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Pacific herring coming soon

On Oregon Waters, Larry Ellis,
e on the lookout for Pacific herring. The lingcod-killing baitfish are expected to make their annual pilgrimage to Crescent City Harbor sometime this month, and if Mother Nature has anything to say about it, they will be arriving en masse any time soon.

"It's been kind of hit and miss right now, but the bulk of the run hasn't arrived yet," said Jeff from Englund Marine Supply in Crescent City on Thursday. According to Jeff, the herring that spawn in Crescent City Harbor every year could arrive in two hours, two days or two weeks - but arrive they will!

As a reminder, things have changed over in Crescent City as to where you can jig for the sparkling baitfish. The newly-built Crescent City Marina has now posted signs all over the place that state, "No fishing or crabbing in marina". But don't let the signs stop you from jigging for herring. There are plenty of other great places and venues to jig for the baitfish.

Sarrell Wells holding wild steelhead, photo by Larry Ellis
The Chetco's finally side-drifting! Darrell Wells was side-drifting and bobber-dogging the Chetco River with this son, guide Randy Wells, on Thursday, when they caught and released several wild steelhead, donated one wild fish to the broodstock program and took home this dandy hatchery steelhead. Photos by author

One of the best spots on land is at the boat-launch facility itself located off of Anchor Way, where anglers jig for the baitfish directly from the launch docks themselves or from the jetty rocks surrounding the facility.

My favorite all-time jigging method is to launch a boat and start jigging outside the marina wherever birds can be found diving for the baitfish. The price to launch a boat here is still only $6.00.

Donna Emfinger with steelhead, phto by Larry Ellis
Donna Emfinger from Grants Pass, Oregon decided to fish the Chetco last week and caught this nice hatchery winter steelhead while plunking a pearl pink Spin-N-Glo with white wings at Social Security Bar.

Many local-area anglers depend on jigging hundreds of these lingcod powerhouse baits to use for the rest of the year. So make sure to have a tackle box filled with sabiki rigs, both the winged and non-winged types. I have much better luck using the ones with the little tiny beads with no wings. Also make sure that your trout or steelhead rod has a reel attached loaded with 6-pound test, and that you have plenty of 1/4- to 1/2-ounce bank sinkers on hand.

Chetco & Rogue kicking out winter steelhead
Chetco River anglers enjoyed plenty of winter steelhead action with ample amounts of both wild and hatchery steelies available. On Sunday and Monday, all of the action was enjoyed by those who plunked Spin-N-Glos from the bank.

But on Tuesday, a long-awaited drop in river flow was met by eager drift-boaters who launched their boats when the river finally dropped below 4,000 cubic feet per second, making side-drifting and bobber dogging the two-top techniques that ruled the river by drift boaters.

The river continued dropping later in the week and hovered around 3,200 cfs, with a gorgeous aqua-marine hue and perfection visibility of 24 inches.

"We caught and released lots of wild fish," said guide Randy Wells who was accompanied by his father, Darrell, in his boat on Thursday. "We also donated a nice steelhead to the angler-caught broodstock program."

The pair caught most of their fish by side-drifting, but also were bobber dogging a bobber-and- bait setup straight down the pipe, backward. One of Wells' secrets was tipping his hook with a single Pro-Cure Bad Azz salmon egg. Darrell also boated a nice hatchery steelhead as well.

The Chetco should remain in good side-drifting and drift-fishing shape throughout the rest of the week.

The lower Rogue River also continued to kick out large winter steelhead as well, but the action slowed up just a tad during the end of the week.

"It started out really great today, and the fishing's been really good all week," said guide John Anderson on Thursday. "We got a couple right off the bat this morning and then it slowed down."

Anderson attributed the sudden downturn of great fishing on short-term rough ocean conditions.

"We had 27-feet surf today," emphasized Anderson. "And when the ocean is rough, we have a tough time getting fish because that stirs up the bar and steelhead don't like coming across a rough bar. They don't like getting silt in their gills one bit."

Anderson says that as soon as the surf lays down, the fishing will once again pick back up, which could be anytime next week.

Anderson's technique du jour is anchoring up along a current seam and setting out plugs such as Wee Warts, Wiggle Warts, Wee Wigglers and Wigglers. He then sets his rods in their respective rod holders and waits for the silver locomotives to whack one of the plugs as it makes its way up the tracks.

It comes with great sadness to announce that one of the best anglers and finest human beings I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, unexpectedly passed away two weeks ago. If you ever have had the distress of having to call 911 in the last decade, it is very likely that your frantic call for help was allayed by the soft and calming voice of Suzie Frisch, who worked for the Brookings Police Department as 911 dispatcher for ten years. My heartfelt condolences go out to Suzie's husband Bill and their family.

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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