Monthly Archives: July 2012

Winchester Bay Tuna

The number of tuna trips that originate in Winchester Bay is small compared to those originating at Newport and Charleston, but one of the most productive trips I’ve heard of so far this season originated at Winchester Bay.

Mike Lavender of Oregon Custom Charters has made several recent tuna trips, but the one on Saturday, July 28th was special.

They fished from 25 to 30 miles straight out from Winchester Bay and the four anglers accounted for 76 tuna. They actually had to quit when the bite was at its peak as they were running out of ice.

Unlike many tuna charters, they also put out some crab pots and easily got their four legal limits of dungeness crabs. The average take for each angler was 19 tuna and 12 crabs.

For those wishing to book a tuna trip out of Winchester Bay, Oregon Custom Charters can be reached at: 540-840-5683.

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The ODFW’s War on Working Anglers

On August 5th, sturgeon fishing on the Columbia River’s Dalles Pool will go to three days a week. As is often the case, the three days when fishing is allowed will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The spring halibut season’s three day openers are Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The summer halibut all-depth season’s three day operers are on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Many of the restricted fisheries for salmon and other fish allow open fishing days designed to penalize the people who hold down regular Monday through Friday jobs.

For some reason, the ODFW is waging war on anglers who work regular jobs. Most jobs run from Monday morning through Friday afternoon and the people who hold down such jobs seldom get an even chance to sample restricted fisheries.

The question that needs to be answered is can these short partial-week fisheries be made more fair to working anglers?

And the answer is a resounding YES!

Instead of winding up these partial-week fisheries on weekends, the ODFW should start them on Saturdays. Three day openers would run Saturday, Sunday and Mondays and if the season had to be closed in the middle of an opener, one angler group would not be punished more than another.

The aspect of these partial-week fisheries that I find the most senseless is that there is apparently no downside to starting these fisheries on Saturdays. Almost everyone (retirees, the jobless and those holding down regular job)  gets the same fishing opportunity on the weekend days and since the first day that those regular working folks cannot fish would be the third day of any three day openers.

Although it is difficult to accurately track, there has to be some financial impact to fishing guides and charterboats. I am very surprised that they seem willing to accept the fact that they are having less working customers than they could have.

With fishing license sales down in many states and ODFW revenue evermore difficult to come by, why is the ODFW literally waging war on the anglers most able to purchase fishing licenses and tags? Not only does it not make any financial sense – it is very, very unfair.

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A National Fishing License?

A recent survey by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) indicated that the number of Americans that fished last year rose slightly to 46.2 million. The number is far from static as approximately eight million anglers did not fish this year, but that number was more than offset by the 8.8 million new anglers. Slightly more than 16 percent of americans fished this year.

One negative finding in the survey was that the average number of fishing trips decreased from an average of 20.4 in 2010 to only 18.2 trips per angler in 2011 – a decrease of 10.8 percent.

The survey had some encouraging findings including an increase in the number of female anglers and youngsters between six and 12 years of age increased. Typically, fishing activity drops off among young anglers during their teenage years.

One thing I have noticed over the last several years is how many parents want their very youthful children to start their “fishing career” with a sizable salmon. Often these young kids are terrified that they will do something wrong, have extreme difficulty handling the salmon gear, afraid that they will not be able to hang on to the rod while playing a salmon – or simply realize that they are not a very large part of the equation when the rod is placed in a fish holder, the hookup is handled by an adult and an adult handles the rod when the salmon is close to the boat. If partents want their kids to be anglers in the future, they should introduce them to fishing for a wide assortment of fish species. The chances of one of those fishing trips striking a chord with a youthful angler will be greatly increased. Parents wanting their children to continue fishing into adulthood should let them choose what type of fishing they most enjoy.

One thing I found out, years ago, when I took 38 days to drive back to Oregon from Alaska was how difficult it was to find a fishing license outlet when you wanted to do some early morning or late evening fishing. I fished in several Canadian provinces as well as Alaska, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho and I was really thankful that I could purchase a fishing license in most of the bars and taverns in Montana.

However, I also thought how easy it would be to have a national fishing license that would take into account that you would not fish in most states and therefore still be somewhat reasonably priced. A national fishing license would take a lot of cooperation between states and they would have to not go overboard on special fisheries that would be excluded from a national license. Here’s how it would work.

A fair price for the license would be $150. Of the $150, one-third or $50 would go to the resident state and let us use Oregon for an example. One third of the license cost would also be evenly split among every state that borders Oregon. In this case, those states would be California, Idaho, Nevada and Washington. Each of those four states would receive one-fourth of that $50 or $12.50 each. The final one-third of the license cost would be evenly split among every state that is left. In this case, each of the 45 remaining states would receive 1/45 of that $50 – or about $1.11 each. Now $1.11 does not seem like much, but remember that each state would receive that amount from every national license sale made in a state that does not border them. The total revenue could easily mean an increase in total fishing license revenue for each state – and most likely would do so.

