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Brookings seafood buffet awaits anglers

On Oregon Waters by Larry Ellis,

little bit of everything was caught last week in the ocean in the Brookings-area vicinity, including albacore, rockfish, lingcod, cabezon, surfperch and Dungeness crab. In addition, the lower Rogue bay has had some stellar bite periods of Chinook salmon.

On Sunday, anglers who took advantage of 5- to 8-knot winds and 2-foot swells, tripped the tuna fantastic, venturing on the average of 34 miles out to sea on a 260-heading from the Port of Brookings Harbor. It’s been more years than I can remember when tuna were caught within a two-week window out of Brookings, and it looks like more of the same action might occur later this month as well.

Ana Ville and Matt McDonald each hold up their albacore caught off the Port of Brookings Harbor, Photo courtesy of Larry Ellis
Ana Ville and Matt McDonald from Ashland, Oregon joined in on the albacore action that took place last week out of the Port of Brookings Harbor.

Most boats that ventured out to sea reported between 6 and 28 albacore per vessel, with tuna being caught on both hand lines or rods-and-reels while trolling zucchini or Mexican Flag tuna clones.

Stiff north winds pushed the tuna back to sea on Monday and later during the week. But as of early Friday morning, the National Weather Service was predicting 6-knot north northwest winds 30 nautical miles out of the Port of Brookings Harbor on Sunday, and between 5- and 7-knot north winds 30 nautical miles out of the Port of Brookings Harbor on Monday.

Whether the blue water and 62-degree tuna water that was hanging just 54 miles offshore on early Friday morning (7-knot wind average) decides to move closer to shore within the aforementioned 30-mile inshore range for most recreational sport fishing vessels falls at the whim of Mother Ocean.

Be sure to check the National Weather Service forecasts for up-to-the-minute weather reports. Also check to ascertain whether the hard chlorophyll and temperature breaks that were 54 miles offshore will be moving closer to shore as well.

Crabbing fantastic
Limits of Dungeness crab also were commonly being cleaned at the Port of Brookings Harbor’s cleaning station.

Most successful crabbers were setting their pots on an average of 100 feet deep in various sandy locations downhill from the port’s whistle buoy.

We’re talking about very large, hard and well-filled-out crab!

The limit of Dungeness crab in Oregon is 12 male crab measuring 5 3/4 inches from the inside of the crab’s points.

Phenomenal bottomfishing
Limits of rockfish and lingcod kept coming into the ports fillet station with regularity, with seas as flat as a sheet of liquid mercury being quite common last week.

Father and daughter Troy and Lily Owen displaying their lingcod caught outside the waters of Port of Brookings harbor, photo by Larry Ellis
Father and daughter Troy and Lily Owen from Medford escaped the 106-degree weather on Sunday to catch these two lingcod while fishing out of the Port of Brookings Harbor.

The most commonly caught rockfish still remains the black rockfish; however there were also some large blue rockfish, canary rockfish and vermilion rockfish mixed in as well.

Larry Ellis, in a boat, holding his two lingcod. Photo courtesy of Larry Ellis
The author holds one of two lingcod he caught last week on a 6-inch plastic jerkbait while fishing out of the Port of Brookings Harbor.

A friend and I fished on Monday and caught our limits of lingcod fairly rapidly, and near-limits of black rockfish were caught in short order afterward.

Mark Gasich holding his rockfish, photo by Larry Ellis
Mark Gasich of Brookings gets ready to bleed and ice another rockfish on a glassy-flat day outside the Port of Brookings Harbor. Note the jerk bait hanging out of the fish's mouth.

All of our fish were caught on 6-inch jerk baits that were attached to 2-ounce lead jig heads.

All of the major plastics companies such as Zoom, Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops make great plastics. You can’t go wrong with the colors baby bass, watermelon seed, green pumpkin or night glow, or similar color combinations.

Surfperch catches still strong
Surf-fishing anglers are still bringing a variety of surfperch to the fillet tables, with the majority of catches being redtail surfperch.

Crissey Field State Park near the Oregon/California border and McVay Park continue to be the two top hotspots for anglers fishing the incoming tide through high slack.

The most-popular natural bait is still small pieces of raw shrimp, with 2-inch Berkley Camo Sandworms being the best artificial bait.

Rogue Bay producing Chinook
The lower Rogue Bay out of Gold Beach is still continuing to pump out occasional bursts of Chinook ranging from the 2-year-old jack sizes up to 30-pound hawgzillas, and the action should continue through August and into October.

3 men on board as an angler prepares to net a Chinook hooked while trolling a spinnerbait/anchovy setup in the lower Rogue River estuary. Photo by Larry Ellis
An angler prepares to net a Chinook hooked while trolling a spinnerbait/anchovy setup in the lower Rogue River estuary last week.

I went fishing on Thursday with two local guides, Harvey Young of Fishawk River Company and Jack Hanson of Jack’s Guide Service. These guides really know what they’re doing when it comes to fishing the Rogue bay.

The most-popular trolling rig in the Rogue bay still continues to be the traditional spinnerbait/anchovy setup, which can be bought in Gold Beach at the Rogue Outdoor Store, Jot’s Resort and Lex’s Landing.

Any of the before-mentioned establishments will be happy to show you how to rig up, or set up a trip with Harvey Young or Jack Hanson, two of the many professional guides who know this fishery quite well.

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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