Monthly Archives: May 2012

Stockade Market

The Stockade Market in Winchester Bay, Oregon is the type of business that definitely grows on you. Actually, more of a tackleshop and marine hardware store than a grocery, it is a seasonal business like virtually every other business in Winchester Bay. From late spring through fall, business is hopping, while during the winter and early spring months, customers can get all the personal attention they want – and more.

As a longtime employee of the store, I love working for the current owners, Liz Adamo and Nancy Hammond, who are thoughtful and make an effort to return every favor ever done for them. The store’s customer base is amazingly varied and quite interesting. Each year, I deal with, on average,  people from about 45 states and a dozen countries including people from virtually every Canadian province. I have found that these people are a tremendous source of fishing and other information – and the way I found this out is by not holding back on any of the information, mostly fishing or crabbing, that I give them. In fact, I am absolutely convinced that the best way to acquire fishing information is to give plenty of it out.

Taking the time to give people accurate and detailed information practically forces them to return the same and for some reason, my increasingly questionable memory has absolutely no problem retaining fishing-related information. Another thing that makes being employed by the Stockade Market anything but work is the smiles on the faces of the people who visit the store and our area in general.

While they may be forced to live elsewhere, by career or work, they love to visit our immediate area which has a wider recreation base than anyother place along the Pacific Coast. It’s a shame that some of the people that actually work here do not fully appreciate it, but they would if they spend much time living elsewhere.

In the meantime, I will continue looking forward to everyday of going “to work” at the Stockade Market knowing some very interesting people will show up to briefly keep me company and at the end of the day I will be smarter than I was at its start. I am looking forward to meeting up with you so that we can spend a few minutes making each other smarter and better informed – in the meantime – have a great year and “Good Fishin’”

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New Oregon Smallmouth Book

Oregon Small Mouth Bass Guide

Published in 2012, this 48 page covers virtually all the smallmouth bass fisheries in Oregon and attempts to mention the other fish species present in each smallmouth fishery. Attempts to cover the newest smallmouth fisheries. Saddle-stitched with photos, record weights and index. $ 4.99. The book is available for purchase on this website (book section) or at the Stockade Market in Winchester Bay where the author works.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 5/29/12

Through last Sunday the redtailed surfperch or pinkfins have bit steadily in the first two miles of the Umpqua River above Winchester Bay. Although there undoubtedly surfperch in the river as far upriver as Gardiner, the top two areas, so far, have been Marker 12 and the first half-mile of the river upstream from the East Basin Boat Entrance on the opposite side of the river. Sand shrimp remains the bait of choice and the fish seem to bite all day long when you are on them. There are basically two strategies for find the perch and one is to try numerous spots, hopefully without spooking them, until you find them and the other is to anchor in a likely spot until the perch find you. The first strategy is definitely not very effective unless you are somewhat stealthy and the second strategy can require a lot of patience and can result in severe second-guessing.

However, as of yet, the fish have generally been cooperative and will likely remain so until the unrelenting fishing pressure and boat traffic forces them to limit their active periods to the very early mornings.

Crabbing remains rather tough in the lower river, but boat crabbers have made some decent catches recently. The best crabbing is in the ocean in around 30 feet of water, but outside the Umpqua’s freshwater input into the Pacific.

Of a more encouraging nature was the Sunday catch reported by two anglers who caught three chinooks in slightly more than 100 foot of water. The chinooks weighed ten to 12 pounds each and they also accounted for ten crabs. But possibly of more significance was the two dozen cohos they hooked and released – some of which were of surprisingly good size for this time of year. Since there is a fair amount of bait in the area, there is a chance that the July 1st ocean opener for finclipped cohos could be a very good one.

Spring chinook are still entering the Umpqua and, although the fishing can be very inconsistent, good springer catches are made nearly every day.
The California shad season is peaking now and they are usually about three weeks ahead of Oregon, which means that our best shad fishing is almost certainly ahead of us. There are definitely enough shad in the Umpqua River now to make a good catch, but the fishing remains very inconsisten.

Umpqua River smallmouth fishing is improving and the spawn if just about over. Panfish angling in coastal lakes, with the exception of yellow perch, remains slow, but the largemouth bass is improving and much of the actual spawning will take place in June. Farther inland, the bass spawn is either underway or winding down with the warmer daytime temperatures.

