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Match lures to water depth for monster lings

Nic Orozco (left), Guy Glossop and two other comrades from Grants Pass ventured uphill toward Twin Rock out of the Port of Brookings on Friday and limited out on lingcod as well as some large black rockfish. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
Nic Orozco (left), Guy Glossop and two other comrades from Grants Pass ventured uphill toward Twin Rock out of the Port of Brookings on Friday and limited out on lingcod as well as some large black rockfish. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
The lingcod are spawning and the males are guarding the nests. That’s the time when anglers can cash in on the hottest action of the year, and for the last two weeks, fishermen out of the ports of Brookings Harbor and Gold Beach have been experiencing lingcod action that is about as good as it gets.

“For the next three days it’s supposed to be flatter than a pancake,” said Jim Carey from the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach on Thursday. “If the forecast is right, I expect phenomenal bottomfishing because I haven’t seen this strong of a year in a long time on lingcod. We’ve really had some consistently strong days, especially up here off the Rogue River Reef.”

As of early Friday morning, the National Weather Service has predicted 5-knot winds or less, and 1-foot wind waves or less from Saturday through Monday in the ocean outside of the Port of Brookings Harbor. All three days are calling for a combined swell ranging from 2 to 5 feet. That adds up to three days of lingcod ops for anglers willing to head south toward Camel Rock or uphill toward House Rock. The forecast for Gold Beach is very similar to Brookings.

Brookings’ anglers have had some light’s-out action on lingcod. But in the latter days of the week, the action slowed somewhat. So bring your A-game to the ocean this week because the lings may be moving off of the nests in deep water, and migrating toward shallow water near the kelp beds. What produced last week may not be the go-to lure in days to come, so keep your tackle boxes well stocked with a variety of lures for fishing at all depths.

My all-time favorite lure in most situations is the leadfish, but as good as they are, they don’t work at all depths equally well. Leadfish work the best in moderate to deep water ranging from 40 to 90 feet.

But when the lings start to move into shallower water, especially toward the edges of the kelp, leadfish become less effective and twin-tail plastics (Scampis) start to dominate the action. When the lings move in close to shore, you’ll want to cast the 4-inch Scampis on jig heads ranging from 1 to 3 ounces.

Twelve- to 15-pound test monofilament is great for casting jig heads in the 1- to 1.5-ounce range. This arrangement is approaching the upper end of light-tackle fishing. You may not land every lingcod that you hook, but guaranteed, you’ll get a lot more hookups using lighter line.

When using 20- to 30- pound test, consider using jig heads in the 2- to 3-ounce bracket.

An effective method of fishing Scampis is to let the lure sink all the way to the bottom and reel the lure back to the boat very slowly, so that the twin-tail lure is maintaining a distance about a foot from the bottom.

Surfperch have also been coming into the Brookings fillet station with regularity, with both striped and redtail surfperch being filleted last week. You can’t go wrong using small pieces of raw shrimp at places like McVay Park, the little stretch of beach about one-half mile uphill from the mouth of the Winchuck, Sporthaven Beach and Chetco Point Park.

With this weekend’s prediction of calm seas, the Nesika Beach rest area should be producing some decent catches of redtail surfperch, and the mouth of the Sixes River has been producing some monster redtails as well.

Springer fishing on the lower Rogue is a little on the slow side with reports of some guides getting into a batch of fish every now and again. Springer action should progressively get stronger in the next few weeks.

“We’re still just seeing about three (springers) a day, so at least there’s some being taken,” says Carey.

Tight lines!

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