Interest is building in salmon fishing along the Oregon coast – and especially off Winchester Bay. However, rough ocean conditions and an Umpqua River Bar that is often severely restricted, or completely closed has made it very difficult to acutally fish for salmon. Right now, the only salmon legal to keep while fishing the ocean are Chinook salmon at least 24-inches long. Beginning this Saturday, ocean coho salmon become legal to keep – but they need to have their adipose fin clipped and healed – and they need to be at least 16-inches in length.
A few sport anglers managed to fish the ocean out of Winchester Bay last Thursday and caught some Chinook salmon, but unfortunately, the rough bar and ocean conditions persisted.
The upcoming ocean coho season is going to be the most generous in recent memory. The season is set to last through August 10th – unless the quota of 80,000 fin clipped cohos is actually reached before then.
In the highly likely event that the quota for the finclipped ocean coho is unmet, the uncaught portion of the quota will be added to the quota of 20,000 cohos for the non-selective coho fishery. However, it won’t be on a fish-for-fish basis, but a a number the ODFW deems to be “impact neutral”. The non-selective coho fishery allows an angler to keep two salmon per day and they do not have to be finclipped – but can be.
The non-selective coho season starts August 30th and runs through September 30th or when the quota is reached – whichever is earlier.
As for some other local fisheries, fishing pressure has been very light off the South Jetty/Triangle for bottomfish, but fishing has been fairly productive for striped surfperch and greenling. cabezon are also being caught, but are not legal to keep until July 1st.
Umpqua River shad fishing remains mediocre, but hasn’t fallen off much over the last few weeks. The smallmouth fishing is excellent and should even improve slightly over the next several weeks. Nightcrawlers and small plastic worms and grubs work well for the smallies and sightfishing for bass you can actually see is both easy to do and productive.
Some sizable crappies were caught over the last couple of weeks at Lookout Point Reservoir (between Oakridge and Pleasant Hill). Lookout Point has, in past years produced crappies measuring more than 18-inches and weighing more than four pounds – much larger than the 16-inchers pulled from it recently. The downside is that the crappies can be very difficult to find in a reservoir as long and as deep as Lookout Point is. Some good-sized walleyes have turned up near the upper end of the reservoir near the Hampton Boat Ramp.