Hoot James and his mother Ladena pose with one of the 27-pound albacore they brought into the Port of Brookings Harbor last Saturday. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
Fishing report for
On days when the ocean laid down like a piece of glass, Chinook salmon continued giving anglers plenty of heart-thumping adrenaline rushes. When fishing with Robert Phillips a week ago Thursday, we had our limit by 8:30 a.m. The fishing has been so good that I’ve run out of superlatives.
The ocean started getting nasty the following Friday, with swells between 6 and 8 feet and winds over 15 knots. Most folks either packed it in early or just trolled around the red can buoy. Still, some fish continued to be caught.
The following Saturday, exactly one week ago, the Chinook action picked up again, with many limits hitting the tables at the Brookings fillet station.
Most fish were caught anywhere from 15 feet down to 45 feet; however, on Monday, the fish started sounding to depths over 100 feet. The only people who could access the Chinook for the rest of the week were using 20-pound downrigger balls and wire that could reach depths of at least 200 feet. So it pays to load your downriggers with plenty of wire just in case these sets of circumstances occur again.
The following Tuesday, two gentlemen were filleting salmon which were caught 200 feet deep as read on the downrigger. Because of the trolling angle at these depths, that meant that the pair was actually trolling in depths between 150 and 160 feet. A little bonus action occurred when one of their salmon rods got hammered by a Pacific halibut, which looked to be between 25 and 30 pounds.
Wednesday and Thursday, the action slowed slightly as the seas started picking up. According to the National Weather Service website, it looks like the Brookings area may be getting hammered by rough seas and small craft warnings well through the weekend and possibly through the first few days of the week.
As soon as the seas calm back down, possibly by the end of this week, anglers should be able to access the salmon once again.
Tuna action continues to be excellent all along the Oregon coast as well. The action out of Coos Bay and Bandon continues to be strong, but a local fleet of sport boats managed to find some action 42 miles outside the Port of Brookings Harbor, bringing in the first albies of the season to the Port of Brookings.
Among the fleet of ospreys that hit the high seas was “Olive Oil,” a vessel owned and operated by local-area resident Dena James. Dena and her son Hoot brought in seven tuna that weighed between 25 and 30 pounds. They deployed both hand lines and rod-and-reels, but for some reason the tuna only bit the hand lines that day.
Now, when you’re a kid, age is measured in fractional terms. The older one gets, the less precise a person becomes, probably because as a person ages, their memory of how to perform fractions starts to take a ride on the slippery slope. You may remember Hoot’s 80-pound Pacific halibut that he caught last year. That was when he was 7 1/2 years old.
I asked Hoot how old he was now. I’ll never forget his answer because it is the same title of a well-known Fellini film.
“8 1/2”, he responded.
Ice your fish down as
quickly as possible
Brookings albacore and tuna warriors not only have access to the best fishing in the Pacific Northwest, they also have access to one of the best ice plants on the coast as well. So there is no excuse for not icing down your catch and having the very best seafood product in the world. Ninety-five percent of fishermen are probably unaware of the Port of Brookings Harbor’s ice plant.
Run by the Port, shaved and salted ice is always available 24 hours a day to anglers, and you can’t beat the price.
Salted ice stays colder and keeps your catch at least 20-percent cooler than regular ice, and you can fill your coolers and totes any hour of the day.
To access the ice plant, starting from the launch ramp at the Port of Brookings Harbor, travel down Lower Harbor Road and go past The Boat Shop. You will have to drive into the commercial boat off-loading area where there are two large gray buildings.
Driving to the smaller of the two gray buildings will take you the Harbor Ice Company, where a self-service ice freezer is present with prices displayed on the freezer. Money can be deposited in a slot on the left side of the freezer based on the honor system. Twenty-four-hour surveillance cameras help keep people on the honest side.
I heartily encourage everyone to buy their ice here. In the freezer, large bags of ice are sold for $2 a bag and next to the freezer is a tote full of ice. From the tote, you can shovel your own ice into your own ice chests or into your own tote or half-tote.
The prices are $5 to fill a large white cooler, $10 for a half tote and $20 for a full tote. In case you were wondering how much ice is in a tote, the entire product weighs between 750 and 800 pounds.
“I also prorate the amount of ice if you bring in a smaller cooler,” says plant operator James Davidson. “If somebody brings in a little blue cooler, it might only cost three bucks to fill it.”
The ice plant can store up to 138 tons of ice, but most often they’re always holding between 50 and 70 tons.
“According to the fishing boats that come into the Port of Brookings, we have the best ice up and down the coast,” notes Davidson.
I can tell you with certainty that Mr. Davidson is 100-percent correct. Surprisingly, you cannot get shaved and salted ice in two ports that need it the most: Bandon and the Port of Newport.
Davidson can usually be found at the ice plant or fuel dock between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, where he often will load ice into your totes via one of the plant’s hoses.
“And you can always call me at 541-661-1040 because I do come down after hours, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day,” adds Davidson.