Category Archives: Rockfish & Bottomfish

Point Grenville Lingcod & Sea Bass June 10

Today was yet another day of Salmon and Lingcod fishing. It was yet another day where salmon fishing was slow but fishing for Lingcod and Rockfish was fantastic. There were a few reports of Salmon caught, but most of the reports that we heard on the radio were of Wild Chinook that were released. We spent the morning fishing along the beach just south of the South Jetty at Westport, then we worked our way north. Three hours of trolling divers yielded two hooked Salmon, neither fish made it to the boat. So we picked up the gear and headed out to target Lingcod.

The Lingcod were very hungry today. As we drifted, we hooked Lingcod at a fairly fast pace. There were a few we kept that were just over two feet long, and a few that were fairly large. At the end of our first drift, I pitched a swimbait right up against an exposed rock and hooked the perfect sized live bait, a small Kelp Greenling. I rigged it on our backup rod, hopped up to the bow and dropped it down. As soon as I felt the tap-tap of the weight hit the bottom, the rod viciously doubled over. Grabbed by a Lingcod! I looked to the left, next to me was Gary… he had just landed a Ling. I looked back to the other side, there was Larry by the cabin… he hadn’t had a chance to tug on one yet. So I rounded to bow, all the while keeping tension on the Lingcod, but by the time I got over to Larry to hand the rod off, the fish was up and ready to be scooped. There it was, just two feet from the surface, it was a beautiful Blue Lingcod, gripping the back half of that small Greenling, swimming with a serpentine motion, oblivious to our motive. Net! I need a net over here! Ian scooped it and we had ourselves another keeper. We snapped a few photos, you know… for the archives, and threw it in the fish box. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t get it over to Larry fast enough, but at least we had one for him to take home. My next goal was to get him on a nice Lingcod.

We fished throughout the noon hour, and our fish box was steadily filling up with bottomfish. Gary caught a beautiful Blue Cabezon, with coloring unlike any I’ve ever seen. We caught a bunch of Black Rockfish, a smallish Cabezon, some other Greenling, and a few other Lingcod.

Black Rockfish were easy to come by. We fished an area that definitely had quite a few of them around. We positioned just off of a hump that gradually came up to an exposed wash rock. At the beginning of each drift, we had sporadic bursts of action, some Lingcod, some Rockfish. At the end of each drift as we neared the wash rock, we would get into a decent Black Rockfish bite.

Ian hollered at me, “Look what I’ve got!” He smiled and held up a tiny Black Rockfish. Live bait! I headed back to the bow to join Larry, and dropped it down. He took the rod, eager to experience a live bait grab. We drifted and fished, the live bait rig didn’t produce. Larry was focused, he was ready. I noticed that everyone else, whom were fishing with swimbait/shrimp fly setups, was catching fish. I asked Larry if he wanted to switch, since the live bait had not produced, and he obliged. Not more than 60 seconds after we switched, I lifted into a Monster Lingcod.

The Ling forced the rod tip downward toward the water, an obvious beast. Larry gasped. I lifted into it, reeled steadily and handed the rod off. It was a struggle for me, then Larry, to manage such a beast. It definitely had the advantage. He could lift it about ten feet, slowly and steadily bringing it up, then it would rocket back to the seafloor.

After about five minutes of back and forth the rod went limp, Larry and I shared a sigh of disappointment. He reeled up to find that the Ling had sawed through the leader. Fifty pound monofilament leader. It was a beast. The beast won the battle.

While I don’t ever refer to myself as an expert in anything, working on a charter boat in Alaska, and having fished religiously for Lingcod in Washington for the past dozen years, I have seen some big fish. My personal best is 62 pounds (weighed on an official scale). While I don’t think this fish would’ve beaten that record, it definitely had more mass, more viciousness, and more fight than a 44 inch fish we released in Puget Sound a few weeks ago.

Regardless of any speculation, it was a nice fish.

Larry ended up getting a keeper Lingcod later that day so all was right with the world and our day on the water was filled with great moments.

Cape Elizabeth Sea Bass June 9

We fished again today on the Pacific Ocean out of Westport. First off, I am a true believer that honesty is the best policy; Salmon fishing sucked so we decided to show our guests some awesome Black Rockfish action today. Far to the north of Westport and the entrance to Grays Harbor, the flat beaches of Ocean Shores gradually give way to the rolling hills of Iron Springs and Moclips. Further north lays a wild and rugged coastline, one of towering cliffs, roaring beachside surf, sea stacks and rocky pinnacles, and some phenomenal inshore fishing. Few venture this far away from port, and the phenomenal fishing that is found closer to Ocean Shores and Westport make it difficult to justify the extra run time, but the scenery is unlike anywhere on the Washington Coast.

