DEPOE BAY â€” Rockfish, when not eating other fish whole, are very sensitive sorts.
â€śYou never know what puts them off the bite â€” the weather, the water temperature, the noise from passing boats,â€ť said John Rich, a Corvallis criminal defense lawyer and enthusiastic kayak fisherman. â€śWe like to sneak up on them.â€ť
Deep-sea kayak fishing is a fast-growing activity in the worldâ€™s smallest harbor, where all that separates the $2 boat ramp from the open sea is a 150-foot channel. A flourishing late-summer fishing derby draws scores of kayaks that jam the harbor for a couple of days each year.
â€śItâ€™s amazing, youâ€™re just 200 yards from the ocean,â€ť said Rich, who copped a lucky break when court was let out early. â€śYou go out, catch a bunch of fish and have time to hit The Horn for clam chowder. Iâ€™ll tell you, this ocean fishing ruins you for anything else.â€ť
Fishing with pink hoochies about a mile offshore near â€śthe can,â€ť the trio of kayakers including Richâ€™s college-student son, Alex, and Jimmy Smith of Tidewater, hovered around the buoy for black and blue rockfish. Aboard Hobie-brand Pro-Anger and Outback kayaks, the paddle-less approach was stealthy â€” propulsion is by pedals and fins, allowing anglers to fish and steer at the same time.
â€śFlank speed is about three knots,â€ť said Rich, who aid calm days typically yield limits of rockfish and ling cod.
The kayaks coast about the same as skydiving gear or a good hunting kit, about $3,000. Lifesaving extras include lightweight tackle, wetsuit, flotation vest and a Cobra ship-to-shore handheld radio with recall option, in case the operator misses a message.
â€śItâ€™s quite a bit of exercise,â€ť remarked Rich. â€śYouâ€™re legs get tired, and if youâ€™re catching fish, your arms get tired, too.â€ť