Your shopping cart is empty.
Items/Products added to Cart will show here.
- January 2019 (15)
- December 2018 (16)
- November 2018 (35)
- October 2018 (40)
- September 2018 (32)
- August 2018 (53)
- July 2018 (35)
- June 2018 (35)
- May 2018 (26)
- April 2018 (17)
- March 2018 (29)
- February 2018 (28)
- January 2018 (28)
- December 2017 (32)
- November 2017 (37)
- October 2017 (39)
- September 2017 (39)
- August 2017 (18)
- July 2017 (20)
- June 2017 (33)
- May 2017 (26)
- April 2017 (37)
- March 2017 (26)
- February 2017 (27)
- January 2017 (17)
- December 2016 (18)
- November 2016 (26)
- October 2016 (8)
- September 2016 (34)
- August 2016 (34)
- July 2016 (24)
- June 2016 (28)
- May 2016 (31)
- April 2016 (47)
- March 2016 (43)
- February 2016 (41)
- January 2016 (21)
- December 2015 (21)
- November 2015 (18)
- October 2015 (28)
- September 2015 (24)
- August 2015 (11)
- July 2015 (15)
- June 2015 (31)
- May 2015 (33)
- April 2015 (36)
- March 2015 (36)
- February 2015 (44)
- January 2015 (25)
- December 2014 (35)
- November 2014 (28)
- October 2014 (32)
- September 2014 (34)
- August 2014 (28)
- July 2014 (13)
- June 2014 (25)
- May 2014 (31)
- April 2014 (28)
- March 2014 (33)
- February 2014 (32)
- January 2014 (20)
- December 2013 (26)
- November 2013 (29)
- October 2013 (35)
- September 2013 (14)
- August 2013 (25)
- July 2013 (7)
- June 2013 (12)
- May 2013 (27)
- April 2013 (14)
- March 2013 (19)
- February 2013 (14)
- January 2013 (13)
- December 2012 (14)
- November 2012 (18)
- October 2012 (18)
- September 2012 (18)
- August 2012 (16)
- July 2012 (18)
- June 2012 (19)
- May 2012 (20)
- April 2012 (22)
- March 2012 (27)
- February 2012 (15)
- January 2012 (3)
Monthly Archives: February 2013
The best news is that there has been a few spring chinook salmon reported caught in the Scottsburg area and it probsbly won’t be to many weeks before one starts seeing vehicle-trailer rigs parked along Highway 38 because there isn’t enough parking space in the boat ramp parking areas. Steelhead fishing is still fairly good on the Umpqua, but finclipped keepable steelhead remain extremely rare.Virtually all of the area streams have decent numbers of steelhead in them, but they are not biting all that well.
Because of a manpower shortage caused by recent budget cuts, the trout stocking information for much of Oregon has not yet been published to the ODFW website. However, the ODFW will attempt to stock Loon Lake and Lake Marie by mid-March and the south coast lakes by the first of March. The south coast waters slated to receive early trout plants are Bradley Lake, Empire Lakes, Garrison Lake, Johnson Mill Pond, Powers Pond and Saunders lake. Please note, that the early stocking schedule is very tentative and nore reliaable stocking information will be available in the future. At present, the ODFW is attempting to do the same amount of work and release the same amount of information as they always have – with less people to do so. I commend them for trying so hard.
Anglers recently fishing Lake Marie are still encountering some of the larger rainbow trout that were stocked last fall. Because so many of that fall plant were caught by fly anglers fishing from float tubes or pontoon boats who practiced catch and release – the amount of recreation obtained from what can only be described as a nominal trout plant, numbers-wise, was incredible – and there still seems to be some left.
As for the lakes north of Reedsport, beginning with Elbow Lake and running as far north as Alder, Buck and Dune lakes which are located almost eight miles north of Florence, they have been stoked and Cleawox, Dune and Munsel have been stocked twice. The Florence area lakes are not scheduled to receive additional trout plants until the week beginning March 18th.
Anglers fishing for bottomfish off the South Jetty continue to do well. Those using sand shrimp to target the striped surfperch and greenling are having the most consistent success, while those willing to make lots of casts with leadhead jigs/soft plastic lure bodies are catching rockfish and a few lingod. Cabezon are currently not keepable (until July 1st). Anglers fishing area beaches for redtailed surfperch (commonly referred to as “pinkfins”) are having fair success. To make such a fishing trip more enjoyable and productive, one should wear waders (chest waders are safer than hip boots) and use a long rod (long casts and one can hold the rod tip high to avoid more of the breaking waves). But the one thing that most surf anglers do not do is used braided line, which is much thinner and less affected by wave action – allowing lighter weights and longer casts. Because casting distance is almost always important when fishing the surf, the braided superlines allow more effortless casting which makes it more likely that the sand shrimp, so often used as bait, will actually remain on the hook. Even so, I would still use a hardier bait on the second hook like squid or a piece of Berkley Gulp.
