First half of Chetco bubble fishery was average

    BROOKINGS — Despite winds and choppy seas making for shortened fishing days, anglers trolling the near-shore waters during last weekend's first half of the Chetco River bubble fishery fared about average in what amounts to the only ocean chinook season of 2017 off the Southern Oregon coast.

    Creel-checkers at the Port of Brookings-Harbor estimated 1,009 angler-trips over the first two days of the four-day fishery, and they kept an estimated 193 chinook salmon while releasing 85 others, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

    That pencils out to one chinook headed home in a cooler for every five anglers. Add in the released fish, and the success rate jumps to slightly more than a fish per every four anglers.

    "It was pretty windy out there," says Steve Mazur, an ODFW fish biologist in Gold Beach. "People got blown off the water, so they didn't get to run around as much as they'd have liked to."

    The season resumes Saturday and concludes Sunday. The limit remains one chinook per day, with a 28-inch minimum.

    Named because the open fishing waters are shaped like a bubble across the Chetco River mouth, the bubble fishery is a popular near-shore season for ocean anglers targeting Chetco-bound chinook. It was formed as a way to expand sport-angling opportunities on these fish outside of the in-river season.

    Anglers fish close to shore, skipping large anchovies or herring along the sand off Sporthaven Beach, often while using banana sinkers instead of downriggers that are popular in deeper water.

    It is this year's only ocean season for salmon here because crashes in the chinook stocks bound for California's Klamath River triggered sport and commercial closures in the ocean this year, despite a decent forecast for the Chetco and an above-average chinook forecast for those bound to the Rogue River this fall.

    Because chinook bound for various rivers in Southern Oregon and Northern California commingle in the ocean, federal fish managers set seasons to protect the weakest of the stocks. That's why the Chetco bubble fishery's size limit is 28 inches, because most of the Klamath-bound fish near the Oregon/California border are shorter than that, records show.

    Crater Lake Ski Patrol seeks volunteers

    Crater Lake National Park's volunteer ski patrol is looking for new members for the upcoming winter season.

    Volunteers help National Park Service staff patrol 182,700 acres within the park, provide visitor contact and information, maintain and mark ski trails, and conduct preventative search-and-rescue operations.

    Members of the team also assist in emergencies, including search and rescue, as well as medical incidents, while maintaining ski patrol equipment.

    Patrol members include cross-country skiers, alpine and telemark skiers, as well as showshoers.

    The group's first get-together for the season at the park is Nov. 4-5.

    For more information, visit the patrol's website at and click on "Joining."

    Applications can be mailed to Ski Patrol Director, P.O. Box 7, Crater Lake, OR, 97604.

    — Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or Follow him on Twitter at

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