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Fishing & crabbing available off Brookings

On Oregon Waters by Larry Ellis, author badge, myoutdoorbuddy,com

nglers will be giving the ocean their last shot at catching Chinook this weekend before the general season closes its doors one hour after sunset on Labor Day, September 7. This has been without a doubt one of the worst salmon-fishing seasons on record excluding the years following the Sacramento River crash in 2008 and 2009.

The salmon projection was high for 2015, but extremely-warm tropical-type water associated with an El Nino event, plus a warmwater blob in the California current containing an overabundance of the non-nutritious warmwater copepods are currently being blamed for the poor fishing.

However, there are salmon being caught, as two gentlemen proved on Tuesday.

Albeit, they were small salmon, they were salmon nonetheless, and the two gents also talked about two take-downs that didn't stick, but left some pretty gnarly teeth marks on their anchovies.

Scott Morris of Redmond, Oregon hoists a big lingcod, photo by Larry Ellis
Scott Morris of Redmond, Oregon hoists a big lingcod and one of several salmon that his party caught on Tuesday in the ocean out of the Port of Brookings Harbor. Photos by the author

The salmon were reportedly caught in 150 feet of water. The two cookie-cutter salmon were caught at 120- and 35-feet on-the wire, plus there were reports of other salmon being caught as well. So there is hope for this weekend's Slam'n Salmon Derby.

"We have almost 300 entrants in the derby already," said Jeremy Galvez on Thursday, the port's office manager. "And we're expecting another

100 people to enter in the next few days, bringing probably 400 people to the derby."

Which is very similar to last year's derby, which had approximately 450 contestants.

As of early Friday morning, the National Weather Service was predicting Saturday's winds to die down to 7 knots, with a mixed 2- and 4-foot swell - picture-perfect ocean salmon and bottom fish conditions! On Sunday, winds are expected to climb slightly, between 9 and 11 knots with a mixed 1- and 3-foot swell, a definitely doable situation for ocean trollers.

My advice is to hit the ocean at the crack of dawn for the best weather and be ready to head for the barn at the sign of the first whitecaps. If the wind kicks up, folks won't have much choice but to troll closer to shore along the kelp beds. If the winds allow, then head uphill toward Salmon Alley off of Chetco Point in 110- to 120-feet of water and troll right along the bottom.

If the weather situation does die down on Saturday, then a possible trip to the shrimp beds in approximately 250- to 300-feet of water might be the call. It all has to do with the whim of Mother Nature. But one thing is for sure, with 400 people on the water, salmon will most definitely be caught.

If the winds abate this weekend, there should also be plenty of lingcod and rockfish available to bottom fishermen, and you don't have to travel very far to get them. I recommend using leadfish or 5-inch plastic jerkbaits for the best results, and of course mooching a herring or an anchovy is always a great way to put some bottom-grabbers in the boat.

The Rogue bay has also continued to kick out some large Chinook as well for those trolling Rogue Bait Rigs and spinnerbait/anchovy setups.

September is often a month when the big boys are caught, where fish can approach and exceed 50 pounds.

This is also a good month to hook up with coho salmon in the Rogue bay by kicking up your trolling speed a notch, and by using bright red, orange and pink spinner blades ahead of your anchovies. Only coho with a missing adipose fin may be kept.

Several large halibut, including several 60 and one 70 pounder have also been brought to the Brookings fillet station as well. As of Thursday, only

2,150 pounds of Pacific halibut (dressed weight) have been caught. That leaves 5,168 pounds of halibut left on the quota - approximately 71-percent!

The southern Oregon subarea has fought to get a quota of 7,318 pounds of halibut. This is a use-it-or-lose-it quota. We must continually fight for our quota by catching it or coming very close to it, or the quota will eventually be allotted to other areas of Oregon. So far, most of the halibut have been caught in August, so that leaves September and October (two excellent fishing months) to catch the remainder.

An angler hauls up a Pineapple folding crab trap from the crap pier at the south jetty at the Port of Brookings Harbor , photo by Larry Ellis
An angler hauls up a Pineapple folding crab trap from the crap pier at the south jetty at the Port of Brookings Harbor on Tuesday. One of the Dungeness crab measured over 7 inches and was wider than the measuring gauge.

Crabbing also continues to be very good for those setting their pots in

100 feet of water downhill from the south jetty. With one or two good-weather days possibly ahead, there should be more crab available.

Amazingly, the Dungeness have still been extremely hard-shelled crustaceans!

Anglers have also been hauling in crab at the Port of Brookings Harbor's crabbing facility located on the south jetty.

Salmon are now also being reported starting to cruise in and out of the Chetco. First comes the jacks, which are then followed by the larger adults.

I would not hesitate one bit to throw a one-ounce chrome/blue Krocodile or three-quarter-ounce chrome/blue Kastmaster from the Gold Beach south jetty sand spit or from one of the Chetco jetties.

And don't forget that there is still one more ocean salmon season left - the Chetco bubble fishery that this year will take place October 1-11.

Also be aware that in the Chetco River, from River Mile 2.2 upstream to Nook Creek, angling is now restricted to fly angling and bobber angling only with one single point hook. Refer to page 35 of the angling regulations for more details. That being said, I'd be making a trip up to Port 'O Call Bait & Tackle in Bandon to get some fresh, live sand shrimp. Half of an anchovy tail hung tail first is also a good call for those early jacks.

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. Posted with permission of the Curry Coastal Pilot of Brookings, Oregon.


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