Central & South Oregon Coast Fishing Reports

An unusual event – well, unusual to the majority of us, anyway – will take place at Depoe Bay on Saturday, July 9th, when the Annual Oregon Rockfish Classic takes place. Rockfish out of Depoe? Nothing unusual here. The twist is that these anglers will be fishing from kayaks. These mini-boat operators will be launching and fishing all day so for those with other plans, like launching a larger boat, another plan for this day would be in order.

To celebrate the 4th of July, Dockside Charters out of Depoe Bay took whale watchers out all day for free on Monday this week. They also reported that salmon fishing has been slow.

Bottom fishing for rockfish and ling cod remains good out of central Oregon ports with easy limits one day while having to work for them the next. As of July 1st, offshore fishers may keep one Cabazon a day as part of the seven-fish limit. Crabbing has continued to improve for numbers although sorting of softshells is a necessity. Most charter customers are taking six or seven Dungeness home along with their bottom fish.

While limits of ling cod are more challenging to fill now than, say, a week or two ago, catches of lings and black rockfish remain decent out of Coos Bay. Jig near the kelp beds and or rock piles anywhere along the south coast to improve chances of a hookup.

Tuna fishing has been good out of many Oregon Ports with Charleston and Coos Bay producing as well or better than most. Tuna anglers are seeking warmer water – generally 58 degrees or better – where tune will no actively feeding. Daily current changes make predictions challenging but online sources track ocean surface temperatures and other indicators. “Albacore, as well as other tunas and skipjack, are remarkably well adapted to their environment and as a group they are among the most difficult of fishes to tag and release alive. Frequently they flurry with such violence after being withdrawn from the water, that in a few seconds their gills hemorrhage and rip loose; they tear themselves apart at the isthmus, throw the food out of their stomachs, and fling quantities of blood, partially digested food items, and slime over dozens of square feet.” See Random Links, below, for more tuna information!

Bill Monroe pointed out in his Oregonian article (read it from Random Links, below) that “The latest close call was in 2005, with warm tuna water brushing the coastline from Astoria to Charleston within four miles of Nehalem Bay, seven to nine off Garibaldi, and eight off the mouth of the Columbia.” As we recall, it wasn’t too bad in 2007, either!

Now that the offshore coho fishery has joined Chinook for additional offshore fishing adventures, we must speak to an issue that arises – and in some cases, costs careless anglers hard-earned money. It is imperative to know the difference between a small Chinook and a large coho, a challenge which becomes more difficult as coho put on a pound a week in the ocean and a mistake is costly. Check the bottom gum line, which, along with the base of the bottom teeth is white. There are pictures on page 95 of the angling regulations booklet. White gum line? Check! Missing adipose fin? Check for that as well.

Pete Heley, an Oregon author, publisher and blogger (peteheley,com) reports from Reedsport, “Salmon fishing in the ocean off Winchester Bay showed a marked improvement over last week. On Saturday, Chris McAyeal, of Eugene, while fishing with two friends landed a boat limit of six keeper salmon. Their catch consisted of a fin clipped coho and five Chinooks to 20 pounds. They also released a couple of unclipped coho which seem to be running larger than the clipped coho and a couple of Chinooks just shy of the 24-inch length required to be legal. Chris said they trolled herring at a depth of 55 feet and caught their salmon north of the Umpqua River Bar.

“Other salmon anglers were not so lucky. One of the area’s more successful guides could not get out of the wild coho and had little to show for a lot of action. A few Chinooks are starting to venture up the Umpqua River and their numbers should continue to increase over the next several weeks. A large Chinook salmon was hooked and lost Sunday morning to a spinner flinger at Half Moon Bay.
“Rough bar conditions have put a temperly halt to what has been a very productive tuna fishery about 30 miles offshore and delayed early morning salmon fishing. But there are a few fall Chinooks in the river as far upstream as Reedsport.

“There have been very few reports of striped bass catches. A friend of mine has spent several nights targeting stripers on the Smith River and only had a few boils and missed strikes to show for it. The first night he used live bait, he landed two. He caught an 18 pound, ten ounce fish on a pikeminnow and a fifteen pound three ounce fish on a sculpin.

