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!