Jetty Fishing Yields a Tasty Bounty — Oven-roasted Kelp Greenling

| April 12, 2010 | 7 Comments

For me, being in the outdoors and nature is a great stress reliever. No cell phones, beautiful mountains and streams, and even a tempestuous Pacific Ocean can be relaxing in a way that a good massage can be.

This past week was particularly stressful for me, so I looked forward to fishing on the jetty at Garibaldi and applying nature’s pressure to my stress points, a kind of Shiatsu for the soul, if you will.

A view of the north jetty at Barview County Park in Garibaldi.

Fishing on any of the jetties that protect the bays and inlets along Oregon’s coast can be a very physical activity. You need to climb rocks and boulders down to a level where you can cast into the ocean, but not so low as to be soaked by the waves. And the Pacific Ocean on Oregon’s coast is anything but calm and serene, even on a day that’s clear. The waves are big. The water is cold. And the currents are strong. Plus, we have a thing we lovingly call the sneaker wave. It’s an extra large wave that lurks behind every few wave cycles and tries to catch you off guard.

The best fishing at the Garibaldi jetty is on the channel side. The waves are smaller than on the side facing the open ocean.

When you fish off the jetty, your primary prey is rock fish, so called because they hang out in rocky substructures with their many caves and cavities. Your catch is likely to be kelp greenling, cabizon, or, if you’re lucky, a black snapper. But that’s not the only kind of fish that might find your bait (sand shrimp) enticing. Charles once hauled up a wolf eel.

Kelp greenling, with their camouflaged pattern, make their home along rocky substrate. Their flesh is extremely delicate and sweet. Oregon regulations allow you to keep only those that are a minimum of 10 inches long.

Jetty fishing requires that you carry your wits about you at all times. The jetties are lined with memorials which families have made to fishermen and women who have fallen victim to the rocks and waves. Never drink alcohol while jetty fishing.  And it’s not a place to take kids. When the rocks are wet they’re extremely slick. You’ll want to wear hiking shoes or sandals that are made to grip slippery surfaces and can get wet. The gusting wind can knock you off balance if you’re not careful. And if it’s raining, you’ll want to wear water-proof rain suits to keep you from getting soaked or you’ll be wet and cold. I always take a large bucket to haul my bait, snacks, and a bottle of water down the rocks to my fishing perch, and also use the bucket to keep my catch.

If the weather is clear, it’s really an enjoyable experience. As I climb down the massive boulders I can feel my stress melting away. (If you’re out of shape, expect to be sore after a day of jetty fishing.)

On all jetties, fishing is best on incoming tide. The fish move into the bays with the tide so you’ll want to consult the tide tables and plan your trip accordingly. This may mean getting up before the roosters even consider stirring in order to make the drive to the coast. Or, in my case, I left right after finishing my last bit of work at the office Friday night, got to Garibaldi around 11 p.m. and paid a small fee to camp overnight in my vehicle at Barview Jetty County Campground. The park has coin-operated showers and clean restrooms and is a safe and scenic place to spend the night or weekend. As I bedded down on my air mattress and snuggled under two sleeping bags in the back of my car, I looked up through the sunroof and could see the stars and hear nothing but the ocean as I dozed off.


The greenling, covered with vegetables and herbs, is ready to roast.

Oven-roasted Kelp Greenling

  1. Kelp greenling (1 per person) or any other white-fleshed fish such as red snapper, sea bass (although those fish are much larger so you wouldn’t apportion one per person)
  2. 1 green bell pepper sliced into thin strips
  3. 1/2 sweet onion sliced into thin strips
  4. 1/4 cup (60 ml.) chopped fresh oregano
  5. 2 teaspoons (10 ml.) ground cumin
  6. 1/4 cup (60 ml.) chopped Sicilian olives
  7. 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) of the pickling juice from the olives
  8. 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) garlic salt
  9. 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) olive oil
  10. 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) orange juice
  11. 1/2 orange sliced into thin discs
  12. 1/2 lemon sliced into thin discs
  • Preheat oven to 350° F (177 °C).
  • In a bowl, combine sliced onion and bell pepper, cumin, chopped olives and olive pickling juice, garlic salt, olive oil, orange juice, chopped oregano.
  • In a baking dish, arrange cleaned fish, and cover with alternating orange and lemon slices.
  • Spoon the chopped vegetables and herbs over the fish and pour the liquid over the fish.
  • Cover baking dish with foil and bake in oven for 15 minutes, remove foil and, if your oven has a roasting setting, set it to 350° F (177 °C) and roast 20 minutes, until vegetables are slightly roasted.

Oven-roasted kelp greenling.

Serve immediately. A dry pinot gris like King Estate’s Domaine, Signature, or Acrobat Pinot Gris would go superbly with this meal. The acidity of the wine will stand up to the herbs, and the wine’s crisp fruitiness will highlight the sweet and succulent flavor of the greenling.

Please note that kelp greenling have lots of small bones near the stomach cavity, so be careful when eating. The flesh of this fish is sweet, delicate and will just melt in your mouth.


— Vic

Tags: ,

Category: Seafood

About the Author (Author Profile)

Victor Panichkul is a journalist and writer by training; a cook, wine lover and photographer by passion; and a lover of the outdoors since moving to Oregon more than 10 years ago. He is a native of Bangkok, Thailand.

Comments (7)

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  1. Marlene says:


    Sorry you had such a stressful week, but glad you got to work it off fishing even though it was dangerous. Love to you all.

  2. Tim says:

    I was bored tonight and am planning on jetty fishing tomorrow, I just typed in jetty fishing oregon just to try and learn some new tips or tricks, (I’ve been a few times) A couple sentances in and I was surprised to see that this article was on where I would be fishing tomorrow :)I like going in the winter because there is less crowds, I think because of the colder weather 😛 Either way looking forward to a fun day.

    Great piece. Thank you

  3. Victor says:

    You’re welcome Tim. Glad you found my blog and left a comment. Hope you had good luck on the jetty!

  4. Ryan says:

    Any chance you can give some specifics regarding the fishing tackle and techniques you use?

    Thank you

  5. Victor says:

    Hi Ryan, thanks for reading and for your comments. I use what’s commonly called a dropper rig setup or drift fishing setup, it allows the bait to float above the weight, which is at the very end of the line. And I use a 3 way barrel swivel to secure the hook line to the main line and the weight line. Depending on the speed of incoming or outgoing tide, I’ll use anywhere from a 1-2 ounce weight. Attached is a schematic of what the rig looks like. “>Click here for link to a website with a schematic of what it looks like. I use sand shrimp for bait and cast about 10-30 yards from the jetty and let the rig sink all the way to the bottom before tightening the line.

  6. Gary Fleener says:

    Hi Victor,

    Just wanted to put in a good word for the recipe. I Googled greenling recipes and came up with your post. I just prepared the dish for my family (with a few modifications based on what I had in the fridge herb garden). I was delicious! My seven year old helped with the prep and ate it (along with the olives and capers) as fast as I could serve him. My wife, a bit more conservative with fish, loved it too. I used fresh rosemary instead of oregano (didn’t have any) and a mix of Arbequina olives and capers. Super tasty! Sipped a bit of effervescent Vinho Verde, which as a great compliment. Thanks for the post! I blog a bit about food as well. Site listed above.

    Gary (Sonoma County based kayaker fisher and kitchen boy)

  7. Victor says:

    Hi Gary, thx for your comments. I’m glad you and your family enjoyed the recipe. I’ll be checking out your blog!

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