From TGF’s friend Pete Heley (PeteHeley.com)
The finclipped ocean salmon season ended on July 31st with only a fraction of the 18,000 coho quota retained. Through July 23rd, 22.5 percent or 4,055 of the coho quota had been kept and those coho made up 87 percent of the retained ocean salmon catch through July 23rd. The hottest bite recently was along the central Oregon coast where Newport, Depoe Bay and Florence had seasonal catch rates of .71, .65 and .58 salmon per angler trip respectively. Newport was very hot for finclipped coho as the seasonal catch rate increased from .31 to .71 salmon in a single week.
Through July 23rd, Winchester Bay, Charleston and Bandon had kept salmon averages of .42, .51 and .27 respectively.
Garibaldi continues to lead in retained chinook salmon, but those were early season chinooks and only a half dozen chinook have been added to their season total in the last two weeks.
As for ocean salmon fishing, only chinook salmon of 24-inches in length or longer will be legal to keep until the nonselective ocean coho salmon season begins on September 2nd. Once that season starts, salmon anglers shouldn’t procrastinate as good weather and ocean conditions coupled with a quota of only of only 6,000 coho could make the upcoming season a short one.
The Umpqua River has been offering fair fishing for chinook salmon below Reedsport, but there have been few anglers casting spinners from the bank at Winchester Bay. Crabbing in Half Moon Bay and in the ocean near the Umpqua River Bar has been very good.
A series of high tides brought a fresh batch of female red-tailed surfperch into the Umpqua River last week and quick boat limits were the rule. With a liberal daily limit of 15 perch per angler and heavy fishing pressure, the newly arriving perch can be caught down rather quickly. Last week, some of the best perch catches were made between the entrance to Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin and Marker 12. Although it is getting late into the Umpqua’s perch run, there should be some perch available for a couple more weeks.
Last week the most unusual catch made by an Umpqua River pinkfin angler was a 30-inch zebra shark which bit a sand shrimp about two miles upriver of the Umpqua River Bar.
The fisheries in some of our local coastal waters have undergone significant changes during this highwater year. A surprising number of winter steelhead were caught out of Clear Lake in Coos County this last spring and since the south end of Clear Lake is connected to the north end of Saunders Lake, steelhead from Tenmile Creek could conceivably reach Saunders Lake. It would be difficult to differentiate a Saunders Lake steelhead that made it there on its own from an adult steelhead that that was trapped by the STEP chapter on upper Eel Creek and then planted in Saunders Lake.
More surprising have been rainbow trout catches in Beale Lake. They conceivably could have come from Butterfield Lake, but then would have had to swim from the eastern section along the railroad tracks and then entered the middle section via very shallow water and then entered the western section where they seem to have ended up – through more shallow water. It would be very difficult for an angler to successfully plant any trout into Beale Lake because of difficult access.
At the same time, yellow perch have become well established in Butterfield Lake. They possibly had a helping hand from an ignorant, law breaking, but well-meaning angler, but may have also reached Butterfield by swimming south from Beale Lake during high water. In any case, the presence of yellow perch along with trout plants has adversely affected Butterfield’s bluegill and crappie populations and most likely didn’t help the few warmouths that inhabited the lake. A more positive note regarding Butterfield Lake is that Dwayne Schwartz caught a very chunky six-pound six ounce largemouth on a buzzbait while fishing with me last Sunday. I was fishing for panfish and had to settle for about 20 smallish bass, yellow perch and bluegills. I was pleasantly surprised by rainbow trout of ten and 17-inches.
In 50 years of fishing Butterfield Lake, the bass have tended to be small and thin. Dwayne’s lunker bass, which he released, was clearly a most welcome exception.
Pete Heley works part-time at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from ‘A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.