Author Archives: Pete Heley

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

Hall Lake Fishing Report by Shawn Chase

I know you like reports so I thought I’d give you one from Hall Lake. I don’t know if the recent construction on the creek that connects Hall Lake and Eel Lake is the cause, but the bluegill from Eel Lake have made it to Hall and colonized. I was fishing with my son the other day and saw 100’s of bluegill fry cruising the shallows on the northside of the lake. There was also largemouth fry cruising nearby as well. As for the fishing, we caught smallmouth bass, there has been a small population there for at least the last 12 years, a couple of largemouth bass, and a couple of cut-throat trout. Not bad for a couple hours work. I was hoping for more trout but they all appeared to be gorging themselves on a bug hatch.

I sure hope the bluegill don’t mess up the eco system in hall lake.

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FAQ About the ODFW’s New Licensing System.

SALEM, Ore.—ODFW will launch a new electronic licensing system (ELS) on Dec. 1, 2018 with the sale of 2019 licenses and tags.

With the new system, hunters and anglers can choose to carry their documents electronically (on their smart phone or tablet) and tag fish and wildlife with a mobile app that will work even offline. Or, customers can continue to use paper documents, but will be able to print licenses and tags directly from home using regular paper.

Customers will also still have the option of purchasing licenses and tags at license sale agents (incl. ODFW offices), but no special paper or computer equipment will be needed by these businesses.

The new system is expected to save $2 million annually, thanks to the elimination of specialty paper and computer equipment and overall lower cost of the system.

“Customers have been asking for the ability to carry tags on their mobile phones and for a more mobile-friendly system,” said Curt Melcher, ODFW Director. “We’re pleased this new system will bring both cost savings and an improved customer experience for Oregon’s hunters and anglers.”

ODFW recently published a FAQ about the new system, which covers topics including how to protect paper tags from the elements and tag fish and wildlife electronically. Find the FAQ at,…ing-system-els and see below.

ODFW’s new Electronic Licensing System (ELS)

Frequently Asked Questions

ODFW’s new electronic licensing system (ELS) will allow customers to store their licenses, tags and validations online on their smart phone or tablet. Customers can also choose to carry paper documents, but will be able to purchase and print these documents from home using regular paper. The new system will also allow for electronic tagging of fish and game using an app that will work even when offline.

When will the new ELS system take effect?

The new system including a mobile app for smartphones and tablets will launch Dec. 1, 2018, when 2019 license sales begin. Some additional functionalities to the system will come later.

Will I still be able to buy licenses and tags at the store and at ODFW offices?

Yes, but stores and offices will not need special computer equipment or paper. They will use the Internet and regular printer paper.

Is the cost of tags and licenses changing due to the new system?

No. Also, customers who have been purchasing documents online or by mail/fax order and receiving them by mail will no longer need to pay a $2 shipping/handling fee because these documents can now be printed at home.

Why is ODFW doing this?

To provide better service to customers, reduce our operating costs and modernize our licensing system. Customers will be able to buy and print their documents directly from home, 24 hours a day, without waiting for them to be mailed like under the current system. Or, customers can choose to buy and immediately use an electronic document, keeping licenses/tags/validations on their smartphone instead of in their pockets. The move to the new system is expected to save $2 million per year, thanks to the elimination of specialty paper and computer equipment and overall lower cost of the system. The system will also allow ODFW and Oregon State Police to look up licensing information while in the field and offline, which is not possible under the current system.

Will the tags/validations I print hold up as well as the specialized paper from the old system?

Yes, with a little extra care, such as keeping them in a Ziploc/plastic bag or some other waterproof carrier.

How do I tag a big game animal or turkey in the new system?

It depends on which option you select at time of tag purchase:

Paper tag: Validate your tag by writing in ink the harvest date/time and Wildlife Management Unit where the harvest occurred. Place paper tag in a plastic bag to protect it from the elements and attach it to the carcass.

Electronic tag (cell phone or tablet): Validate your tag electronically with an app that will work even when offline. Then take the confirmation number from the app plus your name, ODFW ID, Date of Birth, harvest date and write it on anything that will stand up to the elements (like duct tape, trail ribbon or piece of paper in plastic bag), affix it to the animal like a traditional tag and keep it attached to the carcass in transport, as you would a paper tag.

Note that for other fish and wildlife requiring tagging (Western Ore. fee pheasant and salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, halibut), hunters and anglers who choose electronic tagging will only need to record their harvest in the app, which works when you are offline.

