The Streets of San Francisco

By Bob Rees

After guiding for about 60 days straight, I decided it was time for a vacation. After all, I hardly had any time with my daughter all summer, and my wife was headed to Chicago for her I won’t say how many year class reunion. I can entertain my 8-year old on the water, but one on one, stuck in Oregon City, I was needing some help; California Great America and Six Flags Amusement Parks, here we come!

Of all the years and all the months I could have picked however, I picked the one where wildfires were taking out entire neighborhoods and compromising my weekend with my daughter. I know, compared to the tragedies of those that lost their homes and vineyards, I had nothing to complain about. My sympathies to those left homeless.

Our trip started out flying into the bay area, obviously. I have been there before, and even though my view was somewhat obstructed by the smoke, the bay delta tells quite a story from 10,000 feet above. The landscape modifications, the loss of wetlands, and the sheer number of people that live in this area has certainly taken a toll on the regions once abundant (maybe 200 years ago), fish and wildlife species. Now, the delta is laden with invasive species, a once freshwater ecosystem is now saltwater because of the water extraction that goes on in the basin, and freshwater sportfishing opportunities are dwindling by the day it seems. Some of my fishing customers that I have the longest history with come from the bay area. Most of my guide friends know them already, the Slusher brothers, so passionate about fishing they’ll come visit every year just to have some semblance of hope that wild salmon still do exist in nature.

After a good dose of human density and concurrent road rage associated with human density, we finally made our way to Santa Clara, ready to recreate at Great America. I had been there as a kid, I may have been more excited than my daughter in going back. Although far from my idea of pure entertainment, we enjoyed our day riding roller coasters and attempting to win prizes worth a fraction of what I was paying trying to win the darn things. All part of the program however.

After continuously checking the air quality to the north of San Francisco where day 2 was supposed to be at Six Flags, I was pleasantly surprised that the destination was actually a possibility. The winds clearly shifted direction, so to the north we traveled, in anticipation of more fun and adventure. This is where I was a bit awestruck.

Somehow, we spent a good part of an hour in the “Ocean Discovery” section of the park, visiting the lone walrus, a couple dozen penguins, and a handful of harbor seals and California Sea Lions. Although the walrus and penguin exhibits were fun to look over, I had rides on my mind. And from the lack of density of other visitors, I think everyone else did too. I had to call it quits when my daughter asked if we should buy a pound of smelt to feed the seals… I had to tell her I had done enough of that this summer, except with sport-caught salmon. They were plenty “full.” Call me shallow.

As we continued around the park, viewing the menus of the different junk shacks to eat at, I came to the realization about just how few people know about where their seafood comes from, and how come we still have seafood to harvest (leave out the last remaining California salmon mind you). I couldn’t bring myself to look at the Seamoore Cott’s Fish and Fries menu, but I’m sure I didn’t have an appetite for it, especially after going on Medusa.

How do you engage the vast majority of society in critical fisheries issues when they don’t even know where their food comes from? And from the head count at the walrus exhibit, I don’t think many people, park-goers for sure, even care.

As a battery of bad bills remains queued up in Congress, thankfully, commercial fishermen and sport anglers are paying attention to what’s happening. Rollbacks in the conservation gains we’ve made under the bi-partisan supported Magnuson Stevens Act are under threat. While some sport angling groups in the Gulf States support these rollbacks to gain more access to certain stocks of fish, it’s bad business for those that support a legacy of opportunity for our future fishermen.

We’re still working on a bill that can pass the litmus test for both conservation and opportunity, but those can be hard to come by in today’s Congress. If not for the fishermen, who would pay attention to our fisheries that have come back from our overfishing days just 3 decades ago? Certainly not my fellow theme park goers, and most of America for that matter.

And for your entertainment pleasure, here’s a few words from Slusher Brother Rich, long-time friend, client and all-around super dude:

Fish Do Not Care About Borders

It seems that humans are the only members of the animal kingdom who care about drawing arbitrary lines on a map and then making a big deal about who should or shouldn’t stand on either side of those lines. While fish are not afflicted with this trait, they are often the victims of it. The fish are unaware of the differences in rules, regulations, politics, etc. when they change GPS coordinates.

I am a native (Northern) Californian who for 63 years has fished extensively in California, Oregon and southern Washington. On my sojourns north, I have been (falsely) accused of introducing Tui Chub into Diamond Lake, littering highways, catching all of your fish, and even buying up all of the local gasoline. I thank heaven that I have an iron-clad alibi for the day Mt. St. Helens erupted. As for driving up real estate prices, to those looking to buy, I am sorry and to those who are selling, I say “you’re welcome”. In all honesty, my accusers (who were probably transplanted Californians) can be counted on one hand.

My point being is that those “comments” came from humans obsessed with lines drawn on a map. Fish swimming in the oceans, bays, and rivers in Washington, Oregon, and California are happily unaware of any such delineations. The problem is, that each State, County, and City that they pass through may have different ideas as to how to treat them, and those ideas may sometimes be at odds with each other.

