Pete Heley Outdoors 9/19/2012

As this article is being written, they still have not closed the three day openers for coho salmon (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) in the ocean, but by the time you read this, they possibly will have. While most anglers were still targeting chinook salmon, a few anglers did quite well on the ocean coho. In the meantime, the river nonselective coho season started last Saturday and while most of the fish taken in the river were still chinooks, a number of cohos were caught including some by anglers casting spinners at Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point. More than a week ago, a bank angler accounted for a chinook salmon weighing more than 35 pounds while fishing off Ork Rock Point which is relatively overlooked by the area’s bank anglers. Shore fisheries at the mouth of Winchester Creek in Winchester Bay and between the boat dock and paper mill at Gardiner have not yet gained much traction.

Hot weather in the valley is still keeping some salmon from moving up the Umpqua much past Reedsport, but slightly cooler water temperatures have allowed some salmon to move upriver to such places as Sawyer’s Rapids and even as far as Roseburg where the much cooler water of the North Umpqua joins the South Umpqua.

The anglers fishing the ocean and around the Umpqua River Bar have had to deal with some rather cold water, which seems to have slowed the bite despite anglers marking lots of salmon. Many anglers do not realize that salmon, and many other fish, bite much better when the water temperature is several degrees warmer than they prefer than when it is several degrees colder. At least with the warm Umpqua River water, there is almost always a stretch where the water temperature is close to optimal due to the mixing of ocean and river water.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been privileged to weigh and photograph a number of good-sized salmon caught in other rivers such as the Coos and Siuslaw. The reason I had a chance to weigh or photograph these fish is that a surprising number of anglers bring their fish to Winchester Bay to clean them. They claim that the facilities for cleaning fish, or boats, are far superior to their options at other locations.

Eighty two year old Olin Fisher of Springfield handled some discouraging news about the expected lifespan of some of his health-related electronics in a way that would be unexpected by most of us. He decided to do a number of things that he had been putting off for years. One of those was going salmon fishing at Winchester Bay. Olin chose to fish with skipper Scott Howard of Strike Zone Charters and he was not disappointed. He ended up landing a jack chinook salmon and adult chinooks weighing 22 and 34 pounds. In other words, he was lucky enough to land 60 pounds of salmon on his first salmon trip in more than ten years. The largest salmon managed to spool Olin and Scott’s 13 year old son Alex stepped in to get the line back on the reel as Scott pursued the fish and then Alex returned the rod to Olin who managed to land the lunker. Olin definitely plans to undertake another salmon fishing trip, but admitted that it will have to be done around the deer and elk hunting trips he has planned.

The crabbing seemed to have recovered from the Labor Day onslaught, but for some reason the legal male crabs took Sunday afternoon off when most crab catches were dominated by female crabs which were not legal to keep. The crabbing should rebound quickly and the Crab Bounty Contest is about halfway done and a number of tagged crabs have been caught and turned in to the Sportsman Cannery. The crabs that have been tagged were tagged by tying a numbered spinner blade to one of their rear legs. Lucky crabbers need to realize that after turning in a tagged crab to the cannery, they get to keep the crab, they win a hat and a chance to win the grand prize of $1,000. If no one wins the grand prize the $1,000 will still be awarded, but in three cash prizes of $500, $300 and $200 – so make sure that you leave your address and phone number so you can be notified if you are a lucky winner.

On a less cheerful note, this is the time of year when some crabbers seem more interested in what’s in other people’s crab rings and traps than they are in their own.

Congrats to Pat Roelle, owner of Crabby Cafe, who while fishing for tuna about 50 miles offshore, managed to catch several rather rare fish species for our area including yellowtails and a dolphin, which is often called mahi-mahi in Mexico and Hawaii.

Some of the bottomfish anglers fishing the Triangle Area are hedging their bets by using Gibb’s Jigs and other metal jigs which increase their chances of hooking incidental salmon. With the salmon run in full swing, bottomfishing pressure on the South Jetty is very low. Surf fishing for redtailed surfperch (“pinkfins”) has been consistently productive, but sturgeon and striped bass angling has been slow.

Both largemouth and smallmouth fishing should be improving in our local waters. Some of the shallow sand dunes lakes should be providing their best fishing of the year as lower water levels limit the areas where the fish hang out. On the Umpqua, smallmouths measuring 14-inches in length, or longer, are starting to bite from late afternoon till dusk. Cooler morning temperatures have slowed the largemouth bite except for those fishing the deeper spots and the most consistent fishing is being enjoyed by those willing to put up with the afternoon winds.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

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