Bottom fishing has been so darned good offshore that reference has been made to limiting a boat on ling cod in 10 to 15 minutes. Rockfish catches have been nearly that good with a variety taken as a variety is allowed now.
Incidentally, ocean lings are reported to be anything but picky about what they’ll hit when the bite is wide open as it has been. Bait or lures, it hasn’t made much difference as it seems they’d bite anything.
In the 2017 regulations, while there may be a bit of confusion at first, the allowance is generous, as two ling cod are still allowed along with seven rockfish, as before. The makeup of those seven fish is different this year: up to six fish of a limit may be Black Rockfish, Up to four may be Blue/Deacon, China, Quillback or Copper Rockfish. Since up to seven Canary Rockfish are allowed, the entire limit could be made of of Canaries – but that’s not too likely. Cabezon may not be kept at this time.
Possibly of greatest importance and the first major change in offshore bottom fishing is that descenders are required. These devices allow groundfish to be returned to the depths from whence they came with out suffering ‘Nitrogen Narcosis’ (the bends). It is not legal fo fish for rockfish or ling cod in 2017 and beyond without one!
As good as bottom fishing has been, it might be easy to overlook crabbing. Don’t. It’s been more than worthwhile to drop pots on the way out as crab are plentiful, hard and extra-large we’ve mentioned previously that as good as fishing and crabbing can be in the wintertime, opportunities when wind and wave are sufficiently cooperative to allow launching are rare. Not so this weekend when conditions look great on Friday and Saturday, good on Sunday. Don’t take our word (or anyone’s) about the conditions; check for yourself on the day of launch. Last-minute changes in the weather can be unpleasant, even dangerous at this time of year.
While harvesting of razor clams is disallowed coast-wide at this time, bay and butter clams may be taken and mussel harvesting remains open everywhere in Oregon.
Over the past week, periods of calm seas and light coastal breezes had long-rodders hitting the beaches for surf perch. Fishing has been good on these calmer days, even in mid-winter, with several anglers taking 15-fish limits which is great if none are wasted.
Author, publisher and prolific blogger, Pete Heley (peteheley.com) reports to us from Reedsport, “The current issue of In-Fisherman has a very interesting article in their “Bits and Pieces” section regarding hooks in sturgeon. To be more exact, the article dealt with fish hooks ingested by white sturgeon in the Pacific Northwest.
“Fishery personnel in Idaho have “autopsied” a few sturgeon each year that were found dead in the Hells Canyon section of the Snake River. Some of the dead sturgeon were found to contain hooks in their digestive tracts – including some hook types and sizes not associated with sturgeon fishing. This led the biologists to conclude that the hook types normally associated with fishing for steelhead and smallmouth bass were ingested by the sturgeon while lying on the bottom after breaking off or becoming untied.
“This finding led to a more comprehensive study where 352 sturgeon were captured and scanned before being released. 31 percent of the sturgeon scanned were determined to have fish hooks inside them and as one could logically assume, larger, older sturgeon were found to be more likely to have ingested fish hooks.
“Sixty four percent of the hooks found inside sturgeon were the size and type associated with sturgeon fishing and 36 percent were hook types used to pursue other fish species and a strong majority of the hooks were laying on the bottom when the sturgeon ingested them.
“An encouraging finding was that some of the sturgeon that had swallowed fish hooks were found, upon recapture, to have successfully passed them.
“While more studies are definitely needed, the state of Idaho changed its sturgeon fishing regulations to require a sliding sinker attached to a weaker line and tied in such a way that when the sinker is snagged, it will break before the main line, allowing the hook to be retrieved.
“Now that descender devices are mandatory for anglers fishing for bottomfish in waters more than 180 feet deep, similar, but smaller descending devices should at least be encouraged for use when fishing near the bottom in some of the deeper coastal lakes. Woahink and Munsel lakes are both deep enough that yellow perch hooked near the bottom and quickly brought to the surface may suffer the same air bladder problems that plague bottomfish hauled up from the ocean depths. The solution to releasing such fish relatively unharmed – is to quickly get them back down to the depth they were hooked at. A smaller version of a descending device with eight ounces to a pound of weight would definitely get the job done.
“By the way, saltwater salmon and bottomfish enthusiasts should consider attending this year’s Saltwater Sportsman Show which will be held on February 25th and 26th in the Jackman-Long building on the Oregon State Fairgrounds. The show is presented by OCEAN (Oregon Coalition For Educating Anglers).
“Other shows of interest to Oregon’s outdoor enthusiasts include: The KEZI Eugene Boat and Sportsman Show on Feb. 3rd through the 5th at the Lane County Convention Center (corrected); The Pacific Northwest Sportsman Show from Feb. 10th through 14th at the Portland Expo Center; The SERVPRO Sportsmen’s and Outdoor Recreation Show at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Roseburg from Feb. 19th through the 21st; The KDRV Sportsmen’s and Outdoor Recreation Show from Feb. 26th through the 28th at the Jackson County Expo Center in Medford and the Central Oregon’s Sportsmen Show from March 3rd through the 6th at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in Redmond.
“Anglers wishing to fish for fish species other than steelhead have a few options. A few locations have received plants of broodstock rainbows and the closest place was Junction City Pond on the west side of Highway 99 south of Junction City. Trout to at least eight pounds were caught last week and the pond’s plants for this year should start the second week in January. Slightly warmer temperatures should perk up the yellow perch bite and the next two months should offer anglers the year’s best chance at catching a jumbo pre-spawn perch at its heaviest weight.
