Chinook lingering at Indian Creek

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Central & South Coast Reports – High winds and heavy rains have pummeled the central Oregon coast this week. As a consequence, storm-watching has replaced offshore fishing out of the ports of Depoe Bay and Newport. Conditions for the weekend and into the coming week are for high winds and rough seas. Stay safe.

Grey whales will be making their annual migration over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays get over to the coast to view these magnificent critters if you’re able. Better yet, book a boat ride to get up close & personal!

Oregon Dungeness crab fishermen and seafood processor representatives participating in state-supervised crab price negotiations have agreed on an opening price of $3.10 per pound for the 2014-2015 Dungeness crab season along the Oregon coast, which began at the start of December. Dungeness crab is the most valuable commercial fishery on the Oregon coast. Last season’s harvest produced landings of 14.4 million pounds and an ‘ex-vessel’ value of $50 million dollars.

Central coast rivers weren’t hit as hard by this week’s storm as those on the south coast. As the Siuslaw drops back into shape, look for fresh winter steelhead along the stretch near Whitaker Creek. The trap already has decent numbers of winters in it.

Trollers have been catching bright coho on spinners from the County Boat Ramp to Rocky Point and also in the upper arms of South Tenmile Lake. The wild coho season remains open here until December 31st with a bag limit of one 1 wild coho adult per day and a total of 5 wild adult coho for the season in aggregate from all SW Zone waterbodies.

Writer Pete Heley ( is a thinking angler and often has insight regarding fishing that might not otherwise occur too many of us. This week, he wrote regarding the new spring Chinook regulations for 2015: “One change in the fishing regulations this year concerns spring Chinook fishermen. The season limit for non-fin clipped springers will be five salmon and the season now has fixed starting and ending dates of February 1st and July 31st respectively. The fall chinook season also has a fixed season opener of August 1st.”

“The Umpqua River’s fall Chinook start entering the lower river around the first of July, but the fall Chinook season now has a fixed starting date of August 1st. So what do you do if you catch an Umpqua River Chinook in July?

“You simply tag the fish as a spring Chinook – since their season will run through July. It may not be the solution that the ODFW or enforcement people want, but it was the simplest fix I could come up with. I am not sure that the ODFW “fixed” a problem that didn’t exist, but they may have wanted stricter control on the number of non-fin clipped spring Chinook salmon retained.

“I can definitely see a problem in the future regarding ocean fishing for Chinook salmon, which has begun on March 15th for a number of years. I am sure that ocean salmon anglers are not going to want to use up their season quota of five unclipped spring Chinooks on feeder Chinooks.”

Crabbing at Coos Bay should resume as the weather settles down over the weekend, Due to the size and depth of the bay, it is seldom affected by even heavy precipitation. Rockfishing is expected to be good from the jetty.

Winter steelhead were caught from the Coquille earlier this week at LaVerne Park and near the town of Coquille. The run is just getting started here.

Other than a handful of Chinook lingering at the mouth of Indian Creek, there is nothing of interest to anglers in Rogue Bay at this time. Waters of the Rogue started rising on Wednesday this week and are forecast to increase in volume, cresting by mid-day Friday, December 12th, then begin falling December 13th. While the drop will be fairly rapid and fishing may resume as early as Saturday.

Steelheaders pulled a few winters out of the lower Rogue earlier this week but it wasn’t hot ‘n’ heavy. Plug pullers and plunkers hooked up every so often. It is hoped this week’s freshet will bring in greater numbers and improve prospects in the coming week, at which time flows are supposed to remain somewhat stable. Steelhead are being caught on the middle river although these are summers, not winters. Fishing is reported as fair but steady for fish up to 30 inches. Chasing steelhead on the upper Rogue would be an option except for the rising water, which is predicted to continue through Friday at the very least. Catches earlier this week were quite good and a freshet will often trigger a good bite. Once again, the stretch above Shady Cove Boat Ramp to the deadline at Cole Rivers Hatchery holds the most promise as either bait or lures may be used.

Commercial crabbers out of the Port of Brookings were surprised and disappointed at the opener. Many pots had only a single crab. They have talked of moving efforts further north to improve prospects. Sports crabbers, on the other hand, were satisfied with only taking a six or a dozen keepers in a day’s effort. Regardless, ocean crabbing in this area is rated only fair at best. Bottom fishing is excellent, however making a combination trip a sound choice for recreational boats. Lingcod catches have been good while rockfish have been mostly blacks occasionally mixed with more colorful varieties. Jigs, shrimp flies and leadfish are most always effective for any of these fish. Late Chinook have entered recently, providing action for anglers who are back-bouncing cured eggs in the lower Chetco. These late, fresh salmon are chrome bright. Coos River steelheaders are anxiously awaiting the arrival of winters. It should be any day now, particularly with rain that has caused the river to swell this week. While the Chetco has been producing a decent mix of late fall Chinook along with early winter steelhead, action will transition over the next 10 days or so as the remainder of the salmon hit upstream spawning beds and winter steelhead numbers increase dramatically. At this writing mid-day Thursday, water levels were predictably rocketing with the river forecast to crest at ~13,000 cfs late today, then drop through the coming weekend. It should be plunkable by Saturday, December 13th. All this water will equate to more winters as well.

Anglers fishing the Elk River on Tuesday this week reported seeing Chinook on the move but not being able to get any of them to bite. The water was green and 52 degrees at that time. Since then, about an inch of rain has fallen but high wind has kept boats off the water. This time of year, winter steelhead will be joining late fall Chinook on the Elk as well as the Sixes river.

Fishing is fair at Diamond Lake although there is very little pressure. Snowfall closed part of the road around the lake this week so it would be wise to call 1-800-733-7593, ext. 236 or 238 for fro the latest conditions.