Pete Heley Outdoors 2/27/2013

The best news is that there has been a few spring chinook salmon reported caught in the Scottsburg area and it probsbly won’t be to many weeks before one starts seeing vehicle-trailer rigs parked along Highway 38 because there isn’t enough parking space in the boat ramp parking areas. Steelhead fishing is still fairly good on the Umpqua, but finclipped keepable steelhead remain extremely rare.Virtually all of the area streams have decent numbers of steelhead in them, but they are not biting all that well.

Because of a manpower shortage caused by recent budget cuts, the trout stocking information for much of Oregon has not yet been published to the ODFW website. However, the ODFW will attempt to stock Loon Lake and Lake Marie by mid-March and the south coast lakes by the first of March. The south coast waters slated to receive early trout plants are Bradley Lake, Empire Lakes, Garrison Lake, Johnson Mill Pond, Powers Pond and Saunders lake. Please note, that the early stocking schedule is very tentative and nore reliaable stocking information will be available in the future. At present, the ODFW is attempting to do the same amount of work and release the same amount of information as they always have – with less people to do so. I commend them for trying so hard.

Anglers recently fishing Lake Marie are still encountering some of the larger rainbow trout that were stocked last fall. Because so many of that fall plant were caught by fly anglers fishing from float tubes or pontoon boats who practiced catch and release – the amount of recreation obtained from what can only be described as a nominal trout plant, numbers-wise, was incredible – and there still seems to be some left.

As for the lakes north of Reedsport, beginning with Elbow Lake and running as far north as Alder, Buck and Dune lakes which are located almost eight miles north of Florence, they have been stoked and Cleawox, Dune and Munsel have been stocked twice. The Florence area lakes are not scheduled to receive additional trout plants until the week beginning March 18th.

Anglers fishing for bottomfish off the South Jetty continue to do well. Those using sand shrimp to target the striped surfperch and greenling are having the most consistent success, while those willing to make lots of casts with leadhead jigs/soft plastic lure bodies are catching rockfish and a few lingod. Cabezon are currently not keepable (until July 1st). Anglers fishing area beaches for redtailed surfperch (commonly referred to as “pinkfins”) are having fair success. To make such a fishing trip more enjoyable and productive, one should wear waders (chest waders are safer than hip boots) and use a  long rod (long casts and one can hold the rod tip high to avoid more of the breaking waves). But the one thing that most surf anglers do not do is used braided line, which is much thinner and less affected by wave action – allowing lighter weights and longer casts. Because casting distance is almost always important when fishing the surf, the braided superlines allow more effortless casting which makes it more likely that the sand shrimp, so often used as bait, will actually remain on the hook. Even so, I would still use a hardier bait on the second hook like squid or a piece of Berkley Gulp.

Although yellow perch fishing off the fishing dock at the county park on South Tenmile Lake has dropped off, it is most likely due to a reduction in the numbers of perch moving into the dock area and not the overall fishery. There has been relatively light fishing pressure directed at the perch in other parts of Tenmile Lakes. Other area lakes also have good perch populations, but are not receiving much fishing pressure – and fishing pressure directed at the perch is not likely to go up as the Florence area lakes have received trout plants and over the next few weeks, lakes and ponds along the south coast will receive trout plants with Loon Lake  and Lake Marie usually receiving their first trout plants in early March.

Currently the top northwest fisheries for anglers lucky enough to be extremely mobile are: Lake Chelan in central Washington for mackinaws and Rufus Woods Lake, a Columbia River reservoir in eastern Washington for triploid rainbow trout. Chelan’s macs average about 4 pounds, but a new state record weighing more than 35 pounds was caught less than a month ago. The rainbows in Rufus Woods average three to four pounds, but fish weighing at least 20 pounds are taken yearly and the Washington state record rainbow of nearly 30 pounds was a Rufus Woods fish.

Although weather conditions can be miserable and windy and the fishing slow, the majority of the very largest walleyes pulled out of the Columbia each year are caught during late February through March. Although the Portland area produces some jumbo walleyes later in the year, the early pre-spawn fishery starts below Bonneville Dam and runs all the way up the Columbia River to Rufus Woods Lake.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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