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  • Writer's pictureBMO

Cinco de Mayo Rockfish

Updated: May 15, 2020

It’s Cinco de Mayo weekend and everyone wants fish tacos, so we decided to head to the Washington Coast to catch some of the best eating fish in the world, perfect for amazing fish Tacos. Our destination was Neah Bay Washington.

Neah Bay is located at the far northwest tip if the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. It is as far NW as you can go in the continental USA. There is no quick way to get to Neah Bay, but the trip is well worth the effort. Located on the straight of Juan de Fuca, the scenery is simply breathtaking. The coast line is what you envision when you think about the Pacific Northwest. Lush green forests lead down to a coastline that is a combination of enormous rock formations, and small rocky beaches. The blue water crashes against the rocks creating a white foam. The green, white and blue colors combine together to create the incredible beauty of this place. Just taking a boat ride to view the scenery is amazing, but thats only half of it. Neah Bay is home to some of the best bottom fishing in the world, and that is the real reason we came here.

Bill Matthews Outdoors

Neah Bay is widely know for great bottom fishing. You can expect to catch Black Rockfish, Ling Cod, Cabezon, Kelp Greenling, Yelloweye, China Rockfish and Halibut when in season. You may also catch a Canary Rockfish, Vermilion, Quillback or several other species. Be sure to check all regulations before you go because several species do not allow for retention. Also be sure to have a descender devise on board to release your fish safely back to the correct depth.

Find out more about descender devices at:

Also, here it the link to aWashington Department of fish & wildlife bottom fish identification chart:

For this trip we were primarily targeting black rockfish and lingcod with Trokar Pro Staffer Mike Barksdale of Fish On Extreme Guide Service.

Bill Matthews Outdoors

Our plan was to arrive on Friday afternoon, get a half day of fishing, then fish on Cinco de Mayo till about 1 o’clock, clean the fish and be home in time to cook fish tacos for dinner. Just as planned, we arrived at Clallam Bay at 3:00 PM on Friday where we met Mike at the hotel, dropped of our bags and drove the 19 miles to Neah Bay . By the time we got to the boat and headed out it was around 4:00. We loaded up in Mike’s awesome River Wild Boat and headed out of the bay to the fishing grounds. After about a 45 minute boat ride we started searching for fish. It did not take long before we found a great school of Black Rockfish and within two hours we proceeded to catch our limit of sea bass, several keeper Ling Cod and one giant Cabezon.

Bill Matthews Outdoors

It was getting late so we headed back to the marina in order to get back to Clallam Bay in time for a great dinner at the Breakwater restaurant before they closed for the night.

We left at 4:00 the next morning for another spectacular day of fishing. As I said earlier, our plan was to get our fish and be off the water in time to get back to town for fish tacos on Cinco de Mayo.

Beautiful Sunrise Headed out on Cinco de Mayo!

As luck would have it, a NE wind came up and the 30 mile boat ride to the fishing spot took a lot longer than expected. It also made fishing a bit more difficult, but Mike did a fantastic job of keeping us on the spot and thanks to Gabe Miller - The Ling King - we were able to get our Ling Cod. Gabe caught the majority of the fish..he just had the right cadence and put on a Ling clinic for the rest of us.

Bill Matthews Outdoors Ling Cod
Gabe and Capt. Mike with a great Ling!

After getting our ling cod we headed back in shore to get our limit of Rock fish. Again, the ride took much longer than expected because of the wind, so by now we were running quite a bit behind our planned schedule, but we all agreed that we wanted to keep fishing. Mike put us right onto the spot and got our limit in record time. It was amazing how many fish we caught and how quick we got our limits.

Bill Matthews Outdoors Cinco De Mayo

We got back to the marina, had our fish cleaned said our good byes and hit the road for our five and a half hour drive back to Portland. By now it was around 4 o’clock and we were still hopeful we could get back in time for a late dinner. Unfortunately, my navigation skills were not up to par and instead of talking the cutoff to forks, I went all the way towards Port Angeles and then back to Forks..UGH! This added at least an hour to our already long trip. At least I had great company for the trip home, and time passed pretty fast. After dropping off Dave and BG, I headed home and pulled into my driveway at 12:00 midnight. No fish tacos on Cinco de Mayo, but we will celebrate it later this week!

It was an incredible trip that I would highly recommend. Call Mike and book early because this is a very popular trip,

Thanks for reading,




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