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Chinook Fishing Takes Off

by Michael Teague
News Register, September 8, 2005

And so it begins. Jaw-dropping numbers are coming in from counters at Bonneville Dam as the chinook are on the move. On September 1, over 12,000 crossed and every day since, between 13,000 and 23,000 have been tallied. Fish counters at The Dalles Dam are seeing about 10,000 a day. Deschutes anglers rejoice.

Despite the numerous chinook cavorting below Bonneville Dam, the bite has been off. Nothing has been working consistently up that high. The Portland to Longview stretch is an entirely different story.

The upriver bright chinook bite is on with wobblers fished on anchor causing the demise of many a fish. Any color has been good as long as it's silver and blue. Fish Alvins, Clancies or Brad's on a 60-inch leaders and droppers in about 50 feet of water. According to the book "How Fish See Colors" by ophthalmologist Ted Takasaki, blue is about the only color which can be distinguished at 50 feet or greater depths.

If the action holds up, this strategy will not allow for napping. Chinook also have been taken on Kwikfish and spinners. Move if the rods aren't seeing action.

The Buoy 10 fishery has slowed although many would say it never really took off. Fish checkers at Ilwaco are seeing only single digits in a day. Above the bridge on the incoming has offered some opportunities but the most successful lower river trips have been across the bar when the wind and wave action allows. Offshore action has been good for coho several miles south of the Columbia River Buoy.

With tuna moving within the 30-mile mark, some offshore trollers have been hopeful for a hookup but the better opportunities are further south.

Nehalem Bay has had good days and bad days without rhyme or reason. The best chance at action will come at first light and/or the turn of the tide. The Necanicum has provided fair to good fishing for fall chinook over the last week.

Last year at this time, anglers were catching chinook in the Trask River thanks to rain at that time. With the dry weather this year, the fall chinook fishing is just starting up in Tillamook Bay with a few taken on trolled spinners in the upper bay. Mild tides over the coming weekend will favor crabbing, however. A decent tidal series to boost fishing prospects won't occur in mid-month.

Halibut fishing over the weekend all-depth opener was very good out of Garibaldi with many fish in the 40- to 50-pound range getting a boat ride back to port.

Crabbing has been fair at Tillamook Bay, excellent in Netarts Bay.

Fall chinook continue to be caught in the lower Siletz and seasonal pressure was on the fish over the Labor Day weekend. Saturday was fair with the action slowing on Sunday. Monday, Labor Day 2005, was the yesterday you should have been here. The Siletz River caught fire with many Kwikfishers off the water mid-morning having limited out on large, chrome salmon.

Halibut fishing has been rewarding out of Newport for flatties running 30 to 50 pounds. Offshore chinook salmon fishing picked up over the weekend with many trollers scoring limits. Boats are taking good numbers of coho, too, with these fast-growing fish in the 10-pound range now. As always, fish shallow for silvers, deeper for chinook. The better fishing has been over 170 to 200 feet of water.

Depoe Bay fishermen have found warmer water and tuna offshore recently. If the fish won't take trolled lures, try casting swimbaits to them.

Yaquina Bay has been kicking out limits of big, hard-shelled Dungeness on ĺ─˛most every type of bait.

Alsea River anglers are scoring fair to good numbers of chinook. Fish are being taken near Silver Bend, Canal Creek and Kozy Kove. Trolling and bobber fishing have both been effective at times.

Coquille River trollers are taking good numbers of chinook and Coos Bay has been fairly productive. One angler, trolling herring just below the Highway 101 Bridge on the Coos, got quite a surprise over the weekend. After a deep battle with what he thought was a husky chinook, he landed a 40 pound halibut. While not unheard-of (a few were taken last year in September at that location), it is certainly unusual.

There's plenty of pressure on the Siuslaw River which has offered fair to good fishing around Cushman. The numbers and action are improving weekly.

Brian Flick of Eugene won the top prize of $500 in the recent Gardiner-Reedsport-Winchester Bay STEP Salmon Derby. The 250 contestants entered an impressive 299 chinook. Everyone was looking for that elusive 50-pounder like the one taken in the 2004 derby, but it was not to be this year.

Scores of chinook are falling to trollers fishing over 150 to 200 feet of water at 35 to 50 foot depths out of Winchester Bay with fish averaging 18 to 20 pounds. Most of the action inside the bay has occurred between markers 22 and 28 with the majority of boats landing a chinook or two. Seals remain highly competitive for hooked salmon. The Umpqua River above Sawyers Rapids is producing chinook now.

Anglers may expect to see some additional flow on the North Umpqua as the ODFW, which normally releases water from Diamond Lake every October, began the release early. As part of the eight feet that will be drawn down for the Diamond Lake Restoration Project, this increased flow will continue through April of 2006. Most years, the ODFW releases only two feet of Diamond Lake water to increase spring chinook spawning habitat in the North Umpqua River.

Anglers fishing the mouth of the Sandy River have hooked into oversized sturgeon a few times recently. This might be a species to target for catch and release for those days when we just can't buy a salmon bite. Scores of boats were seen at this location over the weekend although only a handful managed to land chinook.

Various techniques have produced summer steelhead on the North Santiam. The important thing this time of year is to establish a pattern. Make note of where a fish is hooked and how it was holding. Chances are the next one will be in a similar location. Water flows will be raised from the current 1,000 cfs to 1,500 cfs on September 15 at Niagara. This should only serve to improve fishing.

The smallmouth fishery hasn't turned on yet as it does seasonally on the upper Willamette. When the nights get cool, showers lower the water temp a bit and the shorter daylight hours signal the approach of winter, smallies will start a fall feeding binge. Largemouth in lakes and sloughs exhibit the same behavior. Smallmouth fishing is good below the Falls and into Multnomah Channel.

With water temperatures just above 70 degrees, Hagg Lake is producing good numbers of smallies and largemouth, a very few of which are good sized.

This week, waters planted with state-raised rainbows include Cape Mears, Estacada, Small Fry and Faraday Lakes as well as North Fork Reservoir. Hagg Lake will be stocked with 8,000 trout on September 26. This will be the last planting at Hagg this year as it closes every year on the weekend before Thanksgiving to re-open the first weekend in March.

Michael Teague
Chinook Fishing Takes Off
News Register, September 8, 2005

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