Pete Heley Outdoors 1 / 10 / 2017

Commercial crabbing officially begins on January 15th. In the meantime, recreational crabbing in the ocean remains red-hot and the rivers and bays that are open to recreational crabbing are producing very good catches.

Dockbound crabbers need to be aware that the Old Coast Guard Pier in Winchester Bay will be off limits while they are working on it. The project is scheduled to be finished in March, but the pier may be closed for several months thereafter while inspections and evaluations are completed. In the meantime, the alternatives are Dock 9 and Dock “A”.

It seems that there was some pent-up demand or perhaps withdrawal pangs regarding bottomfishing and when inshore bottomfishing reopened on January 1st, it seemed like every jetty angler that was tired of targeting striped surfperch went after greenling, lingcod and rockfish – and fishing was generally quite good. Bar and ocean conditions have limited fishing pressure on the offshore reefs, but they have been producing well when they are reachable and fishable.

Fishing the surf for redtail surfperch has generally been good, if somewhat inconsistent. Most anglers are using Berkley Gulp sandworms for bait.

In general, steelhead fishing has been slow. The fair numbers of fish in most streams are not biting well and it will probably take a decent amount of rainfall to improve the bite. Anglers fishing the Umpqua River should find conditions suitable for backtrolling with plugs in the tailout areas from Family Camp all the way upriver to at least Roseburg.

Anglers fishing Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes need to be aware that their coho salmon seasons are over – and if they purchased a 2-rod license for 2018, it will be valid on these lakes through September, and be valid on other lakes through December.

Tenmile Lakes has recently been providing fair fishing for rainbow trout averaging 14-inches. Stillfishing with bait near the bottom seems to be more productive than trolling and will likely continue to be more productive until water temperatures warm.

Cold water temperatures has slowed the yellow perch bite and reduced fishing pressure. Some anglers were wondering where the perch near the County Park on South Tenmile Lake go when they leave the park area around Thanksgiving every year. If an angler could find them, they would likely be on a major spawning area. Siltcoos Lake remains the area’s best bet to catch a yellow perch weighing more than a pound.

Several anglers per day visit Tenmile Lakes in the hopes of getting one or two subtle bites from largemouth bass over a several hour period. Although winter is not a prime time for bass numbers, it is when some of the year’s heaviest bass are caught.

The ODFW has postponed the 2018 recreational abalone season that was set to open on Jan. 1 until further review and Commission consideration in March. The decision follows California’s closure of its 2018 abalone season due to concerns over the health of the population.

If you have a flexible schedule, are at least 18 years of age, can provide your own transportation, love to fish and chat with other anglers, the ODFW has a volunteer opportunity for you.

“We need volunteers to informally interview winter steelhead anglers on the North and South Umpqua rivers. Volunteers can work a very flexible schedule and will be stationed at boat ramps in Canyonville and between Glide and Winchester,” said Evan Leonetti, Roseburg District STEP Biologist (541-464-2175).

This citizen science project, which ends in mid-April, collects information on the winter steelhead fishery including number of fish harvested, whether they are wild or hatchery, and fishing effort. Information will help ODFW prepare for a new tagging and recovery monitoring project in 2019, and also helps inform management of the fishery.

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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