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Brooking's 1st Ocean Chinook of the year!

On Oregon Waters, Larry Ellis,
he long-awaited first ocean Chinook of the year out of the Port of Brookings Harbor was finally caught last week on Saturday, the very first day of Free Fishing Weekend. An ODFW port sampler measured the fish as being 31-inches long, and the fish was caught just inside the 30-fathom curve.

It would be five days later until the next salmon would be measured by ODFW.

On Thursday, five Chinook that I know of were caught by sportfishermen trolling flashers-and-baitfish setups out of the Port of Brookings Harbor, and well more than a dozen kings were caught commercially as well. I asked one of the Port’s fresh seafood market owners where the commercial fish were being caught on Thursday.

“The fish are about 9 miles up and about 4 miles out,” said Russ Burkman, owner of Pacific Ocean Harvesters in the Port of Brookings Harbor. “The commercial fishermen are fishing in about 200 feet of water and are dragging the bottom.”

Brian Gagnon and John Kehoe with Halibut, by Larry Ellis
Brian Gagnon and John Kehoe, both from Brookings, Oregon were fishing out of the Port of Brookings Harbor last week when the two anglers each caught a Pacific halibut that weighed approximately 35 pounds each. Photo by Larry Ellis

Recreational sportfishermen on the other hand are fishing in depths ranging from 200- to 300-feet and were catching their salmon between 110- to 120-feet on-the- wire. On-the- wire is a term referring to downrigger wire, as well as the exact depth that the sport fishermen are setting their baits from the water’s surface.

The sporties are having to run approximately 8 miles from port to get their fish, which is typical for this time of the year. However, one angler caught his Chinook about 6-1/2 miles from the Port of Brookings Harbor. In a few weeks, the fish should be working their way closer to shore.

Although the action is slow, it typically picks up by the end of June and the beginning of August, when anglers might only have to venture between 4 and 6 miles from port to get their hookups.

The 3-year- old kings have all been between 29-and 33-inches long, which puts them between 8 and 11 pounds. There should be a few 4-year- old 20-pound- plus Chinook finning their way through the Oregon KMZ later this month.

In the meantime, everyone’s eyes will be on the Port of Humboldt Bay in Eureka, California when their salmon season re-opens this coming Thursday on June 16. Before the first leg of California’s KMZ salmon season closed at the end of May, charterboat operations such as Full Throttle Sportfishing were catching limits of Chinook weighing between 8 and 20 pounds.

Brookings-based salmon fishermen should also be on the lookout for coho salmon between 5 and 7 pounds, which have reportedly been caught in the past week fairly close to port. All coho salmon at this point in time must be released.

Fishing for rockfish has been considered fair-to- excellent, with at least half of the bottom fishermen limiting out mainly on black rockfish, with an occasional blue rockfish, canary rockfish and vermilion rockfish thrown in for good measure.

Anglers have been clocking their rockfish using various plastic jerkbaits such as Zoom Flukes and Super Flukes in a plethora of colors including Baby Bass and Watermelon Seed. Anglers fishing shallow venues are having quite a bit of luck using light tackle and throwing the smaller plastic flukes or other jerkbaits.

Going one-on- one with a rockfish using soft plastics is the only way to go. You get to feel the full fight of the fish and you generally catch larger fish as well.

To improve your luck, use light line between 8- and 12-pound test monofilament, downsize your jig heads to between 1/2 and 1-1/2 ounces, and fish in tight to the kelp. This will allow you to use smaller flukes with a more-natural presentation. If you hook a lingcod using these light-tackle methods, you may not land all of them but your hook-up ratio will definitely go up.

As the saying goes, it is better to have hooked up and lost than never to have hooked up at all.

That being said, the lingcod fishing has been fair-to- good, with most anglers catching at least one lingasaur along with their rockfish, while other fishermen are limiting out on the mottled toothmeisters.

Surfperch fishing for calico surfperch, redtail surfperch and striped surfperch has remained very good for anglers fishing local-area beaches on the incoming tide and using small pieces of raw shrimp for bait.

Pacific halibut fishing has not been on fire but a few dedicated flatfish anglers have been getting their 1-fish limit fishing in the 180- to 240-foot arena.

As of June 5, the southern Oregon subarea (Brookings, Gold Beach) had 92-percent (7,920 pounds) of their Pacific halibut quota remaining.

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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