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Dancing with Wolves

August 23rd, 2012 · 6 Comments


I couldn’t have been more excited when I saw the surf forecast for this week. It seems like, for the first time this year, the stars aligned on one of my normal days off. With a 1-2′ swell at 17 seconds, I knew yesterday was going to be a find day on the water.

And it was.

Actually, the fishing was pretty slow. I was on the water for an hour before I picked up my first fish. That’s not something common for Pacific City. I was marking a lot of suspended fish but could not get them to commit. I suppose that was really the story of the day. 60′ of water and most fish appeared to be hanging out at the 40′ mark.

I picked up a couple black rockfish. Then lost a monster black that I couldn’t get in the kayak. It flipped out and into the water before I could get good control of it. It was pushing the 20″ mark and hit on the PK Panic I was jigging, not one of the shrimp flies the rockfish usually go after. Damn.

I released one lingcod the whole day. It measured about 25″ and I decided it needed to be bigger before I thought about taking it home. Oddly enough, I didn’t hook into a single cabezon the whole day. I’m suspecting this is because I didn’t fish around Haystack Rock at all.

But I did catch a new species! I had found a good drift that produced the smaller lingcod and several black rockfish. The wind was picking up and I remember looking at the time and thinking to myself “another hour before Pelican opens.”

This isn’t the face I was prepared to see

My time on the water was coming to an end.

And then my rod buried.

I first thought I had a big cabezon on the line. It was a tough fight and I was just getting bulldogged back to the bottom. Then there were the head shakes. Cabbies don’t head shake. This must big a huge ling.

A couple minutes later I was shocked by what I saw. The ghostly grey appearance told me immediately this was no ling. This was something else. A Wolf Eel. Crazy. I have always been attracted to them when I see them at the aquarium. I knew they were found in the areas that I fished. I had never caught one.

I kept the fish in the water as I attacked my iPhone. The big question: can I keep this? I tried the VHF radio first, but there was no one monitoring channels 69 or 70. Most of the dory guys fishing near me used CBs to communicate. With the phone I was able to bring up the ODFW Marine Zone regulations. To make a long story short, wolf eels are not listed and therefore count as one of your bottom fish limits. Excellent!

Now I had to get the snake-like fish in the kayak.

Wolf eels have teeth. Fortunately, they’re not sharp teeth. Wolf eels feed on shellfish like mussels, crab, sand dollars and sea urchins. While they don’t have sharp teeth, their jaws are thick. There is a lot of muscle attached to them. While I’ve stuck my hand into the mouths of more fearsome looking fish, I was going to avoid the crushing power of the Wolf Eel.

I worked my gaff around the bottom jaw and the eel wrapped around it, much like a boa on its prey. I opened up the center hatch on the Cuda and dragged the fish into the kayak. Amazing. I was still in shock.

I only managed two more drifts before the wind picked up and I was forced to call it a day. Back on the beach I drew quite the crowd. It’s not uncommon for beach-goers to approach and ask about fishing from a kayak and the types of fish I was catching. It was, however, new to haul a giant Wolf Eel out of the kayak. Dozens of photos were taken. Kids were intrigued. When I got back to the car and started to put fish in the cooler, it all started again. More photos. More questions.

Finally the crowds died down and I was able to get everything put away. Of course, I couldn’t pass up a quick beverage and bite to eat at Pelican Brewing before I headed home.

Thanks, Emily Clay, for taking the following photos for me, and promptly sending them my way. You were right, it was easier than trying to dig out my iPhone through all the sand.

Tags: Fishing Report

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Pam // Aug 23, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Well done Issac! I believe I would have cut the line if I’d been by myself.

  • 2 Derek Koch // Aug 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Truly impressive fish, Isaac, and a great story! Proud to have even played a small part in it. What a gorgeous wolf eel!!!

  • 3 Justin // Aug 27, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    So how’d it eat? I think eating them is the last thing I think when I see them!

  • 4 The Nothing // Aug 28, 2012 at 4:13 am

    Oddly a lot like trout, imo. Not bad at all but I’ll be releasing any others I might catch in the future

  • 5 Justin // Aug 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    I’m not a big trout guy and usually don’t like eel as it’s too fish for my taste, thanks for the heads up!

  • 6 DTS // Aug 29, 2012 at 2:04 am

    Very cool Issac! Sorry I did not make it out earlier with you that day. :( I broke a roll pin on the trailer and spent forever trying to get it working. Ended up just using a nail. Anyway, I didnt get out onto the water until about 3PM. It was slow for me as well. I ended up catching a couple lings barely leagal and a 16″ Black. Yeah that wind and swell provided a great ride out there.

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