Columbia Closes for Chinook
by Michael Teague
With the upriver bright chinook run coming in about 40 percent lower than predicted, the Columbia chinook fishery closed this week. The closure effects the entire river downstream of the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco, Wash., to buoy 10. Optimistic anglers are hoping for a strong, late-season push which might result in a re-opening of the chinook fishery.
The Columbia will remain open for coho and adipose fin-clipped steelhead. Non-adipose fin-clipped coho must be released downstream of the Hood River bridge. Coho fishing has been fair to good in the lower Columbia. Fish have been taken in deeper water lately. Try the Oregon side near the Astoria-Megler bridge when the tide is going out. Move to the Washington tide on the incoming.
When the bar lays down, trolling around the Columbia River buoy has been good at times and one chinook may be kept here per angler per day.
Catch and release fishing for oversized sturgeon has been good in the gorge below Bonneville. Keeper-sized fish are also available in this area.
Fall chinook counts at Willamette Falls remain single digits in 72-degree water with the total as of September 13 only 75. Coho counts are picking up slightly. Soft plastics are taking good numbers of smallmouth bass on the lower Willamette.
Steelheaders experienced fair to good results on the North Santiam over the past week. The water level has been increased again despite Detroit being fairly low. Other than the effect of rain, flows are supposed to remain steady for the remainder of the month. Hundreds of salmon can be seen spawning now.
October caddis have started showing on the upper McKenzie.
Showers this week should get the coho on the lower Clackamas biting. They turn on with rain, run like crazy, then turn off after the precipitation ceases. Bank anglers are crowding into the lowermost hole on the Clackamas at the bowling alley. It's a mess to fish here with almost any location upstream preferable and relatively productive. Bright steelhead are being taken somewhat higher on the Clack with cured salmon eggs effective.
The lower Sandy River is providing coho action at first light but pretty much shuts down once the sky becomes bright. Recent showers put a little water into Cedar Creek and has improved the color. Steelhead and coho are present, though neither in large number.
On the east side, the caddis hatch on the Metolius is bringing a lot of fish to the surface. If matching the hatch is ineffective, try attractor patterns to get their attention and draw strikes.
While steelhead counts are down at Bonneville, they are crossing The Dalles fairly well. Numbers are building in the lower Deschutes, providing decent results in the lower river.
From offshore out of the Columbia to the ocean out of Brookings, anglers are reporting hooking up with Humboldt squid. These critters have been running from four to seven feet in length. The evaluation of their culinary value varies from one angler to the next who has tried them. Evidently, the secret to tasty squid is in the preparation. Recipes are widely available on the Internet.
Nehalem Bay has been slow for salmon trollers lately although crabbing has been very good. There are still a few sofshells in the mix so be certain to check them and keep only good, hard crab.
Sunday, Sept. 23, is the first day of fall and one of the signs of the season is that trollers are picking up chinook with greater regularity in Tillamook Bay. The Ghost Hole has produced several as have the jetties. Plug-cut herring has been the most popular choice to fool these early fall chromers but hookups have also occurred using plain spinners with a red/white blade.
Nestucca anglers targeting chinook with bobber and bait have had some good days recently with a dozen a day coming from the Guard Rail hole. Trollers at the jaws are also taking salmon on plug-cut herring. Crabbing has been fair to good.
Chinook fishers in the lower Siletz have had some decent days periodically, but it has been quite slow recently.
Albacore were once again available in good number fewer than 40 miles out of Depoe Bay over the past weekend.
A charter boat returned to Newport last Saturday with a dorado on board, a certain indication of the tropical-temperature water offshore. Most boats seeking all-depth halibut took limits about 27 miles out of port. Crabbing has been good with some limits reported at Yaquina Bay.
Fish checkers at Oregon ports weren't bothering to measure or weigh halibut over the last all depth opener. They just asked how many and moved on the next group of anglers.
Don Bodemiller of the ODFW Marine Region office in Newport indicated that with the bag limit increased to two fish per person and enthusiastic participation by both sports and charter vessels, it's likely the quota filled over the past weekend opener. Counts will be tabulated mid-week.
Chinook angling has been very slow at Alsea Bay. A few are being picked up at the jaws. Crabbing has been good.
According to biologists, a large school of chinook offshore is heading north near the California/Oregon border. Reported as several miles long, this bodes well for the fishery this season.
Chinook, planted as smolts in 2004, have returned to the Umpqua as adults and are holding below the Calapooya River on the mainstem. North Umpqua steelheaders are experiencing fair to good results on a variety of bait and lures. Fly anglers are also taking fish here. Smallmouth bass fishing is rewarding from Sawyer's Rapids to Elkton.
Boaters hitting the ocean out of Coos Bay experienced outstanding bottom fishing for a variety of fish including some dandy ling cod. The lings will approach shallow water around rocks and jetties to spawn around the first of the year at which time they'll be available to bank-bound anglers. Crabbing has been fair to good in Coos Bay.
The lower Rogue was productive last week but slowed over the weekend with far more anglers than chinook in the estuary.
The ocean was friendly over the past week, then kicked up a little starting Sunday, Sept. 16. During that extended calm period, anglers traveling about 45 miles offshore once again found warm water and tuna. Bottom fishers are being rewarded with rockfish and large ling cod.
In the Willamette Valley, Mt Hood Pond, North Fork Reservoir, Small Fry Lake and Foster Reservoir are scheduled to be planted with trout this week. Fish Lake and Diamond Lake will be stocked with trout in the Southwest Zone.
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