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News arrow News arrow Sports arrow Early bird catches the worm ... or Chinook


Early bird catches the worm ... or Chinook

Wayne Rogina from Ukiah, California fished the Chetco bay on Sunday and limited out on these 30-pound Chinook. The Pilot/Larry Ellis

Fishing report for 

October 21-27

What do Little Cleos, Krocodiles, Kastmasters and Crystal Lures have in common? They all caught Chinook salmon between 40 and 55 pounds from the Brookings jetties last week.

While traveling to Portland last Tuesday, I received a phone call from local guide Andy Martin, who said that Brookings resident Wayne Sargent had just landed a 50-pound Chinook from one of the jetties.


It’s hard enough to maintain control of a 50-pound salmon from a boat. But in order to get one to cooperate from the bank, all the stars have to be in perfect alignment. They were for Wayne that day, who was using a glow-in-the-dark Little Cleo, and they were aligned for Grant Fraley as well, who caught a 55-pound Chinook from the very same location.

Lures like Little Cleos and Kastmasters are offered to anglers in phosphorescent colors, and there is a special technique that people use to get these lures to work most effectively.

One of the requirements is that you have to be fishing the magic hour that precedes daylight. In Oregon, you cannot fish for salmon at night, but you may begin legally fishing for them starting one hour before sunrise, and during that magic hour, it is still quite dark.

For instance today, sunrise officially begins at 6:28 am., which means that you could start legally fishing for salmon at 5:28 am. During this hour, salmon are suckers for a glowing lure which is easily seen in clear water and attacked with a vengeance.

After sunrise, you can still continue fishing effectively for another 45 minutes to an hour, but after 7:28 rolls around, glow-in-the-dark lures stop triggering salmon to open wide and say, “Ahhh.” That’s when it’s time to switch to the conventional gold one-ounce Kastmaster.

You absolutely must have a flashlight available to shine on these lures so they will emit that eerie glow that salmon can’t resist. I find that the small hand-held multi-LCD lights work the best.

Before you make your cast, turn on the flashlight and shine it closely and evenly distributed throughout the phosphorescent portions of the lure. You will find that after turning off the flashlight, your lure will attain a glow bright enough to read by.

This is the time to make your cast. I can’t tell you the amount of fish I’ve taken by flashing these lures. They really work and they work quite well.

After making your cast, you will want to let the lure sink all the way to the bottom and then start using a lift/drop method. Almost always, these salmon will hit your lure as it is sinking and approaches the bottom.

You can also buy phosphorescent tape that you can cut into various shapes to stick on other lures such as Krocodiles, and you can also use this tape to stick on spinner blades.

Salmon will hit this spinner blades on-the-drop as well. I remember one particular occasion where I caught two salmon at Tide Rock on phosphorescent-taped blades. As I was walking back up the trail carrying my two salmon, the rest of the herd started walking down the trail. Of course Tide Rock is closed until the river opens, but the point is that glow-in-the-dark spinner blades work quite well and should always be in your arsenal of early-morning lures.

In addition to the fish Wayne and Grant caught, Dee Shurtleff of Brookings hooked a 43-pound Chinook casting a Crystal Lure from the public pier by the Coast Guard station. The fish ran upriver toward the tips of the jetty that separate the boat basin from the river, and then ran downriver toward the mouth before it finally started tiring.

Eventually Dee was able to land the fish on the south jetty boulders with the help of another friend on the net. He caught his fish on one of the old Crystal Lures that are no longer in production. The only place you can buy one of these lures is if you are lucky enough to find one on eBay.


The Chetco River is scheduled to open one week from today above river mile 2.2. The river will open as long as there is rain in the forecast or there is no sign of a long-term drought. Since it takes two days to close a river, ODFW will be looking at the long-term forecast about the middle of the week to access the situation.

Looking at the water vapor loop in the eastern Pacific as of Friday, I can see that a ridge of high pressure is fanning some impending cold fronts away, but the high-pressure ridge looks like it is breaking up.

At the moment there is a cold front trying to make its way toward our area, and if it is successful we should have some rain this weekend before another cold front is expected to hit the area again around Thursday.

When it comes to rain, Mother Nature always wins out in November, and the weather can turn from zero expectations of precipitation to gully washers, so I’m crossing my fingers that the river will open on November 5 as planned. Even so, it wouldn’t hurt to do your best rain dance. If you don’t known one, make one up. It couldn’t hurt.


ODFW with the help of Oregon South Coast Fishermen and volunteers who read this column were able to capture at least 60 adult Chinook and ship them to Elk River Hatchery last Tuesday. There were fish of all age classes in the nets with lots of jacks, which is a good sign for next year’s harvest. There were also a high percentage of hatchery-marked fish in the mix that got thrown back into the river.

ODFW plans on seining again on Wednesday at Social Security Bar at 10 a.m. The public is again invited to help pull the nets.

“There were a lot of fish, and big ones, ramming me through the net, and trying to bite me as well,” says Oregon South Coast Fisherman member Dee Shurtleff. “We threw back a lot of jacks and there were lots of very large hatchery-marked Chinook in the nets.”

As of Friday, there were so many Chinook in Morris Hole the water looked like a black cloud. I expect that ODFW should get the rest of their brood stock this coming Wednesday.

I’m looking optimistic toward a great river opener.

Tight lines!



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