Although yellow perch fishing off the fishing dock at the county park on South Tenmile Lake has dropped off, it is most likely due to a reduction in the numbers of perch moving into the dock area and not the overall fishery. There has been relatively light fishing pressure directed at the perch in other parts of Tenmile Lakes. Other area lakes also have good perch populations, but are not receiving much fishing pressure – and fishing pressure directed at the perch is not likely to go up as the Florence area lakes have received trout plants and over the next few weeks, lakes and ponds along the south coast will receive trout plants with Loon Lake and Lake Marie usually receiving their first trout plants in early March.
Currently the top northwest fisheries for anglers lucky enough to be extremely mobile are: Lake Chelan in central Washington for mackinaws and Rufus Woods Lake, a Columbia River reservoir in eastern Washington for triploid rainbow trout. Chelan’s macs average about 4 pounds, but a new state record weighing more than 35 pounds was caught less than a month ago. The rainbows in Rufus Woods average three to four pounds, but fish weighing at least 20 pounds are taken yearly and the Washington state record rainbow of nearly 30 pounds was a Rufus Woods fish.
Although weather conditions can be miserable and windy and the fishing slow, the majority of the very largest walleyes pulled out of the Columbia each year are caught during late February through March. Although the Portland area produces some jumbo walleyes later in the year, the early pre-spawn fishery starts below Bonneville Dam and runs all the way up the Columbia River to Rufus Woods Lake.
Although the official results are not yet available to me, once again it took more than 20 pounds of bass to win this very popular bass tournament.
Over the years, this Tenmile Lakes bass tournament has almost always required more than a 20 pound total to win and several years back, one tournament required more than 20 pounds to finish in the top ten.
Early season bassfishing in Oregon can be extremely inconsistent, but rarely incredible good for big largemouths. Serious bass anglers know that although there may be a long time between bites, the chances of catching largemouth bass of truly lunker proportions is the best it will be all year.
Anglers that want on as many bassfishing spots in Oregon as possible should consider checking out “Oregon Bass and Panfish Guide” which covers more than 450 warmwater fishing spots. It is available for purchase on this website.
The author, Pete Heley (me) strongly feels that knowing what species of fish are in each body of water is more important than telling someone whaty to use to catch them. Knowing which other fish species are in each fishing spot should allow an angler to make a logical, intelligent decision on what lures and color patterns to use. Over the years, I have found that when giving specific advice on bassfishing strategies, the angler receiving the advice often does not fish the lure, or lures, the same way that the angler giving the advice does – and unless they are experienced anglers or very confident – they will be second guessing themselves within a few minutes.
My favorite early season bass waters tend to be shallow enough that the bass react to warm afternoons. By starting your bassfishing now, you and your fishing tackle will be ready when the fishing gets really good.
Readers of this article need to remember that it merely the writer’s opinion and other reader/anglers may have had much different experiences at these waters. Additionally, these spots tend to fluctuate in productivity and major year classes of different panfish species from year to year. But if you love fishing for panfish, the waters mentioned in this articles are wonderful places to start.
(1) – SILVER LAKE – This Silver Lake, the one near Castle Rock, Washington is probably best known as a producer of lunker largemouth bass. But the panfishing in this very shallow lake of more than 3,000 acres can be absolutely incredible, if somewhat inconsistent. When the panfish move into the canals, anglers can sometimes catch (and hopefully release) more than 200 assorted crappies and yellow perch with some bluegills and warmouths thrown in. Although the average size of the panfish is not exceptional, crappies weighing at least two and a half pounds have been caught in the last few years. Silver holds the Washington state record for warmouth with a fish slightly over eight ounces (.53 lbs), but produces a number of warmouth each year that weigh between nine and 12 ounces that are not turned in for state record recognition.
