Larry Ellis, fishing columnist

Fishing report for

July 6-12

It is looking like the good old days of salmon fishing are happening right now, and they're happening right here at the Port of Brookings Harbor! According to current ocean salmon updates, the southernmost Oregon port was leading all other Oregon ports from Cape Falcon to the Oregon/California border in recreational catches of Chinook by an overwhelming margin.

As of July 8, ODFW Port samplers had logged in 1,549 Chinook harvested by salmon anglers at the Port of Brookings Harbor. Most of the fish had been caught within a 30-day period.

Following behind Brookings was Winchester Bay, with 527 Chinook, with Charleston Harbor not far behind with 452 kings.

Local charter boat operator Jim Bithell of Charthouse Sportfishing has been putting his clients on the kings, and has described the action at times as being off the charts.

Just like the week before last, anglers have had to be on the water as early as possible in order to grab the first morning bite and then troll for most of the day in order to be able to experience several strong bite periods.

I've been at the fish-cleaning facility almost every day this week, and catches have ranged from 5 to 40 fish per day. Most of the better fishermen are consistently catching either half limits or full limits of Chinook.

Anglers are also catching coho salmon on occasion. According to salmon updates on July 8, only 6 percent of the quota had been reached. That figure will be higher by the time this report comes out.

The coho of the coast of Brookings have been averaging about 8 pounds, and you can only keep coho with a missing adipose fin. Anglers have had to catch up to 20 wild coho before finally finding a hatchery fish.

These fish are growing fast and should be averaging around 10 pounds by the end of July, if the 8,000-coho quota has not been attained.


You can tell by all the pelicans and sea gulls that there is a lot of bait in the harbor this year. After hearing about the Charthouse hooking up while trolling by the crab pier, I made tracks for the structure on Tuesday and started throwing a three-quarter ounce gold Kastmaster.

Within an hour, I hooked a large Chinook from the crabbing pier. The fight however was short and sweet. After about a minute, the fish showed itself on the surface, made a long run and then spit out the hook.

As I reached in my pocket to pull out my toenail clippers to cut the line and retie the knot, I noticed the sun glistening off of the shiny metal. That's when illumination struck. I was bound and determined to figure out how to catch a salmon on a pair of toenail clippers.

That night, I disconnected the post and lever. What was left was three holes, one in the back and two in the front of each cutting side. I clamped the nippers in a vise to straighten out the cutting edges and filed them smooth.

After putting a number 10 split ring on the rear of the clippers, I attached to it a 1/0 Gamakatsu treble hook. To one of the front holes, I clipped on a size 5 snap and a size 7 ball bearing swivel.

I didn't catch a salmon that next day on the clippers, but I did catch two lingcod on the suckers. One of the lings was three-quarters of an inch too small and was thrown back.

Within a half hour, I hooked and landed a legal-size ling. Now that I've caught two lings on these things, I now feel fully confident that they will eventually see the inside of a salmon's mouth. But I'll take a lingcod any day of the week, especially at the pier at the Brookings south jetty.


With flat-calm seas on several days last week, the bottom fishing was spectacular, with many limits of rockfish, cabezon and lingcod being brought to the Port of Brookings Harbor fillet station.

There was a good variety of fish caught, with a mixture of rockfish species including blacks, blues, china, quillback and vermilion being filleted.

Lingcod averaged between 5 and 15 pounds.

Anglers may have to do their bottom fishing early this week, within the first two hours of sunrise, and fairly close to shore if the seas kick up. So keep your eyes on the National Weather Service's forecast.


Early birds getting up at the crack of dawn and crabbing between 5 and 7 a.m. have been catching between one and two legal-size Dungeness crab at the Brookings crab pier on the south jetty. Folks who have been throwing Pineapple Butterfly traps have been having the most success.

For the rest of the day, most of the crab have been undersize, but I have seen a few legal-size crab being caught sporadically throughout the day. The crabbing should pick up as July progresses.

The limit in Oregon is 12 Dungeness crab with a minimum of 5 3/4 inches as measured in between the points. All females and undersize crab must be released.


The Rogue River is warming up past 71 degrees, which means that the Rogue Bay will start seeing more action by fishermen trolling spinner bait/anchovy rigs.

"Water temp's climbing, so we're actually going to see fishing accelerating now," says Jim Carey, owner of the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach. "We were virtually doing nothing until Friday of last week when 10 fish were caught in the bay. Tuesday we had 10 fish caught in the bay as well.

"We're seeing nice-quality fish with the majority being in the 20-pound bracket. The biggest one to my knowledge is a 36 pounder."

Carey described last week's action as being a late afternoon bite.

"Summer steelhead are continuing to come in, but in small schools," adds Carey.

Carey also says that the redtail surfperch bite has continued to be relatively strong.

Tight lines!