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This particular trip has been a long time coming. Ever since I read my first report by Eric, of Loleta Eric’s Guide Service, I’ve been dying to get up to Shelter Cove! Finally everything lined up this past week. I reserved a room at the Tides Inn and made the 5hr+ drive up to the cove in hopes of getting into some nice fish. When I talked to Eric I had expressed my goal of crossing off a new species, hopefully a halibut. Eric was happy to oblige my request and we soon had a plan set.
Once there, I unloaded some of my junk and was able to take in the beauty of the area. The Northern California coast really is breathtaking and the view from room captured much of it. I checked in with Eric, “The Innkeeper” (aka the halibut slayer) and got a quick tour of the place. The hospitality that Eric and his wife showed was far above standard and was pretty much the theme of this trip. I settled into my room while being guarded by one of the locals, Peanut, and Eric went out in search of an ab or two. That night I went to bed early praying the wind would die and hoping the next day would yield some big fish.
Loleta Eric and I had set a 6:30 meet up time at the launch, so I woke up a bit early to get some coffee in me and a little breakfast. Unfortunately, I was hearing sounds that didn’t quite match the waves crashing on shore. The wind was howling! I was worried my trip might not work out as I made the short drive to the launch to wait for Eric. But once he showed up, he assured me that we’d get on the water, it might just be later than what we had planned. It was at this time that Eric kind of surprised me. To clarify things, this was my first guided fishing trip. What surprised me was the detail that Eric went into about the layout of the cove, the safety considerations, and of course about the fishing. From what I’ve been told from friends and family that have done guided trips, was that the guides put them on fish. That’s it! So personally I felt like Eric went above and beyond the typical. Pretty cool I thought! And throughout the day he kept to that theme of making sure I had the best Cove experience as possible.
We ended up waiting to launch around 10:30 or so. The wind was still gusting occasionally, but at least had some calm periods. We started by trolling the cove with bait, hoping for a halibut, maybe even a thresher. Neither came, but I did land a legal lingcod and got the skunk off. The “Innkeeper” joined us just before we started heading towards the outside. Once out, we made our way to the grounds where Eric said I’d have a shot at a variety of species. Along the way I couldn’t help but drop my slug from Branson baits and landed another couple lings. When we made it to the “spot” I dropped my bait down for a slow troll. Soon I had a couple taps and then a hard pull! Fish on! Didn’t feel like a monster but it fought differently than what I’m used to. Got it to the surface and it’s a Rock Sole!! A 20 incher, by no means the size of the “Innkeeper’s” halibuts, but a new species for me and exactly what I wanted to accomplish with this trip. And it was all thanks to Eric! We kept fishing as the water continued to get bumpier. It was pretty rough out there, with the occasional roller breaking. Eric kept an eye on me though and constantly evaluated my status. I ended up catching two nice lings over 30” that I kept for the freezer. We headed in shortly after my second decent ling to fish with the “Innkeeper” who stuck to the inside and was rewarded with two big halibut. I didn’t get my halibut, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying! We ended the day around 5pm and cleaned our fish before my trip back home to Lodi.

Have to say thanks to both Eric’s for all their help and hospitality. For anyone on the fence about making a trip to Shelter Cove, get in contact with these two, and they’ll set you up!
Photo Credit to Eric Stockwell
Loleta Eric’s Guide Service
The Tides Inn at Shelter Cove