Surfperch, rockfish, springers thrilling anglers

Jaired Freeman of Brookings slew a limit of chunky redtail surfperch while fishing the Gold Beach south jetty sand spit last week. Photos by Larry Ellis.

by Larry Ellis

Anglers did not have to worry about catching fish last week.  It was a matter of wishing for your favorite species, making the fated cast and holding on.

In point of fact, the Gold Beach south jetty spit that was mentioned in last week’s article for kicking out copious quantities of redtail surfperch continued to thrill surf fishermen last week.  

Mid-May and June is the peak of the surfperch fishing season, so all you have to do is have your rod locked, loaded and ready to be deployed within 2 hours before the turn of high tide, cast into the breakers and wait for a willing biter.  

It will only be a matter of time during this 2-hour window of opportunity when they will snap.  Sometimes the bite comes on within one-half hour before the turn of high tide, so make sure to fish through the entire window of this tide cycle.

One angler who I talked with caught his 15-fish limit of 2- to 3-pound redtails on a variety of baits: Berkley 2-inch Camo Sand Worms, raw shrimp and sand shrimp.  

The symphonic singing of electric fillet knives were also heard at the port’s cleaning tables last week as anglers were filleting both rockfish and lingcod.  Sometime this weekend or into next week, the ocean is slated to lay down just enough for anglers to once again slay the fatted bottom grabber.

The main rockfish species being caught are the ubiquitous black rockfish, however blue rockfish, vermilion rockfish and canary rockfish were also brought to the boat.  Anglers are using twin-tail plastics, plastic worms and rubber rip baits to lure in the Sebastes varieties.

Lingcod were also inside each angler’s ice chest to varying degrees, with the lingosaurs favoring whole herring, however many of the lings fell for artificial lures as well such as a variety of plastics and leadfish.

Hooray! In only 5 days, lower Rogue River anglers can start keeping both hatchery and wild Chinook salmon starting Thursday, June 1.  In the meantime, the action for the feisty springers has picked up a notch with the hatchery salmon ratio starting to go up a tad.

“We have seen a slight turn-up on spring Chinook,” said Jim Carey, owner of the Rogue Outdoor Store on Thursday.  “To make a long story short, we’ve seen an uptick and we’ve even seen a few more hatchery springers being caught.”

The hot boat of the week was that of Helen Burns of Helen’s Guide Service in Gold Beach, who went 3-for-3 on hatchery springers on Thursday and had 2 more takers that didn’t stick.

“It was my best day this year,” said Burns who had launched her boat so late she was wondering if there were going to be any open spots.

“It was just a matter of being in the right spot at the right time. I didn’t put in until 5:30 pm and there were only a couple open spots so I just took one.  I caught all my fish on straight bait on my center rod using 3-1/2 ounces of lead.”

Like all the other Rogue River guides, Burns can’t wait until June 1 rolls around, when wild fish can also be retained in the bag.

“June is when I book most of my trips,” noted Burns.

Most of the boaters are using straight bait or a spinnerbait/anchovy rig, with an occasional boater setting out a Brad’s Cut Plug bait jammed with oil-scented tuna with the favored color being BlackJack.

Almost all of the boaters’ riggings are being used with a wire spreader with between 3 and 8 ounces of lead.

There are also a certain amount of bank anglers catching springers as well, with most of them using the aforementioned Brad’s Cut Plug bait used with some sort of cork bobber to keep the lure off of the bottom.

Don’t forget that today, Saturday May 27, children up to the age of 12 will be able to catch 1 trout free of charge, courtesy of the Oregon South Coast Fishermen (OSCF) who will have a tent set up in the former Ray’s Food Place parking lot in downtown Brookings.

“We’ll have our trout tanks in place on Saturday morning at 8 am,” said Richard Heap, the club’s president, who says that the event will be going on until 11 or 11:30 am.

OSCF will be furnishing the rods and bait, as well as providing bags with ice for the fish.

“We will also be selling hot dogs, soda pop and potato chips there for the first time ever,” noted Heap.

Tight lines!

Larry Ellis, author, writer, columnist and photographer has had a 50-year passion for fishing in California and Oregon's saltwater and freshwater venues. He is a well-known writer for Oregon, Washington and California Fishing and Hunting News, Northwest Sportsman, California Sportsman and Pacific Coast Sportfishing. He currently writes monthly for Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine, and is the author of two books, "Plug Fishing for Salmon" and "Buoy 10, the World's Largest Salmon Run."  Both books can be bought from Amato Publications (, Amazon and eBay. Ellis particularly loves living in his hometown of Brookings, Oregon - The heart of salmon country and gateway to fishing paradise.