Pete Heley Outdoors 10 / 28 / 2015

As the salmon run on the Umpqua slowly tapers off, there are still areas that continue to produce. The bankfishing spots at Winchester Bay and Gardiner are still giving up some keepable fish (Chinook salmon and finclipped coho salmon. For the shore anglers that are tired of throwing spinners, there is the “mudhole” at the mouth of Winchester Creek. It hasn’t been a good year, so far, at the mudhole, but it will produce finclipped Chinooks through November with some anglers catching their salmon on bait and bobber rigs using either sand shrimp or salmon roe. These same baits are also accounting for some Chinook salmon for anglers fishing Smith River.

Many salmon anglers have moved south to the Coos and Coquille rivers which usually get their salmon several weeks later than does the Umpqua River. Recently, the Coos has been offering more consistent salmon fishing. Salmon fishing in the ocean for Chinook salmon will close one hour after sunset on Saturday, October 31st. But a few Chinooks will still be entering rivers such as the Umpqua, Coos and Coquille until at least mid-November – but in ever decreasing numbers.

Depending upon how substantial the rain turns out to be that is falling as I write this column on Sunday afternoon, there could be fair numbers of coho salmon in Siltcoos Lake and the legal to fish portion of the Siltcoos River by the end of the month. There should also be some eight foot plus high tides the last week of October which should get some salmon into the Siltcoos River and once in the river its a relatively easy upstream migration into the lake. It’s going to take a lot of rain to get salmon into Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes.

In years past, many of Siltcoos Lake’s jumbo rainbow trout have fallen to plugs and spinners intended for salmon. Last year, according to Dwayne Swartz, one of the area’s most accomplished tournament bass anglers, the largemouth bass in Siltcoos Lake went on a major bite when the coho salmon were in the lake.

I got a chance to fish a couple of overlooked small lakes this last week. They contain very few decent-sized fish, but are still fun to fish with ultralight tackle. Hall Lake produced about 15 small largemouth bass on a Rapala-type lure cast from shore with the two largest weighing about a pound each. Butterfield Lake was tougher. It seems that the ODFW made a heavy plant of fingerling rainbows in the largest (east) section of the lake and these 4-5-inch fish were a complete nuisance. They will definitely effect the lake’s panfish populations as they will be competing directly with the lake’s bluegills, crappies and smaller largemouth bass. As of last week, it seemed that birds and mammals have yet to discover the lake’s new forage base and falling water temperatures will keep bass from preying on the smolts effectively. However it will be late next summer, at the earliest, before these trout grow large enough to become legal angling fare.

I used to fish the sand dunes lakes quite often for bass and panfish, but the more shallow lakes that were located between Hauser and North Bend often suffered from water level problems and sometimes would almost completely dry up.

Last week I checked out a very small pond located near Coos Bay’s North Spit Boat Ramp and was pleasantly surprised to see that it had two or three foot of water and actually looked quite “fishy”. Better yet, I actually saw an apparently healthy ten inch largemouth bass swimming around and made a mental note to fish the pond at a future date.

It seems that the water table in that area is far healthier than it was when the paper mill was operating and the area’s shallow lakes quite possibly retained their fish popularions far better than I would have believed. I plan to have a much better idea of the area’s “fishability” by next spring. But for now, much of the shallow freshwater in this area that I had previously assumed could not support fish for the entire year are now potential fishing spots.

On the downside, unsigned “no trespassing signs” have made access to Beale Lake virtually impossible without a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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