Sharkys Charters, with the support of our clients, has grown and expanded our fleet steadily in the last few years to have the fastest and newest six pack vessels in Oregon. Our Captains are Prostaff for the top industry manufacturers of aluminum boats on the west coast. Both Raider Boats and North River Boats have recognized our charter company has the most experienced and qualified captains and supported us with brand new vessels. We are First Class and second to none in Oregon. I am so proud of what we have to offer our clients as a result. Last season we were blessed to have added the “Pretty Girlfriend”, a 28’ North River and Capt. Silas and Lee to the family. Now, Id like to introduce to you all the the newest member of the Sharkys Charter fleet, C/V “In Pursuit”. Captain Silas and his wife/deckhand Lee have been awaiting a once in a lifetime dream fishing vessel and she’s finally here! This 31’ North River Sounder is built to catch fish! With a 9’6” beam and full walk around cabin there is plenty of room to spread out and fish. 6 electric reel ports. Double insulated fish holds and live tank. Twin Yamaha 300 Power Plants provide all the get up and go you could want. Add the new North River hull design for the smoothest ride. Garmin electronics, radios, radar and Helm Master controls for outstanding navigation and fish finder capabilities. No more climbing over the gunnel of the boat with her dock side entry. Full cabin with heater, ample seating, and sound system. We even added a potty for the ladies! We’re looking forward to this upcoming fishing season and hope to see you all out there!
The ocean spring salmon combo and long leader rockfish trips are really going well, with limits caught on the best days. The salmon fishing will only improve as the summer nears but it is hard to imagine it much better! Lingcod is slowing down a bit as the breeding season comes to an end and the fish return to a more normal feeding cycle and disperse into the habitat. Crabbing in the ocean remains great with limits of hard full crab being caught daily. Halibut season opened in the nearshore yesterday April 1 and I heard a few were caught. May 12 is the big halibut opener for all depth and we are really gearing up for the extended Spring Fishery date May 12- June 30 we are able to fish all depth everyday. This is something I have never experienced or had the opportunity to do for clients so I am very hopeful the weather cooperates. Tight lines and we will see you on the water!
Hello friends its almost Christmas here on the Oregon Coast and the winter is upon us. Rain, wind , and a big swell become the new normal for us here in Charleston. I am a native Oregonian though and come prepared with Gore-Tex and wool socks. One thing I have definitely noticed as I have gotten older is that the cost of my raingear has sure went up. Staying dry and warm is a lot more important to me than it has ever been . This year I ordered Pro Dry Raingear from Simms, and as a Pro Staff for the company I have got to say it was one of the best purchases I have made this season. Retailing at over 1000$ for the top and bottom it is the most expensive gear I have ever purchased. It is however the lightest, thickest, and most comfortable well fitting gear I have ever owned. Bone dry in coastal downpours for hours. You’ll see me wearing it this season on all my drift boat steelhead trips, and ocean charters with the new boat. We have been getting out a little this winter for lingcod and rockfish and experienced great catches like Id expect for this time of the year. Rockfish are congregating to spawn and so are the big lingcod making it even easier to target them on the reef. Just a few weeks ago I got to reel in a world record Canary Rockfish. I was fishing a deep reef, 300 plus feet deep, with the electric reels and squid baits when I hooked up with her. Man did it pull hard I thought it was a lingcod until I got a look at it on the surface. Like looking a a trophy deer or elk there was no ground shrinkage on this fish. I knew it was a likely record breaker as soon as it was aboard. I had caught alot of canary rockfish but this one was the biggest at 11.85 lbs. beating the world record by almost 2 lbs. Now the process of getting it certified is something else. SO many hoops to just through. We weighted it on certified scales at Chucks Seafood and shot video of it all if you’d like to see it. Easy to just go to my Facebook page and see it in the recent videos if you missed it. I once caught a largemouth bas that was as big as this fish in a pond near Lebanon Oregon when I was a kid. It would have been the next Oregon State record for bass but we didn’t get it certified and actually ate the fish. It wasn’t until years later I met a pro bass fisherman and told him the story that I found out that the fish was a trophy record breaker. I have to laugh about it all or I would cry. LOL. I know what your thinking its just a fish story but I am Sharky! Ill tell you if shit is going to happen good or bad it seems to happen to me. I have always been both blessed and cursed when it comes to this in my life. For example I came upon 7 resting marlin just 20 miles of Charleston this summer and couldn’t hook one of them! It was an amazing experience though and I bet you see me with one next season! I hear of lots of steelhead being caught in all the local hatchery holes this season which is a big change over last year. The regular bank maggots are plugging up the holes on the West Fork and East Fork of the Millicoma and as the season goes on its only going to get worse. The word is getting out that the fish are biting. So go early and get a rock. Try and be friendly and keep a positive attitude but be ready to run to get your piece of real estate. Otherwise call me up and we can get you out in the boat with a nice seat and platform to cast from for the day as we drift the river. I love fishing all of the river from the Umpqua to the Elk. Last season the fish never showed up in any number and I think it was the worst steelhead season I have ever experienced. This year sounds a lot different and I am really looking to getting the drift boat back out and having some double digit days again like we used to. I cant wait to use the LURED beads that Randy Bales is shipping me. These beads he has are UV covered and the steelhead seem to really go for them. They are a hard bead so fishing them is a bit different than say the new/old soft beads. Lots of information on the LURED BEADS website. Both work great for steelhead. I always say that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. You just have to figure out what works best for you and then master the technique. Confidence in your presentation is key. These steelhead are not hard to catch just hard to find some days and getting the lure in front of them is key. One last thing remember what they say about months that end in R. They are crab months and its time to get your crab on. I am running trips in the bay this season which is a new one for me and its affordable at 100$ a person so lets go! So get out and enjoy the rain this winter and catch a fish or two. Until then Ill see you on the water.
