By Larry Coonrod
Lincoln County Dispatch
LINCOLN COUNTY-One of the best coho seasons in decades has charter boat operators and many local business owners smiling. The season for hatchery raised coho opened June 21 with a quota of 80,000 fin clipped salmon. A marked increase from the 10,500-hatchery quota in 2013. When the weather cooperates and provides calm seas, two fish limits have been the norm. “When you start getting limits for 14 customers plus crew, that’s pretty amazing,” says Barbara Powell with Captain’s Reel Deep Sea Fishing on the Newport Bayfront.
Salmon Synonymous with Coast
Hatcheries clip the small adipose fin in front of a salmon smolt’s tail to distinguish it from its wild brethren, which anglers must release unharmed until the non-selective coho season opens Aug. 30. “We’re throwing back 28-30 fish on top of what we are keeping,” Powell said of recent charter trips. Dockside Charters in Depoe Bay skipper Loren Goddard laughingly calls wild coho OFTM fish-as in one fin too many. Bottom fishing for rockfish and lingcod has been the bread and butter fishery for charter companies during the bad salmon years, but this year many customers are opting for salmon instead.“Salmon are synonymous with the coast and ocean fishing,” Goddard says.
Sport Fishing Economic Boost for Other Businesses
Sport fishing’s economic impact spreads beyond the charter fleet. Charter operators say many of their clients stay over at least one night. The Newport Chamber of Commerce estimates each person who stays overnight in Newport spends $137 per day. Newport day-trippers spend about $85 per person. Dylan McEntee of Mo’s Restaurants says how the charter companies are doing is an economic precursor for other Bayfront businesses.
“If they are loaded up for the week or weekend, I know it’s going to be busy, and I have to decide how to schedule my restaurants,” he said. “In years we have peak salmon seasons we see a noticeable difference in customers visiting the coast and coming into restaurants.”