February 19, 2014
The recent rains had the mainstem Coquille River at flood stage over the past weekend. The river levels are dropping and all the rivers in the Coquille Basin should be fishable by the weekend if not sooner. Fishing was very good on the North Fork and South Fork Coquille rivers before last week’s big rains. In the Coquille Basin, from Dec. 1 through April 30, anglers may keep one additional adipose fin-clipped steelhead per day for a total aggregate of 3 adult fish harvested daily.
Until the late 1890’s the mouth of the Coquille River could expand, at any given time, for several miles. Storms, tides, and other conditions allowed the river to empty into the Pacific Ocean as far north as a beach now known as Whiskey Run and as far south as Table Rock. It has been said that ships trying to cross the bar to return to the Port of Bandon, would discover the channel had moved to the place ships had safely crossed on their way out to sea. Because of the dangers the Coquille caused to sailing ships, Captain Judah Parker built a jetty made of bunches of cedar tree branches wrapped in burlap and sunk into the mud. Rocks were then added. The government finally built rock jetty’s to control the flow of the Coquille in the late 1890’s. In 1896 the Coquille River Lighthouse was constructed to guide mariners over the bar at the mouth of the Coquille. The lighthouse was built on a rocky obstacle of the channel called Rackleff Rock. This rock was used as part of the jetty when it was formed. In 1939 the lighthouse was decommissioned, but it still stands today as a tourist attraction. The Coquille River is actually comprised of four rivers that come together; the South Fork, Middle Fork, North Fork and East Fork. The Middle Fork feeds into the South Fork and the East Fork feeds into the North Fork. The North and South Forks come together in Myrtle Point, OR.
The main Coquille River is 36.3 miles long. Its start is in Myrtle Point and runs its course westward through Coquille to Bandon where it empties into the Pacific Ocean. This portion of the Coquille is well fished for its fall Chinook and Coho as well as Sturgeon in the lower part of the river. There is also a nice run of winter Steelhead in this area of the river. There are several places along the river between Coquille and Bandon for launching boats and fishing from the bank. Many fishermen also troll the bar in the fall for the salmon.
The largest tributary of the Coquille River, the South Fork is 62.8 miles in length. It begins as a small stream 2.5 miles northwest of Mount Bolivar in the Siskiyou National Forest. The South fork drains roughly 600 square miles of mountains and grows in size on its southwestern journey to the Pacific Ocean from its many tributaries. Just past the small town of Broadbent, the South Fork merges with the Middle Fork Coquille. Just a few more miles downstream and the South and North Forks come together to form the Coquille River. The South Fork of the Coquille has an excellent winter steelhead run lasting from December through March with its peak steelhead run being in January. Some also fish for fall Chinook on this river.
The North Fork of the Coquille River is 53.3 miles long and begins on the east slope of Coos Mountain. The river begins its journey on a northern flow, eventually turning to the west and then south to meet with the South Fork in Myrtle Point. The river is formed from the confluence of several gulches and the water draining from the slopes. The East Fork Coquille begins in eastern Coos County and is a tributary of the North Fork. It is 33.8 miles in length and flows in a mostly westward pattern to join with the North Fork. The North Fork not only provides salmon and steelhead fishing, but a large variety of other fish such as brown trout, largemouth bass and yellow bass.
TRAILS & WATERFALLS
The Coquille Falls consists of two segmented tiers. A drop of 45 feet over a wide ledge in three block-type waterfalls forms the upper tier. The lower tier of the falls is a 65 foot drop in a pair of concaved horsetail type falls. During the summer months the falls are the source of some beautiful photographs and if the water is low enough, the hillside to the right of the falls can be climbed to reach the upper tier of the falls. In the winter these falls are very impressive as the bottom portion merges into one giant wall of frothing water. At the base of the falls is another small water fall created by Drowned Out Creek and its flow into the Coquille.