Tough bite for Cove salmon anglers

FNC 4_7 photo

Bend Oregon resident Kiet Pham holds a pair of Chinook salmon that he landed from his kayak on Sunday while fishing out of Shelter Cove. It was a tough bite for most, but scores should start to improve as anglers hone in on the schools of salmon and more boats hit the water. Photo courtesy of Eric Kaai

The recreational salmon opener at Shelter Cove last weekend turned out just as predicted. There were some salmon caught, but it was far from red hot. The best report came from Shelter Cove charter captain Jared Morris of C’Mon Sportfishing, who boated six keeper salmon for his five passengers. Overall the bite has been slow according to Jake Mitchell of Sea Hawk Sportfishing, who stated, “that anglers who were willing to put in a full day have been averaging about a fish per rod. The kayakers were out in force as well over the weekend and they landed a handful of salmon. The bright spot was definitely the weather as bright sunshine and calm seas persisted throughout the weekend.

Weekend marine forecast
The ocean forecast is looking good through Sunday at Shelter Cove, and should be plenty fishable. Friday’s forecast is calling for winds up to 5 knots with west waves 7 feet at 14 seconds. Saturday is looking similar, with winds to 10 knots and west waves 7 feet at 11 seconds. More of the same is forecasted for Sunday, with winds coming out of the northwest at 10 knots. Waves will be 6 feet at 10 seconds. These conditions can and will change. For an up-to-date forecast, visit

The Beaches
When the ocean’s been calm, the redtail perch action has been excellent along the beaches. There are some spots that are typically better than others, but you can catch them just about anywhere. Conditions are forecasted to be marginal the next few days, with swells in the 5 to 6-foot range.

The year’s first set of minus tides are currently in effect, but according to the California Department of Public Health, local razor clams are still off limits due to persistent dangerous levels of domoic acid.

Proposals on the table for Oregon’s ocean bubble fishery
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is asking recreational and commercial anglers for their input on proposed 2016 regulations for ocean sport and commercial terminal area (bubble) fisheries on the South Coast. The Commission will consider these proposals at their April 22 meeting in Bandon. The 2016 Chinook salmon forecasts are generally good with the exception of southern stocks. The Rogue and Klamath forecasts are much poorer than recent years, and the Chetco forecast is below average. The 2016 proposed ocean terminal area fisheries regulations:

Elk River Ocean Terminal Area Fishery:

The 2016 forecasts for Elk River and Sixes River Chinook salmon are similar to recent years, so ODFW is proposing a repeat of last year’s regulations for 2016:

Sport fishery – November 1 – 30 with a bag limit of two Chinook per day, but no more than one wild Chinook per day and ten per season.

Commercial fishery – October 15 – November 30 with a landing and possession limit of 20 Chinook per day and a minimum size of 26 inches.

Chetco River Ocean Terminal Area Fishery

The 2016 forecasts for Chetco River and Winchuck River Chinook salmon are expected to be reduced from recent years. As a result, staff is proposing a shortened season for the sport fishery and reduced quota and landing limits for the commercial fishery compared to last year:

Commercial fishery – October 10 – 31 with 300 fish quota and five fish per day landing limit.

Sport fishery – The Commission will consider two options:

Option 1: October 1 – 3 and 8 – 9, two Chinook per day, but no more than one wild per day.

Option 2: October 4 – 8, two Chinook per day, but no more than one wild per day.

Option 1 encompasses two full weekends and is likely to result in higher harvest due to increased effort on weekend days. Option 2 includes only one weekend day and likely would result in less effort and a more conservative harvest.

Sport and commercial anglers can email their input to Todd Confer, District Fisheries Biologist in Gold Beach, by April 20 or testify at the Commission meeting on April 22 at the Bandon Conference & Community Center, 1200 11th Street SW.

Sacramento River closure in effect as of April 1
A temporary emergency regulation closing all fishing within 5.5 miles of spawning habitat on the Upper Sacramento River began on April 1 and will remain in effect through July 31, 2016. The temporary emergency regulation closes all fishing on the 5.5 mile stretch of the Sacramento River from the Highway 44 Bridge where it crosses the Sacramento River upstream to Keswick Dam. The area is currently closed to salmon fishing, but was open to trout fishing. The temporary closure will protect critical spawning habitat and eliminate any incidental stress or hooking mortality of winter-run Chinook salmon by anglers.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife scientists believe the additional protection provided in the emergency river closure and potential ocean fishing restrictions will help avoid a third year of substantial winter-run Chinook salmon loss.

Historically, winter-run Chinook spawned in the upper reaches of Sacramento River tributaries, including the McCloud, Pit, and Little Sacramento rivers. Shasta and Keswick dams now block access to the historic spawning areas.

For more information, visit

The Rivers:

Main Stem Eel
The main stem Eel is coming around and should be in good shape by the weekend reports Paul Grundman of Rio Dell’s Grundmans Sporting Goods. “If we don’t get much rain, it should be fishable by the weekend. It’s definitely starting to turn, and right now it’s more green than brown, but still a little on the big side,” Grundman added. As of Wednesday morning, the Eel was flowing at just under 5,500 cfs.

Smith River
The Smith is clearing, but there are plenty of downers around reports guide Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. “The fishing is still really good, we’ve been landing four to five downers per trip,” Coopman said.

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