What the Hake is that?

     I've been to the Oregon coast dozens of times as my family vacationed there at least once or twice per year ever since I was a wee tyke. However, I have not been to the Oregon coast many times in recent years, since I started life-listing in earnest, so there were a few easy ones that needed to be ticked off. And I'm always excited to fish in the ocean because you never know what you're going to pull up.

     I won't bore you with too many of my corny jokes or anything since there are quite a few pictures to fill the space. Long story short, it was an awesome trip and some pretty darn cool fish were caught, some new, some not.

     We decided to make a little side trip and spend the night in Seattle on the way down to Oregon. So while the wife and kids were sleeping, I picked out a new pier I hadn't been to before (Redondo Beach) and gave it a go! It was just the usual suspects though, nothing new that night.

Rock Sole:

Quillback Rockfish:

Roughback Sculpin:

Pacific Staghorn Sculpin: The "8 inch Freshwater Drum" of the Pacific Northwest. Although I've still only caught one freshwater drum so I still like those... I thought this one might be something different at first since I've never seen one with the whitish splotches on its head before, but I think it's just a regular old staghorn though. If anybody has any other opinions on the ID, I'd be open to correction.


     The next day, we got to Oregon, and the wife and kids wanted to check out some tidepools, so I brought along some little hooks. Tidepool sculpins were as easy as I assumed they would be. I've caught thousands of these over the years, but never actually bothered using a hook before. So with that bit of housekeeping done, I was free to move on to bigger and better things.


    That was until the wife said, "Ooh honey! What's that?" I didn't see it at first. Can you see the fish in the picture below?

     Anyway, long story short, it took some convincing, but I finally connected with three inches of steaming Speckled Sanddab fury. A new one!

Also caught a bunch of these mosshead sculpins in the tidepools. Another new one!


     The next day I rock-hopped my way out onto the Newport Jetty hoping for a striped surfperch. I of course caught exactly 0 striped surfperch. But I did have a pretty entertaining evening with some familiar species.

And a few crabs:

Kelp Greenling were not shy about coming to see me:

Always cool to see the difference between males (top) and females (bottom):

I even caught a male and a female on the same cast:

     When the tide stopped ripping so hard, I pulled out my jigs to try for some rockfish. And proceeded to have a very entertaining hour and half before dark.

Black rockfish were all over the place:

     Then I hooked something that pulled a little harder. I knew what I hoped it was, but it was cool to see it when it actually popped up. My first dingaling from shore! I've caught lots (and certainly bigger) of them from boats, but never from shore. But what really excited me was that upon closer inspection, it was my first ever blue Lingcod! Not the "bluest" one I've ever seen, but blue enough to count!


     The next day, my dad and I headed out on a charter trip. We tried one that I hadn't done before. Last year Oregon had to close down their near shore bottom fishing in late-summer, since they had already met their groundfish quota for the year for several species. This made people mad... So in an effort to provide additional harvest opportunities, they opened up what they call a "long leader fishery" outside of the 40 fathom line to access fish that were previously not very pressured (except, you know... the pressure of just living deeper than the 40 fathom line...) For this fishery, you have to use specific gear. Basically it's like a dropshot-type rig with 30 feet of line between the weight and the hooks. This is to avoid bottom dwelling critters like yelloweye rockfish, while still  having access to more sustainable (more mid-water) fish like yellowtail rockfish. See illustration below courtesy of ODFW:

So anyway... A few of the potentially encountered species would be new to me so I wanted to give it a try:

So we sent our odd rigs down 500 feet and began doing the fish dance. I was first to hook up on the boat (as it should be. Just kidding... Sort of...). 500 feet later, when it popped up to the surface, the captain and I simultaneously said "Aww, crap!", and "SWEEEET!!!". You can probably guess who said which. There was a little confusion, as to what the little beasty actually was for a couple minutes, as the deckhand hadn't ever seen one before, but I actually knew this one. It was my lifer Pacific Hake!

Gotta love those "non-target" fish!

Then it was back to business of catching Yellowtail and Canary Rockfish (and lots of them; 10 fish limit each...) for the rest of the trip except for a brief bit of excitement when the guy next to me (it's always the guy next to me??) got bit off by a blue shark right at the surface.  I only barfed twice and got a new species out of the trip, so I call that a success!

