The spring-time angling focus is on the Deschutes and other east-side waters, some more adventurous fly casters look to the inshore saltwater of Oregon's coast. Rockfish, lingcod, and other denizens of the deep can fall prey to surface and sub-surface presentations, sometimes in a frenzy that makes after-Christmas shopping look tame. This week, Capt. Rob Perkin of Connect Outfitters shares a glimpse at this very unique fishery...
As spring arrives on the Oregon Coast, and we begin to tuck our Steelhead gear away for the season, thoughts are shifting to saltwater and the many offshore adventures that await this summer. Seas begin to settle into more predictable spring and summer patterns, and the dory is being prepped for the season. In Pacific City, the rockfish are just offshore, a short dory ride away. It’s been a long winter and these fish are hungry, ready to intercept our fly offerings.
On any given day the rockfish can be found anywhere from the surface, where they feed on crab larvae, to 20-30’ deep. We use 6-8 wt. fly rods loaded with anything from floating lines and poppers to quick sinking lines with weighted baitfish or Clouser patterns. The vast amount of quality reefs near shore and rockfish numbers create a fishery, full of opportunity.
Everything is unique with this fishery, including the launch, where the dory rolls off the trailer, into the surf and is quickly spun around ready to head offshore. The ride over the surf and into the open ocean is an awesome experience regardless if this is your first time or you are an old salt. Once offshore it doesn’t take long to feel like you’ve been transported into a new world as the sights, sounds, and smells play with your senses. It’s not uncommon to see puffins, pelicans, sea lions, gray whales, and a variety of other marine species just off the beach.
It usually takes just a few minutes to locate the schools of rockfish over the reefs. Once located, lines and gear needed are determined based on the depth of the fish and current conditions. In most cases, the action is fast-paced once the schools are located, with chances of having double or triple hook-ups very common. This is a great fishery for all ages and abilities as the fishery doesn’t require a long cast to be in the game, and in most cases, a very short cast or simply letting the fly sink under the weight of the line and fly then retrieving with quick twitches will elicit hard strikes. Black rockfish, which are the most common on the reefs we fish average 3-6 lbs. They are great gamefish that pull hard, putting a big bend in 6 to 8 wt rods as they take the fly and head down to the rocks. It’s impossible to not have fun spending a day targeting rockfish with a fly rod off the Oregon coast.
While Rockfish will follow bait balls to the surface, allowing anglers to target them with surface poppers, subsurface offerings are the ticket most of the time. Captain Perkin has developed a collection of "Guide Flies," and the Rockfish Taffy is a go-to Clouser style pattern that is easy to tie and durable. It can be tied in a variety of colors and sizes to target almost any saltwater species.