Pete Heley Outdoors 3 / 29 / 2017

Few local lakes are scheduled to be planted this week, but many of those lakes were planted last week and are offering fair to good trout fishing. One lake that is slated to receive a trout plant this week is Loon Lake, which is scheduled to receive 1,000 legal rainbows.

Stocking of the Florence-area lakes will resume the second week of April – as will many of the Coos County lakes. Mingus Park Pond will receive its first trout plant of 2,000 legal rainbows during the second week of April. Bluebill Lake won’t receive its first trout plant this year until the first week of May. It might have proved interesting if Bluebill Lake were planted earlier as it is now connected to Horsfall Lake and Horsfall Lake could have easily had its first rainbow trout ever.

Although the area’s best crabbing is at Charlston, ocean crabbing along the entire Oregon coast remains fair to good for the few people actually trying it. Crabbers using very small boats to crab the “Triangle’ area at Winchester Bay are also having fair success. However, those written warnings of last year for not having a Douglas County Parking Pass while crabbing from the Coast Guard Pier are now actual tickets this year.

Although Douglas County most certainly could have done a better job of introducing the pass, it seems to be the trend that every Oregon County is going to have its own required parking pass – and none of them are going to have reciprocal agreements with other Oregon counties. The one recreation pass that everyone age 62 or older should have is the Senior Pass which costs $10.00 and is valid at 100’s of day use areas in the western United States. Area residents can purchase these passes at the Dunes NRA office in Reedsport.

Area options for striped bass anglers would be the mainstem Smith River above where the North Fork enters, the North Fork Smith River from three to five miles above where it enters the Smith. There is a small population of stripers in the Umpqua that hang out in the spring between Bunch Bar and the Scottsburg Bridge. There are a few stripers that unsuccessfully try to spawn just east of the Elk Viewing Area along Highway 38 near the mouth of Deans Creek. Each summer, some adult stripers enter Scholfield Slough after attempting to spawn in the Umpqua.

Oregon’s best striper fishery for the last few years has been the Coquille River. The stretch running from three miles above to three miles below the Arago boat ramp usually has fair numbers in the spring. Many of the stripers will be sublegal fish of less than 24-inches in length but those young stripers ensure that the Coquille River will remain a striper fishery for the next decade. A key factor in this spring fishery is water clarity as the Coquille muddies up quite easily.
The scarcity of 60 degree days has kept the shallows and shoreline water in our local freshwater lakes cool enough to limit their appeal to pre-spawn warmwater fish. Anglers fishing water ten to 15 feet deep are making decent catches of bass, but most anglers do best when a substantial portion of a lake’s fish population is in the easily fished shallows. Even a couple of consecutive 65 degree days could provide a sufficient temperature differential to greatly improve fishing success. One thing I have noticed about the largemouth bass spawn is that the later they move into the shallows, the quicker they finish spawning and scatter.

The same may be true for crappies. In each of the last three years, the crappie spawning period at the Fish Haven dock at the upper end of Loon Lake has been increasingly short.

Winter steelhead angling is definitely winding down. While there are still decent numbers of fish in some of the smaller streams, many of them have already spawned and are in very poor shape. Anglers that have been lucky enough to catch one of the steelhead dumped into Saunders Lake by the STEP chapter operating the Eel Creek fish trap are dismayed by their poor condition.

Most of the yellow perch in our local lakes have finished spawning, but have definitelt not yet put on their post-spawn feedbags.

Offshore bottomfishing at depths deeper than 180 feet (30 fathoms) will close this Friday (March 31st) at midnight. More shallow marine waters will continue to be open. Anglers fishing the ocean for Chinook salmon are not restricted by water depth.

Despite some contrary reports, Steve, the new owner of the Wells Creek Inn told me last week that were continuing the annual Spring Chinook Derby and already had as many people signed up as signed up lasy year. Additionally, there will be a band playing on Friday , Saturday and Sunday of last weekend and this coming weekend. Last weekend, the merchandise for a “completely silent” auction was placed on display at the restaurant and while the band is playing this coming weekend the merchandise will be awarded to the winning bidder. Prizes include a chain saw and a rod and reel outfit with a retail value of $400.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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