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Oregon Saltwater

Chico man's brown rockfish could have been world record

BY CAPT. DAVID BACON /WON Staff WriterPublished: Jan 10, 2018

BROOKINGS, Ore. — A trophy-size brown rockfish caught last week off the Oregon Coast by a Chico man may have been big enough to break the world record, but was filleted before anyone realized it was a contender.

A POSSIBLE WORLD record brown rockfish is held by Scott Hood of Chico, caught Jan. 2 out of the Port of Brookings with Capt. Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters, left. The fish hit a PLine Farallon Feather and was likely larger than the IGFA world record of 1.81 kg (4.0 pounds).

Scott Hood of Chico was fishing Jan. 2 with Capt. Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters when he caught the lunker rockfish on a PLine Farralon Feather near Twin Rocks.

Brown rockfish are not common in the catch off the Southern Oregon coast, and at first the fish appeared to be a copper rockfish. Martin then told Hood it was some other rockfish, perhaps a gopher rockfish. In Oregon, any rockfish except for yelloweye rockfish can be kept as part of the five-fish rockfish limit.

A photo of the fish was emailed to an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist in Newport, who said the fish was a brown rockfish, and a large one at that.

The IGFA all-tackle world record rockfish is 1.81 kg, or 4.0 pounds. It was caught in 2008 near San Gregorio, Calif., by Hin Fan Tsang.

Hood's rockfish is estimated to be between 5 and 6 pounds.

"We had no idea it was a potential record because we rarely catch brown rockfish out of Brookings, and the record is fairly light compared to the average-size vermilion, copper, quillback and canary rockfish we catch every day," Martin said. "It was a nice fish, it fought hard enough we thought it could be a lingcod, but we had no idea it was a world record."

The fish was impressive enough that Martin had a photograph taken, but the main focus that day was a wide-open lingcod bite. Hood and others on the boat released nearly a dozen lingcod while keeping full limits.

The New Year's Day lingcod and rockfish opener on the Southern Oregon Coast was so good that many of the Brookings-based charter boats released more legal-size lingcod than they kept. Lingcod and rockfish season opened in Oregon Jan. 1. It had been closed since mid-September after Oregon anglers went over their federally allocated black rockfish catch limits.

"The lingcod bite was wide open," said Capt. Martin. "We had two boats out and they had full limits of lingcod and rockfish, and released a bunch more lingcod. I was running the Miss Brooke on the opener, and my customers had eight keeper lings in the box before we had our first rockfish. When we were trying to finish up on the rockfish limits, we kept catch lingcod on the shrimp flies and PLine Farallon Feathers while we were targeting snapper."

The Bird Island and Twin Rocks areas out of Brookings were most productive on the opener. For the first two days of the season, the weather was calm and swells were down to 3 feet, with light winds. By Wednesday, stormy weather returned, with a gale warning late last week.

"We will be running ocean charters for lingcod daily when the weather allows," Martin said. "The winter months often have the best lingcod fishing of the year because the fish move into shallow waters to stage before spawning."

Crabbing remains closed out of Brookings.

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