Salmon gluttony spells human satisfaction on ocean

By Larry Ellis, fishing columnist July 20, 2012 09:34 pm

Rory Lewis from Rodeo, California was fishing with Wayne Van Waveren of Brookings when he caught this 31-pound Chinook on Tuesday. The two fishermen limited out on Chinook and got some rockfish and lingcod to boot. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
 

Fishing report for 

July 13-19

It was wet, it was raining, and it was last Tuesday, the best day of ocean salmon fishing the Port of Brookings Harbor has experienced all season.

Port Sampler Jennifer Deves was flying solo that day. But ODFW Port Samplers are not ubiquitous – like fog, or McDonalds, or in Tuesday’s case, like the throngs of McKings that were predicted to be swimming in the ocean. 

 

Almost every boat that pulled into into port had a salmon in the fish box, or for many people – limits of salmon. As good of a job that ODFW’s Port Samplers do, nobody can exist in two places at one time.

It was time to call in reinforcements. Fortunately, two other Port Samplers showed up on their day off to give her a hand. For Deves, their arriving was a welcome respite from writer’s cramp.

All in all, the three ODFW employees sampled 75 Chinook that day, and with flat-calm seas continuing through Friday, the action continued.

On Wednesday, the Chinook count was in the upper forties. I never got see the samplers on Thursday, although the barrels at the Port of Brookings fillet station were overflowing with salmon carcasses. My guess is that the salmon will just keep coming, since July historically has always been the best month for hooking into an ocean king.

So where have people been getting most of their salmon? The most commonly-reported coordinate was, “60 back to the Whistler.” However, there were numerous reports of anglers hooking fish just outside the jaws, or while trolling out to the Whistle Buoy.

Last week, when fishing with Dee Shurtleff, I hooked a large Chinook just outside the entrance to the Chetco estuary. I was letting out my Delta Diver, dodger and anchovy when it suddenly got savagely attacked by a large king. And therein lays the secret to getting most of last week’s salmon. They’re not deep like they were a few weeks ago; they’re all over the baitfish schools near the surface.

“A lot of fishermen are fishing way too deep,” says Jim Bithell from Charthouse Sportfishing in Brookings. “Fishermen are underneath the fish. Last week all my fish were caught shallower than 30 feet.” 

Bithell continues: “There’s all kinds of baitfish breaking the surface of the water out there and those baitfish are being chased by salmon. When I first started out, we were getting bit at 10 feet, but now my best bite has been consistently at 15 feet.”

With all the baitfish on the surface, Jim has even been getting bit at 8 feet, which explains the sudden take-down while letting out my diver.

So don’t be afraid to run your setups shallow, especially if you see baitfish and birds.

Hot tuna bite comes on strong at Bandon and Charleston Harbor

Last week, while Brookings residents were hooking up with ocean Chinook, local-area residents were also filleting tuna at the Brookings fillet station. Although there were no boats fishing for tuna directly out of the Port of Brookings, most fishermen were towing their boats up to Charleston Harbor near Coos Bay and fishing within 22 miles from shore.

The catches were totally off the charts. I ran into one gentleman who was about to begin filleting the first of 40 albacore he and some friends had caught in one day. Other boats were reported to have had 50-, 60-, 70- and even 80-fish days. 

Closer to home, one Bandon charterboat operator was all smiles when describing the bite out of the Port of Bandon, which coincidentally coincided with the hot bite out of Charleston Harbor.

“It’s finally started – it’s the door opener for us,” said Wayne Butler from Prowler Charters in Bandon on Thursday. “Dad had 80 tuna the day before yesterday. We both went yesterday. He had 78 and I had 73, and he’s going again tomorrow.”

With only eight passengers on board Wayne’s boat, the Mis-Chief, each person took home nine tuna. These numbers are typical for this Bandon fishery, which is only one and one-half hours away from Brookings.

Although the weather is supposed to turn sour this weekend, if you have an opportunity of fishing on any of the boats at Prowler Charters, I heartily suggest putting in a reservation. 

So keep your eyes peeled on the Terrafin Charts because sooner or later, Brookings will get a one- or two-day opening window of tuna opportunity. Local area tuna aficionados better have their rods and reels locked and loaded, and their boats ready to head out of the jaws at the first available moment.

Rogue River continuing 
to warm up

Although anglers have not caught fish in excessively large numbers inside the Rogue Estuary, warming water temperatures in the river and in upper tidewater is starting to get anglers sharpening hooks and tying leaders in preparation for trolling the Rogue Bay for large fall Chinook.

“Water temperature is building in the river so the fish are going to start holding in the estuary and, with them holding, we’ll start seeing increased numbers of fall Chinook in the Rogue River Bay,” reports Jim Carey, owner of the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach. “So we should start seeing some good numbers within another week to a week-and-a-half.”

Big redtail surfperch 

being caught

Calling all surf fishermen! Some of the largest redtail surfperch I’ve ever seen were being filleted at the Brookings cleaning station. I weighed in two on my Rapala digital scale. One weighed 3 pounds, 4 ounces, while another weighed 3 pounds, 6 ounces.

“Redfin perch continues to be strong,” says Carey. “I’ve seen ‘em over 4 pounds. We’ve had people catching up to seven in just an hour and a half.”

The best baits are still raw shrimp and Berkley Gulp! camo-colored Sand Worms. Visit the Rogue Outdoor Store and Carey will be happy to show you how to rig up.

Cabezon retention is 

now closed

Starting today, anglers fishing from boats are now required to release all cabezon. Anglers fishing from shore-based venues such as piers, jetties and breakwaters, as well as shore-based divers may still retain one cabezon per day as part of their seven-fish groundfish limit.

Tight lines!