Ocean salmon fishing is improving except along the northern edge of our zone. Through July 16th, Garibaldi continues to lead in number of chinook salmon harvested, but produced virtually no chinook last week. Winchester Bay continues to lead in ocean salmon fishing trips and number of finclipped coho salmon kept and is up to .40 kept salmon per angler-trip. However, Charlston with .52 kept salmon per angler-trip has been even more productive and has produced 13.6 percent more retained chinook salmon with only 36.4 percent as many angler-trips. One advantage that Winchester Bay anglers have is that if the bar is uncrossable or the ocean unsafe, the Umpqua River is giving up enough chinook salmon to serve as a viable “Plan B”. Chinooks to more than 30 pounds have been caught between the Umpqua River Bar and Reedsport with the mile below Reedsport recently the most productive.
As of July 16th, only 10.1 percent of quota had been caught and kept and since the ocean finclipped coho season ends on July 31st, the season will not close early due to quota fulfillment. However, the salmon fishing is definitely improving – especially along the central Oregon coast and it appears that when the nonselective ocean coho season, where both clipped and unclipped cohos can be kept, opens on September 2nd the 6,000 salmon quota might be reached very quickly – unless the salmon move even farther off shore or ocean, bar or weather conditions limit fishing access or success.
Only a few anglers have been trying to catch salmon at Winchester Bay by casting spinners off the bank, but both Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point have given up chinooks to 25 pounds. Very few cohos have been caught and they have been chasing forage fish and have been unclipped and unkeepable. It may be a little awkward during the nonselective ocean coho season when unclipped coho are legal to keep in the ocean, but not in the river. Fifteen to 20-inch cohos are considered jack salmon in rivers and don’t have to be tagged while cohos of 16-inches or longer are considered adults in the ocean and have to be recorded on anglers’ combined angling tags.
It’s been a problem all year long, but it’s especially noticeable during mid to late summer when the numbers of people crabbing and fishing skyrockets and large numbers of 12 to 17 year olds cannot take advantage of the fishing/hunting/shellfish licenses available to them for $10.00 – because their social security numbers are not in the ODFW licensing system. This is the best deal Oregon has ever offered youthful outdoor recreationists, even nonresident ones, but it is a yearly license and is only available for purchase at license vendors with online machines – after their SSN’s are in the system. Youths of 12 to 17 years of age can also purchase for only $5.00 the same combined angling tag that costs someone 18 years old or older, $35.00 if a resident or $55.00 if a nonresident – if their SSN is in the system.
The Umpqua River pinkfin run is not over, but appears to be winding down and becoming even more inconsistent. Fishing for surfperch in the surf along area beaches is more consistent, but some people just like to use their boats.
Umpqua River shad fishing is pretty much over, but smallmouth fishing is very good with the bass even fatter than usual. Some sections of the river have more of a weed problem than others, but fishing topwater lures minimizes the problem. A few other lures and retrieval techniques can also lessen the weed problem.
Fishing for bluegills at Loon Lake continues to be very good, but weed growth has somewhat curtailed bankfishing options. Early morning fishing for largemouth bass can be fair to good and evening crappie fishing has been fair. Ever since the water at Tenmile Lake got very low last summer, Eel Lake has been busier than ever. But much of the usage doesn’t involve fishing. Those that have been fishing are catching some bass and trout and a very few bluegills and crappies.
Saunders and Butterfield lakes have been relatively overlooked and are capable of providing decent fishing for anglers using light tackle. Butterfield still has a few planted rainbow trout left as well as largemouth bass, crappies, bluegills and a very few warmouths. Saunders lacks the warmouths, but has the other fish species as well as lots of yellow perch.
Crabbing at Winchester Bay has been a little inconsistent, but generally very good. Last week, one boat that was crabbing just outside the Umpqua River Bar reported that 48 of the 52 crabs they caught were legal males. Both salmon fishing and crabbing should continue to improve over the next several weeks.
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.