Monthly Archives: June 2018

Signs That “Grab”You.

This sign on the outskirts of Agness always makes me smile.

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WDFW News – Sockeye Fishery to Open on Columbia River, but Chinook Season to Close on Lower Stretch.

Starting July 1, anglers can catch and keep sockeye salmon on the Columbia River, but will be required to release any chinook salmon they intercept downriver from Bonneville Dam.

Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon today agreed to modify fishing rules in joint waters of the Columbia, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) followed up by extending the sockeye fishery upstream to Chief Joseph Dam.

Before the season got underway, both states agreed to forgo scheduling any sockeye fisheries on the Columbia River due to low projected returns, especially those to the Wenatchee River.

However, an updated run forecast now projects that 209,000 sockeye will return this year – up from the 99,000 previously estimated – providing a sufficient number of fish for recreational fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia, said Bill Tweit, a WDFW special assistant.

“It’s always exciting to see salmon come in above the pre-season forecast,” Tweit said. “Sockeye can be elusive in the lower river, but anglers generally do well fishing for them from the Tri-Cities to Brewster.”

Snake River fisheries remain closed to protect Snake River sockeye listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

While the preseason forecast for summer chinook has not yet been updated, Tweit said current data indicate that chinook returns are tracking about 20 percent below the initial projection of 67,300 adult fish. That prompted fishery managers to close the lower Columbia River summer chinook season four days earlier than previously scheduled.

“Based on the low catches to date above Bonneville, we decided to close the chinook fishery in the lower river but leave it open upriver from the dam,” Tweit said.

Starting July 1, anglers fishing from the Megler-Astoria Bridge to Bonneville Dam on the lower Columbia River can still catch a total of six salmon/steelhead a day. The daily limit for adult fish in those waters is two adult sockeye salmon or hatchery adult steelhead, or one of each. Anglers can round out their daily six-fish limit with hatchery jack chinook salmon.

For more information and details on daily limits in each section of the river, see the Fishing Rule Change at


Oregon Halibut Update.

Central Oregon Coast spring all-depth fishery open July 6-7; Columbia River nearshore fishery to close June 30.

Halibut Update

Columbia River Subarea


Nearshore—Closing at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, June 30, 2018.

The entire subarea quota has been caught.

Central Oregon Coast Subarea

Spring All-Depth season— through the “fixed openings” the total landings are 109,111 pounds; 44,446 pounds landed during the last fixed opening. This leaves 26,631 pounds or 19.6 % of the spring all-depth quota remaining. This is enough to allow for 2 back-up dates, Friday,July 6 and Saturday, July 7 to be open. There will be an announcement by noon on Friday, July 13 if enough quota remains for any additional back-up dates, after those first 2 back-up dates. Remaining back-up dates are July 19, 20 and/or 21.

Winds and waves were nice enough on Thursday and Friday to allow many anglers to get out on the ocean chasing halibut. Saturday started off okay as well, but by mid-morning the winds started picking up. Success varied by port with an average of approximately 60% success rate coastwide with anglers out of Winchester Bay and Newport having the highest success rate. Coastwide the average size was approximately 27 pounds round weight per fish.

Summer All-Depth Season—opens August 3-4, if quota remaining, can be open every other Friday and Saturday.

Nearshore Season— opened June 1, seven days per week; however July 6-7 are all-depth days, so the all-depth regulations have to be followed (no retention of most species of groundfish) regardless of where actual fishing occurs. Through June there has been a total of 4,753 pounds landed, leaving 21,103 pounds (81.6%) of the quota remaining. The average weight of landed fish so far this year has been approximately 35 pounds round weight. The average weight of fish landed last week were a bit smaller at approximately 28 pounds round weight.

South of Humbug Mountain subarea—there has been a total of 1,121 pounds landed. This leaves 7,861 pounds (87.5 %) of the quota remaining. Average weight of fish landed so far has been approximately 36 pounds round weight.

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WDFW News – Regulations for Salmon Fishery in Marine Area 12, South of Ayock Point Clarified.

Action: Clarifies that the daily limit south of Ayock Point in Marine Area 12 is four salmon, up to four of which may be hatchery chinook. Anglers must release chum and wild chinook.

The 2018-19 Washington Sportfishing rules pamphlet erroneously states that anglers can keep only two hatchery chinook as part of the four salmon limit.

Effective date: July 1-Sept. 30, 2018.

Species affected: Salmon.

Location: South of Ayock Point in Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal).

Reason for action: This corrects an error in the 2018-19 Washington Sportfishing Rules pamphlet. These regulations were agreed to with co-managers during the annual North of Falcon salmon season-setting process.

Additional information: Other Puget Sound marine areas that open July 1 to salmon fishing include marine areas 5 (Sekiu) and 7 (San Juan Islands). Marine Area 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait) opens July 3. Check the 2018-19 Washington Sportfishing rules pamphlet, which is available online at for more information.

Information contact: Mark Baltzell, 360-902-2807.

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WDFW News – Keeping Crab Pots Out of Ferry Lanes.