How do I record my salmon/steelhead/sturgeon/halibut (combined angling tag)?

Paper tag: Validate your angling tag or harvest card by writing in ink all required information like the species code, mark if hatchery or wild fish (for salmon and steelhead), the location code of where the fish was harvested, the month and the date.

Electronic tag: Use the app that will work even when offline and provide required information.

What happens if my phone dies and I can’t show my electronic license, tag or validation?

Just like today, hunters and anglers will be required to have and display a license and tag upon contact by ODFW or OSP. It will be the hunter or angler’s responsibility to ensure they always have enough battery or an external battery source to power their phone so they can validate their harvest and show their license or tag. Note that even when they are in the field and without cell reception, ODFW and OSP will also be able to see information about licenses/tags/validations you purchased and to check your confirmation number (which indicates you have electronically tagged your big game animal).

Big game hunters using the electronic tagging system must also put a piece of duct tape, trail ribbon or something on their animal (must include their name, DOB, ODFW ID #, confirmation number and harvest date) and keep it attached to the carcass.

How many copies of my paper big game tag, turkey tag, combined angling tag, hatchery harvest card/tag or fee pheasant tag can I have?

Each customer will be allowed to print one tag and it will be unlawful to make copies. Each reprinted tag is unique and only the most recent reprint from the system is valid. OSP and ODFW staff will have the ability to scan the barcode on a printed tag to confirm it is valid. If you lose your tag and need a reprint, you will need to go to a license sales agent or ODFW office and pay $2 for a reprint.

Will I have to pin my location or provide a photo when I tag my fish or animal electronically?

Customers will have the option of either pinning the location of their harvest or providing the wildlife management unit or fishery location code. ODFW recognizes the potential sensitivity of personal hunting and fishing locations and will be evaluating options to address confidentiality issues associated with the new system. Photos will not be accepted through the ELS reporting system.

Will my information be moved from the current system to the new system?

If you have purchased an annual hunting or fishing license since 2016, have hunting preference points on file or have certifications or other statuses that remain in effect for an extended period of time (such as Pioneer status, disabilities permit, Northwest Goose permit, or license suspension) then your information will be migrated into the new system. Older customer information that does not meet these criteria will be archived in a separate system.

Will the new system use a Hunter/Angler ID like the current one?

The current Hunter/Angler ID will become the “ODFW ID” in the new system. Accounts that are moved into the new system will keep the existing Hunter/Angler ID number, but it will now be called the ODFW ID. Customers whose information did not migrate will need to create a new profile and will get a new ODFW ID.

Will my data be secure?

Yes, the new system will meet all data security requirements, including encryption of personally identifiable information in transit and at rest. Personally identifiable information and financial information will not be collected by or stored in the system that you will interact with to access your license and other products. The information will be stored, using full encryption for both in transit and at rest data, in a separate system that has no direct access point for the general public.

Have license sale agents been told about the new ELS and do they plan to continue to sell licenses?

Yes, ODFW has informed current license sales agent about the new ELS and will be in regular communication with them before and after the launch. It will be up to license sales agents to decide if they want to continue selling licenses. Many retailers have told us they prefer to use their own equipment, which the new system allows, so as not have to print using a special terminal or special paper. One of ODFW’s goals will be to ensure that license sales agents can still be found throughout the state.

Are other states using this type of electronic licensing?

Yes. Several states (including GA, FL, OH, AR) currently provide a paperless tag option. The vendor ODFW is using for the new system (JMT) also manages the license sales system for the states of Idaho and Washington.

ODFW regularly communicates with other state fish and wildlife agencies about best management practices for licensing systems and spoke with 22 other states before making a final decision on the new license sales system.

This online FAQ will be continually updated with new information about the ELS before the system launches on Dec. 1, 2018.

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Oregon Halibut Update.

Central Coast Summer All-Depth Halibut Season Opener Set for Aug. 17-18

Update through Week 31 (Aug. 5)

Columbia River Subarea



The entire subarea quota has been caught.

Central Oregon Coast Subarea

Summer All-Depth Season—During the August 3-4 opening there were 26,673 pounds landed. Fish had an average weight of 26 pounds round weight. Coast wide the success rate was 50-60%. There are 27,193 pounds (50.5%) of the allocation remaining. Therefore there is enough for August 17 and 18 to be open. This fishery can open every other Friday and Saturday until October 31 or the quota is caught, whichever comes first.

