Lingcod, ocean salmon biting

By Adam Spencer, The Triplicate May 26, 2012 12:00 am

Fishermen reeling in salmon weighing up to 30 pounds recently

Matt Shrewsberry of Crescent City and his son, Jake, in the Crescent City Harbor with Sunday’s catch of groundfish. Submitted by Jim Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips
Matt Shrewsberry of Crescent City and his son, Jake, in the Crescent City Harbor with Sunday’s catch of groundfish. Submitted by Jim Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips
From Shelter Cove to Crescent City, the lingcod bite is furious.

Ocean salmon fishing seems to be fulfilling this year’s prophecy of abundance, but Klamath River spring salmon aren’t as hot as usual for mid-May.

Crescent City rockfish

Calm waters off of Crescent City’s coast on Sunday afternoon enticed fishing guide Jim Mitchell  to give it a go.

He spoke to ocean anglers returning to port who didn’t have good reports.

“There’s just too much bait fish out there” was the reason for not finding fish that they told Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips.

Still, heading north from the harbor, Mitchell’s group had better luck.

“We were in action from the get-go,” he said. “Lingcods were just on fire!”

After catching their limit of lingcod (two per person with a minimum length of 22 inches) the group tried going for black snappers, but couldn’t avoid getting more lings on the line.

Mitchell was reeling in a black snapper when the line suddenly got heavier. A 15-pound lingcod had bit his snapper, “piggy-backing” to the surface.

In addition to the snappers and lingcod, the group also landed five cabezons and a vermillion rockfish. Mitchell noted that vermillions can be distinguished from yelloweye rockfish by their rough chin.

On a calm day, Mitchell was using 4-ounce jigs with a rubber scampi or rubber anchovy, bouncing off the bottom in depths around 70 to 80 feet.

If your line isn’t straight up and down, you’re not using enough weight, he said.

 For scent, he uses homemade anchovy smell on the rubber baits. If he gets his hands on octopus, that’s his favorite bait.

“I get excited when I see a lingcod puke up an octopus. I’ll put it on my hook and drop it back down,” he said.

Eureka report

Reel Steel Sport Fishing, based in Eureka, has been putting customers on salmon, sometimes getting off the water after catching their limits early in the morning.

On Monday, Tim Klassen’s group got its limit by 9 a.m., and Tuesday it was off the water with limits by 7:45 a.m. after fighting through some double hookups.

Klassen had clients who were out on the ocean for the first time and got tangled up during the double hookup, but they were still able to land both fish.

The salmon coming in are “cookie cutter” size, around 10 to 12 pounds.

After two short, productive trips at sea, Wednesday proved much different, taking all day to get the limit of salmon. Albeit, still getting the limit.

The Reel Steel crew reported that the lingcod bite is also hot in Humboldt.

Birthday surprise in Cove

Last week, Suzie Fox, of Shelter Cove, caught a 34-pound salmon on her birthday, the largest chinook hauled into that port this season, according to Russ Thomas of Mario’s Marina.

Thomas said there’s also been a handful of 20- to 30-pound salmon caught recently.

“Looks like big salmon are moving in,” he said.

Just like reports farther north, Thomas said that “lingcod are thick.”

Also in the cove, rock cod has been good, the surfperch bite is slowing down and halibut are hardly being caught at all, Thomas said.

Klamath springers

The spring run of Klamath chinook hasn’t been biting in droves like it typically does in mid-May, but several boats have tried.

“The river’s relatively high, but very fishable,” said fishing guide Mike Coopman. “It just doesn’t seem like they’re here in big numbers as of yet.”

Fishing tip of the week

Once your lead jigs get dull, fishing guide Jim Mitchell said, “I will hit them with a wire brush so they are shiny again. I will also use reflective tape on them.”

Fishing guide contacts: Jim Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips at 707-464-8482;  Reel Steel Sport Fishing at 707-499-4925; Mike Coopman’s Guide Service can be reached at 707-465-1367.

Reach Adam Spencer at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it