(2) – WARNER VALLEY LAKES – This string of lakes in southeast Oregon can cover more than 30,000 acres when there is a decent amount of rain or snowfall, but can also almost dry up during drought years. Right now, there have been several decent water years in a row and the fishing for crappie can be sensational. All of the lakes can produce good fishing after being full for a few years, but the most consistent fishing is in Crump and Hart lakes with Hart producing some sensational crappie fishing in the last few years and these lakes can produce fair numbers of two to three pound crappies after four or five years of good water conditions. Information and supplies are available at the small communities of Adel and Plush.
(3) – Eloika lake – This 660 acre Spokane County lake is located on the West Branch of the Little Spokane River and definitely has a weed problem that does not seem to negatively impact fishing success to any degree. Although a noted largemouth bass lake, Eloika offers very good fishing for yellow perch and black crappie with some reaching very good size. Eloika gives up lots of perch, crappies and even largemouth bass to anglers fishing it through the ice in the winter and as a bonus gives up some pumpkinseed and green sunfish, black, brown and yellow bullhead catfish and grass pickerel.
(4) – SELMAC LAKE – Covering less than 150 acres, Selmac is best known for producing Oregon state record largemouth bass, but this lake located south of Grants Pass near Selma offers superb panfish angling. Crappie and bluegill fishing can be exceptional with crappies averaging about a half-pound, but running to two pounds and lots of bluegills measuring seven to nine inches with some larger. So far, the recent introduction of golden shiners has not seemed to impact the panfish populations yet and the lake is easy to fish with large areas of shallow water full of bluegills with the crappies hangling around docks and other structure. There is also an overlooked population of brown bullheads in the lake and a few green sunfish. This lake also receives very heavy plants of rainbow trout and and may offer the earliest productive warmwater fishing in Oregon.
(5) – CRANE CREEK RESERVOIR – This 3,200 are reservoir located near Weiser, Idaho provides some good bassfishing, but in recent years has been putting out some sizable crappies including Idaho’s crappie to date – a white crappie weighing three pounds 12.8 ounces taken in 2012.
(6) – MOSES LAKE – The crappie can be hard to find in this lengthy 6,600 acre lake, but all fish species reach lunker size in this lake. A crappie and panfish jigmaker in Washington who goes by the internet name of jigmeister once stated that he targeted jumbo crappies to at least 16-inches in Moses Lake by sightfishing for them beneath the I-90 bridge around the first of June. Moses Lake definitely has more artificial structure (bridges and docks) than does neighboring Potholes Reservoir.
(7) – FERN RIDGE RESERVOIR – Although this 9,000 acre reservoir (when full) has given up largemouth bass weighing more than 11 pounds and contains brown bulheads, bluegills and tons of carp, the crappie fishery dominates everything and can be very productive in the spring. However, when the reservoir is severely drawn down in the late winter and early spring, the crappies and bass drop down near the dam and fishing can be very good until the reservoir level rises scattering the fish.
(8) – CASCADE RESERVOIR – Better known as Lake Cascade, this 30,000 acre reservoir (when full) in western Idaho has a reputation for producing the largest yellow perch in the state. Cascade contains rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, kokanee and landlocked coho salmon and Cascade holds the record for the cohos with a six pound fish. A prolific pikeminnow population competes with the perch and other fish, but probably helps keep the average size up and Cascade produced a perch in 2012 (2 lbs 9.6 oz) that tied the state record perch from Wilson Lake taken way back in 1971.
(9) – POTHOLES RESERVOIR – This southeast Washington reservoir of 28,000 acres formed by O’Sullivan Dam has a long history of furnishing excellent panfishing. Sometimes the panfishing pressure plummets due to the wonderful fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass, rainbow trout and walleyes. Now that channel catfish are established in the reservoir the additional predation should keep the average size of Potholes’ panfish species as impressive as ever. Potholes has produced bluegills to more than two pounds, crappies to more than three and yellow perch that average ten inches – the only problem is finding them in all that water.
(10) – IRONGATE RESERVOIR – One of two reservoirs (the other being Copco) in northernmost California that have yellow perch populations, Irongate separates itself from Copco, situated just upstream on the Klamath River, by having more varied fishing. This thousand acre reservoir has an incredible population of yellow perch averaging six to seven inches in length, but infrequently reaching or topping a foot in length. But Irongate also has numerous other fish species such as rainbow trout, largemouth bass, crappies and green sunfish that make the fishing even more interesting.
(11) – LONG LAKE – Washington has several Long Lakes, but this one is a reservoir on the Spokane River in northeast Washington and offers incredible angling variety with largemouth and smallmouth bass, brown bullheads, rainbow and brown trout, northern pike and northern pikeminnows as well as incredible late season fishing for yellow perch and black crappies. All fish species reach lunker sizes in this lengthy 5,000 acre reservoir and Long Lake holds the state record for northern pike with a fish of more than 34 pounds.