I believe that it has been documented that certain salmon caught in the ocean in Oregon were destined for the Klamath River system in California. Sturgeon tagged in the Columbia River have been observed in San Francisco Bay and the Delta. (Most likely there are SF Bay sturgeon in the Columbia River but it is unknown whether any of them are responsible for driving up real estate prices.) Fishing regulations for salmon and sturgeon are significantly different in Oregon and California, but each affects the other.

I have fished long enough to witness the decline in fisheries in both California and Oregon. Sturgeon, Striped Bass, and Salmon populations in the San Francisco Bay and Delta are fractions of what they were in the 1960’s. I used to fish for salmon at the mouth of the Klamath River in the ‘60’s during August and September. The number of boats and fishermen crammed into a small space were equivalent to what the peak of the Buoy 10 season looks like today. The amount of salmon caught supported a small shore-side cannery and fish smoking business. A small Coast Guard station was needed to keep the boaters safe. Today, it is a ghost town and the number of salmon swimming upriver are a small remnant of that era.

Rich Slusher of the bay area with a Sacramento rainbow.

The decline on the Klamath and other nearby systems has paralleled similar (if not as severe) to declines in Oregon and Washington as well. These declines did not begin or end at State, County, or City borders, but have impacted the fisheries as a whole. It is up to us “humans” to erase those lines on the map and look at an all-inclusive (California included), collaborative, solution to the problems.

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Oregon Fishing Reports for October 20th

Willamette Valley/Metro – Chinook and coho counts at Bonneville have dropped below 500 fish per day. That said, persistent anglers are still catching both species on Pro Trolls and spinners from Bonneville to Longview. One recent participant stated the bite is over after 8:30 a.m. however.

Anglers are pretty excited about the October 21st sturgeon opener. Some anglers are going out to find where the best pockets of fish are for the opener. Here is the link to the official ODF&W press release, you’ll need to pay attention to the regulations, especially if you’ve already tagged a sturgeon or two from earlier this year.

Coho seekers remain focused on the Sandy River, although some anglers dispute rumors of good fishing. I don’t doubt it, they are coho afterall. Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) reports that some nice bright hatchery coho have come from the river since the recent rain freshet. One fish pushing the scales at 12 pounds! The best fishing will take place above Dodge Park, and especially at the mouth of Cedar Creek.

The Clackamas is a bit slower, as it seems fewer fish are returning here. That said, action can still be had above Barton Park, but that will likely change over the weekend, when we get a fairly significant rain system come in.

8,000 trout have been stocked in Henry Hagg Lake this week. That should make for a good fall fishery. Another 800 will go to Mt. Hood Community College Pond for a fishing event this weekend.

Northwest – Chinook anglers working the Tillamook area are still finding fair numbers of fish in the Ghost Hole and at Bay City. Pro Trolls still rule the day, but plug cut herring  are taking a few fish as well. High tides will be in the afternoon this weekend, but given the weather forecast, there may not be many willing to fish. Blustery winds and plenty of rain may not make it so fun.

Plenty of wild coho and a few smaller Chinook are still coming from the Nehalem system. The coho and Chinook are running about the same size so be sure to check for the proper characteristics to make sure you have the right flavor. Chinook are certainly hard to come by though.

The Siletz is still the central coast favorite, but the Alsea is starting to put out more bobber and bait Chinook. The rain system this weekend could be a game changer, the driftboat fleet may finally get a chance at them.

And yes, the Trask, Wilson and maybe even the Kilchis should start to see some fair Chinook catches following the weekend deluge. The Wilson will likely offer up the best opportunity, but fish can sometimes be picky about biting on a rising river so make your plans accordingly.

Bay crabbing is of course still good, but check the weather before making a commitment.

The ocean is going to get impressive, don’t even think about it.

Southwest – From our friend Pete Heley at

The Coos County trout plants for last week were changed from what was originally scheduled. The changes involve Butterfield Lake, Saunders Lake and Upper and Lower Empire Lakes. Butterfield should offer better trout fishing than Saunders. Powers Pond was slated for 1,300 14-inch rainbows last week and Bradley Lake was to receive 800 and is also scheduled for the Oregon coast’s last trout plant this year – an additional 800 14-inchers during the last week of October.

Diamond Lake has been fishing very well and ODFW creel surveys estimate about three and a half fish per angler are being caught and one fish per hour which is higher than this time last year. Anglers are also catching larger fish, with the average fish size at just over 15 inches. Best success comes with trolling lures and bottom fishing with PowerBait while fly-anglers are having good luck on the south end of the lake.

Crappie and some bluegill are still biting for anglers fishing off the fishing dock at Tugman Park on Eel Lake. Two weeks ago, anglers were reeling in their crappies really slow in the hopes that a lunker largemouth would grab them.

Ocean crabbing closed at midnight on October 15th – but remains open in the lower tidewater portions of all of Oregon’s coastal rivers and that includes Coos Bay all the way down to the most western tips of both jetties. Crabbing has been very good and will remain so until we get quite a bit more rain.

Ocean salmon fishing will close an hour after sunset on October 31st. However, through the end of October, salmon fishing is restricted outside 40 fathoms – as one would expect, there has not been much ocean salmon fishing pressure since only chinook salmon of more than 24-inches in waters less than 240 feet deep are legal.

