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Golden Gate rockfish hot-hot -hot

By Gary Heffley
09/11/15-- The only thing hotter than the weather this week in the San Francisco Bay Area was the excellent rock fish and ling Cod fishing found off the coast. I joined my brother Dennis on Wednesday and ventured outside of the Golden Gate with Captain Jon Yokomizo, deckhand Ryan and 10 other anglers on an open charter on the Emeryville based 50-foot Sea Wolf.

A beautiful day and look at South Farallon Island. Picture courtesy of Dennis Heffley
A beautiful day and look at South Farallon Island. Picture courtesy of Dennis Heffley

Greeted by still winds, mild temperatures and flat calm waters as we arrived just prior to 5 a.m. at Emeryville Marina, we chose our positions near the back corner of the boat. After Ryan notified the anglers all of the safety regulations and locations of all the safety equipment and life jackets, gear was secured and Jon had us heading out on the lake calm waters of the bay on a heading to South Farallon Island. Even the crossing through the Golden Gate and the Potato Patch was relatively mild even with an incoming rip-tide greeting us at the Gate.

A small swell was all that greeted us as we arrived in short order just south of the South Island. Jon had everyone rig up for sand dabs, a small relatively small sole that while tasty in their own right is a ling cod favorite and perfect to use as bait. Jon also found some Pacific mackerel which are also great lingcod bait. After a couple of passes and a good number of both in the live bait tank the boat quickly moved into position over prime rock and lingcod grounds.

vermillion rockfish caught at the South Farallon Island. Photo courtesy of Dennis Heffley

The author with nice vermillion rockfish caught at the South Farallon Island. Photo courtesy of Dennis Heffley

The call for the gaff soon followed as the first of many lingcod to hit the deck this day were brought to the surface. Some anglers concentrated on lingcod while others filled their bags quickly targeting a wide range of rockfish. Black, blues, olives, China, copper and quillbacks were the most frequently brought over the rail. Some nice 6-8 pound vermillion were caught along with one lone cabazon.

Dennis Heffley and a nice lingcod.

Dennis Heffley and a nice lingcod. Photo by the author

Anglers used a wide variety of shrimp flies, live bait rigs along with swim baits and rubber jigs to entice our targets. Besides using live bait, swimbaits were effective in targeting the lings. Some anglers used medium heavy black bass rods and reels to work the swimbaits into the lairs of the lingcod. My personal choice, which was very effective as I landed 20 plus rock fish, including many doubles on a double shrimp fly rig tipped off with Kalin 4 inch white lunker grubs. The grubs added a little extra and the success of the added enticement was evidenced by many short strikes where empty hooks often held the body of the grub but no tail. It is an excellent day when you can catch and release rock fish, while bringing a full sack home as well. Fishing in the shallow waters where many rock fish were caught suspended in 50 to 75 feet of water allowed for safe catch and release practices, as many fish caught did not have their swim bladders extended as is common in fish caught are greater depths.

Everyone returned to the dock very happy with at least one ling cod and a full limit of rockfish, that Ryan had filleted and bagged by the time we reached the Gate. It is not often that a trip to the Farallons is undertaken where anglers are greeted with short-sleeve weather, calm seas and excellent fishing. The fishing is usually always great but very seldom do you enjoy all three.

For anyone interested in taking part in this great catching, I hesitate to call it fishing, give Jon and the Sea Wolf a call at 916-521-5879. Also keep track of Jon's Fishing Report for the Sea Wolf and the rest of the Emeryville Fleet on or via the Fish Count Link on the Sea Wolf website,

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