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There are some changes in the bottomfish regulations for 2019.

What will remain the same are (1) the two lingcod daily limit and 22-inch size minimum; (2) the general marine fish daily bag limit will be five fish, no more than one of which may be cabezonof at least 16-inches in length when cabazon season opens July 1; (3) the bag limits for lingcod (two), flatfish (25), and the longleader gear fishery (10); (4) descending devices are mandatory on any vessel fishing for, or possessing, bottomfish including flatfish species, or Pacific halibut in the ocean; (5) the Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Area, approximately 15 miles west of Newport, remains closed to fishing for bottomfish or Pacific halibut; and (6) yelloweye rockfish are prohibited at all times and in all waters.

Changes in bottomfish regulations for 2019 include: (1) in the offshore longleader fishery, retention of two additional species will be allowed — blue rockfish and deacon rockfish; (2) during the seasonal depth restriction, angling for bottomfish will be allowed out to the 40-fathom line (rather than the 30-fathom line) AND the restriction begins one month later, on May 1st (rather than April 1st).

It is always a good idea to read the 2019 regulation booklets (which have been available to the public since December 1st AND to check out the ODFW’s online website before seriously starting this year’s fishing.

The coho salmon seasons on Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes closed the evening of December 31st (Monday). Some anglers feel like Tenmile Lake didn’t even have a salmon run this year. However, early bird winter steelhead anglers on Tenmile Creek that were using lures have caught some nice-sized coho salmon to at least 14 pounds and even a few Chinook salmon to 18 pounds. These fish were released as Tenmile Creek is not open for salmon retention (except for the less than 200-foot stretch between the lake and the bridge on Hilltop Drive).

Now that the Eel Creek opened for winter steelhead on January 1st, most of the fish in the stream will be coho salmon which will be illegal to keep.

The fishtrap just below Eel Lake on Eel Creek was checked last week and had about 35 adult cohos and 50 jacks in it, most of which were quite dark. These salmon had to ascend Tenmile Creek for about three miles before heading up Eel Creek (which was virtually dried up a month ago). The salmon in the Eel Creek trap did not have to continue up Tenmile Creek, but easily could have reached the lake — an indication that some non-hatchery cohos did enter Tenmile Lakes this year.

So starting on January 1st, second rod licenses for 2019 are legal to use on Tenmile Lakes, as well as on Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes, since the salmon seasons on these lakes will be over.

More than any other lake in our area, Tenmile is giving up occasional good catches of largemouth bass — mostly to anglers slowly fishing scented soft plastics. Yellow perch caught recently in our area are getting pretty “chunky” and will get even more so before they actually spawn in late February or early March.

Although the season is winding down, there are still some late-run fall Chinook in the Elk and Sixes rivers and Floras Creek should have a few chinooks in by now as well. A 45-pound fall Chinook was reported caught on the Chetco River two weeks ago.

Recently, the key to success on these streams has been hitting them when stream conditions are such that they are at their most fishable. The same can be said for any winter steelhead stream.

Wild (unclipped) steelhead will be legal to keep on several south coast streams with a daily limit of one unclippoed steelhead and a seasonal limit of three unclipped steelhead. These streams are the Elk and Sixes rivers, Pistol and Winchuck rivers.

Crabbing has been surprisingly good in the lower portions of Coos Bay and the Umpqua River. The Charleston area of Coos Bay and the Half Moon Bay area on the Umpqua River were giving up limits to boat crabbers last week. A few of the dockbound crabbers even managed to make decent crab catches.

The ocean has been open to recreational crabbing since December 1st, but weather and bar and ocean conditions have not allowed many crabbers to try it. Barring an extension or elevated toxin levels in tested crabs, the commercial crab season is scheduled to begin on January 1st. The commercial crab season in northern California has been delayed to at least January 15th because of elevated toxin levels in tested crabs.

An interesting item on page 70 of the 2019 Sport Fishing Regulation booklet concerns northern pike. I don’t know why the “adlike” item was placed in the Snake River Zone and not the Columbia River Zone, but to quote the news item “There is no minimum size or possession limit” and “northern pike are a prohibited species in Oregon. Anglers are encouraged to kill all northern pike encountered, do not release them back into the water. Harvested northern pike must be dead before anglers leave the water where they are caught.”

Concerning s very different fish species, a recent article in the Columbia Basin Bulletin had considerable information about the Northern Pikeminnow Sports Reward Program which has enjoyed considerable success in every year of the program’s 28-year existance — with an estimated reduction of up to 40 percent in salmon and steelhead smolt eaten by pikeminnows compared to pre-program levels.

In 2018, the top earner caught more than 8,600 pikeminnows (about 56 fish for each day of the 153 day season) and earned over $71,000, which isn’t bad for five month’s work (May 1st through September 30th). More than 3,000 people registered for the Bonneville Power Administration’s 2018 Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Program. Combined, they spent more than 23,000 angler days catching and removing 180,271 of the salmon-eating fish formerly called squawfish.

While harvest was down a bit from 2017 due to higher river flows, angler success was better in 2018. The average catch per angler per day in 2018 was 7.52, up from 7.38 in 2017. All together, anglers were paid about $1.4 million for their efforts by the Bonneville Power Administration which funds the program.

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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