Central & South Oregon Coast Fishing Reports for Sept 23rd

***Reminder*** – While bottom fishing is limited to 20 fathoms now, starting October 1, depth restrictions will be lifted, allowing rockfish and ling cod anglers the run of the ocean. This change is due to halibut anglers using descenders to return protected Yelloweye rockfish to the depths. Kudos and thanks, ‘but fishers!

With six percent remaining in the quota as of the week ending September 18th, nearshore halibut remains open according the ODFW data site but it would behoove fishers to head out to the ocean at the earliest opportunity. Closure is imminent.

Regarding the summer all-depth halibut fishery, 12% (just over 5,000 out of an available 42,544-pound quota) remains to be taken but no official announcement has been posted regarding another opportunity. We’re betting on at least one more day.

Off the coast south of Humbug Mountain, the seven-day-a-week any depth halibut fishery will continue with fully half the 7,600-pound quota (which number was updated and nearly doubled on September 9th).

Halibut Update – Late afternoon today, September 22nd, word came in which made the earlier reports irrelevant speculation. All-Depth Halibut will be open on the central coast September 40th and October 1st. Central and south coast nearshore fisheries remain open. Go get ‘em!

Fishing for coho (also referred to as ‘Silvers’, mostly by those of us who ‘remember when’), picked up dramatically over the past weekend and has been fairly productive since, at least whenever offshore

Bottom fishing has been good out of Depoe Bay and ocean crabbing has been reported as stellar although rough offshore conditions prevented boats from getting out at times this week.

Over the past weekend, tuna runs were cut short or terminated with a strong south wind blowing out of Newport. One boat which made the run reported smooth sailing (so to speak) to 30 miles out when the south wind started to bog them down so the crawled a short distance further to the tuna grounds. Fishing was good with bites every few minutes on dead bait fished on bobbers 30 feet deep but the wind continued building so they headed in with 11 albacore on board. No shame in that.

Although no coastal stream showed any great fluctuation owing to recent precipitation, it doesn’t take much to bring in sea-run cutthroat trout at this time of year. As we’ve cover tactics a couple of times recently, suffice to say they’re not too difficult to entice to a spinner or fly and lots of fun. Most any coastal river gets these anadromous fish with many harboring them year-round. From the Siletz River to the Chetco, sea-run populations will swell at this time of year. Reports from previous seasons indicate the ender Landing on the North Fork of the Siuslaw is a productive area to throw spinners for cutties with good results.

Fly fishers have been hitting some dandy steelhead this week on the North Umpqua. With the river in prime condition and color, it certainly looks inviting. While the ‘flies only’ stretch isn’t the easiest to fish, it has been rewarding recently. A reminder that anglers using spinning gear can throw flies legally in these water as long as they don’t use any swivels or weights of any kind; just a bubble to provide enough weight to cast.

Blogger, author and publisher of several fishing books, Pete Heley (peteheley.com) reports from Reedsport, “Salmon fishing at Winchester Bay was much improved this last week. For the last few months, the catch has been comprised almost entirely of Chinook salmon, but last week coho salmon began entering the lower river and definitely improved the overall fishing. Unfortunately, about eighty percent of the coho salmon being landed in the lower river are unclipped and not legal to keep. The ocean coho season is still in effect and a few anglers have been casting spinners into the ocean off the south side of “The Triangle”, since both wild and clipped cohos at least 16-inches long are legal to keep in the ocean. But anglers doing so must adhere to ocean regulations – which means single barbless hooks only – and they should avoid fishing the lower river after keeping an unclipped coho from the ocean if they don’t enjoy having to do a considerable amount of explaining.

“After catching nearly 13 percent of the ocean coho quota in the first few days, the ocean coho catch slowed with about 17 percent of the quota landed during the next seven days. Through Sunday (Sept. 11th), 29.4 percent of the quota had been caught and kept. By the time you read this, it’s almost a certainty that more than half the ocean coho quota will have been caught and kept, but there is also a chance that the season will run through September and not close early. Most of the spinner sales are still green or chartreuse, but as more coho salmon enter the Umpqua River, the sales of pink spinners will increase.

“With the improvement in the salmon fishing and the continued good crabbing, South Jetty bottomfishing has been very much overlooked, but still productive for greenling and striped surfperch. A few anglers have taken advantage of the much improved Sparrow Park Road to fish the beach for redtailed surfperch and some good catches of nice-sized “pinkfins” were made last week.

