Central & South Oregon Coast Fishing Reports for July 22nd

Some boats reported fair bottom fishing out of Depoe Bay while others said it was good. Crabbing continues to be good but culling soft ones is still required. Salmon fishing seemed to slow dramatically mid-week.

Offshore trolling for Chinook and coho had been pretty good out of Newport and Depoe Bay. It was decent over the past weekend and through Tuesday this week bit most anglers couldn’t coax a bite Wednesday and Thursday (today). With reports of 55 to 60-degree water just outside and another of 64.7 at the rock pile, perhaps these ocean fishers should try for a different species. When the bite was on, trolled herring, pink hoochies with silver flasher and green hoochies, green flasher all were scoring salmon.

Captain Mike of Nalu Charters skippered the Sea-J out of Depoe Bay on Wednesday this week to return with all the albacore the boat would carry. Another skipper remarked that he fished the same area just the day before and blanked. Captain Mikes advice to tuna hunters is to rotate through all the available lures to find out what will get bit and “don’t give up too soon if there are fish under you on a stop.”

As of July 15th and through the rest of the year, fishing for ‘groundfish’ will be restricted to the 20-fathom curve. Groundfish is the ODFW term for rockfish which includes Cabazon, greenling and all flatfishes except for Pacific halibut. The reason for the restriction was the bite anglers took out of the quota for endangered rockfish in the pursuit of other bottom-dwellers, the yelloweye. Every yelloweye caught and improperly released will become a floater where it is easily seen, counted and deducted from the quote and there have been a bunch of those lately. The ODFW believes moving the groundfish restriction to 20 fathoms or less, bycatch of yelloweye rockfish will be reduced. The alter4native is unpleasant. If the allowable by-catch quota of yelloweye is reached, all offshore bottom fishing will be closed for the remainder of 2016. Using a Rockfish Descender will save any of those critters (such as Yelloweye Rockfish) which may be landed but are protected and must be released. Sporting goods stores have ‘em or they’re available from online vendors from $6 to $50. Alternately, a DIY Rockfish descender is available at the link on our weekly links post.

While nearshore halibut generally produces fish which are smaller than those taken from deep water haunts, the fishery is open seven days a week and out to 40 fathoms.

See ‘Random Links’ at the end of the newsletter for a list of Waypoints corresponding to seasonal offshore bottom fishing.

Professional angling author, publisher and blogger of all things fishy, Reedsport’s Pete Heley (peteheley.com) A friend of mine talked me into watching a fishing show last week in which the featured guide twice made statements about the size of the yellow perch in Idaho’s Cascade Lake that were obviously untrue to the point of being ridiculous. The guide stated that the record yellow perch was more than eleven and a half pounds (11.688 to be exact).

The world record for yellow perch is a New Jersey fish of slightly more than four pounds – a record that has not even been threatened in more than 150 years.

While the guide’s claim might get him a few new clients, it will almost certainly cost him clients that realize he is completely disconnected from fishing reality. The current record perch from Cascade Lake and the Idaho state record weighed 2.96 pounds and was caught in late February of this year. The incredibly fat fish only measured 15.63 inches in length.

The wild claim from the Idaho fishing guide started me thinking about some other ridiculous state record fish claims. One such record is for brown bullhead catfish for Washington state. The 11.04 pound state record is nearly fifty percent heavier than the IGFA world record of seven pounds and six ounces.

Perhaps to make up for it – the Washington state record for blue catfish is ridiculously small at 17 pounds 12 ounces for North America’s largest catfish. In fact, the weight of the Washington record blue cat is less than thirteen percent of the weight of the IGFA record blue cat of 143 pounds from Virginia. My opinion is that Washington’s record blue cat was a misidentified channel catfish and their record brown bullhead was a misidentified channel, flathead or white catfish.

Oregon is not immune to misidentifying jumbo fish. Years ago, a Bend area ODFW district biologist identified a trout of more than eleven pounds from Suttle Lake as a brook trout – even though a black and white photo of the fish definitely appeared to be of a brown trout. At the time, Oregon’s record brookie was an uncertified five pounder from Mink Lake. It is possible that one of the rare brookies in Blue Lake journeyed down Link Creek into Suttle lake and then grew to incredible size amid Suttle’s healthy brown trout population, but that scenario is so extremely unlikely that I cannot bring myself to even consider it.

While on the subject of state fish records, here are some of the most likely to be broken in the Pacific Northwest. Washington warmouth, Washington flathead catfish, Washington white crappie, Oregon yellow perch, Oregon pumpkinseed sunfish. Washington’s record warmouth weighed .53 pounds and it was caught only an hour’s drive of Oregon’s record warmouth of one pound 14.2 ounces caught in Columbia Slough. I’ve talked to a couple of serious anglers that fish southwest Washington’s Silver Lake where the record warmouth was caught and they stated that they have caught warmouths of about a pound – but like almost every other angler, they did not bother to get it officially weighed for record consideration. Still, the fact that Oregon’s record warmouth weighs more than three and a half times what the Silver Lake record weighs should bother more than a few Washington state anglers.

