The weather in Oregon has been absolutely stunning for the last few weeks. I don't care what the scientists say, or how dry it will be this summer... I love el Nino.
On Sunday, 2/21, the ocean laid down to around 6ft@12-15s, the sky showed not a single cloud, temperatures averaged 50F, and winds blew steady out of the East at 15mph with gusts to 20. My friend Jerrol and I launched from the marina at Garibaldi on to Tillamook Bay and paddled South toward the jetty entrance an hour before low tide. The bay is quite shallow in this area, in fact the bottom was in sight most of the way towards the jetty. This made for a much more dynamic environment than most of the other smaller bays on the coast. The shallow water produced some nice 2-3ft wind waves to play on, and just a small channel every now and then would make for a funneling action resulting in several mild rips to mess around with.
We paddled to the bayside edge of the South jetty and hopped out on the cobble beach to asses the situation and discuss bail out options & capsize plans. With a general strategy set, we jumped back in our boats and paddled down the South jetty towards the Pacific Ocean. Jerrol shouted something along the lines of "My goal is to not end up on the 6 o' clock news." I just laughed as we rolled up and down on the 3ft swell that made it through the bay entrance.
As the sea floor fell out beneath us and turned from sand to rocks, we dropped our jigs and began fishing. I used my handline again, this time with 40# Berkley Big Game Trilene. I've been experimenting with heavier line weight and knots for the last few months, and finally found what I was looking for with the Big Game Trilene. I was fishing with my favorite, most faithful fish-catching lure of all time; a four-inch pink buzzbomb. As unimaginative and low-class as this lure is, it has never, ever been skunked.
The 15-20mph East wind proved to be exceptionally challenging. Blowing strait down the jetty towards the ocean, it made keeping a line vertical almost impossible. This factor, combined with the waves and outflow around the rocks made for some seriously technical boat handling just to keep my line in position for one or two jigs before getting blown out again. It was a great place to practice boat control & conditions management, but not so great for a relaxing day of fishing.
After attempting to fight the conditions for an hour, all the while knowing there's lunkers below us but no way to get to them & offer a decent presentation, we decided to paddle across the entrance to the North jetty and find shelter in the lee side of the rocks & stacks located there. We tried again to fish the deeper water along the jetty, but faced the same problems with the wind, so we paddled further in and found shelter behind the "Three Graces".
We knew we were out of big lunker territory, but we knew there would be some smaller lingcod & possibly some greenling around the rockpiles, and we started fishing. A short bit later I started getting nibbles, but missed a few sets. Finally I managed to boat a small lingcod, around 20 inches, which I quickly released. A few minutes later, Jerrol hooked up in the same spot with another small lingcod around 20 inches.
We fished a while longer, then paddled through a nice rock garden towards shore to have lunch. Jerrol asked something along the lines of "What's the best way through the rocks?" I gave him a funny look. "Well you're the expert!" he said. Again I just laugh as we bob up and down next to the piles. I said something along the lines of "Try not to run into them." It's not that I was apathetic for safety, or mocking his questions, but I hadn't been here before, and when I'm not guiding, I entertain myself with allot of, "I wonder if I can get through there?", or, "I wonder what will happen if I go this way?", and allot of times it ends up with a "How do I get myself out of this one?" We paddled through the garden with no issues, landed on a cobble beach and had lunch.
By the time we finished eating, it was getting close to quitting time, so we floated back to the marina on the incoming tide as we mooched our jigs. Jerrol spotted some activity on his fish finder around the pilings at the fisherman's dock at Garibaldi, and we fished for a few minutes there with no result before pulling out at the marina where we launched.
I was really hoping for a lunker on this trip, but I was extremely pleased with our adaptations to unsuitable conditions. The bottom line at the end of the day is that, despite the challenges, we adapted and were still able to get fish. If nothing else, I found a great spot to practice technical boat handling in a relatively safe environment, and had a load of fun soaking in February sunshine and sea air with a friend.