Are we safe in saying this weekend (October 14th and 15th) will be the last chance for all-depth halibut? Ha! Just try to launch a boat the next couple days! Those remaining 4,153 pounds of large, flat fish are feeling pretty cocky with the storm hitting Friday today, followed by a forecast for a week of wind and rain. At this time of year, rolling those couple of tons from 2016 into the 2017 quota might be the best plan since the possibility of any two days in a row allowing offshore activity at this time of year is remote.
In other halibut news, the nearshore halibut fishery off the central coast is a ‘go’ according to ODFW data, but that data also reveals there is but 2% (641 pounds) remaining in the quota. It’ll only take one decent day when boats are able to get out and flatties are on the bite. OK, that combination is a long shot but still a possibility.
The south coast halibut fishery remains open seven days a week with a ton and a half of fish remaining to be caught. This one closes at end-of-day on October 31st along with all other halibut fishing that may remain out of Oregon ports.
Bottom fishing still remains solid out of Depoe Bay. Although the ling cod bite isn’t wide open, that just means it takes a bit longer to limit out. Lings are still gobbling curly-tailed jigs, crank baits and, of course bait. Colorful rockfish are in the mix although generally short of limits and ocean crabbing remains excellent but be aware it closes at the end of day October 16th, re-opening on December 1.
Ah, tuna! It’s been another unusual but highly productive year and the mention of it on past tense was inadvertent. It’s entirely possible that the skies will open, that typhoon that’s grazing the West Coast will push some warm water nearer shore and the south wind will quit blowing. There’s a chance someone will hook and albacore while surf fishing, too, but not a really good chance. Some say they hear a gravity-disadvantaged lady in a horned helmet can be heard warming for her final song of the season but there’s alway6s a chance. Always.
Trolling for wild coho has resulted in an occasional hookup at Siltcoos Lake, mostly for smaller fish and jacks. Many anglers have been anxiously awaiting the opening if the doors at the dam, as the fish ladder doesn’t allow efficient passage while the door is a straight shot. Now that the door has been open continuously moist of the week, we can confidently report that fishing is still slow here.
The transformation has begun on the Siuslaw, which just today (Thursday, October 13th) has increased from less than 200 cfs to 525 cfs and is forecast to continue in a primarily upward fashion through at least Monday in the week to come. Next weekend is showing some promise, however. Chinook fishing has been good here at times with bobber & eggs or trolled herring resulting in smokers running overtime as most of the Chinook are showing color.
Author, publisher, blogger and local fishing guru Pete Heley (peteheley.com) reports from Reedsport, “Nearly two years ago there was considerable discussion about Bass Pro Shops buying Cabela’s and then nothing was heard for nearly a year. Then last week the buyout was presented as pretty much a “done deal”. I guess when one business entity absorbs another business entity that is almost as large as they are, it takes some time.
“I have always felt that prices were slightly lower at Bass Pro and they carried a more extensive product line than at Cabela’s. Bass Pro Shops also has a wholesale division and their wholesale division, American Rod and Gun, allows their products to be sold by other retailers. The acquisition may eventually allow some fishing tackle retailers to personally check out some products they might be interested in carrying. Don’t expect any major changes in the near future.
“It seems that the Pacific northwest states are starting to pay more attention to the population levels of marine forage fish species. Last week California had a meeting to take a closer look at how the state was going to manage marine forage fish. Starting Oct. 3rd, the ODFW began a closure on commercial anchovy fishing in the Columbia River due to uncertainty regarding the impacts the anchovy catch has on salmon and the local ecosystem. Small-scale bait fishing in the river will be allowed to continue, but boats must go to the ocean to seek larger volumes of anchovies if the demand continues.
“A number of Coos County waters will be stocked with 14-inch trout this week. They are: Upper and Lower Empire Lakes (2,000 trout each); Powers Pond and Saunders Lake (1,300 trout each); Bradley Lake (800 trout) and Butterfield Lake (600 trout). Water temperatures in the lakes receiving trout should allow good survival, yet not be so cold that feeding activity is reduced. The year’s last trout plant in Coos County will occur in Bradley Lake when 800 14-inch trout will be stocked during the week beginning Oct. 24th.
“Crabbing continues to be very good at Winchester Bay and Charleston. While crabbing in coastal rivers remains open all year, ocean crabbing will be closed from October 16th through November 30th. Fishing area jetties has been productive and relatively uncrowded since most coastal sportsmen are either salmon fishing or crabbing. The very few anglers fishing area beaches for surfperch are catching some red-tailed surfperch, but fishing has been spotty.
“The Coquille River continues to offer good fishing for smallmouth bass. Most anglers are tossing crankbaits and are also catching a few sublegal striped bass. Two of the most favored stretches include the mile each side of the Arago Boat Ramp and the lowermost mile of the Coquille’s South Fork. Last October, several anglers fishing salmon roe for Chinook salmon caught good-sized striped bass instead.
