Its been another great season for Lings on the fly. Each year I learn more and have developed better flies, better lines and better techniques to get into these toothy fish. The more time I spend on the water, the more I have learned about their habitat, their diets, and what causes them to strike at stripped flies. Phil K. and I decided at the last minute to give it a go since the weather was teasing us with upper 60 degree temps and a nice marine layer of cloud cover and partly sunny skies. I was finished with work a little earlier today, so we decided to meet up and push off that afternoon in search of Lings on the fly.
We hitched up the boat and pushed off from my house at 3:00 and hit the boat launch to find alot of Seattle’s finest gathering around the mayor. There weren’t many trailers or boats on the water, which is always a great thing and we pretty much had the whole pond to ourselves. I wanted to try out a new location that I haven’t had the opportunity to fish this season, but have done well in the past years and decided to make the run under nice weather, seas and low wind conditions.
We made the 20 minute run offshore and dropped our lines. The low tide was a negative change with a 2:44 low, and big swing with incoming high at 10 pm. I wasn’t going to wait it out, but decided that it was too good an opportunity to miss. The tide, wind speed were perfect to set up the presentation on the drift. First drift, nothing for me, but Phil hooked up on a little rockfish, snapped the photo and released it, a good sign, but not what we came seeking.
After a couple of other drifts, there wasn’t any takers, but the tide was coming in very well so I decided to try another spot and handed Phil the 11 wt. On our first drift and after his few strips the line went tight and instinctually he set the rod and there was weight followed by some big head shakes that pulsed deep into the RPLxi scrim. The big fish was holding and peeling off line from the Galvan T-8 reel as it tried to bury itself back into the rock that it came from but I coached Phil in the proper handling of the fish and after a few minute battle a 34.5″ Ling came to the net, which I estimate weighed in at 12 lbs, perhaps more.
Phil’s hands were shaking from the adrenaline and his eyes bugged out in amazement at the sheer confusion at the fact that such a fish can be caught on the properly presented fly. After some instruction on how to handle these fish without getting hurt, he posed for some hero shots and released her back into the ocean floor from where she came from.
Once I knew that there was this big female around we made another pass and put the fly lines down. I was using my Rio T-1000 dredger on the Sage RPLXi 11 wt. which they no longer offer, but its perfect for this kind of fishing, its lobbed out there and sinks like a rock and gets and keeps the big flies in front of their faces. Since that rod is my main rod for Lings and since I was still waiting for my 8 wt. Scott to come back from warranty I had no other choice other than to bring my Winston B2X 7 wt. along for the ride. I’d string up the Rio Deep 7 line on that, many would call this foolish, but I was out there to prove that it can be done. I was using a 5/6 Feathercraft cassette reel, and was moderately impressed with the drag and the durability of this reel. I was using that line for Chironomid fishing last week and now it was in the saltwater serving double duty for the lings.
We fished for 3.5 hours and landed 9 Lings with only 3 of them being sub legal size. The largest fish measured 34.5″, and the average fish was 28-29″, all legal for keeping, however I prefer to release them as I don’t care for them as table fare and I want a future fishery for my son in the future. We’ve got 8 more days until this fishery closes, so I hope to make it out one or two more times just to make sure I have a good understanding of this outstanding and unique fishery.