Monthly Archives: February 2019

Pete Heley Outdoors 2 / 20 / 2019.

Winter steelhead are in all of our local streams and fishing success depends on stream conditions in most cases.

Two streams that never seem to muddy up are Eel Creek and Tenmile Creek. Eel Creek is extremely “snaggy” and difficult to fish, while Tenmile Creek is the exact opposite and relatively easy to fish and Tenmile Creek has been hot for the last few weeks with fish to 18 pounds taken.

Almost all the finclipped, keepable steelhead that ascend Tenmile Creek only do so as far as Eel Creek and then swim up Eel Creek as far as the STEP fishtrap just below Eel Lake. Some of Eel Creek’s steelhead actually spawn in the stream before reaching the fishtrap and some of the preferred spawning sites are inside the several culverts on the stream.

But right now, possibly the easiest place to actually land an Eel Creek steelhead would be to fish Butterfield or Saunders lakes, both of which received a healthy dose of Eel Creek steelhead last week via STEP volunteers at the Eel Creek fishtrap. Both lakes also contain largemouth bass, yellow perch, crappies  and bluegills and Butterfield Lake even has a very few warmouth sunfish.

The heaviest steelhead reported recently was a 22 pound finclipped buck fron the South Fork Coquille River.

A final reminder about the annual “Lower Umpqua Flycasters Flyfishing Expo” this coming Saturday from 9 am until 3 pm.  The location is the Community Center in Reedsport located at 451 Winchester Avenue. Despite the “free price tag” this is not a “rinky dink” show as it features flytying and flycasting demonstrations as well as informational displays by various stream and fish enhancement groups. Food concessions will be present so there is no reason not to make a “half-day” of it and really check it out.

After checking out the Flyfishing Expo, a short drive to Lakeside will give you a chance to watch the weigh-in for the “Frostbite Open”, one of the most highly regarded bass tournaments in the Pacific Northwest.

Despite the often frigid temperatures, the participating anglers have frequently surprised the viewing public  with the numbers and sizes of the bass they catch. However, the recent really cold temperatures should provide an especially tough test.

The next couple of weeks should offer the season’s best chance to catch a humungous egg-laden Columbia River Walleye. While most of the early season lunkers are caught below The Dalles, John Day or McNary dams, an angler that could consistently find early season walleye below Bonneville Dam or in the Portland area could become a legend. While big walleyes are caught in these areas, it never seems to happen before June.

While crabbing has definitely slowed down, Winchester Bay’s South Jetty was fishing really good for lingcod just before the Umpqua River muddied up. Expect the good fishing to resume once the lower river clears slightly.

While the first spring chinook salmon have already been caught in the Columbia and Willamette rivers one can reasonably expect the first springers to be caught on the Rogue and Umpqua rivers over the next weeks. In most years, the date of the earliest springer catch is as dependent upon how many anglers are actually fishing for them as it is on how many salmon are actually in the river. Let’s hope it’s a good season.

According to an article in “The Columbia Basin Bulletin”, more than 1 million adult coho salmon are expected along the Oregon coast and Columbia River in 2019. Some 905,600 of those are forecasted to enter the Columbia. 

That’s much higher than the 2018 forecast of 349,000 fish (286,200 of those turned into the Columbia) and far more than the disappointing actual run last year of 230,700 fish (147,300 into the Columbia). The 10-year average is 416,100 fish.

According to Stuart Ellis of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and a member of Oregon Technical Advisory Committee -“The increase is due to what we think are some better ocean conditions especially off the Oregon coast and some better jack returns,” he said.

NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Law Enforcement is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information that leads to a civil penalty or criminal conviction in the shootings of California sea lions in and around West Seattle. More than 12 sea lions have been confirmed shot in Washington’s King and Kitsap counties since September.

Who would have thought that when Steve Godin and several area members of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) decided to part ways with the CCA and form their own angling group, they would be so successful. But that is the only way to describe the resulting fishing club. 

The Oregon Coast Anglers (OCA) has undertaken numerous local fishing-related projects over the last several years and this year has started a “Conservation Scholarship Fund”  which offers $500 scholarships to students graduating from local high schools in 2019.

The only requirement is that the scholarship recipients plan to pursue their higher education in majors that relate to conservation of the earth’s resources. The Oregon Coast Anglers has endowed the scholarship fund with $3,500 and the high schools that are included in the program include: Bandon; Elkton; Mapleton, Marshfield, North Bend; Reedsport and Siuslaw (Florence).