We reeled in our salmon trolling gear and headed north. The small native village of Taholah exists at the mouth of the Quinault River, and just north of there are the ominous cliffs of Cape Elizabeth. The entire area is nearly untouched by civilization. Aside from the rooftops of Taholah, I would guess that our view today was the nearly unchanged since George Vancouver sailed the HMS Discovery northward in the late 1700’s, exploring the wild unknown that is our Pacific Coast.

Today our discovery was a phenomenal school of aggressive Black Sea Bass.

No member of our crew had experienced fishing on Washington’s Coast before. Jen & Jessica were from Indiana, freshly graduated from university and on a month-long trek across the American West before returning home to begin their careers. Mike & Rebecca and their folks were out on the ocean near Westport for the first time. Captain Ian and I were both excited to share this special place with our guests. We made the long run and now it was time to find the fish.

After cruising around the inshore near the Cape for a bit, Ian located a healthy school of Black Rockfish on the sonar screen. The water was about thirty feet deep and the bottom was comprised of continuous rock piles and crevasses. We set up for the first drift and everyone had their rods readied. Short light-tackle spinning rods with a double shrimp fly setup.

Six lines were dropped and most of the rods were doubled over with fish before the dropper weight hit bottom. When folks experience the fast-paced fishing action that happens when we go after Rockfish, the one word that I think best describes their reaction is shock. They get bit well before they expect to, all of the memories of past fishing shortcomings flash through their mind, and they try to remember how to react. How can there still be a place where fishing is this good? Like the good ole days. Present tense, these are the good ole days. After the first few hefty Rockfish are lifted into the boat, those four pound slabs with their tails rapidly slapping the deck, the reality sets in that… YES THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING!.

Within fifteen minutes, we were ankle deep into Black Rockfish. Everyone reeled up. Ian fired up the motors to reposition for our second drift. I cleared the deck of fish, each fish was bled and tossed in the fish box. Thirty. Thirty fish in about fifteen minutes. Our next few drifts followed suit. More often than not, when I went to grab the fifty pound line we tie our dropper shrimp fly setups with, I would be lifting not one, but two Rockfish into the boat, one on each fly. This is the action we dream of, and the coastline in front of Cape Elizabeth offers it up.

I love taking folks out when they are here to experience something new and don’t know what to expect. When they are ready for an adventure and especially when we can show them some great fishing.

Another day in the books.

Westport Salmon & Sea Bass

Today was my first day fishing for salmon in Westport. I hopped aboard the charter boat Reel Elite for the day. Salmon fishing in Westport is usually a July and August endeavor, but we have the opportunity of fishing earlier in the season for Hatchery Chinook Salmon. With record returns destined for the Columbia River, everyone is excited about the prospects of great fishing this summer. We are excited too. The first couple days of the early season have been somewhat hit and miss, no one in the Westport harbor will argue that one. We still had our hopes up for a decent day.

Our primary mission was to find a few salmon, and that we did. Our boat is set up to fish six rods, two on the bow, two at the rear of the cabin, and two at the stern. Our rods are all rigged with Delta Divers and a chocked herring. My fishing partner showed me a really slick way to rig whole herring so that they spin, and it seems to be just what the fish want. We released a small Wild Chinook right of the get-go, it was a nice reminder of what those King Salmon actually look like.

While the crew was excited just to hook one , it was the second fish, a Hatchery Chinook, that really got everyone going. Although the first couple moments of action were a good omen, we didn’t really see much activity for the next few hours. With slow fishing for a while, we decided to get everyone into some Rockfish. Captain Ian zipped up to one of his nearby rockpiles and we cruised around for a few minutes, finally locating a small school of Rockfish. I got everyone ready to set their gear at a moments notice, Ian positioned the boat perfectly, and we gave the command, “Drop em down!”

We hit our target, we dropped our gear right into the center of the school. It was unbelieveable fishing for a few moments. I absolutely love being part of the chaos that ensues during a really good Rockfish bite. When you find them in a dense school, it almost seems that as the Rockfish dart to attack the lures, it triggers competitiveness in the others, creating a frenzy of feeding activity below and a frenzy on the boat deck above. Once that small school of fish offered us what it could, we searched around and found a few other rocky areas to fish and rounded out our limit of sixty Black Rockfish. We did only have one Chinook Salmon to show for our efforts so far, but having a fish box full of Rockfish really made everyone feel good about our day’s accomplishments.

