Where could this take place you say, why right here in California, in the tiny hidden port of Shelter Cove in Humboldt County. I have driven up Highway 101 to Humboldt County perhaps two hundred times in the past 30 years, counting the four years I attended Humboldt State University and the numerous times I have traveled back to visit friends. In this time, I spend extensive time exploring all the port towns on the West Coast of northern California and Oregon. I passed up the turnoff to Shelter Cove every time until last summer when I went to a family reunion there. They say once you make the commitment to drive the 23 winding miles to Shelter Cove, you will always come back – sure enough, this year I couldn’t wait to come back. After the past few days, it won’t be the last time, for sure. You may read elsewhere in this issue about my three consecutive skunks, trust me – redemption has arrived in the form of Shelter Cove Sport fishing

The Origin of Shelter Cove Sport fishing –

Shelter Cove has long been a stopover for the discriminating private boater and the commercial fisherman. Captain Trent Slate of Shelter Cove Sport fishing saw the pristine waters of Shelter Cove six years ago while looking for a place to relocate on the north coast. Trent started off his fishing career as one of Keith Fraser’s “Shiner Patrol” members at the Loch Lomond Marina as a young boy. You can find a picture of the young Captain Trent with a 30 pound striper in Fraser’s manual on sturgeon fishing. From there, Trent started as a deckhand on the New Keesa when the regular deckhand didn’t show up for work. Trent worked on numerous sport and commercial fishing vessels in the Bay, including the Bass Tub, Happy Hooker and the Butchie B. His exposure to legendary Bay area fishing captains such as Jim Smith and Captain Phil whetted his appetite for making his own mark. He is one of those rare people who instinctively understand the nuances of reading the water, finding the fish and understanding what they want.

Gorda Rockfish – They are Huge!!

On Friday, June 18th the ocean laid down like a mirror and we boarded Trent’s 27 foot World Class Cat Center Console for the fast and comfortable run north to the 40/10 line for rock fishing, yes that’s right, rock fishing. The ride was comfortable and the view was spectacular, if you can imagine a section of coast without roads and only three solitary buildings. On the ride up we were treated to some whale and porpoise watching. When we dropped down for fishing, I hooked up with my first fish – when I brought the fish to the surface, I was treated to the largest black rockfish I have ever seen –the crew was not as impressed as I was as the best was yet to come. Meanwhile, Trent’s uncle, Chris Wager of Fairfax was busy on the other side of the boat putting the rock in rock fishing. As I snagged up also, I changed over to a swim bait to keep off the bottom – the current was ripping and the water was dark and according to Trent, the fishing was slow – I thought the fishing was amazing! – We were picking up a steady number of rockfish with the largest grade I have ever seen. Trent stated that one drift can produce up to 100 rockfish on a good day. We moved to a couple of spots and continued with huge blacks, vermilions, gophers and chinas. I didn’t realize these fish got so large – this was a graphic example of what the entire California coast used to be before commercial, sport fishing and habitat destruction have taken their toll.

Our original plan was to get quick limits of rockfish and lings and then move up the coast to try for Pacific halibut – as I said, this is an incredible fishery. As the water slowed down, the bite picked up and we got full limits of huge rockfish and lings to 26 pounds for eight people before heading in to pull crab pots south of the harbor – yes that’s right, crabs too. After pulling the pots, my ice chest was getting very happy. In addition to locating and understanding where the fish are, Captain Trent can fillet a fish with the best.

Albacore Fever Delayed– we had to settle for limits of salmon

I didn’t think this could be topped but Trent invited me to stay another day to run offshore for the first albacore trip of the year. I’m not the smartest guy but I knew not to pass up this opportunity. As I was taking a nap in the camper in the afternoon, I heard two young fishermen next to me comment about Trent as he left the camper – these young fishermen spoke of Trent in reverential tones, “Everything I learned about albacore, I learned from him, he knows how to find the fish”. In fact, in the midst of an incredible salmon, rockfish and halibut fishery, the mention of albacore froths up the blood in Shelter Cove’s fleet, Trent is no exemption.

Once again, on Saturday we launched from the harbor to glassy conditions. On the run out to warm water, Trent spotted acres of birds about five miles out of the harbor. Salmon were boiling, yes boiling, on the surface around the boat, chasing short belly rockfish – we dropped down trolled and mooched and limited to 30 pounds with an outstanding grade of king salmon. Uncle Chris recovered from his rock fishing experience and had the hot stick – his buddy Matt Smart of Rodeo pulled in the 30 pounder. Once again, we pulled crab pots to full limits on the way home. After filleting the fish, Trent was going to dive from shore for some abalone – Yes, I repeat, this is an incredible fishery.

Shelter Cove Sport fishing maintains an excellent website at http://www.codking.com/ and you can reach Captain Trent at info@codking.com via email or (707) 923-1668. This trip is only for the committed and rabid angler only because once you fish there, expect to come back as often as possible. I know I will – see you there!


Good show this morning - I tried to get on with a report about my past two days in Shelter Cove - I understand that you have to keep things local but here is what happened - by the way, Trent Slate is a former deckhand on the Butchie B and was a member of Keith Fraser's Shiner Patrol as a kid.

I just got back from an incredible two days of fishing with Trent Slate of Shelter Cove Sportfishing - on Thursday we ran up to Gorda and got full limits of huge, I mean huge, black and vermilion rockfish and lings up to 26 pounds for six people. On the way back we got nine crabs apiece - Yesterday, with the ocean once again looking like a lake we were going to run out to search for warm water and albacore - instead Trent found a large school of salmon boiling, that's right, boiling on the surface chasing bait -we dropped them down and limited to 30 pounds with an awesome grade of fish - once again on the way back in we pulled the crab pots and got full limits of 10 - I ventured to Shelter Cove to write a story for an upcoming issue of the Rabid Angler - I was amazed - the combination of a skipper who absolutely loves to fish and the most pristine section of coastline remaining in California and perhaps the West Coast is an unbeatable combination - this is a truly unreal fishing experience.
Thanks, Dave "Hurldog " Hurley