My last fishing trip took me into the Pacific Ocean in July with my brother Mike and son Kevin.
We had hoped to catch salmon, but the fish were moving up the coast from the south and hadn’t yet reached our port in Oregon. But that didn’t stop us. We made two trips for bottom fish out of Depoe Bay, which bills itself as the world’s smallest harbor.
It once starred in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” with Jack Nicholson in the opening scene of the patients’ fishing trip. It’s an unusual bay. Fed by a small creek, it was once cut off from the ocean by a lava flow, leaving a headland of rugged black rock that still lines the coast for miles. The bay covers a couple of acres at most, with a few docks and a launch ramp. A narrow cleft opens to the sea, topped by a bridge that carries traffic on Highway 101. On a mild day even kayakers can pass through “the jaws” to the open ocean.
Whenever I’m around, we try to work in a fishing trip. Because my brother’s boat is only 17 feet long, we stick close to shore even when the salmon are biting, never venturing out of sight of land. We troll for coho salmon when we can and usually pull into shallow water (meaning 30 to 60 feet deep) off the rocks for bottom fish — lingcod, greenling, cabezon and various species of rockfish.
They all make for good eating. Lingcod resemble walleyes and share the same firm, white flesh. You can keep two a day, and they have to be 22 inches or longer, though the biggest can get more than four feet long and weigh close to 100 pounds. We made two trips and limited on them each time, as well as catching a few black rockfish, also known as seabass, and cabezon.
We had a great family fish feed while I was there, and I wish I’d brought a few home, especially after LaVerne Gadeken stopped by with a recipe for seviche.
Sometimes spelled ceviche, it’s a recipe that calls for fish cured in lemon or lime juice. I make seviche for fish tacos, mixing the fish with pico de gallo and sour cream. Hers is a salad, and judging by the ingredient list it makes enough to feed a crowd. When I make it, I cheat and add heat until the fish is steamed. But hers is the real deal, calling for enough juice and time for the raw fish to get “cooked” by the acidity.
To make it, you simply prepare two separate batches of ingredients, let them marinate for up to four hours and then combine them. The first is a pound or so of fish (10 to 20 ounces) and a cup each of lemon and lime juice. The other is the following salad ingredients:
3 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup sliced green olives
1 cup sliced black olives
1 cup sliced onions
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 six-ounce cans of tomato juice
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp basil
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp coriander
2 tsp Tabasco or other hot sauce
1 tsp salt
If that sounds like a lot of food, it could easily be prepared with smaller portions. Gadeken, who used to live in Alaska, has used the recipe on halibut, another form of Pacific bottom fish, and says it’s pretty good. I haven’t had a chance to try it, but I imagine it has a Latin American flavor with a bit of zing to it.
Sounds as if it’s time to go catch a few catfish.
Our big fish contest is still open, by the way. If you caught a lunker, enter through our website or contact the Star-Herald sports department.