One charter, Dockside, referred to the closure of the offshore hatchery coho fishery “merciful.” Yeah, it hasn’t been a great fishery this year, no secret to those who’ve tried, but optimism is guardedly
high for the upcoming w3ild coho season which starts off the central coast on September. Referred to colloquially as “kill ‘em all,” coho salmon may be kept whether fin-clipped or not.
While albacore have moved ‘way-far’ offshore this week, experienced tuna fishers fret not, as they are well aware how good catches can be in late August and well into September. Then they seem to talk about some weight-challenged, female vocalist as being the harbinger of the true end of season. This mournful tune is wailed if conditions don’t allow fishing or tune move out and stay out. But that’ll be a good, long while. Incidentally, for those with truly ocean-worth craft equipped with large fuel tanks, a sport boat of such a description launched out of Newport on Wednesday this week, taking albacore trolling, fishing bait and throwing iron. They caught all they could hold on board but traveled over 65 miles offshore – and back – to do it.
Ocean halibut fishing continues inside the 30-fathom line seven days a week. Results have been fair with over 50% or 12,698 pounds remaining in the quota. Summer all-depth halibut opened August 5th with fishing continuing on the 6th. With about 9,500 pounds over the initial opener, roughly 40,000 pounds remain in the quota so it will open again on August 18th and 19th with this fishery scheduled to continue every other Thursday and Friday until the quota is wiped out. With 84% of the Southern Coast halibut fishery remaining, they’ll be fishing every day without depth restrictions for a while.
Many bottom fishers are aware that the recent move to limit offshore fishing for rockfish and lings to 20 fathoms or shallower was in an effort to reduce mortality to the endangered yelloweye rockfish. Halibut fishing can contribute to yelloweye mortality as well, so the OPDFW has released a map where halibut are but fewer of the verboten fish are present. See Random Links, of course!
Well-known local icon, author and publisher of all tomes fishy, Pete Heley (peteheley.com) report from Reedsport, “There has been a surprising number of recent changes regarding Oregon fishing. While a lot of people are excited about now being able to fish with two rods on additional Oregon coastal rivers, the 2-rod license on the Umpqua River only extends from the Umpqua River Bar upriver to the Scottsburg Bridge. While a boat with one or two anglers can benefit by trolling with more baits in the water, the advantage will decrease as more anglers are in the boat.
“This fall, there will almost certainly be anglers fishing Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile Lakes that will not realize that their 2-rod licenses are not valid on these three lakes from October 1st through December. I’ve already heard salmon anglers excitedly talk about using their 2-rod licenses to fish for salmon in the ocean. However, 2-rod licenses are definitely not valid for ocean fishing, but since people tend to hear what they want to hear and decide what they read really means, I envision some citations in the future.
“Had some tough questions asked recently by anglers towing their boats into Oregon from other states. Motorized boats not registered in Oregon need to pay $22.00 for an invasive species permit, but according to the Oregon Marine Board, they have up to 60 days before they have to get the boater education card that Oregon residents need to have to legally operate motorized craft in Oregon waters.
“Crabbing in the ocean remains productive when the ocean is accessible. This year it seems the most productive depth has been 50 to 55 feet, but in past years it was 25 to 35 feet. So far this summer, crabbing in Half Moon Bay has been good, but suffers a noticeable drop-off if one goes even a short distance farther upriver.
“Fishing for Chinook salmon on the Umpqua River below Reedsport was terrible the weekend of July 30th and 31st, but much improved this last week. They are still catching some good-sized Chinooks below Reedsport, but the lower Umpqua near the bar and at spots like Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point are starting to produce salmon more consistently and are suffering the increased fishing pressure that comes with the improved fishing.
“Consistent ocean winds have greatly limited the fishing pressure directed at tuna and halibut and it is very likely that there will be an additional halibut opener on August 19th and 20th.
“The finclipped ocean coho season closed Sunday evening with barely seven percent of the 26,000 quota caught. Because of a less than rosy coho salmon forecast, despite limited catches from ocean coho anglers, the ODFW decided last week to not have a season on Oregon’s coastal rivers for wild or unclipped coho salmon (nonselective). Anglers can still pursue finclipped coho salmon, which are legal fare in the Umpqua River all year, but the nonselective coho season was the easiest way for a bank angler to hook and be able to keep a coho salmon.
“It appears that the nonselective ocean coho season will still run from September 3rd through September 30th, or until the 7,500 coho salmon quota is caught – if earlier. With good coho numbers and decent fishing conditions, this season could be very short.
