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As expected, there have been numerous glitches in the ODFW’s new licensing system, one of which is that the audio on the licensing agent training video is turned down so low as to make it almost unusable. Hopefully, things will be running much more smoothly by January 1st.

Checking the fees other states charge for fishing and hunting licenses is a lot like comparing apples and oranges since the license and tag choices offered by different states are seldom exactly alike, but it appears that Oregon’s fees are a relative bargain, even before the ODFW passed on raising such fees for 2019.

Washington’s fishing license season runs from April 1st through March 31st and a resident adult pays $29.50 for a yearly license, which sounds like a bargain compared to Oregon’s $41 — until you realize that it only covers freshwater and a yearly license to fish saltwater costs an additional $30.05 for a total cost of $59.55. Washington’s resident shellfish license costs $17.40 and also covers seaweed, but does not include razor clams. So Oregon’s $10 resident shellfish license sounds like a bargain, especially whenever razor clams are legal shellfish fare in Oregon. Washington’s nonresident fishing licenses cost $84.50 for freshwater and $59.75 for saltwater (for a total cost of $144.25).

Idaho’s basic fishing license for residents costs $30.75 ($25.75 + $5 mandatory access fee) and the cost for a nonresident license is $108.25 ($98.25 + $10 mandatory access fee). The access fee helps compensate ranchers and farmers for allowing access to fishing spots.

Like Oregon, both Washington and Idaho are not planning fee increases for 2019.

California, which makes price adjustments each year based on California’s cost of living, charged $49.94 for a resident fishing license in 2018 and $134.74 for a nonresident fishing license. Both licenses also include shellfish (but not lobster or abalone).

One of the things I like about the ODFW licensing system is that it runs on a true calendar year (except for waterfowl which is under federal control regarding open seasons). But Oregon could break up the season so that both portions of the season are in separate calendar years. Of course, such a move would involve some cooperation from the feds, which may not be forthcoming. I do know that waterfowl hunting is a major source of confusion for people hunting in Oregon.

Another thing I like about the ODFW is that it keeps the hunting licenses and tags separate, unlike a number of other states which sell hunting licenses and tags together for varying amounts of money.

One thing the ODFW has improved on this year was their timeliness in posting the 2019 trout stocking schedule to their website. For the last few years, the schedule was not posted until after some trout plants had already taken place. The first trout plant for Douglas County in 2019 will take place in Cooper Creek Reservoir during the fourth week in January. Since the landlocked coho plants that used to go into Galesville Reservoir are now going into Cooper Creek, fishing should be good when Cooper Creek gets its initial 2019 trout plant of 1,500 legal rainbows.

It seems like the hunters and anglers in every state believe that their fish and wildlife department is worse than any other. Of course, most of these complainers know very little about the fish and game departments in other states. One complaint that is almost always invalid is how expensive licenses and tags are becoming. When I purchased my first fishing license in 1963, it cost me $6 — a far cry from the $41 a basic fishing license now costs, but based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the equivalent of six 1963 dollars is almost $49.

Quite a few lakes in western Lane County will receive their first trout plants for 2019 during the first week in February and 2019’s first trout plants for Coos County will take place in Mingus Pond and Powers Pond during the fourth week in February.

Some cohos are still being caught in Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes and a few of them are not dark. Most of the Tenmile Lake coho run is still in the lagoon where some of them are turning dark. Unless we get a decent amount of rain rather quickly, anglers fishing lower Tenmile Creek for winter steelhead are going to have to deal with a bunch of coho salmon which they cannot keep. A few coho will be caught from these three lakes up till the December 31st season closure by which time virtually all of the cohos will be quite dark.

Small to mid-sized streams along the south coast offer anglers their best chance for late-run fall Chinook. These streams normally close to salmon fishing on December 31st and include the Elk River, Floras Creek, Hunter Creek, Pistol River, Sixes River and Winchuck River.

By mid-December most of the streams in our area will have some winter steelhead in them, but Eel Creek, the major tributary of Tenmile Creek does not open for hatchery steelhead until January 1st.

Offshore bottomfishing continues to be very good with almost everybody using standard bottomfishing tactics which allow them to keep lingcod. Rough ocean conditions have limited jetty fishing opportunities, but fishing has been good when conditions allow relatively safe fishing.

Recreational ocean crabbing has been legal since December 1st and fairly productive when conditions allow ocean access. The commercial crab season has been delayed until at least January 1st because of low meat content in crabs tested from both the southern and northern portions of the Oregon coast. Should the meat content in one of these “problem” areas were to improve, it would allow the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission to draw a single line to separate open and closed commercial crabbing waters along the Oregon coast. However the commission will not draw two such lines to delineate open commercial crabbing waters.

Dock crabbing has been fair, at best, but boat crabbers on the Umpqua River below Winchester Bay and in the lower portions of Coos Bay have been making some good catches.

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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