“The healthy rain last week was enough to make the salmon more active, but will also make it much less likely that many shallow sand dunes lakes north of North Bend will suffer a fish kill this fall or winter. Each year these lakes shrink to the point of virtually drying up and their fish populations shrink accordingly. Then when winter and spring rainfall fills these lakes to their full size, the fish that managed to survive scatter throughout the much larger lake. The result is a low density fish population and tough fishing.
“Ideally, a lake would undergo fall shrinkage to the point where the fish population is cramped, but doesn’t suffer a full or partial die off or stunted growth and when the lake fills to its maximum surface acreage in the spring the fish density is still fairly high.
“These smaller lakes between Lakeside and North Bend are the area’s most under-utilized resource and perfect fishing spots to use a canoe, kayak or float tube.
“Each year late in the season, I out a small, but interesting fishery knowing full well that by the time it begins fishing well the following spring, virtually everyone who reads this will have forgotten all about it.
“So the spot I am outing is Mingus Park Pond. This tiny pond averages about two feet deep and is filled with waterfowl and people out for their daily walk. But the pond also contains a few bluegills, a few brown bullheads, a few goldfish and a surprising number of decent-sizes bass. The pond even received a plant of 2,000 legal rainbows last April.
“Many of the bass taken at Mingus Park are caught by members of a Facebook club, the Coos County Bass Masters, whose original Facebook page featured Mingus Park Pond.
“Most of the pond’s bass are caught at night and the largest ones have weighed at least eight pounds – and most are released to bite again.”
It was reported this week that the humpback whale which had washed up on the Oregon coast about eight miles south of Cannon Beach in September, after being washed out, arrived at Short Sands beach where it is being left to return from whence it came, bit by blubbery bit, courtesy of smaller sea creatures and bacteria. This writer couldn’t help thinking about the other whale, the famous one. If you’re the only one who hasn’t heard of it or would like to relive one of the funniest moments in Oregon marine-related history, it’s in Random Links.
Reports over the past week indicated that fishing has been fairly slow on the Coquille River this time of year anglers can be optimistic about fresh fish on the way. Just last weekend, one group who were trolling spinners, landed three nice Chinook while another spinner flinger fishing the same day landed three for six chances. And it could still get even better but check back after it recovers from the “freshet.”
Many charters out of Gold Beach are pulling anchor for the season at this time of year as they figure there won’t be enough windows of opportunity for continuous operation of the businesses through the remainder of fall and into winter. Commercial enterprises and guides have been often seen trolling Rogue Bay which would still be productive were it not for the rain which fell earlier in this area, sucking most of the Chinook upstream. There are still salmon lolling around the mouth of Indian Creek but when the bay had good numbers of salmon, they were mostly coho. This would be good, but only 20% or so of those fish are hatchery keepers. There’s good news, though, as there are still coho in the bay, just not as many. Bank or boat fishers have a better chance of a Chinook hookup from Lobster Creek up to Agness than in the bay although most of those are darkening. There are also a few adult summer steelhead and a good population of half-pounders in this stretch. Chinook fishers on the middle Rogue report hooking a few below the Hog Creek Boat Ramp where it’s legal to keep them but, once again, the quality of these fish is inconsistent with spawning imminent. Otherwise, it has been slow on the Grant Pass stretch. Upper Rogue steelheaders observed a marked slowing in hookups this week and, following consistent reports of numbers far exceeding 10-year averages, the Cole River Hatchery reported only eight fish all last week. On the upper Rogue, only artificial flies are allowed from the Fishers Ferry boat ramp to the deadline at Cole Rivers Hatchery. Either traditional fly gear or spinning rods with a bubble to facilitate casting is legal as long as no weights, swivels are another accruement may be attached. This rule will remain in effect through October 31st. With Chinook spawning on the upper river, the egg fly is a logical and effective choice and better than traditional alternatives. With flows out of Lost Creek were at 1,160 cfs, the water is at good level for fly fishing, at least as of today.
Elk River anglers are chomping at bits or whatever Chinook anglers do awaiting an upcoming, critical change to their fishery. As of this morning, there was only ¾ inch of rain in the local gauge, though, not enough to do the trick. Winds were reported on the cape at just 19 mph here although there was a 43 mph gust across the dock around 8 AM. Chinook will head in as the river level rises, which the Elk does in the same manner it drops: quickly.
Trout fishing at Diamond Lake has been pretty good for a while, then slow for a few days with the south end still most productive and bait the better choice over trolling. There has been snow on the ground periodically but when winter comes to Diamond Lake, it comes to stay. Then devotees look forward to ice fishing! Incidentally, there have been reports this week of trout fishers catching some six to eight-inch fish; these are the same fish planted at springtime as fingerlings. They grow fast here.