Pete Heley Outdoors 7 / 27 / 2016

The pinkfin fishery in the Umpqua River above Winchester Bay has slowed way down. There are still fair numbers of surfperch in the spawning area of the river, but they are getting more difficult to find and the bite is definitely becoming less predictible. The surfperch bite on area beaches is still going strong, but windy conditions often make fishing the the surf difficult.

Ocean salmon fishing has generally not been good. Of course there are the rare exceptions each day where a few anglers achieve boat limits, but overall, the fishing is very slow. The last report on the ODFW website with data through July 17th, showed that only 4.2 percent of the 26,000 finclipped coho salmon quota had been caught and retained. It definitely appears that the season will not be ending early since the quota will not be met and the season will run through August 7th. Ocean fishing for Chinook salmon will remain open through October 15th.

Not only have finclipped cohos been hard to find. but they seem to be running smaller than the unkeepable wild cohos. A few anglers have reported catching fair numbers of Chinook salmon too small to keep, but some of them measured 23-inches and should meet the 24-inch minimum length limit for the ocean if hooked again in a couple of weeks. Ocean coho salmon have to be finclipped and at least 16-inches in length to be legal to keep.

Over the next several weeks salmon fishing will improve in the lower Umpqua River and while jack or immature salmon are not recognized in the ocean, they are in the river. A jack coho salmon must be at least 15-inches in length, but no more than 20-inches in length – if it is longer than 20-inches it is considered an adult and must be marked on the angler’s combined anging tag. All kept coho salmon, jacks or adults must be finclipped, except when relatively short seasons that allow keeping unclipped cohos in the ocean or rivers are in effect and those seasons are well-publicized.

Chinook jacks in the river must also be at least 15-inches in length and up to 24-inches. Over 24-inches and they are considered an adult Chinook salmon and must be promptly marked on an angler’s combined angling tag if kept. Chinook salmon do not have to be finclipped to be legal to keep.

Some of the more surprising statistics regarding this season’s ocean salmon fishing is that Garibaldi continues to lead in angler trips with 3,255 (more than twice as many as Winchester Bay (1,508) or Newport (1,378) and Newport has produced more Chinooks than Winchester Bay (126 to 84). In fairness to Winchester Bay – most of its Chinooks have come out of the river between Winchester Bay and Reedsport and were not counted as part of the ocean catch.

The best reports out of Winchester Bay have come from boat crabbers. Jim and Jinny Pardee, of Eugene crabbed the lower end of Half Moon Bay late Saturday afternoon and caught fourteen good-sized male crabs in less than two hours. Also on Saturday, several boats made very good catches while crabbing the ocean in 55 feet of water. While dock crabbers have yet to enjoy the same levels of success as enjoyed by boat crabbers, dock crabbing should impove steadily through late summer and fall.

Early morning bass and panfishing is very productive and very warm days often mean that bass won’t become active until well after dark. If a bass angler wanted to cherry pick a productive two hour time period, the last hour before daybreak through the first hour hour after dawn would be a good choice.

Which brings me to one of the most common mistakes many anglers make on a fishing trip – expecting the fish to adjust to your time schedule. or preferences. A lot of anglers make this mistake and, in private, I refer to them as under-achievers. The most successful anglers plan their fishing efforts for when their targeted fish is likely to be active or likely to bite.

Kudos to the Coos County Bass Masters, an online facebook bass club that has managed to ferret out some very-much-overlooked fishing spots and then through practicing catch and release, make sure they don’t ruin them for others. I commend them for realizing that area bass fishing does not begin and end at Tenmile Lakes and for some of the genuine lunkers they have hooked in seemingly insignicant waters.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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