For more information on the scholarship program, other OCA projects,  or joining the OCA, please call Steve Godin at 541 – 255 -3383.

Pete Heley works parttime at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.

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Winchester Bay Lingcod Fishing Improving.

Fishing for lingcod out of Winchester Bay continues to improve – and the proportion of big ones has increased. Pictured below – Toland Anderson holds up a 38# lingcod. – photos courtesy of Bryan Gill and “The Umpqua Angler Guide Service”.

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Lake Havasu’s Giant Redear Sunfish.

5 years after world-record redear sunfish catch, invasive quagga mussels considered a likely contributor to monster sizes of these sunfish at Lake Havasu

PHOENIX — Have the redear sunfish at Lake Havasu really gone quagga crazy?

Have these panfish that really can fill a pan, and are widely regarded as one of the better fish species to eat, found a surplus of invasive quagga mussels to munch?

A mystery remains: Redear sunfish at Havasu have been reaching world record sizes. But why, exactly?

Let’s dive into this piscatory puzzle.

That world-record feeling

On Feb. 16, 2014, Hector Brito caught a 17-inch, 5.78-pound world-record redear sunfish on a dropshot-rigged nightcrawler.

On Feb. 16, 2014, Hector Brito caught a world-record redear sunfish from Lake Havasu.

Five years ago, “panfish” took on a new meaning.

We’re at the time of year when Lake Havasu tacked its world-record pin on the fishing map. On Feb. 16, 2014, Hector Brito caught a 17-inch, 5.78-pound world-record redear sunfish on a dropshot-rigged nightcrawler.

“I didn’t expect the record to last this long,” Brito said. “It’s amazing.”

This 45-mile fishing wonderland created by the Colorado River on the western-most strip of Arizona, adorned like a leather belt by the regal London Bridge, allows an angler to fish from the beach on the Arizona side and see the California mountains on the other. Some of those anglers said they witnessed a dramatic increase in the sizes of redear sunfish from 2009-2014 that — coincidence or not — occurred after invasive quagga mussels were first discovered in 2007 at Havasu. 

In 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) did a study about the effects of redear and bluegill on quagga populations and found these sunfish do consume quaggas. Even more, the redear reduced quagga numbers by as much as 25 percent. The experiments of the study were conducted in field enclosures of Lake Havasu, as well as in the BOR’s Boulder City, Nev. Fish Lab. See the updated report.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department can’t verify that redear sunfish, also known as “shellcrackers” because of their pharyngeal teeth (throat teeth) that allow them to crush crustaceans such as snails, are reaching unprecedented sizes due solely to quaggas as an additional food source. Other biological factors include Havasu’s food base of grass shrimp and redswamp crawdads.

Regardless, Havasu is home to some of the biggest shellcrackers on the globe.

Fish chatter: redear sunfish are “quagga crazy”

Doug Adams, a former Lake Havasu City-based fisheries biologist for the Bureau of Land Management, said he also knows that redear sunfish eat quagga mussels. At the same time, he said that in 2005 —  2 years before quagga mussels were discovered in Lake Havasu – an electroshocking of 75 sites produced redear sunfish that averaged more than 2 pounds.

“From one standpoint, there wasn’t much fishing pressure until they started catching these bigger (redear),” Adams said. “Quagga could be a good contributor to their sizes. So it’s kind of a mystery.”

A mystery it might remain.

  • Robert Lawler of Lake Havasu City with what was a potential world-record, 5-pound, 7-ounce redear sunfish caught in 2011 from Havasu.
  • Brito’s world-record 5.78-pound redear sunfish from 2014.
  • A pair of big redear sunfish captured during AZGFD’s November, 2018 survey at Lake Havasu.
  • Ashley’s monster redear sunfish caught during April of 2017 reportedly weighed 5.02 pounds and measured 16 1/2 inches.
  • During AZGFD’s fall, 2016 Havasu survey, the biggest redear sunfish captured (left) was 2.5 pounds.


Still, some Arizona anglers have etched their conclusion: The increasingly larger sizes of redear is a quagga-based phenomenon.

