CLOSE TO HOME: ANGLERS CATCHING LIMITS OF ROCKFISH FROM NEAR-SHORE REEFS

April 11, 2008 11:00 pm
Bob Goodman of Brookings holds up a vermilion rockfish and a 14-pound lingcod he caught on aleadfish while fishing out of the Port of Brookings on Wednesday. (The Pilot/Larry Ellis).
Bob Goodman of Brookings holds up a vermilion rockfish and a 14-pound lingcod he caught on aleadfish while fishing out of the Port of Brookings on Wednesday. (The Pilot/Larry Ellis).

By Larry Ellis

Pilot staff writer

All week long the Brookings cleaning station was filled with the buzzing of electric fillet knives as anglers brought species upon species of rockfish to the fillet tables. Limits were the rule as ice chests of the Sebastes genus were emptied onto the platforms.

Last week's weather forecast called for intermittent showers, but fishers were able to bring home the bacon in between squalls. Again, some very large vermilion rockfish saw the pointed end of fillet knives with some of the goldfish easily exceeding 10 pounds.

Most of the anglers did not have to venture very far to bag the bottom grabbers. A lot of folks headed straight out or just a little bit downhill to be in the heart of the rockfish schools. Akin Point was again a very popular spot.

But even though Akin is not very far away, there are still plenty of pinnacles and rock structures with your name on them, in what I call the most cost-effective fishery in existence. With the price of gas being what it is, a lot more anglers are opting to fish the near-shore reefs instead of heading up to Arch Rock or down to Camel.

To fully appreciate how great this fishery really is, and it is an outstanding fishery, one must almost have to come from somewhere else, where limits of sizable rockfish, not to mention the tremendous variety, are not as prevalent.

We are so lucky to live in an area that not only has the best fishing on the planet, but has the loveliest scenery on the coast.

I have noticed a lot more ice being dumped onto the cleaning tables, as well as some very white fillets coming off the carcasses. A lot more folks are taking the time to properly bleed out their catch, as well as keeping them iced down to insure a higher quality product.

At first, it may not seem like a big deal to ice down a lowly rockfish, but rockfish spoil too, although to a much lesser degree than fish such as salmon and tuna. Try icing down your catch the next time you go bottomfishing and see if your fish and chips have a much better flavor.

On several occasions there have also been good numbers of surfperch being filleted at the cleaning station. Just last Wednesday, two gentlemen from Klamath Falls were filleting both redtails and striped perch. The good news is that there were not any young in their bellies yet and, as everyone knows, surfperch give live birth to offspring that look identical to their parents.

What that means to me is, we are in for a tremendous surfperch year. One of the guys was using raw shrimp for bait, while the other was using those little cocktail shrimp, the ones that come already cooked. He said the curve of the shrimp fit his hook better, but later said the real reason he uses them is so he can eat the bait if he gets hungry.

The best spots have still been one-half mile uphill from the Winchuck Wayside, McVay Park, Sporthaven Beach and Chetco Point Park.

The lower Rogue springer fishery slowed down a little last week, mainly because the river flow was down to 5,000 cfs and the water was very clear. There is plenty of snow pack in the surrounding hills, but in order for the snow pack to melt, we need a little help from Mother Nature.

"We have good snow pack but we need to have rain along with it," says Steve Beyerlin from fishoregon.com. "When the river gets down to 5,000 cfs the fish are a little bit harder to catch. I wouldn't expect to see it do real well until we get the next rain. Fishing for springers is very water-flow oriented."

I have to stop for a moment to pay tribute to a couple of fishing and hunting friends who certainly brightened up my life as well as others. Bruce Beyerlin, who everyone knew very well, passed on a few months ago.

It came as a shock to me as his son Steve, a well-known local guide, touched on his passing in one of his newsletters, which asked people to pay tribute to the last of generation of folks who experienced the harsh realities of World War II. Among many others, Bruce was one such veteran.

But he meant much more to those of us whose lives were enriched by his captivating stories and photographs of his many hunting trips. Bruce was a real down-home kind of guy and it was a pleasure knowing this fine gentleman.

Another gent who passed one week ago was my stepfather, Leon. Another WW II vet, I will never be able to thank this man enough for the kindness he extended to me while he was alive.

Leon used to take me fishing every chance he was able, which to both of us was never enough. Leon had a very unselfish way of dividing up the catch at the end of the day. No matter how much, or how little we caught, the fillets were always portioned out equally so everyone on board had plenty of fish to take home.

He always had room for an extra guest, and if he didn't, he made room. Many a salmon were netted on at least two boats that I could remember. Just like Bruce, Leon took the most pleasure talking about his family.

One of my fondest memories was when we broke down 19 miles out at sea, after having caught more than 20 tuna. Now that is something I don't recommend anyone doing (the breaking down part; the tuna part was awesome). But Leon kept his cool and we eventually were safely towed into port by the U.S. Coast Guard.

I hope Bruce and Leon are up there together exchanging a few stories, sharing a brewskie and catching a few fish.

Please, when the time is right, express your gratitude to those very few WW II veterans who are left.

Tight Lines!