Nearshore Season— opened June 1, seven days per week. Through August 5 there has been a total of 18,353 pounds landed, leaving 7,503 pounds (29%) of the quota remaining. The average weight of landed fish so far this year has been approximately 25 pounds round weight. The average weight of fish landed last week were a bit smaller at approximately 23 pounds round weight.

South of Humbug Mountain subarea

There has been a total of 2,578 pounds landed. This leaves 6,404 pounds (71.3%) of the quota remaining. Average weight of fish landed so far has been approximately 32 pounds round weight.

REMINDER: Descending devices are mandatory for vessels fishing for or retaining halibut or bottomfish, and must be used when releasing any rockfish when fishing deeper than 30 fathoms.

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WDFW News – Fall Chinook Harvest Will Be Allowed in the Snake River.

Action: The Snake River will open for harvest of fall chinook: Daily limit 6. Release all salmon other than adult hatchery chinook and jack chinook. Salmon minimum length 12 inches.

Washington licensed anglers must cease fishing for salmon and steelhead once their adult daily limit for either steelhead or salmon has been retained.

Effective date: August 18, 2018 through October 31, 2018

Species affected: Fall chinook salmon and steelhead

Location: Snake River from the mouth (Burbank to Pasco railroad bridge at river mile 1.25) to the Oregon State line (approximately seven miles upstream of the mouth of the Grande Ronde River).

Reason for action: The 2018 Columbia River forecasted return of upriver bright adult chinook is 200,100. A significant portion of these fish are expected to return to the Snake River. Retention of hatchery fall chinook is not expected to increase impacts to ESA-listed wild fall chinook. Therefore, adult hatchery chinook and jack chinook over 12 inches may be retained in the Snake River.

Additional information: The fishery is open seven days per week. Adipose fin-clipped fish must have a healed scar at the location of the missing fin. All adult chinook and steelhead with unclipped adipose fins must be immediately released unharmed. In addition, anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing for salmon or steelhead in the Snake River. Anglers cannot remove any salmon or steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily limit. Anglers should be sure to identify their catch because returning unmarked chinook, coho and steelhead are also in the Snake River during this fishery.

Low returns of steelhead have been predicted for the Snake River and tributaries for this return year, their numbers will be monitored as the season progresses. Anglers should continue to check emergency regulations for new and changing seasons. In addition, anglers are reminded to refer to the 2018/2019 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for other rules and regulations.

Information contact: Jeremy Trump, District 3 Fish Biologist (509) 382-1005

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Potholes Reservoir / Mardon Resort Fishing Report

The current water level on the Potholes Reservoir is 1030.96 – dropping just over one foot this past week. The water temperature on the main Reservoir is at around 80 degrees and in the mid 80’s and up back in the sand dunes.
We have had several folks come in proud of and wanting pictures of their catch. Sadly, many do not realize the fish they have kept are not legal to harvest based on current regulations. There are several “special regulations” in place for the Potholes Reservoir and surrounding waters. The MarDon Resort tackle store and office carries copies of the current fishing regulations available to you at no charge. The WDFW has launched the free “Fish Washington” app, available on Google Play and Apple’s App store, which is designed to convey up-to-the-minute fishing regulations for every lake, river, stream and marine area in the state. Please take advantage of these resources – and if you aren’t sure – release the fish. Read and understand the current regulations so that the fishing continues to be awesome and improve on the Potholes Reservoir. Help protect and improve the wonderful resource we have for yourself, your children and grandchildren.
The bass fishing is outstanding for both quantity and quality!!! The bite has picked up despite the hot temperatures. Both Largemouth and Smallmouth are back in the dunes, along the face of the dunes, and along the face of the dam. Top baits for Largemouth include – Strike King Structure Jigs, Strike King 2.50 Square Billed crankbait, Spro Popping Frogs, Wacky Rigged Senkos and spider grubs fished on a 3/8th oz. football head. Smallmouth are being caught on the rock piles off Goose Island and along the face of the dam as well as around the face of the dunes. Use crankbaits, 3½” tubes, swimbaits, and Senkos for the Smallmouth.
The walleye bite continues to be tough – but good walleye fishing is getting closer. Fish early – fishing by 5am – done by 10am. Throw Rat-L-Traps over weed beds back in the dunes and troll crankbaits in the channels between the dunes and along the face of the dunes. Troll #7 or #5 Flicker Shads, Bagleys and Rapalas, slow troll Slow Death rigs with Smile Blades and Butterfly Blade rigs as well as traditional spinner/crawler harnesses around Goose Island.
The trout fishing on the Potholes Reservoir has slowed a little with the heat – but trout are still being caught by anglers targeting walleyes. Trout fishers have been catching trout trolling #5 and # 7 Flicker Shads and Shad Raps and Mack’s Wedding Ring Rigs with a worm and bottom bouncer in 10-20 feet of water. Concentrate in front of the State Park and along the face of the dunes.
The crappie fishing is going strong early and late in the day off the MarDon Resort dock and along the face of the dunes. Big bluegills have moved in as well. Crappie and bluegill fishing is good both in and in front of the sand dunes. Troll a #5 Flicker Shad or Rapala along the weedlines on the main channels. From a boat or from the dock use a 1” Berkley Gulp Alive Minnow, VMC Wingding jig, VMC Probe jig, or a Trout Magnet either alone or under a float – depending on where the fish are holding in the water column. A few perch are being caught off the dock and around Goose Island.
Both Channel Catfish and Yellow Bullhead fishing has been very good over the past couple of weeks. We have had several Channel Cats in the 8-15lb. range come in this week. Anglers have been trolling walleye rigs with crawlers in the dunes, on the face of the dunes and around Goose Island. Bank fishermen have been doing well on Cats in Lind Coulee using Berkley’s Catfish Nuggets and Crawlers.
Call the MarDon Store for the latest fishing info and to make reservations at 509-346-2651.
Upcoming Events:
August 11th Paul Sweeney – Live Music

