rock greenling

This rock greenling met his end in a pan with sizzling butter.

Howdy everyone! I hope you have been enjoying the amazing weather as of late like we all at Basin Tackle have. After four months of howling wind and uncomfortable to dangerous seas we are finally getting out with regularity and bringing in the fish to prove it. We’ve been seeing beautiful halibut in pretty decent numbers and a lot of nice, large, plump, tasty, oh so tasty rockfish too. The rockfish bite has been spotty with early mornings seeming to produce the best results. The fish are there in great numbers they just seem to go dormant later in the day, possibly digesting the morning’s meal is my best guess.

Crabbing remains relatively slow but if you work at it you will be rewarded with a tasty meal or two.

Tuna remain elusive with only two being brought in so far despite many attempts and lot of fuel and time expended!

The ocean fin-clipped coho season is hot right now with a LOT of fish being landed and retained. Just remember to keep fin-clipped coho ONLY. A few Chinook are being caught as well but for the most part they seem too few and too far down for most folks to target.

I took a break from camping this week to come back to town and actually work like a responsible adult should. Despite working, I did manage to sneak out to the big blue ocean to catch some fish with Captain Clarence of Fishin’ Trips Charters a couple days ago. We caught limit upon limit of black rockfish and only kept the extra tasty looking ones and threw back the rest. We also caught a decent amount of crab to add to the mix. Despite my personally not really caring if we crabbed Captain Clarence loves crabbing so much he insisted we throw out a few pots while we were out there and true to his word we were not disappointed.

One of the best things about fishing on the ocean is that you never really know what you will encounter. We saw grey whales breaching not far away from us, watched birds hunt for dinner, and I caught a beautiful fish worthy of being in an aquarium. It wasn’t a rare or exotic species, in fact it’s pretty common in these parts but I always enjoy seeing them up close and personal.

Refered to as simply a “greenling” or “sea trout” there are actually two different species of these critters. The more common of the two being the Kelp Greenling and the other being the Rock Greenling.

Kelp greenling are beautifully colored with males having green and blue spots and females having more subdued yellow spots. Both greenling species can grow to a length of about 20 inches although ones that big aren’t encountered too often. The kelp greenling live in kelp beds and along rocky bottoms up to a depth of about 150 feet. 

When you are out jigging for rockfish and you pull up a greenling you can pretty much bet it’s of the kelp variety. Kelp Greenling feed on crustaceans, brittle stars, mollusks and any small fish they can get their mouths on. Many a kelp greenling have fallen prey to large predators such as lingcod and halibut and the smaller ones are often eaten by salmon and steelhead. Greenling are related to the lingcod and like the lingcod reach reproductive maturity by age four. Kelp greenling lay their eggs in October to November and do so in large clusters the size of golf balls that contain up to 4000 eggs. Several females deposit will their eggs in the same spot as everyone else, possibly to avoid paying rent. Male greenling will stand guard until the eggs hatch and swim away to make a life of their own.

Rock Greenling are a darker color than its kelpy cousin, almost a reddish brown with many lighter spots covering its body. The rock greenling while quite similar to the kelp variety chooses to live close to shore in the tidal surge where it hides amongst the rocks and darts out to pick up food as it floats by. I’ve caught plenty of rock greenling at the end of Cape Arago Road, just scramble down the ankle breaking “goat paths” to the water’s edge and there’s greenling galore in there. Don’t be upset when you get snagged and lose gear because you WILL lose gear. Most of my success catching greenling is still fishing with a single hook, weight, and a sandshrimp or Berkley Gulp Sandworm. Lots of folks throw back any greenling they catch, deeming them unworthy of a skillet and butter but I just can’t personally agree with that. I’ll eat pretty much anything with butter…mmmmm butter.

Remember that any greenling you catch counts towards you daily limit of five rockfish and the old size restriction of ten inches no longer applies so if you think it’s big enough to eat you can keep ‘em!

Whether you are fishing greenling off the shore or bringing one in with Captain Clarence on the big water I hope to sea you out there.

Rob Gensorek is the owner of Basin Tackle www.basintackle.net in the Charleston Marina and can be reached by phone at (541) 888-FISH, by Facebook at Basin Tackle Charleston, or e-mail at basin_tackle@yahoo.com. Robs fishing reports can be heard daily at 6:20 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. on KRSB Best Country 103 out of Roseburg and his Basin Tackle Outdoor Show can be heard Wednesdays at 3 p.m. and Saturdays at 6 a.m. at kwro.com. In addition to all this he sometimes actually gets out and catches a fish or two.

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