(12) – COTTAGE GROVE RESERVOIR – Located east of the community of Cottage Grove, Oregon, this 1,100 acre reservoir offers very good fishing with little fishing pressure. The reason for this is the mercury advisory regarding consuming fish from the reservoir. Despite the fact that the reservoir has produced several largemouth bass weighing at least ten pounds, it is illegal to keep bass measuring 15-inches or more. Cottage Grove contains bullhead catfish, rainbow and cutthroat trout as well as such panfish species as black crappies and bluegills.
(13) – BANKS LAKE – This 25,000 eastern Washington lake holds the Washington state record for largemouth bass, but is best known for producing good-sized walleyes, smallmouth bass and rainbow trout. The lake also produces good-sized kokanee, lake whitefish and brown bullheads, but is capable of giving up impressive catches of good-sized panfish – especially yellow perch and black crappies, but some bluegills and pumpkinseeds also enter the catch.
(14) – LOOKOUT POINT RESERVOIR – This lengthy reservoir of 4,300 acres receives, located west of Highway 58 between Eugene and Oakridge, very little fishing pressure despite producing jumbo-sized rainbow trout, brown bullheads and largemouth bass. Walleyes and landlocked chinook salmon are also present, but the best fishery this reservoir provides is for white crappies. They are hard to find at times, but Lookout Point has produced crappies to at least four and a half pounds for anglers and fisheries biologists have netted even larger crappies.
(15) – OWYHEE RESERVOIR – This eastern Oregon reservoir provides good fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass and channel catfish, but the best fishing is usually for yellow perch and crappies. While the average crappie only measures eight or nine inches and the perch slightly less, both species are capable of reaching more than 12 inches and the spring fishing can be phenomenal.
(16) – LAKE STEVENS – This 1,000 acre lake is located five miles east of Everett, Washington and offers good fishing for a variety of fish species. All fish species are capable of reaching good size for their respective species, but the best fishing is for kokanee, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass and yellow perch. Brown bullhead and largemouth bass provide fair fishing and while the crappie fishing is only mediocre, it seems a fair portion of them are lunkers.
(17) – BEN IRVING RESERVOIR – This 250 acre reservoir, also known as Berry Creek Reservoir, is located west of Winston, Oregon and despite its often murky water, gives up wonderful fishing for black crappie and bluegills. A growing yellow perch population has not yet contributed much to the fishery, but largemouth bass often furnish good fishing although the number of lunker bass is disappointing. The bluegills often run seven to eight inches and the crappies average nine to ten inches with fish to two pounds rarely taken.
(18) – COOPER CREEK RESERVOIR – This 160 acre reservoir is located in Sutherlin, Oregon and despite loads of pleasure boaters, furnishes excellent fishing for largemouth bass, bluegills and black crappies. Many of the anglers target stocked rainbows, but mamy of Cooper Creek’s bluegills exceed eight inches in length and the crappies, which anglers can sight fish for in the spring, often top ten inches with some much larger.
(19) – FIO RITO LAKES – Two small lakes (North and South) totaling 54 surface acres located on the east side of I-82 five miles south of Ellensburg, Washington. The lakes receive heavy plants of rainbow trout, but are best known for their warmwater fishing. The best fishing is usually for largemouth bass, black crappies and yellow perch, but brown bullheads and pumpkinseed sunfish are also present. Some of the panfish reach very respectable sizes.
(20) – REYNOLDS POND – This small central Oregon, very shallow lake of less than 20 acres produces lots of small brown bullheads as well as some smallish largemouth bass. However, there are a few good-sized crappies in the lake and Reynolds holds the Oregon state record for redear sunfish with a jumbo redear that weighed a half-ounce less than two pounds. The lake has lots of redears that will easily top three-quarters of a pound, but the fish can be spooky in the shallow water. The closest supplies are at the store in Alfalfa.
(21) – DOG LAKE – This lake, located east of Lakeview, Oregon offers varied fishing for a variety of warmwater fish and all species seem capable of reaching lunker size. Every year, largemouth bass weighing more than eight pounds are caught and last year a nine pounder was caught. Yellow perch are capable of reach 12 to 14-inches in length,but average smaller, Crappie weighing more than two pounds were taken last year, but the average size is about nine inches. Bluegills in the eight to nine inch class were caught last year, but the most interesting recent development is the presense of redear sunfish in the lake. They are not yet lunkers, but if they grown like the other warmwater species in the lake, a new state record may be in the near future.
