Monthly Archives: August 2015

Pete Heley Outdoors 8 / 05 /2015

A call to the ODFW office in Charlston took some of the wind out of my sails. I had worked up a series of “what if” questions about the recent stream closures and restrictions that I was certain would stump even the most senior ODFW employee. They included such questions as, “Do the 2 pm closures apply to anglers fishing for strictly warmwater fish species? “When can an angler resume fishing for fish that are normally legal angling fare 24 hours per day? and what I thought would be my favorite – “What if you you kept some fish during a float trip, and you had not finished your float by 2 pm?

When the very polite and helpful person I was conversing with informed me that the restrictions I was referring to only applied to salmonids (salmon, steelhead and trout), I felt somewat disappointed because in one sentence she made virtually all the questions I had anticipated asking completely irrelevant.

The one question that remains unanswered in my mind is what happens if you are fishing a stream with a 2 pm closure and you caught and legally kept a few salmon, steelhead or trout that morning, but were still on the water at 2 pm and had either not finished your float trip, or had switched over to fishing for smallmouth bass or another warmwater fish species.?

My take on this scenario is that any law enforcement official checking you and finding salmonids on your boat after 2 pm is being reasonable in thinking you are are still targeting salmonids – no matter what you are fishing with. So I would act in such a way that anyone checking me has absolutely no reason to think I may have been doing anything illegal. Chinook salmon and summer steelhead are dying before spawning and the effect will be felt for several years into the future.

I think it’s terrible when one’s fishing opportunities are reduced, but I think it would be even more terrible to not try to reduce the impact that unusually warm water temperatures is having on Oregon’s fish and especially its salmonid fish species.

Knowledgable anglers realize that while the new regulations are absolute. That is they are either in effect, or not, their effectiveness tends to be incremential. Hooking and fighting a fish, especially a salmonid, will almost certainly be more stressful to that fish near the upper end of tidewater than it would be several miles downstream and fighting and releasing a fish between noon and 2 pm would stress the fish more than fighting and releasing it in the early morning.

Early morning fishing has been the most consistant time to catch Chinook salmon in the lower Umpqua River between Winchester Bay and Charlston, but over last weekend, it seemed like fishing during high tide was most productive. The ocean finclipped coho season is scheduled to end August 9th unless the quota is somehow miraculously reached before then. Ocean salmon fishing has been slow when the ocean has been fishable and most of the catch is still unclipped, unkeepable cohos. Jellyfish have been a major nuisance for many ocean anglers.

Oregon’s drought is pretty much statewide, but the Medford area may be the hardest hit. Howard Prairie and Hyatt reservoirs, both very dependent upon snowmelt, are less than 25 percent full. Many of the waters in the Klamath Falls area have toxic algae problems.

Fishingwise, 2015 has been and will continue to be a major disappointment and one can only hope that it will an outlier and not a strong indicator of an ongoing trend.

On a much happier note, crabbing along the Oregon coast and especially Winchester Bay, has been exceptionally good with some of the dock crabbers getting limits.

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