Captain Ryan Mitchell of Elmira, Oregon with a couple of nice chinook salmon that were part of a limit his boat harvested from the ocean just outside the Siuslaw River breakwater. All photos by Frank Armendariz
At the top of the report this week is the salmon fishing off the Lane County coast. The weather has been good, and light winds and calm seas have played to every fisherman’s advantage.
Although anglers are still wading through plenty of wild coho, which have to be released, persistent fishermen are finding retainable numbers of hatchery coho and chinook, enough to fill their daily limit. Trolled herring, cut plug and hole behind a flasher have accounted for most hookups so far this season. The fish are right offshore; from Heceta Beach, you can see the sportfishing boats working the nearshore water.
The salmon season inside the Siuslaw breakwater opened on Aug. 1 and a few folks have begun to troll the bay. Also, on the incoming tides a number of bank anglers have started to work the edges of the Siuslaw river jetty at some popular spots in expectation that the bay fishery will also kick off at any time.
Generally, by mid to late August and into September and October, both coho and chinook salmon will start to drift into the bay on every high tide. The first fall rains will pull them up the estuary to about Cushmen; heavy rainfall in November will draw the fish all the way to their spawning water not far from Lorane, Oregon.
Briefly, I have to mention the warm-water fishery. In all parts of Lane County bass, crappie and perch, but particularly bass, are staged on structure in an ambush mode. Ready to strike a variety of baits, my favorite would be a 7-inch soft plastic worm, black or purple, rigged Carolina style. Coast lakes are best; unlike the valley lakes in Lane County that are rapidly dwindling, the Florence area lakes are all still full and have no access issues for boaters, and the fishing has been excellent.
In the Willamette Valley, a couple of reports back I told you about a late surge of steelhead that passed over the Willamette Falls at Oregon City in mid July. It doubled the run size for the season and those fish have now reached the southern valley around Springfield and Eugene.
By no means is the steelheading ”hot” or even all that ”good,” but fish are being caught every day. This group of late-run steelhead tend to hold downstream of the confluence of the Middle and Coast Fork Willamette River, which some call the ”town run.” By boat or on foot, the Willamette River has plenty of access points in Springfield and Eugene. A bike and walking path parallels the entire Willamette River through both towns and there is a boat landing about every four river miles.
Last, but certainly not least, is the trout fishing on the McKenzie River, managed for both a consumptive limit of five hatchery fish per day in middle sections, plus catch-and-release for wild trout in the upper and lower parts of the river. Flies, spinning lures and bait all account for limits of hatchery trout this season. The trout have been fairly large, some up to a full pound. On the bank or by boat, in the early morning and late in the day, working near the surface will find a lot of active fish. Midday, it’s best to run your offering closer to the bottom.
Now go fishing and take your children or a friend; those days will become the best memories of your life.