It has been a windy week on the Wild Rivers Coast, keeping most sportfishermen on shore for most of the time.
A few anglers braved the wind and managed to catch some bottomfish and salmon, but most of the catches have come on the river. Both the Rogue River and the Klamath River have reportedly fished well in recent days. It is still early in the season, however, so some of the best fishing of the runs are likely still ahead.
With wind whipping over the ocean, some anglers turned their attention to the rivers. Although the Smith and Chetco rivers’ salmon runs have been over for a while now, anglers have been reporting a fair bite on both the Rogue to the north, and on the Klamath to the south.
Fishing guide Joe Martin of Rogue Coast Sport Fishing said the Rogue River has gotten fairly warm recently, so there aren’t many salmon on the lower part of the river. The salmon that would be in the river are holding in the bay, however, making for some good fishing in the estuary.
Martin said salmon won’t likely return to the Lower Rogue River until it starts to cool back down, but until then there should be some pretty good fishing in the bay.
Meanwhile, the Klamath River started to see an uptick in the salmon bite starting last week, and it has continued to improve throughout the week. Many anglers have been having luck trolling with spinners or using anchovies as bait.
“There is a pretty decent bite going on at the Mouth of the Klamath,” said Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Fishing Guide Service. “I don’t know how long it is going to last — I don’t want to up-play it or downplay it too much.”
Coopman said he went out with a friend on Friday and hooked four salmon, all on the Lower River. The salmon are still on the small side, however. Coopman estimated that the average salmon caught has been between about 8 to 12 pounds.
Ocean salmon and halibut
Though the wind has been howling for much of the week, a few anglers on both sides of the border have been able to nab a few Chinook salmon despite the conditions, generally getting out early in the morning before the winds pick up midday. Anglers have also been aided by the fish coming ever closer to shore.
Up in Oregon, salmon have been in close to the harbor for a couple weeks. That still seems to be the case, with at least three salmon caught on Friday between the bell and the whistle in Brookings. Chinook have been a little slower to come to shore in California, but they are starting to show up more reliably near Crescent City.
Most of the catches this week were about 3 miles out of the harbor, but there was a report of at least one salmon hooked on the jetty by an angler targeting California halibut.
Speaking of halibut, the Pacific halibut season is still in full swing up in Brookings, but there haven’t been too many reports of any being hauled in during the last week. That fishery has likely been affected by the wind, with anglers needing to go out farther to target the big halibut.
In California the Pacific halibut season is in the middle of a 15-day closure to the fishery. The season will reopen on Sunday, however, and remain open through July 15. There is still a little less than four-fifths of the quota for Pacific halibut in California left for the 2018 season, pending confirmation of current estimates.
Like everything else on the ocean over the past week or two, bottomfishing has been more difficult than usual this week.
The rockfish and lingcod are almost certainly out there, but catching them requires anglers to put up with lots of wind and some rough seas.
Bottomfishing will likely be strong once again when the wind finally dies down, but Oregon anglers will have to stop targeting rockfish a little sooner than before the wind picked up.
Up in Oregon, the bottomfish bite has been strong enough all along the coast that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife issued a press release on Tuesday to reduce the daily bag limit for general marine fish — rockfish, greenlings, skates, etc. — from five per day to four.
The new bag limit is set to go into effect at the end of the day today.
According to the ODFW, anglers have made 40,619 bottomfishing trips this year through May, including 17,750 in the month of May alone. That smashes the record for January to May which was set last year with 24,080 botttomfishing trips.
“Participation in this fishery has been really good so far this year with effort higher than even record years seen in two of the past three years,” ODFW Project Leader Lynn Mattes said in the press release. “Reducing the bag limit to four fish on July 1 is necessary to keep black rockfish, other nearshore rockfish and yelloweye rockfish catches within annual limits.”
The ODFW states in the release that it has been keeping close tabs on the bottomfish this year and in-season adjustments to the bag limit are motivated to avoid another early closure to the fishery this year, like the one that was put into effect in 2017.
In other news, a one-fish sub-bag limit for cabezon retention is set to go into effect in Oregon at the end of the day today as well. With the new reduced bag limits, that means that anglers can keep one cabezon along with three other species of available rockfish.
Fishing contacts: Joe Martin of Rogue Coast Sport Fishing at 541-425-7210; Dave Castellanos of Brookings River & Ocean Fishing at 541-698-7029; Chetco Outdoor Store at 541-469-9151; Englund Marine Supply Company at 464-32306.
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .