I know what some of you are thinking. Especially the people that know me well, that I am talking about one of my off days where I’m crabby. But it’s not one of those days, I am talking about a day I went out on a charter fishing boat to do some fishing and crabbing in Newport, Oregon. You see in Oregon the weekend June third and fourth were free fishing days. So I thought I’d take advantage of it and try to do some crabbing or fishing in the city of Newport. One of the other park volunteers that was here last month had told me that you could go into town and rent a crab basket and fish right off the dock. So on Saturday I headed towards Newport to check it out and see what was available. And as it would be there were a great number of people thinking the same as me and the town of the docs were crazy busy. One of the first places I hit was the peers in town where the Sea Lions hang out. As soon as I parked you could hear them barking away. So I headed down to the docks and found out where they had the floating rafts just for the Sea Lions to hang out on. This time of year it’s mostly males hanging around together because the females are off with their young. Here’s some photos of them soaking up the sun.This guy had to work hard to get out of the water.But success was to be had, he looks happy that he made it.I stopped in couple sport shops and then in a couple of the charter boat offices to talk to them about the crabbing in the area. At the sport shops they give me all the information on renting a basket, what kind of bait the use and spots to try for them around town. But by then it was getting pretty late and it would’ve been a waste of time on Saturday. But my thought was seeing that Sunday day was also free fishing day I would maybe come back and give it a try then. From there I headed into one of the charter boat offices and talk to the lady about what they had to offer as far as crabbing goes. What they do is put together a Bay crabbing experience. But they need a minimum of six people to do this. And they would then go out in the bay with the boat and put down 12 to 15 baskets. And then come back around pulling them up and seeing what they got. In the bay you’ll catch the Dungeness crabs and also Red Rock crabs, which are smaller but still good eating. This was a thought, but there again with the weekend being crazy they didn’t have any spots available. From there it was off to another spot, “Newport Tradewinds” charter service. And I started asking the gal there what they had to offer for crabbing. Basically they had the same offer as the other service, but once again had nothing for the weekend. She then asked me what my feelings were about going out fishing for Rockfish. I said I don’t tell me about it, she went on to explain the rates and that they had one opening left, on one of the boats for Sunday morning at 7 o’clock. She further went on to explain that for an extra $20 they would put out a crab basket for me and any other interested individuals in the deeper water and then come back on the way in and hoist them up. And we would share the crabs amongst everyone that put in a baskets. I thanked her for the information and told her I’d think about it, but I was going to check out some more dock fishing and would let her know. I left thinking well that’s an idea and I might stop back a little later and sign up. I continued walking along the piers and talk to some more people, about how they were doing crabbing and fishing from the docs. I got some great ideas from them, and they all told me that a charter boat would be lots of fun. So I headed back to Tradewinds to see if that spot was still open and she informed me that they had enough interest that they were starting another boat so there were plenty spots. So I signed up headed home all excited about my chance to go out deep-sea fishing. Sunday morning I was up bright and early at 4:30 so we could get Maxine out for a walk before I headed to town. I got to the dock around 6:30 and everybody else was there and ready for our 7 o’clock departure. I asked them how many crab pots they had going out and they only had four. I was allowed a second so I thought I would increase our odds and went for another. So what gave us a total of five crab pots on board. We headed out of the bay on a beautiful sunny morning. Here’s a photo of what the crab cages looked like filled with fish carcasses from the catch the day before as bait.Here’s some photos of the bridge as we had out of the dock. Looking back to town.Here’s one of another charter boat in front of us as we head out to open sea with the two jetties on both sides of us protecting the port of Newport.As the captain piloted us safely out of the harbor, the mate was busy getting the pole set so as soon as we got to the first fishing spot we could hit the water. Here’s a photo of the poles being set up.Here’s a little closer look at one of the poles, they used a heavy jig on the end and another fly about 2 feet up the line. There were several times we would have double hits, where we would have two fish on at the same time.Here’s a cool picture of the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse from the water, which I talk about in my previous post.The first thing we did as we got out to some deeper water was to set the five crab pots. They space them out and marked them on their GPS so we could find them later even if it got foggy. And then it was off to the first fishing spot. As soon as we stopped people got their lines in the water there was a total of 14 of us fishing. And within less than a minute someone had a fish on. It took me a couple minutes but soon I had my first Black Rockfish in the boat. These are kinda like a large smallmouth Bass. You are allowed seven rockfish but only six of them can be Black, which are the most common. And then you have to have one of color. There are many different kinds of colored rockfish and other assorted fish you can keep. The captain and his mate new all of this. So all we had a do is bring them in and they would tell us whether we could keep it or not. Before 9:30 I had caught my limit of Black Rockfish, in matter fact we had let a couple little ones go also. By far I was the luckiest guy in the boat catching my limit that quickly, with only one or two other people getting close. Here’s a photo of my tote full of fish.
And then I caught my first real exciting fish, a bright Blue Ling Cod. This was not the first Ling Cod caught, but it was the first legal size one on the boat. And it was the only blue one caught that day. Here’s me with my proud catch.The Rockfish that were mainly fishing for, you are allowed a total of seven but at least one of them had to be a color other than black. I caught several Blue Rockfish and we kept the biggest to add to my catch. As I cut bigger fish they were able to size me up, keeping the smaller ones for the crew, so that was nice. I cut my limit of rockfish more than three times over releasing the extra. It was such a great day every single person on the boat caught their limit of rockfish. And I also limited out on my legal limit of Ling Cod which is two fish 18 inches or more. There were several other Ling Cod caught, but I was the only one to limit out with two. We fish till about 11 o’clock and then it was off to pull up the crab pots. The rule is you have to pull up your own crab pod the crew cannot do it. First there was an older gentleman that was having trouble so I helped him hoist up the pod it’s a little bit of work. Unfortunately I was not able to get any photos of the pods as we pull them up because it was too busy helping with that. But in the first basket there must’ve been about 15 or more crabs and seven of them were legal keepers. You cannot keep any females and the males have to be at least 5 ¾ of an inch across their body. We continued pulling up baskets with mixed numbers of legal crabs in them. But when it was all said and done we averaged just over four crabs a person. Because I had two baskets I got nine. Here’s a photo of my tub full of crabs.
When we got back to the dock you could have your fish clean for a buck apiece and the crabs cooked for a buck each too. I was a little concerned it may take too long to cook the crab but they assured me they would have them done before the fish were even cleaned, which they did. An older gentleman comes down there on the weekends and that’s all he does. He has huge pots of boiling saltwater, that he cooks the crabs in and then he cleans them, getting them all ready to pick out of the shell. In the meantime we waited our turn to get our fish cleaned. There were several women and a guy busy filet away at all the fish. Here’s a photo of them working away, from up on the dock. The lady with the bare shoulders was cleaning my catch.Here you can see my two Ling Cod laying in front of her and my fillets in the tote to the right. She did a really nice job and it was well worth the money.And then I paid a few bucks more to have the fish all vacuum sealed and ready for freezing. When I got back home I laid all my bounty out on the table to take a couple photos. In this photo you can even see that the blue cod has bright blue meat, which is really cool.The next day me and my new friend Cary, one of the campground host. Worked on getting all the crab meat out of its shells. I figured we ended up with close to 3 pounds of crabmeat and at $40 a pound that more than pays for the trip. It was a great day of fishing and I got quite a bit to boast about. But the most important thing is I had a great time and met some nice people. I will leave you with one last photo, of this plaque that hung in the shop where they did the vacuum sealing of the fish. I believe it to be true. That’s it for now, Rick