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Thread: Where have the ling and black rock bass gone??

  1. #1
    Member Cap'n Ron's Avatar
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    Default Where have the ling and black rock bass gone??

    We have a spot towards the back of an inlet/fiord where the tide really rips and there is an underwater ledge, several in fact, and for many years it was always a sure bet for lingcod and black rock bass...and of course lots of those pesky little copper rock "cod"....perfect habitat for ling and black bass...

    Well, hardly anyone but us fishes there, and we sure haven't fished it out...and these species are Pelagic, not resident like the yelloweye and coppers...yet for the last 3 years or so, we have caught maybe 5 total black bass or ling there, and no keeper ling. What's up with that...the physical habitat remains perfect, there are a cajillion small food fish, and we have tried at all tide levels, day, night, morning, evening, mid day, usually in the past anytime the tide was moving was great.

    Could it be that these species are way down in populations?? Hard to believe that as everyone that fishes out by Montague and Hitchenbrook entrance to the sound (we are in a fiord close to Valdez Arm/Bligh Island...OK....Port Fidalgo) anyway at the PWS entrance everyone seems to be catching easy limits of black rock bass and lings, big ones, charters coming into Valdez always loaded....can't be catching them all sport fishing, and if there are that many at the entrance, why not inside?? Plenty of bait fish around....and I am wondering how folks out of Wittier or others out of Valdez that don't go far out in PWS are doing on these two species??

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I'm not a fish scientist, but I'll take a stab at it.

    The reason the fishing out around Montague is so good, is that the ocean currents bring in nutrients, nutrients that don't make it back up into the fjords, which is why fishing around Whittier and back in other fjords is spotty. The srhimping is good because the shrimp get nutrients from the fresh water feeding into the fjords, and the minerals from the glaciers.

    Perhaps in years past the ocean currents brought nutrients into the area you fish, but the past few years water temps/currents haven't been friendly to your area. It could also be that somebody found your fishing hole and fished it out.

  3. #3

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    Cap'n Ron,
    That is the same question that i had also. I have only fished up there the last 2 years for a couple weeks at a time, but 2 years ago we fished quite a bit out by bligh island and caught black rockfish and lingcod in almost anyspot we tried, lings weren't all keepers but still fun to catch but last summer didn't catch a one ling or black rockfish out there. I was also wondering if it was just the year or maybe we got lucky our first year or maybe i just suck worse than i thought i did. We did find some yelloweye and a butt out there but not near the action we experienced our first trip. Can't wait to come back up and try again this year, really enjoy the area and the people in valdez.

  4. #4

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    I dream about some spots in my area not having black bass.

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    No joke - a guy could catch a lot of salmon all up the coast from Washington State north in places on mooch gear were it not for black rocks.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I fear there's something going on in PWS, or at least that there was last year. Last year we did absolutely horrible on sablefish while targeting them commercially. We were catching maybe 25% as many fish as we usually do per set. Granted, this is a very informal observation and there could be many reasons for our lower than average catch, but it did raise a few eyebrows. I don't claim to know how poor catches of sablefish in 2,000' could be linked to poor catches of lings in 100', but maybe something is going on that is affecting wide areas of the Sound. I sure hope not.

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    Last year was a weird year in SE too. Most of the salmon hung 20 miles offshore (by the shelf) and didn't want to come in to where they normally did. A band of dirty water was out there, and the salmon just didn't want to cross it. The trollers who went out past the dirty water had an epic season though. Every year is different. I've had halibut spots be red hot one year, dead for a few years, and then be red hot again. I can't explain it. It's fishing.

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    My vote is that the cause of the drop off in fishing you are seeing is due to a change in salinity due to currents, recent rain, or glacial runoff. I fish several places around Glacier Bay like you describe. Most are very hot and cold for rockfish and lings, and often the black and ling fishing will be great less than a mile outside the inlet (more open, saltier water) and absolutely dead inside.

    Big_E

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    Member captaindd's Avatar
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    Valdez Harbor, Valdez Narrows, Valdez Arm, and Bligh Reef are a year to year thing on catching lings and black rock fish. Some years you will get a few other years it seems like your fishing in the dead sea. Most of the lings and black rock fish that the charters are bring in are coming from the Entrances or the Gulf. You need current and bait fish to attrack the black rocks and lings. Try using cut herring plugs and work your way done the slopes. The first place I would try is around the middle Marker. On the Black Cod one of my friends fishes out by Knight Island and he did real good last year.

  10. #10

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    Last year we rockfished by where the assist tugs park(Valdez area) and did outstanding the first day of fishing (two drifts and we were done) the next day on the way back in from halibut fishing we stopped in the same area and got skunked, we then went into galena bay where we had success in the past and got skunked again. I am still trying to figure this saltwater fishing out but I guess that is what makes it fun for me and the family. If it was easy everybody would be doing it.

  11. #11
    Member Cap'n Ron's Avatar
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    Some great replies here and real food for thought....and I'm glad it's not that I forgot how to hold my mouth, as others are having similar "where's the fish" experiences.

