Happy Thursday everyone! I hope you have all been getting out and enjoying our outdoors with all the fun and activities we have to offer.

Smallmouth fishing on the Umpqua near Elkton has been great lately as the water is getting warmer and warmer. Last week I was catching them in 82-degree water and they were biters and fighters! I was using plastic worms on a dropshot rig and drifting over structure, more fun than you can shake a stick at.

Closer to the shop perch fishing off the beach remains excellent, not everyone is getting limits but the grade of fish is the biggest I’ve seen with Horsfall Beach giving up some serious plate sized monsters to my cooler.

Crabbing remains good to very good with limits of jumbo Dungeness getting caught in about 30 to 40 feet of water. Once you’re in the big water head north two or three miles to take advantage of these tasty crustaceans.

The lingcod bite keeps improving, rockfish abound for everyone and even jumbo sized cabezon are still being caught. The tuna have moved offshore to about 60 miles as of late and I don’t know if they’ll come any closer. Those that can get out to those further distances are being rewarded with good numbers and a huge grade of fish with many in the 30s and even some in the 40-pound range.

Salmon in the ocean remains … well … the salmon remain in the ocean and not in anyone’s fish-hold; let’s just put it that way. We’ve had a few caught towards the south and I think the way to play it is like this: head north to drop off your crab pots, salmon troll south to your favorite rockfish spot, catch a limit of rockfish then troll back to recover your crab pots. Just one man’s opinion but I think it maximizes your opportunities. In the bay we’re still seeing crab caught in decent numbers and even off the docks we’re seeing some nice catches.

Salmon in the bay remains slow, either rain or time will kick it into gear. We’ve seen some caught by the bridge, a couple by the chip pile and one or two in the mouth. Remember to use enough weight to get down to where the Chinook are, an easy mistake is too little weight holding that gear too far up and leaving you in the Coho strike zone. Remember you can always call us for updates at (541) 888-FISH.

Today’s topic is a departure from the regular salt water stuff we usually cover but it’s not that far removed. It’s a topic near and dear to my heart and one of the outdoor activities that I’ve done since my youth, crawfish catchin’!

I’ve chased, dove for, trapped and caught crawfish all over this continent and I can honestly say that the state of Oregon has some of the best “crawfishin’” anywhere! Our coastal rivers and streams are teeming with them and there are few things as fun as a group of friends or family sitting on a riverbank chasing “mudbugs” with a stick and a net.

The predominant species here in Oregon is the signal crayfish and these tasty fellows are commonly referred to as crayfish, crawfish or as you just saw “mud bugs.”

The signal crayfish gets its name from the small white patch on the hinge of its large front claws as it is somewhat representative of the flags signalmen used to use. The signal crawfish is colored from a mottled brown to a bright red, with the red variation being the most common. Most of these tiny, tasty little freshwater lobsters (They aren’t really lobsters but cousins of them. My 6-year-old, an experienced “crawfisher” insists however that they are) are not used to much local predation besides raccoons and birds, so when you enter their habitat they really don’t pay much attention and are readily harvested.

One of my favorite methods of harvesting crawfish is chumming the water with a tasty fish carcass (tasty for them not us) and waiting for them to come to the buffet while I sit patiently with my dip-net. Another great method is simply baiting a trap and letting it sit overnight. A few weeks ago we had our first crawfish feed of the season with corn, beans, potatoes and sausage!

Our limit on crawfish is 100 per person per day and no license of any sort is required so it’s good cheap entertainment for the whole family.

The signal crawfish grows to about 3 ½ to 4 inches in length with the odd monster coming in up to 5 inches. In the fall the females are usually laden with eggs, 200 to 400 of them which she carries on the underside of her tail until the early spring when they hatch. The young will remain attached until around May when they wander off and start life on their own, reaching sexual maturity by age 2 or 3 and living for several years with some living over a decade or longer.

The signal crawfish is one of the fastest growing crawfish species and will forage and feed on any protein they can get their claws on, as well as some types of algae.

Jumping in a creek, stream or river and chasing crawfish is as close to a fountain of youth as I have ever experienced and I recommend it for anyone. I hope you get out and catch a bucket full, and I hope to see you out there.

Rob Gensorek is the owner of Basin Tackle in the Charleston Marina and can be reached by phone at 541-888 3811, by Facebook at Basin Tackle Charleston, or e-mail at basin_tackle@yahoo.com.

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