The craggy coastline around Neah Bay, Washington hosts some of the most interesting places to fishing for Lingcod, Rockfish and other bottomfish in the entire Pacific Northwest. While myself and a couple friends headed up to Clallam Bay to spend a few days fishing for salmon, a recent change in the Lingcod season tempted us to sneak away from Sekiu for an afternoon and get in on the opening day of Lingcod fishing in Marine Area 4.
Earlier Opening Day for Neah Bay’s Marine Area 4 East Lingcod Season
The marine waters around Neah Bay are split into two main management zones. Marine Area 4 West of Tatoosh Island in the Pacific Ocean has seen Lingcod fishing open up on the second Saturday in March for the last couple years. Marine Area 4 East of Tatoosh Island in the (sometimes) more protected waters of the Strait of Juan De Fuca have opened later in April. As we planned our annual Sekiu Winter Blackmouth fishing trip, it was to our surprise that Area 4 East’s Lingcod season was changed to align with the Ocean marine areas of the Washington Coast. So for our quick weekend trip we could, weather permitting, sneak west a little and fish for Lingcod this year!
We fished for salmon on Saturday morning, headed back to the dock at Sekiu to drop off our catch and have lunch before heading to Neah Bay for some Lingcod fishing in the afternoon. Because Salmon is open in Sekiu’s Area 5 and closed in Neah Bay’s Area 4, you can’t have Salmon onboard when you are Lingcod fishing there. Visa versa, because Lingcod is only open in Neah Bay’s Area 4 and not Sekiu’s Area 5 right now, you can’t have Lingcod onboard when you are Blackmouth fishing in Sekiu. So a trip back to the dock to drop off any catch keeps us legal and avoids getting a stern talking too from the game warden.
I was pretty happy with how everything worked out with timing the tides. The strongest currents of the day were in the morning, which is my favorite for salmon fishing. We picked up a couple really nice Winter Blackmouth which I wrote another post about here. We cruised from Sekiu to the areas around the entrance to the Neah Bay harbor with ease. A little light chop but still very comfortable. The currents that afternoon were light, and our first drift was moving the boat at half-a-knot which is ideal for bottomfishing.
Searching for new Lingcod spots around Neah Bay
I had a couple rockpiles that I found on my Navionics Platinum Plus Chip that I wanted to explore, plus a couple spots that we had fished in years’ past. We found a rockpile that was in around 80′ that produced bigtime for us. We released a bunch of smaller Lingcod and kept a couple good ones using an 8 ounce jighead paired with a P-Line Twintail Soft Plastic.
Surprise Vermillion Rockfish catch
Evan’s notable catch was a beautiful Vermillion Rockfish. These cannot be kept in Marine Area 4 East, but we happily decended it, such a cool fish!
I only catch Halibut when I can’t keep em
As we motored over to another interesting looking spot on the chart, we decided that we would continue to be selective on the Lingcod we kept. Chris hooked into an absolute goliath, gaining on him inch-by-inch only to have it run back to the bottom multiple times. After a fifteen minute fight, we finally saw color and it was a big Halibut! I’d guess it was around 45 pounds. We popped the hook out of its mouth and let it swim free. Another cool encounter! Minutes after that on the same drift, I hooked into and battled it’s twin!
All said and done, we picked up our limit of six Lingcod, released the most picture-perfect Vermillion Rockfish, released two hefty Halibut, released a number of China, Copper and Canary Rockfish, and kept about a half dozen Black Rockfish.
After about three solid hours of fishing time, both the winds and the currents started to pick up and we knew it was time to make the run back to Sekiu. It was one of those quick afternoon trips that turn into an epic and memorable outing. Great times!