Larry Ellis, fishing columnist

Fishing report from

September 7-13

"The scale read 85 pounds and the tail was still dragging on the ground!"

I'll never forget those words uttered last Thursday by Geoff Ashby of Brookings as he described weighing in what was possibly the largest Pacific halibut caught from a sport fishing boat out of the Port of Brookings Harbor.

Marge Mansur of Four M Tackle in Harbor had the honor of weighing in the big barn door. She has one of the most accurate digital scales in Oregon, and it is affixed in the center of a sturdy metal frame.

This year, from this very device, she has weighed in several salmon over 40 pounds, some humongous lingcod and numerous halibut in the 60-pound class. But last Thursday, she could have used a few wooden blocks to prop the scale up another foot.

There is no doubt that the minimum weight of this halibut was 85 pounds. But with its tail fin still touching the ground, you can leave it to your imagination as to how much heavier the fish might have actually been. Most people were saying that it could have easily pushed 90 pounds.

Geoff was fishing in 180 feet of water with A.K. Saadat of Brookings, aboard Saadat's boat Sunkist when the halibut engulfed Ashby's horse herring. According to Ashby, the fight lasted almost an hour.

If the weather remains calm, it will be the perfect time to do a little halibut fishing, since the season lasts through Oct. 31 and the next ocean salmon season doesn't open until Oct. 1. The limit is one Pacific halibut per day; six per season, and they must be marked on your combined angling tag.


Bottom fishing in the ocean was stellar last week and should remain that way as long as the weather remains calm. The marine forecast is predicting mild winds, and swells in the 2- to 4-foot range through Monday.

Anglers hauled in some magnificent catches of lingcod, with several lingasaurs in the 15-pound class.

Fishing for black rockfish, blue rockfish, and other members of the rockfish family was excellent and should also remain good through the weekend.


Remember that the October ocean hawg salmon season (Oct. 1-14) is only 15 days away and Sporthaven Marina is still going to hold its very popular annual Hawg Derby.

This is by far my favorite derby of the year. The tournament is limited to only 200 people and the list is filling fast. When I signed up last week, the roster was already one-quarter filled. I expect a great turnout this year, especially since there are good predictions for returning Chetco River Chinook hanging out in the ocean outside the Port of Brookings Harbor.

The one-time entry fee of $35 entitles a person to fish every day of the October Chetco ocean salmon season and includes free admission to the banquet on the last day of the derby. The derby is strictly an ocean derby and everyone on board must be entered in order to participate.

Thirty dollars of the entry fee goes directly into the prize fund, so anglers will by vying for some big cash awards. The other $5 goes toward the banquet on the last day.

"We're really looking forward to putting on this derby," says Sporthaven Marina owner Howard Jones. "We're not in this for the money. We really enjoy the fellowship of the local-area residents who come here and participate in this derby."

Howard and Cindy Jones will be providing the main meat course, and everyone is expected to bring a side dish for what I think is the best pot luck in Curry County.


When was the last time you remembered catching a wild coho and being able to keep it? For most anglers, the answer is andndash; probably never. Well, that has changed in the past few years.

Starting today, Sept. 15, in rivers and estuaries from the Coquille north to the Nehalem, anglers may keep one wild coho per day, based on a specific quota for each river. Most systems will be open from Sept. 15 through Nov. 30, or until a river system's quota is met.

I absolutely love this fishery. Last year I slew my silvers on the Siuslaw. Here are the rivers and their specific quotas.

The Coquille - 1,500.

Coos - 1,200.

Umpqua - 3,000.

Siuslaw - 1,700.

Alsea - 950.

Yaquina - 800.

Siletz - 1,200.

Nestucca - 250.

Tillamook Bay Rivers - 1,000.

Nehalem - 1,200.

The Coquille, Coos and Umpqua Rivers are limited to one wild coho per day; five per season. The limit on the Siuslaw, Alsea, Yaquina, and Siletz is one wild coho per day; two per season. The limit on the Nestucca and Tillamook Bay Rivers is one wild coho per day; one per season, and the limit on the Nehalem is one wild coho per day, two per season.

The Nestucca and Tillamook Bay Rivers are only open on specific days.

These monster coho should now be approaching 18 pounds, and will savagely attack hot pink, bright orange or fluorescent red spinners and plugs. They also whack cut plug herring with a vengeance.

Check with ODFW for specific deadlines and daily closures.

In addition, don't forget about the great coho fisheries that will be taking place in Tenmile Lakes, Siltcoos, and Tahkenitch Lakes. They are all open for the retention of coho from Oct. 1 - Dec. 31. The limit is one wild coho per day; five per year in aggregate with the aforementioned lakes.

There are no words that can explain the excitement when your spinner or plug is savagely slammed by a 20-plus pound coho in a lake.

It is ODFW's hope that Oregon will eventually be able to have established in-river and estuary fisheries where no quota will be necessary, much the same as the aforementioned lakes.

"We expect in the future that we will be able to have a 5- to 10-percent impact rate in these (river) fisheries, and a set of regulations where we will have open areas with open times with certain limits that will produce the desired impact rate," says Bob Buckman, ODFW mid-coast district biologist.

"Ultimately, we want to have a set of regulations that will allow us to have a fixed season in the future."

Tight lines and bent rods!