Oregon News

Spearfishing and bait use for smallmouth bass allowed on Coquille River system

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Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife



Gary Vonderohe, 541-857-2392, [email protected]

Meghan Dugan, 541-315-6629, [email protected]

CHARLESTON, Ore – Spearfishing for bass is allowed on the Coquille River through Oct. 31. Spears, spear guns and angling with bait to take smallmouth bass is allowed, and there are no harvest size or limits.

The rule applies to the mainstem Coquille River and the East, Middle, North, and South forks. In the South Fork Coquille, spearfishing and bait use are allowed from the mouth to the U.S. Forest Service boundary near Powers.

With a declining population of wild fall Chinook salmon, these rules are meant to give anglers another opportunity to remove smallmouth bass from the Coquille River system. Smallmouth bass preying on migrating wild juvenile fall Chinook salmon are the main reason for that population’s decline.

“In the recent past, our Coquille wild fall Chinook did suffer from poor ocean conditions, but smallmouth bass continue to really impact these fish,” said Gary Vonderohe, ODFW fish biologist. “The bass are the primary reason the Chinook population hasn’t improved over the last six years. “

Vonderohe said despite the electroshocking bass removal ODFW has done with the Coquille Indian Tribe and other partners over the last four years, bass continue to thrive.

The river system is perfect for smallmouth bass with its warmer waters and low flows, and juvenile fall Chinook salmon are vulnerable to them. Bass also eat Pacific lamprey which are culturally important to Pacific Northwest tribes. Native juvenile coho salmon and steelhead, sculpin, dace, and native crayfish are also preyed upon by the bass.

Since discovery of illegally introduced smallmouth bass in the Coquille River, these invasive fish expanded their range. The bass are present up to the Forest Service boundary above Powers in the South Fork, up to Laverne Park in the North Fork, and up to Sandy Creek in the Middle Fork.

Anglers can use access maps to the South Fork Coquille and lower Coquille and a map of smallmouth bass distribution to target these fish. ODFW has a helpful series of videos on spearfishing the Coquille River, including how to build your own fishing spear and how to filet a smallmouth bass.

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