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The salmon are coming to Curry County

Larry Ellis author badge for, On Oregon waters

ast week, diminishing winds and calm seas allowed 52-degree water to inch its way closer to the Oregon and California coastline. The combination of a salmon’s ideal comfort zone combined with chlorophyll-rich water brought Chinook salmon within the realm of commercial-fishing vessels.

There was also one verified report of a 30-inch Chinook caught accidentally by an angler fishing for bottomfish as well.

With 5- to 8-knot winds predicted this weekend, my prediction is that anglers will be catching more salmon purposefully on Sunday.

Terrafin Sea Surface Temperature and chlorophyll charts are showing that a wall of very warm water will be helping to push the 52-degree water closer and closer to shore as next week approaches.

“There were three commercial salmon boats catching a few salmon on Wednesday,” said Marge Mansur of Four M Tackle. “The fish were only eight miles out.”

I had heard a rumor at the fish-cleaning station at the Port of Brookings Harbor that most of the commercially-caught kings were caught between 150- and 200-feet deep, and there may well have been fish caught that deep “on the wire”. But I was pleasantly surprised to hear from Marge that the salmon that were caught on Wednesday were caught in much shallower water.

“Most of the fish that were caught on Wednesday were caught anywhere from 3 to 40 feet deep,” Mansur noted.

That’s 3 to 40 feet “on the wire,” meaning, the commercials were fishing in 150 to 200 feet of water but were trolling their anchovies anywhere from 3 to 40 feet from the water’s surface.

Most sport boat anglers are listening carefully to the commercial vessels by CB or VHF radio for updated reports.

Dennis Haack and two friends, all from Klamath Falls tripped the rockfish fantastic on Thursday to nail 3 limits of black rockfish while fishing out of the Port of Brookings Harbor, Larry Ellis photo
Dennis Haack and two friends, all from Klamath Falls tripped the rockfish fantastic on Thursday to nail 3 limits of black rockfish while fishing out of the Port of Brookings Harbor. Photo by the author
Meanwhile, anglers are catching limits of black rockfish by either going uphill toward House Rock or are venturing downhill toward Akin Point. Last week, it was either feast or famine. You either had a few fish in the boat or were overflowing with limits in a very short period of time.

“We usually go out every day and the boats usually limit out on the bottomfish,” said Alana Ordoyne from Tidewind Sportfishing in Brookings. “They usually get at least one if not both lingcod and they always limit out on rockfish.”

One thing anglers can do to help bring more fish to the boat when the fishing is finicky is to downsize their gear and fish closer to the kelp beds.

Another way to unhinge the rusty jaws of both rockfish and lingcod is to use a mooching rig hooked with an anchovy. This method works well in any depth of water. Make sure to hook your anchovy so that it looks like it is swimming naturally.

If you do decide to go the mooching rig route for rockfish and lings, make sure to pinch the barbs shut because there is a very good chance that you could hook a salmon using these setups. You are not likely going to lose a rockfish hooked on a barbless hook, and it sure makes taking the hook out of their mouth a lot easier when the barbs are pinched.

Surfperch fishing is still going strong and has not slowed down one iota, with plenty of striped and redtail surfperch coming to the fillet tables.

The best bait is still small pieces of raw shrimp on a size 8 snelled hook. Those who like to use artificials are still knocking the socks out of the surfperch using Berkley Camo 2-inch Sand Worms.

There are tons of great surfperch-fishing locations along the Oregon coast. Start at Crissey Field Park for big redtail slabs and beach hop your way up the coastline. One great spot is McVay Beach, along Oceanview Road.

When you get to McVay Park, walk downhill to get to the best spots.

Other great surfperch fishing locations are at Chetco Point Park, Pistol River, Kissing Rock near the mouth of Hunter Creek, the south side of the Gold Beach south jetty, the Gold Beach south jetty spit and just down the beach from the Nesika Beach rest area.

Tight lines!

Larry Ellis, author, writer, columnist and photographer has had a 50-year passion for fishing in California and Oregon's saltwater and freshwater venues. He is a well-known writer for Oregon, Washington and California Fishing and Hunting News, Northwest Sportsman, California Sportsman and Pacific Coast Sportfishing. He currently writes monthly for Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine, and is the weekly fishing columnist for “On the Water” for the Curry Coastal Pilot Newspaper. He particularly loves living in his hometown of Brookings, Oregon - The heart of salmon country and gateway to fishing paradise.

On the Water in Oregon by Larry Ellis is posted with permission of the Curry Coastal Pilot of Brookings, Oregon.

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