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Rogue Bay Anglers Hooking Chinook

On Oregon Waters, Larry Ellis,

nglers fishing outside the Port of Brookings Harbor are having a heyday catching a smorgasbord of fish and shellfish delectable delights. In fact, every kind of fish imaginable has been brought into the fish-cleaning station at the Port of Brookings Harbor.

Limits or near limits of large Dungeness crab were brought into the Brookings cleaning station last week. Crabbers were dumping their pots anywhere from 20 feet to 60 feet deep.

As of July 1, cabezon are now allowed to be retained, and last week there were a few monster cabzillas being caught in the ocean. Anglers are allowed to keep one cabezon (minimum length 16 inches) per day as part of their 7-fish daily marine bag limit.

However, most anglers are opting to keep 7 rockfish as their marine bag limit, and there have been some very large black rockfish coming to the fillet station.

Steve Singler with crab, photo by Larry Ellis
Steve Singler from Medford, Oregon was crabbing in front of Sporthaven Beach outside the Port of Brookings Harbor last week when he hammered these jumbo Dungeness Crab. The crabbing in the local area has been sensational, photo by Larry Ellis

As of July 1, cabezon are now allowed to be retained, and last week there were a few monster cabzillas being caught in the ocean. Anglers are allowed to keep one cabezon (minimum length 16 inches) per day as part of their 7-fish daily marine bag limit.

However, most anglers are opting to keep 7 rockfish as their marine bag limit, and there have been some very large black rockfish coming to the fillet station.

Blue rockfish and deacon rockfish have also been caught as well, but remember that you are only allowed to keep 3 blue rockfish and/or deacon rockfish combined as part of the 7-fish marine bag limit. In other words you can keep 3 blue rockfish or 3 deacon rockfish per day, or any combination of the two aforementioned species as long as they add up to 3.

In addition to the 7-fish marine daily bag limit, anglers are also permitted to catch 2 lingcod (minimum size 22 inches). The lingcod fishing slowed down somewhat due to the heavy rockfish bite.

There were also a few days when some Chinook and coho salmon were caught in the ocean, but because the winds were very strong last week, the successful anglers were on the water at the crack of dawn, and they were fishing the first 1 to 2 hours of first legal light.

On one particular day, 2 Chinook were counted by one ODFW port sampler, and I was told by the same ODFW employee that there were 10 more caught that morning as well. Surprisingly, all of those ocean salmon that day were caught near the Whistle Buoy in about 60 feet of water.

Fishing in the Rogue bay for Chinook salmon finally broke loose last week, although the action was described as “fair one day and poor the next”.

James Huie with Fall Chinook, photo by Larry Ellis
James Huie from Grants Pass, Oregon trolled a green-on-green blade on his anchovy/spinnerbait rig last week in the Rogue River bay when he hooked this 20-plus pound fall Chinook, photo by Larry Ellis

Nevertheless, there are some nice Chinook being caught that are averaging between 18 and 30 pounds.

When I visited the Rogue bay on Monday, I personally witnessed 4 fish hooked up, and they were nice, strapping specimens of Chinook.

“They’re starting to catch Chinook in the Rogue bay now,” said Jim Carey, owner of the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach. “There are a combination of late springers and early fall Chinook being caught.”

And practically all of them have been caught by trolling the Rogue bay’s signature rig – a spinnerbait rig/anchovy rig.

Larry Prestininzi, owner of Lex’s Landing in Gold Beach ties some beautiful spinnerbait rigs and sells them in his store for a nominal fee.

“I give the customer 2 spinnerbait rigs for 4 dollars,” says Prestininzi. “That’s 2 dollars a rig. And for 2 dollars more the customer can choose their own color spinner blade as well.”

These are really well-tied rigs using 30-pound test. Larry uses a size 2 hook for the front sliding hook, and an approximate size 2 treble hook for the rear hook. This particular rig is extremely difficult to tie up, so Larry’s price is the best on the coast.

The size 2 front hook is the only way to go with these types of rigs. If you use larger hooks such as 1/0 or 2/0, they will tear up the anchovy’s head. The smaller size 2 octopus-style hook doesn’t actually hook the salmon at all. Hooked from the bottom lower jaw through the middle of the top of the anchovy’s head, a size 2 hook is perfect for adjusting the curve of the anchovy.

You adjust the anchovy so that it will spin nice and tight, just like a drill bit. The anchovy will not be bent side-to-side, but will have a bend in it resembling a porpoise, with the back arching higher than the head and tail.

Head to Lex’s Landing, the Rogue Outdoor Store or Jot’s Resort and ask the employees how to rig up one of these dynamite salmon catching machines.

Lex’s Landing still only charges $5.00 to launch your boat. Their landing is just upriver from the Patterson (Highway 101) Bridge. There is another boat launch closer to the mouth of the river, but be very careful at this spot as the wind can kick up a gale at any moment.

On Thursday and Friday, at least a half dozen anglers again towed their boats up to Coos Bay to launch at Charleston Harbor in search of albacore. At one point during the middle of the week, the tuna were as close in as 22 miles.

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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