On the way back to port, we spotted an area along the forty foot contour line that held a fair amount of bait, so we set the salmon trolling gear and fished while I filleted our Rockfish catch. It is more challenging to fillet fish on a moving boat, but the extra effort yielded us a beautiful Chinook for our guest Del. I saw the rod next to the cabin pulse with force as line tore from the reel, the clicker was zinging! I literally pushed Del, who was in front of me in the cabin, out the door and toward the rod. He grabbed it and the battle was on. Within a few moments we were clearing the other lines, trying to avoid any tangles, and struggling to get the net out, which was already stowed on the top of the cabin. I scooped Del’s fish and we rejoiced when we saw that we could keep it. Del’s fish was a great way to cap of a great day of fishing!

Westport Bottomfish Report May 24

I fished out of Westport today aboard the charter boat Reel Elite for Lingcod and Rockfish. Fishing was pretty fast paced and we had our limits in no time. While the marine forecast was for fairly calm seas, it was a bumpy ride in the morning, as it seemed that there was a mixed swell direction and some chop on the top. Luckily the water calmed down by the time we started fishing. We cruised 10 miles north of the entrance to Grays Harbor to a little rockpile we know about. Armed with a double shrimp fly setup, Ian set ourselves up for two drifts to see what we could find. We knocked out half our limit of Rockfish, but it seemed that by our third drift fishing had really died down. There were six anglers on board, and both Captain Ian and I knew that if we wanted to ensure limits of both Rockfish and Lingcod for everyone, a change of scenery was needed.

Sonora Reef lies about 25 miles north of Westport and has some of the best inshore structure one could hope to find. The reef isn’t much of a secret, as it can be found on most charts, and everyone in the charter fleet knows of its existence. It is a long run to get to Sonora from Westport, but well worth it if you don’t mind burning the fuel. It is truly a special place to fish. Black Rockfish swarm around the wash rocks near the reef, and Lingcod stack onto every rocky ledge, even as shallow as 20 feet. We hoped that making the extra long run up to the reef would give us our boat limit and allow for plenty of time to cruise back and clean our catch.

We motored around searching for a big school of Rockfish. These fish aren’t necessarily difficult to catch, and once you drop your gear into a school, a feeding frenzy often follows. In as shallow as 25 feet, we marked plenty of fish holding tight to the bottom. It must have been the combination of bright sun, clear water, and shallow depths that kept the fish from schooling mid-water. We dropped six lines and the frenzy began. Double after triple after quadruple. We caught thirty before we knew it, and after a final count of 78 Rockfish for 6 guests and 2 crewmembers, we were close enough to a boat limit of 80 to move on to a Lingcod spot. Occasionally we can scrape up an entire limit of Lingcod at the reef and avoid having to move into deeper water, but the Rockfish were so numerous and so aggressive… we didn’t land a single Lingcod up north!

So we cruised off to a favorite Lingcod spot. We passed the Slammer, one of Westport’s premier bottomfish-catching-machines anchored on a prime spot. I checked their report later in the day to find that they absolutely crushed it with 20 anglers: 41 Lingcod & 200 Rockfish. I have nightmares about filleting that many fish at once! But cheers to those guys for offering up another great trip to a boat full of happy anglers. We hit our spot and worked for our 12 Lings, but we got em! All in all it was a great day, and I was stunned at how fast paced the Rockfish catching up north was. Can’t wait until the next trip!

Westport Lingcod & Rockfish Saturday May 18

I had the pleasure of working as a deckhand for All Rivers & Saltwater Charters this weekend in Westport, Washington. Captain Ian Winder and I took a great group of guys out for an express Lingcod and Rockfish fishing trip on the Reel Tight. I jump at the chance to fill in for Ian’s fulltime deckhand, as this boat is a flat out blast to fish from. Saturday’s trip was nothing less than spectacular with fast action, easy limits, and a very happy crew!

Our group of six clients met us at the Reel Tight at 6 a.m. Brian & Larry drove down from Spanaway and the other four (Carl, Jeremy, Nate & Robbie) drove down that morning from Seattle. We cruised across a relatively calm Bar, and headed north up the Coast to a few of our favorite inshore Rockfish spots.

