Pete Heley Outdoors 10/24/2012

I used to think that the ODFW was wrong in selling two rod licenses to anglers fishing in Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes and then not letting them use them during the coho salmon seasons on this lake, but one of the more helpful biologists at the Charleston regional ODFW office pointed out to me that on the bottom of page 9 of this year’s Sport Fishing Regulation booklet, it is clearly stated that the two rod licenses are not in effect on these three lakes between October 1st and December 31st. So the ODFW is being upfront about the restrictions on the two rod licenses. However, I do wish that the restriction on the use of the two rod licenses in these three lakes would begin when coho were actually in the lakes as Tahkenitch and Tenmile almost never have any salmon in them before November.

Rough bar and ocean conditions have slowed fishing pressure on offshore bottomfish and salmon fishing in the ocean and lower Umpqua River. However, when conditions allow, some good catches are still being made. However, last week it appears that most of the salmon were caught by bank anglers. Although the usual bank angling spots are still producing fish (Gardiner between the paper mill and the boat ramp, Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point), a lot of salmon have been caught recently near the mouth of Winchester Creek in the East Boat Basin. Almost all of the salmon taken here have been on bobber and bait combinations with the most effective baits being sand shrimp, salmon roe or anchovies. The other bank fishing spots are almost exclusively used by spinner-flingers.

Salmon, both coho and chinook, are now scattered throughout the entire mainstem Umpqua River but fresh salmon will be entering the lower river well past the end of the month. Ex-area resident Gary Sellers, who now lives in Sutherlin, recounted to me that he used to catch some hefty chinooks, as well as some good-sized coho,  while trolling the South Jetty between the end of October and Thanksgiving. Sand shrimp or salmon roe, as well as spinners, are producing some very good chinook catches on the Smith River, but the fishing seems to be very inconsistent and cohos are not legal to keep. Siltcoos Lake and its outlet stream, Siltcoos River, is offering improving fishing for coho salmon, but anglers need to remember that the river is only open downstream to Highway 101. Bankfishing for salmon is possible at the Tyee Campground and also beneath the Highway 101 bridge.

Since almost all of the area’s bankbound anglers are targeting salmon, the surf fishery for redtailed surfperch and the jetty fishing for bottomfishing have been little utilized, but the few anglers fishing for theser fish species are still catching fish. Also very much overlooked by area anglers are the sturgeon fishery on the lower Umpqua River and the striped bass fishery on the Umpqua and Smith rivers.

It is going to take a lot more rain to foul up the crabbing at Winchester Bay. However, as the amount of freshwater coming down the Umpqua increases, the best crabbing will gradually move downriver to the Half Moon Bay area. Right now, decent crab catches are being made as far upriver as about one-third of a mile above the entrance to the East Boat Basin. Last year, Winchester Bay produced decent crabbing through the middle of January before heavy rains finally caused the crabs to head for a saltier environment (the ocean). Right now, boat crabbers are enjoying much more success than dockbound crabbers, but boat crabbers need to remember that ocean crabbing is no longer legal and will not become legal until December 1st.

Although the fishing is slowing down, some of the jumbo rainbows stocked in Lake Marie in September are still being caught. Since there will not be any more trout plants in our area until Brtadley Lake (sough of Bandon) is stoccked with large rainbows in the last half of November, trout enthusiasts should consider fishing the larger lakes, especially those with outlets that reach the ocean. Area lakes that fit this description would be Eel, Siltcoos, Sutton, Tahkenitch, and Tenmile.

Yellow perch fishing continues to be good in area lakes. The eggs in the female perch are now quite evident, but will continue to grow, since the perch will not spawn until the at least the end of February. Crappie and largemouth bass can provide decent late afternoon angling during periods of stable weather and should continue to do so until at least early November. Smallmouth bass fishing on the Umpqua can produce some sizable bass in the late afternoons, but catch numbers are not anywhere close to what they were during the summer months.

I have mixed feelings when I read about all the troubles the California Department of Fish and Game has when it comes to pleasing its millions of outdoor sportsmen. I love fishing in northern California, but am glad that I live in Oregon. The latest “problem” with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is their proposed name change. The new name is going to be “California Department of Fish and Wildlife” and many California sportsmen are not happy about it since it implies that hunters and anglers will less important to the agency. Of course, further thinking brought me around to remembering what the name of our outdoor agency is. At least no directors of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have publicly stated that hunting and fishing were of a secondary importance to the agency.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

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