Lingcod, Cabezon, Black Rockfish, Blues, Chinas, Vermillion, and on and on. The main hit list of the shore fishermen from the rocks. There are many ways to target these species. Most are commonly caught with swimbaits, bait, or jigs. All fished differently with swimbaits and jigs having the most in common. This article will give you all the information you need to have confidence when you're out on the rocks and questioning yourself on your fishing technique.
The Jiggy Jig (available in 20g, 30g, 40g, and 50g) come in weights that I've personally chosen as they most effectively target the rocky species that we have here on the West Coast. Each Jig comes with two oversized hooks that will not bend and will give you the best chance of landing that 20lb Lingcod if you're lucky enough to hook one.
The method of fishing these jigs varies slightly with each incremental weight. There are 28 grams in an ounce for reference. I chose the 20g jig because it is about the lightest weight we can get away with while still being able to maintain contact with our line. The windier it is, or the stronger the current, the heavier weight we need to fish the jig accurately.
There are two methods you can use to fish each weight of jig. The best way to start out any jig Rockfish fishing session is to target mid water column fish, i.e. Black Rockfish and Blue Rockfish. Doing so almost eliminates any chance of getting snagged and losing your gear. To do so, simply cast out as far as you can and almost immediately start your retrieve. Think of keeping your jig parallel with the surface of the water, however deep your jig is. This means after letting the jig sink for 5 seconds, retrieve your line and then pause or jig and retrieve again. This pause or jig allows your Jiggy Jig to stay at the desired depth for the entire cast and retrieve.
Fan cast to the right or left about 10 feet every cast, keeping mental notes of your cast location and approximate depth you've been fishing. Once you've covered every fishable fan blade, start over again - except, this time allow the jig to sink 2-4 seconds longer and then repeat the parallel underwater to surface retrieve while jigging. That is the best method to target Blacks and Blues.
Many times you will encounter those species and once you do, it shouldn't be difficult to catch several within an hour. Remember, you can fish a shallow area (15ft) with all weights (20g, 30g, 40g, 50g), but the conditions are what will determine which weight to use. If it is blowing hard at 18-20mph, you may need that 40g or 50g jig to stay in contact and not allow the wind to create that bow in your line. On the other hand, you would almost never want to fish that 50g jig when its slack tide with 0 wind. In those conditions, the 20g or 30g jig would be your best bet. Even grabbing the jig with some pliers and bending it so it flutters more slowly could be beneficial.
Now onto the BIG FISH. The bottom dwellers. The Lingcod and Cabezon primarily. Each Jiggy Jig comes with two hooks. Out of the package a hook is attached to the front of the jig. This decreases the chance of snagging bottom when bouncing along. If you're feeling risky, throw on that second hook and give it your all. (Just have some extra gear ready!)
With this method, you want to cast out to the deepest area you can reach. Usually the darker the water, the deeper it is. Personally, as soon as my jig hits the water, I hold my braid between my thumb and index finger as the jig sinks. Doing this keeps me in constant contact with my jig, and with the braid I can feel everything. Once I feel the jig tap the bottom, I close my bail and give it a good jig up. I now know I'm fishing the bottom, exactly where I want to be. After the initial jig, I will retrieve at a rate so I do not drag the bottom but also do not bring the jig too far away from the bottom. Constantly jigging and retrieving, keeping constant contact with my line and jig. As you bring the jig closer to yourself, you'll need to retrieve slightly faster because the bottom structure will gradually get more and more shallow. Cast enough in one spot and you will mentally map out where the snags are, where the ledges are, the sandy spots and the fishy spots.
When you get into that fishy spot and feel a bite, reel down and get all of the slack out, and then set that hook! Sometimes a big Lingcod or Cabezon will feel like a large piece of seaweed, but keep on reeling because things just might go crazy in a second!!
Make sure your gear is up to par with the fish you're targeting. I like to use 50-65 lb braid that goes to either a 10 yard top shot of 40lb mono or a 3ft leader of 30-40lb flourocarbon connected to a rolling swivel. You will be able to cast farther without the top shot. A reel like the Shimano Socorro SW5000 or Spheros SW5000 are good choices for shore rockfishing.
For the fishing rod, I like to use something between 8 ft and 10 ft in a Medium Fast action. Something like the Daiwa North Coast listed in my Gear Page.
Hopefully now you can take some jigs out to your favorite rocky area and know exactly when and where to use each jig! Leave a comment if you have any questions and I'll try to answer them ASAP!