The ocean finclipped coho season is over but the catch data is currently only available through August 26th and 32.7 percent of the 35,000 finclipped coho quota had been retained. The northern portion of our zone had the best catch rate, which can be almost wholly explained by the difference in wild to finclipped coho salmon ratios.
Comparing the two busiest ports in our zone should make this difference apparent. Through August 26th, Newport, the busiest port, had 10,755 angler trips and 5,742 of the 13,252 cohos caught were retained finclipped cohos (more than 43 percent). Heading into the season’s last week, Newport is our zone’s most successful port with .58 retained salmon per angler-trip.
Winchester Bay, our zone’s second busiest port with 6,915 angler-trips has 1,264 of the 8,997 cohos caught that were finclipped and keepable (14 percent). Charleston’s percentage of finclipped cohos was even worse at 13 percent. So it should be no surprise that Winchester Bay’s and Charleston’s catch rates are a rather dismal .14 and .13 salmon per angler-trip respectively.
It is sadly ironic that the large numbers of wild coho hanging out off Winchester Bay and Charleston seemed to have “disappeared” prior to the ocean nonselective season which begins on September 7th.
I made a trip to central Oregon to do some exploring and was almost immediately disappointed. I found that my favorite night buzzbait spot on the outlet arm of Triangle Lake was now posted. There is still a small amount of water just upstream of Lake Creek that is unposted, but is currently too shallow to hold any decent-sized largemouth bass.
Try as I might, when checking out Hills Creek Reservoir, I couldn’t find any spot where I could safely return to my car if I fished after dusk. The realization was very disappointing as I had my heart set on fooling one of the reservoir’s small population of super-big largemouths. I intend to take another look at it next spring when the water is nearly 100 feet higher and see if there is easier bank access.
I couldn’t find any flyrod poppers on barbless hooks in Eugene and had to settle for purchasing lures that I would need to make barbless, so I didn’t give Davis Lake, a barbless flyfishing only lake, a thorough checkout since I didn’t have the tackle to legally fish it.
However, the main purpose for my trip was to check out the bankfishing possibilities on for largemouth bass on the lower portion of Wickiup Reservoir.
I started out on the east end of the dam, hoping to fish the water that looks so “fishy” in the spring. But that water was now gone. After walking west for at least a half mile and still not seeing any water, I returned to my car and drove the gravel road below the dam until I reached a small parking area near the midpoint of the dam. The water looked fishy, but reaching the shoreline would involve hiking over about 200 feet of boulders.
I decided to return to my car and drive to the west side of the dam.
After parking, I made the easy 300 foot walk to the shoreline, intending to get in about 20 minutes of fishing while it was still daylight.
The water looked good and on my sixth cast I had a vicious strike that separated me from my black buzzbait.
Now that I really wanted to fish, I discovered that I had only brought down the one buzzbait and decided to abort my exploratory trip after only about 10 minutes of actual fishing.
After nearly an hour of wandering around very poor, very rutty roads on the southwest side of Wickiup Reservoir, I ended up heading east to Highway 97 and then south to the town of Crescent and then took the Cutoff Road back to Highway 58 — to officially begin the long drive back home to Gardiner.
Lake Marie will receive its second trout plant in two weeks this week when it receives 500 legal rainbows. With the 800 trophy rainbows it received last week, there should be enough trout in the lake to ensure good fishing.
My column deadline won’t allow me to report the final results of the Labor Day Salmon Derby. As of Sunday, fishing was very tough, with the heaviest salmon weighed in at 28.4 pounds and the lightest at 1.9 pounds. If I were in the running for the derby’s lightest salmon, I would weigh it in as late as I possibly could, making sure that it did not shrink below the 15-inch length requirement.
Hopefully, Monday morning’s fishing will be much better and I’ll have the complete results in next week’s column.
It seems that the campground at Tugman Park is getting quite a reputation for stolen outdoor gear left in boats or vehicles. One family last week had placed their fishing licenses inside their camera bag. When it was stolen, not only did they have to worry about replacing it, but they had to purchase daily fishing licenses and duplicate shellfish licenses to be able to go on the guided trip they had already paid for.
Crabbing in the ocean is very good and will be legal until October 15th. Crabbing in the lower Umpqua River is also very good and is legal the entire year.
Striped bass on the Smith River is the area’s most “hush-hush” fishery, so getting an accurate report is difficult. But it is almost certainly quite slow with a few fish taken after dark. Striper fishing on the Coquille River between Bandon and Coquille is very inconsistent, but can be surprisingly productive with the best fishing at night.
Smallmouth bassfishing on the Umpqua River is very good. A very few smallmouths are being caught on the Smith River. But the most overlooked quality smallmouth fishery in our area is the South Fork of the Coquille River below Powers.
Anglers fishing for bottomfish need to remember that waters deeper than 30 fathoms are closed to conventional bottomfish techniques and there is an emergency closure on the retention of cabezon. Long leader fishing for some species of mid-depth bottomfish is still legal in waters more than 40 fathoms deep.
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.