Howdy everyone! First off, I want to apologize for not being here last week. I’m not sure what I had, but I was dizzy and wanted to throw up, which was compounded greatly whenever I would read anything. And seeing as how I kind of have to read everything I write, it just wasn’t gonna happen.
Let’s get the fishing report out of the way before we talk about this week’s topic.
Just before the winds started blowing unabated, the tuna were on. For three days we saw numbers from the teens all the way into the fifties and sixties. I may be imagining it, but I’m pretty sure every year kind of plays out like this — the bite starts hot and heavy for a little bit, then the winds start and keep us off the water for awhile. We can’t get a good surface thermal image of the sea right now, so it’s anyone’s guess as to where those fish will be when it eventually calms back down.
Also prior to the winds blowing, rockfish was spotty but we were seeing a gradual increase in quantity and quality of lingcod.
The last halibut opener days were slower than we have seen, and that Saturday was pretty much the start of the terrible winds. The folks that got out brought in a few halibut, but they paid greatly with a long miserable boat ride back to port if they hung out there too long.
The real success stories are those that were halibut fishing out of Bandon, caught their fish and then headed west to the tuna grounds to score a coveted “Halbicore” day. This is when you catch halibut and albacore tuna on the same trip and grants you the right to strut around the marina like a rock star. Sometimes you even get groupies. But, like, the groupies are usually other fishermen so it’s more creepy than cool.
Surfperch fishing is a little slower as of late, and the run in Winchester Bay is hit or miss. It’s kind of a repeat of last year, where it’s good for a day and then not good for a couple days. Fish make their own schedules, I guess.
Crabbing is slowly picking up, which is par for this time of year. We even had several limits caught in the bay the beginning of this week.
Tenmile Lake has been on fire lately in terms of bass action, and I’m not sure if I’ve just been in the right place at the right time, but lately I can’t keep from catching fish out there. I’m sure now that I’ve said that the hot streak is over for me.
Smallmouth on the Coquille has been a little slow for my liking. I’m seeing a lot of Coho smolts, baitfish and fly hatches, so it seems the bass have a lot to feed on for now. I usually do best out there from mid-July to the beginning of September.
Smallmouth on the Umpqua seems pretty hot by most of the reports I’m getting, but my one trip up there this year to specifically target them wasn’t the greatest; maybe thirty at best. That may sound great, but for the Umpqua that really is a slow day, and most of what I caught were pretty small.
With my brief hiatus I have come up with a few topics to discuss. However (there’s that dreaded “however” I always fear in meetings and such) we had something happen in our bay that I think needs to be discussed for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, with so much real or perceived negativity in the media these days I want to talk about something good, and secondly this may be a learning lesson for some of us.
As we mentioned earlier, it has been windy lately, nasty windy, and as such we have not seen many people on the water. This past Saturday there were perhaps a half dozen boats in our bay, and a late morning disaster struck one of them.
A small personal watercraft was crabbing in the bay with four people on board when, to the best of our understanding, the crab rope got wrapped up in the propeller. As this happened, the back of the boat was pulled down some and the men on board rushed to the back to fix the situation. This sudden shift in weight caused the stern to dip even further down.
This entire situation only took an instant, and as fate would see fit this was the exact same moment a swell hit the vessel. All four men found themselves in the water. Their boat was upside down, at least one member of the party couldn’t swim, the water was a life snatching 55 degrees and not a soul on board was wearing a life vest.
Gasping and adrift in the cold saltwater, there were heroes nearby that day that saw what happened. An ordinary family, probably not too different than yours or mine, that without a moment’s hesitation answered the call to help their fellow man. These heroes steamed towards the capsized vessel and rendered aid with whatever they could.
Using a dock hose (garden hose used to rinse off their boat) as a literal lifeline, they brought some of the shocked and freezing boaters to their own vessel as they hailed the Coast Guard on their VHF radio. They called for aid and then would run back to the bow of the boat in tight quarters and hold the boaters as tight as they could. It was difficult to pull them aboard, so they tried to just hold them tight. Back to the radio for another distress call and then back to the bow over and over again.
Minutes felt like hours and as fast as everything was happening, they didn’t even wait to hear a reply from the red-and-white angels called the Coast Guard. On every trip to the radio and back adrenaline was surging and they were unaware of the bruises and cuts they were getting on their legs. It didn’t matter even if they were aware, they wouldn’t have stopped.
The Coast Guard was listening, as they always do, day and night, and as this family was saving complete strangers and putting their own safety at risk, a forty-seven foot rescue boat and dolphin helicopter were scrambling to the scene. Flashes of red and white dry suits and heavy, fast footfalls across the pavement followed by the roar of diesel engines only took moments to activate. The cavalry was on the way. Three men pulled on deck, and a rescue diver deployed for the fourth; in minutes that felt like days it was all over and the rotor wash from the dolphin and the waves and ripples from the boats went away as fast as they came.
All four of these jettisoned gentlemen are alive and well due to fast action from a family out for the weekend and the men and women of the United States Coast Guard. Oh, if you run across the Huuki family, pat ‘em on the back or buy them lunch; they’re the heroes of this story.