Central & South Oregon Coast Fishing Reports for Oct 21st

Storm fronts passing through Depoe Bay were apparently not as bad as what was predicted but plenty bad enough to keep recreational and charter boats from launching with the bar closed to all traffic for the duration. Some charters have hung it up for the year while others have decided to endure and see what Mother Nature has in store next.

October 15 will be the last day to try for Dungeness crab in the ocean. The season will be closed in the ocean for crab from October 16 through November 30. Oregon bays and estuaries remain open year-‘round for crabbing and have improved, both in quality and quantity, with the change of seasons.

Now that the ‘gate’ is open for the season on Siltcoos Lake, coho are free to enter and many have done so with rain over the past 10 days or so, as evidenced by catches this week. Trollers aren’t knocking ‘em dead by any means but adults and jacks are4 being caught daily. On Wednesday this week, one boat took six and one of those taken by a local today, October 20th, taped out to 30 inches.

Razor clamming remains closed along the entire coast because of Domoic acid levels. Bay clams and butter clams are available coast wide, but mussels are off limits along the entire coast because of domoic acid. This storm, however, could change the acid levels. Before digging, check the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474.

Pete Heley, author and publisher, local celebrity and fishing guru (peteheley.com), reports from Reedsport, “I, like many others, had heard conflicting reports regarding Tenmile Lakes coho season. So I called the ever helpful folks at the ODFW office in Charleston and they informed me that there was no coho season for Tenmile Lakes. I had not really paid much attention to Tenmile’s coho season because they typically arrive very late – several weeks after the official opening of Tenmile’s coho opener, when it has one (Oct. 1st).

“It seems that the coho salmon seasons on Siltcoos Lake and Tahkenitch Lake are somewhat “grandfathered in”, while Tenmile Lakes needs to be “authorized” every year – kind of like the nonselective coho seasons on Oregon’s coastal rivers. And with anticipated extremely low coho returns this year, such authorization was not forthcoming. The plan is to lump Tenmile Lakes in with Tahkenitch and Siltcoos lakes next year so that if there isn’t a special meeting resulting in an emergency closure, all three lakes will have a coho salmon season running from Oct. 1st through December every year.

“On a positive note, it appears that 2-rod licenses will be valid on Tenmile Lakes during October, November and December of this year for the first time in quite a few years. That alone should make Tenmile a preferred destination for serious late-season yellow perch anglers.

”As a teenager living in Lakeside, Tenmile Lakes had a reputation as Oregon’s top producer of coho salmon. Although a number of different lures were popular, by far the most popular was a “Hotshot” in the fluorescent red finish. At the same time. the most popular salmon lure on Siltcoos Lake was a “Hotshot” in a green frog finish.

“Thirty-four years ago, on Thanksgiving Day, Chris Engel, a frequent fishing buddy and I were trolling for coho salmon on Tenmile near Shutter’s Creek. The reason that we were there was that Chris had heard that someone had landed a 14 pound coho and we agreed that a coho that big was a fish worth catching. I believe that Chris was using a red Hotshot and I was using a red Tadpolly. We had been fishing less than an hour when I had a solid strike and a large salmon leaped three feet in the air. Since I was using monofilament that tested only six pounds, it took a while to get the coho near the boat. Every time I managed to get the salmon close enough for it to see something it didn’t like (I’m pretty sure it was me), it would effortlessly peel off at least 30 yards of line. This went on long enough that the only other boat on the lake during that rainy windy day pulled up to watch the battle. They parked their boat about 40 yards from Chris’ boat and actually netted my fish when one of its runs went directly under their boat. Their netting job was incredible and when they returned the salmon to me, it was even heavier than I thought. At 22 pounds, it remains, by far, the largest coho salmon I have caught. The chunky coho was starting to turn dark, so I promptly released it with the hope that its superior genetics would endure.