Harvesting crab is a Northwest tradition, but improperly set and lost crab pots can mean big trouble for the region’s ferry system.

That’s why the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Washington State Ferries (WSF) are joining forces this summer to urge recreational crab fishers to stay out of ferry lanes, docks, and terminals when dropping crab pots.

Several million people are expected to ride a ferry during the busy summer travel season. In 2017, three separate ferries on three different routes were temporarily disabled due to crab lines and pots either placed in the ferry lane or improperly set and swept into the routes. Recreational crab lines tangled in the shafts of the vessels led to both costly repairs and lengthy delays for ferry travelers.

“Crab pots caused the most severe damage to the propulsion system on the Salish ferry last summer,” said Greg Faust, director of WSF operations for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). “The loss of this vessel alone resulted in nearly 800 cancelled sailings on the Port Townsend/Coupeville and Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth routes as we shuffled boats around to balance service needs across our system.”

Most areas of Puget Sound will open for recreational crab fishing on June 30, although two areas around the San Juan Islands open later in the summer to protect molting crab. WDFW shellfish managers predict crabbing will be good again this year and more people will participate in the season.

“We need crabbers to help prevent conflicts with ferries as they hit the water this year,” said WDFW Police Captain Dan Chadwick.

Chadwick recommended several ways for crab fishers to have a successful experience and avoid problems with ferries:

Add Weight to Lines – Propellers can sever or wrap up a line floating along the surface. Use sinking lines when possible, and add weight to keep floating lines off the surface.
Know Water Depth – The easiest way to lose a pot is to drop one in water deeper than the length of line attached. Use a line that is one-third longer than the water depth to keep pots from floating away.
Watch Pots – Stay close to dropped crab pots to ensure all are accounted for at the end of the day.
Add Extra Weights to Crab Pots – In many instances, adding just 10 pounds of weight can help recreational crab pots stay put.
Use Escape Cord – Biodegradable cotton cord, which is required on all pots, will degrade and allow crabs to escape if a pot is lost.
Identify Crab Pots – All recreational crab pot buoys must have the crab fisher’s name and address on them, and a phone number is recommended.
Chadwick noted more than 12,000 crab pots are lost each year, with many of these pots continuing to fish killing crabs. Lost crab pots should be reported immediately online at or by calling1-855-542-3935(WDFW). There are no penalties for reporting lost fishing gear.

Recreational crab fishing will be open Thursdays through Mondays each week during the summer. Crabbing is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week, which means crabbers should be aware that no sport crab fisheries will be open Wednesday, July 4.

All shellfish gear must be removed from the water on closed days. Crab fishers may not set or pull shellfish gear from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise. For more information on crab fishing, see

Any suspected illegal activity should be reported as soon as possible by calling 1-877-933-9847.

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Winchester Bay Pinkfin Run Far From Over.

Norma Evans, of “A Bent Rod” Guide Service got a quick boat limit of redtail surfperch in 50 minutes this Thursday morning – fishing just upriver of Winchester Bay.

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Deja Vu Brody Sullens

Brody Sullens caught this good-sized largemouth bass off the same dock on Tenmile Lakes that he caught a lunker rainbow trout last week. He fished a nightcrawler in six FOW for both fish.

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Bottomfish Limit Reduction Takes Effect July 1st.

Beginning July 1, 2018, the general marine fish bag limit will decrease to 4 fish per angler per day. The general marine fish bag limit includes all species of rockfish (yelloweye rockfish prohibited at all times), greenlings, skates, and all other marine species not listed on pages 81-82 of the 2018 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations.

Angler effort through May is higher than what has been seen in recent years, even the record high years of 2015 and 2017. Therefore, this reduction is necessary to try to keep total annual catches within quotas for several species, and reduce the risk of an early closure such as occurred in September 2017.

The daily bag limits for lingcod (2), flatfish other than Pacific halibut (25), and longleader trips/species (10) remain unchanged. The 1 fish sub-bag limit for cabezon will also remain, once cabezon opens on July 1.

Anglers this year made 40,619 bottomfish trips through May (17,750 in May alone), compared to 24,080 for January-May last year, which until 2018 was the highest effort year on record. Angler effort is only expected to increase as summer fishing peaks.

Last year, recreational bottomfish closed on Sept. 18 after the annual quotas for several species were met early, the first in-season closure since 2004. The closure disrupted coastal charter businesses and anglers. (Typically, recreational bottomfish fishing is open all year, though effort significantly drops off after early fall.)

ODFW has been working to avoid another early closure this year by providing effort and catch rates at more frequent intervals and modeling impacts of various bag limit scenarios.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission heard testimony from coastal sportfishing businesses before deciding on the 5-fish bag limit when it set regulations back in December, with the understanding that in-season adjustments could be necessary to keep the season open through the end of the year.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 6 / 27 / 2018

I checked in with the ODFW office in Charleston and found that the rumor is true – the ODFW does intend to remove limits regarding numbers and minimum sizes on striped bass. Mike Graybill assured me that there was no ODFW war on stripers, but simply an attempt by the ODFW to simplify angling regulations.