“A New Zealand brown trout was recently certified by the IGFA as a new world record. The 42 pound one-ounce fish was caught by 71-year-old angler Otwin Kandolf while fishing the Ohau B hydro canal on New Zealand’s South Island. The lunker was caught below a commercial salmon farm and there is some speculation that it owed its incredibly fat physique to feeding on food pellets that drifted downstream from the salmon farm. The record brown only measured 36.6-inches in length.

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“By comparison, the last two world record brown trout, a 41 pound eight-ounce fish from the Wisconsin portion of Lake Michigan and a 41 pound seven-ounce fish from the Big Manistee River, a tributary to the Michigan portion of Lake Michigan, measured 40.6-inches and 43.75-inches respectively. If the record brown from Michigan had the same body shape as the New Zealand lunker, it would have weighed more than 70 pounds.

“An Oregon bow hunter was arrested in Deschutes County last week for fatally shooting his hunting companion in the stomach. Where things went wrong was when Michael Shawn Pekarek, after going to full draw, but not getting a shot at a deer he spotted, turned around while still at full draw and “accidentally” released the arrow which struck his hunting partner. The case is still under investigation.

“A fishing trip to Woahink Lake last week ended up with a surprising variety of fish species landed. I was fishing with Reedsport resident Dwayne Schwartz in his bass boat and we quickly landed several smallmouth bass and a few largemouths and when Dwayne landed a foot-long pike minnow, we decided to see how many fish species we could catch. The first weed bed we spent any time on resulted in a couple of dozen yellow perch hookups and about a half-dozen bluegills and when Dwayne caught our first rainbow trout, we were up to a six fish species.

“Try as we might, we couldn’t add any additional fish species, but then the cutthroat trout, black crappies and brown bullheads in the lake are rather rare.

“We didn’t land any lunkers. Our biggest yellow perch was about eight inches long and the biggest bluegill between six and seven inches, the rainbows topped out about 12-13-inches as did the two pikeminnows. None of our smallmouth bass weighed more than a pound and the heaviest largemouth weighed about two pounds. But it was a fun half-day of easy light tackle fishing.

“Bill Taylor dropped off some additional info concerning the Labor Day STEP Salmon Derby. 135 salmon were caught and turned in by 400 anglers (some of which fished two and a half days.). 83 salmon were weighed in at the Reedsport Boat Ramp and 52 were weighed at the East Basin Boat Ramp in Winchester Bay. Two of the salmon weighed in were finclipped Chinooks from our local STEP Chapter. The heaviest salmon turned in on Saturday weighed 27.9 pounds and was caught by Marcus Thedford of Sutherlin. The heaviest salmon turned in on Monday weighed 28.1 pounds and was caught by Kaitlynn Baines of Albany.

“As reported last week, the overall Derby winner was a 33.7-pound Chinook caught on Sunday by Dana Castle right in front of the Reedsport Boat Ramp and viewed by numerous witnesses. It was Dana’s only bite during the entire tournament.”

The Coquille usually takes a back seat to Coos Bay when it comes to reports, both the ones that appear here as well as those we receive to dial us in so we are able to serve up new and accurate information. This week it seems the Coquille is in the spotlight as boats launching out of Bandon have had worthwhile trips west. It seems there are willing Chinook off the mouth of the river, attracted by and following baitfish which have been moving in and out with the tide. These fish have been 16 to 33 pounds, shiny and full of salty spunk. In addition, crab pots about a mile out from the jaws are hauling limits of large, hard Dungeness.

Charter boats launching out of Gold Beach report limits of rock and half limits of Ling Cod along with plenty of crab. Rogue Bay has slow to fair through the week as cooler temperatures and falling river levels motivate fish to move through the bay and up river. Chinook were on the bite Saturday to make it the best day of the past week. With Indian Creek fish showing up, that will offer another opportunity here help as they typically hold in the bay waiting for rain. The river was still good to excellent for salmon and steelhead. On the middle Rogue where anglers are able to keep both hatchery and wild Chinook from Hog Creek to Fishers Ferry through Sept. 30, mostly steelhead are being hooked. Pulling wrapped plugs or backbouncing cured roe has accounted for most Chinook hookups. On the upper river, through Dec. 31, no Chinook fishing is allowed from Fishers Ferry Boat Ramp upstream to Cole Rivers Hatchery Dam. Angling is also restricted to artificial flies (no bait) through Oct. 31 on that same stretch although upper Rogue fishers will be allowed to use artificial lures beginning Oct. 1. But still no Chinook fishing. Angling pressure has been light on the upper Rogue. Swinging flies on the margins are a good technique when reservoir releases are at the current levels and dropping with two hatchery steelhead per day allowed. Outflow at Lost Creek Reservoir was 1,156 on the afternoon of September 23rd

