Tag Archives: halibut

Week On The Water Yields Sturgeon, Halibut, Ling, Rockfish Fillets, Lots Of Fun

Editor’s note: The following blog was written and submitted by Dave Anderson

by Captain Dave Anderson

The 20th of May was the beginning of a fishing-packed week for not only myself but also family and friends. My father-in-law Maury and I rolled down to Astoria to go sturgeon fishing with Bret Dickerson, owner of Columbia River Sport Fishing.

We met up and left the dock by 5:00 a.m. on Monday the 21st. After a short run out of Astoria we were setting lines just as the sun was starting to rise above the trees. It wasn’t even five minutes and we had sturgeon hammering baits!


First fish we brought to the boat was just short of the slot limit. A few minutes later we had another dandy sturgeon on the end of the line. This fish ended up being Maury’s first sturgeon and it was a keeper!

For another hour or so this went on with great action. We hit a bit of a lull as the tide was turning, but it quickly turned around about an hour and a half before the 2:00 p.m. closure.

At 2:00 pm, the closure hit and lines were in just as the wind machine turned on. We ended up with a handful of keepers and our group couldn’t have been happier!


Jump forward a few days to Thursday afternoon. I headed out to one of my favorite places on the coast of Washington – La Push. This is where I met my friend Captain Kerry of Offshore Northwest to take a group of my friends fishing. This has become an annual trip in which we typically fish the second week of the La Push halibut season.


Friday morning we ran out in a fairly lumpy ocean to make our 30-mile run to the grounds. We hit pay dirt immediately and had great action with lingcod and filled the boat quickly with limits of quality fish.

After moving around a bit we found a good patch of aggressive halibut. We ended up with early limits on both lingcod and halibut. Captain Kerry and I had a good chuckle when we looked at our watches and said to each other, “It’s only 8:45!”


Saturday we were able to sleep in before heading out to grab limits of sea bass. Not too far out of La Push we found a good patch and we were reeling in doubles after doubles of feisty sea bass! These fish are so fun to catch you can’t help but giggle like a little kid while reeling them in over and over.

Sunday morning we were greeted with a beautiful ocean! It was probably one of the best halibut ocean conditions a person could ask for. Cruising at 34 knots it took us under an hour to get to the grounds. Once we got there we started picking away at our fish. It wasn’t nearly as fast and furious as Friday, but we ended up reeling in a good grade of halibut and lingcod and headed back to the barn by 11:30 a.m.


The best action this past weekend came off the good ol’ Montana Dave-built 13-inch-by-3/4-inch pipe jig with a 12/0 Mustad treble hook. Bait also worked, but the pipe jig definitely outproduced the bait!

All in all it was a fantastic week of fishing! I love being able to take advantage of the great resources the Pacific Northwest has to offer! Being able to spend time on the water and have fun with friends and family, I can’t ask for anything better! Life is good!


Columbia Subarea All-depth Halibut Fishery To Close After Friday


The Pacific halibut all-depth sport fishery in the Columbia River Subarea will close effective Friday, May 11, 2018 at 11:59 p.m., fishery managers announced today.

The all-depth fishery from Leadbetter Point in Washington to Cape Falcon in Oregon opened on May 3 and was scheduled to be open every ThursdayFriday and Sunday through Sept. 30 or the harvest of 11,182 pounds of Pacific halibut, whichever came first.

Preliminary estimates indicate that landings are nearing the quota and not enough remains for additional open days. The season will be closed until the end of the year. Effort in the Columbia River Subarea in 2018 was higher than in 2017 and catch rates were good, enabling anglers to harvest the entire quota for this fishery after just five days of fishing.

The Columbia River nearshore fishery (inside the 40-fathom line off of Oregon) remains open Mondays through Wednesdays until Sept. 30 or until the quota of 500 pounds is reached, whichever comes first.

