Author Archives: Pete Heley

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

Mardon Resort / Potholes Reservoir Fishing Report

The current water level on the Potholes reservoir is 1043.80-feet – remaining fairly constant. The water temps back in the sand dunes are running in mid-50’s to 60+ degrees. The water temps on the main Reservoir remain in the mid-50s.

The Largemouth bass fishing has been extremely good over the past several weeks! The Potholes Bass Club held their 40th Annual Potholes Open Tournament! They had an impressive 146 boats meaning 300 anglers! Big fish day one was a 6.92 pound Largemouth. Day two big fish weighed 6.92 pounds! A big congratulations to Jordan Doucet and Chad Eidson for the win – weighing in 38.96 pounds of Largemouth for 10 fish over 2 days of fishing! There were 22 bags weighed in over 30 pounds.

Walleye fishing has picked up considerably over the past week with limits coming in from Lind Coulee, Crab Creek and up the Winchester flow. Trout are being caught off Medicare Beach both from shore and by boat. Bank fisherman are using Power Bait, worms and marshmallows, a 12-18” leader, and a 1/8-1/4 oz. egg sinker above the swivel. Boat anglers are trolling Needlefish spoons, #7 Flicker Shads and shallow running Rapalas.

No reports on Perch, Crappie or Bluegill yet – off the MarDon dock or out in the main Reservoir. We only need a week or two of the good weather to get the panfish going.
The fishing is improving daily – call the MarDon Tackle Store for the latest fishing info at 509-346-2651.

Jordan Doucet and Chad Eidson win the 40th Annual Potholes open with a winning weight of 38.96 pounds!

Evan Quillian with a nice Potholes reservoir walleye caught on a Zoom Fluke!

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Pete Heley Outdoors 4 / 24 / 2019

As of last weekend, the Umpqua River had dropped somewhat, but was still muddy. Just before it muddied up sprink chinook angling was the best it’s been all season – which is only fair in an otherwise crummy season. Anglers fishing the South Jetty area for lingcod and other bottomfish are finding much clearer water in the ocean on the south side of the “Triangle”.

Very few salmon anglers are taking advantage of the ocean chinook fishery which has been in effect since March 15th. It seems like a few anglers would be targeting springers before they actually get into the Umpqua River.

By the time the lower Umpqua River clears, there may be a few redtail surfperch or “pinkfin” on their spawning run in the two miles of river just above the East Basin entrance at Winchester Bay. One angler landed six pinkfin at Half Moon Bay last Sunday – which is about halfway between the beach and their preferred spawning area.

Striped Bass were biting well on the upper tidewater areas of the Smith River before heavy rains muddied the stream and they should resume biting when the water clears. It won’t be long before the stripers move downstream into the lower tidewater areas. This movement on the Smith River will be from the North Fork Smith River snd the mainstem Smith above the North Fork downstream to the lower several miles of tidewater. On the Coquille River the movement will be from the Myrtle Point or Arago area downstream to the several miles above Highway 101.

Shad fishing may be just days away on several area streams including the Coos/Millicoma, Coquille, Siuslaw and Umpqua rivers. On the Umpqua, the early fishing pressure will almost certainly be in the Yellow Creek area. Other early season spots include near the Elkton school and near the boat ramp at Umpqua. As the river drops, Sawyers Rapids will continue to improve until it dominates the Umpqua’s shad catch.

Offshore bottomfishing using conventional techniques in waters deeper than 240 feet (40 fathoms) ends at the end of April.

Brian Keith, who owns the Harborview Motel in Winchester Bay, recently showed me an impressive photo one of his brown trout-chasing friends had recently sent him. The photo was of a chunky smallmouth bass of approximately five pounds that was caught in Brian’s favorite brown trout lake – Suttle Lake.

Unfortunately for the brown-chasing group that Brian is a part of, Suttle Lake appears to be ideal smallmouth habitat as it sits at an elevation of 2,500 feet and has a large population of stunted Kokanee salmon for a forage base. Time will tell if there is breeding population of smallmouths or just that one jumbo specimen.

Bass anglers in the Grants Pass/Medford area are dealing with latgemouth bass that are actually spawning or on the verge of it. Bass anglers in the Roseburg area are dealing with bass that are on the verge of spawning and coastal bass anglers are dealing with bass that are in various stages of the pre-spawn.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission (OFWC) finalized the 2019 recreational halibut seasons at their meeting on April 19th at St. Helens for all of Oregon’s halibut zones.