P.J. Koshi, President of the Washington Bass Association, with an awesome Potholes Reservoir Largemouth bass caught and released this week while pre-fishing for a club event this coming weekend!

Mike Meseberg and grandson Mason Meseberg show two 6+ pound Potholes Reservoir Largemouth bass. An awesome day – as they caught and released many more!

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Time to Start Thinking About Upcoming G.R.W.B. Labor Day Salmon Derby.

It’s time to start thinking about the annual S.T.E.P. Salmon Derby put on each year by our local Gardiner-Reedsport-Winchester Bay S.T.E.P. Chapter over Labor Day Weekend.

This year’s contest will mark the 25th consecutive year the contest has been held and as far as salmon derbies go, this one is very successful. A major strength of this derby is its simplistic consistency. The derby runs from daylight to 6 pm on Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 1st and 2nd) and from daylight until noon on Monday (Labor Day- Sept. 3rd).

The derby is cheap – only costing $10 for an individual and only $25 for a boat (which may include three or more people and these tickets are good for the entire derby – if purchased beforehand and for the remaining portion of the derby – if purchased during the contest.

Cash prizes for the derby are $150 for the heaviest salmon turned in each day with the heaviest salmon turned in during the derby receiving an additional $500 ($650 total). Each salmon weighed in during the contest gets the person who caught it a chance at being a “blue ticket” winner and there will be three such $100 cash prizes awarded during the contest. There is also a “ticket stub” drawing of $100 and a $100 cash prize for the lightest legal salmon weighed during the tournament.

While the cash prizes, with the exception of the one for the lightest legal salmon, have been consistent for years, there have been major changes in the number of derby sponsors and the value of the merchandise being given away via raffles.

Tickets are available for purchase now at the Stockade Market in Winchester Bay and Ace Hardware in Reedsport. They may also be purchased during the derby at the East Basin Boat Ramp in Winchester Bay and the Rainbow Plaza Boat Ramp in Reedsport.

Specific sponsors for this year’s derby include Gerhard Goorhuis D.D.S in Reedsport (Saturday’s big fish); North Coast Lures & Flies in Florence (Sunday’s big fish) and Fred Wahl Construction in Reedsport (Monday’s big fish). The heaviest salmon of the derby is sponsored by the Y Marina and the smallest legal salmon is sponsored by Jeremy’s Automotive and Offroad.

Other derby sponsors include Sportsman’s Warehouse; BJ’s Ice Cream; Fishermen’s Seafood Market; Englund Marine; Kathy Clemens Coastal Properties; Kevin Ladd Electric; Recreation Station; Salmon Harbor Landing Motel and Umpqua River Inn & Suites.

Fishing guides contributing to the derby include local guides Norma Evans of “A Bent Rod” and Bryan Gill of “The Umpqua Angler” as well as Gary Lewis Guide Service; Grey Ghost Guide Service and Next Adventure.

The Gardiner-Reedsport-Winchester Bay S.T.E.P. Chapter is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising rainbow trout and fall chinook salmon for the lower Umpqua River Basin.

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WDFW News – Mouth of Deschutes River to Close on Mainstem Columbia River.