For angler Mike Taylor of Phoenix, it’s simple:

They don’t call them ‘shellcracker’ for nothing,” he said. “No quagga, then lots of quagga. Regular redears, then big redears after quagga show up … coincidence? Maybe, but I’d say increased food source equals bigger fish.

In an email to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, an anonymous angler said he has been fishing extensively for sunfish in Lake Pleasant and the Colorado River. He wrote:

And I have observed that not only do redears feed on quagga mussels, but bluegill and green sunfish do as well. After holding them in a live well for a short period of time, they will regurgitate bits of broken quagga shells until there is a layer approximately a quarter-inch thick in the bottom of the live well.

And finally, some thoughts from Brito, the record holder:

They eat a lot of quagga mussels. Everytime I fish for them, I search their stomachs and always find shells of quagga mussels.

Redear sunfishing techniques

A new world record remains possible.

“I’m sure there’s a 7-pounder out there somewhere,” said John Galbraith, owner of Bass Tackle Master in Lake Havasu. 

Perhaps surprising to some, AZGFD has not received a report of a redear that’s come close to challenging the record. Brito said that since his world record, he’s caught some big ones: a 2- and 3-pound redear this year and one last year that weighed nearly 4 pounds.

Are you up for a shell-cracking quest?

Here’s some redear sunfishing tips:

  • Use the right rig: One of the most popular techniques for catching redear sunfish is using a dropshot rig with a nightcrawler — the same technique Brito used when catching his world record. Brito said he caught the record by the chalk cliffs, and the rig included a No. 8 gold Aberdeen hook.
  • Show a natural presentation: Others use worms on the bottom, without a weight or bobber, and allow the bait to lie motionless.
  • Expect a light bite: Redear bite gently and seem to reject baits that offer resistance such as lead weights. Sometimes, redear will simply move the bait a foot or so like an unsettled shopper.
  • Depth and habitat: At Havasu, when redear are not in shallow water during their typical May/June spawn, they can generally be found in 22-30 feet of water. Redear prefer vegetated areas with submerged stumps and brush with little or no flowing water.
  • Record fish are loners: The world record-size redears seem to break away from the schools of smaller fish. “They’re more solitary fish,” Galbraith said. “You don’t see 1-pounders with a 5-pound fish.”

Back on the dinner table, redear are widely considered excellent eating. Their diet consists of hard-shelled organisms like clams or snails, as well as insect larvae, planktonic crustaceans and other invertebrates.

Quagga mussels: an aquatic invasive species

Stocking redear as a featured sport fish in some locations is a possibility. 

Yet it’s unlikely the Arizona Game and Fish Department would stock redear sunfish with the sole purpose of reducing populations of the quaggas, which also have affected Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, the Lower Colorado River below Lake Havasu to Mexico, the Central Arizona Project canal, Lake Powell, Lake Pleasant, Canyon Lake, Saguaro Lake, and Red Mountain Lake.

Quagga mussels are a poor food source for most other fish species, and drastically reduce food availability for aquatic organisms. This results in smaller catch sizes of other sportfish and native fish species. Quagga mussels may also contribute to increasing occurrences of toxic algae blooms, which can affect both humans and wildlife.

Quaggas colonize rapidly on hard surfaces and can ruin boat motors and clog water intake structures such as pipes and screens, thereby impacting pumping capabilities for power and water treatment plants.

A 2016 U.S. Bureau of Reclamation report looked at costs related to quagga mussel management on the Hoover, Parker and Davis dams along the Lower Colorado River and found more than $6 million of additional funds were spent through 2016 with an estimated $17 million of ongoing maintenance through 2020.

This results in high water and power bills for consumers.

No mystery: Havasu a fishing destination

When it comes to the smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and redear sunfish, the fishing is at its historic best. The lake continues to be ranked as one of the top places to fish for bass in the country: in 2018, Bassmaster Magazine ranked Havasu as the No. 7 best bass lake in the Western U.S.

Redear sunfish isn’t the only species thriving at Havasu. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are also swimming in luxury. Already in 2019, the average winning daily 5-fish bag weight has been around 21 pounds. Most bass-tournament anglers consider average bags weighing more than 20 pounds impressive.

Striped bass fishing also appears to be on the rise. The single-day record for the total weight of striper was set during the annual Lake Havasu Striper Derby during May of 2018: eight stripers totaled 110 pounds, a new one-day record at the 37-year-old tournament.

