Pete Heley Outdoors 4/17/2013

Spring chinook angling between Scottsburg and Elkton has picked up noticeably. Of course, anybody who has recently driven along that stretch of Highway 38 could already guess this from the number of truck/boat trailer rigs parked along the highway because the boat ramp parking areas are full. It seems that those light bites of the previous week have turned into bites strong enough to actually get hooked and landed.

Longtime Scottsburg-area resident Rick Hoile landed a 38 pound springer last week and jumped to the top of the spring chinook contest sponsored by the Wells Creek Inn. Several fish weighing at least 30 pounds have been recently landed and the “tales” of larger salmon hooked and not landed are starting to mount. A few more springers have been landed in the lower river including a second one inside the Triangle near the culvert. While the numbers of salmon hooked near Winchester Bay pales when compared to the numbers of springs hooked above Scottsburg, it is much better than it normally is when it comes to hooking springers in the lower river in a normal year.

Although there has not been a lot of ocean sportfishing directed at salmon – perhaps there should be. A commercial salmon boat trolling last week from Charleston to the mouth of the Umpqua River caught all 18 of their salmon close to the Umpqua River Bar. Most of their salmon ran from ten to 15 pounds and they marked a lot of salmon and observed a lot of baitfish activity. Perhaps this is going to be the year when Umpqua Bait gets a fair shot netting the bait they depend on.

A sport angler, fishing out of Winchester Bay, emailed me that he had talked to the angler that was cleaning the jumbo lingcod that ended up in the dumpster at Winchester Bay’s East Basin. He stated that the angler said that he had caught the fish in relatively shallow water while fishing out of Charleston. The angler said the lingcod weighed 37 pounds prior to being processed.

A friend came into the tackleshop where I work and pointed out a passage in Oregon’s 2013 Fishing Regulations booklet that stated that one could fish with more than three hooks if the hook gap was not over three-eighths of an inch and the rig would be referred to as a herring rig. I was unable to convince him that such rigs were only legal when pursuing saltwater baitfish such as herring, sardines, anchovies or some species of smelt. Later on, I called the ODFW regional office in Charleston where I was informed that any fish taken while fishing with these “herring rigs” that was not one of the aforementioned saltwater baitfish species would be an illegal catch and would have to be promptly released since it was taken with terminal gear not legal for that species.

Loon Lake, and most of the Douglas County waters that receive trout plants will receive legal rainbow trout this week. Loon is slated to receive 1,000 trout. Woahink Lake is slated to receive 1,000 foot long rainbows this week. The Tenmile Lakes are slated to receive 6,000 legal rainbows this week while Empire Lakes is to receive 6,000 legal rainbows  and 500 trophy rainbows.There are also heavy trout plants for our area slated for the week beginning on Monday, April 22nd.

If the weather report holds, warmer stable weather beginning this coming weekend should result in the best bass and panfish angling so far this year. A few anglers have been catching some sizable pre-spawn smallmouths on the Umpqua River above tidewater over the last couple of weeks. No reports on what they were using, but some of the fish have been in the three to four pound class.

Central California’s New Melones Reservoir is one of those rare fishing spots that starts producing larger specimens of several fish species many years after being built. The current reservoir, covering 12,500 surface acres, was created by a 625 foot high dam about 35 years ago, but New Melones produced many of its record fish in the last five years. A 17 pound 13 ounce largemouth was caught a couple of weeks ago and the lake record of 18 pounds 11.5 ounces was caught three years ago. A record brown trout of 13 pounds four ounces was caught in 2012 and in early March a spotted bass weighing 10.1 pounds (less than three ounces off the world record) was caught from the lake. While many fishing spots have periods of great lunker productivity, they seldom do so more than 30 years after they are constructed.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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