Fishing for Lingcod, Cypress Island Washington
Heading out to Cypress Island in Washington to one of our favorite Lingcod fishing holes.
Fishing from a sailboat is challenge, but bottom fishing for Lingcod can be especially difficult. Ken and I have spent several years perfecting our style and have learned the best times and tides for us to fish for this wonderful fish. One of the places we make a point of visiting during the Lingcod fishing season, is at Cypress Island. There are several very productive holes around the Cone Islands just off Eagle Harbor and these are where we direct the majority of our efforts.
View Cypress Island Map in a larger map
We arrived at Eagle Harbor Friday evening just about an hour before sunset, after a really incredible sail across the top of Guemes Island. Winds were out of the Southwest at about 10-15 knots and we sailed the entire way. We dropped off the buoy Saturday and headed over to the Cone Islands for some fishing. We started our first drift over our favorite hole and within the hour had our limit! Two beautiful Lingcod caught within 10 minutes of each other. With fishing over for the day, we decided to anchor just North of Eagle Harbor at Bridge Rock (or Elephant Rock) cove. There is an incredible sandy beach here and access to the hiking trails, it is protected well from Westerly winds and has a very nice muddy bottom for good holding at anchor. We spent the rest of the afternoon gathering some edible common cattails for dinner and searching for mushrooms. Unfortunately we did not find any mushrooms but we did gather some very nice cattails.
Fishing for Lingcod
We have found that to effectively fish for Lingcod in this area, the best time is on an incoming tide right before slack. We target areas that have a lot of bottom structure and fast dropping depths. I fish from 70 to 120 feet and bounce my lure down the rocks making as much noise as I can with each drop. This is known as “jigging”. I like to use a heavy lure, usually 4-5oz, this requires that I use a heavy rod, and I use a bait-casting reel. I will fish with either a lead jig head and a light colored tail, or with the really wonderful jigs that Chris Troutner makes. The heavier lure ensures that I can get to the bottom quickly, and is large enough that small fish won’t try to hit it.
Being in a sailboat can make holding a good drift particularly challenging, so we have altered our fishing style and allow our boat to drift with the speed of the current from hole to hole. Sometimes we are moving rather quickly and other times we enjoy a nice slow drift. The secret is to set the boat to follow the eddies and be patient enough to wait for it to settle into the drift. Motor boats are better able to start and end a drift at will, and can hold them easier against a current because of their lack of keel. We have learned to just let the boat take us to the fish.
I make a point of keeping my lure in contact with the bottom on almost every downward drop, constantly adjusting by letting line out or reeling in. A bait-casting reel makes this especially easy. I spent a lot of time getting hung up on the bottom before I really got a feel for how to make this style work, but now that I have it figured out, I rarely fail to catch my limit.
Now that we have our limit of Lingcod for the day, Ken is in charge of fillet duties. Ken is very good at this and wastes no time or meat when filleting a Lingcod. This video shows Ken’s method of getting the most out of these wonderful fish.
Foraging for Common Cattails
Are cattails edible? YOU BET
I have just discovered cattails and love the taste. We make a point of gathering common cattails every time we go out. I have saute’ed them as well as had them steamed, and plan to harvest them all summer to practice the many ways that they can be used. This common edible plant is probably one of the most important for foragers of wild foods to know. Most all of the cattail plant can be used for food throughout the year, and I have found them to be a really wonderful addition to any meal. The leaves and the stalks also make wonderful weaving material and were used by the native indians for baskets, hats, bedding and many other uses. I plan on learning the art of basket weaving as I further my education of sufficiency and am glad that Cattail plants are so plentiful and so close to us.
Once we finished gathering the cattails we had ample time to enjoy the day and spent our late afternoon lounging on the boat reading and soaking up the sun. A pair of kayakers; Sherrie and Steve paddled by and we had a very nice visit with them chatting about boating, foraging, and trading stories. I hope to see them again. They seemed like a very nice couple.
Ken had cooking chores and prepared (once again) a wonderful feast for us, he used some of the Moose Lodge Lemon and Dill breading for crispy fried cod fish fillets, and steamed cauliflower, broccoli, and cattails seasoned with butter and roasted garlic pepper. He surprised me with a couple of lobster tails he had gotten at the store and steamed with the vegetables, a nice green salad and dinner was served.
All in all another fantastic trip!