Yellowtail Rockfish:

Canary Rockfish

     The next day the wind was howling, but I tried the jetty again. The usual suspects were caught again, but I also tied into probably my favorite fish of the trip. I brought three rods with different rigs on them, to mix it up throughout the day. I was periodically using a sabiki (with only 3 hooks as per the regs) tipped with squid to search for smaller species. Nothing too exciting happened with that rig except for one good bite. I could tell that the fish was big enough that I was in danger of losing it in the rocks or weeds. But somehow the little size 10 hook held, and it popped up to the surface. I saw that it was a rockfish, but it was the wrong color. Crap! Now what do I do? I was up on big rock 5 feet over the water, and there was literally no way to get down to it. I weighed my options for a couple seconds, and couldn't come up with anything better than to hope the hook stayed put and swing it up onto the rock. So I held my breath and gingerly swung it up. I didn't breathe until my thumb was firmly on his lip.

     Rockfish are a favorite family of fish of mine. I've always been fascinated with the variety of different ones. So I was excited that I didn't know what I had. Luckily, through the magic of Facebook, it was quickly identified (by some anglers with encyclopedic knowledge of fish ID... Thanks again!) as a Grass Rockfish. WOO! Apparently they're more common farther south, like in California. But not so much that far north. The ODFW website calls them an "unusual species" to catch. Either way, it was a new one for me, and one that I was definitely not expecting.

Interesting forehead structures. Kind of looked like laid back horns.

Stubby gill rakers are a key identifier for this species.


     That was it for new species. I got a little cocky and thought I had a shoe-in spot to catch a warmouth in a nearby lake. So I tried that on the last day. But don't worry, no warmouth were harmed in the making of this post. But I was pretty happy with the trip as it sat, with five new species, and some notable encounters with old friends as well, 19 species caught in total.

     Also, I guess I lied a little about not being too long-winded here. But hey, I didn't hold you down and make you read it all. That's on you!

Species List: 
Bass, Largemouth
Greenling, Kelp
Perch, Shiner
Perch, Yellow
Rockfish, Black
Rockfish, Canary
Rockfish, Grass
Rockfish, Quillback
Rockfish, Yellowtail
Salmon, Chinook
Sand Dab, Speckled
Sculpin, Pacific Staghorn
Sculpin, Roughback
Sculpin, Tidepool
Sole, Rock
Sunfish, Bluegill


iliketofish's picture

Pictures aren't showing up??


Edit: never mind... pictures are working now :)


andy's picture

The variety of that family of fish is very cool.  Never have I seen a few of those species - that hake is especially neat, funny to hear the captain's reaction to seeing one compared to a Roughfisher :)


Thanks for sharing!

iliketofish's picture

Yeah I got a kick out of that too. That was by far my favorite fish of the trip. I've also heard they're good eating too, but he wanted no part of it lol


Get some scopolamine patches from your doctor. I have bad sea legs and since I started wearing them I have not been sick once!

Downsize your gear, increase your fun, and make it a fair fight!

iliketofish's picture

Haha funny you bring that up...

I was actually wearing a patch... Sort of!

I'm also a firm believer in them, and haven't been sick on them when used propperly either...


This time my patches were purchased last August for a trip with my daughter last year (on which neither of us got sick). I had a couple extra patches left over, so I stuck them in the compartment between my front seats in my car in case I needed some. So I thought I was ok for this trip untill I pulled them out and read the instructions...

It says pretty clearly on the packaging to store them at room temperature (not in a hot/freezing car all winter/summer), and they had also expired in December...

I used it anyway hoping it'd be better than nothing... And I mean I didn't die or anyting so maybe it still worked a little?? lol

At least when I get seasick I'm still very much able to fish just fine. I just have to take a break every once in a while between drifts to chum a little. But between chumming episodes I feel pretty fine.

But yes, I agree about the patches. Now I know what happens if you don't follow the instructions though! lol


Outdoors4life's picture

Love it. 

I hope to fish that coast with more time again some day.

It is all perspective!

Acer Home Inspections

iliketofish's picture

The west coast is the best coast(??) winklaugh


Matt Miller's picture

Great report. We're planning to go to Newport next year and looks like some lifers await!

iliketofish's picture

I'd definitely reccomend giving the jetty a go! I've been to Newport tons of times, but that was my first time venturing out onto the jetty. It really was a lot of fun. White curly-tail jigs and swimbaits were the a kick in the pants. Just bring heavy enough gear to pull hard enough on the fish that they cant get into the rocks, cause they'll try!

Sand shrimp worked well for the bait fishing too.

Also, I picked my way over the rocks out almost to the end. I don't really think that was necessary though after the fact. most of my fish were caught about half way out, and the rock-hopping gets harder and harder the farther you get out.


the bearded angler's picture

 I only barfed twice and got a new species out of the trip, so I call that a success!

Well put!!

Eli's picture

This is awesome, especially the greenling.

Got a plan brewing to try and catch as many greenling species as I can next June.