“Fish ON!” The phrase bounces across the bow with a satisfied smack—a sound you’ll likely make later at your fish fry. For now, you reel in with a steady hand, wildly excited to see what’s at the end of your line. Rockfish, sea trout, maybe a lingcod—dinner for you and all your friends.
“We still have people who go out to fill their freezer,” says Tyler Turner, captain of the fishing vessel Tacklebuster. “But, these days, more are just looking to have a good time.”
With calm summer seas, good times are forecast on boats like Turner’s glistening 50-foot Delta, booked through Depoe Bay’s Dockside Charters. The main challenge? Waking up to meet the fleet at 6 a.m. Once on board, the living is easy, even for novices. You chase sunrise out to sea; soon, Turner is scoping the water for prime schools of black rockfish, the bread-and-butter species of this stretch of Oregon coast.
“I’m very competitive behind the wheel. I’ll do whatever it takes to get my clients on the fish,” the captain says. That means gentle hops from reef to reef over several lazy hours, during which contemplation of the horizon is punctuated by gleeful hollers and the splash of deckhands hauling in your catch. The light-tackle spinning rods take little instruction—just drop your hook, reel out, and reel in, like the cycle of life. Back on land, dockside mongers clean and fillet your fish with ninja-like knife skills. Ice is right at hand. And you’re on your way, flush with success—and fish.
“People leave their baggage on the dock,” Turner says. “They just soak up the senses: the vibration of the engine, seeing a whale spout. There’s nothing to worry about for the next five hours.” Book a half-day fishing trip starting at $80 at docksidedepoebay.com.
While You're There
EAT For seven years, Restaurant Beck has provided fine dining at the Whale Cove Inn (below). Chef Justin Wills, a fan of foraging and hyperseasonal produce—like kombu-cured black cod crudo only in season, with Siletz Bay sea beans and Oregon wasabi—has been nominated for two James Beard Awards. For now, Oregon’s best coastal restaurant still feels like a secret. restaurantbeck.com
EXPLORE Twelve miles south of Depoe Bay, Newport’s bayfront swims with visitors. Sure, there’s saltwater taffy. There’s also a real fish market inside upscale grill Local Ocean, with products from boats you can see, out there in the harbor, while you munch on crab po’boys. Later, gawk at the sea lions jamming the rock walls—they’re probably also barking mad with happiness. localocean.net
STAY Not to be outdone by sweeping views of the cove below—home to resident harbor seals and summering whales—the eight-suite Whale Cove Inn offers perhaps the most plush accommodations on the Oregon Coast. Think private balconies with jetted tubs and rooms larger than many Portland condos. Here, indeed, is where the captain sleeps. whalecoveinn.com
Pack out your catch with a “permafrost” insulated, armored (and bear-proof) Tundra Cooler from Austin-based Yeti. $300 and up at REI, Poler