Pursuing, sustainable harvesting, and eating wild protein gathered from the land or sea is a great passion of mine that I would like to share with you. In a world of fast food, and prepackaged meals it is easy to forget that the food you consume is the most basic ‘medicine’ for good life and prolonged health. Eating wild proteins will prolong and sustain your outdoor lifestyle while nurturing your hunter gather soul. At 43 years old, I realize half of my life is likely over and I want many more days in the field in the years to come. Staying active and eating right is how I live and I want to promote that same lifestyle to you as the path to success and a full life as an outdoors-man. Catching, cooking, and eating food from the wild will satisfy you on many different levels both physically and spiritually. I was born a hunter and fisherman and have a place at the top of the food chain. I am not complete unless I am out finding my place in nature. I want you to find your place in nature and live a full rich life. One of the super foods I recommend you seek out and harvest on your next adventure in life is the Dungeness crab. High in protein and essential omega-3 fats, this feisty crustacean will fill your stomach and leave you supercharged. In this article I am going to cover some of the most basic skills and products sold by Fish Field the crabber must have as well as some of the tricks I have learned over the years to fill my traps and belly with crab. So, if you’re looking for a saltwater adventure, or just looking for a few more tips on some of the basic gear needed for catching crab from a boat, dock, or shore then this blog is for you!
Just under the cold green and blue waves of Pacific Ocean that break along the west coast of Oregon, California, or Washington awaits one of the most prolific, ravenous, and sometimes mysterious crustaceans know to the saltwater adventurer. The Dungeness Crab. These large, agile, and extremely tasty crab are best served freshly steamed with melted butter. Sought out for their sweet and succulent meat by the hungry adventure, Dungeness crab are armed with strong pincers and they won’t go quietly into a boiling pot without a fight. To capture the crab the fisherman must first seek them out where they live and choose the correct trap, and bait for the situation.
Most recreational crabbing occurs from the shore, dock, or boat in depths from 15-100 feet of water. Dungeness crab amazingly occur in depths all the way out into and over 600 feet of water where only the heaviest commercial pots are able to fish! The basics of crabbing involve setting a baited trap or ring with a buoy and rope attached onto the bottom of the ocean floor, letting it soak for 15min up to a few days, then retrieval of the trap, and sorting of the catch for legal male crab. Male and female crab are easy to distinguish from each other visually. The state regulations on harvesting recreational crab will have good illustrations on how to sex the crab and each state has its own requirements for male size, license, and limits to harvest them.
Investing in superior crabbing tackle is one main step’s to ensuring a good catch. You get what you pay for when it comes to crab pots and rings. I don’t know how many times I have helped people that not catching and using traps that are poorly maintained, and improperly rigged, or to light for the area they are crabbing. A good crab pot or ring is made with stainless steel wire, rubber wrapped or coated, and has some good weight to it. Investing in the best equipment you can afford will pay huge dividends later. Follow this link https://fishfield.com/collections/shell-fish to quality traps and rings that Fish Field offers. Fish Field crab traps will catch you more crabs faster and hold them longer than any other product on the market. Choose between a ring or trap and get as many as the state will allow you to use per angler. In Oregon at the current time of writing this article anglers are allowed three traps per person. Having the maximum number of traps will increase your ability to cover more ground looking for that hot spot, and when you find it allows you to quickly harvest your limit. When you choose your trap keep in mind a few basic concepts: rings are usually baited and checked more often than traps, are more compact and lighter on average than traps, and usually less expensive. Both work in different ways to trap the crab. A ring will not hold a crab other than when the ring is being pulled and when bait is present. Rings fish fast, and can be pulled after only a few minutes, this is because the crabs don’t have to find a way through the trap gates. It’s easier for marine mammal like seals and sealions to steal your bait from the open ring. Using a ring off the dock is usually how people are introduced to crabbing and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon with friends and family when a boat may not be practical or available. Always lots to see and do on the docks while pulling rings and sorting through lots of undersized and female crabs. While you’re on the docks check out the weathered salmon troller’s, gulls, and sea lions. These are just a few things to see and photograph off the public docks. If you make it to my home town in Charleston, Oregon you will find the port friendly to the crabbing adventurer. Try your luck at one of the many dock fingers in the https://www.portofcoosbay.com/marinahome . I recommend D-Dock or E-Dock which are closest to the ocean, and the cool incoming water. Make sure to bring a bucket to sit on and put the live crabs in. If you are lucky enough to have a boat and can trap in the bay or ocean you will likely want to use a cage trap. The cage trap works by allowing the crab to pass through a one-way gate, attracted by the bait, and then traps them inside the cage where they can’t escape. High quality traps like those offered by Fish-Field often have three one-way gates per trap to increase the speed at which the traps catch by making it easier for the crabs to find an entrance into the trap. Cages are also good to use in the ocean and the bay because they allow you to set them and then go fishing or sightseeing for a few hours while the trap soaks and catches. Its always a great feeling knowing that trap is working while you are off fishing and adds the anticipation of the additional catch. If your going to set your traps in the bay or ocean where currents and tidal influenced depth changes are a consideration know your tides and get a current tide table. I like to use an app on my smart phone called Tide Chart Free.
