As I entered the Brookings fish-cleaning station last Wednesday, that old slogan, “Plop-plop - Fizz-fizz” rang through the fillet station like the Liberty Bell, and a slightly revamped line from a famous television commercial repeating, “I can’t believe I ate a world record” ran through my head like a broken record.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, an all-tackle IGFA world record was about to meet the sharpened end of a fillet knife. Held by its captor, was the largest quillback rockfish I had ever seen. I mean, this sucker was enormous – the Arnold Schwarzenegger of quillbacks.I sincerely believe that the last thought that was going through that rockfish’s head, other than how he could have fallen for a cheesy piece of soft plastic, was, “I coulda been a contender.” Sorry, I couldn’t resist that line from a classic Brando film, since after all; the fish was caught on the waterfront.
Immediately after Sebastes maliger stopped flexing its muscles, one of the port samplers took the fish and weighed it on a spring scale . “8 pounds” was clearly heard over the humming of electric fillet knives. That’s when I broke out my Rapala digital scale.
As the fish bobbed up and down on my scale, numbers kept bouncing back and forth from 7 pounds 4 ounces, to 7 pounds 14 ounces.
Now, the official IGFA all-tackle world record for a quillback rockfish is 7 pounds, 4 ounces, caught by Kelly Canaday in Depoe Bay in 1990. Without a doubt, the Brookings Fishenator would have easily beaten Canaday’s quillback. Of course, that’s all in hindsight.
At the time, I wasn’t 100-percent sure that it was an all-tackle IGFA record at all, especially since I didn’t have my IGFA world records book with me to verify the existing record. You can bet that I’ll have that booklet with me on hand from now on.
It does makes a person wonder how many world records get eaten every year. My guess is that a lot more records get eaten every year than people realize.
In a recent article, I mentioned that there were several possibilities of world-record potentials finning their way through the ocean outside the Port of Brookings Harbor. One possible record breaker that immediately springs to mind, other than that quillback rockfish, is a vermilion rockfish.
The existing all-tackle world record vermilion rockfish weighs exactly 12 pounds and was caught by Joseph Lowe. Again, this fish was caught in 1990, and again, it was caught in Depoe Bay.
There must be some striking similarities between Depoe Bay and the ocean out of the Port of Brookings Harbor, although they are approximately 200 miles from each other. The fillet tables here on the southern Oregon coast greet 10-pound vermilion every season. It goes without saying that a vermilion over 12 pounds is not out of the question.
Another possible record breaker doing the backstroke off of Brookings is a China rockfish. The existing IGFA record is 4 pounds, 1 ounce. I’m sure I’ve seen several China rockfish at the local cleaning station easily pushing 4 pounds.
These are just three of the rockfish records just begging to be broken. You don’t have to be a member of IGFA in order to qualify, although you do have to join when you put in an application.
A lot of people could care less whether they are a record holder or not. I’ve known several anglers who have caught Oregon state record yellow perch out of Brownlee Reservoir, knew that they were records, but chose to eat them. Going through the arduous process of filling out forms and weighing in fish is not for everybody.
However, if you would like to be the next IGFA all-tackle world record holder, visit www.igfa.org to download the existing rules and application. I’ll also have applications on hand to give to people who want to certify their catch, or pop me an email and I’ll be happy to send you the regulations and application forms.
Last week, limits of rockfish and lingcod were common. This coming weekend, the ocean should be settling down even more for those who have added deep-sea fishing to their bucket list.
The lings ran larger than usual, with most ranging between 10 and 15 pounds; however, there were several lingasaurs surpassing the 30-pound mark. The hot bait has been large black label herring used on a mooching rig.
For those choosing to use artificial lures, the bottom-grabbers fell for leadfish, curly-tail plastic grubs, shrimp flies, twin-tail plastics and single-tail Mogambos.
On days when anglers were able to hit the high seas, salmon action has been quite good, especially for anglers who have been crossing the bar at 5 a.m. and trolling at first legal light. Chinook salmon have been caught at distances ranging from one mile near the Whistle Buoy to six miles offshore.
Jim Bithell from Charthouse Sportfishing has been limiting out his clients on kings ranging from 12 to 30 pounds.
“I think it’s going to bust wide-open tomorrow,” said Bithell on Thursday. “The wind has relaxed, the water’s warming and those fish are going to be shooting back up in here. “
From Saturday through Monday, anglers should look forward fairly flat seas, with 2- to 3-foot swells, northwest winds between 8 and 13 mph, and 1- to 2-foot wind chop.
A Hatchery Harvest Tag only costs $16.50 and allows an angler to mark up to 10 hatchery salmon or steelhead on them. You are not required to fill your combined angling tag first.
After you fill your Hatchery Harvest Tag, you can keep buying additional HHTs for the same price.