Pete Heley Outdoors 11 / 29 / 2017

While ocean crabbing is still off limits, the crabbing closures for bays, estuaries and the lower tidal portions of larger rivers changed last week to allow crabbing from Tahkenitch Creek south to the North Jetty at Bandon. While this approximately 20 mile southward extension might seem somewhat inconsequential, it means that recreational crabbers can, once again, legally crab the entirety of Coos Bay.

The normal re-opening of ocean crabbing of December 1st was extended to at least mid-December by a combination of low meat content and elevated levels of domoic acid. Until the ocean reopens to crabbing, the only options available to recreational crabbing along the southern Oregon coast are Coos Bay and the lower Umpqua River at Winchester Bay.

While relatively high salinity in Coos Bay means that the entire bay is capable of producing decent crabbing, as heavier rainfall shows up, the better crabbing areas will move closer to Charleston. As for Winchester Bay, there is already a major advantage to crabbing from a boat rather than off a dock. But all three crabbing docks produced near-limit catches last weekend. With continued rainfall, Dock “A”, the farthest upriver of Winchester Bay’s three dock-crabbing choices will be the first to suffer a major decline in crabbing success – followed by Dock “9”. The Coast Guard Pier, which is closest to the ocean will be the last dock-crabbing option to suffer from increased freshwater.

Fishing for yellow perch at Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes has been productive with Tahkenitch the best for numbers and Siltcoos having the largest average size. Another 15-inch perch was caught out of South Tenmile Lake last week. A female yellow perch of 15-inches – caught in February or early March could possibly topple the existing state record of two pounds two ounces.

The Elk and Sixes rivers are still producing hefty chinook salmon. The Elk clears the quickest after a heavy rain, but the Sixes usually has less fishing pressure. As of last week, both streams had very heavy fishing pressure. Within the next two weeks both streams should be giving up winter steelhead as well as late-run fall chinooks.

The coastal coho lakes are still producing salmon and will continue to do so until at least mid-December. Over the last few weeks there were a few anglers fishing Tenmile Creek below the Hilltop Drive Bridge – claiming to be fishing for winter steelhead. Tenmile Creek below that bridge is closed to coho angling as well as being closed to steelhead fishing until December 1st. Both Tenmile lakes and Tenmile Creek above the Hilltop Drive Bridge are open all year for fin-clipped steelhead.

There’s a chance that the 2018 fishing and hunting regulations will be available next week and the ODFW allows hunting and fishing license purchases for the next year as of December 1st. One license that will not cost more next year is a pioneer license which will remain an incredible bargain at $6.00. Resident shellfish licenses will increase from $9.00 to $10.00; Resident fishing licenses for those between the ages of 18 and 69 will increase from $38.00 to $41.00 while the senior fishing license for residents age 70 or more will go from $25.00 to $27.00. The combo hunting/fishing/shellfish licenses for kids age 12 through 17 will remain at $10.00 and the under 18 combined angling tag will remain at $5.00. I am constantly amazed at how many kids cannot remember their social security numbers which would allow them to take advantage of these remarkable bargains. Combined Angling Tags, more common referred to as salmon tags, for those aged 18 and older increased from $35.00 to $40.50 and Hatchery Tags increased by $3.50 to $28.50.

Without attempting to mention every fee increase for the coming year (the info is on the ODFW website), some of the more important fee increases are: Resident Combination from $65.00 to $69.00; Annual Nonresident Fishing from $97.50 to $103.50; 3-Day Nonresident Shellfish from $17.00 to $19.00; Annual Nonresident Shellfish from $26.00 to $28.00 and Sports Pac from $181.00 to $189.50 and the item I feel the most embarrassed to charge for – the Non Resident Combined Angling Tag which went from $26.59 to $60.50 in only three years.

As for the daily licenses – One Days went from $19.00 to $21.00; Two Days went from $34.50 to $38.50; 3-Days went from $50.50 to $55.00 and 7-Days went from $76.50 to $84.50. I’m glad that Oregon didn’t separate their fishing licenses into freshwater and saltwater versions as the states that have gone that route have become much more expensive for those that fish both salt and freshwater.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

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