bottom fish

Can someone point me in the right direction to catch some fish in the salt? Im not looking for SRC'c or anything like that. I just wanted to take my wife and try and catch anything we can get. Somthign different would be cool. We like to catch differnt types of fish.


Active Member
Try La Push or Neah Bay for Black Sea Bass on the fly. They are unlike other rockfish in that they often hold only a few feet below the surface near kelp beds. I have had schools of them chase my fly and jump completely out of the water trying to inhale it. I usually motor up to a kelp bed near a rocky shoreline in 40-90 feet of water, cast out a full sink or a sink-tip with a short 12 pound leader, and a big 2/0 purple, black, or white Woolly Bugger and begin stripping it in. Sometimes I tie a steel wire weed guard into the fly so I can cast it right into the kelp beds. They fight pretty damn hard. Use a 7 or 8 weight. Some of them get 6 or 7 pounds, but most are around 2-4 lbs. Make great fish tacos on the beach camping, too! Your other option is to try for striped pile perch. I posted about catching them off a pier a few weeks back. They are great sport. Have fun. :eek: Jeff
I like those "different kinds of fish" too.

For most bottomfish around puget sound, I have found that the fly isn't the most efficient way to get them, but there are a lot of flounder and sculpin out there, so if you fish slow and deep, you can often pick them up.

I think a shrimp pattern fished along the bottom would work best if you were specifically targetting them, but I've caught both on clousers fished low and slow.
Superfly has the trick Speir61! Black bass are alot of fun on a fly, and when you get into them you usually really get into them! Like he said, a sink line, and you only need to be a foot or three below the surface. They put up a nice fight too!


You can catch them on the surface in the summer time. I usually bring a floating line to neah bay and fish poppers on the kelp beds if I get tired of fishing a sinking line.

If you're looking for a sinking line I'd recomend a rio striper line, those work best when fishing from a boat or steep dropoffs, they sink a little too fast for my liking if you plan on fishing from a beach.

Some black rockfish can get pretty fat, I use a 7 or 8wt when fishing for em. The biggest one I've seen caught out there was pushing 6lbs.

Good luck! They're a blast. Hopefully heading out to Neah Bay next week if the weather permits to target them.

Jeff Dodd

Active Member
Great photos - that looks like a blast. Have you found black rock fish inside Puget Sound/Admirlty Inlet, say in the kelp beds around Ft. Casey or Lagoon Pt.?

I've targeted local kelp beds for coho, and had small ling cod as incidental catch, but never rock fish....


As a general rule, the further into the straits and puget sound you go, the worse the fishing becomes. Never caught black rockfish further in then sekiu, I've heard of people catching them in the sound, but that's all been hearsay. Probably have better luck catching lingcod or other bottomfish then black rockers in the interrior straits/sound. They seem a little more sensative then lings.


Sculpin Enterprises
Black and yellowtail rockfish used to be far more abundant in the San Juans. The numbers of black and yellowtail rockfish really crashed in the San Juans in the mid-80's. This decline is not mirrored in populations of copper or quillback rockfish which have been improving, especially in the no-fish reserves (lings are pretty variable). This is based on my observations during hundreds of hours of diving in the San Juans over the last 20+ years and on quantitative surveys by others conducted in the mid-70's and more recently. During the summer, black rockfish seem to prefer to school at the same locations, typically near some structure like a rocky hummock, day after day and year after year. However, black and yellowtail rockfish appear to move into the Straits (or somewhere else??) in the winter, while coppers and quillbacks remain resident. One hypothesis for the decline of black and yellowtail rockfish is that they were subject to heavy commercial fishing while in the Strait, but I don't know if there is any concrete evidence to substantiate this. Regardless of the cause of the decline, recovery of blacks and yellowtails has been glacial, in spite of implementation of reserves and reduced bag limits. The summer habitat appears to still be there (as seen in the continued population abundance of other rockfish species), but recruitment has failed to replenish the populations of blacks and yellowtails. It doesn't help that rockfish are known to have episodic recruitment, site fidelity, slow growth rates, and long lives (up to 100+ years).