Robert McCulloch Sr., founder of Lake Havasu City, would probably have been proud.

At the Lake Havasu City Visitor’s Center, history exits in a binder of newspaper clippings. One of the articles, coated in a hue of rusty yellow, features a black-and-white photo with a shoreline marked by protruding finger- and T-shapes that jet into Lake Havasu. The photo of old Site 6 dominates the cover of the Lake Havasu City Herald, issued Jan. 4, 1968.

That’s how it looked when Lake Havasu City founder Robert McCulloch Sr. flew overhead. He would end up purchasing a version of the London Bridge to adorn the Havasu Channel of his city. 

McCulloch could hardly have imagined how big the redear sunfish have become – nearly 6 pounds, with potential for more.

The world-record redear caught in February was not even a spawning fish.

Some local anglers believe that a roe-filled spawner will be caught any day. 

So grab a cup of nightcrawlers, maybe a fishing license online, and a sense of wonder.

A new world record could bear your name.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 2 / 13 / 2019.

The first Columbia River spring chinook was caught near Portland on the lower Willamette River on January 29th by Dave Frey.  He was fishing by himself with a red prawn for bait. The springer was a finclipped hatchery fish of 16 pounds.

While Oregon’s first springer each year usually is caught in the Columbia or lower Willamette rivers the first springers taken each year on the southern Oregon coast are typically caught from either the Rogue or Umpqua rivers during the last week in February or the first week in March.

Crabbers wanting to use the crab dock just upriver from the Siuslaw River’s South Jetty, need to be aware that the road is closed for repairs near Beach 5 Day Use Area – which is about a half-mile before the crabbing dock.

Crabbing is definitely slowing down at Charleston and Winchester Bay, but is still somewhat more productive than it is at this time in most years.

Kudos to the man who was attacked by a cougar while jogging alone on Colorado’s Horsetooth Mountain. Despite suffering serious, but not life-threatening injuries, the jogger, fit and in his 30’s, was able to subdue the year-old 70 pound cat by choking it to death. The jogger was quickly released from the hospital and has not yet released a public statement.

There were no scheduled trout plants for this upcoming week for our area.  Legal rainbows were stocked this week in Alder (566); Cleawox (1,332) and Dune (332). Munsel is the only Florence area stocked this week with larger rainbows and received 500 15-inch trophy rainbows.

Cold air and the resulting lower water temperatures will probably dampen the trout bite for the next few weeks, but with the number of trout planted so far in February in the Florence area (more than 10,000), when the water begins warming up, the bite should be very, very good. 

The stocking of the Coos County lakes will begin during the last week in February with Bradley Lake (3,000 legals); Saunders Lake (3,000 legals) and Mingus Park Pond (2,000 legals).

Anglers fishing Eel Lake this winter have been catching fair numbers of small coho salmon that chose to remain in Eel Lake rather than swim down the Eel Creek outlet on their way to the ocean. Extremely low water in Eel Creek probably had a lot to do with them staying in the lake. These fish have been running eight to 14-inches in length and many anglers have been keeping them. When I asked Mike Gray, an ODFW biologist stationed in Charleston (who seems to have memorized the fishing regulation booklet) about these fish, he quickly pointed out to me that these fish were not legal to keep – for a couple of reasons.
(1) – They were not finclipped and Eel Lake was not mentioned under exceptions to the southwest zone and (2) – They didn’t measure 15 or more inches in length, and once again, were not mentioned under zone exceptions. 

Young coho planted in Cooper Creek and Galesville reservoirs are legal to keep and are to be considered part of the five trout daily bag limit – and both these waters are included in the exceptions section for the southwest zone. 

I found it very interesting that Bill Taylor, a S.T.E.P. volunteer living in Winchester Bay, had a scale sample analyzed from a 13.5-inch Eel Lake coho by an ODFW biologist this winter and that fish was found to have spent some time in saltwater. Perhaps that 13-inch coho I caught on a plasic worm a decade ago during early August on Tenmile Creek near where Eel Creek enters – wasn’t as unusual as I though it was.

Northern California’s Clear Lake recently held a crappie tournament that was wildly successful. Entrants were allowed to weigh in a maximum of ten crappies – all of which had to measure at least 12-inches in length. The tournament had a full field of 50 boats and the tournament winner weighed in ten crappie weighing 21.42 pounds – or slightly more than two pounds and two ounces per fish. A very impressive average since the heaviest crappie caught during the tournament only weighed 2.68 pounds.

