By Larry Ellis
Pilot staff writer
Fish Report for Aug. 31 through Sept. 6
As most of you know, the ocean crab season closed Aug. 15 and will not reopen until Dec. 1 for us sport fishermen. That means do not set out any pots past the imaginary line drawn between the tips of the north and south jetties. It also means one cannot even throw a butterfly or a snare trap on the ocean sides of either jetty.
Crabbing, however, is permitted in the Chetco Bay. When the ocean finally settles down, the Dungeness will move in close just outside the breakers and some will wander into the harbor.
The limit is 12-male Dungeness crab with a minimum size of five and three-quarter inches as measured across the inside of the points. The limit of red rock crab is 24, with no size or sex restriction. We don't get too many red rock here in the Port of Brookings Harbor, but stragglers do wander in from time to time.
The ocean salmon
season is closed -
even for coho!
I just spoke with Eric Schindler, the Ocean Salmon Project Leader in Newport. The coho harvest cap has not yet been met from Cape Falcon south to Humbug Mountain and most likely will last until the coho season closes on Sept. 16. This has led a lot of people to mistakenly believe that you can still fish for coho in the ocean. Not true!
South of Humbug Mountain, the ocean is closed for all species of salmon, even coho. Although most of the coho, also called silvers, are making their way back to their native spawning grounds, a few are bound to be caught accidentally by bottomfishermen. If you happen to catch a coho, whether it's fin-clipped or not, release it or you could be subjected to a merciless fine.
Schindler has his fingers crossed that next year's quota could be even larger than this year. All that data won't be tabulated for several months yet, until the major rivers' coho catch comes in. If the coho quota is increased, that means ODFW will have projected a larger abundance of silvers in the ocean and that means the fishing should be phenomenal in 2008.
The next ocean salmon season for us Brookings folks will open on Oct. 1 and close one hour after sunset on Oct. 14. This is also called the Chetco River Terminal Area Fall Chinook Salmon Fishery, otherwise known as the Chetco Hawg Season.
It is a state-run fishery rather than federally run, which means you can fish no further than 3 miles out, and only four Chinook are allowed per person for the entire season.
The Rogue Estuary goes wild
I took a drive up to the Rogue Bay Thursday afternoon in the hopes of getting a photo for today's column. I arrived just before the turn of low tide when all of a sudden people were banging Chinook left and right. There were already six buttons given out by Jot's Resort for salmon over 30 pounds that day.
Ted Massing of Broward County, Fla, brought in one beauty that tipped the scales at 40 pounds, 4 ounces while fishing with Les Craig of www.rogueguide.com.
The ODFW salmon checker said it was the best day he had seen all year. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate it a 7. Although there were quite a few kings in anglers' fish boxes earlier in the day, the main bite came on right at the turn of low tide.
It was a spectacular sight seeing all those rods doubled over and all the large Chinook being brought to the net. There weren't a lot of limits, however, quite a few boats had one fish per person.
Almost all the fish were caught on Rogue Bait Rigs or homemade spinnerbait rigs using a No. 4 Oregon Duck or a 'green on green' blade.
One of the really amazing things is that I did not hear about one salmon being attacked by a seal or a sea lion. I was told that Mark Lottis's Sea Lion Patrol was busy zooming from one end of the bay to the other chucking seal bombs at the whiskered mammals. This will be the second year that the hazing program has been instituted and it appears that it is really working. Way to go Mark!
There are also a few coho being caught in the Rogue Bay as well. As opposed to the ocean, you are allowed to retain hatchery (adipose fin-clipped) coho in the Rogue Bay. As September progresses, more coho will be entering the estuary. Last year they were stacked up with the Chinook on the flats at Indian Creek.
The best color blade for coho is bright red or hot pink, so it's a good idea to carry several colors with you just in case the coho bite should suddenly turn on.
Brookings rockfish and lingcod
The wind blew pretty hard for most of the week, making ocean conditions miserable for bottomfishermen. Still, there were some nice lingcod and rockfish filleted at the cleaning station by anglers getting up at the crack of dawn and fishing for an hour or so.
Sooner or later, the ocean will be laying down again and anglers will be yardin' in the blacks, blues, vermilion and copper rockfish.
Surfperch are still surprising salmon fishermen in the Rogue Bay. According to Jim Carey from the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach, there is still a certain amount of large redtail surfperch being caught by anglers trolling for salmon in the Rogue Bay.
There are also some of the pinkfin being caught by salmon trollers in the Coquille Estuary as well.
It appears that surfperch are still alive and well on the Oregon Coast. On these windy days it might behoove anglers to toss out some 2-inch Gulp! Sandworms or raw shrimp at our local surfperch haunts. Try one-half mile uphill from the Winchuck Wayside, Sporthaven Beach, Pistol River and the Gold Beach south jetty spit.