Long leader fishing and DENSE fog (holy cow)

slabjig
My brother and I decided to take advantage of a very flat ocean to go after rockfish in the long leader fishery just west of the YE conservation area on stonewall banks. I got up at 4:30, took a look at the NOAA stonewall banks buoy to verify the very flat ocean predictions, and sure enough 3 foot swell, 10 second interval, and really no wind. But at the top of the forecast, in red letters...Dense Fog advisery for the whole coast. So we decided to delay leaving home until 7 am, because who wants to run around in the dark AND the fog. Got on the water at 9 am, and the forecast wasn't wrong, pea soup fog all the way out of Yaquina bay and all the way to Stonewall banks even with the late start. My brother hooked two very nice yellowtail rockfish on the first drop, but from then on the fishing just got slower and slower. We ended up with 7 yellowtails (limit for long leader is 10 fish each), and they were all smaller than the first two. I think that during the middle of the day when sun is highest, the rockfish just move to the bottom and sit there, we could see fish right over the bottom in 200 feet or so of water, but because of the long leader, we couldn't really reach them since our shrimp lures were 30 feet up. Finally gave up around 3 pm and ran back in on a 25 mph ocean. Fog had burned off over Stonewall, but as we neared shore, could see a fog bank, and again it was pea soup coming through the jaws. I can see how people could get confused and miss the boat channel and run on the wrong side of the jetties. I kept constantly correcting for the gps but also keeping an eye on the compass, because there is a lag for the gps. boat channe entrance is running NNE, but because of the constant corrections in the fog, the GPS pointer was all over the place. Why you carry a compass. I think if we'd gotten the original 6 am start, we'd have caught a lot more fish, but that's life
 
Irishrover
Great post! Used to make that run a lot when we fished out of Newport. The fog does add a bit of anxiety to a trip, hope the dredge was not out there working on the bar. Radar helps a lot. We even used it on blue bird day just to get used to the visual of the jaws on the screen. Then when the fog hit the radar along with GPS would bring us back home. Wish we were still a bit younger and hadn't sold the boat. Your post really made me miss the saltwater fishing. You'll get limits next time!
 
slabjig
Irish...boat is only 19 foot, isn't really big enough for radar, don't have a hard top or an arch. I've got two GPS running at the same time, one on the combo fishfinder/chart plotter, and a second dedicated chart plotter which is older but has all my good waypoints on it. Even so, it's good to have that compass, north is always north (not "external power lost, shutting off unit in 19..18...17..seconds"), and the entrance runs ENE. I've fished Newport for so many years that if I can see a jetty I know where I am in the bay because I fish out of the 14 foot "tinny" along both of them a lot. But if you don't recognize structure on the jetties, on a really flat ocean and pea soup fog like it was yesterday, you might not realize you were on the wrong side of one. Nice thing about that really flat ocean, just come in slow, watching for outgoing boats (and there were a couple of big ones, one of which didn't have his lights on), make sure you're in 40 feet of water (boat channel) and have your buddy doing lookout for crab floats, boats, the green can half way up the bay and the finger jetties. Nice to have second eyes when you can only see about 100 feet (maybe) because you're kind of glued to the chart plotter. Fog cleared just about at the finger jetties, no harm no foul.
 
Irishrover
I completely understand. Radar is a nice thing to have if the boat is set up to handle it. I fished out of Newport for many years also. Only had radar for the last five years. A good working compass and knowledge of the area is invaluable. When I started fishing there, we went out with a compass, depth finder and paper charts, no such thing as GPS. When we got our first Loran C for navigation, we thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread!

Crab pots oh yes, watching for them even on a clear day was the job of everyone on the boat, but the one sitting up front next to me, it was their only job. (Second set of eyes a good thing to have)

I think some folks get messed up when coming in because they look at the bridge and think they can run straight in. (Without fog). As you mention that is not the case.

Newport is a great port to fish out of. A lot of different fishing options, a good bar to cross, and some nice folks to fish around.
 
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