It seems that the catch of redtailed surfperch taken Sunday morning (May 12th) above Winchester Bay was a false alarm. There has been very few perch caught upriver since then. However, that single catch should encourage more perch anglers to give it a try as more perch should be moving in very soon. During most years, perch anglers sit back, content to wait until someone else goes out and actually makes a good perch catch. In some of those years, the perch were most likely in the river for a week or more before someone went out and caught the “first one”. This year, a number of different anglers were willing to experiment and make the effort to catch the earliest members of the perch run. Because of that, the very first perch were quickly discovered before any reinforcements arrived. In other words, by the time you are reading this, there is a good chance that more perch will have arrived upriver.
On a very encouraging note, despite some wind-caused ocean and Umpqua River Bar conditions, the few boats that ventured out for at least a few hours last week made some very good salmon catches. Al Black, of Winchester Bay, and three other anglers accounted for eight chinooks and about ten cohos last Friday and on Saturday, Fred Babcock and three other anglers accounted for six chinooks and a fair number of cohos. Perhaps the best news from Babcock was that they threw some crab pots in the ocean in about 35 feet of water while they fished and ended up with 26 legal, very firm crabs.
Meanwhile, crabbing remains very tough for dock crabbers at Winchester Bay and boat crabbers are having to work hard for their crab catches at Half Moon Bay.
The South Jetty/Triangle area is still producing good bottomfishing and boat anglers out of Charleston are making good rockfish and lingcod catches fishing just inside of 180 feet (30 fathoms).
All-depth halibut fishing is not open this week and hopefully, when it reopens next week, the fishing will be better than it has been.
Shad fishing has picked up greatly and some very good catches have been made. Much of the non-boating shad fishing pressure has been at Yellow Creek, but if the Umpqua River keeps dropping, Sawyers Rapids should be giving up some great shad fishing on an increasing number of shad refusing to ascend the rapids. Chartreuse and hot pink, as usual, remain the most popular colors on the flies, shad darts and gitzits that anglers use to catch these acrobatic fish.
More stripers have dropped down to the mid and lower tidewater areas of the Smith and Umpqua rivers, but fishing remains slow. Except for the oversized sturgeon hangling out in the Umpqua River opposite milepost 21 on Highway 38 east of Wells Creek, sturgeon fishing on the Umpqua below Reedsport is also very slow.
Bass and panfishing continues to improve and some of the Medford-area lakes have warmed very fast. Lake Selmac warmed up so fast that the blueghills and the latest third of the largemouth bass population are spawning at the same time – and the last of the lake’s spring trout plants were canceled due to water temperatures. There is absolutely no reason to postpone an Umpqua River smallmouth bass fishing trip. The smallmouth are biting very well and the river has dropped enough to make ensure water clarity and the fishing easy. Most of the largemouth bass in our coastal lakes have not yet spawned, but they are getting close.
There will be some trout plants during the week beginning May 27th leading up to Free Fishing Weekend on June 1st and 2nd. Loon Lake and Lake Marie will each receive 1,000 legal rainbows. Empire Lakes and Tenmile Lakes will each be stocked with 6,000 legal rainbows and the Empire Lakes will receive an additional 300 trophy rainbows. As for the Florence-area lakes, Alder, Buck and Dune lakes will each receive 425 legal rainbows and 36 trophy rainbows. Cleawox Lake will receive 2,000 legal rainbows, 1,800 foot-long rainbows and 250 trophy rainbows. Erhart Lake will receive 100 foot-long rainobws and Georgia and North Georgia will each receive 75 foot-long rainbows. Perkins Lake will receive 100 foot-long rainbows and Siltcoos Lagoon will receive 425 legal and 36 trophy rainbows. The larger coastal lakes have been fishing fairly well, but Tenmile Lakes has really stood out for anglers trolling bait or lures with rainbow trout to at least 20-inches taken recently.
Most of the central and eastern Oregon trout waters are providing good trout fishing. Some of these waters are going to be very low by late summer and fall and this will be the year to fish them. Anglers fishing these spots in future years will be dealing with waters trying to recover from the low water conditions that will be evident this fall. Crane Prairie Reservoir has given up more jumbo brook trout (to more than 20-inches) this spring than any year in recent memory.