On the Water: Lay of the land can lead to underwater plenty

Written by Larry Ellis, fishing columnist May 03, 2013 08:47 pm

Fishing last week in the ocean for lingcod and rockfish was no less than spectacular, with excellent numbers of lingcod catches being the highlight of most anglers’ trips. On the day that I went out, the first four lings were caught in less than 30 minutes, and they were all keepers. In the next two hours, the person I was fishing with and I probably released a dozen more lings. Several were bigger than the lings we kept.

I suspect that the great lingcod fishing will continue into next week. As of this writing on Thursday evening, Monday was going to be the National Weather Service’s best call at hitting the water, with a prediction of 5-knot winds or less, coupled with a 1- to 2-foot swell.

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There is nothing more annoying than having someone’s boat creep up beside you and fish a rock pile that has taken you years to find yourself. The good news is that, with a few simple tips, you can find your own secret rock piles and become a fully autonomous fish warrior.

Rockfish are called rockfish because of the obvious — they are fish that tend to congregate around rocks. Simply find rock piles on your electronic fish finder and you’ll find rockfish and lingcod. It’s as simple as that.

But everybody actually has a built-in fish finder that can’t be beat — their eyes and their brain. When used in conjunction with electronic fish finders, a person’s built-in fish finder is the most effective tool at catching rockfish and lings.

The first thing I like to do when finding a new rockfishing spot is to take a look at the lay of the land. What you see on land is likely what you’re going to see in the water.

For instance, as you travel down the coast as you exit the Port of Brookings Harbor, you’ll notice areas on land that tend to have sand, and areas on land that tend to have steep-sloping rocky cliffs.  These steep-sloping cliffs and rock piles will extend further into the ocean — quite a bit further in many cases, and you can always depend on finding fish when you motor cross these areas. Akin Point is one such place.

When you’re motoring up or down the coast, as your boat travels across the sloping part of Akin Point, you’ll notice that your fish finder will show that the bottom will first be flat, then will start rising sharply, remain semi-rocky, and then slope back down to a flat area again.

This consistency will occur whether you’re in 30 feet of water or 90 feet of water, because these types of points tend to extend a long way into the ocean. These types of points demonstrate visually what the underwater bottom should look like, and your electronic fish finder will verify when you’ve crossed these underwater hills and valleys.

When crossing these rocky areas, even if you don’t see a fish marked on your fish finder, the likelihood of a rockfish or a lingcod being somewhere in these nooks and crannies is still very high. Often your fish finder will not pick up fish that are either hiding inside of a rock pile, or a fish that is hugging very close to the bottom. In the latter case, the fish would be picked up as part of the rocky terrain.

These hills and valleys are the obvious places where you’ll almost always find fish. But there are areas that are even better.

Rock piles, and underwater slopes that do not appear to be interconnected with the lay of the land, and seemingly come out of nowhere, are hotbeds of activity. These are the spots where fishermen find the best action. Pursuing these areas is time consuming but well worth the effort. When you find a high plateau in the middle of a flat underwater desert, you can count on finding fish.

There are literally thousands of these mini rock piles and humps in the area from the California/Oregon border and Twin Rocks. Find these underwater plateaus and mark them on your GPS, and you will be able to find and fish these areas time and time again.

Tight lines!