Fall chinook salmon are in the main Umpqua River, and a consistent catch is being reported.
Guide Gary Lewis of Roseburg said anglers in his boat have been catching two to three fish a day. Bank fisherman Clayton Hunt was thrilled after reeling in an 18-pound fish a couple of weeks ago. Waino Holtti of Winston battled and landed a 30-pound salmon three weeks ago.
“The run was forecasted to be between average and above average, and we are seeing that,” said Laura Jackson, the district fisheries biologist in the Roseburg office of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “There are good numbers of fish in the lower river and we’re already seeing a good number caught.”
Lewis said the fishing “has been good; it’s been real good.”
The guide has been taking clients out for fall chinook since Sept. 1. The limit is two fish a day per angler. He said the average size of fish reeled into his boat has been about 15 pounds.
Many guides have been concentrating on the stretch of the Umpqua River from Cleveland Rapids down to Osprey Boat Ramp.
“The bite seems to be best in the morning until about midmorning,” Lewis said. “We’re catching them on everything, from bounce-backing bait, bait under bobbers, trolling Kwikfish, casting and reeling plugs, just about every method possible.”
Holtti has been fishing the Umpqua River system for the past 20 years. This year he’s been fishing for fall chinook from the shoreline along River Forks Park since early September. The park’s bank has been drawing four to 20 anglers each morning.
“The fish seem to be spread out a little bit, but you could probably catch fish every day if you were down here,” said Holtti, who caught four chinook and several jacks (younger salmon) in the first three weeks of September. “From the rumors I’ve heard, there’s still a lot of fish in the lower river clear down to Reedsport. Some rain would help. It would bring more fish upriver.”
Hunt and Bob Tjomsland were fishing a deep chute of water from the rocky shore a few miles downriver from River Forks when Hunt hooked the 18-pound chinook. It took him about 10 minutes to reel the fish in close enough for Tjomsland to net it.
Two weeks earlier, Tjomsland was the fortunate fisherman, hooking a 35-pound fish.
“It’s been a good season, but streaky, for the bank anglers anyway,” Tjomsland said.
“I think this is a wonderful time of the year,” he added. “When I go out to the river, I feel really confident of catching a salmon off the bank. I like the bank fishing, the simplicity of it.”
The anglers report the bite has been best early in the morning and then again in the evening.
“I’m excited to see good numbers of fish in the river,” Jackson said. “Hopefully we don’t have too much of a droughty fall. We need some rain to keep the river cool, to keep the fish moving, to keep them inspired.”
The coho (also known as silvers) are beginning to show up in the Umpqua, too. Jackson said that fishery is expected to be strong. Some silvers have been caught, including fin-clipped hatchery fish.
Anglers are reminded that the North Umpqua River was closed to chinook fishing on Aug. 1 to protect the fish during its spawning season. If a chinook is caught, it must be released back into the river. Anglers can continue to fish the North river for steelhead.
The South Umpqua River was closed to all fishing Sept. 15, again to protect spawning fish. That river will reopen to fishing for winter steelhead Dec. 1.
• News-Review reporter Craig Reed can be reached by calling 541-957-4210 or by email at email@example.com.