On both sides of the border, salmon were as ubiquitous as the morning fog that blanketed both ports of Crescent City and Brookings-Harbor.
I may have experienced better salmon fishing than I did last Thursday while fishing out of Crescent City Harbor, but if I did, I certainly have forgotten about it. I have waited all of my life to say this, but on a scale of 1 to 10, I rated the fishing a solid 10.
It took me and the person who I fished with longer to drive to Crescent City than it did to limit out, which was by 8 a.m.
Then at 8:15 a.m. I received a call from Soon Ae Phillips in Brookings, who said that she and her husband Bob had gotten their limit on the Oregon side as well. I spent the rest of the day at the Port of Brookings-Harbor fillet station, enamored of the glowing smiles that seemed to be omnipresent by anglers who were bringing in limit upon limit of Chinook.
"The salmon were so thick and the fishing was so good that I think a trained chimpanzee could have caught them," said Richard Heap, Oregon Sportfishing representative on the PFMC Salmon Advisory Sub-panel.
Most of the salmon brought to the cleaning station were age-4 Chinook, ranging between 15 and 25 pounds, but there were also indications of 5- and 6-year-old kings brought to the fillet tables as well.
Heap weighed in one of the salmon that tipped the scales at 34 pounds. This early in the season, that fish could have easily been a 5-year-old Chinook.
"I think that by the end of the salmon season, that fish could have easily weighed 40 pounds," says Heap, "especially considering that these fish's stomachs are loaded with krill."
Another salmon that was reputed to have weighed 50 pounds was brought to fillet station, as well. Probably a 6-year-old Chinook, by the time fish of that caliber arrive at their parent stream in October, they can weigh in excess of 60 pounds.
Mild seas with a diminishing swell are expected to continue, giving salmon anglers heart-thumping adrenaline rushes at least through Monday.
Most anglers are trolling fairly close to shore, inside of both ports' whistle buoys. The hot ticket has been an anchovy trolled behind a Les Davis Dodger, either being pulled from a downrigger or from a 4-ounce Delta Diver.
Other anglers who prefer using lures are having a lot of luck using Brad's Super Bait Cut Plugs, using a Gamakatsu 6/0 Siwash hook. People seem to like to widen the gap of the hook slightly by gently applying outward pressure below the hook point using a pair of needle nose pliers. The color of the Brad's lure hasn't seemed to matter. Folks have caught salmon using the colors blackjack and pink.
Don't forget to pinch the barbs of your hooks closed if you are not already using a barbless hook.
Bottomfishing continued to thrill rockfish and lingcod hunters, with some very nice catches of lingcod over 15 pounds continuing to be filleted at local fish-cleaning facilities.
Don't forget that this coming Monday, July 1, Oregon anglers may start keeping one cabezon per day as part of their daily bag limit of seven groundfish.
The Rogue Bay fall Chinook fishery should be busting wide open any day now. With water releases from Lost Creek Dam continuing to abate this summer, flows are expected to reach record lows near 1,000 cubic feet per second.
Low, clear river water and high inland temperatures are expected to raise the temperature of the Rogue River, which should create a dam of warm river water between 75 and 80 degrees in the Clay Banks area of upper tidewater.
When salmon reach this impenetrable wall of uncomfortable water temperatures, it will likely send the salmon back into the Rogue bay. This July, look for increasing numbers of Rogue fall Chinook stacking up in the estuary.