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On the Water: Chinook seining a success

Kathy Winings of Woodland, Wash. holds three of the lingcod her group caught while fishing out of  the Port of Brookings-Harbor. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
Kathy Winings of Woodland, Wash. holds three of the lingcod her group caught while fishing out of the Port of Brookings-Harbor. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
Approximately 23 people from ODFW, Oregon South Coast Fishermen and the public showed up at Social Security Bar on Wednesday for the first seining of Chinook for the Chetco Broodstock Program, with a goal of getting 60 fish. They had no problems meeting that goal.

A total of 57 adult Chinook, with the majority of them being large 4-year-olds and a lesser proportion being 3-year-olds, plus four wild jacks made up a total of 61 Chinook that were transported to Elk River Hatchery, where they will be held in raceways until they are ripe and ready for spawning.

ODFW’s goal this year is to gather enough Chinook to spawn 200,000 smolts, which will be released in the Chetco River next year. That is 50,000 more smolts than what has been released in recent-past years. The department should have no problem achieving that goal as well.

The group of people made four passes to get the desired amount and sizes of Chinook. On the first pass, it was estimated that approximately 250 salmon were in the net, but approximately 200 fish escaped over the back side of the seine due to the weight of the fish pulling down the floats that hold up the large net.

Due to the extremely-steep bank at Social Security Bar, hoisting the hawgzillas into the truck required a brigade of people handing off the heavy salmon from one person to the next.

The next seining is tentatively scheduled to be sometime this coming week.

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On October 13, Howard and Cindy Jones, owners of Sporthaven Marina Restaurant, hosted a magnificent banquet for approximately 200 people, most of whom were participants in their annual Chetco Ocean Hawg Derby.

The couple served their guests copious quantities of savory bratwurst, mouthwatering spicy Italian sausage and succulent fried chicken. Attendees complimented the main courses with a variety of delicious side dishes and desserts.

Cash prizes were awarded to the lucky fishermen who caught the three-largest salmon.

The $2,775 first-place award went to Soon Ae Phillips of Brookings, with her 50-pound, 4-ounce Chinookzilla. The second-place award of $1,665 was went to Kenny McMurry from Bend, with his 45-pound, 8-ounce hawg; and a $1,110 third-place prize was awarded to Bob Koepfle of Cottage Grove with his 39-pound, 8-ounce king.

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Hey what’s with these flat-calm ocean conditions? Here it is late October, and generally the ocean this time of year is lumpy and grumpy, and the wind is howlin’ like a wolf. For at least eight days, folks have been able to head uphill toward House Rock, or downhill toward Camel Rock to slay the fatted bottom-grabber, and it looks like things are going to continue this way through the weekend and into the beginning of next week.

Those who took advantage of these stellar ocean conditions were rewarded with some very nice bottom-fishing limits.

Lingcod fishing has been spectacular, with limits being the rule and fish averaging between 8 and 20 pounds. Serious lingcod hunters have been heading up to House Rock.

A good grade of black rockfish and blue rockfish, with a smattering of vermilion rockfish have also been coming to the fillet tables, as well.

Anglers have been using twin-tail plastics and Kalin Mogambo grubs in the shallower water just outside the kelp beds, and using their shrimp flies and leadfish in areas up to 90-feet deep.

The retention of cabezon is still open as of this writing (Thursday), and will continue through the end of the year or until the quota is met. The daily limit is one cabezon as included in the seven-fish rockfish limit.

There have also been a few Pacific halibut brought to the fillet station as well. Don’t forget October 31 will be the last day you can fish for these big flatties.

The ocean is also currently closed for the retention of Dungeness crab and will not reopen until December 1. However, people can still crab in the lower Chetco River as long as they do not venture out into the ocean.

The Chetco River will open above river mile 2.2 as scheduled one week from today, November 2. So get out your slip bobbers and be ready to hit these salmon with roe, sand shrimp cocktails or anchovies. But with no rain in the forecast, the river could close shortly thereafter.

According to Todd Confer, district fisheries biologist, if the area does not receive rain between 5 and 7 days after the river opens, and there is no rain in the forecast, then the department might consider looking at an emergency closure if the fish are getting hit too hard.

Tight lines!

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