By Larry Ellis
Pilot staff writer
First experiences are imprinted on our minds forever.
Hip hip hooray! The sweet sound of electric fillet knives and the broad smiles from anglers grinning ear-to-ear are again filling the Brookings fillet station. Last week, for five days in a row, the parking lot at Sporthaven was filled with empty boat trailers, and by the way things are shaping up, it looks like we're going to have a lot more weeks like this to come.
So I hereby declare last week the official start of the Port of Brooking Harbor sportfishing rockfish and lingcod season. Next week is calling for showers, so the days you can get out may be few and far between, but from now on there will be more extended rockfishing periods like last week coming and going hopefully coming.
Last week, the seas were often as flat-calm as a sheet of liquid mercury, enabling anglers to either limit out quicker or extend their stay on the ocean for longer periods of time.
I received a lot of phone calls and emails from people who caught some very big vermilion. We're talking vermilion rockfish over 10 pounds and lots of 'em.
There were days when black rockfish dominated the creels, and other days when only exotic fishes could be caught, without a black in sight.
That's why I love bottomfishing so much. You never know what you're going to pull up.
One of the most pleasant experiences this week was being at the cleaning station when Tom Hansen of Aces II had just got in from taking three kids fishing. I think it might have been one of their first experiences on the ocean and at catching fish. Those are two "first experiences" that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
The adrenaline rush of suddenly being on the Pacific is something nobody can explain. And that first fish you reel in is even more exhilarating. I was thinking, with all the marine reserves being proposed, that's going to take away from a lot of people's first experiences, the most important kind too. The kind that keeps a person off the streets and develops close interpersonal relationships as well as good, clean fun.
I wouldn't deprive those first experiences from anyone. So, that's my 2 cents on marine reserves. I have faith in ODFW and the research that they have done on rockfish. What they have done was educate other people and give them the ammunition to fight for their own cause. I mean, through ODFW's well-thought-out regulations, the lingcod population is now back. Remember when we couldn't catch them at all, or when there was a slot limit?
I don't care for the marine reserves people suddenly saying, "Gee, thanks for all your hard work, and for bringing back the lingcod population. We'll take it from here."
This is my own personal opinion, but I believe marine reserves are a slap in the face to the people like ODFW's Dr. Steve Parker, who, by the way, pioneered the original studies into rockfish barotrauma. Thanks to his efforts and to people like Patty Burke and Don Bodenmiller, black rockfish population is also making a comeback.
There used to be a guy named Gaddabout Gaddis, who had a T.V. show called "Gaddabout Gaddis, The Flying Fisherman". I always told myself, if I grow up, I want to be just like good ol' Gaddabout. In a way I got my dream.
I don't fly around from lake to lake like he did, but I get to write about it and live through other person's experiences. Call it selfish, but I want to continue seeing the sparkle in a kid's eyes when he or she experiences their first fish.
In a way I think I already have a pretty good show already. I call it, "Larry Ellis, The Vicarious Fisherman".
Next week, 10-acre Libby Pond will be stocked with 667 legal-size rainbow trout. The exact date of the trout liberation is always unknown, but it will occur sometime between April 7 and April 11. ODFW doesn't release the precise date to everyone ahead of time because if they did, everyone would be swarming around the hatchery truck.
But if you're fortunate enough to be there when the hatchery truck arrives, you can have some serious light's out fishing throwing a gold Super Duper.
As far as spinners go, a number 0 Mepps, Panther Martins or Blue Foxes all work in this waterbody. Spoons like Little Cleos, Krocodiles and Kastmasters will also catch these trout.
If you get there the time the truck dumps the fish in the lake, a limit of trout is a given in less than 20 minutes. Later that day or the next morning is the second best time to hook into these hatchery bows.
If you're a bait fisherman, then either using rainbow PowerBait, or that new Gulp! Trout Bait in the color rainbow candy should be a good choice used on a sliding sinker rig. Then again, nothing beats an old trusty nightcrawler.
Spring Chinook have been biting from the lower Rogue all the way up to Agness. The action is still on the slow side, but it's not because there are no fish. The water temperature has been in the low 40s and you have to practically hit them on the head in order to get a reaction.
"It's still relatively slow but we're getting in the ballpark of four, maybe six fish a day," says Jim Carey from the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach. "The water temperature is still quite cold for us, 47 to 48 (degrees), but we've got a chance of a little bit of rain. It might bring the temperature up to that magic five/O number (50-degrees). If so we'll start seeing better numbers. One guy said he saw five fish go right underneath him."
David Anderson of ultimatesalmonfishing.com had a good day on Monday.
"We landed three at Quosatana," says Anderson. "It was nice because they were all hatchery fish. Two were caught on a spinnerbait with a green/green blade with an anchovy, and I caught the other using a straight anchovy. I got one on Tuesday but we had to release it."