Pete Heley Outdoors 2 / 21 / 2018

While the ODFW planted trout at many spots around Oregon for last weekend’s “Free Fishing Weekend”, they sure didn’t plant any trout around our area. Hopefully, there were fair numbers of stocked trout left from previous plants in some of the Florence-area lakes. While I’m griping, I might as well mention the “new, improved” trout stocking portion of the ODFW webosite. Hopefully, there will be major improvements in this portion of the site, but as of now it is pretty much useless for planning a fishing trip around anticipated trout plants more than ten days in the future.

Before they “improved” the site, it showed that Loon Lake was slated to be stocked the last week of this month and Lake Marie was to be stocked the second week of March.

Oregon’s crab fishery got a wake-up call this week when the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the immediate closure of all recreational crabbing on the southern Oregon coast from Cape Blanco to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes Dungeness and red rock crab harvested from the ocean as well as in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties.

What is unprecedented, at least in recent years, is a requirement that commercial crabbers crabbing south of Cape Blanco must have the crab viscera (guts) removed by a licensed processor prior to being available for public purchase. There is also a recall on all live or whole-cooked crab caught since Feb. 13.

Crabbing at Winchester Bay, has suffered the least, “closure-wise”, and crabbing is still fair, but getting tougher for the dock crabbers. Most boat crabbers are still getting near-limits if they’re spending much time at it. The most productive crabbing has recently been the lower portion of Coos Bay near Charleston.

Sadly, this year’s commercial crab season may be a harbinger of what will be normal for future crab seasons – one can only hope it isn’t so.

Low, clear water has the steelhead fishing on hold. There seems too be fair numbers of fish in most local streams, but they seldom bite in such conditions and fishing is poor.

Bottomfishing has been fair off of area jetties and boats venturing offshore to deeper reefs are still doing great for lingcod and fair to good for rockfish. Winchester Bay’s South Jetty produced striped surfperch to 14-inches and two pounds last week on Berkley Gulp. It was only about ten years ago that the world record for striped surfperch was one pound and 14 ounces and that fish remained the record for 38 years.

They are still catching some redtail surfperch off area beaches, but last week they were running small, and the occasional walleye surfperch even smaller. The stormy weather seemed to move the fish around and fishing is inconsistent – but improving.

I know I’m repeating myself, but it’s the best time to catch yellow perch at their maximum weights is now. By the first week of March, the spawn will be over and those chunky egg-laden female perch will, once again, have normal girths.

My new fishing-goal for this year is to catch bass from 50 different waters in Oregon. As often as I actually go fishing, this goal is more difficult to achieve than it would first appear. I think I’m going to have to catch bass from multiple small waters in the Hauser and Florence areas on the same day. I also want to make sure that I catch all four species of bass (largemouth, smallmouth, striped and spotted) while I am doing it – all the while not cutting back on the time I spend fishing for other species.

The striper will most likely be an incidentally-taken fish while fishing the Coquille River for smallmouth bass. The spotted bass may be the tough one, since they have been in Lost Creek Reservoir for at least ten years and I’ve never caught one, but Dorena and Cottage Grove reservoirs have small numbers of them and those waters are 100 miles closer than Lost Creek. The main purpose of this goal is to “force” me to go fishing more often and in new places.

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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