Pete Heley Outdoors 7 / 29 / 2015

To head off any future sniveling by area residents about the severe restrictions recently enacted by the ODFW I would like to point out that the move was necessary and could have been much worse. Washington imposed similar restrictions and closures on most of their streams and Washington anglers actually lost more fishing time than did Oregon anglers since Washington previously allowed nightfishing for salmonid species and the new “Hoot Owl” restrictions now in effect in most of Washington only allow fishing between midnight and 2 pm. Salmonid anglers in Oregon lost the right to fish from 2 pm until one hour after sunset.

The Oregon coast escaped the emergency closures and restrictions as the ocean and tidewater areas were excluded. What they won’t escape is the resulting increase in fishing pressure as a result of reduced fishing opportunities in the rest of the state.

When salmon anglers can get out to fish the ocean, the most successful are fishing at least six miles out in water at least 330 feet deep. They are fishing between 20 and 50 feet below the surface and trolling a little faster than normal – around two miles per hour. Using one of the many brands and varieties of “helmets” will allow your baits to run properly for longer periods of time. Using baitfish strips with hoochies will also allow an angler to cover more water when fishing the ocean.

The Chinook salmon holding below Reedsport offer a fair early morning bite and a few salmon have been caught by spinner flingers casting spinners from the bank at Half Moon Bay, Osprey Point and Gardiner. The few anglers fishing the South Jetty for bottomfish reported goog fishing last week. Fishing along area beaches for surfperch has been fair when winds and surf conditions allow it.

Recently, the smallmouth bass fishing on the Umpqua River has been the best in several years. I would like to tell you about the two days I spent on Loon Lake nearly 50 years ago while I was a teenager that provided me with some insights that jumpstarted my bass fishing success. I spent the first day having very mediocre success on very small bass. I fished until dark and when  I figured Lloyd Keeland, the owner of Duckett’s Resort and a good friend of my dad’s had gone home to sleep, I hauled my eight foot pram on the bank, propped one end up on my tacklebox and tried to go to sleep beneath it. After a few hour nap, I found myself awake and bored and only about 20 feet from several two pound bass that had ignored my best and numerous other people’s best efforts during the previous day. I grabbed my fishing rod which had a black plastic worm on it and cast near the mouth of the small stream that enters Loon Lake at the resort.

Imagine my surprise when one of those two pounders hit on my first cast and I caught two more during my next four casts. Three bass in five casts after more than 100 fruitless casts with the same lure during daylight hours.

Suddenly, feeling very confident, I decided to launch my pram and try for the even larger bass along the rocky shoreline near Duckett’s. A goodsized bass grabbed the worm on my first cast, but got off. I caught a bass of nearly three pounds on my second cast, but it tore up my lure and since I didn’t have a flashlight or even a match, I was done for the night.

After being awake for much of the night, I barely launched my pram the next morning early enough to avoid a scolding from Lloyd.

The next day found me fishing near Loon Lake’s Mill Creek outlet. I spotted a good-sized bass and cast the plastic worm to it for more than two hours. It ignored eveything and would take off for about 20 minutes when a cast would land too close.  I finally decided to go to lighter line and decided to cast from an abandoned piece of logging equipment in the lake near the lunker’s preferred hangout.

I cast the worm so that it sank down to lay atop a large log laying horizontally about 18-inches beneath the surface.

And then I waited.

It was a good 30 minutes before the bass returned and I waited another 15 minutes before I moved the worm about an inch.

I was totally unprepared for how quickly the bass inhaled the fake worm, but did manage to set the hook and play the bass to a point where it was laying below me just out of my reach.

I didn’t land that bass. My line broke when I tried to lift the bass out of the water a short distance so that I could grab it. But I did learn to never underestimate the wariness  of good-sized largemouths – one of two valuable lessons I learned during those two days on Loon Lake nearly 50 years ago.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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