There are a few small rockpiles to the north of Grays Harbor that have been pretty consistent for Black Rockfish. Typically we are fishing in water 20 feet to 50 feet. We made a few drifts over our favorite spot, each generic viagra 100mg. Our client’s tandem shrimp fly setups were getting hammered! Each drift produced multiple double and triple hookups, often times our clients would haul in two Rockfish at once. While a Rockfish limit of 10 per person may seem like a lot, when you get into schools of aggressive fish, the limit is reached fairly quickly. We limited (60 Black Rockfish) within an hour. Time to head to our Lingcod spots.

We headed into deeper waters to target Lingcod, and the fishing was very consistent. Today we fished for Lingcod in waters 100 feet to 150 feet deep. Drifting with Herring was the ticket. The drifts were long, and each produced at least a few hookups. Most of the Lingcod we encountered were in the keeper range of 22” to 30”. After a few hours in our offshore spot, we had our limit of twelve Lingcod to add to the fish box. Ian piloted us back to port, I filleted the catch.

With calm seas and a great group of guests, days like this remind me of why I love it out here in Westport!

Westport Jetty Report May 12

Earlier in the year I was on more or less a fishing hiatus, lately it has been more of a fishing bender. I arrived at Westport a few days ago to play the role of deckhand on the charter boat Reel Elite and while I’ve had two solid days of offshore fishing, I just couldn’t get enough. After a morning full of errands and unnecessary busyness, I decided to dedicate a few hours to fish the Westport Jetty. I wouldn’t be able to get all geared up to hit the max flood tide, but I still was eager to go wet a line. The weather was absolutely beautiful, today was definitely a Mandatory Sunscreen Day.

With nothing more than a light pack with a few essentials and a fishing rod, I was ready to test my luck. It was almost a year since I last fished at the south jetty at Westhaven State Park, and probably two years since before that. I used to consider myself a regular here, and in my younger years have spent many days working the rocks for Lingcod and Rockfish. Westport’s jetty is arguable the best place on the West Coast to shore fish for the Pacific’s bounty of bottom fish.

Equipment: 9’ medium action spinning rod. Spinning reel spun with 30 pound Power Pro braided spectra with a 4’ shock leader of 20 pound mono.

Tackle: 1 ounce jigheads and Berkley Gulp 6” grubs, New Penny, White Glow & Nuclear Chicken.

I arrived soon after the tide change, and as Grays Harbor emptied, it created a ripping current along the bayside of the jetty. I peered from atop the jetty to see what looked like a fast flowing river. Not fishing that side. So I went to check out the ocean side and found that while the tide was most surely going out, the current wasn’t nearly as fast. Current not ripping: CHECK. Swells on the Oceanside small & safe: CHECK. Not a fisherman in sight: CHECK. It looked good!

The water was clear and I fished the underwater structure for about 100 feet of jetty. Numerous grabs, numerous rocks snagged as well. But I ended up coaxing out two smaller Cabezon and a nice Greenling that I released. In all honesty, I was searching for Lingcod and Black Rockfish, but I guess for an hours worth of fishing, I will take what I can get. I did hook two Lingcod, but both won the battle. I got the first Lingcod to the surface and it thrashed and came off the hook before I could grab it. The second darted out from a rock ledge below where I was standing, swatted at my lure just below the surface, and I just couldn’t get a hookset in before it gave a few headshakes and was free. I still consider the few hours out there a success and oh yes, I will be back.

Westport Lingcod Report May 10

I’m down here in Westport for a few glorious days of saltwater fishing. Today was my first day this week to play deckhand aboard the Reel Tight, and we had a great time. The weather was pretty nice, with a little breeze but no rain… I’ll take it! The ocean swells were about 6 feet and spaced about 10 seconds apart, which was a little lumpy but with no wind chop was manageable. Luckily the water laid down to about a 4 foot swell by the time we were finished with our trip. Our crew wanted to go out and catch Lingcod and Rockfish in the Pacific, so we cruised up north to a few spots to see what we could find.

We stopped on a few rockpiles in the 60 to 70 foot depths range, marking both great structure and schools of rockfish on the screen (always a good sign). On the very first stop we got into a school of aggressive Black Rockfish (Black Sea Bass). Within the first two drifts we had over 30 nice sized Rockfish on the deck! We were geared up with light tackle spinning rods spun with 20 pound spectra. Half the rods were rigged with double shrimp flies tied above a 3 ounce lead, the other half were rigged with one shrimp fly tied above a 2 ounce swimbait. While some veterans consider catching rockfish more of an afterthought on halibut fishing days, I honestly find fishing them on light tackle to be one of my favorite things to do. Anyways, I was a busy beaver once we got into the rockfish. Racing from port to starboard and back again, pulling in rockfish, often two on one line, shaking them off the hook onto the deck only to race back to the next guest… what a zoo! A little frenzy while fishing is good though.