There have been some good catches of bottomfish off the South Jetty recently and some of them were made by anglers casting metal jigs and I misreported Tony Stark’s bottomfish catch last week. I thought he said he caught his South Jetty bottomfish on a herring jig, a metal jig meant to imitate a herring, but he actually caught them on a herring rig. A rig comprised of six small hooks usually designed to catch baitfish. Tony decided to use the rig after he saw thousands of what appeared to be newly hatched striped surfperch swimming near the jetty. The herring rig was the best imitation of the newly hatched fish he could come up with and it worked wonderfully. Kudos to Tony for noticing the baby perch and then taking full advantage of the observance.

Area lakes scheduled to receive include Cleawox, which is slated to receive 2,250 trout measuring between 12 and 14 inches; North and South Tenmile Lakes (3,000 barely legals each); Empire Lakes (6,000 barely legals and 300 16-inchers). Loon Lake and Lake Marie are each slated to receive 1,000 barely legal rainbows. An interesting  sidenote is that diminutive Libby Pond, located eight miles up the Rogue River from Gold Beach is slated to receive 5,000 barely legal and 300 16-inch rainbows this week. I hope they have enough room to actually swim. Oregon’s Free Fishing Weekend for 2012 falls on June 9th and 10th (Saturday and Sunday) this year. It is a wonderful opportunity for those who have not purchased a fishing or shellfish license, or would like to try fishing, clamming or crabbing before deciding whether to purchase a license. On that weekend, anglers can fish for any legal  quarry without a license or tag and they can also clam or crab. Hopefully, they will have enough fun to realize that Oregon’s fishing licenses and tags are a real bargain when someone fishes, clams or crabs frequently.

For several years now, I have wondered why crabbing in Oregon is so popular – especially with vistors from outside Oregon. After all, both California and Washington offer good crabbing too. But it finally dawned on me, the reason that Oregon crabbing is so popular is that it is quite simple regulations-wise. While crabbing in the ocean off the Oregon coast is legal from December 1st through October 15th, most of the sport crabbing in Oregon takes place in bays and the lower reaches of its larger coastal rivers – and these places are legal to crab the entire year. Additionally, a legal crab in Oregon is the same throughout the state – a male dungeness crab measuring 5.25-inches across the widest part of its back not counting the tiny spines on each side of the shell and the daily limit is 12 crabs per person. There is no limitation on Red Rock Crabs other than  daily limit of 24. Crabs can also be legally pursued by a number of Through last Sudifferent methods including scuba diving, fishing, raking, or using crab rings, traps or pots.

Washington micromanages its crabbing industry. The limits for dungeness crabs tend to be much smaller than Oregon’s and the minimum legal size is larger. However, not every management area has the same size limit, number limit or even the same seasons. Additionally, Washington requires the completion of a “steelhead-like punchcard” referred to as a catch record card that must be turned in by a certain date printed on the card. Crabbers failing to do so, can expect to pay a fine before being able to purchase a crab tag for the following season. or if they are checked while out crabbing and they are not in possession of their catch record card (CRC) they may be subject to an $80 fine.

Make no mistake, I am not faulting the effectiveness of crab management in Washington. Numbers-wise, they are doing a great job, but the relative simplicity of Oregon’s crabbing regulations seem to very appealing to many out-of-state crabbers.

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Washington’s Record Fish

This article is going to pinpoint the Washington state record fish species that are most vulnerable to being replace by a heavier fish. Ten fish species will be covered in this article and the lower the number, the most likely that fish record is of being replaced. On the reverse side of Washington’s record fish is the brown bullhead record of 11.04 pounds, a record that will never be broken, since it almost certainly is a result of species mis-identification since the world record for the species is a Mississippi bullhead that weighed six pounds two ounces.

10 – Although Washington’s state record largemouth of slightly more than 11 pounds nine ounces is rather impressive, its about a half pound lighter than Oregon’s state record. Since Oregon is south of Washington, a lighter Washington largemouth record is understandable and perhaps meaningless, but the numbers of bass weighing more than ten pounds taken from Washington waters in recent years certainly isn’t. Additionally, some humungous largemouths have been netted over the years by fisheries personnnel. At some point, a pre-spawn lunker is going to topple the existing state record.

9 – Washington’s smallmouth record of eight pounds 12 ounces is generally considered to be the world record for smallmouth bass taken on a fly – making it a most impressive state record, but one destined to fall since a number of eight pound plus smallmouths have been taken in recent years from sections of the Columbia and Snake rivers as well as an eight pound ten ounce fish from Palmer Lake.