Ocean bottomfishing is now open in waters deeper than 240 feet but only for some mid-depth fish species and I strongly urge anglers intending to bottomfish to check out the new regulations on the ODFW website. Important new info would include the use of a leader of at least 30 feet in length between the lure or bait and a non-compressible float. By non-compressible, I’m pretty sure the ODFW is ruling out hollow or inflatable floats.

Eastern – Our friend Tim Moran is in Mexico this week for tarpon and bonefish. Look for an Eastern Oregon update next week.

SW Washington – Mainstem Grays River from the Hwy. 4 Bridge upstream to the South Fork and West Fork Grays from the mouth upstream to boundary markers 300 yards below the hatchery road bridge – Under permanent rules, closes to all fishing from Oct. 16 through Nov. 30. These areas will reopen to fishing for hatchery salmon and hatchery steelhead beginning December 1.

Cowlitz River – I-5 Bridge downstream: 25 bank rods released 1 cutt. 19 boat anglers kept 6 adult coho and released 2 adult Chinook and 4 adult coho. Upstream from the I-5 Br: 26 bank rods kept 4 jack and 1 adult coho and released 16 adult Chinook, 2 adult coho, and 1 cutt. 11 boat rods kept 4 jack coho, 1 steelhead, and 5 cutts and released 1 jack and 7 adult Chinook, 2 jack and 2 adult coho, and 2 cutts.

North Fork Lewis River – 7 bank anglers kept 1 adult coho. 2 boat anglers had no catch.

Drano Lake – 3 boat anglers had no catch. Klickitat River – 32 bank anglers kept 10 adult Chinook and 3 adult coho and released 1 adult Chinook.

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Effort and catches are still holding up, at least until the rain forecasted for later this week. Over 300 boats were counted during last Saturday’s flight. Boat anglers averaged an adult Chinook per every other boat last week.

There is always more Oregon fishing information delivered earlier on our site, The Guide’s Forecast.  You can also sign-up for our weekly emails here.

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Oregon fishing report, October 13th

Willamette Valley/Metro – Columbia River anglers must be highly motivated to pursue salmon downstream of Bonneville Dam. Although the Chinook run is largely over, persistent anglers are consistently catching coho downstream of Rooter Rock. Pro Trolls with spinners remain the top option.

Anglers that wish to fish the catch and keep sturgeon fishery have 2 options: October 21st, and October 26th. The Willamette will remain closed to catch and keep due to success rates which would likely compromise future opportunity.

Although overcast skies and showery weather improved opportunity for coho anglers on the Clackamas and Sandy Rivers, anglers remain challenged. Fish are still largely hiding in deep pools, still reluctant to bite. Cedar Creek hatchery on the Sandy is showing promise for a good return.

Northwest – Tillamook anglers have found recent success, at least those willing to run Pro Trolls and small spinners. Far from limit fishing, guides are taking fish daily with some fish still reaching the 30-pound class. Trolling herring is not nearly as popular as it used to be.

Precipitation was welcome in Tillamook County, but far from inspiring Chinook and coho to make a river run into their natal systems. It will take much more of a deluge to stimulate district rivers.

Chinook action on the Nehalem is largely over. There will be a few stragglers, but wild coho will continue to dominate the catch.

The Siletz continues to see a strong return, and Pro Trolling with spinners has caught on there as well.

Ocean crabbing closes starting October 16th. Bay crabbing should remain productive, especially on the lower Columbia.

And speaking of the lower Columbia, although few are fishing it, it is starting to put out better numbers of B-run coho. Upper Blind Channel does have some fish available, but it’s anyone’s guess as to if they’ll stick around if any measureable precipitation hits.

Razor clam success was hot and cold; the best digging taking place on the early part of the minus tide series. Most would say however, limits are more challenging to come by.

Southwest – From our friend Pete Heley Coos County lakes that received trout plants this week include Bradley Lake with 800 14-inch rainbows and Butterfield Lake with 600 14-inchers. Powers Pond and Saunders Lake each received 1,300 14-inch rainbows and Upper and Lower Empire lakes each received 2,000 14-inchers. With the exception of Bradley Lake, which is scheduled to receive 800 additional 14-inch or one-pound rainbows the last week of October, this week’s trout plants will be the last trout plants along the Oregon coast this year.

Avid trout anglers with the means and ability to travel might consider Nevada’s Pyramid Lake which opened on October 1st. Located in western Nevada about 40 miles northeast of Reno, the 120,000-acre lake has offered sensational fishing for Lahontan cutthroat trout ever since the stocking program was changed due to Robert Behnke discovering pure Lahontan cutts in a small Pyramid Lake tributary.

As this column is being written, there have been no coho salmon yet reported in Siltcoos, Tahkenitch or Tenmile lakes. Siltcoos offers returning coho salmon the easiest lake access. Once the salmon actually get into the river they can reach the dam and accompanying fish ladder fairly easily, but many of the salmon may not ascend the fish ladder if there isn’t much water flowing through it.