Anglers who trolled Rogue Bait Rigs or just spun a naked anchovy caught the first Chetco River fall Chinook of the year last week, and that’s major news because these fish are not only early, they are monsters. Chrome bright practically all these fish were caught on the incoming tide and up to the turn of high tide, which is the best tide cycle to fish in the Chetco River estuary. a few brutes caught just underneath the Chetco River bridge or slightly upriver from the bridge on the outgoing tide as they disembarked their upper tidewater holes. two rods per person are perfectly legal to use from the Chetco River mouth up to the Harbor Water Intake through Oct. 31, but only if you are angling for Chinook, hatchery coho or hatchery steelhead. Many fish an anchovy under a bobber (an. effective technique, regardless) while casting hardware on a second rod. This combo is intended to keep the bait a couple of feet off the bottom while the rod-wielder simultaneously throws a spoon or spinner.

According to the port samplers at the Port of Brookings Harbor, at least eight adult Chinook were measured on Tuesday. Most of the fish were portly 20-pounders with a few hefty 30-plus-pound kings thrown in for good measure. On Wednesday, even more fish were caught, including several Chinook in the mid- to upper-20s. Many fish were reported to have been lost to seals or to sea lions. Crabbers dropping traps or pots have been rewarded with limits of jumbo Dungeness crab while fishing off Sporthaven Beach in water ranging from 25- to 35-feet have been rewarded with limits or near limits of Dungeness crab, with many of the crustaceans measuring between 7 and 8 inches wide.

Member Chass at the ifish.net forum asked a question of the ODFW that many of us have asked, “Why the closure of recreational crabbing in the ocean from mid-October to the 1st of December?” He was kind enough to post the reply which is edited for brevity. (For those who aren’t into brevity and want all the details, see Random Links, below, for the whole damn book on the subject.) Herewith, the reply:

“Chass,

“I received your question about why there is a six-week closure for recreational crabbing in the ocean. I’d like to say that the answer to your question is a simple one, but it is not. The closed season for recreational crabbing, like many of the decisions in resource management, is a compromise between different objectives and goals. In this case, we are trying to find a balance between allowing access for recreational crabbers and at the same time permit a commercial fishery to have an orderly start on December 1. The October 15th recreational season closure is where we have found this balance.

“The October 15th closure date was decided by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission (our rule-making body) in 2008, and became effective in 2009. Prior to 2009 the recreational and commercial fishery shared the same start date (Dec 1) and end date (Aug 14). The commercial crab fishery still closes on August 14. Historically, the closed season allowed the ocean crab fishery to take a break before it started up again. One of the reasons for this is for the crab to improve in quality before the commercial fishery in December. The recreational fishery had always just closed at the same time, until a proposal in 2008 from a member of the public asked the same questions you are and asked that we consider eliminating the recreational closure.

“This 2008 proposal came during a process where we ask the public to submit ideas statewide for angling regulation modifications. For healthy and sustainable fisheries like Dungeness crab, we can consider changes that might improve the fishery but we must consider all users. The proposal was reviewed by staff, presented at a series of public meetings where we received comments, and finally presented to the Fish and Wildlife Commission for adoption. The Commission agreed with the proposer and staff that there could be an extension to the recreational ocean crabbing season. However, it was felt at the time that a year-round recreational fishery could lead to enforcement problems in the commercial fishery and potentially some soft-shell handling mortality in some years. The compromise was the two-month extension of the season to October 15th, and this was approved by the Commission. As a result of the two-month season extension beginning in the 2009 season, the number of recreational ocean crabbing trips has increased by around 67% and the total pounds harvested has more than doubled (see below). So we ended up not having a year-round recreational fishery but I think the fishery has greatly improved.

“Please let me know if you have further questions,

“Justin

“Justin Ainsworth
Marine Resources Program
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
2040 SE Marine Science Drive
Newport, OR 97365
(541) 867-0300 ext. 288
justin.c.ainsworth@state.or.us
http://www.dfw.state.or.us/mrp/shellfish/