Of course, each state would retain their own fishing license offerings and pricing structure. But a national license would allow some traveling anglers to spend more time fishing and less time trying to stay legal. Unfortunately, a national fishing license makes far too much sense to ever become a reality.

The illustration below might indicate how a national fishing license might look.

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Pete Heley Outdors 7/25/12

Despite receiving an additional 5,000 pounds of halibut from the uncaught portion of the spring all-depth halibut season, the near shore halibut fishery closed this last Monday. However, the summer all-depth halibut fishery is scheduled to begin on Friday, August 3rd. Cabezon are, once again, illegal to keep when caught from a boat.

Fair numbers of tuna anglers ventured out this last weekend and tuna were being caught within 20 miles of Newport and from 12 to 20 or more miles out of Charleston. Tuna anglers fishing out of Winchester Bay generally had to go out at least 20 miles to find fish – but it seems that every boat after tuna found them. Judging from the number of questions asked, many anglers are confused about whether a boat can have tuna and other fish on board and the asnswer is YES.

Salmon fishing remains good out of Winchester Bay when the ocean is reachable and fishable. Through July 15th, less than ten percent of the ocean finclipped coho quota had been caught – but 48 percent of them were caught out of Winchester Bay. With the season scheduled to close at the end of this month, it appears that perhaps only 25 to 30 percent of the quota will be caught. Hopefully, fishing conditions and the number of finclipped cohos present will greatly increase fishing success the rest of this month, but it looks like the non-selective fishery is to receive at least part of the uncaught quota. However, it would be nice if the ocean coho season was extended to allow more of the ocean coho quota to actually be caught.

One encouraging note is that some cohos, including finclipped ones, were caught in the Lower Umpqua on Saturday when the sports boats could not fish the ocean. Dave Roe reported that they got a 24-inch finclipped coho near the entrance to the East Boat Basin. Catching coho salmon in the river this early means that the fish are there because of good numbers of baitfish in the river. Cohos will not start moving up the Umpqua to spawn until around Labor Day.

Despite the fact that they are still catching shad in north central California, the Umpqua River shad run is pretty much over. There are still a few striped bass being caught in the Smith and Umpqua rivers at night by close-mouthed anglers. A very few sturgeon have been taken below Reedsport, but the fishing can only be rated as very slow. The major improvement in crabbing at Winchester Bay has made it very difficult to catch flounder on the downriver side of Osprey Point adjacent to the RV Park. One scuba diver admitted to me that he occasionally gets good numbers of gaper clams while diving in the Triangle. In the past, the gapers that establish themselves in the outermost sandy area inside the Triangle get wiped out as soon as they are re-discovered. It seems that these underwater gapers will be a more permanent population harvestable by only a few.

The fishing magazine that I trust the most and actually learn something from every issue is the In Fisherman. However in their current issue (Aug/Sept) they mention as one of their Advemtire section trip hotspots a salmon fishing trip to Astoria, Washington. It is nice to know that even the In Fisherman is human.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the North American duck population reached an all-time high of 48.6 million in 2012, Although north americans (people) still outnumber them (the ducks) by more than nine to one, the overcrowding may become serious. The one year increase from 2011 when their were 45.6 million ducks is pretty significant at seven percent. The annual survey started in 1955 and a major reason for this spring’s increase was good water levels which can reduce predation and improve nesting conditions.

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Black Pug Lures

Craig Hatcher purchased Kingfisher Lures several years ago and kept the original spinner types. But he has greatly increased the spinner models and available colors and eventually renamed the company Black Pug Lures.

Craig constantly makes and tests new models and has come up with some very effective colors that are not yet well known. He has also recently started developing spinners for use out of boats that work far better than do spinners designed to be cast from the bank.

Black Pug Lures are made in Coos Bay and are tested on and have proven very effective on area streams. Craig tests every new product and every new color scheme to ensure that they work on the waters in his marketing area – and his lures have proven to be able to stand up to hitting rocks and other forms of spinner abuse that other spinners cannot withstand.

In the photos below, the first photo is of Craig taking some anglers out into Coos Bay to test a new product and the results of the test. The second photo is of Craig Hatcher holding up a nice salmon that struck one of his spinners sporting a new color pattern. Black Pub Lures are available in most independent tackleshops in the area.

