Kelp greenling (Hexagrammos decagrammus), Rock greenling (Hexagrammos lagocephalus) and Whitespotted greenling (Hexagrammos stelleri) are members of the family (Hexagrammidae) common to the Oregon Coast .  Kelp greenling are by far the most numerous member of the greenling family out numbering rock and whitespotted greenling by a ratio of ten to one.

Female kelp greenling are freckled all over with small reddish brown to golden spots on gray to brownish background.  The fins are colored with mostly yellowish orange.  Male kelp greenling are colored gray to brownish olive with irregular blue spots on the front of body surrounded by ring of small reddish brown spots.  The inside of mouth is yellowish and the anal fin usually has one weak spine.  Kelp, rock and whitespotted greenling grow to a maximum length of 21, 24 and 18.8 inches respectively but seldom weigh more than 2 pounds.  The female kelp greenling, male kelp greenling and rock greenling pictured here are found inshore among the kelp forest, along the rocky shore and nearshore reefs at depths up to 150 feet deep while whitespotted are found up to a depth of 575 feet. 

  Greenling are commonly referred to as sea trout.  Greenling spawn during the fall months of October and November.  The spawning period is the best time of the year to fish for the larger mature greenling followed by spring.  Greenling relate to structure of the kelp forest and rocky shore.  Fishing is productive in the areas with noticeable current breaks associated with the structure of the rocky shore or jetties, breakwaters, seawalls, bridge abutments, pilings and in the kelp forest.  Fish around the base of these structures during an incoming tide with lightweight or medium spinning tackle using abrasion resistant fusion line for the main line. 

  Create a 6 foot long dropper leader using small diameter 10 pound test monofilament line.  To tie a 3 hook gangion leader 6 feet long, cut a length of 10 pound test monofilament line 9 feet long.  Create a simple 4 inch loop with an overhand knot in the line 24 inches from one end of the leader line.  Loop the 24 inch tag end of the leader line through the loop an additional 8 times.  Use a bait needle to draw the broad end of the loop back through the fifth segment of the looped segments then pull the loop tight in all thee directions.  Repeat the procedure two additional times with the long tag end of the leader line tying the loops 18 inches apart.  The result should be three 4 inch dropper loops spaced evenly 18 inched apart with 24 inch tag ends at both ends.  It will take practice to tie the dropper loop the correct distances apart. 

  Tie one end of the dropper leader to the size 3 barrel swivel on the end of the main line and a size 3 snap swivel to the other end.  The short 4 inch dropper loops do not hang up in the rocks as often as longer leaders.  The average pan sized greenling has a small mouth and bites lightly.  To be successful you should use a size 2 or 4 bait holder hooks.

  The most productive fishing occurs during an incoming tide using sand shrimp, mussels, clams or pile worms for bait.  Sand shrimp are one of the most productive baits used to catch sea trout, perch and bass.  Sand shrimp are difficult to keep on the hook.  The best way to bait a shrimp onto the hook is to thread the shrimp on the hook leader using a bait needle.  Insert the bait needle into the mouth of the shrimp through the body cavity and into the tail.  Attach the loop on the hook leader to the notch in the end of the bait needle.  Pull the needle and the hook leader loop through the shrimp.  Slide the shrimp up the leader line away from the leader loop.  Pinch the hook leader loop between your thumb and index finger.  Attach the hook to the hook leader loop by pushing the end of the pinched hook leader loop through the eye of the hook.  Slip the hook leader loop over the hook and pull tight.  Slide the sand shrimp down over the hook and you are ready to fish.  If the hook eyes are too small to push the loop of the leader line the eye of the hook, thread a piece of monofilament through the hook loop, push the ends of the monofilament through the eye of the hook, pull the monofilament and loop of the leader line through the eye of the hook.  Slip the hook leader loop over the hook and pull tight.  Slide the sand shrimp down over the hook and you are ready to fish.  Attach the appropriate style sinker (round sinkers, teardrop sinkers or slinkys: slinks are preferred) to the snap swivel on the end of the 6 foot dropper leader and you are ready to fish.    

  Vertical fishing with a telescoping fiberglass pole is one of the most productive methods to fish for the fish species common to the rocky structure along Oregon ’s jetties or rocky shore.  Telescoping fiberglass poles extend up to 20 feet in length and allow anglers to fish for greenling feeding in areas inaccessible to fishing with a conventional rod and reel.  To properly use a telescoping fiberglass pole, fish with a length of 30 to 40 pound test monofilament line no longer than the length of the pole.  When a fish is hooked use the energy stored in the arching pole to tire and land the fish.  When the fish tires use the energy stored in the pole to lift the fish out of the water.  Lift the fish out of the water with one sweeping motion.  Some telescoping fiberglass poles are manufactured with a small simple reel attached to the base of the pole.  The purpose of the reel is to store the excess fishing line.  The excess line is necessary to pull the line free when the baited end hangs up on the rocks.  Use a free sliding bobber with an adjustable bobber fish the bait at the desired depth.  Snell a size 4 long shank bait holder to the end of the line and attach a split shot a foot above the hook.  Bait up and you are ready to fish.  Fishing with a telescoping fiberglass pole is the ideal method to catch the greenling and perch that feed along submerged rocky structure or in the kelp forest. 

  Greenling are a prey species for rockfish and lingcod and make superior bait for those species.   As bait they are best used as live bait but are excellent when used fresh dead or cut into strip bait.  As a food fish, the flesh of greenling is a little on the soft side, but overall they excel as table fare.  Release all greenling less than 10 inches in length retaining only enough fish to fulfill your immediate needs.  Remember conservation is the key that will assure good fishing in the future.

Return to Other Coastal Fish Species.