Larry Ellis, fishing columnist

Something needs to be done about that "Welcome To Brookings" sign that people see around the Rainbow Rock area as they travel south on Highway 101, just before entering Brookings. There's this big empty space below the welcome sign that needs to say, "Gateway to Fishing Paradise." Please, someone get the ball rolling before someone defiles this beautiful sign with graffiti.

I know what fishing paradise is like because I got a get-out-of-hell-free pass card when I left southern California 32 years ago. Ever since then, it's been one fun ride on the fishing roller coaster.

As a youth, I never thought it would be possible, but I think that it's safe to say that the ocean in southern California is now officially fished out. A friend of mine went bottom fishing, or as they say in California, rock cod fishing. Now, when a bunch of fishermen go out on a charter boat, they each put a few bucks in the jackpot pool. It used to cost a buck to get into the jackpot, now I think it's like 20 bucks. The person who catches the biggest fish wins the money in the jackpot.

On that aforementioned trip, a two-and-one-half-pound vermilion rockfish won the jackpot.

Sad, isn't it?


OK, back to Brookings, Gateway to Fishing Paradise. Last week, the ocean laid down like a sheet of liquid mercury. It was literally flat enough to water ski, but water skiing on the ocean isn't something I'd recommend right now. As the story 'round the campfire goes, a local-area fishing enthusiast, while trolling for salmon, hooked what he thought was a sub-legal-size Chinook. He never got to find out the true size of the Chinook because he brought back half of a fish that was cleanly cut in two. The rumor is that a thresher shark dined on the salmonid.

While the water temperature in the local area is not what people would call "shark friendly," sharks do occasionally cruise the beach in cooler-than-favorable water temperatures when the ocean gets that flat-as-a-pancake appearance.

Be that as it may, no salmon were brought into the fish cleaning station last week. The Chinook are being caught in the Eureka/Humboldt Bay vicinity, which is common in early May. I predict that they'll get here in larger numbers toward the end of the month as the water warms up toward a salmon's 52-degree comfort zone.

In the meantime, anglers were using the lake-like conditions to slay the fatted bottom-grabber. Limits of lingcod are still coming into the fillet station with regularity, and folks are also limiting out on some black rockfish in the 3- to 5-pound range.

Anglers also used the flat conditions to head up to the Thomas Creek Bridge area and do a little fishing for the flat-siders.

On Wednesday and Thursday, several Pacific halibut met their maker. The carcasses in the fillet station proved it.

Clayton Mansur of C M Tackle in Harbor (formerly Four M Tackle), weighed in several barndoors. In one day, Clay weighed in a 70-pound flattie, and several other halibut ranging from 25 to 40 pounds.

It is now looking like it's game-on with Pacific halibut, so take advantage of the good weather when you can, and drop a 2-pound sinker attached to a halibut spreader in water ranging from 220- to 300-feet deep. The best cocktail has been a large herring with a salmon-belly chaser, but other great baits have been squid and octopus. Again, most people are using multiple baits on the hook.

May is typically the peak month for redtail surfperch. The surfperch fishing at the Nesika Beach Rest Stop and other areas around Gold Beach has been phenomenal. With flat-calm seas, you can fly fish for them if you had a hankering to do so.

"And it's just going to keep getting better," says Larry Cody from the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach.

Tight lines!