Pete Heley Outdoors 4 / 18 / 2018

There was some good news last week regarding ocean salmon fishing. The ocean chinook season, which normally runs from March 15th through October 31st, but this year was only slated to run from March 15th through April 30th has been extended to its normal October 31st closing date. As for ocean coho salmon, the quota for finclipped cohos was increased to 35,000 from last year’s 15,000. There will also be a nonselective ocean coho season which will run on Fridays and Saturdays beginning on September 7th and run until September 29th or when the quota of 3,550 cohos is reached.
The ocean finclipped season will start on June 30th and run through September 3rd – if the 35,000 finclipped coho quota has not been reached.

Generous quotas and seasons will not ensure good ocean salmon fishing – only the opportunity to fish. The ODFW forecast for coho is down this year for both the Oregon coast and Columbia River, – largely due to poor ocean feed conditions.

Ocean salmon anglers can look forward to more opportunity this year based on recommendations made last week for federal waters (outside three miles) during a Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Portland.

The PFMC recommendations will be forwarded to NOAA Fisheries for approval and implementation. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will be asked to adopt matching rules for State waters (inside 3 mi) at their April 20 meeting in Astoria.

Unlike the full closure to salmon fishing last year, the area south of Humbug Mt to the OR/CA border will be open to sport fishing for chinook from May 19-Aug. 29. The strong forecast for Rogue River fall Chinook is a bright spot for the coast this year.

Commercial troll fishing for Chinook will be open intermittently along the whole Oregon coast from May through the summer. In 2017, all commercial salmon trolling was closed south of Florence.

Winchester Bay’s South Jetty continues to provide fair fishing for striped surfperch, greenling and rockfish and good fishing for lingcod. Muddy Umpqua River water can best be dealt with by fishing near high tide when the clearer ocean water is most evident. Fishing for redtail surfperch in the surf has been fair to good at Sparrow Park Road, near the second parking lot south of Winchester Bay – and also at Horsfall Beach near North Bend.

Trout plants this week in the Florence area include Alder Lake (850 legals, 511 trophies); Dune Lake (850 legals, 711 trophies); Perkins Lake (325 trophies); Siltcoos Lagoon (881 trophies); Siltcoos Lake (1,000 trophies) and Sutton Lake (1,500 trophies) Trout plants in Coos County include South Tenmile Lake (3,000 legals); Powers Pond (3,000 legals; and Lower Empire Lake (2,000 trophies). Upper Empire Lake is slated to receive 2,000 trophy rainbows next week. Garrison Lake, in Port Orford, was also stocked (3,000 legals, 200 trophies).

Normally, April is a productive month to catch striped bass. Because of low striper numbers in the Umpqua River-Smith River system and muddy water in the Coquille River there have been no recent reports. The small striper population that once existed on the Rogue River above Gold Beach seems to have disappeared with colder water releases from Lost Creek and Applegate reservoirs.

Recent cool temperatures has put the “kibosh” on warmwater fishing success. Spawning crappie have yet to show up at the upper end of Loon Lake or the lower end of Eel Lake.

If and when the Umpqua River clears and drops there should be fishable numbers of shad in the river.

Police are asking for the public’s help after three bald eagles were found shot to death near Albany on March 16. An Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division trooper responding to tip discovered three dead eagles in the Tangent area south of Albany. Gunshot wounds were found on each bird.

An angler that recently posted a picture of a lower Cowlitz River spring chinook on a popular online fishing site was met with numerous posts filled with anger, scorn and even derision – to the point where the angler posted even more detailed information on the catch and promised to continue to do so in the future.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) debuted a new mobile app on April 9th that promises to make determining fishing regulations for Washington waters easier and more convenient. The free “Fish Washington” app is available on Google Play, Apple’s App store and WDFW’s website (, and is designed to convey up-to-the-minute fishing regulations for every lake, river, stream and marine area in the state. The exception, for now, is the app does not yet include information on shellfish and seaweed collection rules. The app release comes ahead of the season’s lowland lakes fishing opener Apr. 28, the state’s biggest fishing day of the year.

The application contains these features, among others: Interactive map-based rules to help anglers find fishing near them.;
Details on harvest limits and allowable gear for fishable species in each body of water. Links to the Fish Washington website and instructional videos designed to convey when, where and how to fish in Washington; Locations of boat launches and other fishing access points; Ability to add waypoints on maps, and report poaching in progress.

The app also features downloadable updates and offline capacity designed for those who may not have cell service in remote areas or on the water.

It is with deep regret that I received news of the passing of Patrick McManus. He once wrote me a very encouraging letter to me regarding one of my attempts at a humorous article decades ago. I consider McManus to have had the zaniest sense of humor of any outdoor writer in my lifetime – with the possible exception of Ed Zern.

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.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

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