Larry Ellis, fishing columnist

Fishing report for Sept. 28 to Oct. 4

Last Monday, Oct. 1, marked the first day of the Chetco ocean terminal season, a fishery that is meant to specifically target returning Chetco hawg Chinook that are hanging out in the ocean, but remaining within relatively close quarters to the Port of Brookings Harbor.

This year's season will last from Oct. 1 to 14, and already the weather has been much better than last year.

There are a few things, though, that anglers need to keep in mind when fishing for ocean salmon during this time period. The ocean begins seaward of an imaginary line drawn between the north and south Brookings jetties. Everything inside of this imaginary line is considered the Chetco River. Everything seaward of this imaginary line is considered the ocean.

This ocean fishery is also a state-waters fishery with definite boundaries from Twin Rocks, south to the California/Oregon border. And since it is a state-run fishery, anglers are only allowed to venture no further than 3 nautical miles from shore. If you're just 3.1 miles off shore, you will get pinched with a very expensive fine.

Also, the limit is only one Chinook a day, with no more than five Chinook allowed for the entire October ocean season.

The terminal ocean fishery started out fair this year, with a handful of fish being introduced to the scales. Day by day, the fishing started picking up, and on Thursday the Brookings Port samplers checked in over a dozen Chinook. Although the fishing has been far from stellar, many anglers who persevered ended up with a fish in the box.

The story of the week came from Robert and Soon Ae Phillips of Brookings. After Soon Ae landed a beautiful 24-pound king, Bob's rod went off. A 45-minute battle ensued.

"We only got it two-thirds of the way up," said Phillips, whose clothes were soaked in perspiration. "It was like trying to keep a truck from falling off of a cliff, only it was for over 45-straight minutes without a break. I was using 40-pound leader and I was pushing it to the max."

After the back-breaking ordeal, Bob and Soon Ae never got to see the fish. Bob said it definitely fought like a halibut.

Worn out and whipped, Bob finally stuck the rod in a holder and proceeded to troll at a slow trolling speed.

"It was either going to come or it wasn't," he said.

After finally breaking off the stick below the reel, the rod took to the air. But Bob's quick reflexes saved his outfit when he managed to grab hold of the reel's handle.

The ocean derby being run by Sporthaven owners, Howard and Cindy Jones is almost maxed out now. They only accept 200 contestants, but when I last checked on Thursday, there were 177 entrants. I predict that the derby's ceiling will max out year.

The ocean season is starting out fair, but that is always typical in the beginning of the season. Gradually you can expect more fish to be caught as the fish school up and get closer to the jetty's jaws. One push of rain, no matter how mild, will send these fish into a feeding frenzy between the red can and the jaws.

This weekend is expected to produce textbook ocean conditions for anglers. NOAA's weather report as of Friday morning showed fairly flat days and minimal winds that will get boaters out on the water, and rain showers just might help spark a bite.

In addition, the moon is waning, which means that the salmon won't be gorging on bait fish at night either, putting the fish on more of a receptive bite early in the morning.


Fishing for rockfish, greenling and lingcod has also been very good, and should continue to improve this week as well.

One pair of anglers, after landing a salmon each, caught their limit of rockfish in less than 20 minutes.

So expect great bottom fishing in the ocean this weekend and possibly even into the week if the weather cooperates.


Fishing in the Chetco Bay for salmon has continued to be an on-and-off type scenario. I usually spend considerable time at the crab pier and the jack counts have been phenomenal. There have been days when nothing but jacks have been caught. Adult Chinook ranging from 15 to 35 pounds are also being caught in the bay as well.

John Weber, STEP biologist for our area, is quite pleased at the amount of people who are turning in snouts from fish missing adipose fins.

The first three fish that were donated into the snout receptacle at the kiosk inside the fish-cleaning station had coded wire tags inside them, and ODFW determined that they were of Ferry Creek origin.

I've seen nights on the outgoing tide when jacks have jumped clear out of the water, with as many as a dozen fish seen in an hour.

As of Thursday, these are the temporary standings in Sporthaven's Hawg Derby.

First place: Harry Childers andndash; 30 pounds, 12 ounces

Second place: Robert Gibson andndash; 29 pounds, 8 ounces

Third place: Duane McKinney andndash; 27 pounds.

Every day, those numbers are going to change.

Remember that as of Thursday, there were only 23 spots left. The entry fee is a nominal $35 and the cash awards are fantastic.

Several people have already caught fish pushing 40 pounds who weren't entered in the derby.

And so it goes.

Tight lines and bent rods!