As the fishing at our first stop cooled off, we went searching for another aggressive school of fish. We made a few experimental drifts on a few spots that we had yet to fish, and eventually we found the remainder of our limit. While we easily could have reached 80 rockfish limit for all the passengers plus captain and deckhand, we decided that just shy of 70 was enough. Limits for all the guests and a few fillets to take home for some fish tacos! We did land a very nice Lingcod while fishing for Rockfish, but really needed to get a limit for everyone. One down and eleven more to catch. So off we went looking.

We stopped on one of our favorite Lingcod spots with high hopes. We weren’t disappointed. One after another, the guys hooked up on Lings and I was kept busy racing around the boat with the net. It was a fairly good catch too, I can’t recall one Lingcod that was even a questionable keeper, plenty of nice fish in the 24” to 32” range. One of our guests was battling the last Lingcod we needed to round out a limit, and as I stood by his side, net in hand, staring into the abyss where the line disappeared into the depths, I suddenly saw his small Lingcod come into view with a much larger Ling latched onto it! With a urgency in my tone, I had him slowly and steadily reel the fish up, and as soon as the net was underneath them, the big one let go of its prey and dove right into the net! What a thrilling end to a great day!

Express Westport Lingcod & Rockfish

Whenever you’ve found a fishing spot where the fishing is fun and the catching is great, you know you’ve found something special. I’ve been filling in as a deckhand on the Reel Tight out of Westport, Washington. We are currently fishing for Lingcod and Rockfish, just like the rest of the charter fleet. Unlike the Westport Charter fleet, we are running a speedy 29’ Defiance boat and are offering Express trips. While the Reel Tight seems just as speedy as any private sport boat, it is quite a bit faster than any of the other Charters in the Westport fleet. We often will be out fishing for an hour before we notice the first of the traditional charter boats bobbing on the horizon, headed our way.

Fishing for Lingcod and Rockfish today was nothing short of amazing! We cruised out quickly, with less than a four foot swell. Ian and I decided to alter our tackle a bit for this trip, instead of fishing double shrimp flies, we opted for a shrimp fly rigged above a large swimbait. We have been fishing a few select rockpiles and reefs north of Westport, and just knew there were Lingcod to be had at our favorite Rockfish spots.

Ian positioned the vessel for our first drift. Sure enough, our intuitions about Lingcod were correct! Scott was the first to lower his gear down, and WHAM! Fish on! And look… a ten pound Lingcod bit the swimbait and a four pound Black Rockfish bit the shrimp fly. Gotta love doubles! Then David hooked up, then Dale, then Tom, then Dale again, and before I could jump over the pile of Lingcod on the deck to net David’s second Ling, in looked over to witness Scott set the hook on another monster! We were in a fast paced bite for sure.

The weather was fine heading out, but Ian had been paying close attention to the weather forecast, which was quickly turning. We were able to make two final drifts, yielding up a pile of Black Rockfish and quite a few more Lingcod, then we were forced to call it a day and race back to Port. The final count for the day was 11 Lingcod and 30 Black Rockfish. Our swimbait program paid huge dividends, as our average size for Lingcod was easily twice that compared to the hauls of offshore fish. Although we only fished for two hours before having to bag it due to weather, the phenomenal pace of catching was enough to produce some happy clients. It was a great day to be fishing as the action could not have been faster, but we called it at the right time and headed back to Port before the bar was closed.

Spring Fishing Thoughts

Spring does not make a great first impression here in the Pacific Northwest. She always teases us with a beautifully warm weekend early in the month of April. We blissfully fill our spring schedule with springtime activities like planting the garden, dusting off the patio furniture and preparing the boat, ready for a warm weather paradise that will stretch clear into fall. But every year, she catches us off guard. Overnight frosts that kill our fragile little garden starts, weeks of gray rain laden clouds, and heavy seas that dash our fishing plans. And although spring toys with our emotions, depriving us of that much needed sunshine we have oh so missed, fair weather eventually arrives. Us folks here in the upper left hand corner of the country know how to capitalize on the short summer we do have. And if you fish, you know that it is merely a struggle to choose how to manage your time, our options are many. My interests usually steer me toward the Sound.

As spring approaches, we have so many great places to fish that it is only the limiting factor of time that forces us to pick and choose our favorites. I am always eager for April’s Razor Clams, Coastal Lingcod and Hometown Trout.