Once rainfall allows the dam gates on Siltcoos River to be opened, coho salmon enter the upper Siltcoos River in earnest – as well as a few sturgeon, striped bass and unfortunately a few seals.

Closed areas include Maple Creek as well as the portion of the Fiddle Creek Arm above the bridge on Canary Road on Siltcoos. As for Tahkenitch, the outlet arm is closed below the Highway 101 Bridge. The channel connecting North and South Tenmile lakes is closed to salmon fishing.

This Saturday there is a bass fishing tournament scheduled on Siltcoos Lake and if there is any rainfall preceding the tournament, it could be crowded. But most salmon anglers will most likely wait and see if any salmon are incidentally caught during the tournament by bass anglers.

Good numbers of salmon are being caught by bank anglers at Winchester Bay. Dwayne Schwartz, who I fish with often, finally landed a limit of fin clipped cohos last Saturday after catching nine consecutive wild cohos. Smallmouth bass fishing on the Umpqua River is still very good with an increased chance at larger bass. The bass fishing starts about nine miles above Reedsport and actually improves as one moves farther upstream. As for the Coquille River, the same techniques fool the smallies, but the slightly murkier water allows crankbaits to be effective. A few anglers opt for larger crankbaits in the hope of incidentally hooking a striped bass.

The fishing dock in Tugman Park on Eel Lake continues to produce good crappie fishing, but very few decent-sized fish. In an attempt to find some larger crappies last weekend, I fished the upper lake for about three hours with Dwayne Schwartz in his bass boat.

Although we landed a number of small largemouth and smallmouth bass and more than a dozen rainbow and cutthroat trout to nearly 17-inches, we couldn’t hook a crappie or bluegill until we got within 100 yards of the fishing dock – and then we got bit on virtually every cast for more than 20 minutes with the largest fish being Dwayne’s very plump 11-inch crappie that missed weighing a pound by only an ounce or two.

Eastern – From our friend Tim Moran: Deschutes River – October is a great month to fish the big “D”. Lot’s of guys are chasing deer, Elk, upland birds and ducks this time of year and with counts over Sherars Falls up my favorite area above the Falls comes into play and is much easier for the bank guy to navigate than Macks Canyon. You can swing flies through the riffles and tail out or you can fish a big nymph or jig fly under and indicator with an egg bead below and catch em too.

Metolius River – Fall Drakes, PMD’s and BWO’s are all coming off right now.

Fall River – Fishing for trout on the Fall is great right now.

The Cascade high lakes are just about done for all but the most hard core guys.

SW Washington – Mainstem Grays River from the Hwy. 4 Bridge upstream to the South Fork and West Fork Grays from the mouth upstream to boundary markers 300 yards below the hatchery road bridge – Under permanent rules, closes to all fishing from Oct. 16 through Nov. 30. These areas will reopen to fishing for hatchery salmon and hatchery steelhead beginning December 1.

Cowlitz River – From the I-5 Bridge downstream: 33 bank rods kept 5 adult coho and released 1 adult Chinook and 2 chum. 11 boat rods kept 2 adult coho and released 2 adult Chinook and 2 adult coho. Above the I-5 Bridge – 73 bank rods kept 1 jack and 7 adult coho and released 25 adult Chinook, 11 jack and 2 adult coho and 4 cutts. 4 boat rods had no catch.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,520 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, Oct. 9. Water visibility is 11 feet and water temperature is 54.3 degrees F.

Lewis River (mainstem) – 5 boat anglers had no catch.

Lewis River (North Fork) – 26 bank anglers kept 4 adult coho. 13 boat anglers kept 1 jack and 4 adult Chinook, 2 adult coho and released 1 steelhead.

Klickitat River – 33 bank anglers kept 6 adult Chinook and 1 adult coho.

Yakima River – Fall Chinook continue to trickle into the Yakima River. There was a push of coho into the river last week. WDFW staff interviewed 165 anglers this past week with 14 adult salmon, 1 jack, and 1 coho harvested (25 hours per fish). Most of the harvest has been recorded in the areas just downstream of the Grant Ave bridge. There were an estimated 545 angler trips for salmon in the lower Yakima River with a total of 3,134 angler trips for the season. An estimated 188 adult Chinook, 18 jack Chinook, and 2 coho have been harvested this season. Fishing should peak these final two weeks of the season.

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The Sausage Grinder is Underway

Lobbyists often refer to the making of legislation as “sausage making.” How appropriate, given the start of our fall hunting seasons. Add a little pork shoulder here, beef fat there, and you have a palatable product fit for any finicky eater anywhere.

I may be going out on a limb here, but it actually appears as if Congress is making some sausage, finally. With so many other distractions in our nation, I’m not sure what will actually get over the finish line, but there was a series of fisheries related bills heard in September, most of them not making any biological, ecological or economic sense however.

It’s hard to consider any bill viable if its intention is to roll back the historic successes we’ve had under the current version of the Magnuson Stevens Act. Well, that’s what the Modern Fish Act, HR 200, and the Red Snapper Act’s intention is, and it just won’t fly with those that want a future for our fisheries.

