Pete Heley Outdoors 6/20/12

`Last weeks three day all-depth halibut opener was the best yet for the spring season. However, approximately half (48%) the spring halibut quota was uncaught going into that opener and there may be future spring openers remaining. If so, they will be on alternating weeks with the next potential opener being June 28,29,30 (Thurs. – Sat.). The summer all-depth halibut season will start on August 3rd and will operate on a seperate quota.

Although salmon fishing success slowed somewhat over the weekend, there were some very good chinook catches made last mid-week. As usual, the chinooks are being caught well above the bottom in water less than 100 feet deep. The ocean finclipped coho salmon season will begin on July 1st and right now, the coho seem to be holding in deeper water than the chinooks with virtually no coho catches in water less than 100 feet deep. Right now, the salmon fishing near Eureka, California is the best it has been in many years and hopefully not all of the fish are going to stay south of us.

Crabbing in the lower Umpqua River has been fairly productive for boat crabbers. Dock crabbers have had to put some time in to catch any legal crabs and that will probably continue until the amount of water coming down the Umpqua shows a major reduction. When possible, ocean crabbing has been the most productive with the average catch per person running between a limit and a half-limit.

Bottomfishing has remains quite good off the South Jetty/Triangle area and some anglers targeting rockfish have been quite successful casting crappie-sized curly tail grubs during evenings, nights and low-light conditions. While cabezon and lingcod are taken each week, the bulk of the catch remains striped surfperch and greenling which are usually taken on small hooks baited with sand shrimp.

The Umpqua River spring run of pinkfins is still going strong and the fish checker on Sunday reported that 15 perch limits were the rule rather than the exception. At the same time that all these female perch are swimming around the lower Umpqua River above Winchester bay, the male perch that stay on the local beaches provide some of the best surf fishing of the year due to their aggressive nature at this time of year.

Fishing for rainbow trout in the Tenmile Lakes remains good. Lots of sizable trout have been caught recently,measuring all the way up to 26-inches,
but it seems that the smaller trout bite on a different schedule than the bigger fish and most recent catches have been dominated by either larger or mediu-sized trout – but seldom both. Similar trout fishing should also be available on Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes.

While there are plenty of trout left in Eel Lake, many of the larger trout and the post-spawn steelhead that usually get trapped in the lake when Eel Creek, the lake’s outlet shrinks to the point where the larger fish opt not to enter it. Such is not the case this year since the creek flows were high enough that those fish left the lake – thus depriving the lake’s fishing dock of some of their most exciting fishing.

Umpqua River smallmouth bass are biting well, but the higher-than-normal river flows make wading or bankfishing much more difficult than normal. The high flows have also caused some smallmouth anglers that fish from such small crafts as canoes, kayaks, float tubes or pontoon boats to delay their smallmouth fishing. However, those high flows are not nearly as noticeable when fishing the upper reaches of tidewater (between the Umpqua Wayside (9 miles above Reedsport) all the way upriver to Scottsburg and should be quite safe for the previously mentioned small craft.

The shallow sand dunes lakes between Lakeside and North Bend will definitely benefit from this year’s high water. For one thing, it greatly increases spawning success and allows some of the most shallow lakes to be naturally restocked with fish from the larger lakes. However, the amount of fish-holding water in these shallow lakes is several times larger than it is during normal water levels and that means the fish are much more scattered than they usually are and fishing is much tougher. When these high or good water years are separated by several years, the year class of fish spawned during the high water often dominates the catch for several years.

Umpqua River sturgeon fishing remains slow, but striped bass are being caught nightly on the Smith River. A few of the more serious spring chinook anglers on the Umpqua have discovered that putting an anchovy on a Rogue Bait Rig will infrequently result in a striped bass take as well as the intended spring chinook.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

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