Pete Heley Outdoors 12 / 28 / 2016

Recreational crabbing is now open along the entire Oregon coast, but because of high river flows and muddy water, the best crabbing is currently in the ocean and in Oregon’s larger bays which are currently saltier than the river systems. Right now commercial crabbing is open from Cape Blanco to the California border. The rest of the Oregon coast will reopen to commercial crabbing on Jan. 1st, 2017.

Regulation changes regarding rockfish will take effect on Jan. 1st – such as mandatory use of descending devices when fishing in water more than 30 fathoms deep. No more than six black rockfisk may be included in the daily limit of seven bottomfish. No more than four blue/deacon, china, copper or quilback rockfish may be retained as part of the seven fish daily limit. With the exception of Pacific halibut, marine flatfish such as sand dabs and flounder still have a 25 fish daily limit, but fish such as skates and rays, although flat, are considered part of the seven fish daily limit for marine bottomfish.

Lingcod still have a separate two fish daily limit and the minimum length for legal retention is still 22-inches. The minimum length of ten inches on greenling will no longer be in effect after the first of the year. Greenling will still be included in the seven fish daily limit for marine bottomfish.

Bottomfish anglers need to be aware that the current daily limit on cabezon of one fish at least 16-inches in length will cease at the end of December. From Jan. 1st through June, cabezon will not be legal to keep. The open season on cabezon runs from July 1st through December.

Another potential world record spotted bass was recently pulled from northern California’s Bullards Bar Reservoir. This fish weighed 10.80 pounds. An even larger spotted bass of nearly eleven pounds was caught from the reservoir about a year ago, but still has not been certified as a world or state record. There were some discrepancies with that fish in that no California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife employees were available to witness the weighing, but a further hindrance to certifying the fish was that the angler who caught the fish tried to hide where he caught it.

This angler does not believe an angler should be required to reveal where he caught a really impressive fish – unless he wants it certified for a lake, state, national or world record. A lucky angler should not be allowed to have it both ways. I also do not believe that fish from private waters should be eligible for any official record consideration.

This coming weekend (Dec. 31st, 2016 and Jan. 1st, 2017) will be a “free fishing weekend”. People will be allowed to fish, crab or clam open Oregon waters during the two days without having to purchase a fishing or shellfish license. A combined Angling Tag, commonly called s “steelhead tag” will also not be required for the two days, but daily limits are still in effect.

Winter steelhead fishing is in full swing and there are good numbers of fish in all local streams that host runs. Although some anglers use lures or flies, most use bait, with roe or sand shrimp being most popular. The most effective strategy might be simply keeping track of which streams are in peak fishing condition when the trip actually occurs.

With the exception of the Umpqua River, most local streams fish best when they are not high and muddy. Tenmile Creek has been fairly high, but not muddy and fishing showed an improvement at Spin Reel Park last week. Eel Creek, which opens to steelhead fishing on Jan. 1st may be high, but almost certainly will be clear. As for the Umpqua, some of the river’s largest steelhead are caught by bank anglers plunking bait during high, muddy river flows.

I received a most interesting letter last week from Bob Murphy of Yoncalla. It seems that Bob and his two children (Stephanie and Ivan)
decided in early April to see if they could catch a thousand fish during 2016.

They mostly fished for bass and panfish in Cottage Grove Lake with several trips to Cooper Creek Reservoir in Sutherlin and single trips to several other waters. Many of the fish were released and many of the fish were small – but not all of them. Stephanie landed a 14-inch crappie and Bob landed a 20-inch smallmouth bass with a 17-inch girth. Both the crappie and the five pound three ounce smallie came from Cottage Grove Lake.

Although they caught 825 of their fish at Cottage Grove Lake, their one-thousandth fish, a ten inch largemouth, came from Cooper Creek on August 27th. By mid-November they had landed well over eleven-hundred fish and almost certainly would have caught more if they hadn’t spent considerable time measuring and documenting their catch.

Congratulations to the Murphy family for finding an interesting way to make their family outings even more fun.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

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