Fishing Reports

Lingcod, rockfish biting as halibut, lighthouse, salmon openers near

BROOKINGS, Ore. (April 30, 2023) – Ocean anglers fishing out of the Port of Brookings are anxiously awaiting a couple of season openers that provide Alaska-style fishing closer to home. Pacific halibut season opens May 1, and although giant barndoor halibut are rare off the Oregon Coast, the average size is similar to Alaska. Oregon halibut seasons are also less restrictive, and charter anglers often return with limits.

Fishing at the Point St. George Reef Lighthouse, meanwhile, opens May 15. The lingcod and rockfish action, with potential for trophy fish, rivals the saltwater action in Alaska and British Columbia. Brookings Fishing Charters will be offering trips for halibut and the lighthouse daily, as the weather allows.

Ocean salmon season opens June 17 off the coast of Brookings. Poor runs expected back to the Sacramento and Klamath rivers have led to an ocean salmon closure in California this year, but the Oregon Coast will be open to hatchery coho salmon, also known as silver salmon. Brookings often has the best coho fishing on the Oregon Coast during the first part of the season, before the bulk of the run migrates north to traditional hot spots closer to the Columbia River, where the silver salmon spawn. Coho salmon are popular with anglers because of their great taste, and hard fight at the end of the line.

Deckhand Eric holds a lingcod that hitchhiked to the surface on a blue rockfish in April.

Since early March, our charter boats have been running half-day and 6-plus-hour longer ranger lingcod trips, with good success. Those popular bottom fishing trips will continue daily on our six-pack boats and the Nauti-Lady, along with the additional opportunities for halibut and trips to the lighthouse.

Fishing for rockfish has been good on most trips, with limits of large black, blue and canary rockfish. Our charters have been using light tackle in shallow water for the rockfish. The Oregon limit for rockfish is five fish a day, with no depth restriction or delayed opener. Rockfish, also known as Pacific snapper, rockcod or sea bass, include black, blue, canary, vermillion, yellowtail, olive, tiger, copper and China rockfish. Two lingcod a day also may be kept out of Brookings, in addition to the rockfish.

Capt. Kirby holds a lingcod caught on a charter aboard the Kraken.

During our half-day charters, we are catching rockfish in the Bird Island, Twin Rock and House Rock areas. Lingcod are biting best a little north of Bird Island, but in shallow water. We also have run longer-range lingcod trips to Mack Arch with good success.

Some of the lingcod caught aboard the Miss Brooke at Mack Arch.
A trophy lingcod caught in late April aboard the Miss Brooke.

Pacific halibut opener

Halibut migrate into shallow water during the spring and summer to feed, after spawning at depths close to 2,000 feet during the winter in the Gulf of Alaska. Out of Brookings, halibut are caught in 200 to 300 feet of water early in the season, and a little shallower as summer arrives. Catch rates also improve later in the season, but fish are caught as soon as the season opens. This year, the season out of Brookings runs May 1-Oct. 31, seven days a week, with no depth restriction.

Halibut and lingcod are often caught during our charters to the Point St. George Reef Lighthouse.

The Brookings Fishing Charters crew is the most experienced group of halibut charter captains on the Southern Oregon Coast. Capt. Andy, Capt. Travis and Capt. Rye each spent a decade running halibut charter boats in Alaska. They also have extensive experience on the Oregon Coast. Capt. Michael, Capt. Mick and Capt. Mike also have been very successful at catching halibut off of Brookings, and at the Point St. George Reef Lighthouse.

Some of the halibut caught last summer with Brookings Fishing Charters.

Brookings Fishing Charters offers halibut charters, or halibut and rockfish or halibut and salmon combos. Halibut average around 20 pounds off the coast of Oregon, the same size as most of the fish in Alaska (although fish over 100 pounds appear more frequently in Alaska). Each season, customers with Brookings Fishing Charters catch halibut over 30, 40 and 50 pounds. The biggest caught by one of our customers was 60 inches, and nearly 100 pounds.

In Brookings, Oregon, halibut season is open seven days a week. One halibut a day of any size may be kept. Six halibut a year may be kept. In Alaska, several days a week are closed, there is a reverse slot limit (so anglers are often limited to small chicken halibut) and the annual non-resident limit is less.

