BROOKINGS HAVING ONE HECK OF A COHO SEASON

August 01, 2008 11:00 pm

By Larry Ellis

Pilot staff writer

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Who'd a thunk it? We made it all the way into August without maxing out the 9,000-coho quota. And some people said it couldn't be done!

Here's how things are stacking up. Only 47.7-percent of the quota has been taken as of the end of July. We here in Brookings have had one heck of a coho season and that's taken up some of the slack for the no 'nookery ocean season.

We've accounted for almost half the fish caught so far with 1,516 silvers. Winchester Bay is leading by a length with 1,705 fish brought to the fish checkers.

If you add up the combined figures between Winchester Bay and Brookings, we've caught 35.7-percent of the quota. That leaves a paltry 12-percent of the quota divided among the rest of the ports.

I don't have any idea why the coho have stuck around this area as long as the have and I'm not about to question a good thing. They're also out in front of Gold Beach as well.

"There are silvers out over the bar out by Cape Sebestian," says Jim Carey from the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach. "Very few people are doing it because it's been relatively windy, but there are definitely silvers out in front of the Gold Beach area."

Heck, with a little luck, we might still have quota left through the middle of August. The coho are still within three to five miles out, and a lot of anglers have been coming to the fillet station early in the morning with their limits. Coming in early means spending less money in fuel trolling around.

A cool rig is a Deep Six Diver with a Dee's Diamond flasher snapped directly to the end. Some people will put a flasher about 2 feet below that and then a whole anchovy below that.

This is the time when you want to keep a few spinning rigs locked and loaded with a Krocodile or a Kastmaster to toss directly at the silver because they do tend to school up.

Catching a fish

and chips dinner

As far as bottomfishing goes, does the phrase "Fish and Chips" ring a bell. It should. Guys and dolls were filleting limits of the bottom-grabbers at the Brookings cleaning station all week, and that action is going to keep on continuing through this weekend.

The fish have been diverse and they have been a pretty good grade. I like to use a single leadfish because the fish that you do get on these things are usually the larger ones.

Lingasaurs have been trickling onto the fillet tables as well. They're not as plentiful as the rockfish but the ones that have come in have had some serious shoulders.

Most of the bottomfish have been hanging in close to shore, within 30 feet or so. A good tactic is to fish on the outskirts of the kelp at Chetco Cove with small hooks and pieces of squid and catch a kelp greenling or two.

Then take the sea trout directly out in 50 to 70 feet of water where there are pinnacles and use them as live bait for lingcod. Don't forget to count the sea trout (minimum size 10 inches) toward your 5-fish bottomfish bag limit.

Summer steelhead

hot on the Rogue

Meanwhile the hot thing on the Rogue right now is summer steelhead.

"On Monday was our first reasonable shot of a good size school going upriver," noted Carey. "In fact the ODFW seining program at Huntley Park netted about 70 steelhead in the nets and their poles."

These are what are referred to as "half-pounders." They don't actually weigh 8-ounces, most of them average about one and a half pounds.

The difference between summer steelhead and half-pounders is their mission. Summer steelhead are in the river to spawn and half-pounders are in the river to eat. So when you get hammered by a half-pounder it can knock the rod right out of your hands.

They're pretty aggressive biters, so if you're a bait fisherman, Carey says night crawlers are hands-down the number one bait.

"Fishing fast water, in the tail-outs and the eddies will probably produce over 50-percent of the fish," adds Carey.

Don't use less than 6-pound test because these things hit so hard, just the impact of the strike can break your line.

Fly-fishing is also a good way of hooking half-pounders.

"Hotel Riffle, Wee Riffle, Crooked Riffle and Cole Riffle are all good fly fishing riffles," tips Carey, who says the number-one fly right now is a Brindle Bug.

Brindle Bugs look almost like a bumble bee. Carey also suggests using a Green Butt Skunk or a Bead Head Hare's Ear.

Hotel Riffle is located approximately 31 miles up the south bank Rogue River Road, just below where the Illinois River dumps into the Rogue.

Spinners are also effective lures for half-pounders.

"Traditional French Blades are always good," advises Carey, who suggest Mepps, Bud's Spinners and Metrics.

A black bodied Panther Martin with yellow spots and a gold blade is Carey's number one lure.

"That's a good lure in dusk or dawn, then when the light hits the water I switch to silvers," suggests Carey.

All the aforementioned tackle, lures and flies are available at the Rogue Outdoor Store.

The Rogue bay has been slow to fair. Some days there are 20 fish being caught while on other days you have to pray for a bite. But that's typical for the Rogue.

However I will say this. The fish that you do catch are toads. Rarely is anything under 30 pounds and there were several 40 pounders taken last week.

This corresponds to what Todd Confer, ODFW district fisheries biologist for our area said regarding less, but more quality fish expected to be caught this year in the Rogue estuary.

Traditionally, August is the month when the fishing picks up in the bay, so cross your eyes, toes and fingers for a hopeful harvest.

Tight lines!