Pete Heley Outdoors 9 / 28 / 2016

All-depth bottomfishing reopens in marine waters deeper than 20 fathoms (120 feet) on Saturday, Oct. 1st. Expect ling cod and rockfish angling to be very good. This restriction was intended to last through the end of the calender year, but bottomfish anglers did a better job than expected of releasing unkeepable species of rockfish at proper depths by using descenders. If bottomfish anglers continue to effectively release deepwater bottomfish there may be less closures and restrictions in the future.

Local fishing activist, Steve Godin, is working to make sure that all local tackle retailers will have a supply of descenders by the time the all-depth bottomfishing season reopens.

As of Sunday, Sept. 18th – the last catch data available as I write this column, 3,351 ocean coho salmon had been caught and retained – or 44.7 percent of the quota of 7,500. The catch has been running about 15 percent of the quota per week – or slightly more than two percent per day. So by the time you are reading this on Wednesday, Sept. 28th, about 65 to 70 percent of the quota should have been caught and kept. The present rate of coho catch would have to show a major increase for the ocean coho season to close prior to September 30th..

On a positive note, a surprising number of finclipped coho salmon were caught in the lower Umpqua River last week. Salmon have started stacking up below Winchester Creek in the “Mud Hole” where spinner and spoon flingers have caught mostly coho salmon and anglers fishing bobber and bait (sand shrimp or salmon roe) have started catching mostly jack Chinooks, but a few adult salmon as well. One can reasonably expect this fishery to really take off over the next few weeks and it will be interesting to see how much fishing pressure the spot receives – especially when many anglers will have the option of fishing two rods this year.

We can probably blame it on the drought conditions in most of California, but this year the southern Oregon coast has produced far fewer Chinook salmon than has Oregon’s north coast. For at least the last few decades the southern portion of the state has dominated Chinook salmon catches along the Oregon coast. This disturbing “trend” may be long-lasting and is a prime example of how conditions in a nearby state can adversely affect an Oregon fishery.

Crabbing in the ocean remains very productive when conditions allow it. Most ocean sport crabbers are crabbing at a depth of at least 50 feet with a few going as deep as 80 feet. In past years most ocean crabbers crabbed at depths of 25 to 35 feet. Some are still crabbing at the shallower depths – most likely because they are unwilling to add rope to their crab pots – and they are catching crabs – just not as many as those placing their crabbing devices in deeper water.

Last week Mardon Resort on southeast Washington’s Potholes Reservoir hosted a rather unique fishing contest. The “Marathon Dock Fishing Contest ran from Friday at 6 pm until Sunday at 11 am and more than 150 dockbound anglers caught hundreds of fish – some of them good-sized, but the most impressive fish caught during the contest were a 14 pound channel catfish and a nine pound walleye. Forty eight hundred dollars were awarded in cash prizes for the heaviest fish taken of ten different fish species (bluegill, bullhead catfish,carp, channel catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, walleye and yellow perch).

This coming Saturday (Oct. 1st) is National Hunting and Fishing Day and a good time to do one or the other – or both.

The next and last trout plants for our area will take place during the second week of October in Bradley Lake (800); Butterfield Lake (600); Lower Empire Lake (2,000); Upper Empire Lake (2,000); Powers Pond (1,300) and Saunders Lake (1,300). All rainbow trout scheduled for stocking are the 14-inchers the ODFW refers to as “pounders”. Bradley Lake is also slated to receive to receive 800 pounders during the fourth week of October.

One can expect fishing for largemouth bass on our local lakes and for smallmouth bass on the Umpqua and Coquille rivers to be very good over the next few weeks. As fall progresses, the best fishing will occur in the afternoons.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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