Active Member
Cabezon -
The information that I have seen on black rockfish confirms your observations. That is those fish found in Puget Sound/Georgia straits seem to be home bodies - say on a specific area,typcially around some structure. The ocean and to a lesser extend in the straits blacks seem to be much more pelagic with the fish roaming freely and not as consistently locked into a specific habitat.

This tends to mean that once a Sound poulations is removed it may be quite some time until a new population establish itself - typcially would take the young fry drifting into the area and "settling".

Tight lines


Sculpin Enterprises
I have seen an occasional single juvenile yellowtail rockfish off the west side of San Juan Island, but sites that I had commonly seen black rockfish in the early 80's remain empty. Some of my friends have seen some evidence for recovery (a few black rockfish juvenile) at sites that they dive. Unfortunately, recovery of these species may need to be measured in multiple decades or even centuries; perhaps it will require just an enormous, but rare, recruitment pulse that pushes a slug of new recruits into a new area. After all, we know that all the fish in Puget Sound have recruited into the area in less than 12,000 years, as the last glacial maximum retreated.

The slow (glacial???) pace of recovery in general may be clearer with this anecdote. One of the old captains who I met at the Friday Harbor Labs used to deliver mail to Orcas in the 30's & 40's. In the middle part of the day, he trawled for Pacific cod in East Sound while waiting for the mail to be prepared for return to Friday Harbor, but the fishing soon crashed and he stopped trawling there. In the last 20+ years that I have participated in research trawls and diving projects in East Sound, I have never seen a cod, even though there has been no directed fishing for them in close to 50 years. Similarly, while we bemoan, with justification, the decline, even local extinction, of local salmonids, they have the potential to recover, even flourish, if given enough time. Of course, you and I and everyone else on this forum may have long since become dust.



I wish they would lower the limit on rockfish out at Neah Bay, that fishery is so awesome, and the limit is 10 fish per angler. When you get into fish out there it takes all of 20 minutes to get your limit, if that. If you fish at Neah Bay, please try and limit yourself to 2 or 3 fish, I don't think that outstanding fishery is going to last forever. It makes me sad when I come to the cleaning station and see 4 anglers come in with box full of 40 rockfish, bunch of lingcod and some halibut.

Compare that to sekiu which is just 1 marine area over and it's limit is only 2 or 3 fish, rightfully so, the fishing takes a nosedive when you go just a few miles deeper into the straits from Neah Bay. I dont like to be the pessimist, but I think it's just a matter of time for Neah.

Sometimes it makes me sad how much effort I see folks put into saving steelhead when there are other healthy fisheries in dire need of representation. Save the rockfish!!

Chris Bellows

Your Preferred WFF Poster
ibn is correct about the rockfish limit out in marine area 4. the rockfish are going to be gone soon, thanks to wdfw. it is not just the limit, but the way they stagger seasons. with halibut fishing only open tue-thurs-sat this year, what do you think the huge numbers of halibut fishermen are going to fish for on wed-fri-sun? in the short 8-9 years i have been fishing neah bay, i've seen a dramatic reduction in rockfish numbers in the strait portion of area 4. while the fishing still is good, i can remember the first couple springs that the east side of waadah island was just crazy, with large areas of rockfish boiling on the surface. over the years, i always look to my left while running out the entrance hoping to see rockfish boiling on the surface, but haven't seen it in years. it is only a matter of time before the rockfish are pretty much gone, because once they are, they cannot reproduce as qucikly as other species such as lingcod.

across the strait on vancouver island (port renfrew) the rockfish limit is 5. the fishing is crazy good... of course it is though, they are open 12 months for salmon and 11 months for halibut. the secondary species will always suffer when seasons on the more prized fish are decreased (1-2 weeks for halibut in neah bay, and 2-3 months for salmon).