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Washington Bass and Panfish Guide

Washington Bass & Panfish GuideWASHINGTON BASS & PANFISH GUIDE – The latest info on Washington’s bass, panfish, catfish, walleye, pike and musky fishing opportunities. More than 600 waters covered. Numerous fish photos and sidebar information. Overlooked fish species and little-visited fishing spots also covered. Saddle-stitched 120 page book (5.5-inches wide and 8,5-inches tall).

Price: $11.99
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Rating Our Olympic Basketball Team

Some trash-talking by Kobe Bryant has somehow ignited a controversy about whether the USA Olympic Basketball Team could defeat the “Dream Team” of 1992. This writer thinks that the comparison is preposterous. A better question would be whether this team could defeat our last Olympic team (2008).

This year’s team is missing several players that would have made the team, but declined to participate in order to recover from injuries. Dwayne Wade was the leading score on our last Olympic team and despite playing limited minutes, led the team in scoring. During the last Olympics, Wade shot an incredible .671 from the field. In other words, if he made one of his next 34 field goal attempts, he would have had the exact same field goal percentage as Kobe Bryant.

Dwight Howard, also recovering from injuries, was a monster in the last Olympics. Howard was the starting center in 2008 and made his field goals at a rate of .745.

Chis Bosh, like Wade, a non-starter in the 2008 Olympics was also extremely productive as he made his field goals at a rate of .774.  Additionally,  Jason Kidd, who started all eight games in the 2008 Olympics made six of his seven field goal attempts.

So the most productive players on our last Olympic team are not on this team and a better question than whether this team could beat the “Dream Team” would be whether, or not, it could beat the 2008 team.

The Dream Team, while loaded with talent, was also filled with players with incredible desires to win and a very high basketball IQ. They would have figured out how to score and defend against the 2012 team and they would have made the mid-game adjustments far more efficiently and quickly than their opponents.  The Dream Team’s leading scorers shot a high percentage from the field – a claim that the 2012 team cannot truthfully make. Despite nearly winning the scoring title, Kobe Bryant only shot .430 during this last NBA season.

Other members of this year’s Olympic team that had low field goal percentages during the regular NBA season are: Deron Williams (.407); Carmelo Anthony (.430) and Andre Iguodala (.454).

Legendary UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, often stated that the most important basketball statistic was field goal percentage and field goal percentage was a major advantage of the “Dream Team” over this year’s team.

So when somebody like Kobe Bryant claims that this Olympic team, minus the players that played the best in the last Olympics, could beat the “Dream Team”, recognize it for the trash-talking that it is. Before this team should be even mentioned in the same breath as the 1992 team, shouldn’t it try to convince us that it could beat the last Olympic team.

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No Longer Complaining About NW Fishing Conditions

During this spring and early summer, I was very disappointed while I waited on water temperatures to rise high enough to allow good pre-spawn bassfishing. The abnormally cool water temperatures combined with more than usual amount of wind managed to convince me to cancel almost all of my bass and panfishing trips – as I love shallow water sightfishing.

Sometimes, my “Plan B” fishing trip, while waiting for Oregon’s coastal waters to warm up, is to go to central Oregon and trout fish, but those lakes and reservoirs were cool and marginally productive and the rivers and streams were flowing high enough to limit fishing success and definitely fishing pleasure.

The high water levels definitely bode well for fishing in the future, but it seemed like only a couple of weeks after the cool weather stopped when it became quite hot on most inland waters. While I am not fond of fishing in torrid temperatues, my biggest complaint is that I do not feel good about the fish I catch and release – especially coldwater fish such as trout.

While ideal fishing conditions have been few and far between  throughout Oregon and especially along the Oregon coast, we have it relatively good compared to the rest of the nation. Water levels and temperatures in the Pacfic Northwest have been good compared to the rest of the country.

In the lower 48 states, more than 1,000 counties and more than half the land area is undergoing a very severe drought. Many lakes and reservoirs are either bone dry or headed that way and the Mississippi River is running at a level 50 vertical feet below the level it ran last year. While it most likely will not affect us in the Pacific Northwest, the cost of goods normally transported via barges on the Mississippi will almost certainly go up as barges cannot operate at full load capacity while running the river.

While our fishing conditions have been less than ideal, a short time spent fishing  in the eastern two-thirds of our country would undoubtedly make most northwest anglers appreciate what we have. I know that I can no longer complain without feeling guilty and hypocritical.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 7/18/2012

Sadly, there has been no rebound in the Lower Umpqua River pinkfin run. Although a few perch are still being caught, the fishing success is much, much better along area beaches where some anglers have recently caught near limits.