I find myself beaming with joy at the chance to head west and enjoy our early morning clam digs on the beach. As folks step onto the sand at Long Beach, Grayland, Ocean Shores and Copalis, the amount of great enjoyment seen in the smiles of so many really shows how a little trip to the coast can wipe away the memory of a wet and dark winter.

A chance to fish for Lingcod and Rockfish in the Pacific is one I won’t miss, and every spring I make a concerted effort to head to Westport. I think it is an amazing opportunity we have, to hop on a Charter and explore the open ocean, and to carry home fillets from a dozen healthy bottomfish for under a hundred dollars.

As April surrenders to May, that final weekend is one of many firsts. I should say, many first fish. Hundreds of thousands of folks grab the tackle box and poles and head to their local lakes. It is an impressive feat to stock thousands of lakes across Washington with millions of trout, but the state does that to give families the chance to enjoy easy fishing near home. Many lakes are stocked well, and fishing can remain good into early summer, but that first weekend is a real slam dunk. The fish might not always be the biggest, but they bring a lot of joy and create plenty of memories for young anglers.

The rule book is mailed out and immediately every boat owner in Seattle has requested time off to go shrimping. Our Sound has a great abundance of Spot Shrimp, but the popularity of the fishery allows for only a few shrimping days a year, lest we over harvest our tasty resource. A Saturday here, a Wednesday there and it seems that it ended as quickly as it began. But the resource managers know that it takes a lot of work to go shrimping, so when it is open, we each get a healthy limit of 80.

Just as folks are readying their shrimping gear in anticipation, Halibut and Lingcod seasons open up in marine areas from Astoria to Bellingham to Olympia. May is a heyday for fishermen in the state, and the chance to keep Lingcod one day, Spot Shrimp the next and Halibut the day after that keeps us plenty busy. So even though the Great Northwest is defined by Salmon, us fishermen have plenty to keep us preoccupied before they arrive. Good luck out there!

Best Lures for Catching Rockfish

Rockfish can be easy to catch with the right lure. The Pacific Coast offers great fishing for the many species of Rockfish. I have selected the most popular and productive lures used to catch any Rockfish including Black Rockfish, Blue Rockfish, Yellowtail Rockfish, and Copper Rockfish. These lures can be used from a boat or by shore bound anglers.

As with any type of saltwater fishing, the size of jighead or metal jig will be dictated by current speed and depth fished. I have fished for Rockfish with as little as ¼ ounce to as heavy as 4 ounces in my favorite nearshore Rockfish spots. For those interested in targeting deepwater species, larger weights will be needed.

Kalins Mogambo Grub

Kalin’s Mogambo Grubs are one of my favorite lures for Rockfish. These lures work very well, are extremely durable, and fairly inexpensive. The Mogambo features an oversized curly tail that is very active when retrieved through the water. Recommended colors include Motor Oil, White, Gray Glitter, Root Beer.

Scampi Tail Grub

Scampi Tail Grubs offer a dual tail that creates plenty of attraction for Rockfish. I recommend using white, brown & shrimp colored scampi tails.

Shrimp Fly

Shrimp Flies are extremely popular with the Charter Fleet in many Pacific ports. In areas where more than one hook is allowed, multiple shrimp flies can be rigged, allowing for quick limits once a large school of rockfish is discovered. Typically, Shrimp Flies are rigged 1-2 feet apart on the mainline, with a lead weight at the end of the mainline to get the setup down to the school.

Custom Swimbaits

The emergence of countless custom soft plastic manufacturers has given the Rockfish angler many more options than in the past. Custom Tuna or Bass swimbaits may be slightly more expensive than bulk bottomfish plastics, but these lures are designed and made with care. Some of my favorite lures for Rockfish are from small custom soft bait makers.

5 Inch Single-Tail Grub

These Curly Tail Grubs can be found in bulk bins at almost every seaside marina, boathouse and tackle shop. They are extremely inexpensive, come in a variety of great colors and are most likely the most popular lure for Rockfish overall. Recommended colors: White, Motor Oil, Root Beer, Black, Purple.

Yamamoto Single & Double-Tail Grubs

Practically every fishing tackle store carries Gary Yamamoto soft baits, and with an array of natural colors these are perfect for the saltwater as well. These tend to be fairly inexpensive, but they lack the durability that many saltwater specific plastics have.

