Planning for Bottomfish Opener

thatguyryry

Active Member
Not necessarily referring specifically to Swiftsure, just meaning the ocean in general. I've personally never bottom fished at Swiftsure, but have targeted a lot of other water closer to the coast.

There are so many variables that its hard to give a black and white answer. Ultimately it comes down mostly to your boat, your confidence in it and it's various systems (Arimas being non self bailing, what's your bilge pump situation? Backups? GPS? Radio? Backups? Motor condition and maintenance up to date? Etc etc), and most of all your experience level on the ocean. In the right hands, and on the right day, a 16' Arima is certainly capable of playing out there. Chris Bellows used to have some awesome videos on this site of his adventures fly fishing out there in what I believe was a 16' Arima. That said, Chris guided out there for many years and had a ton of experience. I believe Swiftsure is like 13 miles or something from the whistle buoy...stuff can change drastically during that kind of distance. So many variables. For me personally, if the boat and motor were in good shape, all the safety equipment was covered, and I was confident in the weather/water conditions, I would have no problem running that boat out there. But only you can decide if you feel you have adequate experience and comfort doing so. Everyone is different. Ultimately I recommend erring on the side of caution at all times when talking about fishing on the ocean. Just so many things that you can't account for, and things change so quickly. Not at all trying to be a Debbie downer, or talk you out of it, just trying to be as realistic as possible. From what I've seen I am much more willing to take a small boat out to places than many others, so I'm the last one to lecture anyone lol.

The ocean is a different world, and running a boat on the ocean requires a different skill set. Again, variables. Does the boat have trim tabs? How comfortable and experienced are you running in a following sea? To get to Swiftsure you have to cross the north bound shipping lane.. I'm guessing you don't have radar, are you familiar with AIS? Many things to consider out there.

All that said, there is a TON of good bottom fishing much closer than Swiftsure. The reason I never targeted bottomfish out there was I simply didn't have any need to. Between NB and Skagway alone there is enough good fishing to keep a guys freezer full quite easily. I know Swiftsure is a popular halibut area, but I'm really not even sure how great the lingcod fishing is out there. And certainly no need to run that far for rockfish. I guess that's what I was getting at with my previous post....at NB you don't necessarily have to run way out into the open ocean to find good fishing, it's one the things I love about the area. Hell, you'll run past a lot of bottomfishing before you even get to NB when running from Sekiu.

Yea, I get that. The hard part for me is that I am new trying to figure this out on my own by research on the web before committing to go out there. Really its the same thing as fishing cutts and figuring that out. Spend time on the water and put the money to getting there and trying it out; there just could be a bit more risk if I make the wrong judgment call out there. Either that or I need to find some new fishing friends. hint... hint...
 

Nick Clayton

WFF Supporter
Yea, I get that. The hard part for me is that I am new trying to figure this out on my own by research on the web before committing to go out there. Really its the same thing as fishing cutts and figuring that out. Spend time on the water and put the money to getting there and trying it out; there just could be a bit more risk if I make the wrong judgment call out there. Either that or I need to find some new fishing friends. hint... hint...


Yeah, it's one of those catch 22 scenarios. Experience is the biggest factor, but how does one gain said experience without getting on the water.

My suggestion would be to just start slow. Maybe head out there, get the lay of the land. Make that run to NB, see how that goes. Check out the areas around Seal/Sail rock. Catch some fish. Maybe fish Waddah and the reef there. That whole trip would give you a sense of dealing with swell, how your boat rides in various water, your fuel range etc. From there you can slowly branch out as you get more comfortable.

I know in your original post you mentioned wanting to fly fish for rockfish, and you can certainly do that quite successfully without running any further than Waddah. As you get more comfortable you can certainly decide to venture further, but in the mean time there's plenty of water to fish as you learn.

There's plenty of kelp beds and shallow water structure through that whole area. Personally I think it's fun as hell to throw clousers into those kelp beds and catch all sorts of random stuff.
 

thatguyryry

Active Member
Yeah, it's one of those catch 22 scenarios. Experience is the biggest factor, but how does one gain said experience without getting on the water.

My suggestion would be to just start slow. Maybe head out there, get the lay of the land. Make that run to NB, see how that goes. Check out the areas around Seal/Sail rock. Catch some fish. Maybe fish Waddah and the reef there. That whole trip would give you a sense of dealing with swell, how your boat rides in various water, your fuel range etc. From there you can slowly branch out as you get more comfortable.

