Rock Cod at the Islands

Farallon Islands and Bay

Niko holds on to his nice Copper rockfish, photo by Gary Heffley.

by Gary Heffley

Three-thirty in the morning is early for most people except for those working the late shift, pulling an all nighter, or those who are getting ready to be at the boat at 5 a.m. looking forward to a great day on the water. Well, luckily, yesterday morning had me prepping for the latter, a rendezvous with the Sea Wolf out of Emeryville, California. An overcast sky and spotty marine forecast did not deter those looking forward to a great day fishing around the Farallon Islands in search of rock cod with the possibility of ling cod as well.

The Gulf of the Farallons outside the Golden Gate is a nutrient rich area supporting a great variety of marine and bird life. Besides those who fish the bountiful rockfish and salmon that thrive in the region,  the mention of the Farallons give many thoughts to Shark Week on the Discovery Channel as the islands are in the middle of a major concentration of Great White Sharks.

While we failed, (luckily), to spot any sharks, we were entertained by even larger marine life as the Farallons are also in the migratory path of both grey and humpback whales. The whales feed around the islands and we were treated to many cruising whales often spotted by the mist of the exhale from their blowhole, a raised back breaking the surface or by the sight of a fluke (whale tail) arched above the surface  We were also able to spot a number of whales breaching, jumping completely out of the water and re-entering with a grand splash. It turned out to be a two-fer, fishing along with an unscheduled whale watching trip.

The skipper, Jon Yokomizo, did an excellent job finding fish on a tough bite day. Luckily, the weather held and the seas produced well spaced swells with little wind chop... a great day for fishing. Many quality Bocaacio, Black, Blue, Copper, Olive, Starry and Vermillon were hoisted over the rail by anglers using feather jigs under a 16oz. weight. Some anglers also worked a variety of heavy diamond jig and bars along with specialty baits trying to concentrate in catching large lingcod. Some had success with the largest ling taken in the upper teens. It was limits of 10 rockfish each for the 25 anglers on the boat, with a number of bonus lingcod in the mix...the limit for legal size lingcod being two each.  The crew also did an excellent job of gaffing, cleaning fish and fixing the many entanglements that are part of rockfishing on a full charter.

Jon and the Sea Wolf will be switching  gears a bit in the next week or so concentrating on closer coastal areas where he anticipates a better overall bite for both rock fish and lings. But with limits around there were no complaints and plenty of  happy anglers this day.

Gary Heffley has been a valued contributor to MyOutdoorBuddy for over 10 years serving as manager, sales representative and reporter for much of Northern California. He is an avid outdoorsman and loves to fish and write about his adventures. He has a long history in the Sporting Goods field and uses that extensive experience to impart his wisdom in his writing. 

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