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Ocean salmon comes to an end

Frank Debaugh and two other divers from Ashland took advantage of the flat and ultra-clear water on Thursday and loaded up with rock scallops and a variety of rockfish. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
Frank Debaugh and two other divers from Ashland took advantage of the flat and ultra-clear water on Thursday and loaded up with rock scallops and a variety of rockfish. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
Even though fishing for salmon in ocean has been a flat-out gangbuster fishery for most of the season, high water temperatures in the 60-degree range brought the salmon fishing to a screeching halt last week, right after the Slam’n Salmon Derby ended on Sunday.

Be that as it may, anglers still have two days left (today and tomorrow; Saturday and Sunday) to catch a Chinook in the ocean. One hour after sunset on Sunday, Sept. 8, the ocean salmon season in the Klamath Management Zone will finally come to an end, which includes the area outside of the Port of Brookings Harbor.

But all in all, it’s been a spectacular ocean salmon season, with Chinook averaging 25 pounds toward the end. However, next year those 4-year-old Chinook that managed to not get caught will become 5-year-olds, and 2014 should again be a year to look forward to.

But don’t put your salmon gear in mothballs yet. Ocean salmon anglers will still have something to look forward to in a little over three weeks. From Oct. 1 - 13, the Chetco Ocean Terminal Area Fishery which will be taking place in state waters from Twin Rocks to the Oregon/California border and out 3 miles.

If the fishing is anything like it has been in the ocean this season (and there is no reason why it wouldn’t), anglers should be fishing for Chinook in the same weight class that they were used to catching in the ocean this past season.

In addition, the Chetco is noted for its large 5-year old fish, and because of this year’s abundant food supply, those 5s should be corpulent 40 to 50 pounders.

Please note that there is no coho fishery in the ocean taking place outside the Port of Brookings Harbor. That fishery ended on July 31.

There will, however, be a non-selective coho fishery taking place in the ocean from Thursday through Saturday, but only from Humbug Mountain to Cape Falcon. This is a non-selective coho fishery, which means a person could keep either a wild or hatchery coho. Brookings-area anglers are already talking about trailering their boats up to the ports of Bandon and Coos Bay to cash in on this coho action. This fishery will last through Sept. 30 or until the quota of 16,000 coho is attained.

So to repeat, there will not be a coho season out of the Port of Brookings Harbor this month. It’s over and done with.

There is another coho fishery that local-area residents might consider that is taking place starting Sept. 15 in rivers such as the Coquille and Coos systems. In these aforementioned rivers, there is now a set season on wild coho, with a one-fish daily limit; two fish per season.

Watershed councils up and down the coast have been trying to undo the damage that has been caused by past splash damming practices. By planting plants and trees indigenous to the local area, and by utilizing large wood replacement in the tributaries, the coho population has come back dramatically for most of the rivers from the Coquille north to the Nehalem, to allow for permanent regulations for a wild coho season. It is a plan that mid-coast district biologist Bob Buckman has been trying to implement in the past several years, and he has succeeded in getting NOAA Fisheries to give their stamp of approval.

So if casting a large pink spinner and hooking up a coho is your bag, then you can look forward to this fantastic fishery next week.

I know from past experience that the Oregon Coastal Natural coho (OCN) that frequent these rivers attain weights up to 20 pounds in October.

Meanwhile, a few Brookings anglers have been taking part in the hog-line fest that is taking place at the mouth of the Klamath River, where combat fishing elbow-to-elbow is the rule. Everyone I know has limited out on their three adult fish, and these are gorgeous specimens of Chinook.

The ocean laid down like a sheet of liquid mercury this past week, allowing anglers to do some Pacific halibut and bottom fishing. For some anglers, the action has been quite good, while other fishermen struggled to get a bite. The bottom fishing action should pick up this week.

The hot tuna action has been taking place out of the Port of Eureka, where anglers have motored 35 miles to find their albacore, where there seems to be a well-defined area of 62-degree tuna water overlapping a hard well-defined chlorophyll break.

Tight lines!

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