Pete Heley - 9/30/2012
Crabbing at Winchester Bay continues to be very good for boat anglers and fair to good for dockbound crabbers. There appears to be some confusion as to when the ocean closes to sport crabbing and the correct answer is that it closes on October 15th and will reopen on December 1st. Crabbing in our coastal river systems is open all year.
Winchester Bay’s annual Crab Bounty Hunt is currently underway and will not be over until October 1st when all of the lucky crabbers who caught and turned in tagged crabs find out if anyone won the grand prize of $1,000. If no tagged crabs matches the preselected number for the grand prize the total $1,000 will be awarded in three cash prizes of $500, $300 and $200. Everyone who turns in a tagged crab to the Sportsman Cannery during the contest also wins a special baseball-type hat and this is one contest that does not require an entry fee or pre-registration.
The inshore halibut fishery reopend on Monday, September 24th with a quota of 4,700 pounds. Most of that quota will consist of incidentally taken halibut by salmon anglers that are fishing herring close to the bottom for salmon or making sharp turns while trolling that allows their bait to hit the bottom for a few moments at a time.
Most of the salmon fishing in the Lower Umpqua River is taking place on the Umpqua River Bar and while the fish has been very good, it seems to turn completely off for hours at a time. The ocean is completely closed to the taking of cohos, but chinooks remain legal targets and will remain so until October 31st. Umpqua River salmon anglers are currently allowed the taking of one wild or unclipped coho salmon per day, but only a seasonal limit of two such salmon. Of course, finclipped cohos or any chinook are legal to keep subject to the two adult salmon daily limit.
Salmon fishing from the bank seems to be picking up. Fair numbers of cohos are starting to enter the catch and all of the local bankfishing locations are now producing salmon. A few anglers are hoping to catch incidental salmon while fishing off the South Jetty with flashy metal jigs and the usual salmon fishing spots (Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point) are producing well. A few fish have even been taken by anglers fishing the shorelines leading out to Osprey Point and off Ork Rock Point. Anglers fishing at Gardiner between the boat ramp and the paper mill and those fishing in Winchester Bay’s East Basin near Winchester Creek, usually the last two bankfishing areas to start producing fish, are now providing anglers with a fair chance to catch salmon.
Anglers fishing our local rivers that are currently allowing the taking of one wild or unclipped coho salmon per day are also allowed to take one wild or unclipped coho jack salmon per day as well. This will continue until the angler has reached his seasonal limit of wild cohos on the river he is fishing or he has caught his yearly quota of wild cohos of five. The scheduled closure for the taking of wild cohos is November 30th - if an angler has not previously reached his river or yearly quota on wild cohos. On most area rivers, an angler is allowed to take five jack salmon per day subject to the one wild coho jack salmon per day which in turn is subject to the angler not yet having used up his river or season quota for wild or unclipped adult coho salmon. Jack salmon, for regulation purposes, are considered to be salmon to short to be considered adults (20-inches for cohos and 24-inches for chinooks) yet are at least 15-inches in length. Angler are not allowed to fish for jack salmon after having caught their daily limit of adult salmon.
A recent study regarding the interaction between smallmouth bass and juvenile Atlantic salmon that was quoted in a recent issue of In Fisherman seems to be quite relevant as a predictor of the interactions between Umpqua River smallmouth bass and juvenile steelhead and chinook and coho salmon.
Because the smallmouths preferred slower-moving water and the smolts preferred the faster water typically found in riffles and because the bass were more active during daylight hours and the smolts were most active at night, there was limited interaction between the species. That is until the warter warmed and the river flows decreased in late summer and early fall - when the bass and salmon often shared the same immediate habitat and the smolts were less successful at avoiding the larger smallmouths and competed poorly with the smaller bass.
Pete Heley lives in Reedsport, Oregon and works at the Stockade Market in Winchester Bay. He is also an outdoor writer and his favorite pasttimes are: fishing, playing pool, doing trivia quizes and crossword puzzles. His three most impressive catches of Oregon fish include a 22 pound coho salmon from Tenmile Lakes, a brown trout of more than 15 pounds from the Crooked River Ranch area of the Deschutes River and a nine and a half pound largemouth bass from Loon Lake.