The big news is that crabbing is now closed from the Oregon / California border up to the North Jetty in Charleston — meaning that all of Coos Bay, easily Oregon’s busiest crab fishery, especially in the winter months, is closed to recreational and commercial crabbing.

It was bad enough when the Coquille River at Bandon was included in the previous crab closure, but extending the closure northward to include Coos Bay brought a whole different level of grief to crabbing enthusiasts. Coupled with the inshore bottomfishing closure along the entire Oregon coast and a whole lot of coastal outdoor recreationists are hoping January 1st gets here all the more quickly.

In the meantime, crabbing in the lower Umpqua River at Winchester Bay remains good for those with boats, but the number of crabs above Half Moon Bay where the dock crabbing opportunities are, is shrinking.

Bottomfish anglers fishing in waters deeper than 40 fathms (240 feet) with legal gear are doing fairly well. Legal gear means using a leader at least 30 feet long between the terminal weight and the lowest hook. A non-compressible float must be located above the hooks. The fish targeted with this gear are Canary, Widow and Yellowtail rockfish, while lingcod and flatfishes are prohibited catches on longleader gear trips. Currently, black, blue, China, copper, deacon, quillback and yelloweye rockfishes and cabezon are prohibited along the entire Oregon coast in all ocean and estuary waters.

It is mandatory to have a usable, readily available descending device on board when fishing for bottomfish and the daily limit for bottomfish that are legal to keep has been raised from seven to 10.

Immediately following the rain last week, coho salmon entered all three lakes with coho seasons, but the run quickly slowed when the water levels in Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes and their respective outlets dropped. Expect fresh salmon with additional rain. A few anglers are using downsized gear in the hopes of picking up incidental trout and a few are using floating / diving plugs hoping to pick up incidental bass.

Visited Ada Resort after more than 20 years and found the current resort owner, Jeremy Hicks, most pleasant and a great source of fishing info. Jeremy is also adept at catching Silttcoos Lake coho and Ada Resort has a great location — right at the mouth of Fiddle Creek Arm. While Jeremy was most interested in talking about the salmon run and had some very impressive salmon photos posted in his store, the photo that jumped out at me was of a brown bullhead catfish that had to weigh 4 pounds. If it had been officially weighed, it would have topped the current state record of 3 pounds and 7 ounces.

Over the years, Siltcoos Lake has produced at least four bluegills that would have been Oregon state records had they been weighed and certified on a proper scale. Weighing between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 pounds, all four of these bluegills were heavier than the current state record of 2 pounds 5 ½. So I was very pleased to hear Jeremy say that bluegills were becoming more common in the lake. Jeremy also stated that a cove near the resort produced a few very good catches of black crappie. Years ago, when crappie were relatively common in Siltcoos, fish to at least 17 inches were caught.

So I intend to pay close attention to what’s happening at Siltcoos over the next few years.

It seems that removing the boathouse from the fishing dock at the County Park in Lakeside has reduced the fishing pressure and improved the perch bite. Last Saturday, the first perch I hooked came up with a 3-pound largemouth trying to swallow it. Further evidence that some of the bigger bass in our larger coastal lakes are trying to fulfill their winter caloric needs in a single gulp occurred minutes later, when an extremely chunky bass of at least 6 pounds tried to eat an extremely energetic 14-inch rainbow I hooked off the fishing dock at Tugman Park on Eel Lake. Two days earlier, a similar-sized bass grabbed a small crappie a friend of mine had hooked in the same spot — easily breaking the 2-pound test line he used to hook the crappie.

These jumbo bass seem to be able to easily tell the difference between artificial lures and the “real thing” and seem to be taking advantage of local panfish anglers far more so than vice versa.

It seems that the Union County hunter that shot a wolf he claimed was attacking him, got away with it — but was told that should it happen again, to fire a warning shot into the ground, which would have been a viable option in this case since the wolf, an 83 pound female, was more than 80 feet away when shot.

According to Steve Godin, the Oregon Coast Anglers (OCA), an active fishing group dedicated to increasing angling opportunities along the southern Oregon coast, is extremely disappointed with the ODFW and Director Curt Melcher for the halibut quota they would assign the southern portion of the Central Coast Subarea should the northern and southern portions be assigned separate quotas. It seems that the proposed quota split had little to do with actual halibut populations and everything to do with fishing pressure during the last few years.

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.

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