“C & C Fish Factory”
My college statistics teacher, on the first day of class, told me this: “There are lies, there are damn lies and then there are statistics…in that order.” We can make numbers speak to whatever agenda we are trying to push. We have all seen and experienced this first hand, especially within politics. As fisherman, we have even become critics of every statistical number that is presented to us regarding salmon returns. However, the run predictions for the Coquille and Coos systems have been accurate the past few years and are pegged to be one of the strongest returns in decades.
Here is how they each shake down:
With an expected return of nearly 25,000 Chinook and a native Coho retention quota of 1,200 fish this season, Coos Bay on upstream will be an incredible fishery in October. The influx began a few weeks ago but the key for this month is to focus on rainfall in the drainage. As each weather system moves through, the salmon will move further up in the drainage and fresh fish from the ocean will enter Coos Bay.
Bank Anglers should keep their focus on three locations:
1) The Jetties at the mouth of Coos Bay are where you should focus your attention for Chinook and especially Coho at the beginning of this month. In 2009, a 1,000 native Coho fishery was allowed and it lasted a mere 18 days because of the incredible catch rate at this location! Casting spinners of all kinds in sizes 5, 6 and 7 work well as does herring under a slip bobber. This choke point concentrates the fish and allows the angler the opportunity to get a presentation in front of more fish, increasing the odds for a hook up! The tide changes at high and low slack are the best times to target these from the Jetty.
2) The mouth of Daniels Creek will be one of the most popular and productive spots to target salmon throughout the month of October. Spinners are used but bait seems to be king in this area. Most anglers will be using eggs but don’t be afraid to mix it up with Sandshrimp or Tuna bellies. Try using a smaller sized bait too when the fishing pressure is high. If your presentation is different from the same baits these fish are seeing every cast, the probability of you hooking up will increase dramatically!
3) The most convenient spot to target these fall fish is right in Downtown Coos Bay fishing from the Boardwalk! A culvert from Blossom Gulch runs under the city for about a half mile and enters the bay under the Boardwalk. At the mouth of this culvert is where children from the local schools feed and acclimate Salmon smolts before they are released into the ocean. When these fish return to the Bay, they will slow down and hold along the boardwalk making for a great fishery! This is a perfect place to bring the family to fish and enjoy the day at the coast. The Boardwalk is also a wonderful spot for those that are physically less capable of fishing many other areas. Casting spinners and bait are the key to success at this location. Using a slip bobber with eggs and/or sandshrimp is not only the simplest technique, but often the most consistent. Don’t feel obligated to always have your bait near the bottom as these fish will suspend up near the high slack tide.
The two primary boat ramps for fishing Coos Bay in October are the Myrtle Tree and Daniels Creek ramps. Both of these locations will offer fantastic fishing opportunities for those who bring their boats. This is a fairly small system and many anglers are able to use small 12-18’ long boats with ease.
Trolling whole or cut plug herring works very well in these areas but don’t be afraid to use Cascade spinners in sizes 6 and 7. Painted blades always seem to produce better this time of year so focus upon your rainbow and “dot” color patterns in the usual fishy colors. When trolling, look for depth breaks and ledges along the shore that the fish will follow as they move their way upriver.
The majority of boat anglers will either be tied up or anchored fishing bobber and bait around these two ramps. This type of fishing is most productive an hour on either side of the tide changes. Utilize your depth finder to uncover holes and slots where the fish will hold and focus your attention on these locations.
The Coos System is open now for Chinook through December 31st. Native Coho may be kept now through November 30th or until the 1,200 fish quota has been met with anglers being allowed to keep 1 native Coho per day and a maximum of 5 per year. The upstream limits for targeting these fish are at the confluence of the East and West Millicoma as well as at Dellwood on the South Coos at the gated private Weyerhauser property line.
A much smaller and narrower system 30 minutes to the South of Coos Bay lives the Coquille River. This often overlooked Fall fishery demands attention this year. With an expected return of 32,000 Wild Chinook and an untold number of hatchery fish, this is the strongest return since the 1950’s and about four times higher than normal years! The Coquille will also be open to retention of 825 native Coho this season. Here is how to get in on the action:
The Coquille has 40 miles of fishable tidewater so the options are limitless. However, earlier in the month, these fish will congregate from Bullards Beach State Park to Rocky Point 5 miles upstream from the HWY 101 Bridge. As the rains begin to fall, the fish will move upstream between the city of Coquille and Myrtle Point.
Bank access is best at the parks and boat ramps with some excellent fishing to be had. Bank anglers, like those on the Coos, typically focus upon bait under a bobber and casting spinners. This is a low flow river which makes these two presentations deadly. Bring several different flavors of eggs. These fall fish can become finicky and their tastes can alter with each change in the tide!
Boat anglers will have access to much more of the Coquille but there really is no specific area where the majority of the fish are caught. Ramps include Bullards Beach State Park, Rocky Point and the Coquille city boat ramp among others. The fish do absolutely slow down around Rocky Point but rainfall can easily spread these salmon out. If the water is high, fish high in the system. If we have a substantial amount of rainfall, you will find bright fish all the way upstream in the city of Coquille and Myrtle Point!
Herring is the primary bait trolled around Rocky Point on downstream with Spinners being a close second. As you move upriver, trolling or casting spinners in the same colors as used on the Coos will become more effective. For the most part, the locals will be anchored or tied up along the banks casting bobber and bait. Again, focus on ledges and depth breaks to find concentrated fish whether you are trolling or casting hardware and bait.
The Coos System is open now for Chinook through December 31st. Native Coho may be kept now through November 30th or until the 1,200 fish quota has been met with anglers being allowed to keep 1 native Coho per day and a maximum of 5 per year. The upstream limit for targeting salmon on the Coquille is at the HWY 42s Bridge.
With the North Coast expecting lower than average returns again this year, no longer is it a short hour long drive for the Portland Metro area angler. And, with gas prices, many may shy away from these fisheries. However, four hours from the valley, the Central Oregon coast is having an incredible year of Fall Salmon fishing. Although there are several rivers to consider, your focus should be solely on the Coquille and Coos systems.
For up to date information and fishing reports, contact the ODFW office in Charleston: (541) 888-5515. They are always a great source for accurate fishing information and catch rates on the Coquille and Coos river systems.