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'Free Fishing Weekend' meant just that!

elcome to the annual Oregon Free Fishing Weekend. For Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7, everyone in Oregon is allowed to fish, crab and clam for free. And when Oregon means free, they mean free -— no strings attached (or hidden fees, as in California’s so-called free fishing weekend).

If you have never bought a fishing or shellfish license, or purchased any halibut or salmon tags, this one’s on ODFW. For those who have already have purchased fishing and shellfish licenses, or bought tags to go with them, you can leave them all at home, including the tags, at least for Saturday and Sunday.

For free fishing weekend, you are not required to tag any salmon or Pacific halibut. You are only required to follow the rules that are in the 2015 fishing regulation handbook.

Black Rockfish On Oregon Waters by Larry Ellis
The author hoists a humongous 6-pound 2-ounce black rockfish he caught on a leadfish while fishing with a friend on Sunday out of the Port of Brookings Harbor.

And this year’s free fishing weekend might just prove to be quite unique from past events.

Generally during free fishing weekend, Oregon has had blustery northwest winds which has kept anglers from fishing for Pacific halibut, salmon, rockfish and lingcod. But anglers in the Brookings-Harbor area just might get a reprieve this weekend.

As of late Thursday evening, the day when my fishing report must be completed, Saturday is anticipated to produce 11-knot winds with a mixed 4- and 2-foot swell, and Sunday is anticipated to kick out 6- to 10-knot winds with a mixed 5- and 1-foot swell, according to the National Weather Service.

So all ye dogs of the salt, you might just get your first opportunity in years to have doable seas during this year’s free fishing weekend, especially early in the morning.

The rockfish and lingcod fishing has been totally wide open, so anglers could expect some more of that same action out of the Port of Brookings Harbor this weekend. Make sure to check the National Weather Service’s weather reports every morning.

But just in case the ocean is a little lumpy and grumpy, there will be plenty of surfperch opportunities for anglers who are surf fishing for striped, calico and redtail surfperch.

And for those who want to catch a limit of succulent rainbow trout, there is another choice opportunity as well.

Libby Pond, near Gold Beach, was just stocked with 5,000 rainbow trout ranging from 8- to 10-inches long, and it’s going to take a while for those puppies to get caught out of that waterbody.

In addition to the aforementioned 5K rainbows, Libby will also be stocked with 50 huge trophy rainbows ranging from three to seven pounds. These are the lunkers of a lifetime that everybody is hoping and praying to hook up with.

Last Thursday I took a trip to Libby to see how the action was. Everybody was hooking up with fat rainbow trout like it was going out of style.

No floatation devices of any sort are allowed at Libby, but that doesn’t matter because the entire perimeter of the lake is accessible by foot.

If you want to catch trout on artificial lures in Libby, you’ll want to look for areas that are not choked with weeds and cast my favorite lure, a small gold Super Duper.

Otherwise, PowerBait and night crawlers will be the ticket to Rainbow City.

For those using night crawlers, tie a size 10 bait holder hook on the end of your line, pinch on a small split shot about six inches above that, and then clip on the bobber of your choice about 36-inches above the split shot. Use a very small piece of night crawler. If you can get red worms — so much the better. There’s nothing more fun than watching your bobber go down when a big lunker trout eats the bait.

Those using PowerBait will do best using a sliding sinker outfit.

To get to Libby Pond, heading north on Highway 101, turn east on North Bank Rogue River Road, which is immediately past the Patterson (Rogue River) Bridge. Be sure to set your odometer to zero.

Libby is located exactly between 7.3 and 7.4 miles on your odometer, on the left side of North Bank Rogue River Road, but you will have to navigate through two very tricky sections of the roadway in order to stay on the road.

When your odometer reads between 3.5 and 3.6 miles, you will have to take a hard 90-degree right-hand turn in order to remain on the North Bank Rogue River Road. To simplify matters, there will be a small brown building immediately before you have to turn right — the Rogue River Park Groceries and Tavern.

If you do not turn right and go straight, you will end up at the intersection of Edson Creek Road and Highway 101, which is five miles north of Gold Beach. So don’t make that mistake.

When your odometer reads five miles, just when you see the green 5-mile marker on the right side of the road, you will come to a fork. Take the right side of the fork, the road that goes down instead of up and you will eventually get to Libby Pond.

Also, springer (spring Chinook) action picked up on the lower Rogue River last week, with three prominent guides doing quite well. Hey, you don’t have to tag these puppies either this weekend.

“The Rogue’s been excellent for spring salmon this week,” said Toby Bowman of Kimball Creek Bend Guide Service on Thursday. “My son Travis is a guide too and he limited out three of his passengers with six fish ranging from 14 to 24 pounds; really good-quality fish. By far, this has been a better season this year than in the last five years. Even with this low and clear water, fish have been on-the-move.”

The Rogue was slated to get another shot of water from Lost Creek Dam on Friday, which should bring in more springers to the system this weekend.

Tight Lines!

Larry Ellis, author, writer, columnist and photographer has had a 50-year passion for fishing in California and Oregon's saltwater and freshwater venues. He is a well-known writer for Oregon, Washington and California Fishing and Hunting News, Northwest Sportsman, California Sportsman and Pacific Coast Sportfishing. He currently writes monthly for Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine, and is the weekly fishing columnist for “On the Water” for the Curry Coastal Pilot Newspaper. He particularly loves living in his hometown of Brookings, Oregon - The heart of salmon country and gateway to fishing paradise. On the Water by Larry Ellis is posted with permission of the Curry Coastal Pilot of Brookings, Oregon.


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