Local anglers should pay special attention to Saturday, February 23rd as two special events will occur then.

The “Flyfishing Expo” will be held at the Reedsport Community Center at 451 Winchester Avenue in Reedsport from 9 am until 3 pm. 
This is one of the more ambitiouis events put on by a single flyfishing club every year. The event will run from 9:00 am through 3:00 pm and will feature FREE door prizes and raffle drawings.  Meals and snacks will be available and some of the booths will feature fly tying; fly casting; informnational and equipment displays. There are plenty of varied flyfishing-related things to experience and best of all – it’s absolutely FREE!

The other big thing that day will Tenmile Lake’s annual “Frostbite Open” which is one of the northwest’s largest and most popular bass tournaments. This tournament usually fields the maximum 75 boats and the winning weight for a five bass limit usually tops 20 pounds. Recent cold weather and the resulting low water temperatures could severely test the anglers participating in this year’s tournament. However the anglers have passed similar tests during the tournament in previous years. 

People wanting to check out both events should check the Flyfishing Expo first and then check out the Frostbite Open weigh-in which usually occurs around 3 pm  at the  boat ramp in the Osprey Point RV Park in Lakeside.

Oregon recently lost one of its most accomplished outdoor writers with the passing of Dwight Schuh at age 73 after an eight year battle with cancer.

Dwight was born in Corvallis, but was living in the Klamath Falls area when he began his outdoor writing career.
Back then, I had a weekly outdoor column in the Klamath Falls Herald and News despite not living in the area and had the pleasure of a half-day visit from Dwight and his wife Laura at my home in Gresham. 

During the visit, I picked Dwight’s brain on overlooked Klamath-area fisheries including the bullhead catfish fishery on the east side of Highway 97 opposite Upper Klamath Lake that usually occurs in late February or early March when the shallow waters become noticeably warmer than the water in the big lake.

What really sticks out about our one-time meeting was how polite Dwight and Laura were and how carefully they chose their words when speaking. Dwight, soon after, started specializing in hunting articles and then in bowhunting articles. He became the editor of “Bowhunting Magazine” when the magazine’s founder decided to retire and picked Dwight to replace him. Dwight was the magazine’s editor for 15 years until his retirement in 2011. Judging from the number of online comments regarding his passing, he is, and will be, greatly missed.

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WDFW News – WDFW approves 7-day razor clam dig starting Feb. 15.

Razor clam diggers can return to various ocean beaches for a seven-day opening beginning Friday, Feb. 15. The dig extends over a long weekend and provides a Saturday digging opportunity at Long Beach.

State shellfish managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the dig on evening low tides after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat. No digging will be allowed on any beach before noon.

The upcoming dig is approved on the following beaches, dates, and evening low tides:

  • Feb. 15, Friday; 3:11 p.m.; 0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Feb. 16, Saturday; 4:08 p.m.; -0.3 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis, Kalaloch
  • Feb. 17, Sunday; 4:59 p.m.; -1.0 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Feb. 18, Monday; 5:46 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Kalaloch 
  • Feb. 19, Tuesday; 6:31 p.m.; -1.5 feet; Twin Harbors
  • Feb. 20, Wednesday; 7:14 p.m.; -1.3 feet; Twin Harbors
  • Feb. 21, Thursday; 7:56 p.m.; -0.8 feet; Twin Harbors

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, recommends that diggers hit the beach about an hour or two before low tide for the best results.

“Razor clams are fun to gather and great to eat, and the seven-day schedule should provide opportunities for diggers to find a time to gather their clams for late winter get-togethers with friends and family,” said Ayres.

In order to ensure conservation of clams for future generations, WDFW sets tentative razor clam seasons that are based on the results from the annual coast-wide razor clam stock assessment and by considering harvest to date. WDFW authorizes each dig independently after getting the results of marine toxin testing.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2018-19 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license (starting at $9.70) to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at and from license vendors around the state.

Under state law, diggers at open beaches can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

More information is available on WDFW’s razor clam webpage at

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Dwight Schuh 1945 – 2019.