However, the good news is that crabbing in the lower Umpqua River, at least for boat crabbers, has improved greatly. In fact, two crabbers using their allotted six crab traps caught a limit last Saturday morning on their first pull after letting their traps sit for only an hour. While the most consistent crabbing, if doable, is still in the ocean, boat crabbers at Winchester Bay have had very good recent success.

Salmon fishing at Winchester Bay has also been good when the boats can get out into the ocean to actually fish for them. Better yet, there are increasing numbers of fall chinook that are actually in the river now so it is no longer a complete washout when the Umpqua River Bar is uncrossable. My good friend, John Ledfors, of Coos Bay, made a temporary break from his Charleston salmon fishing to fish at Winchester Bay. Since he absolutely refuses to cross the bar, he trolled his herring baits near Half Moon Bay and ended up hooking and landing an extremely chunky 25 pound chinook salmon. Although most of the area’s guides have reported consistent success when salmon fishing in the ocean, a few are planning trips to fish the Umpqua River below Reedsport this week. At the very least, the lower Umpqua River should be considered a viable “Plan B” regarding salmon fishing at Winchester Bay when the bar or ocean conditions rule out crossing the bar.

Last Saturday morning, there were some boat limits by seven in the morning, but numerous anglers that started later stated that they got lots of halfhearted or insincere bites that did not result in hookups or landed salmon. However, some of those light bites might have been from mackeral as a large number of them were caught on Saturday by salmon anglers fishing out of Winchester Bay.

Scott Hatcher, a fishing guide, managed to hook a starry flounder of about four pounds while trolling herring in more than 200 feet of water with his downriggers set at only 30 feet. Another angler was trolling a herring in the lower Umpqua River and while making a turn managed to hook and land a nearly seven foot green sturgeon – of course it was promptly released since it was illegal to keep.

As for the status of the ocean finclipped coho salmon quota of 8,000 fish, their reporting deadlines and my deadline for my weekly article do not match up. But through July 8th, only 497 finclipped cohos, or 6.1 percent of the season quota had been caught. Of those 497 fish, 220 of them, or more than 44 percent, were caught out of Winchester Bay. Since there were also more than 1,100 cohos reported released out of Winchester Bay, the clear indication is that more than 80 percent of the coho taken were not finclipped.

Interestingly enough, 3,040 chinooks were reported caught and kept and 527, or more than 17 percent, were caught out of Winchester Bay. However, the hot chinook fishery was Brookings  with 1,549 taken through July 8th – or about 51 percent of the total chinook catch for our area.

There have been a number of reports of tuna being caught and, in some cases, they were caught fairly close in – such as less than ten miles out of Charleston. However, it seems that they have moved out somewhat farther and most “would be” tuna anglers are currently fishing for salmon. Two weeks ago, Oregon Custom Charters landed six tuna about 20 miles from the Umpqua River Bar. At some point in the near future, it definitely appears that there will be worthwhile numbers of tuna within reach of sport anglers.

The boat ramp at Bradley Lake, south of Bandon, is scheduled for a major construction, and since the ramp is virtually the only public access to the lake, if you want to tangle with the lake’s prolific largemouth bass population or some of those sizable leftover planted trout, you need to do so in the very near future – or wait until the construction is complete and take advantage of a much improved launching ramp complete with a dock from which fishing is going to be allowed.

As of July 15th, the taking of razor clams from Clatsop County beaches is not allowed. The closure of Oregon’s best razor clam beaches is to allow young newly-set clams to become established.

The brook trout population in High Lake in the Strawberry Mountains Wilderness Area will soon be a casualty of a program to re-establish bull trout in the upper Malheur River system. Although several agencies are involved, the actual brookie removal will be conducted by the Burns Paiute Tribe and they will use seines, gillnets, traps and also electroshocking in their attempt to completely remove all of the brook trout from the lake. High Lake was chosen because of its stunted brookie population which is capable of leaving the lake via Lake Creek and possibly hybridizing with bull trout which are native to Oregon.

One advantage of the cooler spring and early summer weather is that the state’s first report of blue-green algae occurred just last week. Jackson Creek, a small tributary of Bear Creek flows through Central Point and Jacksonville and is little used recreationally. However, the blue-green algae can be quite toxic and should definitely be avoided. Recent warm temperatures will almost certainly ensure that more such reports occur in the near future.

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TV Fishing Lures

As someone who likes to sleep with the television on, I frequently wake up in the middle of the night to discover that a TV infomercial for some new fangled lure is staring me in the face. Being dubious about each infomercial’s incredible claims, yet still curious, I managed to purchase, over a couple of years, virtually every one.

Despite what many people say about such lures or lure systems sold on late night TV, I believe that these lures do work. But they are often special situation-type lures.