Always a favorite topic among crabbers is what bait to use. I worked as captain on a commercial crabber for many years and now as professional guide. I can tell you my favorite bait to use is free bait! If I had to choose just one bait for a 6-8-hour crab trap soak my favorite would be three or four, one-night old medium sized rockfish carcass, pinned to the roof of the trap. If I plan on soaking my traps overnight, I will use a hanging bait like a rockfish carcass and then I will use a baiter that holds the bait inside of it so the smell gets out but the crabs in the trap cannot get at the bait to eat it. Squid or clams work really well for the baiter. Many other baits like chicken, turkey, squid, salmon, work well and can be easier to find than fresh fish carcasses. Chicken thighs from the local grocery store can work great and can usually be bought in 10lbs bags. If I am going to use chicken, I like the to put it on a bait pin so that the crab can eat it and break of little pieces that will float off in the current and leave a trail of bait and scent to the trap. A common misconception is that crab like rotten bait. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Fresh is best and lots of it. Pro-cure makes a great product, crab and fish attractant, that has really increased my catch http://pro-cure.com/store/bait-scent-products/scents/crab-and-shrimp-attractant-116.html . It based with fish oils and bite stimulants. Soak your bait in it overnight and it will supercharge your bait making a longer scent trail for the crab to follow. The days the crabs aren’t biting that good, the fish oil really makes up for its up for it and will increase your catch. When they are biting and hungry and you use the crab and shrimp attractant watch out! The traps will be so full!
Tides are a big consideration when crabbing, especially when your crabbing in the bay. Tides in Oregon are semi diurnal and variable. This means that there are two high, and two low tides within a 24-hour period and the height of the high and low differ. The greater the difference between the high and the low tide, measured in feet, correlates to the amount of current produced by the tidal change. The greater the difference between the high and the low tide the greater the current speed produced during the tidal exchange. When crabbing in the bay or ocean strong currents during tidal exchanges should be avoided as they tend to submerge buoys or in the worst case drift the trap off and it can be lost. There are places in the bay to get out of this direct tidal current. These are often located behind points and always out of the deeper current. Local knowledge and experience will help identify these places. Look for other crabbers and their buoys to locate some of these places. The Oregon Department of fish and Wildlife has also created maps of the many bays open on the Oregon coast. These maps identify good places to crab. A visit to the local ODFW office will provide you some valuable local knowledge also. The two hours around high tide are always the best and crab are most active and up feeding then. When a crab is not up and moving around feeding, they bury themselves into the mud or sand and rest and filter feed while conserving energy. I think a common misconception about crab is that their diet is based solely on scavenging for protein, when in fact the primary source of food for crab is plant based. Filter feeding on plankton, brought to them by the currents, serve as the basis for their mainly plant based diet. In the ocean strong current is less of a problem but can be encountered. Choosing the correct line diameter and buoy combination is very important because it keeps your buoys visible and up in less than desirable conditions when the current is running strong or in the ocean where the swell and wind are creating rough conditions. You can’t pull your traps if you can’t find your buoy. Many days in the ocean and bay have been saved for me because I used the correct length and diameter of line and appropriate buoy combination. I like using a sinking crab line or a neutral density line paired with two buoys in 5/16 to 3/8 diameter. For the depths that I recreation crab in a 5×11 main buoy and a small egg buoy trailer 8 feet behind the main buoy. Paint your buoys a unique color and pattern that distinguish your buoys from others. Have fun with this and be creative. The most visible colors are florescent. Many beginner crabbers tend to over buoy their gear resulting in lost traps. The buoy is so large that actually will drag the trap off when the current is strong or the swell surge pulls the rope tight. It is better to be under buoyed than over buoyed. The smaller buoy will pull under until the current or swell subsides and won’t float the trap off from where you set it. It is also a good idea, and required by some states to put your contact information on the buoy so that if it does get moved or lost there is a chance that you might get a call from another crabber that has found your lost pot. I prefer to fish in depths from 35 to 70ft when I crab in the ocean. On my traps I found that 100 feet is a good all-around length for most of my crabbing. You will want to find a soft sand or mud bottom to set your pots on. Using your vessels depth sounder is a good way to determine the bottom type. Every depth sounder is different but a good rule of thumb is the thicker the bottom line is and the more scatter under that bottom line is the harder the bottom is. Next time you are out look at your sounder and pay attention to the differences in the bottom line when you are over known rock of softer bottom substrates. When setting the pots, I will mark waypoints for each trap that I set and I most often set the pots in a string or line if you will. I spread the pots out when searching for crab, or I concentrate the string when I found a hot spot. The main thing is to leave enough distance between the traps so that when you go to pull them you aren’t drifting over top or drive onto to the line of a nearby pot. I like to use a electric crab pot puller made by Scotty. It saves my back and makes pulling traps easy. Otherwise pull it hand over hand and coil the rope as you go. Two people make this task a lot easier. When pulling the pots, I will try and determine the direction the trap is in relation to the buoy and approach so that as I grab the buoy and put the engine in neutral the boat slides toward the trap and creates slack in the line. You will know if you have approached the buoy from the wrong direction if the line becomes tight as soon as you grab it. Determining how to pick up the buoys is one of the great rewards and challenges a captain will overcome. If you ever find yourself over one of your lines and it has not become tangled in the prop the best thing to do is put the boat immediately in neutral and then allow the current to float your vessel off of the line. If line does get tangled in your prop, I will raise my motor up and then reach out with a boat hook and try to slip it off. If I was unable to I would cut the line as short as possible and reverse the engine to try and free the prop. Many times, the prop will cut the line and free you. If you can’t free yourself be sure to set anchor immediately if your drifting towards a hazard. Signal a nearby vessel for help or call the coast guard. You can always call the help off if you remedy the situation yourself.
