Chinook stacking up in Chetco
Written by Larry Ellis, fishing columnist   
October 18, 2013 10:12 pm

Anglers use Kastmasters and other various spoons for Chinook salmon at the Port of Brookings Harbor’s crab pier located on the south jetty, while a group of anglers troll for salmon in the background. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
Anglers use Kastmasters and other various spoons for Chinook salmon at the Port of Brookings Harbor’s crab pier located on the south jetty, while a group of anglers troll for salmon in the background. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
At the Oregon South Coast Fishermen’s meeting held last Wednesday, it was announced that this year, four Lamiglas rod-and-reel combos will be raffled off to anglers who catch a hatchery Chinook in the Chetco River.   But there is a catch to the catch.  The snout of your fish must contain a coded wire tag.

The raffles are an incentive by ODFW to get anglers to turn in their hatchery salmon snouts. So if your fish is missing an adipose fin, make sure to visit the kiosk at the Port of Brookings Harbor fillet station.  Inside the kiosk are plastic bags and forms to fill out.  Directions on how to cut off the snout and place the items in the plastic bag are clearly explained on the outside of the kiosk.

If an ODFW port sampler is present, the ODFW employee will pass a wand over the snout of your hatchery fish.  If the wand detects that a coded wire tag is present, the port sampler will cut the snout off for you.  If a port sampler is not present, then follow the aforementioned directions and the snout will be wanded later.

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Now I would like to take the time to address an important issue that fishermen on the Chetco River will have to deal with when the salmon and steelhead season opens on November 2.

Loeb State Park is without a doubt the most popular facility for putting in and taking out drift boats, not to mention having some of the greatest bank fishing access on the river.

But due to age, the park will be getting a facelift. Contractors will be replacing all of the waterlines and power lines.  Some of the power lines run above ground while other lines run below ground, and this includes the main ramp area where most anglers put in and take out their boats. Therefore, expect the park to be closed periodically from time to time throughout the season. If the park doesn’t get this project done now, access to Loeb could ultimately be seriously curtailed even more in the future.

Loeb State Park is located within the Harris Beach Management Unit, and I’ve spoken to Harris Beach Park Manager Anna Krug about how critical it is to keep Loeb State Park open as much as possible.

I also conveyed to Ms. Krug the economic value and impact that this park has on the fishing tackle, guide, motel and restaurant industries in the town, and I can assure you that she is very sympathetic to our dilemma.  She is making every attempt to try to keep the park open as much as possible to public access.

According to Oregon Parks and Recreation District Manager Larry Becker the impact to the boat ramp and the river bar should be limited.

“Most of what we’re doing is up in the campground and a little bit out to the day-use area,” Becker said. “So if it doesn’t affect the access road and the road down to the bar, and the contractor can keep his equipment protected and safe, then we’re going to keep it open. We’ll do everything we can to minimize the impact.”

So in the meantime, folks should also consider using the Ice Box access, which is located exactly 1.3 miles upriver from the entrance to Loeb State Park.

In the past, I have gone down the road to Ice Box in my former Pinto, Nissan Sentra and my present Mazda 626, but I would now only recommend using a 4-wheel drive vehicle to access this area. (Maybe the park might consider helping with that road just a tad? Just a suggestion.)

Ice Box is a place that is dear to my heart.  It is the first place where I caught a steelhead and it has a large amount of bank access.

The launch fee here is $5 and yearly permits can be purchased at Riverside Market.  If you join the Oregon South Coast Fishermen, you also get a yearly permit by default.  The cost for joining OSCF is only $20. Now that’s a great deal!

Normally, people launch at Loeb and take out at Social Security Bar.  But now, folks might consider launching at Ice Box (at least part of the time), and taking out at Social Security Bar.

Similarly, people launching at Miller Bar, Nook Bar or Redwood bar should consider drifting all the way down to Social Security Bar if you get up at the crack of dawn, or just make it a half-day drift and take out at Ice Box.

If you launch at the south fork, a good all-day drift would be taking out at Ice Box as well, and depending on the length of the day and how fast a person covers the water, you can drift all the way to Social Security. Just make sure to plan your trips accordingly so you don’t get caught in the dark.

Ms. Krug has everyone’s best interest at heart, and assured me that the Parks and Recreation Department will be doing everything in their power to keep Loeb open for us as much as possible.  You will definitely be hearing a lot more about this subject in subsequent columns.

The Loeb State Park project is at the very least, an exciting adventure, and at the most, only a slight inconvenience, and I am optimistically looking forward to a positive outcome.

Tight lines!