Opportunities to fish for Pacific halibut remain open in other areas of Oregon:

Off central Oregon between Cape Falcon (near Manzanita) and Humbug Mountain (near Port Orford), anglers may fish for halibut inside the 40-fathom line beginning June 1, seven days a week through Oct. 31 or attainment of the harvest quota (25,856 pounds) for that fishery.

The spring season all-depth halibut fishery off central Oregon (quota of 135,742 pounds) is next scheduled to be open May 24-26, with additional fixed open dates scheduled for June 7-9 and June 21-23.

The summer season all-depth is scheduled to begin on Aug. 3-4 every other Friday and Saturday until Oct. 31 or the quota of 53,866 pounds has been met. The high-relief area of Stonewall Bank, west of Newport, is closed to all halibut fishing.

The area between Humbug Mountain and the OR/CA Border is open at all depths for Pacific halibut seven days a week through Oct. 31 or until the quota of 8,982 pounds has been met, whichever comes first.

Days on which Pacific halibut fishing is open will be announced on the NOAA Fisheries hotline (1-800-662-9825) and posted on the Pacific Halibut sport regulations page,  https://myodfw.com/pacific-halibut-sport-regulations


Pacific halibut fishing to close after May 11 in Marine Area 1

Action: Close recreational halibut fishing at the end of the day Friday, May 11 in Marine 1.

Effective dates: 11:59 p.m. Friday, May 11, 2018

Species affected: Pacific halibut.

Location:  Marine Area 1.

Reason for action: The all-depth recreational halibut fishery in Marine Area 1 opened Thursday, May 3 and continued Friday, May 4 and Sunday, May 6. During those three days, anglers caught 8,455 pounds of the 11,182-pound quota for the all-depth fishery in the Washington portion of the Columbia River area.

There is sufficient quota remaining to continue the all-depth recreational halibut fishery through Friday, May 11 but not enough to keep the fishery open Sunday, May 13 without risk of exceeding the quota. The nearshore halibut fishery in Marine Area 1 will remain open Mondays through Wednesdays until further notice.

These rules conform to management actions taken by the International Pacific Halibut Commission and the National Marine Fisheries Service. 


Yuasa Reviews Washington 2018 Salmon Seasons, Looks Ahead To Halibut, Shrimping

Editor’s note: The following is Mark Yuasa’s monthly fishing newsletter, Get Hooked on Reel Times With Mark, and is run with permission.

By Mark Yuasa, Director of Grow Boating Programs, Northwest Marine Trade Association

The months are flying by faster than a coho hitting your bait in the prop wash.

It felt like “Yesterday” – an ode to a classic Beatles song – when we gathered in Lacey on Feb. 27 to see what the salmon forecasts had in store for us. Now a season package is “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” – did you say Stevie Wonder? – for anglers to digest and begin making plans on where to wet a line.

The process known as “North of Falcon” (NOF) culminated April 6-11 in Portland, Oregon, and I was on-hand as a sport-fishing observer.


When proposed seasons came to light in mid-March it was like a feisty trophy king tugging on end of a line, which after a long battle unhooked itself at the boat causing the lead weight to smack you right in the eye.

While grief and a swollen black eye set in, you might have been down in the dumps. But, my mantra has been to never whine about what you can’t do or lost (the trophy king in paragraph above), and more on making the most of the present moment.

Life throws you lemons so make sweet lemonade because if you don’t your head will go into a swift-moving tidal tail-spin and turn your fishing line into a messy tangled web of hurt.

The initial good news is environmental conditions – El Nino, warm water temperatures, a “Blob” and droughts – that have plagued us with restrictions going back to 2015-16 appear to be in the rear-view mirror.

Secondly, was the warmth (albeit mixed feelings by some NOF attendees) of unity and transparency between user groups despite a usual difference in opinions over how the whole pie of sport, tribal and non-tribal fisheries was divvied up.

These are signals of “baby steps” in a complicated process that long has been filled with arguments, bitterness, cultural indifference, protests and a fight over that “last salmon” dating back to Boldt Decision.