Regarding the spring all-depth season for our area( central coast subarea) – there are five fixed open dates: May 9-11, May 16-18, May 23-25, May 30-June 1, June 6-8. – If quota remains, possible back-up dates will be June 20-22, July 4-6, and July 18-20.

In addition to the many lakes planted last week, Butterfield Lake will receive 400 trophy trout this week and Upper Empire Lake will receive 4,500 trout comprised of 2,500 legals and 2,000 trophies.

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.

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WDFW and Corps to collaborate on 38-acre Duckabush restoration Bridge and highway relocation will reconnect estuary, benefit salmon.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are moving forward with a 38-acre estuary restoration project on Hood Canal. Estuaries in Puget Sound and Hood Canal are critical habitat for Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed chum and Chinook salmon, a key prey of southern resident killer whales.

A design agreement signed by WDFW Director Kelly Susewind and Corps Colonel Geraldi allows the Corps to begin the design phase of a large restoration at the mouth of the Duckabush River in Hood Canal. If completed, the project would relocate and elevate the highway and bridge across the estuary, reestablishing hydrologic connectivity and restoring important estuary habitat.

“Projects like this are key to improving the overall health of Hood Canal and Puget Sound. We have a variety of challenges in conserving our salmon populations, so creating more habitat for juvenile salmon to eat and grow before they journey into open waters is one of the most important things we can do,” said Susewind. “Having this shared vision with the Corps exemplifies the kinds of partnerships we need moving forward if we want to change the current trajectory.”

The Duckabush estuary project was identified through the Puget Sound Nearshore Estuary Restoration Project (PSNERP), an effort between WDFW, Corps, and partners to evaluate the conditions of Puget Sound’s shorelines and identify opportunities to make improvements. This design agreement marks an important transition for PSNERP as the first example of their efforts to focus on project implementation.

“It’s great to initiate the design phase with WDFW on a project that will benefit Puget Sound’s Chinook and orcas at such a critical time,” said Seattle District Commander Col. Mark Geraldi. “In 2016, congress authorized three PSNERP projects that could ultimately restore 2,100 acres of critical habitat. We’ve been working on this for a very long time and getting to this point is a testament to the hard work and dedication by the federal and state agencies, tribes, academia, and other organizations who’ve been involved.”

WDFW is initiating a state environmental review process, and will engage with the public and interested parties to explain the project benefits and incorporate input into project design. A public meeting is anticipated for early summer in Brinnon.

The Washington Department of Transportation will also be an integral part of the data collection and design work as the eventual bridge and highway improvements will better serve the public by meeting modern design and safety standards.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.

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WDFW News – First western long-eared bat with white-nose syndrome found in Washington.

White-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that affects hibernating bats, has been confirmed for the first time in a western long-eared bat (Myotis evotis) in King County, Washington. This brings the total number of bat species confirmed with the deadly fungal disease in North America to 12.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) received the dead bat in early March from wildlife rehabilitator, Barbara Ogaard, who specializes in rescuing bats in the Seattle area. Samples were sent to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, WI for testing, where it was confirmed the bat had white-nose syndrome.

“Confirming another species with white-nose syndrome is concerning, but something we’ve anticipated,” said Abby Tobin, white-nose syndrome coordinator for WDFW. “We are grateful for the public’s involvement in reporting sick or dead bats, as it helps us monitor bat populations and track the spread of this catastrophic disease in Washington.”

White-nose syndrome has also been confirmed for the first time in Washington outside of King County. In early March, a Pierce County resident found a dead little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) on a window and reported it to WDFW. After sending the bat to USGS National Wildlife Health Center for testing, it was confirmed the bat had white-nose syndrome.

First seen in North America in 2006 in eastern New York, white-nose syndrome has killed millions of hibernating bats in eastern North America and has now spread to 33 states and seven Canadian provinces. See a map of the spread of white-nose syndrome at https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/static-spread-map/april-23-2019.

The disease is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which invades hibernating bats’ skin and causes damage, especially to delicate wing tissue, and physiologic imbalances that can lead to disturbed hibernation, depleted fat reserves, dehydration, and death.

The fungal disease is not known to pose a threat to humans, pets, livestock, or other wildlife.

Even though the fungus is believed to be primarily transferred from bat-to-bat contact, the fungus can be inadvertently spread by humans. People can carry fungal spores on clothing, shoes, or recreation equipment that comes into contact with the fungus.

