By RANDY DOWLER
Cal/Or salmon rules
The Pacific northwest wind tunnel kicked up its blustery heels along the Wild Rivers Coast this past week. With rough seas, it's a swell idea to get in, out of ocean, early. The rockfish are on the move into shallow water. There is a two fish per-day retention limit for Chinook and coho (adipose fin-clipped only) on the Oregon side of the border; barbless hooks; and 16 inch minimum length. In California offshore waters, the Chinook season is open: two fish per-day; barbless hooks; and 16 inch minimum length. It remains closed for coho caught in Pacific Ocean waters off California, as it has for the previous ten years.
Albacore on the move
The long-fin tuna schools typically make an initial inshore showing along their Pacific northwest migration path sometime in early July. August usually brings lighter winds and moderate seas which can still change rapidly on a day to day basis. A wise rule of thumb when fishing 20 to 35 miles offshore is when you see whitecaps head for port. Tuna schools typically hang out along temperature breaks that occur along the divergent edges of offshore currents. Albacore favor 62 to 65 degree water, but feed voraciously in water temperatures down to about 58 degrees. The season lasts until the first fall rains, usually in October, which create deteriorating offshore angling conditions. Most anglers troll tuna feathers at an average speed of about seven knots in the surface waters of the wake. All-white, green and yellow, pink and white, blue and pink, and purple and black are tried and true color combinations that produce strikes. Barbed hooks are allowed. The retention limit for pelagic species in aggregate including albacore is 25 fish. There is no restriction on the number of rods used per-person for the take of pelagic species. The retention limit for great white sharks is zero.
Rogue fall run gearing up
There are reports of 20 to 25 fish days in the Rogue Estuary. Fisheries biologists are estimating that approximately 275,000 fall run kings will migrate over the Rogue sandspit between now and the end of October. With all the hot, inland weather, moss is becoming a problem in the Rogue River. The water temperature entering the estuary is now rising rapidly. In response to warming river temperatures, the fall Chinook will start to stack up in the saltwater-affected portions of the Rogue Bay, below this thermal barrier.
The fall Chinook, which are rarely less than 20 pounds, cruise in and out of the bay with the tides, rather than attempting to migrate upstream against a warm-water thermal barrier. The average depth of the Rogue Bay is 11 to 14 feet. The warm fresh water will float on top of the cooler, denser saltwater intrusion, trapping the fish in a very shallow layer of saltwater along the bottom of the bay.
Historically, these fish start to keg-up sometime during the second calendar week of July. This, of course, has already started to happen.
However, as soon as it rains, or river temperatures reach a favorable decline in the early fall, the fish will resume the upstream migration in mass.
The daily retention limit of fall Chinook in the Rogue River is two per-angler in either clipped or unclipped condition. Incidentally, the fall run has been so strong for the past several years that a suggestion was made to the ODFW last year stating that the retention limit should be raised to three fish per-day. Not a bad idea.
For the Klamath River, check with a local tackle store, or the California Department of Fish and Game in Eureka, for updated fall salmon and summer steelhead retention limit information. Special California regulations are issued specifically for the Klamath River, independent of the pre-printed 2004 California sports fishing freshwater regulations.
No reports of summer steelies just yet. However, July is an excellent fly fishing month for summer steelhead and half-pounders on the Rogue and Klamath. Historically, in-river summer steelhead schools reach fishable numbers sometime before the first of August.
Early morning and late evening hours are typically most productive. In the dog days, the most productive location for summer steelhead is where extra-fast water is flowing over shallow riffles. Also look where cooler water side-tributaries mix with the main river flow. This type of river structure provides well oxygenated water, shade from the overhead sun, and an opportunity to ambush unsuspecting prey.
In the cool of early morning and late evening after the sun is off the water the summer steelhead will move into shallow eddies to feed and rest out of the main flow. Fishing for half-pounders, 12 to just under 16 inches, builds throughout the summer months, typically peaking between Sept. 15 and Nov. 15. A few half-pounders can be found in the river system all year.
From tidewater upstream, to the deadline markers located downstream from Cole Rivers Hatchery, the Rogue is open to trout fishing (including half-pounders) until March 31, 2005. Five fin-clipped rainbow trout may be retained per-day, with an 8 inch minimum length. Unclipped rainbow trout and cutthroat trout must be released unharmed. Rainbow trout over 16 inches are considered to be steelhead on the Rogue River. These fish must be recorded on the Combined Angling Tag, or Hatchery Harvest Tag in regard to retention. The lower portion of the Rogue River is open to the retention of clipped steelhead all year. Again, check with CDFG officials for current restrictions on summer steelhead and half-pounders when fishing in the Klamath.
The daily catch limit is 25 pounds in aggregate. The use of dip nets, cast nets, angling, and herring jigs are allowed. Herring jigs may have any number of barbed hooks. By the way, the world's oldest man was interviewed at age 130. He attributed his good fortune to eating several tins of sardines every day.