Finding the crabs sometimes can be tough and mysterious. They also go on and off the bite. This is especially the case in the spring. Crab don’t occur everywhere and sometimes you have to look for them. If I am not catching crabs I move. Try a different location or depth. Sometimes the crab are all caught up on certain grounds or other times all you might be catching is female crab and small males. If this is the case move a great distance maybe miles until you find the big male crab. They are usually together. One trick I use in the spring when crabbing gets tough because they commercial fisherman have caught most of the large keepers, I go looking for places near hard bottom and reef where it is tough to set a string of gear. One good pot can yield as much out of one of these hidden areas as a string of ten in a picked over area. Move your gear until you find the crab. In the spring I usually will crab in depths around 60 feet while in the ocean. Any shallower and I feel I am risking losing my pots if a swell greater than 6 feet comes up. In the summer, when the swell is usually below 6 feet I may move in shallow as 30 feet. Safety is always a concern when crabbing on the shallow beach areas. Its always a good idea and basic seamanship to have an anchor aboard sufficient to stop your vessel from drifting into the breakers if you were to have a motor be disabled.
Now that you have caught some crab keeping them alive until you can cook them is important. I like to place the live crabs in a bucket or large cooler where they can settle down and be out of the direct sun and wind. Keeping the crab moist with saltwater will prolong their life. I have kept crab alive in a cooler with a saltwater soaked burlap bag for 24 hours many a time. Do not however make the mistake of placing the crab in a bucket of seawater and thinking they will do better submerged for extended time. What happens is the crab breath the oxygen out of water and excrete co2 into the water. Left to long in the bucket filled with water they will drown and die. Dead crab should not be eaten as the meat degrades very quickly. Left out in the air and kept moist they can survive much better. You can choose to cook the crab whole with out removing the shell or remove the shell, guts, and gills. A quick search on You Tube should find a video on how to clean them. I like to steam my crab after cleaning them. The meat comes out white and I leave all the mess at the cleaning station on the dock. I like to steam them for between 15 -20 minutes. If you choose to boil them whole do this for at least 30min at a rolling boil. Some people prefer boiling the crab because it adds the flavor from their guts to the meat. I think it makes it taste to crabby. Each to their own! Once cooked I crack the shells and enjoy. One 2-pound crab full of meat in the winter will yield a salad bowl full of meat!
Now that you have the basics and a few new tricks from the captain get out and crab this season and catch some of the best wild free-range protein in the sea. Feed your passion for adventure, and explore the Pacific Ocean and coastline. There are many unique and wonderful ports to visit in Oregon. Crabbing is a great way to spend the day or just add to the catch of fish the end of the day. With a bit of practice and the right bait and quality equipment from Fish-Field you to will be catching crab like a pro and eating healthy!
It was August of 1979, and my grandparents Bob and Barbra Paquotte had returned to their annual salmon camp at Riverbend near Newport, Oregon. My grandfather loved boating, and it was an escape from the summer heat in the valley. They had been coming to the coast every summer since they were married in 1956 to fish and vacation with my grandmother’s brothers Jack and George Scott of Waterloo, Oregon. Jack and George had a boat called the “Waterloo Shark”, this could be where I got the idea for Sharky’s Charters?!. This was a special trip because they had brought me along. I was just four years old and they had a new boat the “Barbie Doll”, a 1973 21’ Rienell that later I would get as a graduation present in my 20’s. You might think that’s awfully young to be taking a kid out fishing on the ocean but reportedly I was a good kid and my grandparents were very patient. We stayed in their small RV that night, me on the top bunk and my grandparents below me. I was the first awake the next morning, and I remember laying there listening for my grandparents to stir. Not hearing anyone and being four I called out to my grandfather, “Poppy is it time to go fishing yet?”. I remember he answered back to me, and I rolled off the bunk and into his arms. This moment, I believe, was the start of my fishing career and love for the ocean. In 1979, Coho and Chinook salmon were plentiful off the Oregon coast. According to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife records almost 175,000 Coho and 200,000 Chinook were landed that year from Oregon ports by the recreational fisherman who made nearly 300,000 angler trips. There would be so many recreational boats out trolling for salmon one would just join the fleet and catching was easy. The marinas were full of recreational boats and the ports economy was alive with salmon fisherman. A stark reality exists today in the salmon fishery that was unimaginable in 1979. In 2017 only 21,222 Coho and, 4,594 Chinooks were caught by recreational fisherman. I grew up with summers on the docks in Newport and out salmon fishing with my grandparents, and to me salmon fishing is my heritage. The ocean was in my blood for good. It wasn’t until 1993 the year that I was to graduate high school that Coho salmon saw sharp declines in numbers and the season curtailed. The decline in the salmon has been steady over the past 26 years with a few years of good fishing mixed in since. It is difficult for me to write this forecast knowing what was. My grandfather, gone now, would just shake his head in disbelief.
So, hears the bad news and some good that I gathered from the recent Ocean Salmon Industry Preseason Planning Meeting that was held on February 27 in Newport. In 2018 the Coho numbers predicted by managers are down even more than 2017’s record low estimations. Logic suggests this means that our selective and non-selective fisheries will be curtailed even more. Last year on the Central coast our selective season went from June 24-July 31. Anglers were allocated 18,000 fin-clipped Coho but only caught 6,177. Of the 6,177 59% of these fish were caught in Newport and Astoria. Winchester Bay caught a fair amount at 11.8% with Charleston landing 1.9%. For Coho I think we could see a similar selective season in 2018 due to the low catch rate of hatchery fish in the set dates and the desire of managers for marked fish to be removed from the fishery. The non-selective season, aka. wild fish and hatchery season last year was scheduled for Sept. 2-7 with a catch of 7,900 fish but ended up being shut down early on Sept. 5th because the quota had been caught and exceeded by about 600 fish. In 2018 I expect and even shorter season with similar start and end times and a smaller quota. We had a great time last season and caught some really nice coho during this fishery. How much fish will we get this season? We won’t know until the modeling is completed in mid-March. What I hope for is that the hatchery Coho survival increases this year in the ocean and we catch more of the quota. My gut tells me this will be the case and evidence of a cooling ocean is present. Last week I was out it was 48 degrees ocean the coldest I have seen in 3 years during the winter. We are also currently in a La Nina pattern according to the NOAA and thus cooler conditions exist that favor salmon. Some anglers, including myself asked for a shortened selective season so that we might increase the opportunity to catch larger native fish that are currently being counted as mortality during the selective fishery. We asked that those fish be added in the September non-selective fishery. I prefer this because the fish are substantially larger in September, closer to home ports, and I am not killing natives trying to catch 4-6lbs hatchery fish in July. Many anglers are becoming more vocal about having to “waste fish” during the selective season, and mangers if listening to the stakeholders should try and come up with an option that includes this.