Pline Lazer Minnow

These flashy metal jigs are one of my favorite lures for Salmon, Lingcod and Rockfish. They have a very long range of attraction, and come in a variety of fishy colors. I typically use these when I am fishing from a boat, as they are more expensive than soft plastics and are easy to lose from a jetty. Blue/Silver, Chartruese/Silver, White/Silver and Black/Silver are my favorites.

Storm Weighted Swimbait

Storm and Calcutta both produce a weight-infused swimbait that is very lifelike and very effective. While they look great, they are not heavy enough for their size and are best fished in shallower waters. Bunker, Shad, Golden Mullet and Sardine are my favorite color patterns.

Sassy Shad

This timeless soft plastic is both durable and inexpensive. The paddle tail’s action looks just like a fleeing baitfish. These are fairly Old School but they work like a charm.

I hope this was helpful to all of you Rockfish enthusiasts, I have spent many years experimenting with lures and have narrowed down my personal selection to these favorites.

Old Lady Lyster and the Barview Jetty

I was first introduced to the world of the jetty during a summer vacation to the Oregon Coast. I was invited to join a school friend down at his family’s beach house in the small seaside town of Rockaway. After a day’s worth of crabbing on Tillamook Bay, walking on the beach, and spending all of our money at the local arcade, the eager search for something to do lead these two teenagers to an unsuspecting place.

To Lyster’s. A small roadside shop that sold fishing licenses to tourists, frozen herring to old salts, live clams to family vacationers and apparently, jetty fishing tackle to teenagers. Old Mrs. Lyster was a local legend. Fishermen would drive far past the Garibaldi Marina to squeeze out the latest fishing report. It wasn’t until years later, when I was recalling our experiences with her; I realized that regardless of where we went or whatever mishaps we brought upon ourselves, we were led there by a hot tip from the old woman.

We ended up spending most of our hard earned money there, thinking that whatever old Mrs. Lyster had that we didn’t was exactly what we needed to land our great white whale. Over the course of that summer I spent three weeks on the Coast. Exploring Arch Cape and finding hidden patches of goliath Mussels, stalking Sea Run Cutthroat in the lower Wilson, and scrambling over rocks on the Barview Jetty. To a kid who hadn’t ventured further than the local trout pond, this opened my eyes to a bigger world with bigger fish.

The jetty was my first connection to the sea. It is a world at the collision of the land and ocean. Great tidal forces empty Tillamook Bay twice daily, forcing all that water into a narrow channel bordered by two thin piles of rock. Strange creatures writhe in every crevice, slimy sea lettuce makes the simple act of walking a true hazard, heavy ocean swells can become a widow-maker. As we explored and fished, it seemed as if the ocean kept the area around the jetty in fresh supply of things for us to catch.

Lyster sold us Sand Shrimp and we caught Greenling. We picked up clam necks and we caught Striped Sea Perch, the small paddle-tailed Sassy Shad plastics yielded competitive Black Rockfish to fight over our lures. Overall, I probably spent more time on those rocks than I did back at the cabin. Every tide change brought us to the land of milk and honey.

While I graduated from a land lubber and spent many days fishing on the open ocean on friends’ boats, every spring, I get that urge to return to those rocks and get back to my fishing roots, and I do.

I don’t know if I’ll ever run into you again ma’am, but I credit your enthusiasm and knowledge for helping light that little fire that turned into my lifelong passion for the sport of fishing.

Neah Bay Inshore Fishing for Lingcod, Rockfish and Other Bottomfish

Inshore Bottomfishing at Neah Bay

On the Northwest tip of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula lies the tiny hamlet of Neah Bay. This is the jumping off point to a vast expanse of open ocean salmon fishing, halibut fishing and miles and miles of rugged shoreline. The North Coast offers some of Washington’s finest bottomfishing, with inshore structure found nowhere else in the state.

About Inshore fishing at Neah Bay

Neah Bay may be a small village on the Makah Indian Reservation, but in the fishing world the name refers to a huge expanse of shoreline reaching from Waadah Island at Neah’s harbor south on the coastline past Cape Alava. The coastline offers countless rockpiles, ridges, reefs and other structure that hosts unbeleivable bottomfishing.

Tatoosh Island and Cape Flattery mark the entrance to the open ocean from the Straits. There are miles of productive inshore bottomfish structure along the shoreline inside the Straits from Neah Bay to Tatoosh. From Cape Flattery south to Umatilla Reef offers many well known bottomfish locations including Strawberry Rock, Mushroom Rock, Spike Rock, Father & Son and many many more.

Umatilla Reef is a popular area for those willing to run longer distances. There is ample structure to fish, and plenty of rockfish and lingcod available.