Oregon recently lost one of its most accomplished outdoor writers with the passing of Dwight Schuh at age 73 after an eight year battle with cancer. Dwight was born in Corvallis, but was living in the Klamath Falls area when he began his outdoor writing career.

Back then, I had a weekly outdoor column in the Klamath Falls Herald and News despite not living in the area and had the pleasure of a half-day visit from Dwight and his wife Laura at my home in Gresham.  During the visit, I picked Dwight’s brain on overlooked Klamath-area fisheries including the bullhead catfish fishery on the east side of Highway 97 opposite Upper Klamath Lake that usually occurs in late February or early March when the shallow waters become noticeably warmer than the water in the big lake.

What really sticks out about our one-time meeting was how polite Dwight and Laura were and how carefully they chose their words when speaking.

Dwight, soon after, started specializing in hunting articles and then in bowhunting articles.

He became the editor of “Bowhunting Magazine” when the magazine’s founder decided to retire and picked Dwight to replace him. Dwight was the magazine’s editor for 15 years until his retirement in 2011.

Judging from the number of online comments regarding his passing, he is and will be greatly missed.

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CDFW Magnifies Efforts to Recruit Hunters and Anglers.

In an effort to get more Californians involved in fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is partnering with the recreational fishing and hunting communities, state and federal agencies, and others to address barriers and opportunities to hunting and fishing in the state.

 “Our goal is to support and encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy California’s wild places,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “The fishing and hunting opportunities in this state are unparalleled, they belong to all Californians and should be utilized by all of us.

This effort is to make sure Californians know that.” CDFW has formed an executive-level task force, hired a full-time coordinator to head-up the effort, hired a research scientist, and finalized a statewide recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) action plan. A staff-level working group is working to increase hunting and fishing participation by collaborating with diverse stakeholders to transform barriers to participation into opportunities.

Some of the barriers CDFW will look at initially are access and opportunity challenges, public perception of fishing and hunting, and license structure and pricing. The effort will also focus on encouraging more adults to take up hunting and fishing for the first time. Research shows spending time outdoors improves physical, mental and social well-being. Many hunters and anglers say the reason they participate in these activities is to enjoy the quality time with family and friends and to bring home great memories and healthy food. 

California is home to some of the nation’s most diverse hunting and fishing opportunities, but participation in these activities has declined significantly since the 1970s and 1980s. Hunters and anglers play a crucial role in managing natural resources by regulating wildlife populations to maintain ecological and biological diversity, participating in wildlife surveys for scientific data collection, and reporting wildlife crimes.

Hunters and anglers also help sustain a multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation industry and provide the primary funding source for state-level fish and wildlife conservation in California. The decline in participation poses an ever-increasing threat to wildlife conservation, the state’s long-standing hunting and fishing heritage, and Californians’ connection to the outdoors in general. “The fishing and hunting community has rallied around CDFW, and we are now poised to tackle the challenges before us,” Bonham said. To get involved or learn more about the state’s R3 efforts, please contact

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Pete Heley Outdoors 2 / 06 / 2019

While browsing through the current edition of the “Lakesidetonian”, Lakeside’s free monthly newsletter, I noticed a letter written by Jerry Reiss. Jerry, along with his wife Cathy, owns Lakeside Marina and he is also a member of the Tenmile Lakes Association. His letter concerned itself with the problems caused by the lakes’ historic low water levels over the last several years. After reading the well-written letter, I was reminded of a situation more than four decades earlier where a small water level dam  was proposed on Tenmile Creek. 

While property owners’ concerns are always a factor in any such project, a primary reason the dam was never built was because a student activist group (OSPIRG) strongly opposed the dam and took out several newspaper ads stating “Save Our Salmon – No Dam on Tenmile Creek”. Their campaign was successful and the dam proposal was dropped.

But a small dam, perhaps only three foot tall, with a fish ladder and a gate to deal with winter water flows was just what Tenmile Creek needed. At that time, there was a shallow sand bar spanning the entire width of Tenmile Creek where Eel Creek entered Tenmile Creek. More often than not, coho salmon have a difficult time entering the lagoon and lower reaches of Tenmile Creek. The sand bar at Eel Creek was a major obstacle to the already stressed salmon and searun cutthroats that were intent on reaching the lake and its tributaries. Some years I observed coho salmon swimming into Eel Lake in early March – much to late to successfully spawn.

