About every condition that works against angling is at the top of this week’s fishing report. No way to flower this up, folks, but a series of fall storms that began to reach the Lane County coast early last week flat-out shut down most of the fishing opportunities from west to east. The wind and rain at the coast and in the valley, plus snow in the Cascades, made fishing and travel difficult at best. But the bad weather has passed and a forecasted dry spell is on the way.
Last week, a 20-foot sea and waves to 25 feet crashed onto central Oregon beaches and jetties, making beach fishing and bar crossings impossible for several days. This weekend could see the trend change and this time of year the ocean is rich with possibilities. If by chance that prediction holds, the south of Cape Falcon zone is open to the most species of bottom fish, including halibut. Dependably, the bottom fishery has been consistently productive whenever accessible this season.
Also, any break in the seas could present the last opportunity to fish for tuna this year. Ocean water in the 60-degree range still persists offshore, but the warm-water bubble that brings the tuna close enough to the Oregon coast to fish for them has begun to drift southward.
Winchester is still a good bet for captains who can boat far offshore (30 to 40 miles), or seek a charter operator for a guided trip.
More than eight inches of rain fell in the Siuslaw drainage in September and the Siuslaw River has been running higher and at levels more like November since then. The average rainfall for September is 2.5 inches.
The wet trend continued into October and the lower river above tidewater has been navigable on many days since mid-September, too.
For folks still trolling the bay, the Chinook salmon fishing pressure has shifted far up the estuary this week, much earlier than in past seasons. The trollers are still working around Tiernan Landing, but a lot of anglers are focusing their attention on the lower river from Mapleton upstream to the deadline at Lake Creek.
The good news here is that the heavy rains that fell last week pushed fresh fish up the river and most of those fish are still very bright. The river downstream from Rain Rock is easily run in a pontoon or drift boat, and they have hit the lower Siuslaw in fair numbers. For bank anglers, there are several points to access the river on foot; with a couple of landings and a short hike, plenty of other salmon holes are reachable.
The chinook are in the river and should be around into November, though the quality of the meat will decline much sooner as the fish begin to spawn. Bobber and salmon eggs or sand shrimp account for the most number of hookups on fresh fall chinook in the river.
For anglers with limited mobility, reaching the water is always a challenge, and I like sharing if it gets more folks a chance at overcoming obstacles and catching a good fish. There are modest exceptions: Junction City ponds and the Alton Baker canal are reasonably accessible for trout fishers, but they are highly urbanized fisheries and offer little of the aesthetics that anglers love.
Bender Landing and County Park, on the North Fork Siuslaw, is another one of those diamonds. About five miles up the North Fork Siuslaw River Road from Highway 126.
Bender has a boat landing and an accessible fishing dock for folks with mobility issues. Restrooms, a large parking lot that accommodates both single vehicles and trailers, and picnic benches add to the convenience in a beautiful setting.
Chinook salmon return to the North Fork in late October and November and the fishing dock is the perfect place to cast a line. In January and February, it’s also an idea location to plunk for winter steelhead.
Now go fishing. Take your kids or a friend. Those will become some of the best memories of your life.
You can reach Frank Armendariz at [email protected]