Pete Heley Outdoors 6 / 29 / 2016

Now that the coastal streams are open to fishing, some anglers may want to do a float trip to catch bass or trout. In past columns, I have hyped floating the Siltcoos River and Tenmile Creek. While Siltcoos River remains an easy, little-fished float, Tenmile Creek no longer is.

Log jams have been reported on Tenmile Creek for the last few seasons, but have proven relatively easy to deal with. However the one I encountered last Thursday was different. There was no way around it and the adjacent shorelines were brushy. My fishing partner, Dwayne Schwartz, decided to paddle upstream back to where we began the float beneath the bridge over Tenmile Creek on Hilltop Drive – a distance of about one and a half miles.

Meanwhile, I managed to get on top of one of the logs, lift my polyethylene float over the log and then walk on the log until I was able to jump towards shore without going over my chest waders. However, in doing so I did manage to get some water into my waders and break one of my swimfins. Fortunately, the fin was still usable and I was able to continue my float downstream as the additional log jams I encountered were in water shallow enough to step over .

Guilt concerning Dwayne having to paddle all the way back upstream kept me from fishing as I hurried downstream. The distance from the difficult log jam down to the takeout at the bridge on Old Highway 101 was about three miles with lots of relatively shallow, faster-moving water that seemed to attract both trout and bass. Although I wasn’t fishing, I did see fair numbers of decent-sized bass and trout and the water downstream of the problematic log jam was easily the “fishiest-looking water of the entire float.

The heaviest largemouth we landed above the log jam weighed about three pounds, but I observed several bass that big or larger as I hurried through the bottom portion of my float. The trout seemed to run from 11 to 14-inches and the yellow perch seemed to top out at about eight to nine inches. We caught no bluegills, crappies or brown bullheads. But the water looked so “fishy” that I know that I will be back – log jam or no log jam.

Still on an exploring kick, I explored a small, quite shallow body of water adjacent to the Trans-Pacific Highway just north of North Bend near the North Coast Overlook. The reason that I decided to fish this particular water was that I had actually seen a largemouth bass in it – a ten incher . However before I actually fished it, a quick peek over the bank where the walkway meets the parking lot revealed several good-sized bluegills and a solitary bass. I walked to the bottom of the walkway and launched my “River Rat” amid heavy weeds only to discover a small beaver dam separated me from the spot where I had spotted the fish

The only option was to get out in the same spot I launched and go to the top of the walkway and slide myself and the “River Rat” down a steep bank into the pond near the fish and hope I didn’t spook
them.

Hookups on my first two casts with a crappie lure convinced me that I hadn’t yet spooked the fish. The first cast resulted in a hookup with a bluegill that appeared to be about eight inches long. It got off, but my next cast got another bluegill stike which I managed to land. At slightly more than 9.5-inches in length, it was the largest bluegill I have landed in the last five years.

The much fishier-looking water farther above the dam resulted in several more strikes from bluegills and smallish largemouth bass. While catching the jumbo bluegill was enough, by itself, for me to consider the short outing a success, it also made me wonder about the fishing potential of several, more substantial bodies of water that are on the right side of the Trans-Pacific Highway as I drive towards the pond adjacent to the overlook.

The spawning run of redtailed surfperch aka “pinkfins” is still going on in the Umpqua River near Winchester Bay. Every day, a few boats get their boat limits, while most anglers struggle to get a few fish. But the fishery is a popular one with numerous boats trying for them each day. The run should last through July with the fishing becoming increasingly inconsistent as the run winds down.

The spring all-depth halibut fishery for the central Oregon coast is over and the summer all-depth season will be Fridays and Saturdays starting August 5th. The near shore halibut season for waters inside 240 feet deep has been open seven days a week since June 1st. Virtually all of the halibut anglers that fished the final spring all-depth opener caught tuna while trolling back to port. Tuna were caught within 20 miles of Winchester Bay with most of the fish about 30 miles out. Tuna were even closer for anglers fishing out of Charlston.

The ocean season for finclipped coho salmon opened last Saturday with a whimper. According to a fish checker at Winchester Bay, one boat that landed a couple of finclipped cohos on Saturday, did not realize they were legal and threw them back. Chinook salmon are still too deep to be targeted effectively by sport anglers.

Crabbing out of Winchester Bay has been fair at Half Moon Bay and in the ocean but the crabbing in the Umpqua River suffers a major drop off above Half Moon Bay.

There should be fishable numbers of shad in the Umpqua for a couple more weeks, but the fishery is definitely waning. Smallmouth bass fishing is very good above tidewater on the Umpqua and should continue to improve through Labor Day.

Since there haven’t been any recent trout plants, the better trout fishing spots are the larger lakes or streams that have native or carryover fish.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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