Pete Heley Outdoors 8 / 16 / 2017

As I am writing this column, there has not been any official word from the ODFW regarding a possible upcoming all-depth halibut opener this coming Friday and Saturday. The catch from the last central Oregon halibut opener (Aug. 4th and 5th) was 34,427 pounds, which leaves 31,855 pounds or 48.1 percent of the starting summer quota of 66,281 pounds.

Here’s how the different ports in our zone fared on the first summer opener: (1) – Newport(27,088 pounds; (2) – Florence(2,211 pounds); (3) – Depoe Bay(1,842 pounds); (4) – Bandon(1,550 pounds); (5) – Pacific City (699 pounds); (6) – Winchester Bay (658 pounds; (7) – Garibaldi (295 pounds) and (8) – Charleston (75 pounds).

By the time this column is published the ODFW will have announced their decision, which depending upon projected ocean conditions will most likely be one or two days. The ODFW seldom adds more than 30,000 uncaught pounds to the next future all-depth halibut season.

Still no word on whether there will be an adjustment to the quota for the upcoming nonselective ocean coho season beginning September 2nd – since 55.6 percent of the quota, for finclipped ocean coho salmon was uncaught – or nearly 12,000 cohos – an upward adjustment of the quota seems reasonable.

Salmon fishing in the ocean off Winchester Bay and in the Umpqua River below Reedsport has been fair at best, but last Tuesday (August 8th), anglers caught about 30 chinooks on the Umpqua River below Reedsport and six chinooks were caught by bank anglers casting spinners at Half Moon Bay. Later last week, it seems the spinner flingers were having their best success at Osprey Point.

Very few reports from successful striped bass anglers on the Smith and Umpqua rivers – and fishing pressure and success appear to be down on the Coquille River as well.

Crabbing at Winchester Bay has been very good and fishing the South Jetty has been fair to good for bottomfish and striped surfperch.

A walk around Lake Marie convinced me that the largemouth bass population is definitely down from where it was several years ago.The most likely reason is that the bass fry spawned in at least some of the last several years did not reach sufficient size by late fall to survive their first winter. At least the yellow perch population appears stable, but the lake has very few perch over seven inches long. I didn’t notice any uncaught planted trout while walking around Lake Marie, but I did notice some of the smaller trout planted recently by our local STEP Chapter and they seemed healthy and active but probably won’t be legal to keep for at least a year. I also noticed a few even smaller trout about two inches long that have me wondering if there was some successful spawning by uncaught planted trout during this year’s high water.

Other local lakes that seem to have reduced bass populations include Perkins Lake and Elbow Lake. But the bass population in Lost Lake appears to have grown somewhat over the last several years.

For those planning on fishing during our upcoming total solar eclipse this upcoming Monday (April 21st), most experts do not think there will not be much of an effect since the duration of the total eclipse will be less than two minutes in Oregon. Of more importance will be the approximate 90 minutes of partial eclipse surrounding the total eclipse and that period of dimished light may be enough to influence insect hatches and baitfish activity. It also will offer many Oregonians their first opportunity to legally fish for salmon, trout or steelhead in near total darkness.

I am someone who believes many of the actions taken by the ODFW are well thought out, actually make sense and are beneficial – but that doesn’t mean that the ODFW can’t do even better. Here are a few things they could start doing that would really impress me.

(1) – Work to ensure that all suitable Oregon waters have populations of suitable fish species. This will ease crowding on many popular fishing spots and possibly reverse the trend that seems to be forcing anglers to fish the same waters, for the same fish species, at the same time.

(2) – Don’t automatically close a fishery because an agency says they would have difficulty overseeing and enforcing it. At least give Oregon’s angling public a chance to show they can’t be trusted.

(3) – Review and rescind unwarranted closures on streams or lakes, or more tightly define the closures or restrictions to minimize any lost angling opportunities.

(4) – Work with landowners to increase access to potential fishing spots or hunting spots and educate the public on what types of behavior will result in loss of access. Also educate the property owners on what their actual property rights are. Currently, restricting access by water to a cove or or restricting access below the high water mark of a navigable stream are offenses far more likely to be overlooked by law enforcement officials than unpermitted trespass – but should it be?

(5) – Start keeping official state records on all of Oregon fish species of interest to anglers. Every other state does.

Pete Heley works parttime 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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