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Labor Day kicks off Coastal King Action

On Oregon Waters, Larry Ellis,
lthough several southern Oregon coastal estuaries such as the Rogue Bay have been enjoying great fall Chinook fishing since the Fourth of July, the annual kickoff for fall king action in most coastal estuaries doesn't really get into full swing until after the Labor Day Holiday has passed. That means that the salmon fishing in numerous coastal bays should be on the upswing this month.

"It's a real blessing to live here in the Pacific Northwest where we have 4 beautiful rivers to fish," said John Anderson of Memory Makers Rogue River Guide Service on Thursday.

John was referring of course to the big four series of fall Chinook river estuaries on the southern Oregon coast: the Rogue Bay, the Coquille River and estuary, Winchester Bay on the Umpqua River and one other red hot coastal bay where on Thursday, he managed to put two of his clients on limits of gorgeous fall kings.

Amelia Stallings holding Chinook salmon, photo by Larry Ellis

Amelia Stallings from Eugene, Oregon fished with guide Larry Skirvin of Larry Skirvin's Guide Service last week and nailed a 28-pound Rogue fall Chinook while trolling the Rogue Bay with spinnerbait/anchovy gear. Photo by Larry Ellis

"What a beautiful day on the Coos River," Anderson said of this magnificent fishery. "Great fishing and great friends to spend it with."

So if the salmon fishing is a little on the slow side in local-area rivers such as the Rogue, consider hiring a guide who fishes all four of these coastal streams, guides such as Anderson, Jack Hanson of Jack's Guide Service or Rick Howard of Rick Howard Guide Service. I've fished with all three guides and can personally testify to their guiding prowess.

But in my opinion the salmon fishing is still on the fast track in the Rogue Bay and lower Rogue River. When I got to the Rogue Bay about 4 hours before high tide on Wednesday, the salmon fishing was a little on the slow side. But as I told a few onlookers, the best part of the tide was yet to come, which in the Rogue Bay is usually within 2 hours before and after high tide.

And true to form, on Wednesday, about 3:10 in the afternoon, Amelia Stallings from Eugene, Oregon was lugging a monster king up the ramp at Lex's Landing. She caught her king on the incoming tide around the area of Indian Creek exactly one hour before the turn of high tide which occurred at 4:10 pm.

So how can I say that the fishing is poor when a chrome-bright 28-pound king gets weighed in at Lex's Landing? Lex's Landing is also a great place to launch your boat ($5.00) because it gets less wind than at the public boat ramp.

This coming week is setting itself up for some more awesome high tide periods, where anglers can catch both incoming high tides early in the morning and later toward sunset.

Today (Saturday), high tide on the Rogue estuary is slated to occur at 7:59 am and 6:57 pm.

Sunday, the high tides are scheduled to happen at 9:03 am and 8:02 pm.

And on Monday, high tides will occur at 9:51 am and 9:01 pm, allowing anglers to troll that crucial 2-1/2-hour window on the incoming tide.

Starting to get the tidal picture?

Realize that fishing for kings in the Rogue Bay slowed up slightly last week because the Army Corps of Engineers increased water flows coming out of Lost Creek Dam which subsequently decreased water temperatures, prompting the salmon to zip up through the upper tidewater holes and scurry into the canyon. That also encouraged guides like Tim Young to fish upriver from the bay.

But the Corps is scheduled to decrease water releases from Saturday, September 10 through Tuesday, September 13 (1,600 to 1,200 cubic feet per second respectively), which should raise the water temperature in the upper tidewater holes, prompting the kings to stack back up in the bay and possibly setup another awesome Rogue Bay fishing scenario.

Fishing in the ocean for Chinook salmon in the Oregon KMZ, which includes the Ports of Brookings Harbor and Gold Beach is now officially closed. So if you accidentally catch a king in the ocean, back in the drink it must go.

The next and final ocean fishing season will be happening this coming October during a split season which will occurOctober 1-3 and October 8-9. This is what's known as the 1016 Chetco River Fall Chinook State Waters Terminal Area Season, a state-run fishery occurring in state waters from zero to 3 miles from shore.

And sometime later this month, jack Chinook should be entering the Chetco bay. Jacks always enter the Chetco first, followed later by the larger adults. So you can also look forward to trolling the Chetco bay sometime within the next few weeks as well.

Tight lines!

Larry Ellis is the author of the recently published "Buoy 10 - The World's Largest Salmon Run!", a 14-mile long salmon fishery on the Columbia River. It is the first book ever written about the Buoy 10 fishery. He is also the author of "Plug Fishing for Salmon. Both books can be found at, and Larry currently writes monthly for Salmon Trout Steelheader magazine and is also the weekly fishing columnist 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.

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