Pete Heley Outdoors 4 / 04 / 2018

Possibly a reaction to California closing its abalone season and the resulting increase in abalone harvest in Oregon waters, Oregon decided to close abalone harvest for the next three years – with the Commission requesting annual updates. After 3 years there will be another another rulemaking meeting where the closure will be either be extended or amended with new fishery rules depending on an evaluation of the situation at that time. The Commission suggested a “big game” model be adapted for the fishery (lottery permits).

Officials say salmon soon could return to the upper reaches of the Columbia River for the first time in seven decades.

According to a Northwest News Network report, Cody Desautel, director of natural resources for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville, stated that his group will “trap and haul” fish out of its hatchery and put them above Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams in northeast Washington (respectively 545 and 595 miles above the Pacific Ocean). He says “there will be salmon above Grand Coulee Dam this year for the first time in 70 years.”

Desautel says the plan hangs on one last federal permit from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. If the final permit is approved, Colville fish managers will trap salmon at their hatchery and drive them around the dam by truck, where they’ll be released back into the Columbia River. The tribe will keep track of where those fish go.

If the salmon successfully use spawning areas above these dams, at the very least it should increase the number of salmon entering the Columbia River when their progeny attempt to make the lengthy journey back to their birthplace.

Marine waters deeper than 30 fathoms closed to conventional bottomfishing March 31st and during the last few days of the season the fishing was very, very good with surprisingly heavy fishing pressure. Winchester Bay’s South Jetty has been fishing fair for rockfish, greenling and striped surfperch and good for lingcod.

Fishing pressure for ocean chinook has been very light and unproductive. Spring chinook fishing on the Rogue and Umpqua rivers has been slow, but should show gradual improvement as it is still early for that run. Although no lunker-sized springers have yet been reported caught in either river, hope fully their springers will not exhibit a shrinking average size to the degree that the Columbia River has.

The regulations are quite complex, but there will be sturgeon fishing and retention (white sturgeon only) on the Columbia River this year. While the season is open, the daily limit will be one sturgeon with a fork length of 38 to 54-inches between Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam (minimum fork length 43-inches above The Dalles Dam) and with a season limit of two sturgeon. Make sure to check the ODFW website for more detailed information.

Mingus Park Pond was indeed stocked last week, but I checked it twice last week and saw no evidence of trout. I watched several cormorants go fishless for an hour – yet a young lad started hooking nine to ten inch rainbows every several casts. It was quite pleasing to note that cormorants are very inefficient trout predators in extremely shallow water.

Other Coos County waters being stocked this week include Butterfield Lake and Johnson Mill Pond with with 3,000 legal rainbows each. Upper and Lower Empire Lakes are slated for 1,000 larger rainbows each.

Both Tenmile Creek and Eel Creek remain open for hatchery steelhead through April 30th and since both streams’ steelhead tend to be late-arriving – there should still be fair numbers of steelhead present.

Yellow perch in all area waters are in post-spawn mode, while smallmouth bass should be approaching immedire pre-spawn mode. Crappie should begin spawning in late April. Largemouth bass should begin spawning in early May and bluegills should begin spawning in early June. Bullhead catfish usually spawn in late May or early June.

To reduce the threat to young fish, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is working with several nonprofit and local governmental organizations to haze cormorants on six coastal estuaries over the next two to four months. ODFW has coordinated the cormorant hazing project for the last 9 years, although cormorant hazing in some form has occurred at some Oregon estuaries intermittently since 1988.

Hazing will continue through May 31 on the Nehalem, Nestucca, and Coquille river estuaries, and on Tillamook and Alsea bays. The program will continue through at least July 31 on the lower Columbia River, where hazing will occur at a variety of locations, including Young’s Bay, Blind Slough, and Tongue Point.

The Oregon Bass & Panfish Club recently celebrated its 60th anniversary with an active membership of more than 230. The Portland-based club has had as many 700 members during different periods in the club’s lifetime. The club performs many outdoor-related projects in northwest Oregon, but the neatest thing about the club, to me, is their multi-species fishing tournament where the length of the largest specimen of each fish species is recorded and the largest “total length” wins the tournament.
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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