Pete Heley Outdoors 4/10/2013

It was almost like karma. An angler had asked me if I had heard of any spring chinook being hooked inside the Triangle and I had told them that I had not. A couple of hours later, while I was selling a salmon tag to Christopher Edwards of Winchester Bay, he stated that a week or so previously, an angler he was fishing with had hooked and nearly landed what he felt was a spring chinook while fishing inside the Triangle. The fish appeared to weigh about ten pounds and was hooked next to the culvert in the Triangle that was the nearest to the road – in other words the inside culvert. Edwards also stated that a couple of other fishing buddies had hooked and lost what they felt were spring chinook while fishing the Umpqua River from the South Jetty.

Despite the fact that there appears to be more lower Umpqua River spring chinook activity than in any year in my memory, the bulk of the fishery remains above the Scottsburg Bridge and that fishery is picking up – although not as fast as those determined spring chinook anglers would like. So far, the largest salmon reported have weighed between 30 and 35 pounds, but the Umpqua produces Oregon’s largest spring chinook and most of its fish are still out in the ocean. More often than not, the river’s biggest springer each year will hit or exceed 50 pounds. Some shad are undoubtedly already in the river, but don’t expect much in the way of shad catches until the water warms up.

Commercial salmon anglers have caught some feeder chinook in the ocean fairly close to the Umpqua River Bar, but the bulk of the area’s salmon landed by the commercial fleet have been caught near Charleston. Most of the ocean sport anglers are targeting salmon within a mile or so of the Umpqua River Bar – undoubtedly hoping to tangle with spring chinook as they get ready to ascend the river.

There still seems to be some confusion over the cabezon closure. Normally, it does reopen on April 1st for about six months, but this year it will remain closed until July 1st. As of April 1st, ocean waters deeper than 180 feet (30 fathoms) closed to bottomfishing – which has caused a lot of speculation regarding the huge lingcod carcass that was left in the dumpster near the fish cleaning facility in Winchester Bay’s East Basin. The carcass, which everybody that this writer talked to about it had to weigh in excess of 30 pounds and since it was caught after the the closure of ocean water deeper than 30 fathoms, many thought that it was an illegally caught and kept fish since all of the lingcod spots, excepting the Triangle Area, are deeper than 30 fathoms and now closed. Far more likely, since many Charleston-area anglers clean their fish in Winchester Bay, it was a fish caught near Charleston in water less than 30 fathoms deep and cleaned at Winchester Bay’s East Basin.

Lake Marie is slated to receive 1,000 legal rainbows this week – the only Douglas County water to be stocked this week, although most of the Douglas County lakes will be stocked next week – including Loon Lake (1,000 legal rainbows). Almost all of the Coos County lakes will be stocked next week, but Butterfield Lake will receive 2,000 trout this week and Eel Lake will receive 2,500.

In the Florence area, Carter Lake is slated to receive 2,500 legal and 500 foot long trout this week and Cleawox Lake will receive 2,000 legal, 200 foot long and 300 trophy rainbows. Woahink Lake is slated for 1,000 foot long rainbows next week and almost all of the Florence area lakes will be stocked the week beginning April 22nd.

Bass and panfish angling remains iffyf with the cool unsettled weather. While the overall fishing remains slow, some sizable bass have been caught recently the quantity has definitely been lacking. While individual days with warmer temperatures might seem promising regarding an improvement in the warm water fishing – what would really perk it up would be several warm days in a row.

Starting to receive lots of phone calls asking about the the Umpqua’s legendary (if it isn’t yet there, it’s getting there) run of pinkfin perch. The pinkfin, more correctly called redtailed surfperch usually start entering the river around mid-May. However, someone has to actually go out and catch some before the run “officially” starts. While the perch can be caught during the run from just below the entrance to Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin all the way up to Gardiner, the three most popular spots are near Marker 12, near the piling near Marker 15 and the area straight across and slightly upriver from where the East Boat Basin connects with the Umpqua River.

There was some reaction to the outdoor section (Go! Outdoors) of the World Newspaper where it stated “Check with the U.S. Coast Guard for the new deadlines in the lower Umpqua when the bar is closed”.  A call to the Coast Guard Station in Winchester Bay resulted in the reassurance that the upriver limit regarding bar closures or restrictions is still the blinking yellow lights near the upper end of the South Jetty.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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