Pete Heley Outdoors 3 / 25 /2015

I  almost had an anxiety attack when I heard that Laura Jackson was retiring at the end of this month. It was Laura, a District biologist out of the Roseburg office, who had called me back after I had called the Roseburg ODFW office expressing my concern about having to tag Umpqua River fall Chinook salmon as spring Chinook during the month of July starting this year. She stated that it was an oversight and was pretty certain that the “problem” would be properly handled in a department meeting prior to the fall Chinooks actually showing up in the river.

So when I found out that she was retiring and I had not heard anything, I thought the worst. However I got a quick call back from Laura’s supervisor who seemed very aware of the potential problem  and assured me that an April meeting would “correct” it – so, although it is not yet official, it definitely appears that anglers fishing the lower Umpqua River for salmon in July will be able to tag their Chinook salmon as fall Chinooks. August and later fall months were never the problem.

Like many ODFW missteps, this “problem” was the result of good intentions – a desire to protect a very weak run of spring Chinooks that run up the South Umpqua River. The ODFW has been very protective of this small run to the point of closing the South Umpqua River to all fishing during some of its best times to catch big smallmouth bass – but the ODFW seems to be finetuning their regulations and I feel that South Umpqua bass anglers have more opportunities than they had in the past.

While on the subject, there a few other “no brainer” steps the ODFW could take. I realize that Mill Creek, the Umpqua River tributary that is the outlet to Loon Lake was closed because a few “anglers” were snagging salmon and steelhead that often rested in the stream’s lower reaches before resuming their journey up the Umpqua. But it kind of bugs me that there is a healthy population of smallmouth bass and a few largemouths that cannot legally be fished for. Since anadromous fish cannot reach the upper reaches of Mill Creek, which has always had a healthy populatiom of largemouth bass, I can’t think of any valid reason for that section of stream being closed. Simply opening up the short section between Loon Lake and where Mill Creek Road crosses the stream would allow anglers to to fish the two large holes that offer the best bassfishing and increase the water available to bankbound anglers visiting the lake by about 20 percent.

Cleawox Lake is by far the most heavily stocked lake on the Oregon coast north of Coos Bay and consequently gets alot of fishing pressure. But there are a couple of options that can reduce the competition. Boat anglers can go through the shallow narrow section that divides the lake’s north arm from the main lake. In years of normal or near-normal water levels  fair numbers of the smaller stocked trout enter this narrow, nearly two mile long arm and receive very little fishing pressure once they do.

Lilly Lake, the small nearly two acre lake between the parking lot and the RV Park on the south side of Cleawox is seldom, if ever planted with trout, but offers pretty good fishing for bluegill and largemouth bass – and it receives almost no fishing pressure. It is easily fished with a float tube with the easiest access from the parking lot on thr south side of Cleawox Lake.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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