White-nose syndrome was first confirmed in Washington in March 2016. Over the last three years, WDFW has collaborated with partners to collect samples from bats and the areas where they live. This proactive surveillance work has helped WDFW detect the presence of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in a variety of locations in King and Lewis counties, including Mount Rainier National Park, and now, in Pierce County. For more information on these detections visit https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/blog/white-nose-syndrome-fungus-detected-in-second-county-in-washington-state-2.

King County is the most affected area in Washington with 29 of the 30 confirmed cases of white-nose syndrome in three bat species. A timeline of fungus and white-nose syndrome detections in Washington is available online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/bats.

Washington state has 14 species of bats that benefit humans by consuming large quantities of insects that can impact forest health and commercial crops.

WDFW advises against handling animals that appear sick or are found dead. If you find sick or dead bats or notice bats exhibiting unusual behavior such as flying outside during the day or during freezing weather, please report your observation online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/bats.

To learn more about the disease and access the most updated decontamination protocols and other guidance documents, visit www.whitenosesyndrome.org.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.

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Bad News For Suttle Lake?

A friend of mine, Brian Keith, who owns the Harborview Motel in Winchester Bay recently showed me an impressive photo one of his brown trout-chasing friends had sent him. The photo was of a chunky smallmouth bass of approximately five pounds that was caught in Brian’s favorite brown trout lake – Suttle Lake.

Unfortunately for the brown-chasing group that Brian is a part of, Suttle Lake appears to be ideal smallmouth habitat as it sits at an elevation of 2,500 feet and has a large population of stunted Kokanee salmon to feed on.

Time will tell if there is breeding population or that one jumbo specimen.

This Suttle Lake smallmouth weighed five pounds.

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OFWC’s Finalized Recreational Halibut Seasons.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission (OFWC) finalized the 2019 recreational halibut seasons at their meeting today in St. Helens, OR. The OFWC approved the staff recommendations for season dates. Details below:

Columbia River Subarea (Leadbetter Point, WA to Cape Falcon, OR)

Nearshore season: Open Mondays – Wednesdays inside the 40-fathom line off of Oregon beginning May 6, 2019 through the earlier of the quota, or September 30.

All-depth season: Open May 2, May 5, May 9, May 12, May 24, May 26, and every Thursday and Sunday through the earlier of the quota, or September 30.

The two (2) open days a week is due to a request from the public during the fall of 2017 & again in 2018. The thought behind this is that it may extend the fishery farther into June, or even July. Note: the fishery will be open on Thursdays and Sundays, except for May 24th, a Friday.

Central Oregon Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain)

Nearshore Season: Opens June 1, seven days per week, inside the 40-fathom line, through the earlier of the quota, or October 31.

Spring all-depth season: Fixed open dates: May 9-11, May 16-18, May 23-25, May 30-June 1, June 6-8. If quota remains, possible back-up dates will be June 20-22, July 4-6, and July 18-20.

Summer all-depth season: Opens Aug 2-3, every other Friday and Saturday through the earlier of the quota, or October 31.

Southern Oregon Subarea: Opens May 1, seven days per week, through the earlier of the quota, or October 31.

For additional information on the 2019 recreational halibut seasons, please see ODFW’s halibut webpage.

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Loon Lake Update

This update is for the Loon Lake in western Oregon’s Douglas County.

The 280 acre lake has received at least 2,000 legal rainbow trout and these stocked trout typically receive very fishing pressure until mid-May. This year’s planted trout have been running 9 to ten inches and have been very firm.

A few bass anglers have been enjoying fair success for the last three weeks using trout-imitating swimbaits to catch bass to seven pounds.

Before the last deluge, bluegills were quite evident off the Ducketts / Fish Haven dock at the upper end of the lake and the first arrivals were running eight to nine inches in length. Later-arriving bluegills were only about six to seven inches, but there were plenty of them and the water between the dock and the shore was a wonderful niche fly fishery. Just before last week’s deluge there was also a few crappie and largemouth bass present, but the heavy rains moved the panfish to deeper water.

By last Wednesday, the dock could be accessed without wading, but the bluegill and crappie had not reappeared, but some bass were present and Loon Lake’s water color was good.

Muddy water or not, the upper lake just below the Lake Creek inlet is almost always a good spot for brown bullhead catfish.

Loon Lake Lodge opened last week, but was still looking for someone to manage the deli.

