfish & Lingcod: May through October
  • Albacore: June through October Crab: November through July
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Lynn Leishman

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