(22) – JOHN BOYLE RESEVOIR – This reservoir, bisected by Highway 66 (Green Springs Highway) west of Klamath Falls can be tough to fish due to fluctuating water levels due to power generation. But the lake has good numbers of crappies, yellow perch, pumpkinseeds, brown bullheads and fair numbers of largemouth bass. The Klamath River just upstream from the reservoir is a hotspot for lunker rainbow trout and may be the reason that the warmwater fish in the reservoir are pretty much overlooked. Years ago, the reservoir produced some crappies weighing more than three pounds, but today, they seem to top out at about a pound and a half. While most of the fishing pressure seems to be from shore near the highway bridge, the lower end of the lake offers the best fishing for the crappies, yellow perch and largemouth bass.
(23) – TRIANGLE LAKE – This 290 acre reservoir is located west of Eugene along Highway 36 and most of the fishing pressure is directed at the kokanee and rainbow and cutthroat trout. But Triangle produces good-sized warmwater fish with several bass weighing ten pounds or more being caught in recent years. The lake also contains good numbers of yellow perch and bluegills with a very much overlooked population of black crappies that average about ten inches in length, but reach at least one and a half pounds. The perch are seldom caught, except by anglers fishing deep and the best fishing is for bluegills that average about seven inches.
(24) – FAT ELK SLOUGH – This Coquille River slough is located about a mile west of Coquille, Oregon and provides erratic warmwater angling. However, the fishing can, at times, be sensational. Largemouth bass, cutthroat trout, bluegills, yellow perch and brown bullheads are present, but the best fishing is for crappies and while the best numbers are near the Highway 42 Bridge, the largest ones reside in the short section of the slough between the tidegate and the Coquille River with some crappies weighing well over a pound.
(25) – LACAMAS LAKE – The fishing in this 300 acre lake, located near Camas, Washington has gone downhill in recent years, but the lake has a reputation for producing good-sized specimens of largemouth bass and lots of eight inch bluegills. The water quality has deteriorated, but excellent fishing for a variety of warmwater species is still available in Round Lake, a 30 acre lake connected to Lacamas by a very short canal. Bluegills, largemouth bass, black crappies, yellow perch and brown bullheads are present and this small lake has produced largemouth bass approaching ten pounds and channel catfish weighing more than 30 pounds. The best fishing is for bluegills, but most anglers seem to target the planted rainbow and brown trout.
PACIFIC NORTHWEST RECORD FRESHWATER FISH TRIVIA (Idaho, Oregon, Washington)
(1) – Black Bullhead
(2) – Black Crappie
(3) – Blue Catfish
(4) – Bluegill
(5) – Brook Trout
(6) – Brown Bullhead
(7) – Brown Trout
(8) – Bull Trout
(9) – Burbot (freshwater ling)
(10) – Carp
(11) – Channel Catfish
(12) – Chinook Salmon
(13) – Chum Salmon
(14) – Coho Salmon
(15) – Cut-Bow Cross
(16) – Cutthroat Trout
(17) – Flathead Catfish
(18) – Green Sunfish
(19) – Kokanee Salmon
(20) – Largemouth Bass
(21) – Mackinaw
(22) – Northern Pike
(23) – Pumpkinseed
(24) – Redear Sunfish
(25) – Rainbow Trout
(26) – Sacramento Perch
(27) – Steelhead
(28) – Striped Bass
(29) – Tiger Muskie
(30) – Tiger Trout
(31) – Warmouth
(32) – Walleye
(33) – White Catfish
(34) – White Crappie
(35) – Yellow Bullhead
(36) – Yellow Perch
