Crabbing is holding up quite well at Winchester Bay and it looks like even if we have considerable rainfall over the next couple of weeks it will only move the crabs closer to the ocean and not run them out of the river. Last week, some crabs were taken more than a mile upriver from the entrance to the East Boat Basin. As this is being written Thursday night, the crabs in the river seem to be full as opposed to the ocean crabs not being full enough to allow the commercial season to open on schedule.
The catch rates for the wild coho during the week ending November 11th are out and it appears that only 23 wild coho were kept and counted by fish checkers. The top river for wild coho was the Coos with a mere seven fish. It appears that most of the salmon taken recently have not been counted as Mike Shubin stopped by where I work in Winchester Bay last Thursday with two bright salmon he caught while fishing the Umpqua River’s South Jetty – one a chinook of more than ten pounds and the other a wild coho of at least 15 pounds. As stated earlier, both salmon were quite bright and Mike also had some bottomfish action while trolling for the salmon. Salmon are now distributed throughout the Umpqua River system and have been for several weeks.
Salmon fishing has even been tough on the South Coast where it almost seems that a good rain is required to get new, and more cooperative, fish into the streams. Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes continue to produce coho salmon, but it seems that most of the salmon taken in Tenmile are falling to anglers fishing spinnerbaits and crankbaits for bass – which are still entering the catch at Tenmile Lake, but in limited numbers.
As for the Triangle and South Jetty, fishing pressure has picked up somewhat with the decrease in salmon anglers. Rainy weather has shrunk the number of anglers fishing for salmon from shore and rotten bar conditions have made trying to fish the lowermost Umpqua from a boat, iffy at best. There has been virtually no fishing pressure directed at striped bass and sturgeon, although there have been a few anglers trying for sturgeon above Wells Creek where almost every fish taken is too big to legally keep.
Trout fishing in Saunders Lake and Lake Marie has been better than could reasonably be expected for good-sized planted rainbows. Although the trout fishing has slowed down since early summer, Tenmile Lakes is still producing some sizable rainbows to persistent anglers. Anglers willing to travel can catch some good-sized brown and rainbow trout out of the Deschutes River from Bend downstream to Lake Billy Chinook and some sizable rainbows to more than 30-inches from Agency and Upper Klamath Lakes. During the colder months, spring areas tend to offer the best fishing. Good winter fishing for rainbows to at least eight pounds is also available on the Klamath River below the Keno Dam downstream to John Boyle Reservoir. This section of river can get very warm and trout fishing is only allowed from October 1st through June 15th.
The best winter trout fishing in the northwest can be found at Rufus Woods Lake, a Columbia River reservoir, where the net pen-reared rainbows tend to stay close to the pens they were raised in. These sterile triploid trout don’t seem to do anything but eat and incredibly fat fish weighing at least 20 pounds are taken every winter. The average rainbow will weigh around three pounds. The guides that fish Lake Chelan for mackinaw or lake trout are also incredibly successful. The usual trip results in several lakers per angler and these fish are capable of exceeding 20 pounds in weight with the average laker weighing between three and five pounds. Chelan holds the Washington state records for both mackinaw and landlocked chinook salmon with both fish weighing well over 30 pounds.
Although the fishing for hybrid muskies in Washington falls off during the coldest months, the fish usually bite fairly well in cool water. Hybrid or tiger muskies are only present in seven Washington waters and the trout fishing seems to have improved in all of them after the musky program got established. A minimum length limit of 50-inches makes Washington’s tiger musky program pretty much a catch and release fishery designed to offer a trophy fishing aspect to the improved trout fishing in the lakes containing the muskies. It seems like they could also plant a few of the sterile tiger muskies in other lakes simply to shock the occasional trout, bass or panfish angler.