    Paul H may have nailed at least some of it with the nutrient thing, maybe along with a salinity drop and a temperature change. Now that Paul has me thinking, the water has been very clean the last couple of years, no kelp or brown water washing in like we normally see, along with the nutrients he suggests as a cause. I haven't a way to test salinity, but another observation is that the last two years the water temperatures showing on my sounder are consistently running 3-4 degrees higher. In 2009 I am pretty sure that affected the silvers, they all hung up about Knowles Head and wouldn't come in, including the hatchery run into Valdez, and they had to extend the Silver Derby limits for the first time out to anywhere in PWS. Also in 2009 there was no pink run, at least no commercial season out of Valdez (don't know about Cordova...) and they didn't come into our fiord until about 5-6 week late, a very small run and usually where the first spawned out pinks show up on the banks of our creek in the first week of July, the first dead pink was Aug 2!

    Well, don't let me get you riled up by mentioning climate change, but a lot of changes have always happened in the oceans and something like that probably is affecting those sablefish too and other things. I don't think it is any kind of pollution but changes in natural conditions that several mentioned. By the way, the halibut fishing has been a little more spotty too but that always seems to vary and I think the low pink run in 2009 had a lot to do with them not coming in. And, I don't think anyone fished out the lings and black rock bass, both are "Pelagic" which means they roam around and are not resident like the yelloweye that can certainly be fished out so have a 2 fish limit.

    What some of you said about the fiords being more dependent on ocean conditions that vary, like nutrients, may well be true and let's hope the lean years are behind us! I feel the same about copper rockfish as some of you do about black bass...a real nuscience! But our family sure likes to hit some black bass in shallow fast water with light gear, even flyrods (well, my sons fly fish, not me, I'm a purist !

  12. #12

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    Plenty of "black bass" out of Homer if you know where to go for them. There are places I fish for kings where I just have to stop fishing because as soon as I get my downrigger down I've got another black bass on the line.catch of the day.jpg
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
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  13. #13

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    Like others we had a hard time keeping Black bass off our stuff in Homer and PWS. But lings are another story, we had a hard time tracking them down.

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    Mutt, I don't know how you rig your herring or how fast you can pull them (if bait's always what you're fishing kings with). The right helmet can let you speed things up a bit whereas a cut plug (my rigging, anyway) has to be trolled real slow or mooched. My summertime king area is choked in places with black rocks, so I'm running hardware that I can pull relatively fast - 3+ mph with spoons and faster still with tomics. You still get bit by bottomfish, but not near as much as when trolling slower.

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    Member breausaw's Avatar
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    We prospected a spot about 35 miles out of Whittier last year and nailed the rockfish and black bass (Black Rock cod or whatever you want to call them). Letís just say you couldnít get your line to the bottom without hooking up a Black bass, but if you made it down a Rockfish soon took the hook.
    I grew up in Seward and Yellow eye were Red Snapper and Black Rock cod were Black Bass.
    The other thing with Black Bass is they are pelagic, move around.
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    Member ocnfish's Avatar
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    We are thinking of throwing a couple of ocean kayaks up top instead of a inflatable so that we can get close and then paddle in and work rock structure more effectively, saw a story on 360 North from Oregon where they were doing reall good for rockfish and ling's from a kayak. Going to talk to some friends that paddle around the ocean and try and figuer out what it takes .... :~)

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vek View Post
    Mutt, I don't know how you rig your herring or how fast you can pull them (if bait's always what you're fishing kings with). The right helmet can let you speed things up a bit whereas a cut plug (my rigging, anyway) has to be trolled real slow or mooched. My summertime king area is choked in places with black rocks, so I'm running hardware that I can pull relatively fast - 3+ mph with spoons and faster still with tomics. You still get bit by bottomfish, but not near as much as when trolling slower.
    The tomic plugs.. I've caught some nice kings on them. Seems like you'll find a plug that catches kings like it's going outta style, then one bad swing with the gaff and I bust it! Then it's starting all over again to find one with the perfect action!

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by 270ti View Post
    I dream about some spots in my area not having black bass.
    Ain't that the truth, I've probably fished a couple of those spots! Ever fish Muzon? at times, you can fish a football field size area and catch kings, silvers, halibut, lings, reds, oh yeah, and 10,000,000 black bass. Bring lots of bait and lots of patience!

  19. #19
    Member ocnfish's Avatar
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    when drifting over structure (underwater hills) put on a white tail on a lead headed jig and catch tons of rockfisn .... after you limit, go over the same area with a large herring, circle hook and a two pound lead weight ... ignore the rockfish taps on the way down and after you are bumping on the bottom you will get occasional rockfish but mostly you will get hits from ling cod and halibut.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AkKings View Post
    Ain't that the truth, I've probably fished a couple of those spots! Ever fish Muzon? at times, you can fish a football field size area and catch kings, silvers, halibut, lings, reds, oh yeah, and 10,000,000 black bass. Bring lots of bait and lots of patience!
    I've never been down there. I imagine they are rather thick!

    The biggest, baddest black back I've seen are right off the tip of Addington, in the tide rip, in 200ft of water.. They are huge and run like a freight train for the first 20 seconds..

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