Washington’s state record flathead catfish came out of the same Snake River system that produced the Oregon and Idaho flathead records. But at 22.80 pounds, it is barely one-half the size of the Oregon record (42 pounds) or one-third the size of the Idaho record (58.5 pounds).

Washington’s state record white crappie of 2.80 pounds is smaller than Idaho’s (3.0 pounds) and Oregon’s (4.75 pounds) and much smaller than Washington’s state record black crappie of 4.5 pounds.

Of course the easiest way to get a state record fish is to catch a fish species that is newly eligible for state record consideration – and Oregon does not keep records on a bunch of fish species including virtually all saltwater species as well as common carp. Oregon also does not differentiate between the various species of bullhead catfish – instead lumping the various species under the category of bullhead catfish.

The biggest recent news flash regarding Oregon fishing is the bottomfishing closure for waters more than twenty fathoms or 120 feet deep that went into effect on July 15th. The reason for the closure is to protect yelloweye rockfish which usually inhabit deeper water but were being hooked often enough by anglers fishing near the thirty fathom line to justify amending the restriction, which is expected to be in effect through the end of this year.

The Umpqua River pinkfin run is starting to wind down and while there is plenty of perch still hanging out in the spawning area above Winchester Bay it is getting harder to find the perch or entice them to bite. While there are still good catches made daily, the fishing success is becoming less consistent.

Crabbing seems to have hit a plateau at Winchester Bay recently, but should continue to gradually improve through mid to late fall and while river crabbing is legal the entire year, ocean crabbing will close the last half of October and the entire month of November.

Rough bar and ocean conditions have limited the ocean salmon catch and the 26,000 fish quota for finclipped coho salmon has hardly been touched. Most of the fishing pressure and salmon catch for our zone has been out of Garibaldi, but as of July 10th, less than two percent of the ocean finclipped coho quota has been caught.

An Umpqua River exception was Chris McAyeal who trolled from the Umpqua River Bar north to Tahkenitch Creek on Saturday and Sunday with one partner and kept a two-day boat limit of two Chinooks and six finclipped coho. However the largest salmon taken recently have been Chinooks in the 25 pound class taken on the Umpqua River within a couple miles downriver of Reedsport.

Unfortunately, warm river temperatures and windy ocean conditions mean the best time to fish both the river and the ocean is early morning – making it less feasible to fish both.

Leona Morby landed her first Chinook salmon this year while fishing near Reedsport with Jamie Standifer.

reedsport.

On those days when offshore conditions aren’t friendly enough for your boat (or kayak), fishing has been quite rewarding inside Coos Bay where anglers are catching ling cod regularly (the area around the bridge is good), hooked Chinook on occasion and taking fair to good numbers of Dungeness (although it’s still better outside).

Tuna anglers may be heard to talk about “driving over fish.” Here’s one example. On Wednesday this week, a sport boat launched out of Charleston in search of the hot tuna fishing he’d read about. Launching early, he ventured far offshore and water temperatures up to the mid-60s bit no albacore. As he headed back to port, he scratched out a couple but just 10 miles out he found himself in the middle of jumping tuna. No, he didn’t load the boat at the last moment. In fact, he couldn’t get a fish in that final pod to hit anything. But he may well have avoided putting over 200 miles on his boat and motor, not to mention the $200 fuel bill had he dropped lines closer to the beach.

Charters out of Gold Beach have been in feast or famine mode over the past week with wind prohibiting offshore launches some days and even making Rogue Bay trolling a challenge at times. Skippers endured on those blustery days, hover, always managing to take some bright Chinook on the troll. And when the ocean has cooperated, boats have been blessed with great numbers of colorful rockfish, limits of ling cod and stuffed pots that necessitated sorting legal-sized crabs for primo limits. Salmon fishing in the Rogue Bay has been fair one day — moderately mediocre the next, but those who are putting in the effort are being rewarded with some chrome-bright kings in the 20-pound class. Salmon fishing in the Rogue Bay has been fair one day, slow the next, but those who are putting in their time (as salmon fishers are wont to say) are being rewarded with some chrome-bright kings in the 20-pound class. In the lower Rogue, a few dozen boats a day are hitting the bay and they’re really getting into the early-run fall chinook. Reports of three to four fish per boat daily are excellent for this time of year. Trolling smallish anchovies with the Rogue blade rig is best. Fishing is best near the mouth and around the bridge. Steelheaders on the middle Rogue are catching summer steelhead daily now, primarily on spinners, jigs and bait. Action has continued on the upper Rogue where spring Chinook and winter steelhead are being taken regularly on smaller plugs or on back-bounced bait. Upper river flows are low with water in Lost Creek reservoir is being held back to give fall Chinook a boost when those fish start running upriver. The stretch below Do0dge Bridge on the upper river, where anglers nay keep one wild Chinook as part of the two-fish limit, is still getting the greater amount of pressure.

Fishing remains good at Diamond Lake, where a visitor last weekend spontaneously rented the charter boat as a treat for his family. The reward was smiling, happy kids and seven full trout limits in an hour and a half.