As of last weekend, crabbing is still closed from the California border northward to the North Jetty at Charleston — meaning that Oregon’s largest bay and most popular winter crab fishery is still closed. The entire Oregon coast north of Coos Bay remains open for crabbing, but as we get more rain, the crabs will gradually move closer to the ocean and in some cases be downstream of any crabbing docks. However last weekend, decent crab catches were made off the Coast Guard Pier, Dock 9 and Dock A in Winchester Bay. The Triangle, adjacent to the South Jetty should hold crabs all winter long.
Additional good news for Winchester Bay crabbers is that the Coast Guard Pier is slated for major renovation which should be completed by mid-March. When completed and the actual cost of the renovation is revealed, those unhappy with the Douglas County Parking Pass will have much less reason to gripe.
Chinook salmon fishing is pretty much over except for the late-run fish in the smaller to mid-size streams along the southern Oregon coast. Streams such as the Elk and Sixes rivers are capable of giving up fairly bright chinooks in mid-December and several years ago, tiny Hunter Creek gave up a 59 pound chinook over Thanksgiving Weekend.
The coastal salmon lakes should have fresh salmon entering them after last weekend’s rains. All three lakes were producing a few fish each day last week, but salmon numbers should be much better with additional rainfall. Hopefully, the proportion of adult salmon among the newly arriving salmon will be larger as early salmon catches so far have been dominated by jack salmon. Salmon anglers on Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes need to realize that their second rod endorsement is invalid on these three lakes and has been invalid since October 1st.
A few winter steelhead should be entering the Umpqua River which always seems to receive its winter steelhead a month earlier than other area streams. The earliest catches seem to occur between Family Camp and Elkton.
Bill Taylor, of Winchester Bay, reported very good yellow perch angling at Tahkenitch Lake last week. The 25 perch he kept ranged from 9 to 11.5 inches and were full of bass and bluegill fry. Perch fishing has also been fair at Tenmile Lakes with fewer, but even larger fish. Kathy Riess landed a chunky female perch of more than 15 inches last week while fishing near Lakeside Marina.
I enjoyed a very rare sight last week while perch fishing off the Fishing Dock at the County Park in Lakeside. I had just walked down the ramp and was barely 10 feet onto the dock when a lunker largemouth bass of between four and five pounds leaped clear of the water by at least a foot. I just happened to be looking at the spot where the leap occurred. Nothing was chasing the bass and it didn’t appear to be feeding on anything. Infrequently, female bass will jump prior to spawning to loosen their eggs, but the season was wrong. It didn’t seem to be trying to get rid of a lure or hook on a broken line or a parasite. I’ll always wonder why that bass jumped and wonder how it gained the required energy during November. Although I cast my panfish lure to the spot within seconds, the bass wasn’t the least bit interested.
Crappie fishing at Tugman Park on Eel Lake has come to a screeching halt. The fish were becoming fewer and the bites even more tentative, but I think the main reason for the bite stoppage is that the crappie moved. A few bass and trout are still being caught and a scuba diver reported seeing good numbers of brown bullheads near the boat ramp — but no anglers are targeting them. Eel Lake’s bluegills also seem to have disappeared, but most likely have become inactive with a drop in water temperatures
Anglers targeting surfperch, because inshore bottomfishing is off limits, need to be cautious as stormy weather has created hazardous beach conditions. However when conditions allow fishing, the catch rate for pinkfin on the beaches and striped surfperch off the jetties has been fair. Jetty bottomfish anglers, as of Thanksgiving Day will have to wait 38 more days before 2017 arrives with fresh bottomfish quotas that will allow inshore angling.
As for other outdoor news from around the northwest: a proposed wilderness area near Lewiston, Idaho, will ban the use of snowmobiles; an Idaho Falls man who was found guilty of starting a wildfire while using illegal fireworks was ordered to pay restitution of $1.7 million; and outdoor activities at Seaside Heights Elementary School were moved inside because of a nearby cougar sighting.
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.