Real Deal on the Reel Steel

Photo Caption: Gary Heffley and Dave Smith with quality Cape Mendocino Lings.
Photo Credit: Photo by Tim Klassen of the Reel Steel

by Gary Heffley

 What a day to be on the ocean.... flat calm seas with only a slight swell, great captain and boat, good friends and cooperative rockfish.  I was happy to join a group of fellow SIRs from Redding on the 6-pack charter vessel Reel Steel out of Eureka this Wednesday in search of rockfish and ling cod off the Lost Coast of Cape Mendocino.  For those not familiar with SIRS, (Sons in Retirement), it is a fun organization dedicated to the enhancement and friendship of  men over 55 or retired, even-semi retired through meetings, outings,  sports such as golf and of course fishing as well as social activities and events. With no political or religious agendas it just a group of guys getting together for the enjoyment of it.

Tim Klassen, the owner-operator of the Reel Steel met us at the dock on Woodley Island at 6:30 am where it was determined that with salmon being off the bite and the warm currents breaking up that had recently brought the Albacore within range our best option was in making the hour and a half run to Cape Mendocino for rockfish.  After the easy, fast run on comfortable seas the first drops began with bent rods loaded with copper and quillback rockfish along with a couple of ling cod in the 14 to 20 pound range.  We five anglers were using a combination of sardines, squid, shrinp flies and various jigs and bars with most everything producing. Tim kept putting us over various underwater rocky formations where every drift produced rockfish and the occasional lingcod.

This was my first visit to fish out of Eureka, the Cape along the Lost Coast but definitely not my last.  Most of my personal rockfishing experiences while very enjoyable and recommended have been around the Farallons outside the Golden Gatebut the overall average size of the fish on this outing was much bigger than on any of  my previous trips.  The Copper and Quillback rockfish averaged around 4 pounds each. I landed about an 8 pound Cabezon and a couple of Vermilions in the 6 to 7 pound range were also landed.  We even broke off a wayward Coho Salmon that took an interest in one of the shrimp flies.

The final boat  tally for the day was 8 lingcod( two short of limits) and 50 rockfish, 30 of which were Coppers, along with the 1 Cabezon, 9 Quillbacks, 2 Vermilions, 5 Canarys, 1 Blue and 2 Blacks.  Overall a great count and heavy sacks for all.

Tim did a great job filleting all the fish on the way in and as is the custom his wife Sherry greeted us as she does most  every charter with a platter of  warm freshly baked home-made cookies.  Another great feature available with the Reel Steel is that Tim can supply quality equipment for the anglers to use. I used one of his Okuma SST rods with an Avet reel spooled with braid, rather than bring a rod with me from Redding. He outfit worked great and is kept in great condition. Looking at his Salmon set ups on the boat, Penn rods were matched with Penn Squall reels, quality outfits rigged and ready if the opportunity arose or fishing plans changed.  Tim also has the flexibility to target California Halibut inside Humboldt Bay if the sea conditions prove too angry to venture outside the jetty.

While the boat can handle up to 6 anglers Tim feels the boat fishes best with 5 anglers on board and our five fished very comfortably. Tim books trips for specific species when in season including salmon, tuna when in range, Pacific Halibut as well as rockfish and as with all ocean angling the sea conditions and weather will always have the final say and dictate that day's trip.

To  contact Tim and Sherry for more information or to book an excursion on the Reel Steel give them a call at 707- 499-4925.

Gary Heffley has been a valued contributor to MyOutdoorBuddy for over 10 years serving as manager, sales representative and reporter for much of Northern California. He is an avid outdoorsman and loves to fish and write about his adventures. He has a long history in the Sporting Goods field and uses that extensive experience to impart his wisdom in his writing. 

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