Last year I bought some small level wind reels designed for largemouth bass and paired them with “Whooping Sticks” from Cabelas. The rods aren’t exactly state of the art but they are nearly impossible to break, they’re short, light, and very limber. I spooled the reels with 20 pound spectra line, attached a 3 foot monofilament leader and tied on a 2 ounce jig. The idea was something light for rockfish in the kelp beds or on shallow pinnacles – ideal hangouts for black rockfish, also known as sea bass or just bass.
The short, light rods proved perfect for making a bass bonanza even more fun. These fish pull pretty hard, come close enough to the surface on some days that you can watch them take the jig. You can easily catch them on a fly rod. And, while fishing them you never know what might swim into the fray. Early last year, after catching salmon and halibut on the ocean with Jim Kraft and his family aboard, we ducked into the lee of the cliffs on the south side of Kruzof Island. Soon the black rockfish were doubling over the Whooping Sticks in the 25 foot water. It was dead calm and we were no more than 30 yards from shore. Next a 25 pound king tried to eat a jig nearly on the surface. It missed but five minutes late Jim hooked and landed an 8 pound silver. Five minutes after that Beri Anshuman set into something large on his Whooping Stick. It took a while and some bicep busting work, but he eventually brought up a 100-pound halibut. Light tackle rockfish may be the name of the game, but you never know.