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Bottom fishing superb, halibut season

On Oregon Waters, Larry Ellis,
ishing for rockfish and lingcod continued to thrill Brookings-area anglers last week as flat-calm ocean conditions beckoned anglers to throw their favorite rockfish and lingcod lures. Most people were catching their rockfish and lings anywhere from Bird Island uphill toward Mack Arch, however the bottom grabbers were caught downhill toward Akin Point as well.

Limits were common, with a plethora of rockfish being caught. I had the opportunity of fishing aboard the High Hopes II on Wednesday, and the three of us caught a wide variety of rockfish species, including canary rockfish, vermilion rockfish, black rockfish, and even one large yellowtail rockfish.

All of our fish including Soon Ae Phillips' limit of lingcod came on plastic jigs fished on 2-ounce lead heads. The fish were hugging the bottom, so being within 12 inches of the bottom was critical.

Good examples of plastic lures are 7-inch jerkbaits, Zoom Super Magnum Flukes and Kalin Mogambos. The colors melon back, baby bass, watermelon and super glow all worked well, but don't discount the colors white or ivory.

At this time, cabezon are illegal to retain, with some very large cabbies being caught and released. Retention of cabezon won't open until July 1.

It is a good idea to always be cognizant of how many fish may be kept in Oregon waters. There is a 7-fish marine bag limit which is somewhat confusing to many people.

The best way to understand which 7 fish fall within this marine bag limit, in your computers search engine just type in, "What can I keep, and how many?". You will come to a PDF file written by ODFW that has detailed explanations of which fish fall within this category, and which fish are illegal to retain. I highly recommend reading this free booklet!

Generally speaking, the 7-fish marine bag limit includes all rockfish species, cabezon, the two greenling species and some other fish. Most people opt to keep only the rockfish species and release the others, but read this great booklet to get the real scoop.

On top of the 7-fish marine bag limit, you are also allowed to keep 2 lingcod (minimum size 22 inches).

There are also specific limits of fish that fall under different categories that can also be kept, such as surfperch (limit 15), offshore pelagic species which includes all species of tunas (limit 25) and flatfish species (limit 25) which includes starry flounder, soles, Pacific sanddabs and California halibut.

Fishing for Pacific halibut in the Southern Oregon Subarea (from Humbug Mountain south to the Oregon/California boarder opened on May 1. This area includes the Ports of Brookings Harbor and Gold Beach, which are open 7 days a week through October 31 or until the whopping quota of 8,605 pounds (dressed weight) is attained.

Lady with bent rod while fishing in ocean, by Larry Ellis
Soon Ae Phillips of Brookings, Oregon fights one of many rockfish that the author, her husband and she caught last week while fishing out of the Port of Brookings, photos by Larry Ellis

This is a use-it-or-lose-it quota, meaning, if this area does not cap out on this quota, we may never see this huge of a harvest cap again. So do your best to catch lots of halibut this year and and cap out early. By the way, the largest Pacific halibut sampled in the Brookings area in the last 15 years was 61.8-inches long and weighed nearly 118 pounds. So there are some big barn doors out there waiting to be slammed!

lady with red vermillion rock fish, photo by Larry Ellis
There is nothing more beautiful than the brilliant coloration of a freshly-caught vermilion rockfish as shown by Soon Ae Phillips of Brookings, Oregon on a recent trip the author took with her and her husband last week aboard the High Hopes II out of the Port of Brookings Harbor.

Bottom fishermen, do not forget that the 30-fathom curve is now in effect, meaning that retaining rockfish and lingcod is only permitted inside of the 30-fathom curve. The coordinates for the 30-fathom curve can be found on ODFW's Web site.

It is now only two weeks until the all-salmon-except-coho ocean salmon season begins on May 28 in the Oregon Klamath Management Zone, which is an area from Humbug Mountain south to the Oregon/California border. This area includes the Ports of Brookings Harbor and Gold Beach.

During this period, which lasts through June 24, all coho must be released. But starting June 25, anglers will be allowed to retain hatchery coho in an area from Cape Falcon south to the Oregon/California border, which includes the Ports of Brookings Harbor and Gold Beach.

In the meantime, Oregon ocean salmon hunters will be looking at California's Port of Crescent City because the California KMZ all-salmon-except-coho ocean salmon season will open this coming Monday on May 16. Once again, this is California - not Oregon. If the Port of Crescent City does well on salmon in the next two weeks, you can reasonably expect that Brookings anglers would also expect to have a similar opener on May 28.

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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