The true litmus test of how long this “hand-holding” philosophy will last between all parties is essential as we move forward to ensure our iconic Pacific Northwest salmon runs will be around for generations to come. Even more so as we carry the torch of a long-term Puget Sound Chinook Management Plan to the federal fishery agency’s table later this year, which will dictate how we fish from 2019 to 2029 and beyond.

“Now that we’ve finished this process we need to work on being responsible with conservation, habitat issues and simply change our philosophy to create a long-term management plan,” Ron Warren, the WDFW salmon policy coordinator said at conclusion of Portland meetings.

While being mindful of that briny future, let’s go over highlights of our fisheries at hand.

A positive are extended seasons – something that hasn’t happened for several years – for hatchery coho in northern Puget Sound (Area 9) from July through September, and non-select coho in central Puget Sound (Area 10) from June through mid-November. The Puget Sound coho forecast is 557,149.

Another shining star is a South Sound hatchery chinook forecast of 227,420 up 21 percent from 10-year average and a 35 percent increase from 2017.

The northern Puget Sound summer hatchery chinook catch quota is 5,563 – a similar figure to 2017 – and is expected to last one-month when it opens in July.

The elevated forecast is a blessing when south-central Puget Sound (Area 11) opens June 1 especially in popular Tacoma-Vashon Island area. A central Puget Sound hatchery chinook fishery starts July 16 with a cap of 4,743. Area 10 has a coho directed fishery in June at popular places such as Jefferson Head-Edmonds area.

A hatchery king season opens at Sekiu on July 1, and Port Angeles on July 3. Both switch to hatchery coho in mid-August through September.

A summer king fishery in San Juan Islands (Area 7) opens July to August, but September is chinook non-retention.

Late-summer and early-fall coho fisheries will occur in Areas 5, 6, 7, 8-1, 8-2, 11, 12 and 13.

On coast, Ilwaco, La Push and Neah Bay open daily starting June 23, and Westport opens Sundays to Thursdays beginning July 1. Hatchery coho quotas are same as 2017 although chinook quotas are down a decent amount. The popular Buoy 10 salmon fishery opens Aug. 1.

On freshwater scene, a sockeye forecast of 35,002 to Baker River is strong enough to allow fisheries in Baker Lake from July 7-Sept. 7, and a section of Skagit River from June 16-July 15.

The Snohomish, Skykomish and Snoqualmie open Sept. 16 for coho. Sections of Skykomish, Skagit and Cascade open for hatchery chinook beginning June 1. For details on seasons, visit WDFW at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/.

Bounty of May fishing options

There’s nothing more exciting than pulling up a pot loaded with prawn-size spot shrimp during a season that begins May 5.

“I am more positive this year on our spot shrimp projections than the last couple of years,” said Mark O’Toole, a WDFW biologist who is retiring May 18 after an illustrious 36 years with the department, and many thanks for your valued input on shrimp and other fish policies!


“In general, last year was another good season with relatively high abundance,” he said. “The catch per boat ended up being higher for all areas.”

Look for good shrimping in Strait; San Juan Islands; east side of Whidbey Island; central, south-central and northern Puget Sound; and Hood Canal. Test fishing conducted this spring showed marginal abundance in southern Puget Sound.

Hit pause button on spring chores since trout fishing in statewide lowland lakes is now underway.

Justin Spinelli, a WDFW biologist says 460,000 trout went into Puget Sound region lakes on top of 500-plus statewide lakes planted with 16,840,269 trout – 2,171,307 of them are the standardized size averaging about 11 inches compared to 8-inches in past seasons.

If you prefer a large-sized halibut then head out on May 11. The Washington catch quota is 225,366 pounds down from 237,762 in 2017, and a bump up from 214,110 in 2016, 2015 and 2014. Dates for Neah Bay, La Push, Westport and Strait/Puget Sound are May 11, 13, 25 and 27. Depending on catches other dates are June 7, 9, 16, 21, 23, 28 and 30. Ilwaco opens May 3 with fishing allowed Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Once you get your halibut fix add some black rockfish and lingcod to the cooler. Ilwaco, Westport, Neah Bay and La Push are open for both, and some Puget Sound areas are open for lingcod.