One lure I did not purchase was the Mighty Bite. I found nothing wrong with the lures that made them inferior to similar lures combining a jighead with a soft plastic body, but the bite out of the body was simply too much for me to accept. Toothy predators with “piranha-type choppers” are absent from our waters, so the bitten out chunk of the soft plastic body is, in no way, realistic. If I was fishing in the Amazon basin with its piranha or in Africa with its tigerfish and goliath tigerfish, I could accept using a lure with a bitten out chunk of its soft plastic body, but I am not and so I didn’t. The bite mark was the deal killer.

As I said earlier, some of these lures are ideal for special situations, but they seldom perform well outside of that “special situation”. One floating lure vibrates for about a second every 20 seconds and it only does this when the lure is in the water. I am certain that this lure works when water temperatures are warm enough for  bass, or other fish, to be active and the fish are territorial especially during the spawn and immediate pre-spawn. It offers something that fish seldom see from artificial lures and that is some action without horizontal lure movement. In fact, whenever I cast across a tree limb, I always jiggle the lure before trying to get it back and quite often a bass will grab it. They just are not used to seeing a lure actually move without traveling horizontally. However this infomercial-marketed lure operates poorly in normal fishing conditions.

I have bought several lures that either glow after being subjected to a strong light, or actually have battery-operated lights that make their eyes, or in some cases parts of the lure bodies flash or glow. I like the lures, usually soft plastic lures, that are charged by a flashlight. However, in many cases, the battery powered lures are simply too much and they often scare all but the largest fish. These lures are very popular in Drano Lake on the Washington side of the Columbia River where it is legal to fish for salmon and steelhead after dark.

One lure consisted of a vibrating thin metal blade and it seems to work fairly well, especially in fairly deep and cold water. But in almost every case, I found some of my other favorite lures equally as well or even better. If I had to use these lures, I would hope the fish were fairly aggressive as other lures easily outfished them when the fish were not aggressive.

Another TV lure consisted of a crankbait with a rubberband powered rotating blade at the rear. When the lure had been retrieved for several yards, the angler could stop the retrieve and the wound up rubber band would spin the aft-positioned blade and the lure would actually move backwards. Once again, an action not seen in regular fishing lures. While the lure could look a lot “fishier”,  it does have realistic eyes and I have no doubts that it will catch some otherwise nearly uncatchable fish. The single treble hook will mean some missed strikes.

The walking worm was a sensation for a couple of years and it works by seeking a coiled position after being cast. Retrieving the lure for several inches, or more, straightens the worm out and it very slowly moves to a coiled position when the lure retrieve stops. While this lure can help anglers catch fish that have a difficult time fishing slow enough to catch fish like bass, the lure could easily be much-improved by making the front couple of inches of the worm’s body more substantial so that the hook or jighead attached to it is less noticeable.

The Flying Lure was a specialty lure from years ago that allowed an angler to cast near some structure and then slackening his line to allow the lure to move away from the angler while it sank. Once an angler got the hang of it, could reach farther back under floating or surface structure than conventioinal lures. The secret was the special jighead that was designed for the flattened tubeskirt bodies.  However the color choices were limited and the only advantage of this lure was that it allowed an angler to more effectively fish larger floating structure.

I consider the Bionic Minnow a take off on the Banjo Minnow. However, the lure bodies are thinner and have very good action. It fishes well, but there are so many similar lures out today that buying the Bionic Minnow Kit is unneccessarily expensive and unnecessary. If you already have one, fish it, it will catch fish.

The grandaddy of all the TV sold fishing lures is the Banjo Minnow. It catches fish and has actually evolved into an even better fish catcher over the last several years. The Banjo Minnow bodies are composed of a heavier than normal plastic, similar to that in Senkos, that allows the lure to be more effectively twitched. A lot of thought went into creating the Banjo Minnow Kit. The tiny rubber bands make tremendously effective weed guards. The tiny O-rings are very effective at keeping the springlike lure holder from slipping off the hook. The kit has special eyes that are easily to place on the minnow bodies.  The current kits even include frog bodies with the proper hooks to fish them effectively. However, the main premise of this fishing kit is that all the accessories match up very well with the heavy plastic minnow bodies to create a very effective fishing lure. Although I seldom use any of these TV lures, I did managed to hook and land a 15-inch largemouth bass from southwest Oregon’s Tenmile Creek on my second cast with a larger Banjo Minno while I was fishing next to a boat ramp.

While most of these TV marketed fishing lures may seem “gimmicky”, they do catch fish. If I did most of my fishing out of a bass boat rather than a float tube, I would certainly have at least one rod rigged with up with one of these lures.

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