Pete Heley Outdoors 7 / 18 / 2018

As I am writing this, the ocean salmon results through July 8th are available on the ODFW website. In one way, the most productive port was Bandon which had six retained salmon (3 cohos + 3 chinooks) for six angler trips. Not a lot of salmon or fishing effort, but the one retained salmon per angler/trip is the zone’s best.

Newport, Garibaldi and Winchester Bay were the three busiest recreational ports with 912, 890 and 818 angler/trips respectively and Winchester Bay has the best success rate with .35 kept salmon per angler/trip. Over half the kept cohos have been caught out of Winchester Bay. Brookings still leads in kept chinooks, but almost all of those were caught on the opening weekend and the port is down to .15 kept salmon per angler/trip.

On an encouraging note, ocean salmon fishing success does seem to be improving – especially when the wind lays down and ocean conditions allow serious sustained effort. Lower Umpqua River boat and bank anglers are catching just enough chinook salmon to be considered a “Plan B” when the ocean is inaccessible. Through July 8th, slightly less than one percent of the finclipped ocean coho quota had been kept.

The Central Coast Spring All-Depth Halibut Season is closed, as not enough quota remains for additional back-up days. During the July 6-7 opening, total landings were 18,663 pounds. Which brought the total landings for the Spring All-Depth Season to 127,774 pounds, leaving 7,968 pounds of the spring all-depth quota remaining which is not enough for any additional back-up dates to be open.

The redtail surfperch run in the lower Umpqua River is still ongoing, but the fishing is either feast or famine with poor fishing being the normal situation. More and more surfperch anglers are returning to the beaches to catch their perch.

Smith River striped bass fishing has improved somewhat after a very slow June following a very good May. One encouraging note is that stripers of all sizes seem to be represented in the catch. The Umpqua River remains completely overlooked by striper anglers. The Coquille River is still giving up some stripers, but the fishing isn’t nearly as good as it was two and three years ago. Most of the Coquille River striper catches are fish weighing less than six pounds.

There are no scheduled trout plants in our area for the next several weeks. Trout anglers should target heavily stocked waters or larger lakes that have fair numbers of native or carryover trout. Good choices would Cleawox, Munsel and Upper Empire lakes that should have fair numbers of uncaught stocked trout left in them and Tenmile Lakes, Siltcoos, Eel and Sutton lakes that contain fair numbers of both native and carryover trout as well as some searun trout.

Anglers fishing worms at Eel Lake are still making mixed-species catches of bluegills, rainbow and cutthroat trout, largemouth bass and even a few black crappies and brown bullheads. Tenmile Lakes has been fishing fair for largemouth bass and brown bullheads as well as small to medium-sized yellow perch. Some good-sized rainbow trout are also being caught, but Tenmile Lakes’ bluegill and black crappie catches have been pretty much confined to Coleman Arm.

It’s too early to tell if the reduction in the daily bottomfish limit is having the desired effect of avoiding a complete closure. It is definitely helping, although fishing pressure directed at bottomfish remains very high. Long leader bottomfishing at depths beyond 240 feet seems safe for the forseeable future as the target species seldom enter the catch when using conventional bottomfishing methods.

Virtually all the jetties in our area are producing fair bottomfishing with striped surfperch, greenling, lingcod, rockfish and now cabezon being caught.

Crabbing is slowly improving and dock crabbing is becoming more productive as ocean crabs slowly move farther upriver. Crabbing is also improving in the upper portions of Coos Bay. Complaints about empty crabs seem to be decreasing in numbers.

It continues to be a good year for tuna off the central and southern Oregon coasts. Tuna are being caught inside 40 miles, but the best catches are being made farther out. Wind and ocean conditions are very important as the faster tuna anglers can travel – the more time they can spend actually fishing.

For the people that enjoy outdoor recreation, but do not have a hunting, fishing or shellfish license – they can harvest bullfrogs and crayfish without needing a license. There is no limit on bullfrogs and the daily limit on crayfish is 100.

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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