8 – Washington’s record yellow bullhead of 1.63 pounds is only one-third of the weigh of the national record from Georgia. Yellow bullheads, as far as bullheads go, average good size, but don’t seem to have as large a maximum size as do brown and black bullheads, both of which seem to average smaller than the yellow bullheads. The biggest problem with replacing this record is actually identifying a record yellow bullhead instead of assuming it is the more common brown bullhead.

7 – The state record black bullhead of one pound 12 ounces is rather anemic when compared with the national record fish from Michigan which weighed eight pounds 15 ounces. Black bullheads tend to average small, but vary greatly in size. Properly identifying a sizable black bullhead would be difficult since most of the state’s bulheads are brown bullheads.

6 – Washington’s record chinook salmon of 70 pounds eight ounces is a very impressive salmon, but it pales next to Oregon’s record chinook of 83 pounds, California’s record chinook of 88 pounds or British Columbia’s record chinook of 92 pounds. Since chinook salmon feed up and down the Pacific Coast, at some point these jumbo chinooks should be available to be caught in any state. This record will be broken, but barbless hook requirements in the ocean make it very difficult to land a sizable chinook in saltwater.

5 – While a white crappie weighing 2.80 pounds is an impressive fish, Washington’s state record white crappie pales when compared to Oregon’s record of four pounds 12 ounces or Idaho’s record of slightly more than three and a half pounds. There are definitely state record size white crappie swimming around Washington, but they need to be officially weighed and recognized rather than going straight to the stove and table top.

4 – Washington’s state record flathead catfish of 22.80 pounds is less than 19 percent of the weight of the national record flathead, a 123 pound fish from Kansas. Of more relevance, it is barely more than a third the weight of the 58 pound eight ounce flathead pulled from Brownlee Reservoir. Since Brownlee is on the Snake River, very close to Washington, and the lower reaches of the river are in southeast Washington – there is no reason why Washington shouldn’t be producing a new state record flathead in the near future.

3 – Washington’s record american shad weighed only 3.83 pounds – A very nice shad, but one that pales when compared to the world record of 11 pounds four ounces from Massachussetts. Closer to home, Washington’s record shad compares rather poorly with the Oregon record of six pounds six ounces ( 60%) or California’s record of seven pounds five ounces (52%). Since Oregon’s state record came from the Willamette River, a major tributary of the Columbia River which is shared with Washington – it is inexplicable that the disparity between the two state records is so large.

2 – The state record for blue catfish is only 17 pounds 12 ounces or less than 13 percent of the last couple of national records from the southeastern United States. In fact, this state record is so pathetic for its species that one cannot help thinking that Washington’s blue catfish are really off-colored channel catfish. If they are, indeed, blue cats, this record needs to be replaced pronto.

1 – The warmouth state record is only .53 pounds and came from southwest Washington’s Silver Lake which has produced a number of warmouths weighing around a pound, but have not been turned in for official recognition. Oregon’s state record warmouth of one pound 14.2 ounces was caught from a backwater on the Columbia River – which is, of course, shared by Washington. This state record is woefully smaller than it should be and will be replaced.

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Umpqua Surfperch Still Hot

The annual late spring run of redtailed surfperch, more commonlly called “pinkfins” is still going strong. The two most popular spots so far this season have been near Marker 12 about a mile and a half upriver from Winchester Bay and on the other side of the river opposite the entrance to Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin. Although the average size of the perch is about a pound, few of the two to three pound jumbos have yet been caught this season. Although many perch anglers believe the tide is of utmost importance, since the perch are almost constantly on the move, location is probably more important. The trick is to approach the perch without spooking them. Anglers willing to put some time in often get their limits by anchoring in the spot of their choice and waiting for the perch to find them. If the fishing pressure increases, the resulting boat traffic may force the perch’s most active bite into the very early morning hours, but right now they seem to bite all day long with periods of inactivity (most likely the result of the perch being elsewhere).

This is a unique and very popular fishery and it is pretty amazing that the perch seem to hold up as well as they do. For shorebound anglers, the male surfperch, which do not ascend the river, usually bite aggressively while the female perch are in the river – most likely because they do not want those male perch eating their newborns. The picture below is of Denny Sherwood of Rivers End Guide Service holding up a two pound pinkfin.

