I’m going to keep this post short, and let the fun featured in the short movie speak for itself. These scenes were shot over a consecutive period of two days by John or Jack Harrell, while they were hosting me in John’s dory Gold comet, launched from the beach into the surf at Pacific City in mid April.
On the first day we had only one popper rod, Jack’s, and he graciously caught one black sea bass and asked if I would like to fish his rod while he filmed. Yes I would thank you very much. I had the good fortune to be on the ocean three days straight, two in Gold Comet and one in Ed and Kevin’s dory (as yet unnamed).
First day saw the bass gorging on crab spawn and a fair number taking the poppers; each crushing take was glorious.
Days two and three saw the bass taking both crab spawn and big anchovies (5-6”) so they were far more receptive to the Popper and Gurgler than when they only had the crab spawn to eat.
Day two was the best of the three with an extended period when John and I hooked roughly two dozen nice black rockfish on Poppers and Gurglers. There was no objective measurable or anecdotal difference in the bass’ receptivity to John’s Popper versus my Gurgler, but I am convinced that my fly is the better of the two (ha ha).
On Day three – Ed, Rob, and I went a little farther north of Haystack Rock (one of several in Oregon) to fish for lingcod after the bass ceased taking poppers and we found lings just over thirty inches willing to take our flies. To be clear, not all the lingcod were in the 30” size class, because several were rather small but still feisty.
At one point during the morning, I was having fun slowly lowering my Clouser down into the water beside the boat and watching black rockfish flash on the fly just as it was going out of sight, perhaps at 8-10 ft deep. One flash was a much larger fish and I felt the heavy pull of a lingcod and saw it do a slow back and forth shake before it spit my hook.
We fished rods in weights from 5 (Poppers) to 10 (lingcod).
Fly lines are crucial in these situations. Very good fly lines to fish Poppers include the RIO Outbound Short Floater; the Airflo Sniper Floater, and the Wulff Ambush floater. A short aggressive front head with slim running line characterizes all of these lines. These lines are great to get the Popper or Gurgler out to the bass with only one or two back casts, so you maximize fishing time.
Leaders? Maxima Ultragreen is a dependable standby. I am a fan of RIO Alloy Hard tippet material because it is super abrasion resistant. The material is stiffer than the Maxima and has a larger diameter for each line class, but I have found it a dependable performer for rockfish and lingcod and it stands up to the abrasive teeth better than any leader in its strength rating. Do NOT use tapered trout leaders for this fishing!. I tried and believe me that a sea bass will cut you off using OX trout leader about as fast as you can say oooops!
At present I’m waiting for the surf to lay down so we can get off the beach and fish again. Meanwhile, there is still a little late winter steelhead and early spring Chinook action in north coast rivers and that is keeping me quite occupied, along with an occasional trip up to the town lake.
I hope you enjoyed the movie, and thanks to Chris for his editing.
John Harrell will be booking charters specializing in fly fishing in the ocean at Pacific City Fly Fishing.