Point St. George Reef Lighthouse

Halfway between Brookings and Crescent City is the Point St. George Reef Lighthouse, which has some of the best lingcod and rockfish action on the entire Pacific coast. The productive reef is situated near two marine reserves. With seasonal closures, the rockfish and lingcod populations are extremely healthy. Large rockfish, with a great variety of color, are caught near the lighthouse, along with trophy lingcod. Each season, several fish pushing 30 pounds and a few topping 40 pounds are caught near the lighthouse.

Limits of lingcod are common at the Point St. George Reef Lighthouse.
Triple hookups of big fish is a common occurrence at the lighthouse.

Brookings Fishing Charters runs trips on all of its boats to the lighthouse with special Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel permits from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Because the trips originate in Oregon, our boats have the option of fishing for coho salmon, or halibut, on the way back to port. Salmon season is closed in California this year, and the halibut quota often is reached quickly in California, so Brookings is the ideal starting and ending location for Alaska-style combo trips to the lighthouse. Our boats often get their limits of bottom fish at the lighthouse, and then troll for salmon after they reach the border and continue back toward the harbor.

Lingcod like these, caught last summer aboard the Nauti-Lady, are a top draw at the lighthouse.
A colorful variety of rockfish and lingcod caught last summer aboard the Kraken.
Eric holds a hefty lingcod caught next to the lighthouse aboard the Nauti-Lady last summer.
Brent with a pair of trophy vermillion rockfish caught aboard the Nauti-Lady at the lighthouse.

The lighthouse is approximately 11 miles from Brookings, almost straight out from the harbor. The reef and best fishing is a little further, in what is known locally as the “Dragon Channel” a lingcod and trophy rockfish infested area of the reef. Swift currents, sudden depth changes, and an extremely rugged undersea terrain provide ideal habitat for big rockfish and lingcod. Oldtimers tell stories of lingcod between 50 and 70 pounds, and each season plenty of trophy lings are caught. 

Giant vermilion rockfish, jumbo canary rockfish and trophy copper rockfish are caught on nearly every trip. Our customers also encounter rare tiger rockfish at the lighthouse, and often catch (and release) giant yelloweye rockfish, which are protected and cannot be kept.

A nice variety of lingcod and rockfish from the lighthouse.

Ocean salmon opens June 17

This year’s ocean salmon season runs June 17-Aug. 31. Two hatchery coho, or silver salmon, may be kept each day. While Chinook runs are down this year on the Sacramento and Klamath Rivers, leading to the ocean king salmon closure, coho runs are healthy. This year’s quota in Oregon is 110,000 fish, well above the average quota of 28,000 to 40,000 coho. The ocean abundance of Columbia River and Oregon Coast coho is more than 1 million fish. Those salmon spent the first part of their ocean life in deep water off of California and Southern Oregon, making Brookings the ideal spot to catch them in June and early July, before they migrate back to the Columbia River.

Coho salmon are plentiful off of Brookings in June. These were caught aboard the Miss Brooke.
Limits of coho salmon last summer aboard the Miss Brooke.
Coho salmon are great for young anglers because the action is often fast and furious.

When coho schools are thick, which is often the case early in the season, double and triple hookups are common, and limits are the norm. The Brookings Fishing Charters captains have a well-earned reputation of being the top-producing ocean salmon skippers out of Brookings.

We catch salmon trolling herring or anchovies behind flashers. Divers are often used for coho, but downriggers are also mounted on the boats in case lines must be fished deeper.

Similar to halibut, several of the Brookings Fishing Charters captains have years of experience running charter boats in Alaska for coho salmon.

Local half-day trips

Our 4-hour local bottom fishing trips are still our most popular ocean charters. These are good for young anglers, or people who don’t want to spend a lot of time on the water, or be very far from shore. Limits of rockfish are common on these trips, and the action is often fast and furious, with anglers catching two fish at a time, and a large variety of fish. All of the fish are great to eat, and customers keep their catch.

The Nauti-Lady returns to port after a half-day trip in April on a beautiful spring day.

To learn more about our ocean charters, visit, or book by calling our office, (541) 813-1082.

Here are some of the catches from last week on our charters out of Brookings.

The Miss Brooke fishing off of Brookings in late April.

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