Coho season begins Sunday, open the flood gates
Written by Larry Ellis, fishing columnist   
June 29, 2012 09:17 pm

 

ODFW fish checkers occasionally get the day off to go fishing, like Ryan Pitcher and Jennifer Deves who limited out while fishing out of the Port of Brookings Harbor with Dave Delong on Thursday. Deves caught the big one. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
 

Fishing report for 

June 22-28

Starting tomorrow, July 1, Oregon anglers from Humbug Mountain south to the California/Oregon border may begin harvesting hatchery coho salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit. That’s good news for some fishermen who have been getting mixed catches of coho and Chinook last week, but were, by law, forced to return the coho.

 

Most of the coho reported being caught were wild, in other words, having an intact adipose fin. But there were some anglers who were talking about releasing some decent-size silvers that were missing an adipose fin. To reiterate, anglers are only allowed to keep coho that have a missing adipose fin with a healed scar.

The coho season runs from July 1 through July 31 or until the coho quota of 8,000 fish is caught, whichever comes first. To keep apprised of the current quota status, go online at www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/salmon, or call the Marine Resources Program at 541-867-4741.

Coho are the fastest-growing of all salmon. They’ll start out between 5 and 8 pounds at the beginning of July, and grow to 20 pounds or larger by October, so if the quota lasts for a few weeks, they could average between 7 and 10 pounds in the ocean. I don’t expect that the quota will last very long this season.

The minimum size for coho is 16 inches,

With a calm bar and flat ocean conditions, more anglers were able to troll for Chinook salmon. The fish checkers tallied between 20 and 30 fish per day, which meant that there were probably 30 to 50 Chinook a day caught last week. Most of the Chinook came to the fillet tables by 10 a.m.

I was personally at the cleaning station for most of the week, and I can safely say that there were numerous limits of Chinook taken by anglers trolling flashers-and-anchovies, flashers-and-hoochies, or watermelon-colored Apex lures.

The salmon ranged from three to seven miles from shore, with fishermen fishing anywhere from 45 to 120 feet deep. In the morning, most of the salmon were caught in the 35- to 45-foot depth range, while the Chinook tended to sound toward deeper water as the sun came up.

The salmon varied in size, with a lot of 10- to 12-pound 3-year-olds and some larger fish in the 20- to 30-pound class being caught as well, many of these big ones looking like fat footballs, the shape of a spring Chinook.

Other large salmon resembled the shape of Rogue River fall Chinook that are getting ready to enter the Rogue any day now.

July is typically a great month for salmon fishing because the seas are generally calmer this time of year. Next week, the smart fishermen will begin trolling at first legal light in order to get in a few hours of salmon fishing in, and avoid the afternoon winds.

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Bottom fishermen also brought in some nice hauls of rockfish, lingcod and cabezon to the fillet tables. There was one group of guys who had some enormous black rockfish in the 5- to 6-pound class who were using whole herring, trying for lingcod.

The first of the week started out slow for lingasaurs, but as the week progressed, anglers were tapping into some lings in the 15- to 25-pound category.

There were also some monster cabezon caught last week. I weighed in one specimen that almost bottomed out my Rapala digital scale at 15 pounds, 3 ounces, and I heard of several other cabbies of that size caught as well.

Jim Bithell from Charthouse Sportfishing limited out his clients on rockfish and lingcod, as well as a few nice king salmon.

Scott Stewart from Ultimate Catch Charter is also filling his clients’ gunnysacks with limits of bottomfish as well. Scott works at Chetco Outdoor Store in Brookings and runs trips on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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Crabbers have also been hauling in limits of Dungeness crab inside the Port of Crescent City and at the B Street Pier. The hot rig has been the Pineapple butterfly crab trap. These traps are available at Lorings Sporting Goods, Four M Tackle, the Chetco Outdoor Store, Chetco Marine and at Englund Marine in Crescent City.

You will need a California fishing license to crab from a boat inside the harbor; however, anglers and crabbers can fish and crab without a license from the B Street Pier.

For Dungeness, the best crabbing has been between the second and third light, on the right-hand side of the pier. Throwing your traps on the left side will get more red rock crab.

The limit in California is 10 Dungeness crab with a minimum width of 5 3/4 inches as measured across the inside of the points. In California, you may keep both male and female crab, as opposed to the “only male retention” regulation in Oregon.

The shells on most of the females have been a little on the soft side, so most crabbers have been releasing the females and only keeping the males.


Attention all smelt 

fishermen

You may now jig for smelt in Brookings Harbor when they become available. According to Lynn Mattes, Sport Groundfish and Halibut Project Leader for ODFW, smelt species other than the eulachon may be jigged or netted.

The eulachon (Thaleichthys pacificus) is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and is protected from capture.

However, other species such as the surf smelt (Hypomesus pretiosus) may be harvested. So know what your smelt species looks like before you go “a-jiggin’.”

Eulachon are not very common in southern Oregon, but they are still present in some numbers. They officially cover a distance from California to Alaska. The eulachon is bluish on its upper half with silvery-white sides and bellies.

The surf smelt, which often enter Oregon’s bays, including the Chetco, have a green back with a silver or yellow band on its sides.

According to Jim Carey at the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach, Rogue River guides are catching salmon from Quosatana Creek up to the Rogue River Canyon. A lot of these fish are late-run springers. The fall Chinook are coming soon to a salmon net nearest you!

Tight lines!