Fishermen Hopeful for
by Michael Teague
There are chinook in the Columbia, all right. The commercial gillnets took nearly 1,400 overnight on Aug. 11. Coho numbers are thin as they only scored 16 coho, but this is due to change. 138 white sturgeon also were taken. The results of the netting Aug. 14 and 15 weren't available at deadline for this column.
The Buoy 10 fishery is due to start up (some would say overdue) and many fishermen are making plans to chase salmon in the next couple of weeks. Divers are the better approach for this fishery and spinners will likely result in as many strikes as bait.
Run each rod in the boat at a different line length to determine the most effective depth. For those not familiar with the terminology, this is usually expressed in "pulls" or "strips" which represent the distance from the reel to the first guide. One rod will usually get the most action. Set the rest at the same number of pulls to go for limits. Use the same red/white or chartreuse/white blades on the Columbia that are effective on Tillamook Bay.
The Astoria-Megler Bridge on the Washington side was a hotspot for chinook over the weekend with a dozen fish boated. This is the spot to try plug-cut herring behind divers and flashers, trolling with the current.
Ocean trolling is producing hatchery coho six to eight miles South of the Columbia River Buoy but it's been scratch fishing for many. The best fishing in that area has been off Tillamook Head where several boats limited over the weekend on chinook and coho. The latter are putting on weight rapidly which is typical at this time of year. A pound a week is not unusual for coho.
Sturgeon fishing is catch and release only in the estuary as of Tuesday, Aug. 16. It'll remain closed through the end of the year although the river will open again for retention below Bonneville in October.
Chinook fishing hasn't really started up at Nehalem yet. Hopefully, the run is late as has been the case with many runs this year. A few fish are falling to trolled plug-cut herring in the jaws, but this is a good place to err on the side of caution. Out of 25 or so boats trolling the jaws on Sunday, only one chinook was caught.
The incoming tide is bringing with it evidence of the photoplankton bloom taking place in the ocean which has turned the water a red/brown color. It sticks to fishing lines, especially braids, and is tough to remove.
Marie Will of Tillamook Bait reports a customer coming in with a 35 pound ocean-caught Chinook on Friday, Aug. 12. The jumbo salmon fell to a red spinner on the troll outside Nehalem in 47 feet of water where the fisherman reported seeing others land halibut.
Offshore salmon fishing out of Garibaldi is a hit-or-miss affair with seas often unpredictable this week. Downriggers will be effective for chinook to effectively ply the 50-to-65-foot depths over 225 to 250 feet of water which has been most productive. Trollers report releasing many wild coho in a day's fishing.
Ocean crabbing closed Monday, Aug. 15. Too bad, as it was producing some decent Dungies. Tillamook Bay remains open and limits of large, hard-shelled crab have been taken recently.
It's still too early to expect Fall chinook to be present in Tillamook Bay but the strong tidal exchange predicted for the next few days may result in some sturgeon being taken in the bay and the lower Tillamook River.
Siletz chinook fishermen continue to take an occasional Fall fish but historically this fishery cranks up the third or fourth week of August. All methods take fish here since techniques have expanded beyond anchor-fishing Kwikfish. Crabbing has been good in Siletz Bay for hard-shelled Dungeness.
Ocean salmon fishing out of Newport has been very slow, even for the charter boats, although crabbing has been fair to good in the bay. Bottom fishing remains a slam-dunk out of Depoe and Yaquina Bays.
Chinook hopefuls may be seen by the score below the bridge on the lower Umpqua although the action is spotty. Chinook, when taken, are running in the mid-teens to low 20s. Seals may be seen by the hundreds on the South side of the sand bar.
Summer steelheaders on the Rogue are hitting the half-pounders (which actually weigh about four pounds each) as counts at Gold Ray Dam top 4,000. There has been a fair morning bite but the evening hours have been most productive. Look for this fishery to improve through August, offering the best promise in the first week of September.
Neither the Clackamas nor Sandy River offer much for fishermen at this time.
A few fresh summers are moving into the North Santiam in an attempt to escape the 70-degree water of the Willamette River, but better fishing is available upstream around Packsaddle and Minto Parks. The river is in great shape but the fish are finicky.
Jigs are taking some nice kokanee at Lake Billy Chinook. If you're catching only smallish fish, move to find a school of larger ones. Trollers are getting the most hits at Green Peter. The algae alert has been rescinded at Odell which fishes best early and late in the day and now offers fairly clear water.
The ODFW trout stocking remains in a mid-summer lull with only Carmen Reservoir planted in the Willamette Valley this week. In the Deschutes watershed, rainbows were stocked in Spring Creek and Devils Lake.
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