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!