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Chetco expected to open fully November 4

On Oregon Waters, by larry Ellis, myoutdoorbuddy.com

k, so right now it looks like a trickle. Some people, including myself have never seen water in the Chetco River this low, and I've been here over 34 years if that counts for anything. But salmon are the most tenacious animals I've ever encountered. They spawn (breed) only one time in their life, and then they die. So it comes to no surprise to me that Chinook have been found at least as high as the Ice Box Hole.

But I digress.

I remember one day watching an angler on another river (I believe it was the Alsea), hook and land a Chinook that was easily pushing 50 pounds - but it wasn't easy! The angler hooked it in one spot, and then the super-nook said, 'the heck with that, I'm outta here'!

From there it proceeded to exit the deep hole where it was originally hooked and then twisted its way over and around rocks that barely contained any water at all. Most of the fish was out of the water mind you. And then it dived into the next deep hole where it proceeded to give the angler all of his money's worth of tackle.

When the salmon got annoyed with the angler messing with him in that particular spot, it somehow exited that deep-water hole and like a snake, writhed its way through more waterless rocks and boulders until it came to hole number 3.

It played this little cat-and-mouse game for about 45 minutes before it finally tired out and the angler was able to land the fish.

All this longwinded conversation was made to make one point. Salmon will get to their destination come hell or high water (or in the Chetco's case, very warm and low water) to complete their mission in life, which as previously mentioned, is to breed just one time before they are finally forced to give up the ghost.

So don't worry about Chetco River Chinook - Mother Nature has provided them with enough innate skills to take care of themselves.

So it comes to no surprise to me that STEP biologist John Weber and members of the Oregon South Coast Fishermen pulled in approximately 300 Chinook in one set while seining for the Chetco Broodstock Program just a tad upriver from Social Security Hole.

It also comes to no surprise that salmon up to 50 pounds have been hooked or at least seen in all the regular holes up to Ice Box, which is a spot just upriver from Loeb State Park.

Anyway, on this one particular set, anglers were hauling Chinook to the hatchery truck one after the other until the vehicle couldn't hold any more fish - a haul of approximately 106 Chinook.

Then there were the other 200 Chinook in the net to take care of, which were carefully deposited back into the river by hand. And we're talking 30-plus pound fish that were released. I saw them!

With last week's 42 fish harvest, and this week's 100-Chinook cargo, the Chetco almost has their entire brood collection for making approximately

200,000 fertilized eggs at the Elk River Hatchery in Port Orford.

STEP biologist John Weber (center) and members of the Oregon South Coast Fishermen seined the Chetco River on Tuesday for the Chetco Broodstock Program. Photo by Larry Ellis
STEP biologist John Weber (center) and members of the Oregon South Coast Fishermen seined the Chetco River on Tuesday for the Chetco Broodstock Program. In one set they got over 300 Chinook. 100 large salmon were put into the hatchery truck and sent to Elk River Hatchery and over 200 fish like the ones shown here were released unharmed back into the river.

So this coming Wednesday, November 4, the Chetco will open up to its normal regulations up to the deadline at Nook Creek, which means that anglers will not be restricted to bobber-only and fly-only restrictions, and anglers can fish using their regular legal techniques. That is unless ODFW states otherwise.

"At this point we're expecting it (the Chetco) to open," says district biologist Todd Confer.

Granted, the Chetco contains low water, but again, Chinook are the most tenacious animals that I have ever encountered.

At some point within the next two weeks, the area will get hammered with enough rain to raise the river. But until that point happens, the best technique will be using bobbers-and-live sand shrimp in the first two hours of first legal light.

Ray and Dorris Smith from White City, Oregon holding their rock crab, photo by Larry Ellis
Ray and Dorris Smith from White City, Oregon crabbed last week at the Port of Brookings Harbor's crab dock and did quite well on large red rock crab.

The crabbing is expected to still be fair to good this week.

The estuary should fish fairly well until rains push the water flow over

1,000 cubic feet per second, and crabbing off of the Port of Brookings Harbor's crabbing facility should still remain slow-to-fair for people wanting to take home a Dungeness or red rock crab.

Meanwhile the Rogue River has finally got hit hard with Indian Creek Chinook returns.

"I'm kind of surprised, but we've got guys getting a fairly-reasonable amount of fish off the mouth of Indian Creek, and they're nice-class fish," says Jim Carey, owner of the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach.

"They're nice 20-pound, 30-pound fish."

Most anglers are trolling cut plug herring with or without a flasher.

Bank anglers just downriver from Indian Creek are also catching Chinook by throwing their favorite spoons and spinners (3/4- to 1-ounce lures).

Indian Creek is located approximately one-half mile upriver from the Highway

101 bridge (Patterson Bridge).

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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