NW Salmon Derby Series hits pause button

While we take a break from a spectacular winter derby series be sure to keep sight of the PSA Bellingham Salmon Derby on July 13-15.


More great news is Edmonds Coho Derby on Sept. 8 and Everett Coho Derby on Sept. 22-23 – the largest derby on West Coast – are likely back on “must do” list. In mean time, check out derby’s grand-prize KingFisher 2025 Falcon Series boat powered with Honda 150hp motor and 9.9hp trolling motor at Anacortes Boat & Yacht Show on May 17-20 at Cap Sante Marina. The $65,000 boat also comes on an EZ-loader trailer, and fully-rigged with Scotty downriggers; Raymarine Electronics; custom WhoDat Tower; and Dual Electronic stereo. Details: http://www.nwsalmonderbyseries.com/.

I’m sprinting out the door with rod in hand so see you on the water!

ODFW Sets Jan. 30 Meeting In Newport To Talk 2018 Halibut Seasons With Anglers


ODFW will be asking for public input on the upcoming spring halibut season for the central Oregon coast at a meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 30 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the ODFW Marine Resources Program conference room, 2040 SE Marine Science Dr., Newport.


ODFW staff will give an overview of the results of the International Pacific Halibut Commission Annual meeting and the resulting quotas.  Then meeting participants will be able to provide input on the number and timing of “fixed” and “backup” dates for the Central Oregon Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain) spring all-depth halibut season.

People who cannot attend the meeting in person can still participate in one of two ways:

·        Join the meeting via GoToMeeting (see details below).

·        Complete an online survey, which will be posted on the ODFW halibut webpage. (Both the online survey and background materials for the meeting will be posted by mid-afternoon on Monday, Jan. 29 on the ODFW halibut webpage http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/finfish/halibut/index.asp.

·        Anglers may also provide input by contacting Lynn Mattes (lynn.mattes@state.or.us) or Christian Heath (Christian.t.heath@state.or.us) at the ODFW Marine Resources Program, (541) 867-4741.

GoToMeeting DETAILS 

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.


You can also dial in using your phone.

United States: +1 (872) 240-3412

Access Code: 554-636-005

All-depth recreational halibut fishing will close off Ilwaco

The following is a wdfw emergency rule change notice

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

May 24, 2017

All-depth recreational halibut fishing will close off Ilwaco, continue in most other marine areas

Action: Recreational halibut fishing in the all-depth area will close in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco), effective at the end of the day Thursday, May 25. Marine Areas 3 (La Push), 4 (Neah Bay), and 5-10 (Puget Sound) will be open to recreational halibut fishing for another day on Thursday, June 1.

Effective date: 11:59 p.m. Thursday, May 25, 2017

 Species affected: Pacific halibut

 Location:  Marine Areas 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

 Reason for action:  There is not sufficient quota remaining to allow another all-depth fishing day in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) after Thursday, May 25. There is, however, enough quota reserved to continue to allow halibut retention with bottomfish on board in the nearshore area of Marine Area 1 Mondays through Wednesdays until further notice.  Any quota not taken in the all-depth fishery will be transferred to the quota available for the nearshore area. 

Sufficient quota remains to open another fishing day in the north coast (Marine Areas 3 and 4) and Puget Sound (Marine Areas 5-10) on Thurs. June 1. Catch data will be evaluated following the opening on June 1 to determine if enough quota remains for additional fishing days in the north coast and Puget Sound. 

These rules conform to action taken by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) and the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). 

Additional information: There is not sufficient quota remaining to open the nearshore fishery in Marine Area 2 (Westport). This area will remain closed to recreational halibut fishing for the remainder of the year.

