Deep Sea Fishing Off the Oregon Coast

By: Craig Stanford

I felt a feeling of excitement as I stepped onto the charter boat. Would this be the time? Would I finally get my Salmon? Every time I had been out deep sea fishing I didn't even get a bite. The arguments have been flying around for years as to why the Salmon have gotten so rare. I haven't been paying too much attention to these arguments. I have to admit that I am selfish and just want to catch my Salmon.

My day started at 6:00 AM, when our windup alarm went off in our tent. Our little party consisted of me, my dad, and my Uncle Bob.

We had set up our tent in a public campground only a couple of miles from the harbor of Garibaldi, Oregon. Garibaldi is a small town situated on the Tillamook Bay along the Oregon coast. Garebaldi has the perfect location for a harbor and a marina because the waters are relatively calm in the bay.

It was still dark, so getting up wasn't easy. As we pulled out of the campground, several cars sped past us going in the other direction. I found out later that these were the charter boat captains driving out to the jetty, so they could see what the bar conditions were like.

I was comfortable with the boat because it was fairly new and looked to be in pretty good shape. It looked big to me. I was used to my grandfather's 14 ' boat. There were eight of us fishing plus the captain and a high school kid who baited the hooks and netted the fish.

As we approached the bar, the captain ran back, lifted the cover off the engine and looked around. He had a very serious look on his face. That's when it hit me, "uh, oh, going over the bar is serious business". I couldn't believe the size of the waves at the bar, they towered over us to about ten feet. I felt pretty sheepish when the high school kid said that the bar was pretty good that day.

Once we got into the ocean, the waves were only two or three feet and there was no wind. After we got out into the ocean, we were happy to see that we wouldn't be dealing with the wind. but after awhile, a little wind would have been nice. The boat we were on was a cabin cruiser with the captain's position up on top. All of the exhaust was routed thru a pipe that went up through the center of the boat. This arrangement was probably ok when it was windy, but on our day the exhaust was sucked down to the passenger area. We all got a little green because it took an hour and a half to get to the captain's favorite fishing "spot".

When we reached the captain's "spot", the high school kid handed us each a Salmon rod with the bait already attached. We fished for about an hour without any bites. Since there didn't seem to be any Salmon around, the captain had the high school kid give us bottom fishing gear. We caught lots of fish with the bottom fishing gear.

I was thrilled to haul in a couple of bottom fish. Another guy caught a Rockfish. This fish was the oddest living thing that I had ever seen. It looked prehistoric. It was black with orange dots all over and it had an orange mouth. Very strange indeed!

After we fished for bottom fish a couple of hours, the captain had us pull in our lines and motored for about an hour to another one of his Salmon "hot spots" Nobody caught a Salmon, so I guess the spot wasn't that "hot".

We pulled in our Salmon lines and traveled for one and a half hours back to Garibaldi. Once again, the captain ran down and looked at the engine before we crossed the bar, but by that time, I was too tired and too green to care about the bar, I just wanted to get back to dry land.

We got back to port about 3:30 PM. We didn't catch any Salmon, but at least we caught some bottom fish, and had fun doing it, so the important thing was, we didn't get skunked.

The trip cost $145.00 . It's less if you decide to only fish for Salmon or bottom fish, but if you only go for one type your chances of not getting anything goes up.

I'm glad that we decided to fish for the bottom fish too because they really made our day. As for the Salmon, the arguments and the finger pointing about what caused their rarity goes on. It would be nice, however, if next time there was more wind and at least some Salmon.

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