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New Washington Smallmouth Book

Washington Smallmouth Bass Guide

Published in 2012, this 48 page covers virtually all the smallmouth bass fisheries in Washington and attempts to mention the other fish species present in each smallmouth fishery. Attempts to cover the newest smallmouth fisheries. Saddle-stitched with photos, record weights and index. $ 4.99. Book is available for purchase on this website (book section).

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Surfperch Fishing Books

Although surfperch are caught the year around, it always seems that fishing interest peaks around the time thousands of these tasty fish, enter the Umpqua River on their spawning run – which is happening right now. Books that will help both newcomers and experienced perch anglers would include: Winchester Bay Surfperch Guide which sells for $3.99 8.5-inches by 5.5-inches) and Reedsport Area Fishing Maps (11-inches by 8.5-inches) which sells for $7.99. Both books are available for purchase on this website (go to the book section) or at the Stockade Market where the author of both books works. Information about each book can be obtailed by clicking on the book’s cover image in the book section of this website.

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Pete’s Trivia 5/24/12

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Oregon Coast Houseboats

More than 40 years ago, a family friend, Ben Ederer of Lakeside, built a rather fancy houseboat called the Tenmile Queen on South Tenmile Lake. The houseboat, with an impressive kitchen was mainly designed for restaurant-type meals and entertaining. As a young teenager who happened to be lucky enough to be aboard on the maiden voyage, all I could think of were the fishy-looking spots the that the large paddlewheel briskyly moved us past.

Forty years ago, I had the pleasure of the use of a houseboat on Siltcoos Lake for the weekend and it was wonderful. We caught lots of fish in complete comfort and the houseboat was easy enough to operate that my younger brother, Ethan, then only ten years old could easily maneuver the boat during the surprisingly wind-free conditions – and we caught lots of fish, mostly yellow perch to more than 13-inches.

The houseboats were rented out by Richard and Joella Collins who owned and operated Ada Resort and the only thing that I found irritating about using the houseboats were that we were not allowed to pass through any of the railroad trestles that crossed portions of the east side of Siltcoos Lake.

The hosueboats were built custom built on untreated logs and had a limited lifespan and when their rather short lifespan was over, the Oregon Coast was essentially devoid of large rental houseboats in a freshwater environment.

So on a recent fishing trip to Loon Lake, I was pleasantly surprised to see a large rental houseboat tethered to that portion of Loon Lake Lodge that used to be known as Fish Haven Resort at the upper end of Loon Lake. I later found out that the houseboat was 46 feet in length and that a smaller houseboat, 25 footer, was also available for rent. More details about the houseboats and their rental costs and available discounts can be found on the website for Loon Lake Lodge (

Despite being less than 300 acres in size, Loon Lake is a wonderful lake for houseboats. It is relatively deep except for the upper end which has a five mile speed limit and the lower 90 percent of the lake is fairly deep and the houseboats are large enough to easily handle the wakes from the pleasure boats speeding around the lower end of the lake. Although only about 20 miles, as the crow flies, from the Pacific Ocean, Loon Lake lies in a mountain setting and has a decidedly non-coastal climate being much warmer and usually relatively wind-free.

When the houseboat rental cost is divided between several families, the cost can rival, or in some cases beat, the price of a nice motel – and you can’t catch a mess of sizable brown bullheads while dozing off in a regular motel room. In fact, a 22-inch brown bullhead was reported taken in 2011 by anglers fishing from one of the Lodge’s houseboats (see Oregon Fishing Forum -Southwest Section-Loon Lake). Rainbows trout are stocked in the lake and warmwater fish species present include largemouth bass, bluegills, white crappie and brown bullheads – and they are all capable of reaching good size.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 5/23/12

The first limit of Umpqua River pinkfins was reported around noon last Saturday. As the run progressives, some very good surf fishing for the pinkfin will drop off somewhat as about half the adult pinkfins (the female perch) in the area will leave the beaches and head to that section of the Umpqua River between Gardiner and the entrance to Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin. Anglers fishing the perch run that like company will be fishing close to Marker 12 which is about a mile and a half upriver from Winchester Bay.

The salmon fishing in the ocean off Winchester Bay has occasionally been very good and some of the fish have been caught quite close to the Umpqua River Bar such as the 22 pound chinook Paul Stallard caught while fishing solo last Saturday between the bar and the Red Can. Upriver spring chinook fishing seems to have slowed down somewhat, but there have been brief spurts of good fishing.

