Poor weather has greatly reduced fishing pressure on salmon. The Alsea closed to the taking of wild coho last week and by the time you read this, the Siuslaw River will most likely be closed as well. Tough ocean and bar conditions have limited fishing success for anglers wanting to fish the bar area of the Umpqua. However, it seems every day some anglers come in to where I work with big grins on their faces. A few anglers still fishing near where Winchester Creek comes into Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin have taken recent limits of chinook salmon while fishing with sand shrimp and bobbers. A couple of anglers dropped in after fishing Siltcoos Lake and they each had their limit of one adult coho and they each weighed more than ten pounds. It may be a while before Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes start offering a realistic chance at a coho salmon, although they usually open the dam at Tahkenitch and flush Tahkenitch Creek around the first of November.
A number of chinook salmon have been taken in the first hole above the ocean on the Elk River and continued rain should get those fish moving upriver. Other south coast chinook fisheries such as Floras Creek, Sixes River, Pistol River and Winchuck rivers should be offering fishing with more rain. The biggest chinook taken in that area seems to almost always come from the Chetco River near Brookings.
As I am writing this, the latest information on the catch rates for wild cohos on Oregon’s coastal rivers only covers catches made through Sunday, October 21st and here they are: Coquille River (373 of 1,500) or 24.9 percent; Coos River (717 of 1,200) or 59.8 percent, Umpqua River (1,154 of 3,000) or 38.5 percent and the Siuslaw River (1,463 of 1,700) or 86.1 percent. Although late run fish are still entering all of these rivers, the fishing has slowed down somewhat. However, anglers need to be aware that when a river reaches its quota for wild coho, chinook salmon and finclipped coho remain legal angling fare.
Yellow perch fishing in area lakes has become more inconsistent, but remains fairly productive and the larger perch seem much easier to catch than they are during the summer months. Although it is tough to catch good numbers of largemouth bass, the larger bass should be biting better than they do during the summer and the best times are from early afternoon through dusk. Smallmouth on the Umpqua River can be taken from early afternoon until dusk and it is easier to fish for them effectively in areas of little current. As with the largemouths, catching good numbers of the smallies is far more difficult than it is during the summer and early fall, but the larger bass are definitely more likely to bite. Panfish angling is very tough and anglers should make sure they are fishing much deeper than they do in the spring and summer.
Many waters, especially those farther inland, closed at the end of October and anglers from this area where virtually all the lakes remain open all year need to check their regulations booklet when fishing other areas.
I’ve been hearing a lot of griping about the potential $25 penalty to be assessed hunting license purchasers beginning in 2014 should they fail to turn in whatever they are supposed to turn in after various successful hunts. Actually, the situation somewhat reminds me of the the program with yearly combined angling tags. With the fishing tags, anglers are put into a lottery where they could possibly win a boat outfit worth several thousand dollars or one of many lesser prizes. The system basically rewards anglers that go through the trouble to send in information that helpds the ODFW make future decisions. With the upcoming hunting changes, the ODFW is going to penalize hunters who do not send in the info that will help the ODFW make future hunting decisions. One is a reward system and the other is a penalty system. One can only wonder if the ODFW raised hunting licenses $25 and then gave a rebate to the hunters who sent in the required information regarding their hunting tags. The only thing I am certain of is that the griping is far from over.
Over the several decades that I have been fishing Oregon, I have noticed that many fellow anglers are constantly lamenting about Oregon’s “good old days” when it comes to angling success. I never respond to these lamentations, but if I did, the whining anglers would not be happy with what I had to say. Despite all the griping about how the ODFW manages Oregon fisheries, these fisheries, in many instances, compare very favorably with the way things were 50 years ago. Of course, there are exceptions, but many fish runs are better than they were in the distant past.
I was one day shy of my eighth birthday when my family moved to Lakeside on Tenmile Lakes. Back then in the mid-1950’s, Tenmile provided good fishing for stunted yellow perch and fair fishing for brown bullhead catfish averaging about a pound. Some of the shorebound anglers could fish all summer without catching a trout. Today, the Tenmile Lakes provides some of the better trout fishing available along the southern Oregon Coast and is widely regarded as the best tournament largemouth bass lake in the northwest. Tenmile had a healthy bullfrog population back then and as a 12 year old I sold bullfrogs to Lakeside’s fanciest restaurant for 10 cents each and as an 18 year old, my annual fishing license cost $6.00.
Having stuck up for Oregon’s current fishing opportunities, I must say that more sophisticated anglers and much better fishing equipment would almost certainly make any drop offs in fishing quality far less apparent.
According to ODFW statistics that ranged from 1975 through 2004, the number of resident Oregon anglers dropped about 6.5 percent (from 561,641 to 525,310) despite an increase in Oregon’s population of nearly 1.3 million. The percentage of Oregon residents who purchased fishing licenses dropped from 34.6 percent to 20.3 percent. In 2004, the percentage of Oregon residents who purchased a hunting licenses had dropped to only 9.7 percent.