Pete Heley Outdoors 4 / 26 / 2017

The only local spot scheduled to be stocked this week is Millicoma Pond which was slated to receive 500 legal rainbows, which is about as many trout as can be stuffed into a pond of only two-tenths of an acre. A Family Fishing Event is set for Saturday, April 29, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Middle Empire Lake as part of Coos Bay’s annual Family Fun Day. Although Empire Lakes haven’t been stocked with trout since the second week of April, they have been stocked with 12,000 trout so far this year and not all of them have fallen prey to anglers or cormorants. There seems to be no evidence of trout in Mingis Park and 2,000 trout stocked in a pond of less than two surface acres of water that averages about 18-inches deep would lead one to believe that there was incredibly heavy and effective fishing pressure the first few days after the plant, or the trout all swam down the outflow culvert, or the plant didn’t take place.

The upcoming changes regarding Wickiup Reservoir’s kokanee limit were discarded last week because extreme backlash from upset anglers. The old regulation was a bonus limit of 25 kokanee in addition to the daily limit of five trout. The new, but now discarded regulation, would have included kokanee as part of the five trout daily limit. The fish populations in the reservoir will be closely monitored as the ODFW is concerned that too many fish will exit the reservoir via the dam’s unscreened outlet should the water get to low.

The harsh weather this winter and spring has heavily impacted numerous wildlife populations to the point where the number of deer and pronghorn antelope tags available in Baker, Malheur and Union counties underwent emergency reductions.

The ODFW closed all sturgeon fishing, including catch and release, in Sauvie Island’s Gilbert River because of poaching. The Big Eddy fishing pier, a disabled angler platform located at the headwaters of the river near Sturgeon Lake, is included in the closure. Anglers with ODFW disabled anglers permits are advised to use the Gilbert River fishing pier at the mouth of the river instead. Increasing numbers of sturgeon are hanging out in smaller Columbia tributaries as they try to avoid predation by sea lions – making them more susceptible to illegal poaching.

A massive liquid manure spill of 190,000 gallons temporarily closed Tillamook Bay to commercial and recreational crabbing. The manure came from a dairy farm that is likely to be cited and fined fined for the incident.

Amid all this negative outdoor news, the article that bothers me the most, was one out of California about toxic algae affecting the brains of sea lions along the cental and southern California coasts. This is believed to be the worst year ever for the Pseudo-nitzschia algae that produces domoic acid and the key factors seem to be increasing ocean temperatures and pollution. The neurotoxin that the Pseudo-nitzschia algae produces can destroy the brains of sea lions until they no longer know basic survival functions, such as how to evade predators and find food. It can cause sea lions to have seizures and paralysis, while one of the key signs of this dementia is when they are seen rolling their heads repeatedly. Although the sea lions are the most visible indicators of the problem, other animals such as dolphins and fish-eating birds are also affected. The most-affected animals seem to be those that consume large numbers of algar-eating forage fish.

As for the sea lions, those most affected were pregnant females that eat much more than normal while they are pregnant or nursing.

Cooking the fish does not decontaminate them, so humans consuming tainted fish can also be affected.

Not only is our marine environment becoming increasingly toxic, it also seems to be increasingly unproductive forage-wise. Recently-completed studies on the Lower Columbia River revealed that nearly one-fourth of the returning spring Chinook salmon were found to measure less than 27-inches in length – and many of these salmon were not jacks or immature Chinooks, but four or five year old adult salmon.

Continued cool weather has delayed the movement of bass and panfish into shallow water. Although the duration of daylight is also a factor in the timing of the spawn, the most important factor is water temperature and this year shallow water temperatures are more than a month behind those during normal years. As an example, during the preceding two years, the crappie spawn at the upper end of Loon Lake was over by the end of April and this year it hasnt even started yet.

Anglers fishing Winchester Bay’s South Jetty last week, enjoyed good fishing for rockfish. Possibly the best catch was made by an angler casting a white salmon spinner. A few spring Chinook salmon are being caught each week by anglers casting spinners at Half Moon Bay or Osprey Point.

The first springer turned in to the Wells Creek Inn weighed 28 pounds and the angler that caught it almost immediately caught a heavier one. That 29 pound nine ounce fish is the current leader in the Inn’s annual contest.

Pete Heley works weekends at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from ‘A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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