If you jig it they will come

By Larry Ellis, fishing columnist February 22, 2013 08:56 pm

ODFW STEP Biologist John Weber holds aloft some herring he caught while fishing with his dog, Griff.
 

Pacific herring are continuing to fill ice chests and buckets for California and Oregon anglers who are jigging with baitfish rigs or throwing cast nets in Crescent City Harbor.

Last week, Todd Confer, ODFW District Fisheries biologist, John Weber, ODFW’s STEP biologist and I fished from a sled and probably jigged over 300 herring.

The best time to fish for herring is on the incoming tide and through high slack, a time when herring bite the most aggressively. At the beginning of the incoming tide, all three of us caught a fish on almost every cast, but as high tide approached, tripe hookups were common for anglers fishing from jetties, docks and boats. At one time during the peak of high tide, John loaded all six herring jigs with fish.

Pacific herring come into Crescent City Harbor every year to spawn, and when they finish spawning, the baitfish head back to sea. But at the present time, the milt and roe of the herring are nowhere near being ripe; therefore I predict that this particular run will continue to stay in the harbor for at least another week, probably even longer.

Anglers need to be aware that they must possess a California fishing license when jigging for herring, even from man-made structures and jetties, and California Fish and Wildlife officials are starting to issue citations to folks who are fishing but not carrying a fishing license on hand.

The only places where you can legally fish or crab in Crescent City Harbor without a license is at the B Street Pier and on Citizens Dock.

Here is how the California license requirements read on page 4 of the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations.

“Any person who is 16 years of age or older must have a sport fishing license to take any kind of fish, mollusk, invertebrate, amphibian or crustacean in California, except for persons angling from a public pier in ocean or bay waters.”

There ya go buoys and gulls. The regs are pretty much carved in stone. If you fish from a jetty, you need to possess a license. If you fish from any dock, whether they are docks at the public boat launch or in the commercial boat basin, you still need to have a fishing license.

The price of a daily fishing license is $14.30. The fine for not having one starts around $250 and goes up from there. In addition, your rods, reels and even the boat you fished from could be confiscated. Sounds like a no-brainer to me. Unless you’re fishing from the B Street Pier, make sure you have a fishing license in your possession.

The ratio of male to female herring was about nine males for every female, with some of the males attaining sizes of 10 inches and larger. Those 10 inchers are the best lingcod bait in the universe.

Jim Bithell from Charthouse Sportfishing has already caught some dandy lingcod from herring we had jigged over a week ago.

But anglers are not solely using herring for future bait purposes only. They are also processing and pickling them for food. There is a great publication put out by the Washington, Oregon and Idaho Extension Offices called “Pickling Fish and Other Aquatic Foods for Home Use”.

You can find this publication on line at: http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/pnw0183/pnw0183.pdf.

If you have any further questions about safely processing herring for food, please call the Curry County OSU Extension Office in Gold Beach at 541-247-6672.

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Fishing for redtail surfperch is still continuing to give surf anglers heart-thumping adrenaline rushes in the Gold Beach vicinity.

“Redtail surfperch fishing is still going strong for people fishing at the Nesika Beach rest stop area, and on the inside of the Gold Beach north jetty,” said Larry Cody from the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach.

Tight lines!