Calm seas and great fishing in Westport!
It was a great day on the high seas near Westport, Washington! We booked a charter trip with All Rivers & Saltwater Charters and filled the boat with friends. It was cloudy all day so the risk of sunburn would be small. The ocean swells were small and spread apart, making for a relaxing ride out to the Pacific. Crossing the Westport Bar was a mild event. We were all ready to get to the spot and catch some fish!
Nick prepping gear
Catching our live bait
First, Captain Ian and Nick took us to one of their flounder fishing spots. We needed to get about a dozen or two live sand dabs to use as live bait for Lingcod. After a couple drifts with not much action, Ian positioned us on a second spot and we started yarding them into the boat left and right. We filled the bait tank with enough sand dabs for the day and headed out. While it was a fun warm up, I was ready for the main event – Lingcod fishing!
Ian rigging live bait
Drifting live bait for Lingcod
By the time we moved from the flounder/sand dab spot to the Lingcod spot, our deckhand Nick had all the bait catching rigs put away and every rod set up for Lingcod. Captain Ian positioned us at the top of the drift and gave the word to drop them down! It wasn’t more than five minutes and five of us had Lingcod on! We managed to get three in the boat. It was a very good sign of things to come!
Jacob and Cody and a double header
Fishing with live bait is so counter-intuitive that there is a little bit of a learning curve. You need to let the Lingcod munch on the bait for a little while. There is no hook set. You need to steadily retrieve the fish to the surface. The net needs ready because some of the Lingcod aren’t even hooked, they just latch on to the bait and are lifted to the surface. Lingcod don’t have a swim bladder, and I don’t think they really suffer from any pressure change (barotrauma) like Rockfish do. They hitch a ride to the surface and hopefully you can get the net underneath them before they spit the bait and swim back to the bottom.
Jackson’s first lingcod of the day
There is almost always a decent ocean current. So the boat stops up-current of the fishing area and drifts slowly over it. When you pass the spot you want to fish, you pick up your gear and run back to start again. Over the course of the next few hours, we managed to make a number of long drifts. We picked up Lingcod on every drift. And we had our limit of 12 Lingcod before noon. Using live sand dabs seems to outproduce other artificial lures or dead herring. We didn’t catch a small one and I contribute much of that to the fact we were dredging larger baits across the bottom.
My big one for the day
Non-stop action for Black Rockfish
With our Lingcod limits in the fish hold, it was time to try our luck with Rockfish. Once again, Captain Ian put us on fish immediately! He motored around a few good looking rocky patches and found schools of Black Rockfish on the sonar screen. We dropped our gear down to the bottom. And with a dreadfully slow retrieve, we started hooking fish immediately. With the double-hook setups that they use, there were plenty of times we were hauling in two Black Rockfish at a time! Deckhand Nick kept close count and cut us off as we were pulling in the last few we needed to limit. The Black Rockfish were as cooperative and aggressive as I have ever seen and we were done before no time. Time to put all the gear away and head back to Westport. By the time we made it back to the harbor, Nick had most of our catch filleted and soaking in saltwater. He portioned it out for us, we said our goodbyes and headed back to the city.
The rockfish were big and hungry today
42 rockfish fill up a cooler pretty fast!
Limits of Westport Lingcod
Ian takes us back to Westport
The weather was perfect, seas were calm, the boat was full of good friends, and the fishing was awesome!