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BYOB - Bring your own bucket for massive herring haul

 Fishing report for 

February 17-23

Herring, rockfish, lingcod on tap – first Rogue springer of the year

It happens every year sometime in February – you can set your watch to it. Tens of thousands of Pacific herring come into Crescent City Harbor to spawn, and this year was exceptional.

 

 It was B.Y.O.B. (bring your own bucket) for anglers from both Crescent City and Brookings. Some were casting the traditional Sabiki Rigs while others were going for the bigger hauls and tossing out large cast nets.

This is a fun family fishery where everyone can participate. Anglers from 7 to 70 were hauling in herring hand over fist. Some were planning on canning their catch while others were filling their freezers with the best lingcod bait that Mother Nature naturally provides.

On Thursday, herring packed the harbor like sardines. Anglers who concentrate fishing two hours before high tide, through high slack, and about an hour after the tide recedes will have the best luck. But even anglers who were fishing the minus tide caught a few herring as well.

These are some of the largest herring I have seen in years. They are definitely going to make some great lingcod bait – even halibut bait for later in the season!

So how much longer will the herring be entering Crescent City? Usually the run is over and done with by the middle of February, but this has been a late run, so I suspect that there might be a few more herring left to catch today, and possibly even into next week.

The two main questions that people are asking are – Do you need a fishing license to jig for herring, and, where do you go exactly to jig for them?

There are two places where you can fish for herring without a fishing license. The first spot is at the B Street Pier, and the second spot is at the Citizens Dock. Both areas are located at opposite ends of Crescent City Harbor.

To get to the B Street Pier from Brookings, head south on Highway 101 until you get to the town of Crescent City. When you reach Front Street, hang a right. When you get to B Street, hang a left and the street will come to a dead end at a parking lot near the beginning of the pier.

Remember, no fishing license is required to fish or crab from this dock. Although the herring fishing has not been wide open here, you might want to consider bringing your pots, rings or your favorite Pineapple butterfly trap. When I left the pier early Thursday afternoon, two gentlemen were also leaving with 14 well-filled-out Dungeness crab.

In this section of California, the minimum length for Dungeness crab is 5 3/4 inches, as measured from the inside of the points. The daily bag limit is 10 Dungeness crab, and you are also allowed to retain both males and females, as opposed to Oregon, which only allows the retention of male Dungeness crab.

The other free fishing zone for sport fishermen is at the Citizens Dock, which is at the southern end of the harbor. To get to the Citizens dock from Brookings, head south on Highway 101. When you get to the town of Crescent City, hang a right on Citizens Dock Road. The road will take you to the Citizens Dock sign.

You can crab or jig for herring from the Citizens Dock proper without a fishing license, but most people have been catching their herring on the docks just before getting to the actual Citizens Dock. You are required to have a valid California fishing license if you are crabbing or jigging for herring in any dock other than the Citizens Dock or the B Street Pier.

You will also pass Englund Marine on the way to the Citizens Dock. Englund has every piece of tackle imaginable – and then some. But try and bring all your gear you will need in case they are closed.

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Anglers who were able to find some flat seas also nailed some nice black rockfish, kelp greenling and lingcod. From this point forward, you will have to check the National Weather Service reports on a daily basis to ensure that your outing will be safe and sane.

Sometimes the NWS weather predictions are less than 100-percent accurate for this little nook in front of the Port of Brookings Harbor, mainly because this area is often sheltered by Chetco Point. But to be on the safe side, use the National Weather Service forecasts in combination with the National Cowboy Weather Station.

You can construct your own Cowboy Weather Station for only a few dollars. You will need two items: a 2-foot piece of rope, and beam from which to hang it. The beam is usually connected to a post in an open area that is free from the constraints of trees, hills, buildings and other obstructions.

Simply nail one end of the rope to the beam and you’re good to go. This is how to effectively interpret the data from the Cowboy Weather Station.

If the rope is wiggling – it’s windy. If it is wet – it is raining. If the rope is stiff – the temperature is below freezing.

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Start shining up your favorite spinner blades. As was predicted in last week’s column, the first Rogue spring Chinook of the year has been caught. Ordinarily the first springer is usually caught during the first week of March, but this year's catch was extraordinarily early.

“We got in on Monday, February 20,” says guide Rick Howard from Rick Howard Guide Service (www.howard5.net). 

Howard continued, “The water was low and clear, and we didn’t expect to get one, but we put an anchovy on anyway. At 10 o’'clock the thing hit, ran 260 feet and blew water twice before we could pick up anchor.”

When the battle was over, Howard’s 25-pound hatchery springer met the sweet spot of a miniature Louisville Slugger.

So make sure your reels are spooled with fresh line. The springers have arrived.

Tight lines!

 

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