FISH REPORT

April 28, 2006 11:00 pm
Richard Shank holds a 24 pound Rogue River wild springer he caught Wednesday (The Pilot/Larry Ellis).
Richard Shank holds a 24 pound Rogue River wild springer he caught Wednesday (The Pilot/Larry Ellis).

By Larry Ellis

Fishing report for the week of Friday, April 21 through Thursday, April 27

If you weren't out on the ocean Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, you missed out on some of the hottest rockfish and lingcod action the Port of Brookings Harbor ever experienced.

Anglers haven't encountered these kinds of fishing adventures since the days of the 30-fish limits in the early 1980s.

Once again, the aggressive bite was wide open at House Rock. Remember the days when you couldn't get your shrimp flies through the blue rockfish to get down to the black rockfish? The black rockfish were so thick (How thick were they?), you literally couldn't get through them to get to the lings. No exaggeration.

They were literally throughout the entire water column. And they were toads. The fish averaged between 3 and 5 pounds with an occasional 6-pounder thrown in for good measure.

One of the most welcome sights was watching hundreds of birds working bait balls. At first glance you would think they were devouring needlefish, the normal baitfish to expect this time of year.

But they were actually gorging on anchovies. When the snappers hit the deck, chovies spewed from their mouths.

Boats were limiting early on both snappers and lings and the fish cleaning facility was once again buzzing with electric fillet knives and aggrandized stories about the one that got away.

Heading into port, one fellow displayed a frazzled sea trout that he said caught five lingcod. There was no reason to doubt him.

A group of four fishermen aboard the Mad Mackerel were catching large snappers on a hot new 6-inch swim-bait made by Storm called a WildEye Live Sardine. The snappers were literally sucking these lures down their gullets.

Another hot lure that was equally effective was a medium-size, glow-in-the-dark Scampi. Because of an extremely strong uphill current, 3 to 8 ounces of lead was required to keep it in the playing field.

These things really work. When you buy these phosphorescent plastics, cup them in the palm of your hand to see how much light they actually throw out. Buy the ones that emit the most light.

On Wednesday, northwest winds started howling, creating whitecaps and frothy seas, making it impossible for boats to safely navigate the ocean. That's not so bad when you think about it. Mother Ocean needs to throw out these nor'westers in order to create badly needed upwellings that enrich the ocean with plankton to feed the baitfish, which in turn feed your rockfish, lings and salmon.

The high winds didn't deter Monty Moncrief and other diehard anglers from fishing local beaches for surfperch. This year an interesting variety of striped perch, redtails, walleye surfperch and pile perch have all been caught.

The top bait so far has been small pieces of shrimp on a number 6 hook.

Keep your ears close to the VHF and your eyes on the weather channel for more of these flat-calm days and be prepared for more light's-out heart-thumping action. For up-to-the-minute weather reports call Mike Ramsay at Sporthaven Marina.

Angler goes overboard on the Rogue

On Monday the 24th, Monty Moncrief was fishing the Ferry Hole for springers when he observed an elderly gentleman trying to anchor-up beside him. The man, who was in his 70's was having trouble getting his anchor to stick in the sand and was drifting further downriver toward dangerously fast water.

Upon witnessing the man going overboard, Monty broke anchor and drifted downriver to help him. Monty did the right thing which was first tossing the man his net to hold onto. Unable to move, the elderly gent was obviously suffering from hypothermia, so Monty netted the lucky duck and pulled him to shore.

This leads to the next article:

Anchoring-up on the Rogue

When anchoring-up in fast water, whether the Rogue, Umpqua or Columbia, being prepared is of primary importance. Normally, an anchor is tossed from the bow in 3-mph water and then after letting out about 110 feet of anchor rope attached to a couple of crab buoys, the line is fastened to a cleat on the bow. Your anchor should stick – the first time.

Aside from navigational skills, your anchor is probably the most important item you will need on your boat. Not all anchors are created equally, and the Rogue River is famous for an anchor that is used as far north as the Columbia River.

"It's basically a ‘kedge' anchor," says Jim Carey from the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach. "On the Rogue they made the spades on the bottom more pointed so it digs into the rocks easier."

Wayne Adams, who designed one of the anchors, actually spent hours just towing this anchor around on Rogue River gravel bars. When he felt the anchor would hold to his satisfaction, he started selling them to the Rogue Outdoor Store and people started buying them like hotcakes.

If you're going to fish for springers on the Rogue, do not attempt anchoring-up without one.

You need an anchor that will dig in where you first throw it and hold your boat in 3- to 4-mph current. Should you should drift into 7-mph water, that is the equivalent to an F5 hurricane.

Springer fishing

The springer bite is not what you would call wide-open, but it has picked up. Do not equate springer fishing to fall salmon fishing because you will be immediately disappointed. For starters, a springer fights about four times harder than any other salmon.

In addition, they are the best-tasting salmon in the world, so if you luck into one springer you're doing pretty good.

ODFW makes projections based on previous jack returns, and last year was not the greatest. They did not expect a great season this year.

However, there is more to catching springers than mere projected numbers.

You can have a high springer projection and have a bad season due to poor water conditions. On the other hand, you can have a low springer projection yet have a successful season if you have good water conditions. This year we have had ideal conditions.

On Wednesday, Steve Beyerlin from fishoregon.com had a good day. Three anglers had three chances at landing three fish. Two were landed, one got away. That is considered a great day.

Every time you get a springer over 18 pounds, you almost always have to break anchor and follow the fish downriver, or else he will spool you in 30 seconds. That's where navigational skills come in handy.

When you return, you merely pick up your buoys, tie off in exactly the same place and wait for another bite.

It's important to know what time to fish at certain locations on the Rogue. For instance, if you are at Elephant Rock, you will be getting your slot early in the morning. Not because the fish bite early, but because if you don't get your spot, someone else will.

Springers cross the bar in the morning – not at night. Almost like clockwork, your bites will come between 11 a.m. and noon. This is the time it takes for the salmon to make it from the bar to Elephant Rock.

On the other hand, if you're fishing up at Claybanks or Ferry Hole, you are fishing for yesterday's fish, therefore your bites will usually come first thing in the morning.

So if you ask one person how the fishing was, you might get a positive response from someone who landed one or had one on, and a negative response from someone who waited all day and got no bites at all.

Steve is one of the better fishermen on the Rogue. Having done this for over a quarter of a century, he knows every nook and cranny like the back of his hand. Plus he has good fish sense.

Most of Steve's fish will come from a spinner-bait rig, which is basically a mooching rig with a series of beads with a spinner above the top hook. Anchovies seem to get 'em on the Rogue more often than not.

Springers don't bite aggressively until the water temperature gets over 50 degrees. On Wednesday it was 53 degrees and the fish just buried the rod in one big whomp. But if the water temperature falls below 50, they will peck-peck-peck at your bait or spinners.

At any rate, you need to wait until your rod is completely buried, with at least 6 feet of line coming off the reel. The fish basically sets the hook himself. So don't go making any haymaker hook sets or you will lose him for sure.

Tight lines and God bless.