Pete Heley Outdoors 1/30/2013

While the best crabbing in our area is still at Charleston, the boat crabbers trying the Half Moon Bay area on the Umpqua River near Winchester Bay all seem to be catching at least a few crabs and some are doing better than that.While venturing out into the ocean, when possible, would almost certainly improve one’s crabbing success, a decent portion of the commercial crab fleet spent considerable time crabbing very shallow water and the crabs they caught will not be available to enter the lowermost river mouths. In other words, in the near future ocean sport crabbing may be of limited benefit and the number of crabs entering the lowermost river sections of such river systems as the Coquille, Siuslaw and Umpqua will be less than hoped for.

A scarcity of sand shrimp has had an effect on the fishing pressure on the South Jetty and Triangle Area. The most common fish species taken are striped surfperch and greenling which are almost always taken on bait. Consequently, the anglers that are fishing this area are targeting blue and black rockfish with an occasional cabezon or lingcod hooked on the metal or softplastic lures they are using when not using bait. One local angler has been having very good success fishing local beaches for redtailed surfperch (pinkfins).

Recent rains should offer a temporary improvement in steelhead fishing success. Steelhead fishing has been fair to good on the Umpqua, but almost no finclipped keekpable steelhead are being caught. The Coos River/Millicoma system should offer improved steelhead fishing as should Tenmile Creek and Eel Creek. Last week, because of low water conditions, most of the steelhead taken during the “Best of the Creeks” two day steelhead contest were caught in Eel Creek which offers far more cover than does lower Tenmile Creek.

What is most notable on Tenmile Lakes, but is also happening to a lesser extend on Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes, is a gradual increase in bassfishing pressure as many serious bass anglers are getting ready for improving  bass fishing success whether or not they are tournament fishermen. While the fishing is usually very slow and is inconsistent at best, some of Oregon’s largest bass are caught from late January through April.

Yellow perch fishing in most area lakes remains inconsistent, but should gradually improve over the next several weeks. Except in the clearest lakes, the perch usually move into somewhat more shallow water to spawn, but very clear or very cold water will move them deeper.

The annual stocking schedule is still not posted on the ODFW website, but last year the Florence area lakes were first stocked during the second week in February. Empire Lakes received their first trout plants last year during the last week in February and Loon Lake received its first trout plant the first week of March and Lake Marie received its first trout plant the third week of March.

Now that Diamond Lake is open the year around, novice ice anglers should remember two key points when attempting to ice-fish new water. One is to be especially careful around spring areas that will have thinner ice and the other is to be avoid reservoirs that have fluctuating water levels during the winter months – and may have an ice cover well above the actual water level of the reservoir. Each of these situations can prove deadly.

Recently, one of California’s best known brown trout anglers lost considerable credibility when it was found that he had told different people three different locations for where he caught a 16 pound brown trout he was photographed with. It didn’t help when people began comparing notes and found out that the lures they were purchasing from him were falling apart almost immediately after first use. Another example of the power of the internet.

California recently reduced the maximum length of keepable sturgeon and then changed the way they were to be measured from measuring the fish to the furthest tip of the tail to the fork length – thereby making the length of the keepable sturgeon almost exactly the same as before. The new measurement will reduce the number of people who were getting away with trimming the tail tips on sturgeon to make them fit the legal length requirements.

The first spring chinook salmon taken this year is generally considered to be the one taken in the lower Willamette River on January 26th. Usually, the first spring chinooks taken from the Umpqua and Rogue rivers are caught during the first two weeks in March. Several years ago, a salmon taken from the lower Rogue during the first week in February was found to be a late-run fall chinook from the Elk River. One of the biggest obstacles to catching early spring chinook from the Umpqua or Rogue rivers is that most anglers wait until someone else has caught one – and sometimes that can delay sportfishing pressure on these rivers by a couple of weeks.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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