Thankfully, there’s a more sensible option out there. Representative Huffman (CA) has put together an option that respects our past successes, and truly looks ahead for the future of our fishermen, and our resource. Huffman’s bill should bring bi-partisan support that successfully updates an already successful law. Call me biased, but given our history of working waterfront success, and cannery row collapses on the West Coast, I think a Pacific Ocean perspective is a winning perspective.

Given the current divisiveness in our country, and the history of across-the-aisle support Magnuson Stevens legislation has enjoyed over the decades, we really can’t stand for anything else other than Democratic and Republican support for such an important piece of legislation. Our fish and wildlife resources are often one of the rare treasures that both parties understand we need more of. Given how other countries have managed theirs, we are already a leader in fisheries conservation, and we’re now reaping the rewards of our successful fishery laws.

For us in the Pacific Northwest, it’s been a fun few years. We’ve enjoyed incredible salmon returns, excellent tuna catches (maybe not this year), unparalleled crabbing and the halibut and bottomfishing has been inspirational. Keep in mind that Oregonians have been harvesting these resources for almost two centuries, and despite explosive population growth and a human footprint that has changed our landscape beyond recognition, we still have an incredible resource that feeds our communities and economies.

There’s been very few fishery resources that haven’t hit rock bottom, mostly due to a lack of knowledge of the needs of these resources to sustain their populations over time. And the resources that have rebounded the best are the ones we’ve kept our hands off of, letting nature just take its course. Halibut, bottomfish, an array of forage fish species and of course salmon have all been down in the dumps over our short history of exploiting these stocks. I recognize that boom and bust cycles have been happening since the beginning of time, as referenced in the above hyperlink on sardine and anchovy populations, but no one in their right mind can deny the effect humans have had on our fishery resources. Intense management of these resources is a necessary element if we wish to continue to utilize these fisheries to benefit our communities.

Ana Hernandez from Quepos, Costa Rica poses with her 24-pound Tillamook Chinook caught just outside of the jaws. 10/4/17

Now is not the time to enact rollbacks for bipartisan supported fishery laws that have withstood the test of time. Despite the lack of cohesiveness in Congress, the folks credited with building and sustaining our working waterfronts deserve sound management measures that will enable these rural communities to continue to thrive. That’s particularly important as we’re just now starting to see the downturn in productivity coming off of some fairly spectacular years.

As I’ve written before, and anyone that’s been paying attention to your creel and the news, mediocrity seems to be a thing of the past. It’s pretty fun when all things swing our way; ocean productivity is up, snow pack is robust, fishing is excellent. It’s not so fun when hurricane after hurricane batters the East Coast, a warm water blob overcomes a large portion of our seafood’s feeding grounds and blanket restrictions get placed on one robust fisheries because there’s like 1,600 wild steelhead returning to the upper Columbia basin in 2017. Extremes are the new reality, and who’s really ready for that?

Congress must navigate this MSA reauthorization with a vision for the future. It’s hard enough managing fisheries for our current needs, and under more predictable and historical weather patterns. No one expects any law to meet the needs of all our people, that’s why they call it “reauthorization.” Updates are necessary, but we learn from our past mistakes, take the good and make it better, and hope that our maneuvers will meet the needs of our resources for future generations of fishers to enjoy. Ignorance used to be a valid excuse, but we know too much now. Let’s work towards a bi-partisan solution to a good law and get it through Congress to keep our waterfronts working. Thank you representative Huffman for giving us that chance.

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Oregon Fishing Reports for Oct 6th

Willamette Valley/Metro – With passage at Bonneville fading, success rates for Chinook downstream of Bonneville is as well. Pro trollers are still posting the best numbers, using spinners or Brad’s Super Baits behind them. There isn’t much time before this fishery fades into memory, by mid-October, it’s largely over with the exception of a few fish at Bonneville itself.

Effort for coho is growing, both on the lower Clackamas and on the Sandy River as well. Catches haven’t been great, but enough to keep anglers interested. We’re entering peak season for these rivers, but with no river rises in the forecast, fishing will remain challenging for these timid fish.

Sturgeon fishing is a great alternative with the Portland Harbor and the reach from the I-5 Bridge to Warrior Rock as well as Bonneville itself providing plenty of sport.

Northwest – Buoy 10 remains depressing for coho trollers. We’re waiting on the B-run coho, due to come in, in better numbers by mid-month. They’re certainly not there now, but crabbing remains excellent when tides cooperate.

Tillamook Bay remains slow for Chinook, but the Pro Troll/spinner combo thing has caught on, and anglers are taking fair numbers of Chinook in the Ghost Hole, and at Bay City. The ocean has been oddly slow, but the noticeably clear water may have them spooked. Wild coho catches remain robust, but those fish must be released. Ocean crabbing remains epic, but rough seas this weekend will curb effort and access.

Nehalem Bay is also flush with wild coho, and only a few anglers are consistently catching Chinook. Hatchery coho at the North Fork Nehalem hatchery remain sparse. Wheeler and Nehalem reaches are picking up for Chinook, but this fishery should fade after mid-month.

