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On the Water: Rockfish action continues to be stellar

Dena James and her son Hoot display one of 20 albacore they caught on Wednesday while trolling purple haze-colored clones 60 miles out of the Port of Brookings Harbor. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
Dena James and her son Hoot display one of 20 albacore they caught on Wednesday while trolling purple haze-colored clones 60 miles out of the Port of Brookings Harbor. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
Last week anglers fishing out of the Port of Brookings Harbor struggled to get salmon to bite in the ocean; nevertheless, salmon are still coming to the fillet tables every day.

Trolling whole herring and whole anchovies have been the two hottest fishing methods, with green label herring edging out anchovies over 50 percent of the time last week.

Salmon were caught in about 90 feet of water near the California/Oregon border, within and outside the whistle buoy between 110 to 120 feet of water, off of Bird Island in about 120 feet of water and in areas off of House Rock in about 150 feet of water. The actual depth of the baits ranged from 40 to 95 feet.

Last year there was a lull in the fishing for a short period of time, so if history repeats itself, the fishing should pick back up again sometime within the next few weeks, just in time for the upcoming Slam’n Salmon Derby which will be taking place from Aug. 29 through Sept. 1.

The Slam’n Salmon Derby has been one of Oregon’s most popular events. For more derby information, visit www.slamnsalmon.com.

Meanwhile, there have been some catches of very large halibut in the 70-, 80- and 90-pound category. Tuesday was the hot day, with a 97-pound barndoor caught by Jeff Kemper from Illinois, the son of local fishing enthusiasts Jerry and Claudia Kemper.

Halibut are being caught in depths ranging from 180 to 240 feet off of all the local hotspots ranging from Bird Island north up to the Thomas Creek Bridge.

At times the drift was virtually nil, allowing anglers to use sinkers as light as 12 ounces. Anglers have been using 9/0 circle hooks and larger, using a combination of herring, squid, octopus and salmon bellies.

I had the pleasure of fishing with a friend on Thursday, who caught a halibut in about 240 feet of water. We then made tracks for House Rock and caught rockfish using light tackle spinning outfits in about 30 feet of water.

Using 10-pound test monofilament, we caught a nice grade of black rockfish and blue rockfish on baby bass-colored Zoom Baby Flukes, a soft plastic bait with a split tail. We used the flukes on 1/2-ounce jig heads.

Then I broke out my toenail clippers with a treble hook attached to the back end via a snap ring and caught fish on them about as fast as I could cast; this is until it was eaten by an underwater rock.

The action on rockfish and lingcod continued to be stellar all week with rockfish being caught up to 6 pounds, and lingcod averaging between 6 and 20 pounds.

With fairly calm seas expected through the weekend, the magnificent bottom-fishing action is expected to continue.

The salmon action still continues to be smoking red hot near Eureka, Calif., where anglers are knocking the daylights out of the Chinook. Anglers trailering their boats down to the Samoa ramp from Brookings are reporting quick limits.

Last week, the average salmon weighed around 12 pounds and fishermen were reporting that they were releasing the smaller salmon in hopes of hooking up with the 20- to 25-pound Chinook that are in the mix. 20-fish days are not uncommon, so make sure to bring with you at least two trays of bait per person.

For getting rigged up for salmon in less than a minute, start using corkscrew snap swivels. There is nothing more tedious than having to tie knots in the middle of a red-hot salmon bite, a period of time that may only last 10 minutes. Using these devices allow you to quick-change a variety of outfits in seconds.

I always start out with a corkscrew swivel attached to the end of my main line — and there it stays until it’s time to re-tie the swivel.

I also have corkscrew swivels attached to the ends of my divers and flashers as well. For quick-changing leaders, try using a ball bearing swivel at the beginning of your leader and impress your friends at the speed it takes you to rig up and get your gear in the water.

Limits of Dungeness crab are also coming to the Port of Brookings fillet station, with many crab measuring between 7 and 8 inches.

Tight lines!

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