“There are a few anglers still unaware that bottomfishing is no longer allowed in ocean waters deeper than 120 feet.
“Cathy Reiss, of Ringo’s Lakeside Marina on South Tenmile Lake reported that big bass are being reported almost daily and that one boat caught several yellow perch in the ten inch class and a 31-inch rainbow trout (possibly a very tardy steelhead) while fishing near the large railroad trestle crossing North Tenmile Lake. She also reported the good fishing for brown bullheads in June and July has dropped off and the bluegills that were spawning near their marina in June had moved to deeper water. Hopefully, Tenmile’s bluegill fishery will rebound to its former level of productivity.
“While the larger coastal lakes have a few planted, native and searun trout still in them, they are seldom active except in the early morning. Trout plants for the Reedsport area will resume when Lake Marie gets 800 trophy rainbows during the week beginning August 22nd and 500 legals the following week. Other trout prospects include the Siltcoos River between the lake and the dam located about three miles below the lake and the faster-flowing, more narrow sections of Tenmile Creek.
“As a precautionary measure, ODFW will not propose any coastal freshwater fisheries on wild Coho this fall due to concerns over poor ocean survival and adequate spawning escapement to coastal rivers this year.
“The Fish and Wildlife Commission was scheduled to consider a limited fishery in the Coos, Coquille and Umpqua rivers and Tenmile Lake at its meeting in Salem this Friday, but ODFW has decided to not move forward with the proposal.
“ODFW had already decided earlier this year to not propose coastal freshwater fisheries on wild Coho on the north and central coast,” said ODFW Ocean Salmon Technical Resources Manager Christine Mallette. “Today’s decision to also not propose any coastal freshwater fisheries in the SW Zone is responsive to concerns that the wild Coho run may be lower than anticipated.”
“Wild Coho seasons in Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes as well as federally authorized ocean fisheries are not impacted by this decision.”
A little elation was inevitable, even though the fishing was less than stellar, as boats were able to launch out of Gold Beach over the past weekend. It had been just over two weeks that offshore wind couples with rough ocean conditions had prevented boats from getting out of Gold Beach. Once out, boats managed limits for ‘most everybody as well as a decent haul of ocean Dungeness. When charters have returned early, trolling Rogue Bay has been a productive endeavor as it’s estimated that boats have taken as many as 40 to 50 Chinook in a day here. Bay salmon have scaled at 20 to 30 pounds with a few even larger and these fish are being taken by bank fishers as well in the Indian Creek area. Trolling small anchovies on a Rogue spinner rig is responsible for the majority of Chinook mortality by angler intervention which has been occurring here daily. The best results for bait-draggers has been near the mouth and around the bridge. Despite predictions that Rogue River flows would fall below the 2000 cfs mark at Agness this week (which would be the first time in 2016), it has stubbornly stayed just barely above that and this week’s predictions have flows at 2,020 or so over the next 10 days. A few summer steelhead and few Chinook are making their way upstream, allowing anglers in the middle river to enjoy slow to fair results for them. One of the better places to fish, however, is below Dodge Bridge, where wild and hatchery spring chinook and hatchery steelhead are available for catch and keep action.
Downriver of Dodge Bridge, anglers fishing roe or plugs are hooking a mix of summer steelhead and late-run spring chinook. Wild springers can now be kept downstream of Dodge Bridge but not all of them are in great shape. Above the bridge, a mix of roe, plugs and flies are enticing summer steelhead most evenings and mornings although hot days are not nearly as productive.
The early summer steelhead run continues to accumulate impressive and above-average numbers at Cole Rivers hatchery and catches are reflecting the strong run this season. Upper river flows increased slightly on Wednesday this week from 1,650 to 1,700 cfs as part of the Army Corps of Engineers plan to encourage salmon to move upstream to spawning grounds without having to crawl over gravel on their bellies. They hate that. Most springer have hit plugs on the upper Rogue although smaller sizes will also fool steelhead. Another versatile bait which will entice either or both is drifted, cured eggs.
Even during the nasty offshore conditions of the past two weeks, a few boaters were savvy enough to slip out of Brookings Harbor early in the day when the wind was least troublesome. This allowed these boaters to take limits of rockfish (mostly blacks) and some nice ling cod.
With rainbow trout scattered at Diamond Lake, fishing remains fair to good with best catches occurring in the mornings. Bait fishers are still catching more fish than trollers although fly anglers throwing Chironomid patterns have been cleaning up.