The Nestucca has slowed and the Salmon River fishery is largely over.

The Siletz remains a fair option, but has slowed from previous weeks, and the Alsea is a bit of a disappointment right now. This fishery should be firing up quite well by now.

Estuary crabbing remains good to excellent in most northern bays, but the current strong tide series is quelling catches. People are also losing their crab pots to swift outgoing tides, especially when the pots are under-weighted. Check the side of the store at Garibaldi Marina if you’ve lost one, I just put one there today. PEOPLE: Don’t under gear your crab pots, use heavier gear, you’ll lose less of it.

As predicted by ODF&W, razor clamming is challenging, but the clams are of good quality.

Southwest – From our friend Pete Heley

Coho salmon season opened last Monday on Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile Lakes. There are not any returning salmon in those lakes yet, but Siltcoos could receive returning salmon at any time since a high tide could get them into the lake’s Siltcoos River outlet and the river’s dam with fish ladder is in tidewater.

It may be interesting the weekend after next when there is a bass tournament on the lake and possibly quite a few salmon anglers. Anglers with 2-rod validations need to remember that those validations are not valid on the three lakes for the rest of the calendar year. They are valid on every other lake, just not the three coho salmon lakes.

Salmon anglers fishing from the bank at Winchester Bay are having fair success casting spinners at the usual spots. Boat anglers are having to work for their salmon with the guides being far more successful than the average salmon angler. The Coos, Coquille and Siuslaw rivers are starting to offer better and more consistent fishing.

An even larger pile perch of three and a half pounds was caught in Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin topping the two “near three pounders” taken last week. Crabbing remains very good along the entire Oregon coast.

Bottomfish reopened on October 1st in waters deeper than 40 fathoms – with some strict conditions and I strongly suggest anglers read the relevant information on the ODFW’s homepage, or call the helpful folks at the Charleston ODFW office. Their phone number is 541-888-5515.

Eastern – From our friend Tim Moran:

Deschutes River – Fall fishing continues to ramp up for rainbows and the dry fly fishing is very good.  Fish caddis, BWO’s and PMD’s and prepare to switch as the hatches go off.  The weather this week is prime so get out  on the “D’ and gitter done!

John Day River – Flows bumped up to 350 CFPS this past week with the rain but the river should fall into great shape by the weekend. October is a great time to get a big bass on the river. Fish streamers or plastic twisters in the morning and switch to top water in the afternoon.  Fly or spin fishing should be great for another couple weeks.

Metolius River –  Fall Drakes, BWO’s, PMD’s and Mahogany Dunns are still the go to dries and the dry fly fishing should be from mid morning through the day.

Snake River – Spent last week hunting and fishing on the Snake.  Steelhead are all catch and release and the guides were reporting fair success even with the small run.  Boats were getting between 2 and 6 fish per trip.  Most guys were side drifting eggs and yarn balls.  The bass fishing was good with fish to 3 pounds for us.  We caught them on chartreuse curly grubs and rooostertails.  I suspect the fishing is always good here until the snow starts to fly!  The catfishing was good too! we caught them on some tuna bellies and worms.  They were delicious!  Authors note..If you haven’t been into Hells Canyon get there before you die!  It’s as stunning as any place I’ve ever been.  During our hunt we encountered, elk, bighorn sheep, black bears, an unlucky mountain lion and two nice bucks!  If you love to fish, hunt hike or just see the scenery from a jet boat the place is truly magnificent!

Tight lines and good luck in all your outdoor endeavors this week!

SW Washington – Most SW Washington tributaries remain challenging for anglers, for both Chinook and coho salmon. The Cowlitz is hatchery fish only, of which there are few.

Other district rivers are low and clear, and holding timid fish.

The Drano Lake fishery is fair, but the mouth of the Klickitat is improving and coho should make a stronger showing by the month’s end.

Coho in the North Fork and Cowlitz won’t show in measureable numbers for at least another week.

There is always more Oregon fishing information delivered earlier on our site, The Guide’s Forecast.  You can also sign-up for our weekly emails here.

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Oregon Fishing Reports for September 29th

Willamette Valley/Metro – Chinook passage at Bonneville is starting to slip, and so is consistency in the below Bonneville troll fishery. Catch rates remain good enough to justify effort however, persistent anglers are still taking 2-fish limits of Chinook with some regularity. Spinners or super-baits trolled behind Pro Trolls is still the go-to option, but wobbler dunkers working lures on anchor are still taking a few fish if strategically set up in a trolling lane. This fishery should remain viable for at least another 10 days, even with the downturn in predicted return rates.

Savvy Sandy River coho salmon anglers had a good week following the season’s first significant rain reports pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920). Spinner casters and bobber and bait fishermen did well from Oxbow to Cedar Creek, but now that the river has receded and is likely to stay at low levels, fish will become timid again, but be concentrated in the deeper holes.

Clackamas River anglers also found fair success following the rain freshet, but conditions have once again become challenging for river anglers. Coho are well distributed to McIver Park, but there are certainly more to come.

Sturgeon fishing often becomes more consistent for lower Willamette anglers and although there is relatively low effort, this can be a high action fishery that gets folks hooked on sturgeon fishing. Smelt or sand shrimp is likely the best options for bait.