ANSWERS – (1)-WA (1 lb 12 oz – Mud Lake, Skagit Co.); (2)-WA (4 lbs 8 oz – Lake Washington); (3)-WA (17 lbs 12 oz – Snake River); (4)-ID (3 lbs 8 oz – C.J. Strike Res.); (5)-OR (9 lbs 6 oz – upper Deschutes River); (6)-WA (11.04 lbs – Snohomish Co. lake – this record is almost certainly a mis-identified white or channel cat since the Washington record is several pounds heavier than the national record); (7)-OR (28 lbs 5 oz – Paulina Lake); (8)-ID (32 lbs – Pend Orielle Lake); (9)-WA (17.37 lbs – Bead Lake in Pend Orielle Co.); (10)-ID (67 lbs 10.4 oz – taken by archery at C.J. Strike Reservoir); (11)-OR (36 lbs 8 oz – McKay Res.); (12)-OR (83 lbs – Umpqua River); (13)-WA (25.97 lbs – Satsop River); (14)-OR (25 lbs 5.25 oz – Siltcoos Lake); (15)- ID (34 lbs 11.8 oz – American Falls Res.); (16)-ID (18 lbs 15 oz – Bear Lake); (17)-ID (58 lbs 8 oz – Brownlee Res.); (18)-WA (.79 lbs – Bailey Lake in Spokane Co.); (19)-OR (9 lbs 10.72 oz – Wallowa Lake); (20)-OR (12 lbs 1.6 oz – Springfield area pond); (21)-ID (57 lbs 8 oz – Priest Lake); (22)-ID (40 lbs 2 oz – Lower Twin Lake); (23)-WA (1.09 lbs – Lake Terrell); (24)-OR (1 lb 15.5 oz – Reynolds Pond); (25)-ID (37 lbs – Pend Oreille Lake); (26)-OR (11.2 oz – Lost River); (27)-OR (35 lbs 8 oz – Columbia River); (28)-OR (64 lbs 8 oz – Smith River-world flyrod record); (29)-ID (38 lbs 7 oz – Hauser Lake); (30)-WA (15.04 lbs – Roses Lake); (31)-OR (1 lb 14.2 oz – Columbia River); (32)-OR (19 lbs 15.25 oz – Columbia River); (33)-WA (19.85 lbs – Walla Walla River); (34)-OR (4 lbs 12 oz – Gerber Res.); (35)-OR (3 lbs 2 oz – Tahkenitch Lake-taken years ago and was official state record, but bullhead catfish records have since been consolidated and the current state record is held by a brown bullhead); (36)-WA (2 lbs 12 oz – Snelsons Slough).
Now that virtually all of the smaller Florence-area lakes have been recently stocked with trout, trout anglers should be aware of the book – “Oregon Coast Fishing Maps” – which covers freshwater fishing spots along the entire Oregon coast – but covers the recently planted Florence-area lakes and ponds in considerable detail.
The lakes that have been planted since the second week in February include: Alder, Buck, Carter, Cleawox, Dune, Elbow, Erhart, Georgia, Lost, Munsel, North Georgia, Perkins and Siltcoos Lagoon. Other Florence-area lakes that will be stocked in the next several weeks include: Mercer, Siltcoos and Woahink, while Sutton Lake always seems to have a good population of native, searun and carryover rainbows along with a few cutthroat trout.
The “Oregon Coast Fishing Maps” has 40 fishing maps with most have contour depth information and also has information on other coastal fishing waters. It is available for purchase on this website.
Although Charleston remains the best crabbing option, some decent catches were made last weekend at Winchester Bay. One boast, crabbing in Half Moon Bay last Saturday ended up with 14 keepers, but admitted they had to work hard for them. With the gradual wind-down of commercial crabbing in the ocean and a steady decrease in Umpqua River water flows, the crabbing at Winchester Bay should at least hold steady or show a gradual improvement.
Fishing off the South Jetty and in the Triangle Area at Winchester Bay has been good for greenling and striped surfperch with some rockfish and lingcod also enterting the catch.
There are still plenty of steelhead in most area streams, but the bite is tough in low, clear water conditions. While the Millicoma/Coos river system, as well as Eel Creek and Tenmile Creek below the Eel Creek confluence and the South Fork Coquille River seem to have good numbers or finclipped steelhead, the best fishing is most likely on the Umpqua for unclipped and unkeepable steelhead.
Like most Februarys, there already has been unverified reports of spring chinook catches on the Umpqua. However, until one of the businesses at Wells Creek report a spring chinook catch, I would not give much credence to any unverified catches. There are almost certainly a few springers in the river as this column is being written, but it takes a verified catch to jumpstart the fishing pressure directed at the Umpqua’s springers – and that usually doesn’t happen until the last week in February through the first week in March. The ocean usually opens for chinook salmon in mid-March and some spring chinooks are taken each year by ocean sport anglers.
A few anglers have been buying striper plugs, but it seems that cold water temperatures have pretty much stopped any striper activity in the upper tidewater areas of the Smith River. Some warmer temperatures should see some stripers being caught.
