Pete Heley Outdoors 1 / 18 / 2017

Some mild ocean and Umpqua River bar conditions last week allowed ocean crabbers and bottomfish anglers to enjoy their recreation with good results. Some of the crabbers reported excellent results in water as shallow as 35 feet as long as they avoided the muddy water pouring out of the Umpqua River. The easiest way to do this is to take advantage of the generally southward movement of the saltwater along the Oregon coast and head slightly north after crossing the Umpqua River Bar. Offshore bottomfishing was enjoyable and productive in the mild conditions. Some offshore bottomfish anglers have ventured out without the mandatory descending devices required to have on board when bottomfishing in waters more than 30 fathoms deep.

Although I didn’t receive any reports from pinkfin anglers fishing local beaches, if the surf along those beaches was mild as well, it should have been productive. Anglers trying for striped surfperch along the South Jetty made some good catches, although I would be tempted to fish the ocean along the south side of the Triangle to avoid the somewhat muddy river water.

Lingcod should be moving to area jetties and other spawning structure as they prepare to spawn. Most of the inshore fishing pressure directed towards lingcod at Winchester Bay occurs along the South Jetty, but extended muddy water can pretty much halt fishing success – like it did last spring. In April of 2015, the lingcod fishing along the South Jetty was the best in many years.

Although muddy water on the Umpqua doesn’t stop the steelhead anglers using plunking techniques, it seems to limit fishing success. on every other steelhead stream. Tenmile and Eel creeks remain clear and fishable and fishing is improving on lower Tenmile Creek, but according to figures posted at the STEP trap on Eel Creek, very few steelhead have reached the trap. The steelhead run in Eel Creek is typically late arriving, so things may improve.

The recent frigid temperatures have greatly reduced fishing pressure directed at the yellow perch in our local lakes. Presently, the perch in our larger, relatively shallow coastal lakes are in the deepest water, but over the next two months they should gradually move to somewhat shallower water as they approach the spawn.

With the next extended warming trend, the bassfishing in lakes along the Oregon coast should take off and while the catch numbers may not seem that impressive, the chance to catch the year’s heaviest bass is at its best during the late winter/early spring period. Water clarity will dictate how early anglers can target smallmouth bass on the Umpqua and Coquille rivers. Smallmouths in Woahink Lake won’t approach the shoreline in any numbers until the shallow water is the lake’s warmest. Eel Lake always seems to be a late starter and its smallies are still an incidental fishery and anglers should target the lake’s largemouths with lures that appeal to both bass species.

As for striped bass, wait for the water to clear and then target them on the Smith River in the ten miles of stream between Smith River Falls and the North Fork Smith River and the North Fork Smith about three to five miles above where it enters the mainstem Smith River. On the Coquille River, targt them from just below the Arago Boat Ramp upriver to the mouth of the South Fork Coquille River.

I am sorry to say that the 2017 trout stocking schedule is still not available. According to the ODFW website, it won’t be available until late January or early February. In the meantime, the site suggests looking at the 2016 stocking schedule – and hope it is even remotely relevant. It’s starting to look like the ODFW wants each lake’s initial trout plant to be relatively untargeted.

Oregon hunters are running out of time to report their hunt results. Deer and elk hunters not reporting their hunt results by Jan. 31st will pay $25 extra when they purchase their 2018 hunting licenses. Rest assured, they won’t forget and the penalty combined with scheduled increases for 2018 licenses and tags may cause budgeting changes for many outdoor sportsmen.

Although there is not yet a financial penalty, hunters who purchased a cougar, bear, pronghorn or turkey tag also need to report – complete a survey for tag they purchased — even if they didn’t hunt or weren’t successful. Information from hunters who did not hunt or did not harvest an animal is as important as information from those who did take an animal.

Although it most likely won’t affect many Oregonians, the last portion of the California coast that was closed to commercial crabbing reopened on Jan. 16th. Excepting marine reserves, the entire California, Oregon and Washington coasts are now open to commercial and recreational crabbing.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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