Fish report for the week of July 18-24

By Larry Ellis

Pilot staff writer

Salmon and rockfish and surfperch, oh my! That may vaguely resemble a line from Wizard of Oz, but that basically sums up what the fishing was like from Brookings to Gold Beach last week - and then some.

There were so many different species of fish caught last week it's hard to know where to start, so maybe we'll start from the bottom and work toward the surface.

The bottomfishing was outstanding last week out of the Port of Brookings Harbor. Limits of rockfish were generally the rule, and although not everyone limited out on lingcod, the ones you did see had some serious shoulders.

The ocean is just plugged with plankton, krill, crab larvae and baitfish of all shapes and sizes. Did I mention krill? Those little brine shrimp were reported to be an inch long.

All those northwest winds we had certainly paid off in terms of good upwelling. And now that summer has arrived, we can look forward to some really great fishing because of it.

The fish are absolutely stuffed. Many anglers have reported that when the bottom-grabbers have hit the deck, all the aforementioned feed has spewed out of their mouths, and that's a positive sign that this has been a stellar ocean food year.

My good buddy, Bob Wilkes at Umpqua bait, has two different size herring in his live wells and just the other day got in a huge supply of sardines. Hands down, Bob has the best bait on the coast.

Everyone's on a waiting list to get his bait. Guys from Portland have come down just to buy his herring for the Buoy 10 Fishery, which will be starting up August 1.

The point here is that the ocean is very healthy statewide, and that's what's made the coho grow so rapidly.

Good golly, these things are putting on weight like you wouldn't believe. Those coho in today's photo are a good 10 pounds plus and from what Ben told me, they were smaller than usual.

Right now we're at 35.5-percent of the 9,000-coho quota, and Brookings is accounting for about half of it. Winchester Bay is responsible for the other half.

The rest of the ports all the way up to Astoria are having trouble scratching up salmon. Part of the reason is because the ocean's just been too grumpy to go out in. So with the rest of the state not doing so hot, that leaves Brookings, the Banana Belt of the Oregon Coast, with ideal ocean conditions and perfect sea surface temperatures.

Most of the coho have been about 3 miles out but some folks have been going out between 4 and 5 miles.

Shifting gears a little bit, the Rogue has had some very good days. By good, I'm talking about 20 fish with maybe an occasional burst of 30 or better being landed.

At least that's what Jot's Resort and the Rogue Outdoor have been reporting. So being the curious sort, I decided Friday to take a drive up and see for myself.

There were about 35 boats working the sand spit and two vessels were hooked up. About five minutes later one of them came in to weigh one of their fish.

I was beginning to forget what a Chinook even looked like until this guy pulled a monster king out of the fish box. It looked to me like it weighed about 30 pounds. So it was hauled off to Jot's scale in the back lot.

At Jot's, if you catch a fish 30 pounds or over, you get one of their prestigious buttons to sport on your favorite hat. This one didn't cut the mustard; however, it tipped the scales at 28 pounds.

Sam Waller from the Resort said that the fish that have been weighed in have been at least in the upper 20s, most in the 30-pound category. There were at least three kings that weighed over 40 pounds last week.

Most of the fish have been caught trolling Rogue Bait Rigs or similar home-tied facsimiles with a No. 4 spinner blade. It doesn't matter what color the blade is as long as it's green, green or green.

In addition to the aforementioned species, redtail surfperch have been giving anglers heart-thumping adrenaline rushes. These puppies are big, most weighing around 2 pounds or larger.

According to Robert Phillips from the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach, the hot bait has been Berkley Gulp! 2-inch Sand Worms in either Camo or Natural colors. In fact when I was there, they had just gotten in a new batch of Gulp!, and it was already selling off the shelves.

The hot spots have been at Kissing Rock (near the mouth of Hunter Creek), the Gold Beach south jetty spit and the Nesika Beach Wayside.

Meanwhile, a really cool place that is ideal for introducing your kids to trout fishing is at the Arizona Beach Pond, in between Gold Beach and Port Orford, just across from the dinosaur park. The pond was recently stocked with both catchable - and trophy-size - rainbow trout.

Adult supervision is encouraged, but this place was designed for the kiddies in mind, actually people 17 years of age and younger.

andquot;One of the kids brought in a 4-pounder today,andquot; said Mike Miller, owner of the Arizona Beach Motel. andquot;They have trout up to 5 pounds in there.andquot;

Mike says he usually has a couple rods handy to give to a few of his occupants to take to the pond.

andquot;You can use anything in your tackle box from the rusty to the unused,andquot; notes Miller.

Don't get too formal about special set-ups. Just tie a size 6 hook on the end of your line, squeeze a No. 7 split shot about 18 inches above it, pack some rainbow or chartreuse PowerBait around the hook and watch your kids light up as they catch their first trout.

The pond will be operational year-round from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Tight lines!