The spring halibut fishery is tentatively scheduled to open on Thursday, May 9th and run through that Saturday. The rumor has it that the quota will be surprisingly generous to the point where the poundage quota for future seasons may be negatively impacted. Hopefully, the minus tide the morning of May 9th won’t cause a lengthy delay to the start of any halibut trips out of Winchester Bay. Once again, I would like to go on the record as thinking the fairest days for three day halibut openers is Saturday, Sunday and Monday, while the fairest days for summer’s two day halibut openers are Saturday and Sunday. Partial week openers for other fish species also seem unfair regarding anglers that are forced to work a normal Monday through Friday work week, but the halibut openers seem the most unfair.
The biggest walleyes of the year are coming out of the Columbia River, but cold water temperatures have kept the bite slow. Almost all of the serious walleye fishermen are targeting the pre-spawn females from a couple of miles below Bonneville Dam upriver to where the Columbia flows through eastern Washington. The heaviest fishing pressure is in the couple of miles below each dam (Bonneville, The Dalles, John Day and McNary), but the pre-spawn walleye fishery in the Portland area has yet to be solved by even the most serious walleye anglers – even those in the Lower Columbia Walleye Club – yet they catch plenty of jumbo Portland area walleyes during the late spring through fall period. Anglers seeking late winter jumbo walleyes on the Columbia need to realize that although the walleyes are at their heaviest, the fishing can be some of the year’s slowest numbers-wise.
Not many reports regarding fishing success on the trout plants dumped into the Florence-area lakes last week – so there should be plenty of trout left to catch. A few of the lakes are scheduled to receive additional trout this week and they are: Alder and Dune lakes (500 barely legal trout each); Cleawox Lake (2,000 barely legal trout) and Munsel Lake (1,000 barely legal trout and 150 16-inchers).
Although not every striper season along the south-central coast is equally good, in almost every case, the most productive fishing occurs in the late winter and early spring.
Night anglers enjoy the most consistent success and the main thing holding off striper fishing success this year are cold water temperatures on the Smith and Umpqua rivers which furnish Oregon’s best striper fishing.
For more complete infomation on Oregon’s striped bass fisheries and fishing techniques, one might consider purchasing the “Oregon Striped Bass Guide” – available for purchase on this website.
LAKE CHELAN – WASHINGTON’S MACKINAW SUPERFISHERY
In north-central Washington, lies what may be the best mackinaw fishery in the United States. Although Lake Chelan only averages about a mile wide, it stretches for 55 miles and despite is rather narrow configuration, it is our country’s third deepest lake at 1,486 feet deep – and 26th deepest lake in the world. Appropriately, the Salish indian word, chelan, means deep water.
Lake Chelan sits at an elevation of 1,098 feet, has an average depth of 474 feet, has 109.2 miles of shoreline and covers 52.1 square miles – or more than 33,000 surface acres.
Lake Chelan is best known for its incredible mackinaw or lake trout fishing with limits, or near limits, the norm when fishing with one of the guides that fish the lake. Although the average mackinaw will weigh between three and six pounds, much bigger fish have been caught. Lake Chelan has held the Washington state record for mackinaws for a number of years and that record was broken in early February of this year with a 35 pound 10 ounce lunker. Most of the Macs are taken between 100 and 200 feet – but macs have been caught recently as deep as 348 feet.
The Stehekin River is Lake Chelan’s major tributary entering the upper end of the lake, but the upper half of the lake is pretty much limited to boat access – although there are plenty of facilities available on the lower end of the lake. The city of Chelan, with a population of about 4,000 is the largest city near the lake.
Although Chelan’s lake trout dominate fishing interest, the lake has a surprising variety of fish species available for anglers. The few bull trout in the lake are protected, but triploid chinook salmon have been planted in the lake for years and the lake, and state record, for the landlocked chinooks is well over 30 pounds. Rainbow and cutthroat trout, while not often pursued, are capable of reaching at least two or three pounds and the lake also has a kokanee fishery as well as burbot, or freshwater ling which is best taken at night. However, Lake Chelan’s sleeper fishery is for smallmouth bass.
The bass are most common is the shallow areas of the lake and a few anglers sight fish for them. Smallmouths to at least seven pounds have been pulled from the lake and the numbers of smallies in the two to four pound range is surprisingly high.
Although the following two books cover the Umpqua and Rogue rivers in their entirety, there is also information about the lower sections of the rivers and their spring chinook fisheries. Each book attempts to cover every slough, stream or pond connected to these major river systems.
