Central & South Oregon Coast Fishing Reports for July 29th

One thing people often forget when booking a charter
or as a guest on a sport boat, particularly during the scorching (or just darned hot) weather in the
Willamette Valley. These conditions often generate wind and fog on the coast. Offshore, these conditions are
amplified, it’s windier and colder. Dress appropriately!

Gray whales are migrating and we are hearing reports of many sightings in Depoe Bay. The Oregon State Parks is a good place to check them out.

Bottom fishing remains excellent out of Depoe Bay where good numbers of rockfish and ling cod have been taken this week, often in spite of the wind.

The ocean and bays are open to crabbing coast wide, and ocean crabbing has improved along the South Coast. During the summer molt, most soft-shelled crab are released soft-shelled crabs as the meat content is low. These are lightweight in the hand as well. Tastes vary but a few have expressed a preference for this sparse, water meat but it sure takes a lot of ‘em to make and oddball meal.

Crabbing has been worthwhile on Alsea Bay out of Waldport but sea lions are dominating the bay and, with the exception of you and I, are on the top of the food chain. Bait traps with something pinnipeds dislike, such as turkey, shad or chicken to do well here.

Retention of wild coho begins in just five weeks. Yep, non-hatchery, unclipped ocean coho may be kept starting September 3rd and continuing through September 30th unless the quota of 7,500 fish is caught first. While anglers are in the process of catching wild silvers, finclipped fish can be kept as well which has offshore boaters’ heads filled with visions of quick limits. Take advantage of this opportunity early in the season. Offshore boats have been reporting catches of mostly wild Coho which they couldn’t keep and that these have been considerably larger than the hatchery fish which they could keep.

Commercial salmon efforts out of Yaquina Bay have been doing well fishing Northwest of Newport in 480 feet of water. Another area which has been quite productive for these commercial fishers in similar depths is on a northerly course north of the rockpile.

I had heard last week from charter buddy that a group of trollers was working in 80 fathoms inside the banana (NW of Newport). Then on Friday coming in from tuna, we crossed them as they were working a long stretch in 70 – 80 fathoms, from N of the rockpile for many miles north. Then later we heard that some of them were doing really well….. big counts.

The Siletz River is a dandy summer steelhead str4eam and fishes well for bank anglers. Another good bet is the Sea Run cutthroat fishery which is just startin up. There are 17 miles of tidewater here but tsea runs will stick around brackish or transitional water at this time of year. Morgan Park is as good a spot as any to try now with fish heading upstream where they’ll be found in mid-August or so.

Lament not the lack of a boat as beach angling for surf perch requires no specialized tackle. Anglers casting into the surf in the Florence area are doing well with one young angler remarking the only thing which kept him short of a limit was that he ran out of clam necks!

The first of two Oregon Tuna Classic tournaments has come and gone, with the initial get-together over the past couple of days in Ilwaco a riot of fun. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this worthwhile competition which has donated over a million pounds of food to the needy. Next up is Garibaldi on August 26th & 27th with registration for entry closing August 21st. If this is of interest, hie thee to Random Links in the nether region of our beloved newsletter.

Albacore fishing has been so good out of Coos Bay that tuna hunters from Brookings have regularly been hauling their boats to Charleston Harbor to take part in the bounty. How good is it? Larry Ellis, fishing columnist, Curry Pilot newspaper, stated that boats launching out of Coos Bay are experiencing “some of the best tuna fishing that I have ever seen in my 35 years of living in this area.” The skipper of one recreational boat travelled 44 miles out earlier this week landed 28 albies three of which were 30 to 34 pounds, every one of which hit zucchini clones. An older couple on another sport boat caught over 40 from 25 to 35 pounds. They’re probably still carking them.

Since albacore just aren’t put together as other species are not (barring other tuna species, of course). If you’ve been lucky enough to catch a few (or a few more than that) help is on the way in the form a slick video, the link to which is in Random Links, below. Imagine heading out well before the sun rises, boating around 40 tuna to return to port after dark. Now offload the boats & clean ‘em. Hopefully, you have help as the ‘how-to’ video is just over five minutes and that guy’s real good! Single-handed, you’d finish sometime after 1 AM. Now head home to relax and soothe those aching – hold on – that boat still needs cleaning before you hook it up and haul it home in time for breakfast.

Fishing sage and author of numerous books on the subject, Pete Heley (peteheley.com) reports from Reedsport:

The pinkfin fishery in the Umpqua River above Winchester Bay has slowed way down. There are still fair numbers of surfperch in the spawning area of the river, but they are getting more difficult to find and the bite is definitely becoming less predictable. The surfperch bite on area beaches is still going strong, but windy conditions often make fishing the surf difficult.

Ocean salmon fishing has generally not been good. Of course there are the rare exceptions each day where a few anglers achieve boat limits, but overall, the fishing is very slow. The last report on the ODFW website with data through July 17th, showed that only 4.2 percent of the 26,000 finclipped coho salmon quota had been caught and retained. It definitely appears that the season will not be ending early since the quota will not be met and the season will run through August 7th. Ocean fishing for Chinook salmon will remain open through October 15th.

Not only have finclipped cohos been hard to find. but they seem to be running smaller than the unkeepable wild cohos. A few anglers have reported catching fair numbers of Chinook salmon too small to keep, but some of them measured 23-inches and should meet the 24-inch minimum length limit for the ocean if hooked again in a couple of weeks. Ocean coho salmon have to be finclipped and at least 16-inches in length to be legal to keep.

