Pete Heley Outdoors 12/12/2012

Coos Bay, and more specifically Charleston, continues to dominate our area’s crabbing and the crabbing has held up well. However, despite the fact
hat most crabbers attempting to crab Winchester Bay have been disappointed, two young men enjoyed some exceptional crabbing after dark off the Coast Guard Pier last Friday night.

Their lights revealed that the water was high and muddy, but they decided to try anyway and using four crab traps they ended up with 24 legal crabs that night. To top matters off, they briefly crabbed off Dock A on Saturday morning and got three more keepers which they gave to another crabber that had been crabbing for a couple of hours without success. Then they hauled a small johboat into the Triangle and in a couple of hours, they ended up with 14 crabs, although most of them were red rock crabs. The only downside to their weekend outing was that they caught no fish and only had a few bites while they were crabbing in the Triangle. Sunday morning, things were back to normal for them as they worked hard to land three crabs out of the Triangle.

While the success of Michael Kezer and Cole Downing, both of Eugene, could only be described as an abberation, it should also point out that not all of Winchester Bay’s crabs are already in the ocean. Cold water and few numbers of crabs can mean crabbing success can be very limited, but still a possibility.

Here are a few things that these young men, who have only been crabbing for about a year, do right. They use plenty of bait and try to use several kinds at once. Then they suspend their bait in a socklike holder that is attached to both sides of the inside of their trap so that it is suspended in the middle of the trab and above the trap floor. This seems to minimize crabs reaching the bait while still blocking access from other crabs that want to get to the bait and inside the trap. So here is sincere congratulations to these avid crabbers who managed to some holiday hope to other would-be crabbers amidst what has recently been rather limited crabbing success.

Anglers still wanting to try for some salmon before switching over to steelhead need to keep an eye on our south coast streams. A smart move would be to get some creditable sources that can give up-to-the-minute reports on river conditions and fishing success. These streams are going to be going up and down and like a yo-yo and fishing conditions are going to vary. Anglers that are there at the optimum times are going to catch some salmon and some of them will still be bright. Usually, the quickest stream to clear is the Elk River near Port Orford.

As for anglers wanting to catch some steelhead that they can keep, they should consider the Coos River system (including the Millicoma). This system has a very active STEP program and a large portion of the steelhead caught are finclipped. Closer to home, Tenmile Creek between the ocean and Eel Creek will have a fair percentage of finclipped steelhead. When it opens on January 1st, Eel Creek will also have a very high percentage of finclipped steelhead in it.

Tenmile Lakes continues to put out nice stringers of yellow perch. Part of the reason for the good perch fishing is probably due to the anglers refining
their techniques, but as the perch approach the spawn (most likely in March) they should continue to bite well and be as chunky as they are ever going to get. Undoubtedly, many other local waters are capable of providing good perch fishing, but “fishing-pressure-wise”, Tenmile is at the top of the angler popularity list.

As for other northwest fisheries, jumbo triploid rainbows are still being caught in eastern Washington’s Rufus Woods Lake, a Columbia River impoundment, a 32 pound northern pike was caught recently at Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene Lake, and Lake Chelan is offering very consistent fishing for mackinaw weighing from three to six pounds with some larger – the lake and Washington state record is more than 33 pounds. A 24 pound cutthroat was recently taken by an angler fishing from shore (from a ladder set up in several feet of water) at Pyramid Lake in Nevada.

Once again, both the big game and the fishing regulations booklets for 2013 are now available and fishing and hunting licenses and tags for 2013 are now available. There are not a lot of holiday or birthday gifts that can be useful the entire year.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

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