Chinook salmon fisherman also had a very bad year in 2017. Our 2017 season opened March 15 and lasted until Oct.31 on the central coast. A total of 4,594 Chinook were caught, with Astoria leading the way with 41.4 % of the landings. Charleston and Winchester bay saw 3.2% and 8.5% prospectively. The Brooking bubble fishery continues to perform well with 506 fish caught on Oct. 7-8 and Oct 14-15. It is worth noting that our fisherman friends to the south in 2017 had a closed season for Chinook from Humbug Mt. to Brookings to reduce catch of threatened Kalamath River Chinook. In 2018 the Klamath River and also the Sacramento River will be listed by PFMC as “overfished”. This will likely not affect the central coast season this year but if we see low returns in 2018 it could be a disaster for anglers. I do expect the area from Humbug Mtn. to Brooking to see some restrictions due to the slow recovery status of the Klamath 4 year old Chinook, but with a strong run of three-year olds predicted maybe the managers will lessen regulations for sport-fishers.. One angler at the meeting suggested a bubble fishery at the mouth of the Rogue to take advantage of the high return expected this season. I will keep my fingers crossed for you. The Sacramento and Kalamath stocks are the primary producer of fish we catch off the Oregon coast. The Central Valley Sacramento fish now meeting the definition of “overfished” is a tragic situation. I am not sure what impact that will have on this season but managers will have to show some action to mitigate the low returns. It’s a wildcard. The forecast for the Sacramento Basin and the Kalamath basin is up from last year’s number so I hope this is the year they are right and the fish recover. I am not so sure that the models aren’t over predicting the returns in California for 2018. Some good news on the Chinook front is that Oregon has been doing a good job protecting and sustaining Chinook that return to Oregon rivers. It’s too bad for us that most of these fish are caught in northern waters off British Columbia and SE Alaska. Oregon biologists reported in 2017 that they saw an overabundance of Chinook on the spawning beds with some river having 140 spawner’s per mile! With only a goal of 60 I think this is worth mentioning. It surprised me to see this estimate because our estuary fishery last year in Coos Bay and the Coquille was poor in September and we didn’t see the fish in the upper areas of tidewater during traditional times of October. They must have comeback late is all I can imagine due to the lack of prey to feed on off the Oregon coast. In 2017 the Rogue River estuary fishery saw an incredible amount of 3-year fish return and anglers enjoyed outstanding fishing. In 2018 the Rogue River is predicted to have a high number of fish return also and would be a great fishery to plan on fishing beginning in July. My hopes are that Coos River also sees a stronger return of three-year old’s this season. I look for ocean factors to be an indicator and prey abundance in the nearshore. So, with that I wish you good fishing in 2018 and continue to support efforts to recover salmon populations like your local STEP program.
In the fall of 2017,when California fisheries biologists went out to count Chinook salmon in the hatcheries and rivers, what they found must have shocked them.The spawning beds were nearly empty. Just 7 months earlier managers had made a projection of 133,242 Chinook would return to central valley watershed. Mangers now estimate in 2017 only 33% or 44,574 of the California Central Valley Chinook Stock returned to spawn a new generation of salmon. Scientists have found salmon returns very difficult to predict despite all the modern advances science has made. Just this month their findings became public and the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (P.F.M.C) Salmon Technical Team (S.S.T) published the “Review of the 2017 Salmon Fisheries“. This document is prepared for the P.F.M.C to aid in the annual commercial and recreational salmon season setting process. California’s Central Valley Chinook Salmon stock has now meet the (PFMC) definition of being overfished, a very poor word choice in my opinion, when in fact it is well known that the decline of salmon is tied to so many other factors. As defined in the document a stock is “overfished” when the three year mean of returning natural and hatchery Chinook returning to Central Valley fall below 91,500 fish. From 2015-2017 the mean Chinook spawning is 76,714 well below the defined criteria for listing. What will this mean for the salmon fisherman and coastal economies dependent on the out come of the season setting process? That will be determined by the PFMC in March and April meetings. You can bet that it won’t bode well for anyone directly tied to the salmon economy. Already suffering from a poor crab season fisherman and coastal communities will be hit the hard once again. Only 400 permits remain in the commercial California salmon fishery. Only a few of these permits are active due to the decline in salmon numbers. For many fishers that are just hanging on hoping for a miracle this may be the final blow. The Central Valley Chinook Stock is the major component of the Chinook salmon fishery in Oregon and California. What happens in California effects fisherman in Oregon directly because the fish are highly migratory and spend much of there life off the Oregon Coast. In 2018 fisherman will likely see strict regulations in the ocean created to recover this stock from an overfished status. These regulations will likely be more stringent than 2017, and Oregon’s offshore waters may face an entire closure of both the recreational and commercial fishery. P.F.M.C has not released to the public whether “overfishing” occurred on the stock in 2017, however they were sure to include in the report that overfishing did not occur in 2016. I will need to investigate further to discover what the implications are if overfishing was deemed to have occurred in 2017. Again it can’t be good for the fisherman or communities. When the Kalamath River in 2016 was defined by PFMC as overfished it resulted in the closure of all commercial salmon fishing in southern Oregon and Northern California and a complete closure for most of the season in the Kalamath Management Zone (KMZ). With the March PFMC meeting fast approaching, be watching the PFMC website for the Preseason Report I.This is the document that outlines the stocks abundance forecast. Lets hope the cooling ocean has been kind to our quarry the salmon.