Action: Certain waters of the Columbia River within Oregon are closed to fishing.

Effective date: August 9, 2018 until further notice.

Species affected: All species.

Location: Oregon’s waters adjacent to the mouth of the Deschutes River south of a straight line projecting from the flashing red USCG light #2 upstream to the lower South Channel range marker.

Reason for action: The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission directed the closure of these joint state waters of the mainstem Columbia River. Anglers are permitted to fish within joint state waters with either a Washington or Oregon fishing license, but must follow regulations of the waters being fished. This notice is designed to inform Washington anglers of Oregon’s fishing closure.

Additional information: See the ODFW website for more information on the fishing rule change.

Information contact: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (503) 947-6001.


Action Notice Oregon Recreational Salmon.

8/8/18 ACTION NOTICE – Recreational Ocean Salmon: NOAA Fisheries in consultation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, representatives from the recreational and the commercial ocean troll salmon fisheries, and the Pacific Fishery Management Council, has taken in-season action with respect to the recreational salmon fishery in the area from Leadbetter Point to Cape Falcon.


Within the Columbia River Ocean Salmon Management Area (Leadbetter Point, Washington to Cape Falcon, Oregon), recreational ocean salmon fishing closes effective 11:59 PM on Sunday, August 12, 2018.
Transfer of 2,400 Coho from the commercial troll salmon fishery to the recreational fishery in the Columbia River Area in exchange for remaining Chinook from the quota being transferred to the commercial troll fishery.
Transfer of 600 Coho from the recreational ocean fishery in the Westport Area.
RATIONALE AND NOTES: The marked Coho Salmon quota in this area is expected to be met by the end of the day on Sunday, August 12 th. Through Sunday, August 5 th an estimated 14,086 Coho Salmon had been landed out of the quota of 21,000 Coho leaving only 6,914 Coho available for harvest. The most recent week of fishing had total landings of 7,639 Coho or 36% of the quota in one week. Effort and catches have been accelerating in the area, and the added transfers from the commercial troll and Westport recreational fisheries are expected to keep the fishery from exceeding the quota prior to the scheduled close. Any coho that may remain from the Columbia River Ocean Area quota will be transferred back to the Westport area recreational and to the commercial troll coho quotas on the same rate that they were provided to the Columbia River Area recreational fishery.

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WDFW News – Salmon Fishing to Close in Marine Areas 1 and 4.

Action: Close Marine Areas 1 and 4 to salmon fishing beginning Monday, Aug. 13.

Effective date: Aug. 13, 2018.

Species affected: Salmon.

Location: Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) and Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay).

Reason for action: Estimates indicate that anglers will reach quotas for coho salmon in areas 1 and 4. Closing the salmon fisheries early will help ensure compliance with conservation requirements.

Recreational fisheries in both areas would have needed to close prior to Aug. 13 had it not been for transfers of quota by the commercial troll fishery, allowing recreational angling to continue through the end of the day, Sunday, Aug. 12.

Sufficient quota remains for both chinook and coho in marine areas 2 (Westport) and 3 (La Push) to remain open.

Additional information: While Marine Area 1 is open, anglers fishing there can retain two salmon, only one of which can be a chinook but must release wild coho. While Marine Area 4 is open, anglers fishing west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line have a two-salmon daily limit but must release chum and wild coho, while those fishing east of the line have a two-salmon limit but must release chum, chinook and wild coho.

The daily limit in Marine Areas 2 remains two salmon, no more than one of which may be a chinook, release wild coho. The daily limit in Marine Area 3 remains two salmon, release wild coho.

Information contact: Wendy Beeghley, Ocean Salmon Manager, (360) 249-1215

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WDFW News – Lake Stevens Angler Establishes Tope Shark Sport Fish Record.

Ten-year old Isabella Tolen of Lake Stevens has established the state record for the largest tope shark caught off the coast of Washington.

Tolen was bait fishing with a strip of salmon belly in Grays Harbor in late July. The 41-pound fish measured 68 inches.

“It was really hard to catch, because the shark was pulling around the boat, and my dad kept telling me to follow my fish,” said Tolen. “It seemed like it might pull me into the water, but I just kept following my fish,” she added.

Tolen has fished with her dad since she was little. “I like it because you can catch different types of fish, and you can see incredible things in the ocean,” said Tolen. “You just have to find out what you can catch.”

Tolen’s advice to new anglers is to just give it a try. “If you can hold a pole, you can fish,” she said.

This was the first tope shark submitted for a state record in Washington.

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