Tony Stark caught a quick limit of rockfish averaging close to two pounds while fishing from a boat along the South Jetty last Saturday. He was using a metal jig. Greenling and striped surfperch continue to dominate the jetty catch, numbers-wise, but a few cabezon, rockfish and lingcod are also entering the catch. Sand shrimp account for most of the greenling, cabezon and surfperch taken.

The few boats crabbing in the ocean have been having fair success and a few boat anglers last weekend made decent crab catches between Half Moon Bay and directly across the Umpqua River from the entrance to the East Boat Basin.

Sturgeon fishing remains slow and several anglers have reported seeing sealions eating or killing sturgeon on the Umpqua near Scottsburg. Striped bass are gradually dropping down from the upper tidewater areas on the Umpqua and Smith rivers and nighttime catches have been gradually improving.

Most of the waters in our area that receive trout plants will be planted the first week in June or to put it another way, the week before Free Fishing Weekend. This week many of the Florence area lakes will receive trout plants including Alder, Buck, Dune and Siltcoos Lagoon which will each receive 425 foot long trout and 36 16-inchers. Also receiving plants of foot long trout are Cleawox (1,800), Erhart (100), Georgia (75), North Georgia (75) and Perkins lakes (100). The general opener for coastal streams is this coming Saturday (May 26th).

Despite high water in most streams and rivers, most of the central and eastern Oregon trout lakes and reservoirs have been fishing very well for trout and kokanee. It looks like the best fishing in any moving water will occur this fall and the high water levels should bode well for trout fishing over the next several years.

A road trip last Monday along Interstate 5 found the night fishing for largemouth bass at Lake Selmac very good, but my fishing was stopped at 3 am by a faulty bail spring I could not deal with in the dark. The two hours of fishing I did get in resulted in ten strikes, but no bass heavier than three pounds.I had to wait until daylight before fishing the Expo Ponds near Central Point because I was unfamiliar with driving to the parking area. As I arrived, I talked to a teenager that was walking on air because he had just caught and released bass weighing almost seven and three pounds. I fished the closest pond for two hours and only managed one foot long bass. The other pond looked fishier, but as I was contemplating fishing it, about 15 trout anglers showed up and I preferred not to inconvenience them. The next water I checked out was Galesville Reservoir near Azalea and a half hour of casting plastic worms near the boat ramp resulted in four smallmouth bass measuring between 12 and 16 inches and a nine incher. The smallmouths were cruising in two to four feet of water. Although visibility was only about a foot, Ben Irving Reservoir, west of Winston, was producing very good fishing for crappie, bass and bluegills. Ten minutes of fishing next to the boat ramp resulted in numerous takes with my best fishing being a ten inch crappie. With about two feet of visibility, Cooper Creek Reservoir, in Sutherlin, also was producing excellent fishing near the lower boat ramp for crappie and yellow perch. The only disappointment on the road trip was Plat I Reservoir, also in Sutherlin, which was muddy and seemingly had no active fish near the boat ramp except planted trout. The next three weeks should be very productive at most of the lakes in Jackson, Josephine and eastern Douglas County.

Closer to home, one lucky angler reported catching six species of fish at Mercer Lake (cutthroat and rainbow trout, largemouth bass, yellow perch, black crappie and brown bullheads). Some sizable bass have been taken from Tenmile Lake, but almost no panfish action except for yellow perch. A Thursday trip fishing the entire shoreline of the upper half of Loon Lake resulted in excellent bass fishing despite very windy conditions. Of the approximately 30 bass landed, two dozen weighed at least a pound and more than 15 weighed more than two pounds. The only three bass I caught that weighed more than three pounds each easily topped five pounds in weight and the total weight for my best five fish was more than 22 pounds – my best daytime total on Loon Lake to date. The same strategy on the lower half of the lake was far less productive with slightly more than one bass per hour landed and none weighing more than three pounds. My experience over the years is that the lower half of Loon Lake lags the upper half by about two weeks when it comes to productive warmwater fishing. Bassfishing at Loon should be very good for the next month, but the bluegills have yet to  move into shallow water in any numbers and the trout in the lake will not receive a supplemental stocking until the first week in June. Unless the coast gets some warmer weather, it appears that the bass will not actually be spawning until June.

Despite high water in most streams and rivers, most of the central and eastern Oregon trout lakes and reservoirs have been fishing very well for trout and kokanee. It looks like the best fishing in any moving water will occur this fall and the high water levels should bode well for trout fishing over the next several years.

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