The first book is the Rogue River Angler and in it’s 96 pages, it covers virtually every fishery available to the system – including the more overlooked ones. It also mentions how some fish runs have changed since the construction of the dams forming Applegate and Lost Creek Reservoirs. The book retails for $11.95 and is available on this web site.
The other book is the Umpqua River Angler and in its 80 pages it covers the Umpqua River system in its entirety. It also stresses the most overlooked fisheries and fishing spots in the Umpqua River system. The book sells for $8.95 and is also available on this website.
Trout plants have finally started for the northern Oregon Coast. For our area, this means that virtually all of the lakes and ponds between Elbow Lake and Alder, Buck and Dune lakes (seven miles north of Florence) will all be stocked this week. Here are the fish numbers scheduled to be dumped into each lake: Alder, Buck and Dune lakes are each slated to receive 850 barely legal and 36 trophy (16-inch) rainbow trout; Carter Lake (1,500 barely legal rainbows); Cleawox Lake (3,000 barely legal rainbows and 150 trophy trout); Elbow Lake (600 12-inch rainbows); Erhart Lake (200 barely legal and 250 12-inch rainbows); Georgia and North Georgia (150 barely legal rainbows each); Lost Lake (150 foot long rainbows); Munsel Lake (1,500 foot long and 150 trophy rainbows); Perkins Lake (200 barely legal and 36 trophy rainbows) and Siltcoos Lagoon (850 barely legal and 70 trophy rainbows).
The trout stocking schedules for the Umpqua system and the south coast have not yet been added to the ODFW website, but trout plants should start in the near future.
At Winchester Bay, the South Jetty and Triangle area has been fishing well for assorted bottomfish and I had the pleasure to weigh in a striped surfperch caught last Sunday by Ruth Ankema of Junction City that weighed two pounds two ounces. To give some perspective, the official state record striped surfperch for Washington, which does keep records on them, weighed two pounds one ounce – and it was caught 33 years ago.
The current issue of Science had a somewhat encouraging article, by Susan Millus, regarding the effect of fishing pressure on the more aggressive largemouth bass during the spawn. I have always felt that fishing pressure tends to crop the most aggressive male largemouth bass as they guard their nest or newly hatched fry – resulting in an ever more diffcult-to-catch bass population. But according to Millus’ article, even though that does tend to happen, the effect of angling, even coupled with a greater tendency to be killed by fish, birds or other animals, does not completely counterbalance the greater effectiveness of the more aggressive male bass at guarding the newly hatched bass – so that is undoubtedly a major reason that many heavily fished lakes have more catchable bass than one would think. By the way, Ringo, who owns Lakeside Marina, reported that some very nice bass were caught at Tenmile Lakes this last week.
The Boat Inspection Station for aquatic invasive species located at the Ashland Point of Entry opened on February 11th. Other stations will open in the upcoming months. Lakeview (Highway 395 south of Lakeview), Ontario (located at the rest area near the junction of I-84 and Highway 20) and at Klamath Falls (near the Midland Rest Area) will each open on May 1st. The Gold Beach Station, off Highway 101, will open on July 8th.
While many anglers regard this program as something of a nuisance, of the 4,675 watercraft inspected in Oregon last year, 51 were found to have aquatic invasive species attached to them. Thirty two of the infected craft were found to have non-native plants, such as Eurasian watermilfoil or such other non-native organisms as snails or saltwater mussels. Eighteen craft were found to be carrying quagga or zebra mussels. I don’t quite understand why the total does not add up to the 51 reported cases, but keeping the quagga and zebra mussels out of Oregon is definitely worth considerable expense and inconvenience.
A recent report on icefishing at Dog Lake, in southeast Oregon, reported that some redear sunfish were caught along with crappies, bluegills, yellow perch and largemouth bass. This is exciting to me, because Dog Lake is known for producing good-sized warmwater fish. Last year, it produced largemouth bass to nine pounds, crappies to at least two pounds, perch to well over a pound and bluegills to at least a pound. Although the redears were small, it is most likely due to their age rather than their available food. Reynolds Pond, a shallow pond near Alfalfa, currently holds the Oregon record of one-half ounce under two pounds and I am reasonably certain that, give time, Dog Lake will top that.
A new Washington state record lake trout (mackinaw) was landed on February 4th at Lake Chelan and the official weight was 35 pounds ten ounces. A Lake Chelan mackinaw angler recently reported taking a mackinaw while fishing at a depth of 348 feet, which made me wonder just how deep of water the mackinaw in Lake Chelan may inhabit – after all, the lake is more than 1,500 feet deep.