Welcome to the future of fishing folks! Lets make it really hard for anglers to catch a fish without bait, really deep, with a float, 30 foot long-leader to lead, and a three hooks. If that wasn’t hard enough, make sure you download the 40 fathom curve onto your chart plotter and don’t be caught inside of it fishing with a list of other species on board! All joking aside, and jabs at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) the long-leader rockfish fishery happens to be a totally awesome experience that you don’t want to miss out on. I would personally like to thank Wayne Butler of Prowler Charters in Bandon, Oregon for helping to create this fishery with O.D.F.W. Without you Wayne my winter would have been a complete bust. So finally after many years of effort O.D.F.W has added a new fishery for offshore anglers to experiment with called the “Long-leader” rockfish fishery for 2017, and we hope its approved for 2018 by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council in March. If you get out there and give it a try you may be pleasantly surprised like I was with limits of huge rockfish!
On this trip I had five anglers, and with a bag of 10 rockfish each, we brought home 50 fish. Most of the fish that day were Canary rockfish with a handful of Yellowtail rockfish. These fish are about twice the size of fish that you will catch in the nearshore. I found the average weight and size of the Canary and Yellowtail rockfish, which are numerous, to be around 5 lbs. The Widow rockfish are also part of the catch but much smaller in size. They are none the less a tasty rockfish. I must mention that the deep water long-leader rockfish are some of the better eating fish in the ocean when bled properly and cared for. The meat is white and firm. Best used for fish and chips or traditional fish tacos however anyway you cook it just not over cooked will produce a mild and flaky meal.
So then,”How do you go about catching them?” Good question. The three things I will cover are location,gear, and technique. Rockfish like structure and off the coast of Oregon that structure is rocky reefs. The reef structure disrupts and focuses currents in the area surrounding the reefs, and there by concentrates the fishes food. The fish congregate in these areas for an easy meal. With that said I will add the caveat that I sometimes find the Canary rockfish off on the flats around the reef. It just all depends on what they are feeding on and the currents. When you find the reef dont just fish structure use your depth sounder to locate the feed first which looks like a cloud on your sounder off the bottom and then pay attention to the marks below that cloud of feed. Since we are fishing in such deep water it can be difficult to determine what is fish and what isnt. The best way is to use your crew as the fish finders. Drop a line into likely looking ” clouds” and see what they get. If they don’t get bit in the first few minutes I will usually try and reposition. The Canary rockfish seem to prefer areas on the reef where there is a steep drop off or shelf. The best fishing I have seen so far was in December on one of the shelf drop offs. The shelf dropped nearly 30 feet vertically, and by positioning the boat up-current so that I would drift to the edge of this shelf with the gear yielded multiple hook ups per drift. Once past the shelf I would have the anglers reel up and we would drift it again. To find these reefs outside the 40 fathom curve (240′) can be difficult the ocean is a big place and usually these reefs are far offshore. If you don’t have a source for “numbers” I recommend a visit to a local mom and pop type tackle store. Buy some gear and then ask for directions to a know reef. Do it in that order and I am sure that you will get results.Out of Coos Bay we have reefs outside the 40 fathom curve both to the North and South of the port. The Tenmile Reef to the North approximately well ten miles north west and Cape Arago reef to the southwest about the same distance. I cant give you exact numbers or my shop would get burnt down by locals! Do your research and it wont be any problem. The gear that I use includes the following materials 2 oz. non-compressible float, 100# jinki and corresponding jinki line crimps for making the dropper leader, 6/0 octopus hooks or shrimp flies, large stainless barrel swivels for the ends of the dropper leader, 60# Oregon green fiber long-line ganion for the 30′ dropper, 40# monofiliment for the break away, and 1#-3# tombstone lead weights. This basically gives you the materials you need to build a shrimp fly rig w/float, a 30 foot dropper, and a break away for the lead. I know this rig seems very heavily built for a five pound fish, but I do it for a reason. Tangles and twist are much easier to control and undo with the heavy leader. The fish don’t care if its heavy and bite it. No need for fluorocarbon in this fishery! I do recommend using scent products on your shrimp flies it will make a huge difference and if in the future we can use bait I recommend squid or octopus. One alternative to try is Berkeley Gulp products. They are artificial baits but smell near the real thing. I will attach a picture of this later or a link to video in how to build this. Alright lets talk about technique. Mid-water rockfish which include Canary, Yellowtail,and Widow rockfish are susceptible to this long-leader method because they live up off the bottom for the most part feeding. What I like to do is have my clients hit the bottom with the lead and then reel up a few turns so that the lead no longer touches the bottom as the swell rises and falls. This does two things it keeps me from snagging and losing my 10$ lead and it puts the lure away from Yelloweye rockfish which we want to avoid. The one in this photo was immediately descended back to depth after a quick photo. Yelloweye rockfish are a prohibited and threatened species and must be released with a descending device.
