Pete Heley Outdoors 3 / 21 / 2018

After the sizable trout plants last week, most area lakes have uncaught planters still in them, but a couple of area lakes will receive their first trout plants of this year – this week. Woahink, a fairly deep lake of nearly 800 acres will receive 1,000 trophy rainbows and within a week, many of these trout will migrate to the three northernmost arms of the lake which will then have a population density sufficient for the trout to be successfully targeted.

Both Upper and Lower Empire Lakes are each slated for 400 trophy rainbows this week. The Empire Lakes total about 55 acres – about the size of Saunders Lake and most of the carryover trout left in these fairly shallow lakes will be in Upper Empire as Lower Empire missed some scheduled plants late last summer due to high water temperatures caused by warm weather and weedy, shallow water.Usually these lakes start receiving trout plants in early to mid-February, but this will be their first trout plant this year.

Mingus Park Pond, only two feet deep and covering two acres should really perk up when it receives 2,000 legal rainbows this week. The small pond’s meager panfish population will have to compete with the trout while the few bass large enough to consume the freshly stocked trout will be following them around hoping to do exactly that, and almost all of this will be visible from the bank surrounding this shallow pond. One can also expect an influx of trout anglers and predatory birds – mostly seagulls and herons.

Also being stocked this week are Bradley Lake (200 trophies) and Powers Pond (3,000 legals and 150 trophies). Johnson Mill Pond, which had the access gate locked last week due to high water, is slated to receive 50 trophy rainbows this week.

Six acre Elbow Lake is slated to receive 1,400 trophy rainbows this week.

Yellow perch have pretty much finished spawning so the chance of encountering truly hefty perch is reduced, but the bite should be more consistent and the fish more scattered – reducing the chance of getting “skunked”. Warmer, more stable weather would help the freshwater bassfishing, which is appears to be one warm and stable weather week away from busting completely loose from the mediocre fishing of the last few weeks.

Winchester Bay’s South Jetty, along with most other jetties along the Oregon coast, have been producing fair fishing for assorted bottomfish and good fishing for lingcod. Bottomfishing in waters deeper than 30 fathoms is scheduled to close at midnight on March 31st – so if you want to get a trip out to the most productive spots – you’ve got two weeks to do it – or wait until October 1st.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding sturgeon anglers to return their 2017 Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards as required by law. Although the deadline to report their catch was Jan. 31, 2018, so far about 13,754 – or 31 percent – of the 44,374 report cards have been returned. Sport fishing regulations require that all sturgeon anglers return their report cards, even those who did not encounter sturgeon and who did not fish for white sturgeon.

“Anglers who return their report cards are providing very good data, helping to protect the white sturgeon fishery, and helping to rebuild the populations of white sturgeon and threatened green sturgeon,” said Marty Gingras, CDFW Sturgeon Program Manager. “This is especially important given the years of drought that harmed recent sturgeon reproduction.”

White sturgeon and green sturgeon are anadromous, meaning they move from the ocean or brackish water to spawn in freshwater. Because their populations were reduced by commercial fishing in the 19th century, sturgeon fisheries were mostly closed from 1901 through 1953. Since 1954, recreational fishing for white sturgeon in California has been allowed, and the fishery continues to be restricted in an effort to rebuild it. Green sturgeon is a federally listed threatened species and may not be fished for or harvested.

Anglers can return their overdue report cards by mail to the address printed on the card or – until April 1, 2018 — they can report online at the CDFW website at

If the pathetic rate of tag returns does not improve, California may have to address the problem the way Oregon did for some hunts – by imposing a $25 non-reporting fee when a license is purchased the following year.

Commercial and sport anglers received mixed news last week regarding the status of Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook – California’s two largest Chinook salmon populations. While adult returns of both stocks were well below minimum escapement goals in 2017, and projected abundance for both stocks is modest compared to historic averages, state and federal fishery scientists reported an increase in the number of jacks (two-year-old Chinook) that returned to spawn in 2017. Higher jack returns, as seen in 2017, can indicate the potential for increased abundance of adult (three years old or older) Chinook for 2018 fisheries.

This year’s forecast of Columbia River fall chinook is down more than 50 percent from the 10-year average. While the ocean chinook salmon fishery opened on March 15th – as usual, the season will almost certainly will not have its normal October 31st ending date. In fact, the current season, subject to possible extension, only goes to April 30th – and a major factor in opening it at all was that the early ocean chinook salmon season typically has little fishing pressure. The commercial ocean chinook season will remain closed during the current six week recreational fishery.

Late last week, Silverton, a Marion County city with about 10,000 residents experienced a rash of cougar sightings including one sighting by a property owner of a cougar actually killing a deer on his property. Despite several attempts to track down, trap or even kill what is obviously multiple cougars, authorities have so far been completely, almost spectacularly, unsuccessful. Perhaps it’s time to bring back government “hunters” – or let someone show what a well-trained pack of cougar hounds are capable of.

So far, Oregon remains the only northwest or west coast state without a human fatality due to a wild cougar attack. A few years ago, an animal park employee was killed on the premises at Wildcat Haven in Sherwood while cleaning a cougar enclosure..

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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