Northwest – Coho have once again shown in good numbers in the Buoy 10 fishery. Catches were good early in the week, but have tapered slightly by week’s end. This is supposed to be a transition time from the “A” run fish to the later returning and Washington tributary bound “B” run fish that dominate the mid-October catch at Buoy 10. The best action is taking place above the bridge on the Washington side.

Crabbing on the lower Columbia is excellent, and razor clam digging is slated to reopen on October1st, although results will likely disappoint. Just think quality over quantity.

Tillamook fishing has been slow for Chinook and coho. Many of the hatchery coho have made their way to the Trask River facility, but the North Fork Nehalem has realized a disappointing run to date. Catches in the estuary suggest there are still fair numbers of fish to come. The effort has remained in the lower bay and adjacent ocean waters. Ocean crabbing remains excellent, and bay crabbing is holding up as well.

The Trask got a good shot of hatchery coho and some Chinook, but anglers are finding their best success in the lower reaches, where fish are concentrated in tidewater, but not necessarily biting due to the low tide exchanges.

The Tillamook River certainly has some Chinook in it as well, but again, low tide exchanges is limiting success.

The Salmon River Chinook fishery never went gangbusters, but the Nestucca and Siletz have been putting out impressive numbers given the return to most north coast tributaries. The Alsea is also producing good results, especially for herring trollers fishing near the mouth of the river. By next week, the tidewater fisheries should be producing.

Calm seas have recently inspired tuna chasers to make one last effort for the sliver bullets. One boat running out of Astoria has been having consistent success running 55 miles SW of the Columbia River mouth. The upcoming weather system may once again scatter fish however, but they remain a nice grade for those in pursuit.

No viable deep reef fishery this year, that traditionally started on October 1st, as the quota for lingcod and black rockfish is eaten up at this time. We’ll have to wait for January before we can pursue swimming fish taco’s again.

Southwest – From our friend Pete Heley

The bottomfish reopening, when it happens, will not be a complete reopening. Nearshore waters will remain closed until at least January 1st, when a new year’s quota goes into effect and the offshore waters that do reopen will allow retention of lingcod and some rockfish species, but other rockfish species will remain off limits. Ocean salmon anglers need to know that as of October 1st anglers fishing for salmon or having salmon on board are restricted to waters less than 40 fathoms (240 feet) deep.

Salmon fishing remains fair, but inconsistent for boat anglers fishing the Umpqua River. Fishing success is improving for anglers casting spinners from shore at Half Moon Bay, Osprey Point and near the Gardiner Boat Ramp.

Aaron Abraham, while fishing with sand shrimp for salmon in Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin, landed pile perch weighing 2.70 and 2.69 pounds.

The retention of coho salmon in Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes becomes legal on October 1st. The only stream fishing that will be legal to fish for salmon on the three lakes is the portion of the Siltcoos River from the lake down to the Highway 101 Bridge.

Salmon fishing success is gradually improving on the Coos, Coquille and Siuslaw rivers and the Rogue has been very good with a number of chinooks weighing between 37 and 45 pounds taken in the last ten days.

Crabbing remains very good pretty much anywhere along the Oregon coast and it seems like all but the very largest crabs are full of meat.

Central Coast summer all-depth halibut season is closed and public input is invited on the 2018 seasons.

Southern Oregon Subarea: This area remains open seven days per week until October 31 or the quota is caught. 3,436 pounds remain.

Reminder: with the recent recreational bottomfish closure, no species of bottomfish (rockfish, lingcod, cabezon, etc) except for other flatfish species, may now be retained.

Eastern – Our friend Tim Moran will be deer hunting Eastern Oregon this week instead of reporting on it. Good luck Tim! I’m getting excited myself for some terrestrial time in pursuit of elk this coming season!

SW Washington


Cowlitz River – From the I-5 Bridge downstream: 24 bank rods kept 1 adult Chinook and released 1 jack and 1 adult coho. 8 boats/19 rods kept 1 adult Chinook and released 2 jack and 3 adult Chinook, 1 adult coho, and 1 steelhead. From the I-5 Bridge upstream: 18 bank rods kept 2 jack and 1 adult Chinook and 1 steelhead and released 4 adult Chinook, 1 jack coho, and 3 cutts. No boats were sampled.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 2,580 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, September 25. Water visibility is 14 feet and water temperature is 55.4 degrees F.

Drano Lake – No report on angling success. Effective October 1, anglers may fish for SALMON and STEELHEAD with two poles with a Two-Pole Endorsement and each angler aboard a vessel may deploy SALMON and STEELHEAD angling gear until the daily limit for all anglers aboard has been achieved. Barbed hooks will be allowed October 1 through December 31. The lake will be closed to all fishing from 6 pm Tuesdays to 6 pm Wednesdays in October

Yakima River Fall Salmon Fishery Update Sept 1-17: A total of 909 adult chinook and 211 jacks have moved upstream of the Prosser Diversion since August 1. Fall Chinook counts into the Yakima River have been slow and steady over the past two weeks at ~25 adult Chinook per day. WDFW staff interviewed 195 anglers this past week with 11 salmon observed in the harvest (38 hours per fish). There were an estimated 906 angler trips for salmon in the lower Yakima River this past week with a total of 1,758 angler trips for the season. An estimated 82 adult Chinook have been harvested this season. Fishing should continue to improve over the next few weeks of the season.

