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Always Something to Catch in July

On Oregon Waters, Larry Ellis,
irst of all, I would like to welcome all the vacationers who are spending time in our fair city this weekend to catch a few fish and ultimately catch the fireworks show on Monday. If it wasn’t for all the folks in the valley and elsewhere, I’m pretty sure that this town would dry up. So thank you all for coming.

Brookings Harbor offers such a diverse amount of fishing, even if it was raining sideways or blowing a gale, there is always something to catch, somewhere.

It is looking right about the time of this writing that the local area might be in for some high winds and moderately-steep swells. But there is one thing about the weather in these parts. If you don’t like it – stick around – it will probably change, no matter what the National Weather Service is forecasting.

Last week for instance, the National Weather Service was predicting that wind would keep anglers from catching salmon during the first part of the week. Then when Monday rolled around, folks finally tied into some Chinook and keeper coho.

Drew Watson and Benjamin Lanphar holding large black rockfish, photo by Larry Ellis
Drew Watson from Happy Valley, Oregon and Benjamin Lanphar from Vancouver, Washington teamed up to catch some very large black rockfish last week while fishing outside the Port of Brookings Harbor. Photo by Larry Ellis

Remember that you are allowed to keep coho as long as they are missing an adipose fin and it has been healed over with a visible scar. All the coho that have an intact adipose fin must be thrown back – no ifs, ands or buts!

So be sure to know how to identify the difference between coho and Chinook or until heavy fine do thou part.

The best way to identify whether your salmon is a Chinook or a coho is to look at the bottom jaw from above, and look specifically at the base of the teeth. If the base of the teeth are white, it’s a coho. Look on page 95 of the Oregon Sport Fishing regulations for identifying the mouth of a coho and a Chinook.

Most of the salmon caught on Monday were taken approximately 5-1/2 miles or so from port. Most of the Chinook were caught 120 feet or deeper on-the-wire, and the coho were caught in the upper water column.

If the wind does prevent you from venturing out to sea, by all means try surf fishing for surfperch at the many venues located from the border up to Gold Beach.

Remember that surfperch almost always bite the best on an incoming tide, especially within 3 hours of the top of high tide. After the tide starts to go out (or ebb), you might as well hang it up.

When fishing for surfperch, I like to use two dropper hooks, and a lot of times I will only use one hook.

Here’s a quick refresher course on how to catch surfperch.

I like to use an 8- or 9-foot rod with a spinning reel loaded to the brim with 30-pound braid. This type of setup enables very long casts with little effort.

I like to time my casts. For instance, I will watch the waves come in for a period of 10 minutes or so. On any given day, waves will have their own cycle, or set. I will watch for the pattern of high and low waves, and I will usually wait till the end of the set when the waves are the smallest or are virtually nil. Then I will make my cast.

You will want to rig up with sinkers ranging from 3 to 6 ounces. If I can get away with it, I will use as light of a sinker as I can. Tie your sinker on the end of your line.

About 18 to 20 inches up your line, tie a dropper loop ( Through the dropper loop, pass the loop of a size 6 or 8 snelled leader. Then pass the hook through the snelled leader loop, pull, and you’re good to go.

My favorite all time bait has always been small pieces of raw shrimp, the kind that you can buy 30 or 40 to the package in the frozen food section of the supermarket. After cutting a 3/8 inch piece of raw shrimp, thread it onto your hook and then tie it onto the hook after that by using 3 or 4 wraps of Miracle Thread or light cotton thread.

Cast away and you’re home free.

Fishing for rockfish and lingcod has also been very good. You will notice that they also bite the best on an incoming tide as well. Black rockfish have been dominating the action, and there have been some toads caught, with many fish approaching 6 pounds!

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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