In my mind, this complete closure severely impacted local area businesses such as restaurants, motels, sporting goods stores, marine repair businesses and many other tourist-drawing enterprises. It has also affected the Port of Brookings Harbor’s revenue in lost slip income and boat-launching fees.
What does 2018 have in store for the lowly bottomfish angler, and can this complete closure ever be rectified?
Rectified is a pretty strong word that implies there is a cure. While the cause of the complete closure cannot be completely dealt with at this moment, it can be temporarily treated with a reduced marine-fish bag limit.
It must be noted when the ocean salmon season recovers to the point that it takes the pressure off of the groundfish fishery, it stands to reason marine-fish bag limits should be restored to the point they once were.
Until that joyous moment occurs, anglers are just going to have to face the music and accept a lowered marine fish bag limit is the only way they will be able to fish continuously for 12 months throughout the season.
But how much lower, is lower, exactly?
The ODFW will be submitting several staff recommendations of new marine-fish bag limit proposals at a commission meeting being held in Salem on Dec. 8.
All the proposals will suggest a lowered bag limit to a certain degree. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will pick one of ODFW’s proposals.
Some of the proposals suggest a higher marine-fish bag limit but with a complete closure inserted somewhere in the year. It seems that anything with a complete closure in the proposal puts us back at square one — no ocean fishing whatsoever, and again, that’s very bad for business.
“We heard from a lot of folks that this unexpected closure is terrible, and we agree with that,” says Maggie Sommer, ODFW marine fisheries manager. “We just want to set the commission up with information and we hope they will choose something that is low risk. If they want to pick a different bag limit structure that also appears to be low risk — great. ODFW staff are happy with that.”
To keep a year-round fishery in 2018, ODFW staff has recommended three low-risk alternatives. Alternative A is a marine fish bag limit of six fish from January through March, a bag limit of four fish from April through September and a bag limit of six fish from October through December with no sub-bag limits for rockfish.
It is very important to note that these recommendations only apply to the general marine bag limit (rockfish, greenling, etc). Lingcod remains a separate and independent bag limit.
To view the alternatives, visit the ODFW home page at www.dfw.state.or.us. Underneath “About us,” click on “Commission,” then “Meeting Schedules and Minutes.” Then go to the Dec.8 meeting and click on “Meeting Materials.”
Scroll down to Exhibit F and click on “Agenda Summary.” Page 17 lists all the alternatives, but I know you’ll have a blast reading how ODFW got from point A to point B.
Chinook in Sixes River
With beautifully-colored emerald-green water, anglers pulling plugs with sardine wrappers have been nailing the occasional chrome-bright Chetco Chinook. Most fish in the river have a certain degree of color to them, but there are still fresh chromers entering the system — not too shabby for December.
Last week the Elk River was gin-clear and dropping from 3.7 feet, so that’s your cue to find a guide who fishes the Sixes.
Here are the Sixes River’s put-ins and takeouts:
The highest put-in allowed for Chinook is at the Edson Creek boat ramp, 4.4 miles off Sixes River Road.
From Edson you can drift down to Mid-Drift, or you can drift from Mid-Drift to the Grange on west side of U.S. 101 just north of the Elk River Bridge.
You can also drift from the Grange down to the Hughes House, where there is a take-out close to the mouth. But only float this lower drift when there is absolutely no wind predicted at Cape Blanco.