“For the last few weeks, stripers have been tough to find on the Coquille River which has a surprising amount of tidewater. The river’s smallmouth fishery is holding steady with an impressive number of bass caught weighing at least two pounds. As expected, the river’s largemouth bass population seems to have shrunk and they seem even harder to catch.

‘Crappie anglers are having fair success at daybreak and dusk as long as they are in the Eugene or Roseburg area. In western Oregon the yellow perch seem to outcompete the crappies. However, fishing for yellow perch remains very slow on Tenmile Lakes, but is fair on Tenmile Creek just below South Tenmile Lake, but few of the perch will measure eight inches in length. Tenmile Creek still has a logjam on it about a mile and a half below the lake, which keeps all but the most reckless from floating it. But this year, the shallow faster current seems especially suitable for trout. The fishing for largemouth bass also seems much improved – possibly due to less fishing pressure due to the logjam.

“The Umpqua River pinkfin run is still going on, but is winding down. A guide and his clients landed a boat limit of perch before 9 am last Sunday (7 rods and 105 perch). On the 4th, several more boats had boat limits by 8 am. What they all had in common was they all used sand shrimp for bait and they were all fishing less than two miles up river of where Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin connects to the Umpqua River. As this fishery approaches it’s conclusion, the fishing will become even more inconsistent.

“Umpqua River smallmouth bass are biting well, but the river is very clear and smaller soft plastics or nightcrawlers are more productive than crankbaits.
“Umpqua River shad fishing is pretty much over although a few fish are still being caught near the chute at Sawyers Rapids.

“Tenmile Lakes has been fishing well for bass and its popularity ensures that almost every other bass fishery in Coos and Douglas counties is underfished. However all of the area bass fisheries are turning into early morning or after dark fisheries.

“Rough ocean and bar conditions have limited crabbing options, but some boat crabbers have made decent catches near the lower end of Half Moon Bay. There has been some tuna carcasses in Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin, which seems to have improved crabbing success for those crabbing off the end of “A” Dock.

“Although Potholes Reservoir and its connected waterways has produced several heavier catfish during the last two years, the nearly 27 pound cat taken last week may be the longest at 39-inches.”


Trollers in Rogue Bay were surprised this week to pick up a few early fall Chinook. These fish started showing in catches on July 1st. Anglers are dragging Rogue River Rigs, a combination spinner/anchovy rig which has been successful at fooling these early fallies. Showers starting this weekend will do little to alleviate low, clear water conditions in the lower Rogue. Catches of springers and summer steelhead are slow due to the skinny water. Would that prospects on the middle Rogue were batter but that’s not the case. Non-productive for most of 2016, it has been, too use the vernacular of the locals, “dead.” The better fishing is definitely on the upper river, despite a similar low water situation. Spring Chinook returns are less than one-third of the 10-year average and the worst in at least a decade by a large and disturbing margin. On the other hand, summer steelhead returns are well above the 10-year average although it’s still early in that run. Early fish are also some of the larger specimens, which makes targeting them worthwhile. Particularly given that most Rogue steelhead weigh in a 10 pounds or less. The word is that three-quarters of the springers hooked in the Rogue have been wild above Fishers Ferry, the former deadline has been moved to Dodge Bridge, above which no wild Chinook may be kept. Using smaller plugs or back-bouncing bait have been effective techniques.

Salmon fishing has been rewarding out of the Port of Brookings wit coho allowed in the take now. Chinook are in the same area but are caught deeper in the water column; generally, 120 feet or so. With better fishing to the south, it is advised that boaters be careful not to cross over into California waters. Fishing for rockfish has been good while ling cod fishing has been fair to good. As is the case out of most ports, the majority of the rockfish taken here a blacks but there have been some jumbos, many of which were near the six-pound mark. Halibut may be taken offshore out of Brooking seven days a week with most coming on bait-tipped jigs out of a couple of hundred feet of water.

Trout fishing has remained good at Diamond Lake with fish scattered and bait still most effective. Fly anglers have gotten into the swing on days when the wind is mild. Mornings have been best with overcast days extending effecti8ve fishing hours. This means there should be plenty of productive fishing as clouds move in over the next few days.

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