By Larry Ellis
Fishing report for October 10-16
After northwest winds started dying down last week, anglers who were able to squeeze in a few hours of bottomfishing out of the Port of Brookings Harbor were rewarded with limits of rockfish.
The importance of working the tide changes cannot be over-emphasized.Showing up at the cleaning station about an hour after the change of high tide almost always rewards me with a few fish photographs, the reason being, when the bite turns on it doesn't take long for folks to reach the six-fish bag.
Knowing that high tide was at noon on Wednesday, I drove up to the fillet tables about 1 p.m.Just like clockwork, fish-hawk Dan Murillo showed up about 1:30.He had taken three comrades out for a day's fishing on board his vessel So Long.
The group said they had to work hard for their limits in between the tides but when the tide change rolled around, the bottom-grabbers suddenly went berserk.
A segment of these black rockfish were some of the biggest I've seen all season.
October and November are great months to observe the rockfish's roe sacks get larger week by week.
Lingcod fishing was on the slow side.
As the group was filleting their catch, another angler brought in a freshly caught Chinook from the Smith River.He had been fishing the mouth and, after questioning him, he told me the fish was caught after the turn of high tide.
Knowing that the best time to fish the Smith's mouth was about three hours before low, the best tide was yet to come.That was my cue to take a few 3?4-ounce gold Kastmasters, a blue/chrome Little Cleo and a couple 1-ounce chrome Krocodiles down to the Smith River mouth and do a little investigation.
Althoughthe Smith River is in California territory, the actual distance from the Chetco River bridge to the parking lot at the end of the Mouth of the Smith River Road is a mere 8.4 miles. That's only 10 minutes from Brookings.
When I walked down the steps from the parking lot on the north side of the beach, there were a couple of fish being hauled up the steps and several chrome-bright Chinook were laying down in the gravel.
About 35 anglers were lined up elbow-to elbow, casting gold Kastmasters and Little Cleos.Before I even made it down to the river, one angler hooked up and yelled "Fish on."
Immediately, the nearby anglers reeled in their lures to give the guy a fighting chance with his fish.This is standard courtesy when fishing in close quarters.It's everyone's obligation to help each other get their fish in, and even though this could be considered combat fishing by some people, this type of common courtesy was demonstrated on every fish that was hooked.
A few minutes later the fish spit the hook and everyone was soon casting away, including yours truly.
My Kastmaster got whacked hard at least four times while reeling on-the-retrieve beforeI finally hooked up, which proves that even a blind squirrel can find a nut.
This puppy was stripping line and appeared to be a nice fish when about four minutes later it finally spit the hook.
Meanwhile, fish kept coming through, nailing Kastmasters left and right. A few fish were landed and then I hooked up for a second time.
The water in the Smith was gin clear and a lot of anglers were commenting on the size of the fish, which appeared to be in the 40-pound range or better, and chrome as a freshly minted silver dollar.A blind squirrel finding two nuts?Not this time. This was a bona fide batch of fish coming through.
The fish toyed with me for about 15 minutes in what I call the pre-mouth, near slacker water, occasionally letting me gain some headway before making some long runs.I thought I might have had him whipped before he decided it was about time to quit fooling around.
He finally ran with my lure like a deranged running back, made tracks for the ocean and never looked back. With about 100 yards of line out, I tightened down the drag and put the screws to him.But there was no stopping the Olympic wannabe and he finally broke me completely off.
I'll tell you what.He's going to have one heck of a toothache for a while.
I went back on Thursday, got one really good bump, but no hookups.I did see several other folks tie into some nice salmon and land them, so all I can say is that the fishing will be good when fish are coming through, so days are going to vary.
Here's a couple of tips in case you want to try bank fishing the Mouth.Fish the outgoing tide, especially the period from three hours before low through low slack. After that the fish just don't come in the same numbers. That's the way the Smith's been and that's the way it has been for the last 27 years that I have fished it.
As the outgoing low tide creates a current at the mouth, a slot will form.Fish in that slot if at all possible. For most people that means you don't have to make excessively long casts.
Reel your lures in all the way to the edge of the slot. Sometimes salmon will appear out of nowhere at the last second and whack your lure.
Put a No. 6 split ring on the end of your Kastmaster and tie your line directly to the ring.Use a Palomar knot and tie it where the ring is doubled over.
I would say that 95-percent of the fish are fair-hooked.Only about 5 percent were accidentally foul-hooked.There was a lady fishing on Thursday who had foul-hooked a salmon.After she brought the fish in and got her lure back, she released the king, setting a good example for the rest of the guys who were fishing out there and watched her release the fish.
Meanwhile, anglers fishing the Rogue Bay have had a few chances at hooking up with some silvers with some serious shoulders.
The Indian Creek Hatchery Chinook are also beginning to nose their way toward the creek. So fish near the creek but not up the creek for those Indian Creek kings and for Rogue River silvers.Troll plug-cut herring, hot pink spinners and Rogue Bait Rigs with red or orange spinner blades.