Central & South Oregon Coast Fishing Reports for June 17th

Ocean conditions have been a little sloppy this week off the central Oregon coast, but charters have endured for bottom fish, returning to port with decent numbers for all.

For those hoping the ocean will allow them to launch their recreational boat for points west, this weekend looks most promising. NOAA forecast for the central coast this coming Saturday and Sunday shows nothing more daunting that a swell of 3.5 at five seconds – and that’s not ’til Sunday afternoon.

Tuna? Now? Oh, yeah! A commercial boat showed photos of their first tuna trip June 8 thru 11 2016 and urge recreational anglers to give it a go. They took 690 albacore in three days of fishing, an estimated 11,000 ponds to totally plug their commercial-sized boat. They were fishing between 20 and 30 miles out of Charleston and warm water is moving closer o shore.

It’s definitely early for tuna to start arriving in nearshore waters but Charleston fishers who went for them averaged four per angler at about 25-30 miles offshore recently between 30 and 30 miles offshore
in water just over 58 degrees. As they approached the 125 line, the warmed up to about 62 degrees and the bite was on. They boated 15 fish in a couple hours running two rods. They reported the best bite was between 11 AM & noon with the largest albacore scaling at 23 pounds and the average fish weighing about 12 pounds. Not bad for mid-June!

There is enough quota remaining for the Central Oregon Coast (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt.) to be open for two more all-depth halibut fishing days on Friday, June 17 and Saturday, June 18.

Nearshore halibut will be available for some time with 92% of the quota remaining to be caught at last report. While inshore halibut is generally slower than deep water and the fish smaller, a 62-pounder was taken out of Depoe Bay in the first week of June.

Multi-species trips are always fun and challenging on the ocean. The challenge is following the regulations. For instance, if you or anyone else on board catches and keeps a halibut during a day when all-depth fishing is allowed, all applicable rules for both halibut as well as albacore would apply while fishing for albacore. That means one line per angler with no more than two hooks per line. Chumming would be illegal in this circumstance. If is a nearshore halibut only day, then you also could not fish outside of the 40 fathom line for any other species. In another scenario if salmon fishing prior to trying for albacore and you have kept salmon, you are limited to single point barbless hooks and chumming would also be prohibited. If thought of in terms of following the regulation not only for the fish you have on board but also what you are fishing for next, which rule applies to gear and where you ay fish legally. Now, about a Hali-Tuna-Nook trip ….

For those not equipped to with an ocean-capable craft in even the gentlest of conditions, try casting right from the beaches. Surf perch fishing has continued to reward and is best when seas are fairly calm. Try anywhere that the beach drops off a little more quickly, indicated by surf breaking closer to shore.

There were reports of a few boats in Yaquina Bay who had quite a bit of luck with Pacific Herring. Keep an eye out for schools of fish on mudflats at high tide.

Perhaps this belongs in Random Links but we thought it was worth spot-lighting. The Research vessel Nautilus is due west of Manzanita heading further out as they map their way toward Kulm Ridge where they aim to launch the ROVs around 1600 PDT. They are broad casting live video while underway with views from over 3,000 feet of water. Big fish getting eaten by bigger fish! Definitely worth a look. While the feeds change, the labels below were accurate at 3 PM on Thursday this week.

Video from the shipwreck
Live Underwater Feed
Live Topside Feed

Regular weekly contributor, author, publisher and blogger Pete Heley reports from Reedsport, “The hottest fishery continues to be for surfperch in the lower Umpqua River. More than any year in recent memory, this year a 15 perch limit comprised of three different species is achievable. Redtailed surfperch or “pinkfins” are biting well between Gardiner and Half Moon Bay and surprisingly, fair numbers of pile perch have been caught above Winchester Bay, as well. Anglers fishing the South Jetty are also catching fair numbers of striped surfperch.

“Although sand shrimp remains the most popular bait, Berkeley Gulp sandworms is a popular artificial bait and last week fair numbers of pinkfins were caught by anglers using the same pink curlytail grubs they normally use to catch shad. The pinkfin run should last through July and into early August.

“Umpqua River shad fishing is still going well and should remain productive into early July. Most of the shad have moved upriver of Sawyers Rapids. but as the river level continues to drop, late-arriving shad will start stacking up below the rapids. Suspended moss is affecting all Umpqua River fisheries and sometimes making shorter casts can lessen the problem.

In this photo, Jamie Standifer shows off a limit of Winchester Bay pinkfin taken Saturday morning.

“Smallmouth bass are now common in the mainstem of the Coquille River, a considerable distance up the South Fork Coquille and into the lower reaches of all the river’s forks. As the river warms up, the smallmouth fishing continues to improve – but the fishing for striped bass gets tougher and the top time seems to be at dawn, or slightly before.

