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Maximize your bottomfish catches with __?

On Oregon Waters by Larry Ellis, author badge,

ill you fill in the blank with shrimp flies or grubs...with lead fish or anchovies or with plastic worms or swimbaits? All of the above-mentioned lures will catch their fair share of rockfish, cabezon and lingcod. But when it comes to a 100-percent lure, that is, a lure that will catch the aforementioned fish 100 percent of the time, in 100-percent of ocean conditions and in 100 percent of deep- and shallow-water conditions, my vote definitely goes to the plastic lure.

In addition, fishing medium- to large-size plastic lures will catch larger fish almost 100 percent of the time as well. Furthermore, when you hook a fish on a plastic lure, they will almost always stay hooked

100 percent of the time. You hook a fish on a plastic lure, and it's going to inhale that sucker down its throat. Additionally, the hook will be imbedded in the strongest part of the fish's mouth, very often in the beak portion.

Incidentally, that's also how the plastic worm earned the title 100-percent lure by professional bass fishermen. They know that if a bass is hooked on a plastic worm, most of the time, it will get lipped, landed and weighed in at the scales.

I've been in this plastics game for over 50 years now, so I have grown to know that they are far and above the best lures to use for largemouth bass and the previously-mentioned fish of the salt.

So when fishing aficionado Mark Gasich gives me a call to go fishing, like he did last Wednesday, I know that I'm going to learn something.

By the way, Mark once held the record for a yellowfin tuna, a 399.6-pound Tunazilla, so he knows the difference between left-handed and right-handed fishing line.

Mark Gasich of Brookings holds a large cabezon caught on a plastic/jighead combo before releasing it back into the ocean. Photo by Larry Ellis
Mark Gasich of Brookings holds a large cabezon caught on a plastic/jighead combo before releasing it back into the ocean.

Now I am not going to embarrass Gasich by saying which exact brands and colors of plastics he prefers to use when he goes bottomfishing. Hey, I like to fish too! But let's just say that any plastic lure in the 5- to 6-inch range, whether it has a curly tail on the end or not, will catch all forms of bottomfish.

What Mark likes to do, and I don't think he will mind giving up this trick of the trade (since Scampi has been using it since the '70's), is that he likes to thread his plastics onto a 2-inch leadhead jig. He then cements the head of the plastic to the back end of the jig head by using Super Glue, and he uses the gel type.

larry Ellis, holds a large black rockfish caught last week on a plastic/jighead setup. Photo by Larry Ellis
The author holds a large black rockfish caught last week on a plastic/jighead setup.

Don't ask me how I know this little factoid of Super Glue-ology, but if you use the standard Super Glue, I can guarantee that it will run down the lure and will eventually involve gluing one finger to another.

So if you want to glue the head of, say, a Zoom Super Fluke to the back end of a leadhead jig, you will only want to use a dab or two of the gel type adhesive. Using the adhesive in this manner will prevent the plastic worm, or what have you, from slipping down the jighead. It really works!

You will also want to carry some fingernail polish remover on hand in your tackle box, the kind that has acetone in it. Again, and don't ask me how I know this to be true, but this concoction will also unglue stuck fingers. Keep the fingernail polish remover inside two well-sealed zip lock baggies to avoid inevitable spillage.

I like to slide the plastic lure of choice up the shank of the hook so that it is about 1/4 inch away from the back of the jig head before applying the adhesive to the jighead and finally sliding the plastic all the way up the hook until it meets the jig head.

Larry Ellis holds a lingcod he caught last week on a plastic/jighead combo out of the Port of Brookings Harbor while fishing with Mark Gasich.
The author holds a lingcod he caught last week on a plastic/jighead combo out of the Port of Brookings Harbor while fishing with Mark Gasich.

Anyway, using 5-inch long jerk bait-type plastics such as the before-mentioned Zoom Super Fluke in the color Baby Bass or Watermelon Seed, or a Cabela's Go-To Jerk Minnow in the color Green Pumpkin or Watermelon Red, or even the 6-inch curlytail worm called a Kalin's Mogambo Grub in the color white, white or white will all get you bit big time.

The great thing about throwing one leadhead jig with one plastic lure attached (as opposed to using multiple shrimp flies) is that you get the excitement of going one-one-one with a rockfish, cabezon or lingcod, thereby giving you the most fight of the fish that it can possibly give you. It also helps to improve your casting skills as well.

Using 20-pound Maxima Ultragreen monofilament is always a good option.

But if you want to try the new braided lines, 40-pound braid has the equivalent diameter of 10-pound monofilament, and in highly-colored water situations, it is virtually invisible. In clear-water conditions however, definitely go with the monofilament.

Mark Gasich of Brookings carefully watches his fish finder before dropping his plastic lure into a rocky reef outside the Port of Brookings Harbor. photo by Larry Ellis
Mark Gasich of Brookings carefully watches his fish finder before dropping his plastic lure into a rocky reef outside the Port of Brookings Harbor.

Mark often likes to drift around until he locates newfound rocky structure, which is quite plentiful in the ocean outside the Port of Brookings Harbor.

When you find structure containing pinnacles or high spots, drop your lure to the bottom and keep it close to the bottom.

You can also cast to the structure and work your lure back to the boat.

Work the lure in a slow lift/drop procedure. Most of the time the fish will hit the plastic as it is sinking, but they will also smack it while you are retrieving it back to the boat.

You will soon find that an arsenal of plastics and jig heads will be taking up residency in your bottomfishing tackle box.

Passengers from Jerry's Rogue Jets in Gold Beach stopped to watch an angler fight and then land a Chinook salmon in the Rogue Bay. Photo by Larry Ellis
Last Wednesday, passengers from Jerry's Rogue Jets in Gold Beach stopped to watch an angler fight and then land a Chinook salmon in the Rogue Bay.

Fishing for Chinook salmon in the Rogue Bay has found at least 25-fish average days, sometimes more, sometimes less. One interesting thing that happened to me last week while fishing with guide Jack Hanson of Jack's Guide Service, was that my rod got bit by a jack coho. It's kind of early for coho, but you can see them jumping in the estuary later in the evening. Again, only adipose fin-clipped jacks and adults may be kept.

The biggest enemy in the Rogue bay is the wind. If whitecaps kick up, or if you see two red flags flying at the Coast Guard Station, do the safe thing and pack it up.

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

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