Information contact: Heather Reed, (360) 902-2487


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What we specialize in:
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How to Contact Us

In Season Phone (May1 – September 1)
1(907) 567-7366

Off Season Phone (september 1- May 1)
1(907) 373-8234
1(907) 232-8111

Click here to email Bottom Line Charters

Snail Mail Address:
Off Season (September 1 – May 1)
12725 E Kaye Marie Ct
Palmer, Alaska 99645

In Season (May 1 – September 1)
PO Box 39728
Ninilchik, Alaska 99639

May 4 Start For Washington’s Halibut Season; Quota Up By 23,652 Pounds


Anglers fishing for halibut will notice a change this year with consistent halibut seasons across all Puget Sound and ocean areas, except marine waters near the mouth the Columbia River.

The scheduled season dates are May 4, 6, 11, 21 and 25, and June 1 and 4, provided there is sufficient quota to accommodate all these fishing days. These dates apply to halibut fishing in Puget Sound marine areas 5-10 and in ocean marine areas 2-4.


Halibut fishing in Marine Area 1 also gets under way May 4, but will be open four days per week (Thursday through Sunday) until the quota has been met.

State halibut seasons are established by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), using catch quotas adopted by the International Pacific Halibut Commission for coastal fisheries from California to Alaska.

Heather Reed, WDFW coastal policy coordinator, noted that this year’s quota for recreational halibut fisheries in Washington state is 243,667 pounds – an increase of about 23,652 pounds from 2016.

“We expect that the effort to align halibut season dates, together with a higher quota for the state’s recreational fisheries, will result in a longer season than what anglers have experienced in past years,” Reed said.

Halibut fishing has become an increasingly popular sport in Washington, making it difficult to predict how quickly anglers will reach the harvest limit for any given area, Reed said. The new season structure will help to ensure the state does not exceed federal quotas, with periodic catch assessments in each fishing area, she said.

Anglers should check the WDFW website for the latest information on openings before heading out, she said.

In all marine areas open to halibut fishing, there is a one-fish daily catch limit and two-fish possession limit in the field, and no minimum size restriction. Anglers must record their catch on a WDFW catch record card.

As in past years, Puget Sound marine areas 11, 12 and 13 will remain closed to halibut fishing.

In Marine areas 5 and 6, lingcod and Pacific cod can be retained in waters deeper than 120 feet on days when the recreational halibut fishery is open.

Additional changes in halibut-fishing rules that take effect for specific waters this year include:

  • Marine Area 1: Anglers will be allowed to keep a lingcod when halibut are on board during the all-depth fishery, but only when fishing north of the Washington-Oregon border during the month of May. The nearshore area in Marine Area 1 will open three days per week (Monday through Wednesday) beginning May 8 until the nearshore quota is taken. Bottomfish can be retained when halibut are onboard in the nearshore area.
  • Marine Area 2 (Westport): Beginning the Saturday after the all-depth fishery closes, the nearshore fishery will open seven days per week until the quota is taken.

Marine areas 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line: Bottomfish fishing will be restricted to the area shoreward of 20 fathoms (120 feet) beginning May 1 through Labor Day. Lingcod, sablefish, and Pacific cod can be retained seaward of 20 fathoms (120 feet) on days open to recreational halibut fishing.

Anglers should check the WDFW website for complete information on recreational halibut regulations and seasons athttp://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/creel/halibut/.


Sea Breeze Charters, LLP

About SeaBreeze Charters
Sea Breeze Charters is  a fourth generation family of fishermen, and we are very proud of our heritage.

Whether you’re just one person looking to get in a day of fishing, or a group planning a trip together, we’ll make it a day to remember. We cater to the novice and the experienced fisherman alike, and use the most modern fish finding equipment and tackle to enhance your day out on the fishing grounds. All of our vessels are built in the USA and operated by licensed skippers. Our 7-16 passenger vessels are inspected and certified by the United States Coast Guard assuring you the highest standards for your safety.

We are also licensed to perform Memorials, spreading of ashes and burials at sea. For more information on these services please call or email.

