Big lings, tuna, halibut biting
September is off to a great start for the Brookings Fishing Charters crew, with a nice variety of fish being caught aboard our six-pack boats. Big lingcod have moved in, giving anglers a chance at a trophy ling, while the Pacific halibut bite remains good, and there have been some opportunities to chase albacore tuna. Salmon also have arrived in the Chetco River estuary, while our half-day bottom fishing trips are producing limits of nice rockfish.
The biggest surprise of the season has been the great fishing for Pacific halibut off of Brookings. We have been getting limits on most charters of these prized fish. There are still plenty of fish remaining on the quota for the area south of Humbug Mountain, meaning the season could last through Oct. 31. Anglers may keep one Pacific halibut a day. They run 10 to 30 pounds, on average, with fish to 100 pounds caught. We have seen two fish in the upper 90-pound range caught by our friends in private boats this month.
Our charters are equipped with anchored and our captains are accustomed to fishing on anchor, having run charters in Alaska for several years. This gives us a big advantage when targeting halibut in 200-300 feet of water.
The tuna fishing has been fair this season, with albacore 20 to 50 miles off the coast of Brookings. Capt. Rye ran several trips for tuna aboard The Dash earlier this month, slamming the fish some days and scratching out just a few fish on others. We may have another window to target albacore in late September or early October before the weather turns and they head offshore and south.
The grade of the tuna has been excellent, with albacore to 30 pounds. We are seeing a bigger overall size this season compared to the “peanuts” last year.
September and October are prime time for finding trophy lingcod off of Brookings. We’ve gotten customers into several fish over 20 pounds this month, and a few in the 30-pound range. We target these bigger lings with large jigs or bait. They also will hit the light tackle we use for rockfish. The big lings move into shallow water this time of year ahead of spawning. The lingcod population is healthy, and ODFW has assured us targeting some of these bigger fish won’t hurt the fishery.
We are running trips to Mack Arch and the Point St. George Reef Lighthouse, and both are producing big numbers of lingcod and limits of rockfish. Lots of quality lingcod are being caught during these long-range trips.
Our popular 4-5 hour bottom fishing trip is yielding limits of rockfish, with an assortment of blacks, blues and canaries. Some lingcod also are being caught during the short trip. We also are getting into Dungeness crab, a nice end-of-the-day bonus.
The fall salmon season is underway. We have been fishing the Coos River, with fair results. The kings are nice, but the catch rates are lower than normal. The bright spot is the early action on the Chetco River estuary. We are already seeing a lot of jacks and some nice adults. A 35-pounder was caught over the weekend. Fishing in the Chetco estuary will improve in the next few weeks, with the bigger Chetco hawgs. Capt. Andy got a customer into a 58-pounder in 2008 in the Chetco estuary and has guided anglers to several fish over 50 pounds there.