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Avoid fishless water for angling success

On Oregon Waters, Larry Ellis,
ast week under beautiful sunny skies and moderately-calm seas, there were a few days when anglers enjoyed chasing rockfish and lingcod anywhere from Bird Island clear up to House Rock.

I noticed that some anglers brought in only a few fish while others limited out on a variety of rockfish as well as lingcod, so depending on who you talked to, the fishing was either very bad or very good.

The most successful and consistent fishermen were using crescent-shaped sinkers in combination with herring or anchovies used on mooching rigs. Almost always, the lingcod are caught on herring while rockfish are caught on anchovies. However both lings and rockfish have been known to eat both baits.

If you want to fish using these mooching setups, you'll have to alter the rigs slightly. Most people will use a slip-tie mooching rig and replace the bottom single hook with a large treble hook.

As far as artificial lures went, most folks were having the most success using 5- to 7-inch jerkbaits single-fished on a jig head usually weighing between 2 and 3 ounces. While it is true that a lot of anglers do like using shrimp fly rigs or rigs with multiple flukes attached, there is nothing more exhilarating and rewarding than going one-on-one with a rockfish by single-fishing a plastic lure of some sort.

To me, single-fishing plastics is one of the most rewarding of all the fishing methods. When fishing this way, you get to experience the full fight of the fish. In addition, I firmly believe that using one lure attached to your line also gives you a better opportunity for catching larger fish as well. I think that the fish caught on single plastics tend to be more solitary than other schooling fish, and these isolated fish tend to be larger by nature.

Next week's ocean forecast is looking a little iffy at the present time, however keep your eyes peeled on the National Weather Service's website because you never know if there will be one or two days when the ocean will lay down once more.

If the ocean is a little on the rough side, that often gives surf anglers an opportunity at catching both striped and redtail surfperch.

I received an email from an angler who was fairly new to the surfperch fishing game who said that while he enjoyed fishing for surfperch, he was not as successful as he wanted to be.

That kind of reminded me a lot like the way I was when I first came to Brookings over 30 years from southern California. The beaches in southern Cali were pretty much ubiquitous with barred surfperch. In other words, it didn't really matter where you made your cast. The barred slabs were pretty much everywhere.

Brookings resident Joe Whaley and a few friends caught a variety of rockfish in addition to limiting out on lingcod on Wednesday while fishing outside the Port of Brookings Harbor, photo by Larry Ellis
Brookings resident Joe Whaley and a few friends caught a variety of rockfish in addition to limiting out on lingcod on Wednesday while fishing outside the Port of Brookings Harbor, photo by Larry Ellis

The surfperch of southern Oregon and northern California pretty much like hanging out in specific areas.

So to be a more successful surfperch fisherman you first need to avoid fishless water, which is pretty much 95 percent of the beach. Find the 5 percent of the beach that they prefer, and you can have a pretty good day at kedging your way toward your 15-surfperch limit.

Here are 5 tips that should help you find beaches where surfperch tend to congregate.

1. Avoid very long, flat stretches of beach.

2. Look for steep, sloping stretches of beach. You may only find a few of these select areas on a regular beach, but fish them you must.

3. Fishing is almost always fair-to-good where beaches abut jetties.

4. Look for underwater channels and dishes at low tide and come back on the incoming tide to fish these channels and dishes when they are covered with water.

5. Always fish on an incoming tide. The best time to fish for surfperch is almost always during the last three hours of the incoming tide, through high slack, and only one-half hour after the tide starts to ebb.

Don't waste your time fishing fishless water or during an outgoing tide cycle. You will find that rockfish and lingcod also pay attention to the tides as well. Learn to fish the tides correctly and watch your catch rates skyrocket.

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. Posted with permission of the Curry Coastal Pilot of Brookings, Oregon

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