Bouquet washed ashore after the annual Blessing of the Fleet

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Book your fishing dates now to get the day and boat you want!

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July 1st – August 31st
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Bear Essentials Lodge– Anchor Point, Alaska

Located in the Heart of the Kenai Peninsula
Tall Tree Road
Anchor Point, Alaska

(Mile post 149.5 on the Sterling Highway 1)

Bear Essentials Lodge is a rustic lodge located in Anchor Point, Alaska. We are in a remote location surrounded by the beauty of Alaska views, scenery, and wildlife.

Our Alaskan Lodging is located minutes away from fishing, hunting, clamming,  sightseeing, hiking, wildlife photography, and many other Alaskan adventures and activities that Alaska is famous for.


  • We offer clean comfortable rooms at very reasonable rates. 
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    Extended stay discounts apply.  


Bear Essentials Lodging is open year round.

The 2016 Annual Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby will be starting soon!

The Jackpot Halibut Derby offers great prizes in a variety of categories.

Be sure to book your rooms early for the 2016 Events!

Click Here for more news on the prizes awarded in the 2015 Annual Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby

My name is Ken Scofield, your host and guide to a Great Alaskan Adventure.

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Our goal is to provide a long lasting, memorable Alaskan experience. One you’ll be telling your friends about for years.

Now Serving Fish ’N Chips

Washington state’s bountiful ocean coast offers a mix of tasty bottomfish in spring.
By Jeff Holmes

Fine fixin’s for fish and chips – saltwater anglers and Capt. Kerry Allen heft a mix of black rockfish and lingcod hooked off the Evergreen State’s rockier northern coast. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

Fine fixin’s for fish and chips – saltwater anglers and Capt. Kerry Allen heft a mix of black rockfish and lingcod hooked off the Evergreen State’s rockier northern coast. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

Next week when a good friend and his lovely, player-hater wife co-celebrate their birthdays with a big dance party in their new shop, I’m frying, grilling and baking 30 pounds of  halibut, lingcod and rockfish left over from an especially productive 2015 season. Without trying, I’ll probably make a lot of friends at the party while clearing freezer room for 2016’s ocean bounty. Like most of you, I love eating white-fleshed ocean fish, and I could make you a long Bubba-Gump list of dishes. For modest prices often cheaper than sled or drift boat seats, bottomfish charters offer safe and fun fishing yielding big bags of snow-white fillets. For us Northwesterners, the Pacific can be a U-pick fish market where the freshest fish and greatest thrills and memories can be had. Charter prices are often eclipsed by the value of fish taken home when considering retail prices. Pike Place Market brings up the distant rear for quality of Northwest seafood experiences, and charter fishing with fish and chips on the brain is easily on the list of quintessential, must-do Northwest outdoor experiences.
April marks the beginning of bottomfishing opportunities in Washington with the opening of deep-water lingcod fishing for the month’s last two weeks. Typically the only limiting factor to catching big lings out of Washington ports during April is weather, and not too many operators bother. But some do, and private boats also get in on the action closer to shore by fishing jetties and nearshore reefs that have repopulated with bottomfish through the winter months. A friend of mine and his buddies and family make an annual trek to Neah Bay in April to fish the protected waters all the way out to Tatoosh Island, and they do very well fishing over reefs that have seen no pressure in six months. April may not be prime-time ocean fishing season yet, but it is a clear wake-up call with some advantages and excellent payoffs in fillets.

