Larry Ellis

OK, I triple-dog dare you! Say the title of this article 10 times really fast without slurring your words.

You can call them whatever you want: feeders, springers, kingster-amma-mammas or Chinook-meisters. But a salmon by any other name would still taste as sweet. Whichever name you wish to assign them, these Chinook are giving anglers plenty of rod-bending, line-peeling adrenaline rushes in both the Chetco and Rogue bays.

“The majority of the springers have left, and we’ve got feeder fish coming in,” said Rogue River guide John Anderson on Thursday. “One day they bite like mad. Yesterday there were (more than) 40 fish caught in the morning. Today we may have seen 15, maybe 20 fish.”

No one really knows for sure if anyone will hook and land a salmon in the Rogue Bay. But according to Anderson, one thing is for sure:“If you put enough time in, you should be able to find at least one, maybe two, fish,” notes the river guide of Memory Makers fame.

I asked Anderson what he considers to be the definition of a feeder fish.

“They’re basically someone else’s fish,” Anderson explained. “They’re coming out of the ocean and in with the tide, feeding on all the bait that we’ve been getting in the bay and then they’re going back out to sea. I talked to several other guides such as Vernon Grieves, Les Craig and Tyson Crumley, and we all feel these are feeder fish. If the baitfish stick around, the bay will fish. If the baitfish leaves, we’ve probably got a week until our fall fish really start to show.”

Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

These feeder kings have been averaging between 11 and 16 pounds, occasionally larger. So make sure to buy a hatchery harvest tag this year, because you never know if you’re going to catch the occasional adipose fin-clipped hatchery Chinook.

“We know of 40 fish caught yesterday,” Larry Cody from the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach concurred each Thursday. “Anglers are both trolling the bay and anchoring upriver.”

Cody says that some anglers are still catching these salmon on the Brad’s Cut Plug Herring with oil-packed tuna jam-packed in the scent chamber.

So, as I stated in last week’s column, you definitely want to carry the standard spinnerbait/anchovy beaded setup equipped to attach a spinner blade, and you will also want to keep a stock of straight-bait rigs on hands because you never know what a salmon’s going to want to munch for lunch.

The Rogue Outdoor Store also carries an ample supply of really good-looking trays of beautiful anchovies. My advice is to carry at least two trays of ‘chovies per person because you never know if you’re going to get side-swiped by a bird or a crab.

Additionally, make sure that you keep these anchovies very cold. I like to drop some ice on the bottom of a cooler that has been thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day, and then sprinkle some non-iodized salt on top of the ice to keep the baitfish nice and frozen to avoid bacteria from forming.

Remember that the same powers of scent that attracted these feeders to the baitfish in the bay are equally repelled by the scent of bacteria caused by warm baitfish.

On another note, there are still a few salmon being caught in the Chetco Bay. When I say the Chetco Bay, I am referring to the end of the Chetco River that is well inside the boundaries of the north and south jetties. Just draw an imaginary line between the tip of the north and south jetty and you’ve got the boundary between the ocean and river. Inside this line is the Chetco Bay and river mouth, while outside this imaginary line marks the beginning of the ocean.

Do not troll your spinnerbait rigs outside this boundary. That’s a red-hot ticket ($1,600 last I heard) just waiting to happen. Always lift your baitfish well out of the water when outside this boundary line. When you are inside the river boundary — bombs away!

Also, don’t forget that cabezon are now legal to keep as part of your seven fish marine bag limit. The limit is one cabezon per day.

The bottom fishing has been fantastic outside the Port of Brookings Harbor and on those rare occasions, Gold Beach.

Redtail surfperch still continue to thrill anglers of all ages.

Tight lines!


A caravan of boaters from Brookings towed their vessels up to Charleston Harbor Thursday in search of their first albacore. The action was wide open, and so hot and heavy that most fishermen stopped fishing because their arms were sore and weary. Boats came back to the Port of Brookings Harbor to clean the large tuna on Friday and averaged between 33 and 60 tuna.