Pete Heley Outdoors 1 / 31 / 2018

As you are reading this, I’m happy to point out that there is now one hour more daylight per day than there was on Dec. 21st of last year. Still not enough, but a reason for optimism.

The commercial crab season is now underway except for the coastal section south of Cape Blanco. A few commercial crabbers along the southern Oregon coast have opted to wait until the closed section reopens – at which time they will get a 30 day headstart on commercial crabbers that are crabbing now.

As for recreational crabbing high muddy water has slowed, but not halted crabbing at Winchester Bay. Crabbing the lower end of Coos Bay near such Charleston-area landmarks as “the cribbs” and “Hungryman Cove” remains fairly productive.

This year’s first trout plants in our area will take place this coming week in the Florence area during the week beginning Feb. 5th – and most trout plants take place in the early part of the week. The lakes being planted include: Alder Lake (850 legals, 100 12-inchers and 36 15-inchers); Buck Lake (36 15-inchers); Carter Lake (750 12-inchers); Cleawx Lake (3,000 legals, 450 12-inchers and 150 15-inchers); Dunes Lake (850 legals and 36 15-inchers); Lost Lake (500 12-inchers); Munsel Lake (1,500 12-inchers and 150 15-inchers); Perkins Lake (36 15-inchers) and Siltcoos Lagoon (425 legals and 35 15-inchers).

Heavy rainfall last week raised and muddied most area streams. Exceptions were Tenmile and Eel creeks which never seem to get muddy and have been fishing well. Streams that were producing well before last weeks rains included the East and West forks of the Millicoma River and the North Fork of the Coquille River.

The hot yellow perch bite at the County Park on South Tenmile Lake less than two weeks ago seems to have disappeared and my theory is that they moved to, or closer to, their actual spawning sites. I really wish I knew where those sites were.

The fair largemouth bass angling at Tenmile Lakes dropped off with the onset of stormy weather, but should bounce back with slightly warmer, more stable weather. Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes should improve as well.

The first Umpqua River spring chinook probably won’t show up for three or four weeks, but in the meantime there is a very much overlooked fishery in the Wells Creek area for small to mediun-sized brown bullhead catfish. The few anglers that take advantage of it use nightcrawlers and usually fish at night. Depending on river levels and water clarity, the Umpqua’s smallmouth bass fishery should be getting close to being worthwhile. The most productive early season spots are backwaters or coves that have their upper ends upriver of their mouths. These backwaters, because of their alignment, receive less inflow from the Umpqua River and can warm quickly on sunny days.

As for bullead catfish, they typically seek the warmest water available and in the wintertime that is usually the deepest water. In deeper lakes there may be low oxygen levels near the bottom and the angler may have more difficulty getting a bait to the bottom. However, Oregon’s three largest coastal lakes are less than 25 feet deep and anglers fishing water around 20 feet deep should enjoy inconsistent, but occassionally very good fishing for bullhead catfish – especially at night. But it’s usually cold and miserable and hardly anybody does it.

Current fishing opportunities for those willing to travel include: Lake Chelan in central Washington for kokanee and mackinaw; Pyramid Lake in western Nevada for giant Lahanton cutthroat trout and the Columbia River for jumbo walleyes. Other options are such popular icefishing spots as Diamond Lake in central Oregon and Phillips Reservoir in eastern Oregon. A closer, quite interesting winter option is Lookout Point Reservoir for landlocked chinook salmon, rainbow trout and walleyes.

The ODFW will place a Halibut Survey on their website Monday afternoon, January 29th. They are looking for public input regarding this year’s Halibut Regulations. If you are concerned about the Halibut seasons, take the survey. ODFW will have a meeting in Newport on Tuesday, January 30th to get public input.

A man from Liberty Lake, Washington, was fined $8,293 in Pend Oreille County District Court yesterday in a plea bargain agreement for killing two wolves in Pend Oreille County in 2016.

Terry Leroy Fowler, 55, pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful taking of endangered wildlife, while a third count was dismissed under the agreement. Fowler will pay $8,000 in restitution for the two wolves to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and $293 in court costs. A 364-day jail sentence was suspended, but the 30 days under home electronic monitoring was not.

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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