Pete Heley Outdoors 8 / 30 / 2017

The annual STEP salmon Derby will be held this Labor Day Weekend with more prizes than ever. As usual, the angler catching the heaviest salmon on Saturday, Sunday and Monday will each win $150 with the heaviest salmon taken by a derby entrant also winning the $500 grand prize. This year’s derby is jointly sponsored by the Gardiner-Reedsport-Winchester Bay STEP Chapter and Cabelas. Local individuals and business are also chipping in with Saturday’s big fish sponsored by local dentist Gerhard Goorhuis. Sunday’s big fish is sponsored by North Coast Lures and Flies in Florence. The Y Marina in Empire is sponsoring Monday’s big fish.

The derby runs from daybreak until 6 pm on Saturday and Sunday and from daybreak until noon on Monday (Labor Day) and entry fees are still only $10 per individual and $25 per boat, which may contain three or more anglers. Tickets are good for the entire three days if purchased before the derby or for the remaining portion of the contest if purchased during the derby. Tickets are available at Ace Hardware in Reedsport, the Stockade Market in Winchester Bay and at the weigh-in stations which are the Rainbow Plaza Boat Ramp in Reedsport and the East Basin Boat Ramp in Winchester Bay.

Other ways to win are by being one of three “blue ticket” winners which are drawn from among the slips made out for each salmon actually weighed in during the derby or by having your derby ticket stub picked during the Lucky Ticket Stub Drawing”. Of course, additional raffle tickets may be purchased that may win more than $1,500 in outdoor gear from Cabelas and other businesses. For additional information about the derby call Doug Buck at 541-271-3144.

Thousands of farmed Atlantic salmon were accidentally released into the Washington State waters between Anacortes and the San Juan Islands, and officials are asking people to catch as many as possible. Tribal fishers, concerned about native salmon populations, call the accident “a devastation.” Similar incidents have occurred over the last 20 years and some Washington streams now host runs from five different salmon species. Trying to exterminate a fish population through sportfishing is never successful because as the fish population decreases, so does fishing success.

Both finclipped and unclipped coho salmon 16-inches or longer become legal angling fare along the Oregon coast on Saturday, September 2nd. Salmon fishing in the ocean and Umpqua River has been gradually improving and was exceptionally good during Tuesday of last week near Reedsport and the Umpqua River Bar for boat anglers and at Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point for spinner flinging bank anglers. Unfortunately, the rest of the week didn’t live up to Tuesday, but overall, the salmon fishing is improving.

Salmon fishing on the lower Rogue River near Gold Beach is much improved with most anglers using anchovies that are either plug cut or hooked on a “Rogue Bait Rig” – which is similar to an oversized wedding ring fished with an anchovy or other baitfish instead of a nightcrawler.

Crabbing remains very good at Winchester Bay for boat anglers and fair for those crabbing from docks. However, it seems that the crabbing has recently been less consistent than it previously was due to unkeepable female crabs dominating the catch on some days. An angler fishing off the dock at the Gardiner Boat Ramp was recently rewarded with a 26-inch flounder.

There were zero halibut turned in south of Newport during the latest summer all-depth opener on August 18th and 19th. The total catch for the opener was 7,034 pounds of which 6,225 pounds or more than 88 percent were caught out of Newport. The remaining summer all-depth quota for Oregon’s central coast is 24,967 pounds or 38 percent of the quota.

Very warm water temperatures have made trout fishing in Jackson, Josephine and eastern Douglas counties an early morning, deeper water affair. Bass anglers can fish at night in most waters, but current water temperatures probably mean that pre-dawn fishing will be more productive than late evening fishing. ODFW personnel netted a smallmouth bass while doing net sampling at Hyatt Lake. The most surprising thing is that it didn’t happen sooner since Hyatt Lake is only three miles from Howard Prairir Reservoir which has a strong smallmouth bass population.

Currently, the top warmwater action for our area is Loon Lake for bluegills and the Umpqua River for smallmouth bass.

There are no scheduled trout plants for our area until October, but there should be plenty of the 15-inch rainbow trout left that were stocked in Lake Marie last week.

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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