Pete Heley Outdoors 10/17/2012

The hottest thing going in the last couple of weeks has been the fishing for jumbo lingcod. By jumbo, this writer means fish weighing an honest 20 or more pounds. It seems that in the first couple of weeks of the deepwater (30 fathoms or more) opener for bottomfish, there has been more lingcod weighing 20 or more pounds than were reported for the entire six months the season was open last year.

The biggest lingcod reported so far is the one taken recently by Bobby Brown who is a Cottage Grove resident, but spends about half the year in Winchester Bay. His fish was taken at Port Orford in approximately 100 feet of water and weighed a whopping 41 pounds eight ounces. The jumbo ling has swallowed a smaller ling that weighed about five pounds as well as several several rockfish weighing up to about a pound and a half. Ironically, that giant lingcod was the only fish Brown and his fishing buddies hooked in that area – possibly because the toothy behemoth had scared away the smaller fish it had not already eaten. Brown reported that the water they were fishing was shallow enough that they were able to safely release several of the protected rockfish species they caught that weighed as much as 20 pounds.

Among the jumbo lingcod caught recently off what is commonly called Tenmile Reef, was a 27 pounder that was caught by Charlie Lemeire of Winchester Bay. His lingcod had managed to swallow a salmon that appeared to be about two feet long and the salmon had been in the lingcod’s belly just long enough to not have its skin, but that appeared to be all that was missing from might have been a legal to keep chinook salmon or a possible reason for a ticket if it was a coho and it was removed from the lingcod’s stomach prior to returning to a point inside the Umpqua River Bar.

Salmon fishing out of Winchester Bay did not undergo any noticeable improvement after last weekend’s rain. The fish did appear more active, but any benefit to fishing success appears to be somewhat delayed. There does appear to be plenty of salmon hanging off the mouth of Winchester Creek in Winchester Bay’s East Basin and the bank anglers are still consistently catching early morning salmon at Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point. Boat anglers are still targeting the Umpqua River Bar when they can and are marking lots of salmon, but have to fish hard to catch many. Fair numbers of salmon are now scattered throughout the entire mainstem Umpqua River and Smith River, which is only open for chinook salmon, has provided some very good, if inconsistent, fishing.

Many local anglers have recently tried fishing the Coos and Coquille rivers and they have enjoyed mixed success as the fishing has been very inconsistent, but occasionally very good.

Anglers are still repeatedly asking if our region’s rivers are still open for wild or unclipped coho salmon and the answer is a strong YES! The only river even approaching its quota is the Siuslaw which through Sunday, October 7th had given up about 61 percent of its 1,700 wild coho quota. No other river in our region is even close.

Some of the salmon trapped by our local STEP people were found to have a clipped rear left ventral fin, but retained an unclipped adipose fin. These fish were believed to be smaller adult chinook that were released three years ago by a hatchery at Rock Creek, a tributary of the North Umpqua River.

Boat crabbers are still doing well at Winchester Bay, but the dock crabbers are starting to have to work a little harder for their catch. Two different crabbers came into the Stockade Market to announce that they had caught tagged crabs this last week. I was sorry to have to inform them that the contest ended on October 1st and someone had already been awarded the $1,000 grand prize. Boat crabbers need to be aware that the last day of legal crabbing in the ocean was October 14th.

Although our three local lakes with coho salmon seasons on them are technically open for salmon fishing, Siltcoos Lake is the only one that may start producing salmon at any time. The dam on Siltcoos River is about three river miles below the lake and is actually located in tidewater, so salmon could conceivably enter the river on a high tide and ascend the fish ladder and continue upstream into the lake. The river portion of Siltcoos Lake’s coho fishery only extends downstream from the lake to the Highway 101 Bridge. Successful coho salmon fishing on Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes is most likely going to start several weeks in the future.

Local STEP volunteer, Bill Taylor, reported that he and his wife enjoyed good fishing for yellow perch at Tahkenitch Lake recently with several of the perch they caught measuring just short of 12-inches in length. A few other anglers fishing for perch at Tahkenitch reported fair fishing for perch in the eight to ten-inch range.

The jumbo rainbow trout planted last month in Lake Marie are still providing good fishing. An example of just how good was evidenced by a couple of San Diego anglers, Chuck and Cheri Mills, who enjoyed tremendous flyfishign on the lake after switching to plain olive wooly buggers. Between 10 am and 1:30 pm, they had strikes from about 50 trout and landed 35 – all of which measured between 14 and 19-inches. They released their entire catch and even removed a treble hook from the side of one trout and a plastic worm and trailing leader from the mouth of another. They were fishing last Thursday, October 11th. The ODFW seldom announces trout plants involving trout measuring more than 16-inches in length. Another possibility for similar-sized trout would be Butterfield Lake which was stocked the first week of October and Saunders and Empire Lakes which were planted last week.

It is kind of ironic that lampreys were re-introduced into central Oregon’s Miller Lake in 2010. The lake was originally treated because of the lampreys many years ago and now the lampreys are protected and not even legal to use as striped bass or sturgeon bait. Although access can become a problem at any time, Miller Lake is probably furnishing Oregon’s best brown trout fishing right now and the lamprey introduction probably explains why anglers using dark leech patterns during periods of low light or darkness are enjoying good success on some sizable brown trout. Miller Lake is open to trout fishing 24 hours per day and in the late evening and at night large browns, including some that will weigh ten or more pounds, often approach the shoreline looking for food.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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