Pete Heley Outdoors 7/18/2012

Sadly, there has been no rebound in the Lower Umpqua River pinkfin run. Although a few perch are still being caught, the fishing success is much, much better along area beaches where some anglers have recently caught near limits.

However, the good news is that crabbing in the lower Umpqua River, at least for boat crabbers, has improved greatly. In fact, two crabbers using their allotted six crab traps caught a limit last Saturday morning on their first pull after letting their traps sit for only an hour. While the most consistent crabbing, if doable, is still in the ocean, boat crabbers at Winchester Bay have had very good recent success.

Salmon fishing at Winchester Bay has also been good when the boats can get out into the ocean to actually fish for them. Better yet, there are increasing numbers of fall chinook that are actually in the river now so it is no longer a complete washout when the Umpqua River Bar is uncrossable. My good friend, John Ledfors, of Coos Bay, made a temporary break from his Charleston salmon fishing to fish at Winchester Bay. Since he absolutely refuses to cross the bar, he trolled his herring baits near Half Moon Bay and ended up hooking and landing an extremely chunky 25 pound chinook salmon. Although most of the area’s guides have reported consistent success when salmon fishing in the ocean, a few are planning trips to fish the Umpqua River below Reedsport this week. At the very least, the lower Umpqua River should be considered a viable “Plan B” regarding salmon fishing at Winchester Bay when the bar or ocean conditions rule out crossing the bar.

Last Saturday morning, there were some boat limits by seven in the morning, but numerous anglers that started later stated that they got lots of halfhearted or insincere bites that did not result in hookups or landed salmon. However, some of those light bites might have been from mackeral as a large number of them were caught on Saturday by salmon anglers fishing out of Winchester Bay.

Scott Hatcher, a fishing guide, managed to hook a starry flounder of about four pounds while trolling herring in more than 200 feet of water with his downriggers set at only 30 feet. Another angler was trolling a herring in the lower Umpqua River and while making a turn managed to hook and land a nearly seven foot green sturgeon – of course it was promptly released since it was illegal to keep.

As for the status of the ocean finclipped coho salmon quota of 8,000 fish, their reporting deadlines and my deadline for my weekly article do not match up. But through July 8th, only 497 finclipped cohos, or 6.1 percent of the season quota had been caught. Of those 497 fish, 220 of them, or more than 44 percent, were caught out of Winchester Bay. Since there were also more than 1,100 cohos reported released out of Winchester Bay, the clear indication is that more than 80 percent of the coho taken were not finclipped.

Interestingly enough, 3,040 chinooks were reported caught and kept and 527, or more than 17 percent, were caught out of Winchester Bay. However, the hot chinook fishery was Brookings  with 1,549 taken through July 8th – or about 51 percent of the total chinook catch for our area.

There have been a number of reports of tuna being caught and, in some cases, they were caught fairly close in – such as less than ten miles out of Charleston. However, it seems that they have moved out somewhat farther and most “would be” tuna anglers are currently fishing for salmon. Two weeks ago, Oregon Custom Charters landed six tuna about 20 miles from the Umpqua River Bar. At some point in the near future, it definitely appears that there will be worthwhile numbers of tuna within reach of sport anglers.

The boat ramp at Bradley Lake, south of Bandon, is scheduled for a major construction, and since the ramp is virtually the only public access to the lake, if you want to tangle with the lake’s prolific largemouth bass population or some of those sizable leftover planted trout, you need to do so in the very near future – or wait until the construction is complete and take advantage of a much improved launching ramp complete with a dock from which fishing is going to be allowed.

As of July 15th, the taking of razor clams from Clatsop County beaches is not allowed. The closure of Oregon’s best razor clam beaches is to allow young newly-set clams to become established.

The brook trout population in High Lake in the Strawberry Mountains Wilderness Area will soon be a casualty of a program to re-establish bull trout in the upper Malheur River system. Although several agencies are involved, the actual brookie removal will be conducted by the Burns Paiute Tribe and they will use seines, gillnets, traps and also electroshocking in their attempt to completely remove all of the brook trout from the lake. High Lake was chosen because of its stunted brookie population which is capable of leaving the lake via Lake Creek and possibly hybridizing with bull trout which are native to Oregon.

One advantage of the cooler spring and early summer weather is that the state’s first report of blue-green algae occurred just last week. Jackson Creek, a small tributary of Bear Creek flows through Central Point and Jacksonville and is little used recreationally. However, the blue-green algae can be quite toxic and should definitely be avoided. Recent warm temperatures will almost certainly ensure that more such reports occur in the near future.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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