Crabbing continues to be very, very good at Winchester Bay. The good crabbing extends upriver to more than a half-mile above the entrance to the East Boat Basin. There seems to be a lot of confusion about how long sport crabbing is allowed in the ocean and the answer is – until October 15th. Commercial crabbers are only allowed to crab until August14th and that distinction has confused many sport crabbers. Over last weekend, virtually every person who put their crab pots in the ocean caught a limit of crabs.
Beginning on September 1st, the annual Crab Bounty Contest begins and will run through September. No entry fee or pre-registration is required and 100 crabs will be affixed with a numbered spinner blade. People catching a tagged crab need to take it to the Sportsman Cannery in Winchester Bay where they will receive a hat and receive a chance to win the grand prize of $1,000.00. Should the grand prize not be won, the thousand dollars will still be paid out in the amounts of $500, $300 and $200.
Salmon fishing in the Umpqua River below Reedsport and near the Umpqua River Bay has been very good and our local guides have been very successful with many boat limits. However, Darren Row’s four consecutive boat limits still stands out. Fishing has also been relatively good for sport anglers, but not everyone has been catching fish.
The rain on Sunday afternoon may affect the salmon fishing on the Umpqua River in conflicting ways. If the water temperatues in the river above Reedsport drops a few degrees, a large number of the salmon holding the river below Reedsport may move upriver – disappointing Reedsport area anglers, but elating many anglers who fish the Umpqua between Sawyers Rapids and Roseburg. The rain should bring more fish into the lower Umpqua River and in an ideal situation for local anglers, the new arrivals will join the salmon already holding in the Umpqua below Reedsport and enhance an already very good fishery.
This coming week should see increased numbers of cohos entering the Umpqua to join the already strong chinook run and beginning September 1st, (a Saturday and running through Monday) both wild and finclipped cohos will be legal to keep in the ocean. Thereafter, the legal angling days in the ocean for cohos will be Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. This will probably entice a few shore anglers to fish the southside of the Triangle (the ocean side). Bank anglers have been catching fair numbers of chinook salmon when casting spinners at Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point. A few salmon have been spotted near the bridge over Winchester Creek in Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin.
The annual GRWB S.T.E.P. salmon derby will be held this coming Labor Day Weekend. Tickets still only cost $10 per angler and $25 per boat. The tickets are on sale at the Stockade Market in Winchester Bay and at Ace Hardware and Turman Tackle in Reedsport. Tickets are also available from members of the GRWB S.T.E.P. members. As usual, the contest will run from the entire day on Saturday and Sunday and until noon on Monday (Labor Day). The largest salmon weighed in each day by a ticket purchasor wins $150, while the overall heaviest salmon wins an additional $500 – so one fish can win an angler $650. There will also be three $100 “Blue Ticket” winners and an additional $100 ticket stub winner. Ticket sales for the derby will cease at 9 am Monday morning. There is usually a waiting line to purchase tickets at the last second, so if your time is worth anything, make an attempt to purchase your tickets early and take control of your launching schedule.
Unfortunately, the summer all-depth halibut fishery has been closed. Good fishing conditions on the second two day opener pretty much ensured that there would not be a third opener on August 31st and September 1st. During the second two day opener, a couple of our local Coast Guard men were lucky enough to incidentally hook and land some nice halibut while salmon fishing. Scott Hatcher, a local guide, also caught a halibut while salmon fishing, but Scott’s fish was caught on a day not legal for halibut fishing, since the quotas for the inshore and all-depth halibut fisheries had already been met. However, those catches might indicate that further exploring for shallow-water halibut spots might be worthwhile.
Have heard from many disappointed bass anglers over the last several weeks and here is my theory of why they were disappointed. It seems that a large number of anglers expect the fish to adapt to the anglers’ schedules – and that is so very wrong. During hot weather, fish often go deep and are more difficult for anglers to find or even reach. During the recent hot, or on the coast – very warm weather, some anglers have adapted to the “schedules” of their target fish and in many cases that means fishing for bass at night and especially during the period before daybreak when water and air temperatures are at their coolest. These anglers, the ones willing to make the adjustment to what the fish want and when, have not been complaining about the bass fishing recently.
There has been some recent reports of salmon anglers from Winchester Bay “dipping” their boats into freshwater at the Tahkenitch Boat Ramp to rid their boat of saltwater. This activity, in the age of cell phones and camera phones seems like a good way to get a rather expensive ticket and with many state and federal agencies concerned with the transportation of such invasive species as zebra and quagga mussels the fines for such misbehavior are sure to climb.
For what it’s worth, I have mostly optimistic, but somewhat mixed feelings about the placement of tidal-energy producing platforms in our nearby ocean waters. I am all for alternative, clean energy, but as someone who has watched the movie, “The Buttergly Effect”, I cannot help wondering what the eventual result will be of small changes in tidal currents the platforms will cause. If these energy generators become bottomfish hangouts in water less than 180 feet deep, and anglers are allowed to fish near them, Winchester Bay will once again have year-round bottomfishing in the ocean – and leave Florence as the only substantial Oregon port without summer bottomfishing options in the ocean.
It’s official. The head of California’s Department of Fish and Game was recently unanimously voted out of his position. His crime? Dan Richards made the mistake of going on a guided, quite legal, cougar hunt in Idaho and successfully shot a cougar and when the news got back to California, he faced the wrath of a number of anti-hunting groups. His replacement, Jim Foley is also an avid hunter and angler, but may be afraid to do so in the future since his co-chair and possible replacement as commission head has a reputation as being less than a friend to hunters and anglers. At any rate, over the last few years, if an Oregon sportsman wants to feel better about our Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), simply check out what’s happening in California.