Fall is in the air but tuna are still being caught when the weather lets us get out. That being said it seems most folks have enough tuna fishing, eating, canning, vacuum sealing and pretty much anything to do with tuna for now.
Rockfish has been good lately, with lingcod picking up, and folks have been bringing in some really nice halibut as of late. Tom Goodman and two other gentlemen brought in six really nice ones last week and it was the first boat that I had personally seen fully limited out since the daily bag limit temporarily switched to two per day.
On the salmon front, the bay and river have been hit or miss but some of our regular customers have been doing fantastic. Our friend and customer Brad Lane pulled in a beautiful 23 pound fish to take second place in the local Coos Basin Salmon Derby.
If you want to see what he has regularly been catching keepers, swing by and we’ll share his secrets (Don’t hate us Brad!).
Crabbing remains slow, but The Umpqua Angler Bryan Gill has been pulling in pots full for his customers lately. Not sure how he’s doing it but it might be worth a trip out with him.
Surfperch fishing remains hit or miss with some good days and some bad days, you know, like fishing is supposed to be.
A lot of folks have been using sandshrimp with some success lately and that has created a problem for us here at Basin Tackle. Many perch, salmon and steelhead fishermen like to use sandshrimp for their targeted species but a steady supply has not always been available.
Some of the folks that harvest them commercially for sale to shops like ours are also commercial fishermen or have other endeavors that sometime interrupt the supply chain of this particular bait. We had to figure out a fix for this situation and that’s exactly what we did.
We designed a pretty redneck cooling and filtration system for these bay bugs and, when we had it operational, we headed over to the ODFW with paperwork and what seems like a lot of checks in hand.
A few days later, we were bonafide official state of Oregon licensed commercial bait harvesters and dealers!
This now means we should always have fresh, crisp, chilled to 47 degree sandshrimp for y’all to use how you see fit. I mean, we do sell it for bait but whatever y’all decide to do with it after you leave the store is up to you. But just know that the word “shrimp” in its name is a stretch — these things do not resemble the eating shrimp we know and love.
In fact, one of the most often asked question about these creatures that we hear is “can I eat them?” We usually reply by saying “yes you can but you can also eat things like cockroaches, so it’s your call.” This usually ends the conversation immediately.
These white, pink and yellow colored mudbugs are more correctly called bay ghost shrimp and are little more than semitransparent little bags of guts and claws that grow to about 4 inches in length. I’ve studied them long and hard and have never seen anything on them that I would classify as “meat.”
One claw is almost always substantially larger than the other. This is found to be more prevalent in males, with some samples having the larger claw make up 25% of their overall mass. I’ve checked, there’s no meat in the big claw either.
Sandshrimp prefer a habitat of sandy beach or shoreline where they can happily live in their system of underground tunnels that they can dig down to about 30 inches. This is really a maximum depth for them as most of these creatures will live about a foot below the surface, making them easy targets for anyone with a shrimp gun and a bucket.
A shellfish license is the only legal requirement to harvest sandshrimp and there is no limit to how many you can take. That being said, it would make sense not to take more than we need as they are an important part of the environment whose main job is to eat rotting organic material.
As the sandshrimp tunnel to their hearts content they feed off the organic matter they find and the leftovers often wash out of the burrows to be consumed by other small invertebrates and even filtered and consumed by clams. This benefit to other animals is yet another reason to take only what we need.
In early spring or summer, you will come across many female sandshrimp laden with eggs on her underside. Thousands of tiny round balls of soon to be sandshrimp will hatch sometime in the summer and will become free floating planktonic organisms until they become larval and settle in the mud and sand where they will live out their lives.
Whether you are pumping out your own sandshrimp or taking the easy way out and buying them from us, I hope to see you out there.