Pete Heley Outdoors 6/06/2013

The Umpqua River redtailed surfperch run (pinkfins) has been more productive recently with a number of bosts catching 30 or more fish and one boat with five anglers catching 65 last Sunday. However, there are lots of boats enjoying little or minimal perch fishing success. Of course I have little sympathy for the guy who called me last Saturday at 6;30, while anchored above Winchester Bay, wondering why he had not yet caught a perch – because there is no way he could have given his trip any realistic chance to catch a perch.

The perch pretty much hang out in a stretch of at least three miles of the Umpqua River from the entrance to Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin up to at least the old International Paper Mill site. They are almost always moving and usually moving with the tide which makes it difficult to encounter them by drifting unless they are right below you when you start out. To make matters worse, they usually move when a bost pulls up, especially under power, and throws out an anchor. Most anglers drop their baits straight over the side after dropping the anchor and even semi-wary fish will have moved away from the boat at that point. The first casts should be well away from the boat and not anywhere close to the boat’s path prior to anchoring.

Most anglers also think the perch quit biting when they stop catching fish, but in almost every case, the school has simply moved away from the anglers. Since they usually move with the current, try to head them off without spooking them. Most perch anglers do not give these fish enough credit for being wary and a good rule of thumb is to act like you are fishing for really smart or wary fish – because you will be amazed by how many “dumb” ones you will catch while you are doing so.

For the few ocean salmon anglers targeting chinook salmon, the success has been very good. The first two anglers giving me a fishing report last Saturday reported boat limits of ten to 12 pound chinooks and while they were fishing near the commercial boats (which did very well over the last several days). They also caught some fish in water less than 120 feet deep. Most anglers were fishing 50 to 60 feet below the surface with herring. While the bar has been restricted much of the last week, the salmon fishing is definitely worth it when you can get out.

I did not realize that the number of California halibut in Coos Bay fluctuates as they migrate to and from the Pacific Ocean. But according to Joe Cook, at “The Bite’s On” in Empire, the number of California halibut caught has shown a major increase in recent weeks. Many of these flatfish are caught between the railroad trestle and the McCullough Bridge.

I would like to give the ODFW a plug regarding their Free Fishing Weekend. It is better than Washington’s which will be this coming weekend (June 8th and 9th), because Washington still requires anglers fishing for salmon, steelhead, halibut or sturgeon to get the required tag and even the taking of crabs requires a report card. Oregon’s Free Fishing Weekend is as simple as it can be – and that is important to most anglers. A good example of what I am talking about is the vast number of Washington residents that do their crabbing in Oregon because Oregon has a consistent non-changing season (all year in rivers and bays) and ten and a half months in the ocean (December 1st through October 14th). Oregon also has a consistent limit (12 male crabs of at least 5.75 inches in width). While the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife does a lot of things right, their policy regarding crabbing is definitely a benefit to Oregon. That said, if you want to sample Washington’s fishing, a good time to do so would be this coming weekend on Washington’s Free Fishing Weekend.

Angling parents wishing to get their young kids interested in fishing might do well to forego fish like salmon and instead introduce them to bluegill fishing with the appropriate kid-sized tackle. Bluegills are spawning in most lakes and are easy to find and aggressive to the point of being easy to catch. Some of the best bluegill lakes in our area would be Cooper Creek Reservoir (Sutherlin), Loon Lake and Triangle Lake (along Highway 36 between Mapleton and Junction City). Many other lakes also offer fair to good bluegill fishing and as long as an angler is using small enough hooks to fit into their mouths, they should have no trouble catching a number of these feisty sunfish.

Tenmile Lakes continues to offer the most consistent trout fishing although virtually all the lakes that receive trout plants have plenty of fish left in them. But at Tenmile, the anglers trolling near the bottom are catching some surprisingly big carryover rainbows as well as the occasional bullhead catfish that does not seem to realize that they should be spawning now.

One trend that I wish Oregon would reverse, and reverse quickly, is the closing, or non-opening, of potential fisheries because the Oregon State Police or who ever is in charge of regulation compliance on that potential fishery decide that they cannot properly or effectively enforce those regulations. This is essentially making every angler that would use that potential fishery in the future guilty prior to having the chance to do anything wrong. With a growing population combined with shorter fishing seasons on may waters and less available waters to fish, Oregon should do everything it can do to  fight this alarming and depressing trend. In other words, give people a chance to do wrong fishingwise and then restrict or close the fishery – don’t do it before giving Oregon’s anglers a chance to surprise the enforcement people in a good way. The example I would use to illustrate a deserved closure would be Mill Creek on the lower Umpqua River. It was closed to all fishing because a number of anglers decided that they could not catch its salmon and steelhead by legal angling methods and resorted to snagging.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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