On the Water: Crabbers limiting out

By Larry Ellis, fishing columnist December 07, 2012 11:47 pm

On the Water columnist Larry Ellis holds a wild steelhead caught in the Rogue Bay.  Remember that all wild steelhead must be released until January 1. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
On the Water columnist Larry Ellis holds a wild steelhead caught in the Rogue Bay. Remember that all wild steelhead must be released until January 1. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
On Thursday, Dec. 6, recreational crabbers got their first chance to crab on the ocean. Even though the Chetco was flowing at 10,000 cubic feet per second, several boats were able to cross the bar and set out a few pots and rings. With few exceptions, limits of large crab were the rule.

Most of the crab that I saw at the Port of Brookings Harbor fillet station were large specimens, with the majority measuring between 7 and 8 inches. On the whole, they were also heavy, with well-packed shells.

In order to escape the outflow of mud and turbid river water of the Chetco, most of the crabbers were setting their pots in 18 fathoms, which is 108 feet of water, so make sure to bring plenty of rope.

Because winds are predicted to be 10 knots or less this weekend, with swells ranging between 1 and 3 feet, the crabbing should still continue to be good today and through the first part of the week.

Crescent City Harbor also continued to kick out limits of Dungeness crab as well. The B Street Pier has continued to be a popular crabbing facility. Fishing or crabbing licenses are not required when using this structure.

One of the key places to crab is at the third light, on the ocean side of the pier.

 

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As of Thursday, the Chetco was flowing above 10,000 cfs, and the river was chocolate brown, preventing anglers from fishing, but with lowering flows and no rain in the forecast this week, anglers may be able to start fishing the Chetco beginning today or tomorrow as the river begins clearing.

Because two mudslides in the Chetco Canyon above the south fork are continuing to stain the river, anglers should still expect the river to take between four and five days, or possibly even longer, to clear after a big raise.

On Tuesday, Dec. 4, the river rose to 34,500 cfs, so my best guess for this week would be that anglers might possibly be able to plunk some Spin-N-Glos on the river starting today, with side-drifting conditions coming into effect the beginning of the week.

 

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A few drift-boaters on the Elk River who wanted to try their luck at some late fall Chinook were able to launch at the hatchery on Thursday, when the murky-green water was 48 degrees and dropping from 6 feet.

“I think the Elk will be relatively strong for salmon,” said Jim Carey from the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach. “There were boats on the Elk River today (Thursday), and I heard of a fish being caught.”

There may also be a few steelhead entering the Elk as well, as the river lowers this weekend. After the Elk becomes too clear to fish, head a few miles north to the Sixes River, which should then have perfection visibility.

This weekend, winter steelhead anglers can start thinking about plunking on the lower Rogue, which was flowing at 8,000 cfs on Thursday.

“The Rogue will be fishable this week and plunking will be the way to go,” says Carey. “We’re going to have relatively-high turbidity, so I’m going to go with my early-morning dark colors like fire tiger or sherbet-colored No. 2 Spin-N-Glos with black wings until around 7:15 a.m. or so. Then as light starts hitting the water I’ll shift to white wings.”

Carey also suggests using Size 2 Gamakatsu treble hooks with the Spin-N-Glos, and also advocates using some kind of scent on the winged bobber. One of the more popular scents is Smelly Jelly Sticky Liquid in “Special Mix” which is a combination of shrimp and anise.

Plunkers should try the upper end of Canfield Riffle, High Banks or Huntley Bar.

Remember that until Jan. 1, all wild steelhead must be released on the Rogue River. Hatchery fish may be kept.

Tight lines!