The eagerly awaited halibut season won’t open off the coast until next month, but it should yield good catches, as this nice haul from an All Rivers and Saltwater Charters’ express boat exemplifies.(ALLRIVERSGUIDESERVICE.COM)

The eagerly awaited halibut season won’t open off the coast until next month, but it should yield good catches, as this nice haul from an All Rivers and Saltwater Charters’ express boat exemplifies.(ALLRIVERSGUIDESERVICE.COM)

FROM ILWACO AT the mouth of the Columbia River, north to Neah Bay and beautiful Tatoosh Island, Washington’s coastline offers four ocean ports from which to pursue bottomfish. Early-season ocean angling often goes overlooked, what with spring Chinook mania, trout season, and the reawakening of warmwater fish. A sometimes cantankerous ocean also limits popularity, but getting ahead of the game for early bottomfish means scores of clean, firm fillets. Much of my annual bounty every year comes from British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, but a significant portion comes off the coasts of Washington, sometimes Oregon. One could easily collect all the fish he or she might ever want or need without visiting our friends to the north, and this is especially true of black rockfish and lingcod. Stocks of both tasty species are robust in both Northwest states, especially so in Washington. There, fishery managers allow a daily limit of 10 black rockfish and two lingcod. The poundage adds up fast after a few trips, and whacking limits of these tasty fish on light gear is a lot of fun and sometimes results in incidental catches of salmon and halibut, retention opportunities for which typically commence in May.
I make a point to fish the early season every year, even if it means the loss of a spring Chinook or morel mushroom weekend. Ilwaco, Westport, La Push and Neah Bay offer excellent fishing, and I have fished them all and I  recommend them all. My usual choice is Westport because of the ease of getting there and because I really like All Rivers and Saltwater Charters’ guiding program. But when I fish in April, it’s usually for big lingcod, and always with one of the skippers who licks his chops for a chance at big deepwater lings: Mike Jamboretz of Jambo’s Sportfishing. His immaculate 37-foot boat, the Malia Kai, is good in big water, making him a great bet for early in the year when the ocean is still sometimes sporty. The Washington  Department of Fish and Wildlife allows Jamboretz and other early-season enthusiasts the last two weekends of April and a little over a week in May to chase lings in waters deeper than 20 fathoms (120 feet). He is an extremely good lingcod skipper, with high-end specialized tackle and the most advanced bank of electronics I’ve seen in a sport boat. He’s a bottomfishing specialist with a two-year-plus wait to fish halibut during Washington’s short season. Similarly, his deepwater lingcod trips fill quickly, but it’s definitely worth calling him. After almost three years of waiting, I got out for halibut last year with him, followed by a stop at the deepwater ling reefs, which are fair game later in May on halibut days. I went home with a nice halibut and two lings over 20. Every time I’ve booked with him in April for lings, we’ve laid out a very nice class of fish on the deck by day’s end, along  with limits of extra-tasty yellowtail  rockfish, a species that suspends in deep water near the ling haunts. Neah Bay is worth the trip, and  services are available at Big Salmon Resort.

Capt. Mark Coleman calls new sonar that shows bottom composition “a real game changer, because when locating good bottomfishing zones offshore from Westport, your spot is as much about what the bottom is made of as it is finding a significant rocky feature.” For more on that, see Randy Well’s South Coast column elsewhere this issue. (ALLRIVERSGUIDESERCapt. Mark Coleman calls new sonar that shows bottom composition “a real game changer, because when locating good bottomfishing zones offshore from Westport, your spot is as much about what the bottom is made of as it is finding a significant rocky feature.” For more on that, see Randy Well’s South Coast column elsewhere this issue. (ALLRIVERSGUIDESERVICE.COM)ICE.COM)

Capt. Mark Coleman calls new sonar that shows bottom composition “a real game changer, because when locating good bottomfishing zones offshore from Westport, your spot is as much about what the bottom is made of as it is finding a significant rocky feature.” (ALLRIVERSGUIDESERVICE.COM)

Westport, which is the most popular port on Washington coast, has the most operators and the  widest range of services. Westport’s boat basin is home to several excellent operations such as Deep Sea Charters, which has been running trips here for nearly six and a half decades, Westport Charters, which operates a fleet of eight boats from 40 to 55 feet in length, Ocean Sportfishing Charters, home of the Ranger and Capt. Don Davenport, and Capt. Dave McGowan of the Ms. Magoo. Offshore Northwest and Capt. Kerry Allen, and Tailwalker Charters  and Capt. Patrick Walker are here as well for part of the season, and there are many other options, so see charterwestport.com for more. And while you’re there, check out the annual fishing derbies, which began with lingcod in mid-March and pay out thousands of dollars in prizes for big salmon, halibut and tuna.

