Pete Heley Outdoors 8/15/2012

The final statistics for the ocean coho season are now available and they show that 2,898 finclipped ocean coho of the 8,000 fish quota were actually caught and kept – or 36.1 percent. Brookings was the busiest port and provided the best fishing giving up .56 fish per angler trip. However, Brookings did not contribute much to the retained finclipped coho catch as only 3.7 percent of their retained ocean catch was finclipped cohos. Success dropped off dramatically north of Brookings as the total ocean catch of finclipped cohos in Gold Beach, Port Orford and Bandon was only 48 compared to Brooking’s 176 and the drop off was even more evident when comparing the ocean chinook catch where those three ports totaled only 59 – which compares rather poorly with Brooking’s total of 4,589 ocean chinook.

Winchester Bay led the zone’s coho catch for almost the entire season, but a flurry of finclipped coho landings in Newport over the last nine days of the season allowed Newport to claim the zone’s top spot for coho retention with 925 to Winchester Bay’s 765. Over the season’s last nine days, the finclipped coho catch at Newport was 732 which compared quite favorably with Winchester Bay’s 302.

Salmon fishing success on the Umpqua River dropped off a little over the weekend, but some big fish were caught entering last weekend with lots of chinooks weighing more than 30 pounds taken. Fishing should be improved over the next several weeks as the chinook run continues to build and the coho run should start later this month. Despite the higher and cooler water in the Umpqua up to last month, the inland temperatures have managed to raise the water temperature in the Umpqua River to the point where many of the salmon entering the river will hold below Reedsport where the cooler ocean water at high tide will drop the river temperatures as much as several degrees. This means that anglers fishing below Reedsport should get multiple chances to catch each salmon and by the end of this month there will be some dark salmon caught in the three miles of river below Reedsport.

Anglers with regular Monday through Friday jobs will not be able to take much advantage of the non-selective ocean coho season when it starts on September 1st as the three days each week when it is legal to retain ocean coho will be Thursday through Saturday. It seems that there are still  a lot of anglers that do not realize that it is currently illegal to keep any coho in the ocean and that it is legal to keep finclipped cohos in the Umpqua River. Chinooks, of course, are legal catches in both places.

Reedsport resident Chuck Wade recently fished the North Beach area at the end of Sparrow Park Rod for a limit of retailed surfperch. Every fish Chuck caught was a female perch that contained unspawned baby perch.

Tuna remain within reach of sport anglers along much of the Oregon coast and on the central coast, seven out of 10 anglers landed a halibut. The summer all-depth Pacific halibut fishery opened Aug. 3-4 with a quota of approximately 53,000 pounds. The summer season for the central coast all-depth fishery is scheduled to be open every other Friday and Saturday until the all-depth quota is taken or Oct. 27, whichever comes first.

Boy Scouts on a canoe trip on the Willamette River last week picked up a bat that was later found to be rabid. The scouts who touched the bat, but apparently were not bitten, will be tested. The bat was the second rabid bat found this year in Benton County and the seventh rabid bat found in Oregon this year.

In a recent study by Oregon State University, about 25 percent of elementary and high school science teachers had released live organisms into the wild after their use as study material was finished. About eight percent of the released species were determined to be invasive species. The problem is nationwide and, in Oregon, the practice may be a major reason for the rusty crayfish and the red eared Slider (a turtle) becoming established in Oregon.

The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) first showed its arrogance and inconsistency to me way back in 1988 when a young angler named Mike Manley who landed a brown trout weighing 38 pounds nine ounces from the North Fork of the White River in Arkansas. The IGFA decided not to recognize the world record-sized brown because it was caught on baited treble hook. The treble hook was small and the bait was velveeta cheese – a similar tactic to that used by millions of today’s trout anglers when they fish such paste baits as Berkeley’s Powerbait.

More recently, the IGFA once again showed its arrogance (and inconsistency) – and possibly a strong bias against Arkansas – when it disallowed a giant striped bass from record consideration. The fish was pulled from Bull Shoals Reservoir and weighed more than 68 pounds. It is the largest landlocked freshwater striper ever caught and since Ronald Ply, the lucky and skillful angler, was entered in the Mustad Hooks’ “Hook A Million” contest – he stood to receive one million dollars if his fish was certified as a state record.

Ply caught his record-sized striper on an umbrella rig, also known as an Alabama rig, which consists of up to five lures attached to a spreader bar which is then tied to the fishing line. It is an incredibly popular lure and completely legal to fish with in Arkansas – although some states such as Oregon and California only allow three hooks on the rig for it to be legal. The state of Arkansas first rejected the catch as a state record because Ply was using a rig with multiple hooks of Ply’s own design.

The IGFA quickly chimed in when Jack Vitek sent Ply an email that stated: “After significant review by our Rules Committee, we consider your lure to be a spreader bar arrangement.  IGFA Equipment Regulations state:  “spreader bars are permitted to be used provided that the actual fishing line is attached to the snap or other release device, either directly or with some other material.”  Since the angler’s line is not attached to a release device so that the hook could be disengaged from the lure arrangement, this lure violated IGFA equipment rules for spreader bars.”

Of course, Mustad could do the right thing and reward Ply for catching a huge striper that was not only big enough to be an Arkansas State Record, but a world freshwater striper record – and one that was caught on a legal fishing lure. But so far, Mustad seems to have sided with the state of Arkansas and the IGFA. In defense of the IGFA, since it is headquartered in Florida and deals almost exclusively with saltwater records, perhaps it is ill-equipped to handle big fish taken from inland waters. It does seem that virtually all their missteps seem to occur in states far-removed from Florida.

In the meantime, Ronald Ply and this writer will remain very disappointed in Arkansas, the IGFA and Mustad Hooks!

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

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