FISH REPORT: ONE WEEK UNTIL THE CHETCO OPENS, WEATHER PERMITTING
October 24, 2008 11:00 pm
Marion Thompson of Tulelake, Calif., with black rockfish caught out of the Port of Brookings Harbor (The Pilot/Larry Ellis).
Marion Thompson of Tulelake, Calif., with black rockfish caught out of the Port of Brookings Harbor (The Pilot/Larry Ellis).

Topwater and mid-column producing black rockfish

Despite less than optimal marine conditions last week, a few anglers were able to pluck a few dusky jewels and jewelettes from local area reefs near the Port of Brookings Harbor, with the spotlight on black rockfish.

Those who toughed it out were generally bringing in limits of rockfish averaging 3 pounds or more.

Fishers used a wide variety of baits and lures to unhinge their rusty jaws, with bottom-grabbers falling for grubs, plastic worms, twin-tail plastics and shrimp flies.

Even though rockfish are often referred to as groundfish, they don't always bite on the bottom. Last week there were confirmed reports of anglers catching a lot of suspended fish, so if you're not having much luck fishing directly on the bottom, give your reel a crank or two every 10 seconds or so and see if you can find fish mid-column.

There was also some surface activity reported as well. This is where you can have a blast, catching fish using 1-ounce chrome Krocodiles or shallow-running baitfish imitations such as Rapalas, Rebels and Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows.

The lingcod action was a little on the slow side; however, there were a few brought into the cleaning station weighing between 5 and 15 pounds.

From this time forward you will have to pick and choose your days at sea carefully, but those days can often produce some of the best fishing of the year.

Although the Rogue bay fishery is starting to wind down, don't give up on the estuary and lower tidewater just yet. October's generally a good month to be fly fishing for coho at Clay Banks or Cannery Riffle. Although the fishing is far from wide-open, persistent anglers have been averaging about one silver per day.

"If we get a little bit of rain there ought to be three or four days of really good fishing because those silvers haven't gone upriver yet," says Sam Waller of Jot's Resort in Gold Beach. "The water temperature's about 49 degrees and they need a little bit of warm rain."

Waller says one of the local guides, Denny Houston has had a fairly good success rate on the silvers and on one particular day had two in the box.

"The fly fishermen are hooking about a fish per day per person," says local guide Dave Lehton about the silver bite near Indian Creek. "There's about four or five prams there every day."

The hot fly has been a chartreuse Hot Shot Comet.

Focus your efforts around the Indian Creek area, but keep your eyes peeled for that last push of fish moving up to Claybanks, an excellent fly fishing spot.

Trolling the estuary around the mouth of Indian Creek will increase your odds at catching an Indian Creek Chinook as well.

The Indian Creek kings have been running up to 30 pounds.

"It's their time to come back," Waller noted, who advises trolling a Rogue Bait Rig with a green blade containing a little orange on it, or just using just a naked bait.

One week away till the Chetco opens

The moment that everybody has been waiting for is only one week away, so here's a heads up on what to expect come November 1, when the Chetco opens up to the retention of Chinook next Saturday.

Do not fish the Chetco bay or river for salmon before November 1 or you will be cited. ODFW and Oregon State Police have already issued citations for people fishing out of season.

When the opener rolls around, how you fish for them will be totally weather and tidally dependent.

If major rains have made it by the opener and the ground has reached its saturation point, most likely the river will rise and the fish will shoot up between the south bank pump house and Loeb State Park. If this happens, the bay fishery will be a flash in the pan.

But with no storms in the immediate forecast, more than likely the ground will be soaking up rain like a sponge, so it is not likely to see the river significantly rise this week.

However, light rain expected next Thursday should be lighting a fire underneath Chinook's tail fins, enough for a new push of fish to enter the estuary and lower tidewater.

It's sort of rare that the Chetco bay is fishable in November, but if the river has not come up, more than likely the bay and lower tidewater is where the action is going to be.

Trolling with Rogue Bait Rigs or straight bait such as cut-plug herring or anchovies will probably be the call. Normally when the fish get into the bay, flashers are not used.

In a recent talk with our District Fisheries Biologist Todd Confer, if not enough significant rain has raised the river this week and there are no immediate storms in the forecast, ODFW will be looking into the possibility of closing the river November 1.

If a closure does occur, more than likely the bay will still remain open below the 101 bridge or from a point further upriver in lower tidewater down to the mouth.

Approximately 64 adults and six jacks were taken in the seines on Wednesday.

"We made one set and took all the fish that we wanted," said Confer. "We don't want to take all the fish at once because we want to represent a cross section of the run as best as we can so we don't just want to represent the early part of the run. We want to get later fish as well as early fish to use for the broodstock."

There was a pretty good representation of fish taken in the seines, with some salmon colored up and almost ready for spawning, while others were fresh and chrome-bright with sea lice still on them.

Based on the bubble fishery and the seining that took place on Wednesday, I would expect the fishing to be phenomenal come November 1.

Just remember to keep your eye on the 3-year-olds for a missing ventral or adipose fin. If that's the case then you can mark those fish on your hatchery harvest tag. Otherwise the limit will be one fish a day; five per year, unless you have already marked down any wild fish on your tags.

Tight lines!