Pete Heley Outdoors 10 / 10 / 2018

Salmon fishing remains fair on the lower Umpqua River at Winchester Bay. But few chinooks or finclipped cohos are being caught. Bank anglers seem to be doing every bit as good as the boat anglers.

The coho salmon seasons on Siltcoos. Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes opened on October 1st and second rod validations immediately became invalid on those three lakes. No salmon have been reported yet in all three lakes, but a series of high tides could get salmon into the Siltcoos River, but there may not be enough water flowing through the fish ladder at the dam for the salmon to actually use it and move upstream past Highway 101 where they become legal to fish for. Very seldom do Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes get any coho salmon before the end of October. The lower deadline on Tahkenitch Lake is the Highway 101 Bridge. The lower deadline on Tenmile Lakes is the bridge on Hilltop Drive in Lakeside.

It most likely will not be a productive coho season on these lakes, but at least anglers can keep wild or unclipped coho salmon. The daily limit is one adult and one jack salmon per day and the season limit, which includes all three lakes, is five adult salmon. Anglers are supposed to quit salmon fishing after keeping an adult coho salmon.

The Chetco bubble fishery opens for the first of two weekends on Oct. 6-7.

Striped bass angling on the Smith and Coquille rivers should remain poor to fair through October when it typically slows to a crawl.

Afternoon fishing for smallmouth bass should be fair to good, but slower in numbers than during the summer, but the chances of bass longer than 15-inches will be improved. On the Coquille River system, the best fishing will be on the lower reaches of the South and Middlke forks of the river.

Afternoon fishing for largemouth bass should be productive on most area lakes – and last year, the best bassfishing on Tenmile Lakes occurred during the first two weeks in December.

Ocean crabbing remains good, but the recreational season will close on October 15th. River and bay crabbing will remain open all year – subject to emergency closures for elevated toxin levels.

Bottomfishishing in marine waters deeper than 180 feet, using convential angling methods, reopened on October 1st and fishing has been very good. Long leader bottomfishing is still legal in waters deeper than 240 feet, but almost every marine angler is opting for the conventional techniques – which allows them to keep two lingcod (22-inch minimum) and five bottomfish. Cabezon are still illegal to keep.

Lake Creek, a tributary of the Siuslaw River, will be closed to salmon fishing from Oct. 15-Dec. 31. No salmon fishing will be allowed from the mouth of Lake Creek to Indian Creek.

The closure is due to this year’s low stream flows, which will concentrate fall Chinook salmon in just a few locations, making them more vulnerable to harvest. The forecast for Chinook salmon is poor this year, and Chinook in the Siuslaw basin are not expected to meet Pacific Salmon Treaty escapement goals.

“Lake Creek is the largest producer of fall Chinook in the Siuslaw basin, and it’s important we conserve these fish during low stream flow and low return years,” said John Spangler, ODFW District Fish Biologist.

A new program will provide big game preference points in lieu of a cash reward to people who turn in poachers.

The program builds on the long standing Turn in Poachers Program (TIP), a successful collaboration between the Oregon Hunters Association and Oregon State Police which until now only provided cash rewards for information about poaching.

But new this year, people who provide information that Oregon State Police determines leads to an arrest or citation for the unlawful take/possession or waste of big game (deer, elk, moose, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, antelope, bear, cougar, or wolf) are eligible for preference points or the cash reward.

For cases involving bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose, and wolves, the person who turns in a poacher will be awarded five preference points. For cases involving elk, deer, pronghorn, cougar and bear, the person will be awarded four preference points. All preference points must go to one hunt series (elk, buck deer, antlerless deer, antelope or spring bear).

Hunters can only get one point in each hunt series each year. Some of Oregon’s most coveted hunts require 15+ points to draw, but most hunts require far less. Five preference points would allow a hunter to draw 76 percent of buck deer hunts, 69 percent of doe deer hunts, 83 percent of elk hunts and 24 percent of pronghorn hunts.

The new program is due to the passage of HB 3158 by the 2017 Oregon Legislature, which directed ODFW to offer big game preference points in lieu of a cash reward for people providing information leading to citations or arrest of poachers. The Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted rules for the program last month at their meeting in Bandon, and the rules are retroactive until Jan. 1, 2018.

“Poaching is a serious problem for Oregon’s wildlife,” says Travis Schultz, ODFW Access and Habitat Coordinator. “It can have significant long term impacts on our wildlife populations.”

For example, a six-year study involving radio-collared mule deer in south central Oregon found that illegal take actually exceeded legal take of mule deer. Even more troubling, poachers often killed does, not bucks, even though regulations prohibit taking female deer in order to protect breeding populations. Most poaching occurred during legal hunting seasons.

“Poaching is a heinous crime that affects all Oregonians and people who break the law ;need to be held accountable,” said Lieutenant Craig Heuberger, Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division. “Our Fish and Wildlife Troopers make a lot of great cases that start from people reporting when they see something suspicious or wrong.”

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.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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