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Oregon Coho Season Opens Today

On Oregon Waters, Larry Ellis,
tarting today, Saturday June 25, anglers fishing the Oregon ocean from Cape Falcon south to the Oregon/California border will get a chance to keep hatchery-marked coho that have a healed adipose fin clip in the “All-salmon mark-selective coho fishery”. This particular fishery will last through August 7 or until a landed catch of 26,000 marked coho is reached, whichever comes first.

This coho fishery couldn’t happen at a more opportune time, when fishing for Chinook in the Brookings/Harbor vicinity has been slightly less than lackluster. At the very least, this coho fishery will enable anglers the excitement of being able to catch and keep a salmon of a different species and allow them the opportunity of putting one or two salmon in the fish box to take home to their families.

Salmon fishermen in the Brookings/Harbor area have been getting inundated by coho salmon while fishing for Chinook, with some fishermen hooking multiple coho per trip.

My advice is to keep between 2 and 3 trays of 5- or 6-inch anchovies on hand per person, since it has been common for the ubiquitous coho to strip anglers of all their baitfish.

“We had 10 coho to the boat that we had to release,” said Captain Andy Martin of Wild Rivers fishing on Thursday. “And the great thing is that the first four coho we caught were hatchery fish.”

Man holding large Salmon chinook, photo courtesy of Gary Blasi
Since the Chinook salmon fishing in Humboldt Bay has been limits one day and partial limits the next, making your visit a 2-day experience can pay off in putting fresh salmon fillets in the freezer, like this 20-plus pounder that was caught last week, photo courtesy of Gary Blasi from Full Throttle Sportfishing.

Coho salmon were being found primarily near the surface down to 45 feet beneath the surface, and the silvers were found in copious quantities in 300-foot water depths about 7 miles due west of the whistle buoy, or 5 miles off of Bird Island. Those particular locations will inevitably change on a weekly basis according to where that ideal 52-degree salmon water decides to migrate.

But that doesn’t mean that coho cannot be found frequenting deeper-water venues. On Thursday, one of the people I was fishing with caught a coho while fishing 120 feet on-the-wire.

To specifically target coho, troll faster than you would for Chinook, above 2.2 knots, and specifically target the upper-water column. But no matter whether you try and target coho, coho will inevitably find you.

The Port of Brookings Harbor has been averaging between zero Chinook per day to as high as 10 Chinook per day, and the salmon have been running anywhere from 8 pounds to 18 pounds.

On Thursday, we were able to put one Chinook in the box by trolling 120-feet deep on-the-wire while fishing in depths ranging from 280- to 300-feet. In fact, most Chinook have tended to be deeper than 120 feet on-the-wire.

Both the coho and Chinook that were caught on the trip I was on were suckered into following the Bechhold’s Big Kahuna 11-inch Flasher that contains L.E.D. lights. At depths greater than 100 feet where it is usually dark, the light these flashers give off attracts salmon like a moth to a flame. My advice to newcomers who want to try these excellent flashers should fish deeper than 120 feet, use the middle hole in the back of the flasher for your leader, and use short leaders that are 34-inches or less.

Salmon fishing out of Humboldt Bay, the KMZ’s highest-producing Chinook port has been good one day and fair the next.

“It’s been good, and it’s been slow,” remarked Gary Blasi, owner of Full Throttle Sportfishing in Eureka. “There have been a few days where we have had 10 fish, or 2 fish short of limits. Then we would have a couple days where we had 1 or 2 fish. Then we would have a couple days where we had 6 or 8 fish,” Blasi explained.

If you’re serious about putting salmon fillets in the freezer, it’s a good idea to make the Eureka charterboat fleet a 2-day fishing experience.

Blasi says that folks fishing the shallower-water venues have been getting the larger fish, with most fish averaging between 10 and 15 pounds, and he’s been fishing in close in Humboldt Bay or the south side of the bay.

“If you fish in shallow you get the nicest fish, between 10 and 20 pounds,” remarked Blasi. “We got a 20-1/2 pounder a few days ago he said on Thursday. “There’s so much food here. Humboldt Bay here is just top-to-bottom anchovies. We haven’t seen anchovies like these in probably 6 years. That should pile a bunch of fish in.”

According to Jeff McLean from Englund Marine in Crescent City, California, salmon fishing has been “on and off” with “a couple caught here and there”.

However fishing for rockfish and lingcod has still remained very good for anglers fishing outside the Port of Crescent City, California,

Fishing for rockfish and lingcod outside the Port of Brookings Harbor has remained relatively stellar, with limits being common.

In addition, the albacore fishing on Thursday still remained red-hot for anglers continuing to tow their boats up to Coos Bay and launching out of Charleston Harbor. Most anglers have been getting their tuna between 20 and 40 miles from port. I heard one report of a local-area boat landing 27 fish while another boat landed over 40 fish.

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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