Inshore Lingcod

Lingcod fishing around Neah Bay can be pretty fast-paced. Every rockpile, ridge and ledge has potential. Unfortunately for those seeking monsters, most inshore lingcod are small. Inshore areas can almost be considered a nursery for lings, with keeper size difficult to find at times. Most of the large lingcod that make their way to the cleaning tables at the marina are caught offshore in deeper waters. For those hoping to catch a keeper inshore, use larger swimbaits and metal jigs.

Neah Bay Rockfish

Rockfish can be found schooling near any major rocky pinnacle. Black rockfish are most common and are easy to catch. With generous bag limits, most anglers fish a double-hook rig. Swimbaits and curly tail grubs on 1 oz to 3 oz jigheads work extremely well in shallow water. Metal jigs like the Point Wilson Dart, Pline Laser Minnow or Buzz Bomb from 1 oz to 3 oz will work extremely well.

To set up a two hook rig tie a top hook with a palomer knot, leaving a longer tag line to tie on your jighead or metal jig. Either use a curly tail grub on that hook, or tie in a shrimp fly.

Westport Jetty Fishing

Westport jetty fishing

Westport has always been Washington’s most popular fishing port. Dubbed Salmon Capital of the World, Westport has a reputation as the place to go if you want to catch salmon. While most of today’s hype is of Westport’s ocean fisheries for salmon, halibut and bottomfish, it offers shore bound anglers the chance at some quality bottomfishing at the Westport Jetty.

About the Westport Jetty

The Westport Jetty pierces the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of Grays Harbor. It is considered part of Westport Light State Park (Often refered to as Westhaven State Park). This Washington State Park is popular with beach combers, surfers and anglers. The jetty is about 1 mile long, and requires some serious effort to hike to the end. Near the beach, the jetty is composed of smaller boulders and is an easier hike.

Jetty rocks are extremely hazardous to walk on while wet, so be careful! Fishing can be excellent on both the Grays Harbor side or Pacific Ocean side of the jetty, yet the water on the Pacific side is usually too rough to fish.

Anglers target surf perch near the jetty from the beach, but jetty anglers target black rockfish, lingcod and greenling.

Gearing up for the Westport Jetty

Typically, the fish at the Westport Jetty aren’t monsters. Most bottomfish weigh between 1 to 10 pounds. The two main factors when determining what rod to bring are as follows. Lingcod often ambush baits and immediately retreat back into their rocky burrows. Having a rod that can force lingcod to the surface is required. Also, light lines can be easily frayed from the rocks and barnacles of the jetty, so we typically use between 15 to 20 pound line.

Since jigging is the method of choice, a shorter rod with a fast action works well. We use the Shimano Clarus 7’9″ 12-30lb casting rod, anything close to this length and taper will do.

Westport Jetty Lingcod

Lingcod live in the cracks between the jetty’s rocks. They wait in their burrows for passing prey to swim by, then they ambush it, and immediately retreat to their home.

Fishing the structure of the jetty requires a 1/2 oz. to 2 oz. jighead to get down. Cast a short distance, and allow your jig to stay as close the the structure as possible. Often times this results in plenty of lost tackle, but it is the most effective way to catch lingcod from the jetty.

Soft plastic curly tail grubs are excellent lures for lings, as are swimbaits. Lingcod aren’t shy, and large swimbaits will attract the most aggressive lings nearby.

Once a lingcod is hooked from the jetty, it needs to be yanked away from its burrow quickly…or else the chance of landing it is slim. Many serious jetty anglers bring a net to assist in landing trophy lings.

Westport Jetty Rockfish

Black rockfish are the most common bottomfish at the Westport Jetty. Although they are called a “bottomfish” they suspend and are often found off the bottom, at whatever depth has forage. Smaller 1/4 oz. to 1 oz jigheads work well for rockfish, use 4″ to 6″ curlytail grubs or swimbaits.

Metal jigs can work extremely well for rockfish, but most jetty anglers use inexpensive jigheads.

Westport Jetty Greenling

Greenling are the easiest of all bottomfish to catch at the Westport Jetty. They are abundant, and can be found in the sandy bottom away from the jetty as well as in the rocks. Use a small slip egg sinker, a short leader accompanied with bait. Still fishing with clam necks, small herring strips, sand shrimp or cocktail shrimp will catch these smaller bottomfish. On occasion, anglers reeling in a greenling or small rockfish will be surprised by the vicious attack from a hungry lingcod. While light tackle fishing is fun, gear up to land the big ones, if they happen to hit!