MY FAVORITE WAY to fish on the ocean is in fast boats with sporty gear. Lots of awesome Westport skippers will take you to the action and show you an amazing day of fishing and service in some badass boats. My personal choice for speed, versatility, kindness and dry sense of humor is All Rivers and Saltwater Charters’ Mark Coleman and his four express tuna boats.
“Our bottomfishing trip is especially cool because of our custom-built Defiance boats and the fact that we handle just six anglers,” says Coleman. “Once aboard we  travel very quickly to the best fishing zones and get right to fishing.”
Coleman and his skippers are able to rocket around, seeking out the best bite possible on the best class of fish, which often results in an extra-large class of black rockfish and very nice lings.
“We keep an eye on the inshore halibut season too,” says Coleman. “It’s open seven days a week until the quota is met, and we do catch a few each spring while targeting lings and rockfish.”
Although contrary to tradition, Coleman takes an ultralight approach with his gear. Because of the versatility of only fishing six anglers and being able to move fast from spot to spot, his clients can take the extra time to land the occasional nearshore halibut or very large lingcod or salmon on sporty gear.
“We recommend using the lightest tackle you can get away with to feel every bite and have the most fun at the rail,” says Coleman. “For us that usually means 7-foot Okuma spinning rods with Okuma RTX reels loaded with 50-pound TUF-Line braid. From the mainline we attach a 5-foot double-dropper-loop leader, loop on a couple shrimp flies, and a little lead. We have clients let out slowly to convince the rockfish to suspend higher and higher off the bottom and eventually under the boat for wide-open action. Clients tend to love this, and so do I.”
I’m a big fan of top-rated Raymarine electronics and learned about them by fishing with Coleman. Sitting in his pilothouse and reading the displays is almost like watching video of the bottom, even running at 30 knots.
“We rely exclusively on FLIR’s Raymarine electronics to guide us below the water line each day. Our team found that the new CHIRP sonar with DownVision by Raymarine not only improved our vision below the water, but now shows us bottom composition as well. That’s been a real game changer, because when locating good bottomfishing zones offshore from Westport, your spot is as much about what the bottom is made of as it is finding a significant rocky feature.”
All of the operators in Westport have excellent electronics and will get you on bottomfish, and there are lots of cool boats of varying designs. No matter what reputable operator you fish with, I highly recommend a trip to Westport – and Neah Bay, La Push and Ilwaco. All ports offer their own charm and advantages. Look to local chambers of commerce (westportgrayland-chamber.orgilwacowashington.com; forkswa.com; neahbaywa.com) for lodging, dining and tourist activities. If you’re an Oregonian reading this and don’t already know, your coastline is also an excellent place to catch bottomfish and take home a fat sack of fillets. Look to Astoria/Warrenton, Garibaldi, Depoe Bay, Newport, and more, and see the pages of this issue for charter choices to include Yaquina Bay Charters, Captain’s Reel Deep Sea Fishing, and Dockside ChartersNS

By midmonth, lingcod will be fair game up and down Washington’s coast. Some pretty big specimens are out there, with a 48-pounder the largest weighed during 2015’s seasonlong derby in Westport. Wyatt Lundquist slammed his hook home on this nice one while fishing aboard the Slammer, skippered by Rhett Webber, last year. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)

By midmonth, lingcod will be fair game up and down Washington’s coast. Some pretty big specimens are out there, with a 48-pounder the largest weighed during 2015’s seasonlong derby in Westport. Wyatt Lundquist slammed his hook home on this nice one while fishing aboard the Slammer, skippered by Rhett Webber, last year. (DAIWA PHOTO CONTEST)