Drift Fishing For Salmon, Lingcod, and Kelp Greenling

greenling fish

The salmon weren’t biting, but the kelp greenling sure were! We managed to bring home enough fish for several nights worth of dinner.

Ok, it is early February in the Pacific Northwest. Weather is variable with wind, rain and clouds expected more often than not. Still, a day on a boat out on the water is better than any day I’ve spent at work.

We took off Saturday morning at about 9:00 am. My crew consisted of my wife Sherrie and 3 good friends. Our target was for about 8:00 but reality and a few trips to the store left us departing by 9:00. On this excursion, we opted to take my parent’s 45′ twin diesel cruiser rather than our 32′ sailboat. Let me tell you that there is a huge difference between a 45′ luxury power boat and an older 32′ sailboat.

We departed moorage at Cap Sante Marine Harbor without incident and proceeded down Guemes Channel en-route to Washington Head on Fidalgo Island, the lighthouse on Barnes Island and eventually ended up fishing a drift on Allen Island.

View Rephyl Fishing Trip in a larger map

All of these destinations are within an hour or two of Anacortes, even when leaving from downtown. If Departing from Washington Park or from Skyline Marina, they are accessible from a small boat or even a dinghy, maybe 20 or 30 minutes at slow speeds. You do not want to get out here with oars alone (except in a Kayak) because currents can run up to 5 knots or better in some of the channels. We’ve grabbed onto more than one struggling boat and helped them into shore.

Our first stop was off of Washington Head where we mooched for salmon without much luck. We then drifted along the shore by the Barnes Island light house with 3 or 4 legal Green Ling Keepers as well as some nice other bottom fish that we released. After that, we bounced over to Allen Island and drifted a few kelp beds. I won’t tell you exactly where they are, but you can get the general idea from the fishing map above. We caught and released several very nice Rock Fish of a variety of species, a few very nice Ling Cod – also released, some Kelp Green-ling, (a couple kept, most released), and a couple of rocks with scallops, hermit crabs, clams and other varied sea-life attached. Curtis caught the most interesting and varied specimen.

lingcod pictures

This is a beautiful lingcod that we caught. We threw him back, since it’s not lingcod season. Hopefully he’ll live to make lots of babies, just like him!

how to catch lingcod

Lingcod come in many colors, but are most easily distinguished by their ferocious looking teeth.

Returning to home was as uneventful as the trip out though I will have to admit that I was extremely nervous backing my parent’s boat down a 500′ x 50′ channel with rocks on one side and a few million dollars worth of yachts on the other. No, it was not 500 Ft. wide and 50′ long. I was shaking like a “whore in church” when the lines were finally secured. The pictures do not do it justice when you are at the wheel!

Related posts:

Sailing the Gulf Islands, Part 11 (The End)
Canning Seafood While Cruising
Voyaging Challenges
4 Responses to “Drift Fishing For Salmon, Lingcod, and Kelp Greenling”
  1. We have never been lucky in catching fish, probably because we don’t have a clue what we are doing. Mike grew up fishing in lakes in Tennessee, which is a whole different ballgame than fishing the sound. If we are ever in an anchorage together, we’re going to come knocking on your hull and ask you to show us what to do.

  2. We will definitely let you know next time we’re up there. I know what you mean about the regulations. Last time Mike got a fishing license he spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what was legal and what wasn’t, and where. And that was in Canada!

  3. BBoerner says:

    I’m new to fishing in the Northwest, fished Bass in Louisiana for years but this is completely different. I’ve been searching for a season on Greenling and size requirements. Any help?

    • Ken says:

      As of now, there are no season or size limits on Kelp Greenling. I don’t expect that to last for long. Usually fish in 20′ to 50′ of water, close to a kelp bed. You can some-times pick them up on or near the surface with a bass-jig or fly. They can also be caught deeper. Many anglers use them as bait for Ling Cod. Average length is is 16″ to 20″. Nice firm white flesh, pin bones are present. Not premium but still quite tasty.

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