Anglers who tripped the ling fantastic last week out of the Port of Brookings Harbor again experienced some stellar lingcod fishing. On Tuesday, a friend and I both got our limits of lings within an hour, all on soft rubber lures.
Most of the lingcod being caught now are males, which is normal in February. I suspect that a vast majority of male lingcod will be releasing their milt in the next few weeks. After they have finished fertilizing the females' eggs, they will continue guarding the nests for weeks to come, which will provide anglers with more hookups.
When the ocean is fishable, expect the great lingcod fishing to continue, and for the most part, expect the majority of your catch to be males between 6 and 12 pounds, so there is no better time than the present to go over a few regulations of ocean species, although the ocean may not be fishable for a few weeks. Remember, these regulations apply only to Oregon.
LINGCOD - The daily bag limit is two lingcod per day with a minimum length of 22 inches. This daily bag and size limit applies all 12 months throughout the year. In other words, a person might catch more than two legal-size lingcod in one day, especially during the months of February and March when the action can be hot and heavy at times, but an angler is still only allowed to keep two lingcod per day.
CABEZON - At this time, the retention of cabezon is prohibited until July 1 - and then that could change at the whim of ODFW. But for now, if you catch a cab, you are required to release it.
GREENLING - Also known as sea trout, the minimum length for greenling is 10 inches, and they are considered part of the seven-fish daily bag limit of groundfish, which includes, but are not limited to rockfish, skates, Pacific Cod, spiny dogfish, leopard shark and soupfin shark. Since rockfish are the most abundant species out there, most fishermen are doing a balancing act between rockfish and greenling; i.e., one greenling - six rockfish; two greenling - five rockfish; seven greenling - zero rockfish - you get the picture.
The two-fish daily bag limit for lingcod is in addition to the seven-fish daily groundfish bag limit. So if you catch seven rockfish, you may still keep two lingcod for a total of nine fish.
The aforementioned limits do not apply to species such as surfperch (15 fish daily, any size), or sole (25 fish daily, any size).
For further questions, refer to page 100 of the 2014 ocean sport fishing regulations.
The National Weather Service is predicting that a series of storms will be bringing rain to the local area weekend and into next week, and that has got bank anglers and boaters pretty stoked.
As of Friday afternoon, the Chetco had risen from 528 cfs to 1,060 cfs and it is continuing to rise. One report on the NWS advanced hydrological prediction services web page shows that the Chetco could approach 4,130 cfs by late Sunday evening, which should create some stellar steelhead fishing conditions when the river drops later in the week. It is my personal belief that the river flows may be even higher.
It looks as if that high-pressure system that has been causing the three-month-plus drought will be finally breaking up, allowing the low-pressure systems to dominate the area. Here's how the NWS predictions are looking as of early Friday afternoon.
andbull;Today (Saturday): 100-percent chance of rain; Saturday night, 100-percent chance of rain.
andbull;Sunday: 90-percent chance of rain; Sunday night, 70-percent chance of rain.
andbull;Monday through Thursday: rain likely.
So get out your plunking gear and get ready to hit Social Security Bar and Loeb State Park if the river is dropping from a high rise, is turning pea-green or slate-green and is over 4,000 cfs.
Side-drifting should be the technique that is dominating the boaters, and drift-fishing should be governing the bank-fishing populace when the river starts dropping from 4,000 cfs.
All in all, it is looking like February is going to be a very productive steelhead month. You can expect to have a crack at fresh incoming chromers as well as spawned-out down-backs in the river, giving you double the chances of hooking up.
In addition, the herring in Crescent City Harbor are still on the bite. Anglers from Brookings have been enjoying some excellent days filling their buckets with large herring for lingcod bait.