Southwest Oregon Smallmouth Bass Update – Excluding the Medford-area waters.

COQUILLE RIVER – The Coquille now has a strong smallmouth bass population. While most of the fishing takes place on the main river near Myrtle Point, smallies are in the lower reaches of all the river’s forks including the South Fork Coquille all the way up to Powers. Because the river is often somewhat murky, many anglers opt to use larger crankbauts for the smallies in the hopes od hooking an incidental striped bass.

COTTAGE GROVE RESERVOIR – Has small numbers of of smallmouth bass of good average size. Smallies weighing more than five pounds are possible. Try the rocky riprap along the dam – especially when the reservoir is drawn down.

COW CREEK – This major South Umpqua tributary forms a large circle entirely within Douglas County. The best fishing seems to be between the town of Riddle and where it enters the South Umpqua

DORENA RESERVOIR – Has small numbers of smallmouth bass of good average size. Smallies weighing more than five pounds are possible.

EEL LAKE – Less than ten percent of the bass in Eel Lake are smallmouth bass, but some of them are good-sized with multiple 18-inch plus smallies taken the last few years.

FORD’S POND – Located less than two miles west of Sutherlin adjacent to Highway 138, this shallow weedy lake doesn’t seem suited to smallmouth bass, but has fair numbers of them near the short rocky shoreline adjacent to the outlet.

GALESVILLE RESERVOIR – Smallmouth bass are the dominant fishery in this multi-species reservoir with lots of smallies measuring more than a foot in length, but very few weighing more than three pounds. A good early season spot is the shoreline below the boat ramp.

MILL CREEK – Unfortunately the entire stream was closed due to salmon and steelhead snagging in the lower reaches near the Umpqua River. Presently has good numbers of smallies in the lower three miles above the Umpqua River. Hopefully, future regulations will allow these bass to be fished for.

SMITH RIVER – Unlike the Umpqua River, the Smith River only has a small population of smallmouth bass. Some of them are at least 18-inches long. They seem to reside from about seven miles above Highway 101 up to Smith River Falls.

SOUTH UMPQUA RIVER – This large stream is a delight to float with a kayak, canoe or one man pontoon boat – midsummer water levels usually prohibit using anything larger. The pools are almost the same size as those on the mainstem Umpqua River – but much shallower. By early summer, anglers can almost sightfish the entire river.

UMPQUA RIVER – Possiby Oregon’s best smallmouth stream for numbers. Small bass dominate to the point of being a nuisance, but smallies weighing more than five pounds are taken every year. The best numbers of smallmouths reside above the head of tidewater at Wells Creek and smallies extend downstream as far as milepost 8 east of Reedsport and the average smallie taken in tidewater is slightly longer and heavier than those caught upriver.

WOAHINK LAKE – A sleeper for smallmouths, Woahinks bass population is about evenly split between smallies and largemouths. Most of the smallies are small, but fish to 19-inches and more than three pounds were caught last year A good lake to fish topwater lures.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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