My greatest concern, once the limits are removed, is that on those very rare occasions when stripers are tightly schooled and aggressive, an angler can catch a ridiculous amount of stripers – and keep every one of them. They are quite delicious, after all, when properly prepared. DO NOT BE CONFUSED! Oregon’s present striper limit is two stripers at least 24-inches in length within a 24 hour period.

For more than 30 years, striped bass in Oregon have mainly been a marginal or incidental fishery. Perhaps climate change can improve the spawning success of Oregon’s striped bass and other warmwater fish species – while at the same time it makes things ever more difficult for it’s salmon, trout and steelhead. In the meantime, think of Oregon’s stripers as a rare, unexpected and very much appreciated bonus – especially now that the good striper fishing on the Smith River in May appears to be over.

After some additional exploring some of the ponds and small lakes in the sand dunes north of North Bend – I am now convinced that there are warmwater fish populations in most of them. Largemouth bass and bluegills seem to be the most common fish species in most of the smaller ponds, but a few have black crappie and yellow perch. While I doubt if any of the ponds have a strong forage base, the lack of fishing pressure has allowed a few bluegills to reach at least nine inches in length. While some of the ponds can be fished from the bank, a float tube or a kayak will definitely increase an angler’s options.

On a calm overcast evening last week at Eel Lake, I was amazed by the numbers of bluegills and black crappies rising near the fishing dock – but unlike last year, the panfish seem to be scattered around the entire lake this year.. A friend of mine, fishing from a boat, landed a hundred crappies measuring between five and ten inches last Thursday at a location on Eel Lake at least a mile from the boat launch and fishing dock. I find it interesting that Eel Lake’s panfish resurgence has occurred after a major decrease in the lake’s once robust stickleback population.

At Tenmile Lakes, sizable rainbow trout are continuing to take attention away from the lake’s strong largemouth bass population.

Loon Lake continues to offer our area’s best bluegill fishing – and it is almost too easy. Fishing near the shoreline is the way to go on this deep lake and in the evening, the bluegills spread out over the entire lake in the top five feet of water. Small hooks are a must and micro plastics, flies or worms all work well. Expect to catch a few incidental crappies when evening fishing.

A couple of river floats are worth checking out. Tenmile Creek from Lakeside down to the “Old Highway 101 Bridge” covers about five stream miles and about a one-mile hike via the railroad tracks will get you back to your rig, Kayaks are the most suitable craft to float this stream as it is quite narrow in a couple of spots. The primary fish species in Tenmile Creek are largemouth bass, yellow perch and rainbow trout.

The same fish species are present in the Siltcoos River but the fish are less numerous and average slightly bigger. Most people launch at the Siltcoos Lake Boat Ramp in Westlake and paddle south to enter the river which is the Siltcoos Lake outlet. The river is fairly wide and deep and will handle most any moderate-sized craft down to the dam which is nearly three miles downstream of the lake and the return trip, whether by rowing or boat motor, is not difficult. There is a slide on the north side of the dam that kayakers can use to access the river below the dam and travel all the way to the estuary at the mouth of the river.

The Siltcoos River is a nationally known scenic waterway and a strong majority of those floating the river are either sightseeing or bird watching – rather than fishing.

As for the Umpqua River, there are multiple angling options. Starting about eight miles upriver of Reedsport, smallmouth bass angling is very good and should stay that way for at least the next three months. Shad fishing is still very good above tidewater – especially at Sawyer’s Rapids and should last into early July. The spawning run of redtail surfperch near Winchester Bay is still going on, but has slowed down from the hot fishing a few weeks ago. A few fall chinook salmon should be entering the lower Umpqua and by mid-July bankbound spinner flingers should be catching salmon at Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point.

As for the central Oregon coast spring all-depth halibut season – less than half the season’s quota of 135,742 pounds had been caught entering last week’s three-day opener and and an additional opener on July 5 – 7 seems certain with a July 19-21 opener very likely.

Recent catches of tuna out of both Newport and Charleston hopefully are indicators of a good season ahead.

Crabbing continues to be mediocre at Charleston and Winchester Bay with some soft crabs are being reported.

Pete Heley works parttime at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.

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Remembering Clay Hood.

Back in the early 1970’s, Clay Hood, a member of The Oregon Hawghunters, was a formidible tournament bass angler. I had the pleasure of fishing with Clay only one time – for brown trout in Harriet Lake near Estacada.

Clay started off using a Rapala-type lure with the lip bent down and started casting from the bank and vigorously popping the lure.

I started to tell him that such bass tactics would not work on the ever-so-wary brown trout, but before I could complete a sentence, Clay hooked and landed two brown trout nearly 20-inches long – which he quickly released. After launching my canoe, we caught more browns, but Clay’s first two fish were the day’s biggest.

I regret that the Harriet Lake trip was the only time I had the pleasure of fishing with Clay who seems to catch fish whenever and wherever he fishes.

Clay’s lunker largemouth from Multnomah County’s Blue Lake weighed eight pounds 14.5 ounces.

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