357.9 Chetco River Estuary
Chetco River Estuary is one of Oregon ’s smallest bays. Chetco Point shelters the entrance to the Chetco River Estuary making Chetco Bay one of the safest bars to cross on the coast.
The following underlined areas describe some of the dangerous tidal conditions affecting safe boating in the Chetco River Estuary as listed on the Web Page for Oregon State Marine Board at Boating Oregon.com. and scroll down to Publcations Library/forms and click on Chetco River Estuary.
West jetty rock area. This area is dangerous because of many rocks and shoaling. At high tide the rocks are covered by water and the area appears navigable but is extremely dangerous. Avoid this area at all times.
Jetty and shoal areas. These areas are extremely dangerous at all times because of submerged rocks and breakers. Two rocks in this area may be seen at low tide. Avoid this area at all times.
The range marker consists of a red rectangular shape with a black vertical stripe mounted on a skeleton tower. By steering a course that keeps the two range markers in line, you will remain within the channel. Call the Chetco River Coast Guard Station at 541-469-4571 for the current ocean conditions and extended forecast at the bar if you are planning to boat in the Chetco River Estuary.
The emphasis in the Chetco River Estuary is on Chinook salmon fishing. Fishing for Chinook salmon outside of the Chetco River Estuary is outstanding during the ocean salmon season. On calm days troll for salmon outside the jetty jaws to the whistle buoy located one mile from the harbor entrance. The 1997 saw 5100 Chinook salmon landed before the ocean salmon season closed in early September.
The ODFW sponsors the Chetco River terminal fishery in the ocean extending 3 nautical miles seaward between Twin Rocks and the Oregon/California for Chinook salmon. The terminal fishery is open for one week during the month of October and yielded 715 Chinook salmon during the 1997 season. The fishing for rockfish is excellent in Chetco Cove, Chetco Point, Macklyn Cove and Zwagg Island or on the inshore reefs for most of the year weather permitting.
Chinook salmon return to the Chetco River Estuary from September through October into December usually peaking in last week of October. A large number of the 1805 fish that are caught each year are five old fish that weigh between 30 and 40 pounds. The tidal reach of the Chetco River Estuary is only two and a half miles long. The Chinook move into and out of the bay with the tide. The best fishing for newly arriving fall Chinook salmon occurs in the lower bay during the incoming tide of the major tidal exchange of spring tides or neap tides especially when the incoming tide coincides with sunrise or sunset. The next most productive fishing period occurs at sunrise or sunset during the incoming tide of the minor tidal exchange in the daily tidal cycle. Daybreak is that magical time of day when Chinook salmon bite the best. Be sure to have the bait in the water one half hour before sunrise. Fishing is most productive from ½ hour before sunrise to midmorning and from late afternoon until ½ hour after sunset.
Early in the run trolling a plug cut herring with the incoming tide through high slack tide or with the outgoing tide from the head of tidewater seaward along the south jetty is the most productive method to catch early returning fall Chinook salmon. As the number of returning Chinook salmon increase, trolling spinners in the upper bay from the Hwy 101 Bridge to the head of tidewater are an effective alternative. The most effective spinner is colored 50/50 chartreuse and brass blade, a hammered gold back and the front painted with 50/50 green and chartreuse spinner blade or a rainbow colored blade with a green tip. Returning Chinook salmon hold in the Morris Hole and at Tide Rock at the head of tidewater before continuing upstream. Fish for them using the Rogue Bait Rig and anchovy combination or SpinNGlos sweetened with salmon eggs. Bobber fishing at the Morris Hole with sand shrimp and/or salmon eggs in is an effective option that is a favorite of local anglers.
Pileperch, striped seaperch, redtail surfperch, and walleye surfperch enter the bay in late spring. At best the fishing is fair to good from late spring through fall depending on the amount fresh water entering the bay. Fish for redtail surfperch along the south jetty and for the other perch species in the jetty channel and among the structure associated with the marina.
White sturgeon occasionally enter the Chetco River Estuary and the sturgeon that are caught are caught by anglers fishing for salmon.
Sand Sole enter the bay in small numbers in May.
South jetty of the Chetco River Estuary offer the angler a full service RV park at the Beach Front RV Park, boat launching, restrooms and picnic tables. Access ramps from the parking area to the beach make Harbor Beach the most user accessible beach on the Oregon Coast. The fishing for perch from the beach or the jetty is good.
Chetco River Estuary boat launches are located on the south shore at the Port of Brookings.
358.0 Harbor Beach and the south jetty of the Chetco River Estuary offer the angler a full service RV park at the Beach Front RV Park, boat launching, restrooms and picnic tables. Access ramps from the parking area to the beach make Harbor Beach the most user accessible beach on the Oregon Coast. The fishing for perch from the beach or the jetty is good.
Chinook numbers are building in the estuary and anglers fishing the incoming tide have been faring the best. The Chetco River ocean terminal fishery begins Oct. 1. Anglers fishing the Chetco should check the regulations before heading out as there are different regulations between the ocean and river.
Even though the mainstem is closed upstream of river mile 2.2, anglers can still fish the tributaries flowing into the Chetco River for some excellent cutthroat fishing.
Crabbing at the Port of Brookings Harbor has a public fishing and crabbing dock. Temporary regulations take effect Aug. 1, 2012 on the Chetco River. Crabbing is dependent on the freshwater runoff entering the small estuary. Crabbing improves from summer to early fall from the Highway 101 Bridge seaward until the arrival of fall rains.
Clam Digging: The bay clams common to Oregon's Bay are not present in Brookings Harbor in large enough numbers to be of interest to recreational clam diggers.
Internet links of interest:
Click on 2012 to view the NOAA tidal projections for your area of interest.
Click HERE for the 10 day weather forecast at Brookings.
Click HERE to see the navigation hazards for crossing the bar of the Chetco River.
Click HERE to see the navigational hazards for the Rogue River Estuary and
Click on the Northwest River Levels to view the height of the river level for the Chetco River.
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