I know in your original post you mentioned wanting to fly fish for rockfish, and you can certainly do that quite successfully without running any further than Waddah. As you get more comfortable you can certainly decide to venture further, but in the mean time there's plenty of water to fish as you learn.

There's plenty of kelp beds and shallow water structure through that whole area. Personally I think it's fun as hell to throw clousers into those kelp beds and catch all sorts of random stuff.
Bigger boat may have made me think about bigger fish. Even though I still don't have a very big boat haha.
 

Nick Clayton

WFF Supporter
Bigger boat may have made me think about bigger fish. Even though I still don't have a very big boat haha.


Plenty of nice fish waiting for you with that boat! Arimas are fantastic. I just unloaded my 19' a couple months ago.

My weekends get pretty busy starting in March, but if you find yourself in the mood for a weekday trip, I'd be glad to be a deckhand sometime. :)
 

adamcu280

Active Member
Reading through this thread and seeing mention of 13' Whalers brought back some flashbacks. Growing up, my friends and I rampaged around the SF Bay waters - inside and outside the gate - in 13' and 17' Whalers, including surfing nuclear carrier wakes (waaaay before 9-11) and jumping ocean swells for sport. Later in life I ran a 17' Whaler for the USFS and a 19' Whaler for a whale research non-profit throughout the Salish Sea. I have literally thousands of documentable hours running Boston Whalers in all kinds of conditions.

All told, Boston Whalers have done more damage to my body than ~20 years of professional skiing.

Funnily enough, when targeting SRC for the first time last summer, I caught a rockfish before I ever caught a SRC.
 

pbunbury

Tights Lines
Alright guys, resurrecting this old thread. I never got my old boat out to fish for rockfish or lings, but I upgraded to a 91 Arima Sea Explorer. I've cut my chops on some pretty bad weather down in the South Sound over the last couple years, but what are peoples feelings about Neah Bay/Westport with a little 16ft Arima? Brand new 90 Evinrude.
Like Nick has said, you have to go do it to get the experience. I cut my teeth out in the straits and ocean running around in an aluminum 18 ft smokercraft with a single 60hp outboard. It all comes down to 3 things..1) what you can stomach, like Nick has also said most boats will likely be able to handle more than you are able to handle 2) be smart about the conditions and forecast 3) know your boat, how to operate it, and have all the proper safety gear.

I also recommend telling yourself to stay calm in the event something goes wrong or conditions turn on you quickly. Panicking doesn't help anything.
 

Chris Bellows

Your Preferred WFF Poster
Not necessarily referring specifically to Swiftsure, just meaning the ocean in general. I've personally never bottom fished at Swiftsure, but have targeted a lot of other water closer to the coast.

The US side of Swiftsure is approx. 300 ft deep, so bottomfishing with a fly is not really doable. I haven;t looked at the current year regs but I believe there is a closure line based on water depth outside of halibut and salmon seasons (and isn't halibut season now like 10 minutes long?). Hell, the best popper fishery for rockfish is technically off limits because it sits outside the arbitrary line even though the depth is 25-40 ft and the fish are on the surface. Nick mentioned some of the things you need to figure out for a Swiftsure run (freighter traffic being a big one) but the main one is the current stacks up between the Whistle Buoy and Swiftsure making it the roughest run anywhere from NB.

I would explore the shoreline from Waadah to Tatoosh before venturing into the ocean. There's enough current and swell there to give you the experience to go outside. There can also be just as good of salmon fly fishing inside, especially on flood currents. Ebb currents can really make things jumbled up and the rips formed are much gnarlier.
 

thatguyryry

Active Member
The US side of Swiftsure is approx. 300 ft deep, so bottomfishing with a fly is not really doable. I haven;t looked at the current year regs but I believe there is a closure line based on water depth outside of halibut and salmon seasons (and isn't halibut season now like 10 minutes long?). Hell, the best popper fishery for rockfish is technically off limits because it sits outside the arbitrary line even though the depth is 25-40 ft and the fish are on the surface. Nick mentioned some of the things you need to figure out for a Swiftsure run (freighter traffic being a big one) but the main one is the current stacks up between the Whistle Buoy and Swiftsure making it the roughest run anywhere from NB.

I would explore the shoreline from Waadah to Tatoosh before venturing into the ocean. There's enough current and swell there to give you the experience to go outside. There can also be just as good of salmon fly fishing inside, especially on flood currents. Ebb currents can really make things jumbled up and the rips formed are much gnarlier.
Thanks for the info Chris!
 

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