The sand bar at Eel Creek no longer exists, but not only would a small dam help anadromous fish ascend Tenmile Creek and enter Eel Creek, it could also deliver a timely flush to help salmon get into Tenmile Creek. Additionally, the dam could keep the lake levels higher during summer and fall.The coho salmon populations in Tahkenitch and Siltcoos lakes, both of which have dams on their outlets, seem to have held up better than the coho population in Tenmile Lakes. 

Low water levels at Tenmile Lake have literally “forced” anglers and water-based recreationists to rediscover Eel Lake which has been “busier” than ever the last few years.

Eight Oregon legislators, at the request of the Humane Society of the United States, have introduced a bill that would ban all contests related to the take of wildlife. The bill currently defines wildlife to exclude fish, but Senate Bill 723 could be a first step toward more onerous legislation. However, people claiming the bill will lead to the banning of bass tournaments are nothing more than “alarmists”.

The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission has approved new smoke rules for Oregon that will allow more planned burns to reduce wildfire risk  by getting rid of underbrush and dead trees.

The Oregon Marine Board is proposing fee increases for licensing kayaks, rafts and other small non-motorized craft.

Rogue Rods has gone the way of the buffalo. Arguably the best combination of quality and affordability in locally made fishing rods, the company was supposedly bought out by another company, possibly for their equipment, or to reduce competition – but not to continue manufactoring the line.

Oregon’s Beverage Recycling Co-operative reported that approximately ninety percent of the containers covered by the plan were redeemed (returned for cash) in 2018.

Crabbing has slowed down, but seems to better than normal for this time of year. A dock crabber last Friday caught a red rock crab in addition to a couple of legal-sized male dungeness crabs while crabbing off Winchester Bay’s “A” Dock. Red Rock Crabs, while fairly common inside the “Triangle, are very seldom caught in the lower Umpqua River.

Winter bassfishing at Tenmile Lake is getting more consistent and should show noticeable improvement with stable weather and warming temperatures.
While the lakes that received trout plants this week (Alder, Carter, Cleawox, Dune, Lost, Munsel and Siltcoos Lagoon) should have plenty of trout left in them – some are receiving additional plants this coming week. Munsel Lake is to receive 500 trophy rainbows while Alder lake will receive 566 legals, Cleawox is slated for 1,332 legals and tiny Dune Lake is getting 332 legals.

Upcoming sportsman shows include:
Feb. 6th – 10thPacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show at the Portland Expo Center2060 North Marine Dr, Portland,
February 15th – 17th Roseburg Sportsmen and Outdoor Recreation Show at the Douglas County Fairgrounds 2110 Frear St, Roseburg
Feb. 22nd – 24thKVRD Sportsmen and Outdoor Recreational Show at the Jackson County Fairgrounds 1 Peninger Rd, Central Point
Feb. 23rdLower Umpqua Flycasters Fly Fishing Expoat the Reedsport Community Center 451 Winchester Avenue, Reedsport

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WDFW News – WDFW seeks public participation in Scatter Creek Wildlife Area planning.

 The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will hold a public workshop Feb. 13 to kick off a planning process for the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area, which encompasses portions of the unique South Sound prairies. 

The wildlife area consists of six separate units that cover roughly 3,592 acres in Thurston and Grays Harbor counties.

The workshop is scheduled from 6 to 8:30 p.m., Feb. 13, at Swede Hall, 18543 Albany St. SW, Rochester.

The plan will propose actions for the management of the wildlife area over the next 10 years. This includes efforts to protect wildlife species and their habitat and enhance recreational opportunities where appropriate, said Darric Lowery, wildlife area manager.

At the upcoming meeting, WDFW staff members will review the wildlife area’s history, discuss the planning process, and ask for public comments, Lowery said.

“We want to hear from the public about how people use this area as well as what recreation and natural resource values are important to them,” he said. 

WDFW staff will work on the plan with the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area advisory committee, made up of citizens, neighbors, and other stakeholders.  

Lowery said the public will also have opportunities to comment at upcoming advisory committee meetings and when the draft plan is developed.

Information on the wildlife area’s six units is available on WDFW’s website at

The department is revising management plans for all of its 33 wildlife areas to reflect current conditions and identify new priorities and initiatives.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish and wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities. WDFW manages more than 1 million acres of public land across the state that is designated for wildlife habitat and public recreation. 

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