Pete Heley Outdoors 5/23/12

The first limit of Umpqua River pinkfins was reported around noon last Saturday. As the run progressives, some very good surf fishing for the pinkfin will drop off somewhat as about half the adult pinkfins (the female perch) in the area will leave the beaches and head to that section of the Umpqua River between Gardiner and the entrance to Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin. Anglers fishing the perch run that like company will be fishing close to Marker 12 which is about a mile and a half upriver from Winchester Bay.

The salmon fishing in the ocean off Winchester Bay has occasionally been very good and some of the fish have been caught quite close to the Umpqua River Bar such as the 22 pound chinook Paul Stallard caught while fishing solo last Saturday between the bar and the Red Can. Upriver spring chinook fishing seems to have slowed down somewhat, but there have been brief spurts of good fishing.

Tony Stark caught a quick limit of rockfish averaging close to two pounds while fishing from a boat along the South Jetty last Saturday. He was using a metal jig. Greenling and striped surfperch continue to dominate the jetty catch, numbers-wise, but a few cabezon, rockfish and lingcod are also entering the catch. Sand shrimp account for most of the greenling, cabezon and surfperch taken.

The few boats crabbing in the ocean have been having fair success and a few boat anglers last weekend made decent crab catches between Half Moon Bay and directly across the Umpqua River from the entrance to the East Boat Basin.

Sturgeon fishing remains slow and several anglers have reported seeing sealions eating or killing sturgeon on the Umpqua near Scottsburg. Striped bass are gradually dropping down from the upper tidewater areas on the Umpqua and Smith rivers and nighttime catches have been gradually improving.

Most of the waters in our area that receive trout plants will be planted the first week in June or to put it another way, the week before Free Fishing Weekend. This week many of the Florence area lakes will receive trout plants including Alder, Buck, Dune and Siltcoos Lagoon which will each receive 425 foot long trout and 36 16-inchers. Also receiving plants of foot long trout are Cleawox (1,800), Erhart (100), Georgia (75), North Georgia (75) and Perkins lakes (100). The general opener for coastal streams is this coming Saturday (May 26th).

Despite high water in most streams and rivers, most of the central and eastern Oregon trout lakes and reservoirs have been fishing very well for trout and kokanee. It looks like the best fishing in any moving water will occur this fall and the high water levels should bode well for trout fishing over the next several years.

A road trip last Monday along Interstate 5 found the night fishing for largemouth bass at Lake Selmac very good, but my fishing was stopped at 3 am by a faulty bail spring I could not deal with in the dark. The two hours of fishing I did get in resulted in ten strikes, but no bass heavier than three pounds.I had to wait until daylight before fishing the Expo Ponds near Central Point because I was unfamiliar with driving to the parking area. As I arrived, I talked to a teenager that was walking on air because he had just caught and released bass weighing almost seven and three pounds. I fished the closest pond for two hours and only managed one foot long bass. The other pond looked fishier, but as I was contemplating fishing it, about 15 trout anglers showed up and I preferred not to inconvenience them. The next water I checked out was Galesville Reservoir near Azalea and a half hour of casting plastic worms near the boat ramp resulted in four smallmouth bass measuring between 12 and 16 inches and a nine incher. The smallmouths were cruising in two to four feet of water. Although visibility was only about a foot, Ben Irving Reservoir, west of Winston, was producing very good fishing for crappie, bass and bluegills. Ten minutes of fishing next to the boat ramp resulted in numerous takes with my best fishing being a ten inch crappie. With about two feet of visibility, Cooper Creek Reservoir, in Sutherlin, also was producing excellent fishing near the lower boat ramp for crappie and yellow perch. The only disappointment on the road trip was Plat I Reservoir, also in Sutherlin, which was muddy and seemingly had no active fish near the boat ramp except planted trout. The next three weeks should be very productive at most of the lakes in Jackson, Josephine and eastern Douglas County.

Closer to home, one lucky angler reported catching six species of fish at Mercer Lake (cutthroat and rainbow trout, largemouth bass, yellow perch, black crappie and brown bullheads). Some sizable bass have been taken from Tenmile Lake, but almost no panfish action except for yellow perch. A Thursday trip fishing the entire shoreline of the upper half of Loon Lake resulted in excellent bass fishing despite very windy conditions. Of the approximately 30 bass landed, two dozen weighed at least a pound and more than 15 weighed more than two pounds. The only three bass I caught that weighed more than three pounds each easily topped five pounds in weight and the total weight for my best five fish was more than 22 pounds – my best daytime total on Loon Lake to date. The same strategy on the lower half of the lake was far less productive with slightly more than one bass per hour landed and none weighing more than three pounds. My experience over the years is that the lower half of Loon Lake lags the upper half by about two weeks when it comes to productive warmwater fishing. Bassfishing at Loon should be very good for the next month, but the bluegills have yet to  move into shallow water in any numbers and the trout in the lake will not receive a supplemental stocking until the first week in June. Unless the coast gets some warmer weather, it appears that the bass will not actually be spawning until June.

Despite high water in most streams and rivers, most of the central and eastern Oregon trout lakes and reservoirs have been fishing very well for trout and kokanee. It looks like the best fishing in any moving water will occur this fall and the high water levels should bode well for trout fishing over the next several years.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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