Central and South Coast Fishing Reports Sept 22nd, 2017

From TGF’s friend Pete Heley (PeteHeley.com)

The big news this past week was the implementation, as of Monday, October 18th, of a complete closure on bottomfishing along the Oregon coast. A similar closure went into effect in 2004, but that closure allowed anglers to target bottomfish while fishing from shore. In another recent year, Oregon’s cabezon fishery was closed because California anglers had retained the entire west coast quota before they realized it.

This complete closure of indefinite duration will result in economic hardship for Charleston, Newport and several other Oregon coastal communities, but it is also bad news for Winchester Bay and Florence which had almost completed their annual six-month offshore bottomfishing closure and were scheduled to resume their non-jetty bottom-fisheries on October 1st.

The reasoning behind the closure was that recreational efforts have been higher than anticipated this year, – in fact higher than any other year in the last 15 years, and peaked during the month of August. High catch rates, good fishing weather, and fewer other angler opportunities led to more boats and anglers targeting bottomfish this year.

Flatfish, such as sanddabs, flounder, and sole are not included in the closure as are halibut which are managed separately. Surfperch remain legal angling fare as do tuna which have moved shoreward along the southern Oregon coast. Salmon fishing for all species except coho remains open in the ocean through October 31st, but the chances of catching other keepable salmon species besides Chinooks, such as pinks. chums or sockeyes is remote and starting October 1st anglers fishing for salmon or having salmon on board are restricted to waters less than 40 fathoms (240 feet) deep.

Crabbing and clamming are marine activities that remain open and are currently very productive, but both have suffered multiple closures in the last few years due to elevated toxin levels and the taking of razor clams is still not allowed.

According to Joe Cook, of “The Bite’s On” in Empire, many surfperch in Coos Bay have spawned twice this year. Female surfperch taken off Reedsport-area beaches have also contained well-developed baby perch which means they will likely spawn twice this year – or haven’t spawned at all.

It seems like they are catching at least a half-dozen salmon per day from the bank on spinners at Winchester Bay. Salmon fishing success has also picked up for boat anglers and several Umpqua River fishing guides got boat limits for several consecutive days last week. The Coos, Coquille and Siuslaw rivers are starting to offer more consistent salmon fishing and the Rogue River has been hot for the last month. Couldn’t get the final results for the Coos Basin Salmon Derby, but the heaviest salmon taken weighed approximately 23 pounds – and was worth $500.

Slightly cooler weather has improved the trout bite at Lake Marie, but one has to wonder how many trout are left in the lake. Not all of the 800 15-inch rainbows dumped into the lake prior to Labor Day have been caught and kept. Several Coos County lakes will be planted during the second week of October but the only Oregon coast trout plants made this week were made in lakes between Tillamook and Astoria.

The best Columbia River walleye fishery in recent memory is starting to slow down and anglers targeting walleyes in the lower river below Bonneville Dam are catching walleyes of larger average size, but far fewer of them.

The Umpqua and Coquille rivers are still producing very good smallmouth bass fishing and cooler weather should increase the chance of catching larger bass – and make evening fishing every bit as productive as early morning fishing. Striped bass fishing on the Coquille River seems to be improving.

Extremely heavy fishing pressure on the fishing dock in Tugman Park on Eel Lake has finally influenced fishing success. Most of the decent-sized crappies have been caught and kept and even the smaller, frequently-released crappies are starting to wise up. The bluegills hanging out near the dock, possibly because of their smaller mouths, don’t seem to “fished-down” as quickly. I strongly suspect that boat anglers able to access other areas of the lake are enjoying better fishing success – especially for decent-sized fish. The lunker largemouth that was hanging around the fishing dock at Eel Lake was caught, weighed and released last week. At six pounds, it was slightly heavier than estimated – and no longer seems to be hanging around the dock.

Tenmile Lake bass-fishing continues to be productive and yellow perch anglers fishing off the fishing dock in the County Park finally caught a few bluegill and crappie last week.

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.