Over the next several weeks salmon fishing will improve in the lower Umpqua River and while jack or immature salmon are not recognized in the ocean, they are in the river. A jack coho salmon must be at least 15-inches in length, but no more than 20-inches in length – if it is longer than 20-inches it is considered an adult and must be marked on the angler’s combined angling tag. All kept coho salmon, jacks or adults must be finclipped, except when relatively short seasons that allow keeping unclipped cohos in the ocean or rivers are in effect and those seasons are well-publicized.

Chinook jacks in the river must also be at least 15-inches in length and up to 24-inches. Over 24-inches and they are considered an adult Chinook salmon and must be promptly marked on an angler’s combined angling tag if kept. Chinook salmon do not have to be finclipped to be legal to keep.

Some of the more surprising statistics regarding this season’s ocean salmon fishing is that Garibaldi continues to lead in angler trips with 3,255 (more than twice as many as Winchester Bay (1,508) or Newport (1,378) and Newport has produced more Chinooks than Winchester Bay (126 to 84). In fairness to Winchester Bay – most of its Chinooks have come out of the river between Winchester Bay and Reedsport and were not counted as part of the ocean catch.

The best reports out of Winchester Bay have come from boat crabbers. Jim and Jinny Pardee, of Eugene crabbed the lower end of Half Moon Bay late Saturday afternoon and caught fourteen good-sized male crabs in less than two hours. Also on Saturday, several boats made very good catches while crabbing the ocean in 55 feet of water. While dock crabbers have yet to enjoy the same levels of success as enjoyed by boat crabbers, dock crabbing should improve steadily through late summer and fall. Spring Chinook fishing has been quite good for most anglers on the Umpqua lately. One long-time south coast angler called it ‘vitamin fishing – One A Day. At least it has been recently (on the outgoing tide!).

Early morning bass and panfishing is very productive and very warm days often mean that bass won’t become active until well after dark. If a bass angler wanted to cherry pick a productive two hour time period, the last hour before daybreak through the first hour after dawn would be a good choice.

Which brings me to one of the most common mistakes many anglers make on a fishing trip – expecting the fish to adjust to your time schedule. or preferences. A lot of anglers make this mistake and, in private, I refer to them as under-achievers. The most successful anglers plan their fishing efforts for when their targeted fish is likely to be active or likely to bite.

Kudos to the Coos County Bass Masters, an online Facebook bass club that has managed to ferret out some very-much-overlooked fishing spots and then through practicing catch and release, make sure they don’t ruin them for others. I commend them for realizing that area bass fishing does not begin and end at Tenmile Lakes and for some of the genuine lunkers they have hooked in seemingly insignificant waters.

News of a 41-pound Chinook caught in Rogue Bay over the past weekend has peaked the interest of trollers who would just love to do the same. Rogue bay has been quite productive with decent catches of early fall chinook and late springers. Trolling is almost exclusively the method used to land this fish and using an anchovy on a Rogue Spinner is darned near mandatory. Not really but it sure is effective, particularly near the mouth of the bay and around the bridge. There have been lots of jacks in the bay as well. Lower Rogue summer steelhead are starting to show up in catchable numbers and are a kick to chase in shallow water. Use stealth tactics and fish early and late in water this clear. The middle river has been the red-headed step-child of the Rogue River with ho-hum reports coming in often for this stretch over the past several weeks. Now that a few late springers have joined fresh summer steelhead in their upri9ver trip through the middle Rogue. Anglers on this stretch are catching them with regularity. Fishing on the upper Rogue is still pretty darned good for spring Chinook and winter steelhead. As has been the case recently, the stretch below Dodge Bridge is getting a lot more pressure because anglers can keep a wild chinook as part of the two-fish daily limit. While there are a greater number of salmon are above Shady Cove, these are mostly wild and a far greater number are being released. Pulling smaller-sized plugs on the upper river has been effective in attracting both steelhead and Chinook.

Ocean salmon fishing is drawing more participants now that chinook are available out of the Port of Brookings, and the coho season is good but will very soon be wide open. Anglers are doing fairly well with coho, but they’re hooking far better numbers of wild coho which have to be released than fin-clipped jeepers. Chinook will be found deeper in the water column than coho, and they are most numerous from Brookings to the border of California. Most ocean Chinook are being taken trolling very near the bottom in 60 to 110-feet of water. They are there to feed, of course4, and schools of baitfish and krill are at that depth. July is the bet month to fish here with salmon season closing at the end of day August 7th. While the halibut quota has a ways to go, there are fish caught regularly in this seven-day-a-week fishery south of Humbug Mountain. Head due west opposite the Thomas Creek Bridge ‘til you hit around 200 foot depths to ply the depths with jigs or jigged bait. Below, Ralph Trigo of Grants Pass with a nice king caught aboard the Miss Brooke with Brookings Fishing Charters.


The report from Diamond Lake Resort on Wednesday sounded quite optimistic as it read, “Don’t want to sound like a broken record but fishing is just as good as it was for the last report. It seems that most are doing best in 20 to 30 feet of water. And it does not seem to matter what you use. Power bait, worms or troll. Everyone is catching fish. !4 inches seem to be the norm with an occasional 18 to 20 inch in the pile.” Below is a photo sent to the resort from Brian Stallsworth of typical D-Lake trout.