“The heaviest walleyes on the Columbia River are caught during February of most years. Some of Oregon’s heaviest largemouth bass are caught during February and March. Trout plants for waters along the Oregon coast should resume in March with the earliest plants in the Florence-area lakes – but the trout stocking schedule is not yet posted on the ODFW website.
“Reedsport-area residents can dispose of their basic Christmas trees through the month of January by dropping them off at the Les Schwab lot in Reedsport. The Oregon Coast Anglers (OCA) will use them for habitat enhancement in a few smaller steelhead/trout streams in western Douglas County.
“I found the following article by Huffington Post reporter Ryan Grenoble most interesting.
““The neurotoxin domoic acid inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” after hundreds of sooty shearwaters ingested the poison in the summer of 1961 and, well, lost their minds.
“The crazed birds likely consumed domoic acid via small fish like anchovies and sardines. It also tends to collect in shellfish, like clams, crabs and lobsters. And, according to a study published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it may become more prevalent as oceans warm, threatening birds and humans alike.
“Researchers at Oregon State University, the University of Oregon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife studied the prevalence of domoic acid over the past 20 years in the Pacific Northwest, and found it strongly correlated with water temperatures that are warmer than normal.
“For now, warmer waters typically stem from events like El Niño and a decades-long climate cycle called “Pacific decadal oscillation,” the study found. It isn’t yet clear how climate change, which also warms the oceans, might affect the toxin’s prevalence.
“When water’s unusually warm off our coast, it’s because the circulation and patterns in the atmosphere has changed, bringing warm water from elsewhere — and this is happening at the same time that we also see high domoic acid in shellfish,” Morgaine McKibben, a doctoral student at Oregon State and the study’s lead author, told E&E News.
““It has a very strong mechanistic connection,” McKibben added.
“The toxin is produced by some species of pseudo-nitzschia ― a type of phytoplankton ― during warm algae blooms, and gets passed up the food chain by animals that eat it. Sea lions, otters, dolphins (and other cetaceans) and humans all are at risk, notes the Marine Mammal Center.
“While some animals can eventually cleanse themselves of the toxin, the threat can persist long after the warm water recedes.
““For example, razor clams are filter-feeders that bioaccumulate this toxin in their muscles, so they take much longer to flush it out than other shellfish,” McKibben said in a statement. “The higher the toxin levels, the longer it takes for razor clams to be safe to eat again, perhaps up to a year after warm ocean conditions have subsided.”
“Animals poisoned by domoic acid tend to become lethargic and disoriented, and experience seizures and death. Symptoms in humans include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal cramps, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Severe cases can lead to headache, dizziness, confusion, loss of short-term memory, motor weakness, seizures, profuse respiratory secretions, cardiac arrhythmia and coma.
“It isn’t just a health risk. An Oregon State University statement notes that officials have to shut down shellfish harvests when domoic acid levels are high, causing economic harm.
“Since health officials first identified domoic acid as a health threat in 1987, Pacific Northwest shellfish harvests have been halted in 2003, 2015, and 2016. The West Coast crab industry took an estimated $100 million hit in 2015 alone, Oregon State University said.”
“Saltwater salmon and bottomfish enthusiasts should consider attending this year’s Saltwater Sportsman Show which will be held on February 25th and 26th in the Jackman-Long building on the Oregon State Fairgrounds. The show is presented by OCEAN (Oregon Coalition For Educating Anglers).
As early as Friday, January 6th, the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service was predicting a major water event to take place on the lower Rogue River as soon as Monday this week. That’s pretty good given all the variables effecting flows here, not to mention forecasting the unpredictable southwest Oregon weather. As it came to pass, the water event started on Monday, January 6th, causing the lower Rogue to push past the ‘Action Level- of 13 feet at Agness by Tuesday, the 9th. By midnight on January 10th, the water had blasted past the 17-foot ‘Flood Stage’ to crest at 22 feet and that’s a lotta water. Early in the morning on January 19th, the water started dropping and doing so energetically, from 33 feet once again back to 17, then this morning, Thursday, J angary 12th, the Rogue had achieved something approaching normalcy at 13 feet water depth at Agness bet was still clipping along at 33,700 cfs. However, dropping this trend is predicted to continue through the middle of the week to come, achieving something along the line of a seven foot depth and flow of 13,500 cfs by January 17th. Even the outflow at Lost Greek was effected by this high water event, rising from 1,530 to 2,270. Sure, that’s not much but compare it to the more common “no change at all.” This particular freshet was dramatic in scale though, thankfully, not in duration due to the combination of precipitation and snowmelt, the latter of which added significantly to the mass of water. The effect curve of this freshet is reflected up and down the Rogue, which means plunkers may find a few in the off-color water of the lower Rogue but, for the most part, fishing will be postponed until the water further drops and clears in the coming week. Think upper Rogue at that time. This is plenty of water to draw them up that high.
Hike thee to the Chetco this weekend instead as waters here will be in the fishable range starting at ~7,500 on Saturday [early], then dropping to ~2,500 cfs by late Sunday. There will be some fine fishing flows in the course of the weekend!
Power Bait and nightcrawlers have been effective baits for trout at Diamond Lake. Estimates of ice thickness have varied widely; more like guesses that estimates, it would seem. Today, we received a believable report of “about six inches” and that is sufficient to support anglers who have been auguring there.