Once the angler is up off the bottom I have them start to slowly reel the rig up for 10 to 20 turns of the reel handle. If the fish are there this will get you bit. If a bite doesn’t happen I will have them drop and repeat it. My patience for not catching is limited so I end up moving the boat if we are not catching. A descending device is required by O.D.F.W to be with you on long-leader trips and you must use it on any rockfish that is going to be released. You can make your own or buy one from a tackle store. Essentially it holds the fish as it is descended back to depth and re-compressed. The fish when brought up from depth cant relive the gases that build up, much like they do in a human diver, and the fish gets the bends. If you were to just throw this fish overboard it would most likely just float and be unable to swim back to depth. A fishing pole just rigged for this purpose with a heavy 5#lead and the descending device is helpful. These Yelloweye rockfish can be huge and a heavy lead is needed.We use mostly electric reels and heavy rods in this fishery so releasing these fish at depth is relatively easy. I fully recommend a electric reel and heavy rod for this fishery. It allows for quick retrieves, keeps you from getting fatigued, and you can use heavy leads which keep your lines more vertical when fishing deep and the drift may be strong. Drift is also something that I want to mention. When you are fishing out deep the currents around these reefs tend to be strong. Using heavy gear will help you over come this drift and sometimes even backing the boat at an idle into the drift is necessary. Keep the gear vertical as possible. It will help prevent snag ups and you will catch better! So with that I wish you good luck and visit and like my page at Sharky’s Charter Fishing on Facebook to see more photos and get fishing reports. See you on the water.
Just like the lyrics 1980’s pop song, “Futures So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades”, the future of “bottom fish” can be described like this; things are going great and they are only getting better (can you hear the harmonica blaring in the background?). Increased bag limits, extended seasons, and relaxed regulation all bode well for the recreational offshore angler in Oregon. It wasn’t like this for bottom fishing in the not so distant past. Unregulated commercial fishing and a poor understanding of the fishes biology nearly wiped out entire populations of bottom fish. Now with strict management, a healthy ocean, and better science the sport fishing off the Oregon coast has returned to being a world class destination for fishing.
If your not a local and accustomed to the local slang you might be wondering what exactly is a bottom fish? A “bottom fish” is a broad and somewhat dull term used to describe a multitude of fish species found near the Pacific coastline. These nearshore species include rockfish, lingcod, halibut, and sculpins. Some species of rockfish are vibrantly colored, and are anything but dull! A great example of this beauty would be the Tiger Rockfish, aptly named for its brilliant orange body and black tiger like vertical stripes, any angler would be stunned to see this appear at the end of his line. These fish species typically orient to geographic features associated with bottom structure, hence the name bottom fish. Rock,mud,sand are all habitats that “bottom fish” inhabit off the coast of Oregon. Most of these fish species occur in the nearshore and continental slope habitat within 5 miles of the coast. Depths that fish occupy include very shallow to depths unreachable with traditional fishing tackle. Most of the recreational fishing off the Oregon coast for bottom fish is done in depths from 50 feet to 300 feet out of ports that have rocky reefs nearby and are easily reached by small recreational fishing boats. The Port of Charleston happens to be located in one of these prime locations in Oregon to catch bottom fish. The port has a safe deep bar crossing, cozy accommodations for overnight travelers, and world class charter fishing services.
Many local and travelling anglers choose to go with charter fishing guides to benefit from the local knowledge that these fisherman have earned through years of experience on the fishing grounds. Charter boat captains must prove there knowledge to the US Coastguard through rigerous examination prior to being allowed to take passengers out to fish on the sea. The bottom fishing trips are usually offered year round with the months of May-September being the calmest seas. After a short 30 minute ride to the reef anglers can expect to catch limits of rockfish in the 2 lbs. to 5 lbs. class, lingcod upto 40 lbs., and halibut upto 125 lbs. Fishing in Oregon rivals any experience you might have had in Alaska, and is second to none in my opinion. The daily bag limits for fish are always changing but as of this year we can keep 7 rockfish, two lingcod on the typical bottom fishing trip. These strict limits help protect the fishery for future generations and quality of fishing. However the take home of fish is quite generous and equates to on average 10-15 lbs. of fillets, perfect for making fish and chips for upto 30 of your hungriest friends.
So if your ready for an adventure or just want some really good eats consider going bottom fishing on your next vacation. Its not the lowly fish that its name implies. It should be called “action fishing” because that is what you will have fishing out of Charleston, Oregon! Its a fishing experience for the whole family on the Oregon Coast.
Its been a long, wet, and cold winter here in Southern Oregon. I have had enough of it and am ready for Spring. The days are getting longer, and I want to be outside without a raincoat! If you want to talk salmon predictions than a discussion on El Nino/La Nina must happen, and is the basis of my prediction for this season and the future of salmon. Its official according to the scientists at NOAA that in the Pacific Northwest we are in a La Nina phase this winter for the first time in many years. Its been 5 months in a row now that the average seas surface temperature in the Southern Pacific Ocean has been at least .5 degree below average. When this decrease in temperature occurs the National Weather Service can declare it an official La Nina winter. Yeh! To many of us this isn’t a surprise considering how high the power bills have been! What weather is expected this spring and summer is what I want to know. After doing a bit more research at NOAA Weather, and reading the blogs, I am able to summarize to you that this time of the year forecast models for El Nino/La Nina are not very reliable. However, it seems that forecast models are predicting a weak El Nino to develop or a near neutral phase for the average ocean temperatures this spring and summer.
When it comes to fishing in general, I am a hopeless optimist and the current El Nino/La Nina neutral forecast I find a relief. I like tuna fishing and warmer El Nino ocean temperatures bring tuna close to shore. This season expect to see hard temperature breaks offshore 20-40 miles, and cooler average temperatures near shore. Its a relief to see that El Nino wont likely develop into a strong event this season which in general is harmful to growing salmon and groundfish species that prefer cooler nutrient rich waters and the plankton that thrive in it. This winter has seen more snow on the west coast mountain ranges then in previous years and thus many rivers have flooded or been sustained high on average. For me this is a sign of good things that may be coming for salmon and steelhead in 3 to 4 years. This winter is the beginning of a positive cycle for our salmon populations on the west coast and should be celebrated. As I sit here in my office at Sharky’s Charters, watching the rain come down in buckets, my thoughts drift towards the ocean and the possibility that chinook salmon are hunting the nearshore reefs searching for a meal. Its spring after all and the traditional kick off to King Salmon season. I don’t think that I am alone in my thoughts of twirling flashers and gold plated salmon spoons. Sport ocean chinook salmon season just opened on March 15, and while they are quite safe from me and my brethren on this blustery day it wont be long until the wind dies down and we head out to search for them. So what’s out there according to scientists?
