As if we needed yet another indication of a low water year, the spillway at the dam on Siltcoos Lake didn’t open until Monday, November 2nd. The lack of flow on Siltcoos River has prevented coho from making the trip up the fish ladder at the dam and has delayed this fishery. The question as to whether the coho entering this late will be in good enough condition to retain remains to be answered as there have been no reports this week. The exception to the dearth of fishing reports is Siltcoos bass fishing, which has been quite rewarding. Over the past weekend, largemouth to five pounds or better have been chasing down spinnerbaits.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced an advisory for all recreationally caught crab taken between Cape Arago, south of Coos Bay, and the California border. All crabs recreationally harvested should be eviscerated prior to eating due to high levels of domoic acid in the viscera, also referred to as “butter” or guts. This includes crab harvested in the bays and estuaries, and in the open ocean, off docks, piers and jetties. Crab meat is not typically affected by this level of toxin.
Crab harvested recreationally from Cape Arago north to the Columbia River do not fall under this advisory, although it is recommended that crab always be eviscerated prior to eating them. Evisceration includes removal and discard of the internal organs and gills.
Harvesting of mussels remains closed from the mouth of the Yachats River in Lincoln County to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes mussels on all beaches, rocks, jetties and bay entrances in this section of the coast. Meanwhile, all razor clamming remains closed along the entire Oregon coast because of elevated levels of domoic acid.
Coastal scallops are not affected by these closures when only the adductor muscle is eaten. The consumption of whole recreationally caught scallops is not recommended. Recreational mussel harvesting is open from the Columbia River south to the mouth of the Yachats River. Recreational harvesting of bay clams remains open along the entire coast. Commercial shellfish products remain safe for consumers.
Domoic acid or amnesic shellfish toxin can cause minor to severe illness and even death. Severe poisoning can result in dizziness, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea. More severe cases can result in memory loss and death. Shellfish toxins are produced by algae and originate in the ocean. Toxins cannot be removed by cooking, freezing or any other treatment. ODA will continue to test for toxins in the coming weeks. Removal of the advisory requires two consecutive tests in the safe range.
For more information, call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visit the ODA shellfish closures web page.
One wild coho may be kept per day but only two for the year from the Siletz River through November 30th depending on which reach of river you are fishing. Be sure to check regulations before you head out. That said, fishing continues here for fall Chinook with marginal success. As of Wednesday this week, the Siletz River remained muddy clear down into the bay.
The new Don Lindly Park on the Alsea River at Milepost 7 (across from Happy Landing) is now open. Unfortunately, along with the RV hookups, the boat ramp is gone. As for fishing, it was slow early this week with no report since then.
With south coast ocean salmon fishing closed for both coho and Chinook now, anglers look to rivers for entertainment. While most coastal river systems won’t see winter steelhead until December, they traditionally start to poke their noses into the lower Umpqua River in the first week of November. Historically, plunkers are the first to hook up using Spin ‘n’ Glos or bait but this has been in high water conditions of which there has been a distinct lack in 2015. As it stands, plug-pullers stand the best shot at intercepting early winters here.
Boats launching out of Gold Beach with sights set on rockfish have been doing well as is often the cast at this time of year, Also common is that those days when they can get out are fewer. Chinook are still being taken in Rogue Bay but the action is slowing. The Rogue was not pushed to the critical 1,000 cfs flow that will cause the remainder of fish lingering in the bay to head upstream. A variety of lures are still taking half-pounders in the Agness stretch and this fishery will hold up until the first real freshet. With Chinook returning to Indian Creek now, there has been a marked increase in catches. These fish have been running between 20 and 30 pounds and are falling for cut-plug herring, with or without a flasher. Bank anglers are cashing in on this bounty using spinners or spoons downstream from Indian Creek. Flows on the middle Rogue are far less effected by passing rainfall than those on the lower river. there have been only minor fluctuations in flow here. Steelheaders have seen a little imp[rovement in action recently, however, particularly when targeting summers hanging downstream from spawning Chinook. Egg imitations are hard for a steelhead to pass up in this situation. Waters of the upper Rogue, relegated to flies-only through October, lifted the bait ban on November 1st. Be aware, however, that bait is allowed only above Shady Cove. This is nonetheless a popular fishery and while anglers in this are have taken their share of fish, those choosing to use alternative terminal tackle in the stretch below Shady Cove have also done well. Scented yarn has been effective here.
Those seeing the flows of the Chetco River at the end of October with levels lowest in over 30 years, expressed skepticism regarding the opening of the river up to Nook Creek. But the rains came and open it did. Unfortunately, the rains also moved on and by the opener, water levels had once again fallen to nearly pre-precipitation levels. No worries, though, as more storm fronts are due with the next freshet predicted tp raise level and flow around the middle of the coming week. Oh, the fish are there as evidenced by recent STEP seining which produced hundreds of large Chinook in a single set. Until sufficient rain falls to put the river right, stick with bobber and bait and hit that first light bite.
With rain this week, anglers have been hitting the Elk River. It hasn’t gotten really crowded but there has certainly been an uptick in the number of rigs at the Highway 101 Bridge and in the parking lot at the takeout. Just add water, as they say. The river will drop quickly as it always does so the smart money might be on the next round of rainfall.
It’s difficult to imagine the reaction of ODFW biologists after finding a tui chub in one of the traps used to monitor fish populations at Diamond Lake. Given the time, money and man-hours spent on erradicating these minnows, it is indeed frustrating, particularly that they could only be present through illegal use as bait or intentional re-introduction.