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Move over salmon, the tuna are coming

Larry Ellis poses with an ocean-caught Chinook standing next to the boat from which he caught it: Robert Phillips’ High Hopes. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
 

Fishing report for 

August 10-16

Calm ocean conditions expected through Monday will entice anglers to try their luck at catching salmon, rockfish, lingcod, halibut and possibly even tuna out of the Port of Brookings Harbor. 

While looking at the National Weather Service’s Web page, winds of 5 knots or less and 1-foot wind waves are expected to create flat-as-a-pancake weather conditions for anglers fishing between two and 20 miles from shore.

 

In addition, the sudden abatement of gale-force northwest winds with a combined south and west swell averaging 2 feet or less could prompt albacore to venture within 20 miles from the Port of Brookings Harbor.

When talking with Monica Fischer from the Chetco Outdoor Store on Thursday morning, a fellow angler in the Charleston area already had come into their port with 15 tuna, with another port closer to Brookings whackin’ and stackin’ the albies as well.

“Before the last four days of wind blew us off the water, we had over 300 tuna on our sport boats,” said Wayne Butler of Prowler Charters in Bandon on Wednesday. “They were anywhere between 18- to 25-pounds with a few 30s mixed in. They’re a real nice grade of fish.”

Butler said that his boats, the Prowler and the Mis-Chief were averaging about 65 fish per boat, but were often getting more.

“The fishing was absolutely incredible last week,” said Butler. “One week ago Thursday, when both boats ran out to the tuna grounds, I had 100 fish and Dad had 80. The sad thing is that there are salmon to be caught, but we haven’t had time to go salmon fishing with all the tuna and bottomfishing trips we’ve been running.”

When I spoke with Butler this past Wednesday, he had gone four days without a tuna trip due to steep swells and gusty northwest winds, the same situation that kept most Brookings anglers from venturing out after Chinook last weekend and into the beginning of the week. But as of last Thursday, Mother Ocean threw fishermen a bone.

“The water has been warming up off the buoy at Coos Bay, so I think that the warm water and tuna are going to move back in again and it’s going to lay out flat here at least through Monday,” noted Butler. “Now I’ll just have to put my runnin’ shoes back on and go see what I find tomorrow.”

That iffy tomorrow he was referring to was last Thursday, when he ended up with a 75-fish day; the same day when The Bite’s On in Coos Bay reported anglers hauling in the albacore between 18 and 22 miles from port.

In the worst case scenario, Brookings tuna aficionados may have to trailer their boats up to Bandon or Coos Bay, but with this drastic change in weather conditions, I would not be surprised one bit if the tuna came well within 20 miles from Brookings.

“We’ve only been going out between 18 and 20 miles for tuna,” added Butler. “It’s been phenomenal fishing, and we’re booked solid. I mean, every seat is full through Tuesday or Wednesday.”

So get out your clones, feathers and Zukers, spool up your reels with new line and be prepared for a possible trolling situation from the Port of Brookings Harbor, Bandon or Coos Bay. Here’s NOAA’s National Weather Service prediction for today, Sunday and Monday, 21 miles west of the Port of Brookings Harbor.

Saturday: Variable winds 5 knots or less. Patchy fog. Mixed swell ... WNW 2 feet and S 1 foot. Wind waves 1 foot or less.

Sunday: Variable winds less than 5 knots becoming NW 5 to 7 knots in the afternoon. Patchy fog. Mixed swell ... WNW 1 foot and S 1 foot. Wind waves 1 foot or less.

Monday: NNW wind around 9 knots. Patchy fog before 11 a.m. Mixed swell ... S 1 foot and SW 1 foot. Wind waves around 1 foot.

How do you like them apples?

This weather report was given by the National Weather Service on Thursday evening at 10 p.m., but the weather can change for better or for worse at any time, so always keep checking the NWS website. Here’s how to check weather, wind and ocean conditions.

In your browser, type in http://www.weather.gov/. That will take you to a window where there will be a blank white box at the upper left of your screen. In this box, type: Brookings, OR.

This will take you to the local-area forecast where you will be able to scroll down the page to a map of the Brookings area. To determine the ocean forecast, drag your arrow on any portion of the ocean west of Brookings.

You can find out the NWS forecast for virtually every area in the ocean by left clicking on any section of the ocean you choose. Every section will have a grid corresponding to its location, which will be displayed at the top of the page.

The salmon fishing was a little lackluster in the ocean from Friday through Monday; however, a few anglers always managed to bring in limits of Chinook to the Brookings fillet station.

More anglers started bringing in limits or near limits of kings averaging between 18 and 24 pounds as winds and swells abated on Thursday. This weekend should provide spectacular fishing for salmon anglers.

The deep-water Chinook started being caught in shallower water on Thursday, with fish reported being caught in depths ranging from 40 to 100 feet. The standard technique is trolling an anchovy about 4 feet behind a flasher or a dodger off of a downrigger.

Flat-calm seas should also bring more fall Chinook into the Rogue Bay. For about a month now, they’ve been kegging up in the bay in copious quantities, but getting them to bite has been another story.

But on Tuesday everything changed when 50 fish were caught in a relatively short period of time. Some guides were running two trips. If you didn’t have a fish on, you were definitely watching someone nearby bring one to the net.

“The bite is finally happening,” says Jim Carey, owner of the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach.

Tight lines!

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