As I mentioned earlier I am a hopeless optimist, but reality hit hard when I started reading Preseason Report I, just released in March. This preseason forecast, is in essence the best guess on the current numbers of salmon swimming off the west coast. The guess is supported by lots of math and statistics, and is usually pretty close in predicting the salmon populations. Preseason Report I is issued by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council to aid in the setting of the salmon fishing season, and to insure that to much fishing pressure is exerted on salmon populations by sport and commercial fisherman. After reading the document I can tell you this chinook season is going to be a lot like last season for the sport fisherman.Drought, El Nino, and the poor conditions for salmon that accompany them have taken a high toll on the southern and mid coast stocks of chinook and Coho salmon that Oregonians and Californians love to fish. Not many salmon in the ocean, but just enough to let us fish for them in most of Oregon’s coastal waters. The Sacramento River stocks, which drive most of the fishery off the coast of Oregon, are in only fair shape and small shadow of their former population. They however wont restrict our sport ocean fishery.The fact is that if sport fisherman were better at catching the chinook it would have restricted us also but the gear we use has a hard time fishing the depths that most chinook cruise in during the summer. The sad news is that the Klamath River, another huge contributor to our chinook fishery, is likely going to experience the worst return of chinook in recorded history. What a sad day it is for me to have to bring this news to my fellow anglers. It had better be a real eye-opener for the water managers and politicians that control the water and dams on the Klamath. This will likely result in complete closure of the commercial season in Oregon south of Florence. It will also likely result in a very small opening for ocean chinook off Brookings and Gold Beach in the summer months.
Our local river and bays will experience similar low chinook returns that we saw last season. There will be some good fishing in early September but it will diminish quickly as the fish move into tidewater. Keeping track of there movement in the bay and tidewater will really be key to having more success in this down season. . According to ODFW there were lots of chinook jacks in Coos Bay in 2016.Expect many three year old fish and fewer four year olds.
Coho salmon population predictions are similar to last year and thus we should see a season structure similar. I expect no Coho salmon fisheries in Oregon bays, but a limited ocean season beginning in late June for marked fish, and then a late season for unmarked fish in September.
Not the rosy forecast I was hoping to give you but its the truth and that’s what I report. So before you go and put your ocean salmon gear away for the season or put it for sale cheep on Craigslist, I would like to leave you with this thought. While there may not be easy pickings for salmon up and down the coast I will predict that a lucky port will see the majority of the salmon. It was my home port Coos Bay that saw this phenomenon about four years ago and Newport’s fleet saw this last year. The fish will be in the best ocean conditions where the bait is, and if that happens to be in your port you will be in for a great season of ocean salmon fishing. Keep an eye on the SST and the Chlorophyll charts. The cooler nearshore water temperatures will get the fish feeding closer to the surface and thus in range of our lighter sport gear. The only way to find out if the salmon are on your near shore reefs this spring is to get out and give it a troll! See you out there I hope, and if your looking for an ocean charter for salmon give me a call at (541) 260-9110.
Are you searching for an adventure this winter in the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest and have a passion for saltwater angling? Then you might consider “Deepwater Lingcod”, for you next great fishing adventure! Lingcod fishing in Oregon is a year round passion for many anglers but the winter season is special. Anglers are allowed to venture further into the deep reefs of the ocean, outside of usual depth restricted areas. Anglers, targeting trophy Lingcod in the 30# to 50# class,search in depths of over 300 feet. Due to this great depth, the use of heavy lead pipe jigs in the 2# class, studded with large menacing trebles hooks is a favored lure. To retrieve this heavy jig the electric powered levelwind reel is becoming more popular. I use Diawa Tancom 500 electric reels on my vessel with great success. They allow the angler to retrieve his lure quickly when its necessary to reset a drift across the reef. This time saving method is extremely important when your trying to maximize fishing times in the ever present inclement weather of the Pacific Northwest in the winter. Some anglers that I fish with choose to go one on one with a trophy lingcod using there high speed levelwind and crank them up by hand which adds to the excitement. There is something about the huge head, gaping mouthful of sharp teeth, and the heavily camouflaged body of the lingcod that makes the imagination of the angler run wild. The strike is quick and the initial fight of the fish is strong! The large lingcod commonly will rest while being reeled and then dash madly for the bottom many times as they are reeled up from the depths. Many an angler on my vessel has though that there fish had gotten away only to be surprised by a bent pole and peeling drag moments later. There is also the infamous “hitchhiker” scenario to consider when fishing for the trophy lingcod. Lingcod love to eat fish, especially wriggling fish that are stuck on a hook. As you jig the bottom for lingcod it is not uncommon to have a rockfish bite your line and while trying to escape attract a lingcod which in turn bites and latches onto the struggling rockfish. Hence the term “hitchhiker”. The largest lingcod that have been landed on my vessel have come as hitchhikers on other smaller rockfish. So while angling for them it is important to remembe that if you feel a slight wiggling on your line while jigging it is best to leave it there and wait for a true giant! So don’t forget when the winter gets you down, remember there is always a silver liner in those clouds in the form of a trophy winter lingcod trip with Sharky’s Charters!