From our friend Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com.
A few fall chinook salmon are starting to enter the lower Umpqua River. Boat anglers trolling herring along the South Jetty are having some success on the chinooks, but the best bite has been in the ocean for coho salmon. Only fin-clipped cohos at least 16-inches long may be kept, but about 80 percent of the cohos taken last week were unclipped and unkeepable. The bank fishery for chinook salmon at Winchester Bay should gradually improve until it peaks in late August. But by then any decrease in angling success on chinooks will be more than offset by improving fishing for coho salmon. Finclipped coho salmon are legal to keep the entire year in the Umpqua River.
Some of the less typical salmon catches last week would include Steve Godin and and his fishing partner who’s Friday catch of five salmon included four finclipped, keepable cohos. Another angler, Kelly Blair caught three chinooks last week including a 24 pounder while casting spinners from the bank at Half Moon Bay and a chinook salmon of approximately 30 pounds was caught by a boat angler trolling a herring near Gardiner.
The fishing for redtailed surfperch has been very good for the last ten days and there are plenty of fish in the spawning area, but the fish move around a lot and fishing success can vary greatly. I received an email from one angler whose fishing buddy was told by a fish checker that the bite was very slow and she thought the run was pretty much over. Ironically, very early that same morning two different boats stopped by the market where I work to to show off their boat limits of perch. They had started fishing at first light and had their boat limits before 6 am.
Quite often, when people rely on a single reporting source, the information given does not match up with the information that checking several sources would have provided. The female surfperch appear to be a long ways from spawning as the baby perch they bear live appear to be relatively undeveloped. As the perch in the spawning area get caught down, more female perch will be leaving the ocean and entering the river prior to spawning and this should be more evident following a series of of very high tides.
Since trout plants stopped several weeks ago, trout fishing has been slow in most waters. Because they have fair numbers of carrover trout as well as native and searun trout, the larger lakes have been providing the better trout angling recently and two of the best ones have been Tenmile Lakes and Eel Lake.
Shad fishing is starting to wind down on the Umpqua, but good catches are still being made. Chartreuse and hot pink remain the most productive colors.
Striped bass fishing on the Smith and Umpqua rivers appears to be very slow, but information has been hard to get. Striper fishing on the Coquille River seems to be improving with the best catches being made after dark.
Crabbing at Winchester Bay seems to be steadily improving with one guide offering short ocean crabbing trips with a two person minimum. A few guides are offering ocean salmon and crab combo trips. While crabbing in the ocean has been the best, crabbing in the lower Umpqua River has also been very good. Dockbound crabbers have to work harder for their crabs, but virtually all of them are catching some legal crabs.
One fishery that seems to be largely ignored is for brown bullhead catfish which should be just coming off the spawn. Siltcoos and Tenmile Lakes seem to have the best bullhead populations in our area, but virtually all of our local lakes and larger streams contain some bullhead catfish.
Bad news regarding the access to Horsfall Beach and Lake. It seems that being underwater for several months has degraded the road to the point where standing water is no longer the major factor in the road closure. A USFS employee stated that there is a chance that the road will not be usable until late summer of 2018. In the meantime, a sand road is being constructed from Horsfall Day Use Area which is currently accessible to Old Bark Staging Area which currently isn’t – in an attempt, in my opinion, to avoid having to refund monies collected for sand dune camping permits.