“Over the years, Tenmile’s cohos have had much to endure. For a number of years, there was a major sandbar where Eel Creek entered Tenmile Creek. While the sand bar created a nifty fly fishery in the late spring for native and sea run cutts as they terrorize schools of small bluegills as they navigated the sand bar on their journey down Tenmile Creek. But that same sandbar would block the upstream migration of cohos – sometimes for several weeks. At one time a small dam was proposed on Tenmile Creek near where Eel Creek flowed in, but the dam was opposed by a student activity group at Southwestern Oregon Community College and was never built. It would have definitely helped the coho salmon entering Tenmile Creek reach the lake much earlier.

“Presently, a number of small well-placed boulders in lower Eel Creek divert the stream flow so that a significant sand bar no longer forms and Tenmile Lakes produces more salmon smolts than Tahkenitch Lake and about the same as Siltcoos Lake.

“It doesn’t produce as many salmon for anglers as does Tahkenitch and Siltcoos, but that is primarily because the returning salmon are more difficult to target on Tenmile. A natural place to fish for cohos on Tenmile is the channel between North Tenmile Lake and South Tenmile Lake, but the channel has not been open for salmon fishing and there is only about 40 yards of Tenmile Creek where salmon are legal to catch and that is between South Tenmile Lake and the bridge over Tenmile Creek on Hilltop Drive. Almost all of Tenmile’s tributaries are small and difficult to see while out on the lake.

“Anyway, the key thing to remember amidst all this reminiscing is that there is no coho salmon season on Tenmile Lakes this year.

“There was some pretty good crabbing at Winchester Bay last weekend despite the heavy rains. Hopefully, those catches were not due to crabs that reached areas above Winchester moving downriver because of the added freshwater. Ocean crabbing has been closed since Oct. 16th and will remain so through November.

“Other regulations that may result in an angler getting a ticket might be using two rods on Tahkenitch or Siltcoos Lakes between Oct. 1st and December 31st or using two rods on the lower Umpqua River after October 31st.”

The final call has not been released regarding all depth halibut (tentative dates, October 28th and 29th) following the opener over October 14th and 15th. Educated guesses seem to be running along the lines that is was too rough and quota will remain. This was amongst stories from those who fished it the 14th and 15th, including the use of 48-ounce weights and one boat used 96 ounces (!), certainly enough to be thankful for electric reels. We’ll wait for the official ODFW answer on any upcoming halibut openings and share it here – today if it’s released.

Rain put the kibosh on troll fishing for Chinook in Rogue Bay. With Chinook upstream now, it may be straggler fishing from here forward, but there may also be surprises. There have been a few this season. Lower Rogue levels remain high with the Grants Pass stretch high and off-color. Time to hone your fly fishing skills (or fishing with spinning gear and a bubble – but nothing else save the fly itself). The upper Rogue will be the place – the only place – to fish for a while. Despite heavy rains which pushed inflow to Lost Creek Reservoir out of its banks on as recently as Monday this week, the Army Corps of Engineers has held outflow to 1,530 cfs or so over the past week and there’s no indication this will change anytime soon, although the Corps states that outflow will need to be stepped up if the reservoir rises more than three feet. Flows at Grants Pass had dropped to 3,500 cfs as of today, October 20th, while flows at Agness were 5,600 cfs with the lower river predicted to drop gradually until the next storm front passes ‘long about Tuesday in the week to come.
Fishing in the Chetco estuary is open but poor following rain storms. Trollers and lower tidewater bobber fishers may get some more chances once the water normalizes somewhat. Until November 4th, anglers will only be able to fish bobbers from Rivermile 2.2 up to Nook Creek so plunking will have to wait unti9l then unless the ODFW springs and e4arly change in the regulations, opening the river upstream early as has happened in seasons past when there is sufficient water in the system – and there seems to be that.
Be sure to read all the gear restrictions regulations for the lower Chetco on page 30 of the regulations.

As of 8 AM Thursday, October 20th, the Port Orford had received .12″ of rain which put the Elk River at 3.4 feet with the water temperature 51 degrees and the color a highly-fishable shade of green. Check Random Links for information and a map for the Elk River Fall Chinook Terminal Area (Bubble Fishery).

Learn the difference:


The fine for misidentification starts at $400, becomes $700 for a wild fish if it is determined to be accidental but as much as $1500 plus a criminal offence if is determined to have been done on purpose.

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