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ANGLERS STARTING TO HOOK CHETCO HAWGS

Joey Godwin of Grants Pass holds a crab pot with some legal Dungeness crab taken on a recent crabbing excursion to Coos Bay with guide Andy Martin of wildriversfishing.com. (The Pilot/Larry Ellis).
Joey Godwin of Grants Pass holds a crab pot with some legal Dungeness crab taken on a recent crabbing excursion to Coos Bay with guide Andy Martin of wildriversfishing.com. (The Pilot/Larry Ellis).

By Larry Ellis

Pilot staff writer

What a difference a week can make! Last Friday, the Chetco actually rose to 33,500 cfs, but by Saturday it dropped rapidly to 8,000 cfs. By midnight Sunday it was a hair above 5,000 and yesterday it dropped toward 1,100 cfs. It's fairly safe to say that the ground is fairly well saturated now. Any more rains should raise the river at a more rapid rate.

The water started clearing by late Sunday/early Monday, enough for some drift boats to put the hurtin' on some nice Chinook salmon. In addition, there was one large silver caught as well!

Depending where you were and what your timing was like, you were either in the penthouse or in the outhouse. The ones who were in the penthouse reported multiple hook-ups, as far upriver as Miller Bar, while other boaters reported never seeing one lone hook-up.

This is typical of the beginning of our salmon run. At first, you have big batches of fish spaced far apart. Many of the salmon were fresh from the ocean, complete with sea lice, an indication that they had only been in the river a few days. If the fish didn't have any sea lice on the outside, they had already been in the lower holes several days before the river rose.

Over the years, I've noticed that the more successful shore anglers follow the batches of fish as they head upriver. When fish go on-the-bite, you will often see multiple-rods doubled over at one time; then the action just stops. That's when it's time to pack it up and head upriver, and intercept the same batch of fish at another location.

If you know the river well enough, you can time the runs so you can run into the same pod of fish within hours or even minutes of each other.

The same thing goes for driftboaters, but only on a wider scale. On Monday and Tuesday the empty boat trailers were at Social Security Bar, but later in the week the take-outs were gradually moving higher upriver at Loeb Park.

For instance, anglers who were experiencing hook-ups at Willow Bar on a Monday afternoon may have had to put-in higher upriver on Wednesday, in order to nab the same batch of fish from in the stretch of water from Nook Bar down to Bruce Hole. There are definitely more fish yet to come.

Early last week I caught up with Greg Eide from Greg Eide Guide Service, while he was cleaning two Chinook at Social Security on the Chetco.

"We landed six that day," Eide said. "One of them was a wild silver that we let go. Then we landed four adults and a jack. We had two other fish on that we lost, which I saw, and then we had four other pull-downs, so we had 12 fish on that day."

So be prepared for all types of fishing. Eide got his fish pulling plugs, but there are also some fish being taken using bobbers and sand shrimp/roe combos. This is also the time of year you can bang some kings using Kastmasters with glow tape at first legal light.

The Rogue gets a mini bite

of 'nooks and silvers

Eide's also been whacking some big Chinook on the Rogue around the Agness area.

"For the last two days, I've been getting some nice bright salmon there (Agness) and getting some nice silver salmon as well," noted Eide.

One fin-clipped Chinook was probably an Indian Creek fish that strayed upriver.

"A lot of times salmon will go upriver and then turn around and go back down. They've documented that on the Chetco," Eide remarked.

Seining for Chetco broodstock Chinook scheduled Tuesday

The first seining for the Chetco broodstock salmon occurred last Thursday. According to John Weber, ODFW STEP biologist, 15 volunteers helped haul in the net which included 12 salmon, eight of which were females. In addition, there was one large sea-run cutthroat trout that measured approximately 18 inches.

"We really appreciate all the volunteers," Weber said. "Without them it would be very difficult to accomplish our goals."

Anyone wanting to participate in this project is welcome to show up at noon this coming Tuesday at Tide Rock for the second seining. This is the meat and potatoes for both the trophy hawg season in the ocean and also for the Chetco River fishery itself. Check the ODFW office at Gold Beach in case events are re-scheduled.

Coos Bay crabbing

Andy Martin of wildriversfishing.com recently invited me to go crabbing along with two of his clients. All I can say is it's a good thing there were four of us on board, because there were times when we definitely needed a break.

This is hands-down the best crabbing I have ever experienced, and it's just going to keep getting better through November. Coos Bay is Oregon's best shot at limiting out on both Dungeness and red rock crab. With a limit of 12 dungees and 25 red rock, that's a lotta crab!

It's also only two hours away. If you get a group of two or three people together and split the gas, it's more than worthwhile.

The crabbing is actually done near the south jetty, very close to the boat ramp where you launch in Charleston. You can actually do quite well right off the end of the first commercial dock next to the ramp.

Martin put out six pots and three rings. Practically every time we pulled one of the rings or pots, there were at least one or two keeper Dungeness and some very nice size red rock as well.

He has his own unique way of baiting his traps. He puts raw chicken inside the fine-mesh harness, where the crab can smell but can't rip it out. Then he adds a fish carcass on the outside, where the crab can tear into fine pieces, leaving a scent trail behind for other crustaceans to follow inside the trap.

We ended up with three limits of Dungeness that day and more red rock than you'd ever want to pinch. He finishes off his trip by cooking your catch right there at the dock.

Tight Lines!

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