This chunky Loon Lake bluegill measured 8.5-inches.

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Mardon Resort / Potholes Reservoir Fishing Report

The current water level on the Potholes reservoir is 1043.94-feet – remaining fairly constant. The water temps back in the sand dunes are running in mid to upper 50s. The water temps on the main Reservoir remain in the low 50s.

The largemouth fishing back in the sand dunes continues to be very good – find the warmest water you can. Throw Black & Blue Punch Rigs, Structure Jigs, swim jigs, and spinnerbaits. The fish are ranging from 3-6+ pounds. Several reports of nice smallmouth being caught in the sand dunes are coming in.

The Northwest Bass Potholes Reservoir tournament held this past weekend produced some tremendous fish! Big fish weighed 7.81 pounds and the winning weight for 10 fish over the two days was 41.96 pounds. 2 fish over 7 pounds were weighed, 10 between 6 and 7 pounds were weighed and 20 between 5 and 6 were weighed. The Potholes Reservoir is very healthy!

Walleye fishing remains slow yet on the Potholes Reservoir – but should improve soon as they finish spawning. Walleye anglers are having some success on Soda and long lake trolling Slow Death/Smile Blade rigs above a 2oz bottom walker. Trout are being caught off Medicare Beach both from shore and by boat.

Bank fisherman are using Power Bait, worms and marshmallows, a 12-18” leader, and a 1/8-1/4 oz. egg sinker above the swivel. Boat anglers are trolling Needlefish spoons, #7 Flicker Shads and shallow running Rapalas.
No reports on Perch, Crappie or Bluegill yet – off the MarDon dock or out in the main Reservoir. We only need a week or two of the good weather to get the panfish going.

The fishing is improving daily – call the MarDon Tackle Store for the latest fishing info at 509-346-2651.

John Allen with a nice Largemouth at the Northwest Bass tournament weigh-in!

Gary Thompson and Roger Pearson with a good catch of walleye form the Seep Lakes!

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Pete Heley Outdoors 4 / 17 / 2019

If you are planning to open your trout season in central Oregon a number of popular fishing spots have changes in their opening dates this year. Both the Williamson and Wood rivers open on April 22nd this year – which is on a Monday, instead of the usual Saturday. Central Oregon lakes that also open on April 22nd this year include Crane Prairie Reservoir, Laurence Lake, Odell Lake and Wickiup Reservoir.

Actually, I like the less impactful opener and the fact that the fish in these popular fisheries have a few days to “adjust” before the heavy fishing pressure of the following weekend.

Heavy rains last week greatly raised pond and lake levels and caused muddy water and near flood conditions in many streams and it is highly unlikely that Johnson Mill Pond, located in a swampy, muddy area, received its trout plant on schedule.

Eel and Tenmile creeks are not muddy and offer poor to fair fishing for winter steelhead.

The ODFW stocking schedule and may be amended several times each week, but as I am writing this column, the waters scheduled to be stocked with trout this week include Buck Lake (425 trophies); Sutton Lake (1,500 trophies); Siltcoos Lagoon (881 trophies); Munsel Lake (3,300 trophies)and North Tenmile Lake (3,000 legals). Whenever North Tenmile Lake is stocked, South Tenmile Lake receives the same amount of fish.

Offshore bottomfishing is still very good and remains open through April. Surf fishing area beaches for redtail surfperch has been very inconsistent, but occasionally very good. Crabbing has been poor as Oregon’s coastal rivers are high and muddy. Crabbing the ocean has been fair and the bottom half of Coos Bay, between the North Spit Boat Ramp and Charleston has been good.

Charges have been dropped against a North Carolina man accused of leaving his pet fish behind without food when he was evicted.

New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David told news outlets that 53-year-old Michael Hinson is no longer charged with animal cruelty and abandonment. He says fish aren’t protected under related statues that define “animal” as amphibians, reptiles, bird and mammals, excluding humans – and fish.

Officials say Hinson was evicted from his Wilmington home last month and left behind an unhealthy Oscar fish in a dirty tank. He was arrested last week after officials found the 6-inch fish – which is being nursed back to health at an aquarium store.

Sheriff’s Lt. Jerry Brewer said this was the county’s first animal cruelty case involving a fish – which leads one to wonder what’s next? – a class action suit on behalf of fish forced to live in polluted freshwater lakes or streams or even the ocean?

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.

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Oregon Salmon Seasons

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