Buoy 10 – Some hatchery coho are being caught. Effective October 1, the salmonid daily limit increases to 6 fish of which 2 may be adult salmon or one adult salmon and one hatchery steelhead. Salmon minimum size is 12 inches. Any Chinook, adipose fin clipped or not, may be retained. Release all salmon other than Chinook and hatchery coho.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Lewis downstream – Light effort and catch during the current no Chinook retention through the end of this month. Effective October 1, up to two adult Chinook, fin clipped or not, may be retained.

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Lewis River upstream to Bonneville Dam – Chinook catches were very good, especially earlier last week. Effort in this area is fairly heavy. No creel sampling numbers are currently available.

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An Incredible Opportunity to Wind Back the Clock

By Bob Rees

Following the abrupt closure of Oregon’s nearshore bottomfish fishery will resonate for the next several months since this is hay-making time for most small coastal ports as we transition to winter downtime. It’s critical that charter companies build a winter nest egg, not just for their families, but they also spend a lot of that revenue on boat and gear repairs and running the circuit of trade shows for next year’s clientele. The decision to close bottomfishing is not made lightly, but necessarily, especially on the heels of a detailed black rockfish stock assessment made recently that indicated a downward trend. Black rockfish are the backbone of the ocean sportfishing industry on the Oregon Coast.

I heard today that pending stakeholder input, the fleet may have some access to the deep reef fishery that has become so popular in recent years. This fishery, held outside of 30 fathoms, is only open from October 1st – March 31st, a time frame that doesn’t allow for many fishable days due to weather. This also, is a fishery many have come to depend on, and although it may not be as liberal a season as we’ve historically seen, something is better than nothing for this gem of an opportunity.

Most of us take for granted these abundant populations of rockfish and lingcod, but as many of us know, it wasn’t that long ago when lingcod limits were just one per person and just a few years ago, you could keep 7 black rockfish instead of the current 6. It’s a dynamic fishery to manage, thankfully, we have competent biologists doing it.

Most of the work of deciding who gets how much is done at the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, made up of competent stakeholders and knowledgeable biologists. They are the guardians of this galaxy and dedicate an incredible amount of time to make sure their decisions are sound. The reading assignments alone are enough to blow anyone’s mind.

It’s not the council, the agencies or even the fish stocks that has me worried about the future of this resource however, it’s Congress. In the coming weeks, members of the house will be hearing potential legislation that could indeed roll back the conservation gains we’ve made in recent decades, that have actually allowed us to pursue these fish for our families and communities. What an incredible opportunity to roll back the clock, and sensible legislation that has gotten us to a good spot after much sacrifice by our working waterfronts.

The first piece of semi-sensible legislation is being vetted in draft form. Titled “Strengthening Fishing Communities through Improving Science, Increasing Flexibility, and Modernizing Fisheries Management Act,” it still has some elements that throw up red flags for most stakeholders. Compromising the rebuilding timeline would be one of those problematic areas. But compared to some of the other sand traps out there, such as Representative Don Young’s (Alaska) HR 200, or Representative Garret Graves’ (Louisiana) Modern Fish Act, we at least have a starting point for a conversation.

In short, HR 200 and the Modern Fish Act throw caution to the wind by eliminating Annual Catch Limits (ACL’s) and taking management of some fisheries out of the hands of the federal fisheries managers, who have strict guidelines to adhere to under Magnuson Stevens. Most appalling, these measured roll-backs are largely being driven by some prominent sport groups in the gulf states. Compromising the future of our fisheries for short-term gain is just not how we do it here in Oregon. Just imagine, a sportfishing free-for-all for bottomfish off the Oregon Coast. I think we all know how that would end.

Oregon’s angling community continues to impress me. Even when fishery managers have opened up opportunity for stocks of fish that have historically been compromised, our community has cautiously approached these opportunities with scrutiny, making sure we weren’t compromising the future recovery efforts of the species. We’ve been put on the sidelines many-a-time here in the Northwest, and many of us believe it was for good reason. The fishery is monitored and managed more intensively now than ever before, to minimize those closures and ensure we don’t fall back into draconian regulations that further plummet rural communities into despair.

2 big lings caught outside of the Columbia River

When the Magnuson Stevens Act was first drafted in the 70’s, it was to rebuild depleted stocks of fish, and prevent what was happening in other parts of the world from happening in US waters. Well, mission accomplished, but apparently the Congressmen of the present weren’t paying attention to the lessons we’ve learned from the Congressmen of the past. Our fisheries aren’t in dire peril, but in the face of climate change and an acidifying ocean, small incremental roll backs can have a compounding impact on our fish stocks in the very near future. It’s us as stakeholders that are responsible for taking Congress to task to make sure that doesn’t happen.

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