“The Umpqua River above tidewater still offers the best smallmouth fishing number-wise, but it does seem easier to catch smallies weighing more than a pound on the Coquille.

“Loon Lake continues to offer the area’s best bluegill fishing – especially to fly anglers. They are abundant along the lake’s entire shoreline, but the best fishing is usually in the upper half of the lake. Loon Lake’s crappies have been tough to find in recent weeks.

“While on the subject of Loon Lake, I would like to point out that it is absolutely ridiculous that the entire Mill Creek outlet is closed to all fishing the entire year. Years ago, there were some anglers snagging salmon and steelhead in the lower reaches above the Umpqua River. But the resulting closure covers the entire stream including water well above the reach of any spawning salmon or steelhead.

“The short stretch of Mill Creek between the lake and the bridge on Mill Creek Road has a healthy population of largemouth bass which are currently not available to be legally fished. Since a few of these bass inevitably drop down Mill Creek far enough to actually feed on salmon, steelhead and trout fry – it seems that closing Mill Creek in its entirety is not the best solution to protect the stream’s salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout.

“A similar situation exists on the North Umpqua above Soda Springs Dam which has been closed since a fish ladder was installed which allowed steelhead and some salmon to reach portions of the river above the dam. The closure was to keep anglers from hooking the salmon and steelhead smolts – but it also protects the river’s healthy population of brown trout and a few rainbows that are large enough to feed on the juvenile salmonids as they migrate down river.

“While I’m on a good rant, I would like to bring up Reynolds Pond near the community of Alfalfa in central Oregon. This 20-acre pond once had a healthy population of redear sunfish in addition to a fair population of largemouth bass. The pond used to produce a surprising number of good-sized redears and still holds the state record with a redear that weighed a half-ounce shy of two pounds. Either disease, competition from an expanding white crappie population, or quite likely a combination of both have resulted in the virtual disappearance of the redears.

“It’s a shame that the ODFW chose to do nothing to ensure the continuance of what used to be a unique Oregon fishery.”

A surf fisher reported from a couple of trips to the beach just outside Rogue Bay the pinkfin perch fishing was good in the area. On his first trip, he and his family landed 26 in a couple of hours, On the return trip with a party of five, everyone took 15-fish limits and did so again in two hours. All were using a two-inch Berkeley camouflage pattern sand worm. With fewer than a thousand spring Chinook returning to Cole Rivers hatchery, it looks as if the run won’t live up to Rogue standards this year. Average returns at this time of year are over 2,300 over the past decade with a combination of smolt loss at the hatchery four years ago and drought conditions for three years running and crummy ocean conditions variously blamed for the shortfall. Scorching hot weather had water temps high until rain over the past weekend served to lower water temperatures and put a little fresh water in the system. Just prior to that break, trollers managed to dredge up some springers, then action moved upriver to provide welcomed catches this week. A water conditions are still fair although level and flow are scheduled to drop through the coming weekend, ending up around 3.5 feet and 3.800 cfs by Monday, June 20th. While wild spring chinook must be released upstream of Fishers Ferry boat ramp, and anglers may keep two per day below that point, there’s little happening in the middle river. Upper Rogue results have been most reliable for boats back-bouncing baits or pulling plugs. Algae has been a problem but the recent freshet should have served to ameliorate this situation somewhat. Summer steelhead are entering the hatchery facility now, but too few to create a fishery here. Yet. The first summer of the year only showed up here on June 4th. Flows from Lost Creek Reservoir were reduced from 2,600 cfs to 3,400 cfs the morning of Tuesday this week.

Brookings salmon trollers are finally getting ocean salmon, the first of which was taken in the first week of June, a shiny specimen 31 inches in length. This would be a three-year-old fish but there will be some four-salt salmon in the mix which will tip the scales at 20 pounds or better. While commercials efforts have been scoring in a couple of hundred feet of water, recreational boats are hooking up with fresh Chinook in 120 feet or shallower north of Brookings just a few miles out. Salmon will move closer to the beach as the season moves forward. At this time, results are slow with offshore fishers scratching out singles here and there, but soon coho will be on the hook as the fin-clipped coho season opens June 25, so it’ll keep getting better. Bottom fishing has been excellent for the most part with over half of anglers taking limits and often returning with a ling cod or two. Fishing is easy with lead-head jigs and soft plastics with light-tackle enthusiasts seeing plenty of action in shallower water. Surf perch fishing along this stretch of the coast has been yielding good numbers of surf perch. Halibut fishing has been fair out of the Port of Brookings in around 200-foot depths. The Chetco is open only to trout fishing at this time with some sea-run cutthroat being caught in tidewater.

Trout fishing has held up at Diamond Lake with best results early and late in the day although they’re biting all day during cloudy days. Baits of night crawlers or Power Bait has been most effective here. Be sure to release any of the freshly-stocked tiger trout.