Larry Ellis, fishing columnist

Fishing report for

December 2-8

The recreational crab season will open for most of Oregon on December 15 as planned. "Most," of course is the operative word in this case because there is one tiny stretch of the southern Oregon coast from Knox Rock (42-degrees 26-minutes north latitude) south to the California border (42-degrees north latitude) that will not open until January 15 andndash; and that includes the Port of Brookings Harbor.

I apologize. I should have asked you to sit down before I broke that bit of news to you. Now that you've regrouped, re-read paragraph 1.

Yes, it's true. Every part of the Oregon coast is opening for Dungeness crab on December 15 except an approximate 35-mile stretch on the extreme southern tip.

ODFW says that the crab in this part of the world have some mighty big shoes to fill andndash; make that crab shells.

It does appear, however, that the crab north of 42-degrees 26-minutes are corpulent crustaceans. Amazingly, the crab south of the border are also full meal deals. This regulation just doesn't make any sense to me. Maybe I'm missing something here.

Here's one possibility. Perhaps a very small segment of the Dungeness crab population suddenly developed an intelligence that far surpasses any human being.

Most of the southern Oregon coast south of Chetco Point lies in the northern half of an impact crater that was made millions of years ago. After the asteroid hit the fan, the crater filled with sea water and somebody, for lack of a better name, called it Pelican Bay. They should have called it Einstein Bay instead.

Now the area north of Crescent City happens to lie on the southern half of the very same impact crater. Evidently, an extremely small sub-population of Dungeness crab that inhabits Pelican Bay, over a period of millions of years became magnetically charged and developed a built-in compass, a failsafe mechanism designed to prevent the softest of the crab, as well as the females, from being harvested. How else could they have located, with precision, that 42-degree escape line of latitude?

So if you want to get some nicely filled-out crab before Christmas, make sure you head to Crescent City ASAP. If you don't, your opportunity at a one-plate meal will have walked sideways.

Folks have been limiting out in two hours in that southern half of the impact crater.

You will need to buy a California fishing license in order to crab in the ocean. A one-day license will do the trick.

Just make sure that you launch from Crescent City and return to Terra Firma, California. You could conceivably launch your boat in Brookings and then crab in California, but only if you unloaded your catch in California. You could not legally launch from Brookings, crab in California and then return to Brookings with your payload.

In Del Norte County, you are allowed to harvest 10 Dungeness crab which must measure a minimum of 5 3/4 inches across the inside of the points. You can also harvest both male and female Dungies, so you won't have to worry about sexing the crab. From what I've been told, however, the females have been a rarity in the rings. The girls must have fled for the border.


Anglers who fished in the ocean outside of the Port of Brookings really clocked the rockfish and lingcod last week, according to Jim Bithell of Charthouse Sportfishing.

"The lings are big and they're well filled-out," says Bithell, who limited out his passengers last week. "We got several 17-pounders and lost one that was at least 30."

Bithell also limited his passengers out on some 5-pound black rockfish as well.

The secret, according to Jim, is to fish deep, in the 60- to 90-feet range, because the lingcod are in the prespawn stage and have not yet moved closer inshore to spawn.

"It's so rare that we get to fish in December," Bithell said. "Right now a good place to get the lings is right off of Bird Island."


Today's fish photo doesn't contain a fish at all, but if you put this rig in your tackle arsenal, it could represent a lot of steelhead in your quiver when rain finally hits the area. This rig is meant for drift-fishing from shore.

Drift-fishing is performed by casting this rig upstream, flipping over the bail of your spinning reel or taking your bait-casting reel out of free spool, reeling in the slack, and then following your sinker with your rod tip as the lead bounces downstream. Your lead should bounce about one time every three seconds.

The swivel depicted in the photo is called a crossline snap swivel. In the case of a crossline swivel, two of the swivels pull in-line with each other: the main line and the leader. Having a direct pull like this makes your main line and leader act as one unit.

The bottom swivel has a snap attached which allows you to attach three different types of sinkers: pencil lead/surgical tubing combos, pencil lead with a hole in the top or slinkies.

The pencil lead with a hole in the top shown in the photo allows you to pre-cut your lead in various lengths.

It requires a special pair of pliers that has an impaling apparatus for making the hole. You can buy these pliers at Four M Tackle or at the Chetco Outdoor Store.

The crossline snap swivel shown is made by Danielson. I have performed line-breaking tests on the size 10, and 30-pound test broke before the swivel did. But of course you're going to be using between 6- and 12-pound monofilament, so there should be absolutely no problem with swivel breakage.

A 2- to 3-foot leader is all you need, and the Corky color of your choice. Puff Balls also work well. Put a pinky fingernail-size piece of roe inside the egg loop knot of your leader and you're good to go.

VERY IMPORTANT! Make sure to give your rig a yank every now and then to keep your Corky and leader nice and straight with your main line.

Tight lines!