Author Archives: Pete Heley

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

Coos Bay Recreational Crabbing Reopens

The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announce the reopening of recreational and commercial bay crabbing from the north jetty of the Coquille River to the north jetty of Coos Bay. The reopening includes crab harvested in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties. Crab samples taken from the area indicate levels of domoic acid have dropped and remain below the alert level.

The recreational crabbing season in the ocean closed coast-wide on Oct. 16.

Crab harvesting remains closed from the California border to the north jetty of the Coquille River (including the Coquille estuary), and from Tahkenitch Creek (north of Winchester Bay) to Cape Foulweather (north of Newport). Crabbing north of Cape Foulweather to the Columbia River remains open in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties.

Today’s test results and health advisory come at a complicated time of year for Oregon’s crab fisheries. By rule, Dec. 1 is Oregon’s earliest annual start for ocean crabbing, for both commercial and recreational fisheries. However, this year, due to low crab meat yield and elevated levels of biotoxins in some areas, much of Oregon’s ocean area remains closed to crabbing after Dec. 1. Additional testing for meat yield and biotoxin levels will continue at least through the end of December.

For both recreational and commercial crab fishermen, below is a simple guide for what is currently open and closed. Before you go crabbing, please confirm the status of ODFW/ODA harvest areas relative to concerns about elevated biotoxins at the website below.

Recreational crabbing – Currently open in all bays and estuaries that are not under the health advisory; opens after Dec. 1 in ocean areas where biotoxins are below the alert level.
Commercial ocean crabbing – Delayed in all areas until at least December 16.
Commercial bay crabbing – Commercial bay crabbing is re-opened in Coos Bay on Monday, Nov. 27; commercial bay crabbing remains closed from the California border to the north jetty of the Coquille River (including the Coquille estuary), and from Tahkenitch Creek to Cape Foulweather. Commercial bay crabbing remains open at this time in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties within the areas that are not under the health advisory.
All commercial bay crabbing will be closed as of Dec. 1 along with the delayed season for the commercial ocean fishery, according to existing ODFW rules. This year, the commercial ocean fishery is delayed from Dec. 1 until at least Dec. 16.
Despite the closure, crab and shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants remain safe for consumers.

For more information, call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visit the ODA shellfish closures web page at:

Leave a comment

Potholes Reservoir / Mardon Resort Recreation Report

The water level continues to rise and the water temperature is holding in the mid to lower 40’s on the Potholes Reservoir. The current water level is 1038.94 – .79 feet higher than this time last week. The Reservoir is expected to rise between .75 and 1.00 feet per week.
More anglers fished the Reservoir this week and were rewarded with nice catches of walleye and trout. The humps between Goose Island and Crab Creek are producing walleye up to 7 pounds. Best bet is to blade bait the humps in 20 feet in the morning moving to 35-40 feet as the day goes on. Fish ½ oz. blade baits in either silver or gold, or troll crawler harnesses on a 2-oz. bottom walker. The face of the dam is producing walleye, smallmouth and trout. Crankbaits, swimbaits, dropshot baits, and football heads with skirted hula grubs and blade baits are the top baits on the dam. Medicare Beach is producing is producing nice trout both from the beach with Power Bait and from a boat trolling Flicker Shads.
This week has been decent for both duck and goose hunters. The Northern mallards are trickling in. Mallards, Teal and Widgeon the main birds being taken. There are opportunities for geese in the fields as well. Mostly little birds right now, but numbers are good.

Left to Right Jason Groskreutz, Rob Wysong, Payton Wyson, and Josh Plante of Spokane show a great morning’s catch of Potholes Reservoir walleye. They used 1/2 oz blade baits in 20-35 feet of water.

Part of the Bowers party from Chehalis with several birds they got on a guided goose hunt with Levi Meseberg. The party ended up with 49 ducks and 14 geese! Call the MarDon Store for more information on guided hunts.

Leave a comment

Pete Heley Outdoors 11 / 22 / 2017

Crabs picked for testing at Coos Bay last week tested safe for Dioxin levels, which should mean good news regarding the current closure – however unsafe crabs were found near Brookings and Yachats. The Department of Agriculture, which is in charge of shellfish testing may increase the size of the closed area regarding crab harvest. Their decision-making is based on caution and the coastal areas they close almost always end at either the California or Washington borders.

So while the Oregon coast north of Yachats, Waldport or Newport may remain open to the Washington border there is a very good chance that the closure starting at the California border may be extended northward to include Winchester Bay, Florence and Yachats.

While hoping for the best, the high, muddy water in Oregon’s larger coastal rivers and even bays should lessen the “pain” of an extended crabbing closure.

A last-minute update from the ODFW and ODA announced that the area between the North Jetty at Charleston and Tahkenitch Creek will remain open to crabbing while the coastal stretch from Tahkenitch Creek to Cape Foulweathe (south of Depoe Bay) is now closed to crabbing.

For the most up-to-date crabbing information visit:

Gary Wolfer sent me a series of photos of beach erosion near the second parking lot south of Winchester Bay. The photos showef that the dropoff went from barely noticeable to six feet in less than two weeks.

The heavy rains got fresh salmon into the coastal coho lakes and south coast rivers. While anglers may have to wait a few days to fish for the junbo chinooks the south coast rivers are famous for, the coho salmon lakes should remain clear enough to fish. The folks at Darlings Resort reported that the largest coho checked in so far, measured 32-inches, but they expect a much larger portion of adult cohos among the later-arriving fish.

Don’t count on Oregon to follow suit, but Washington has a new way to determine if a steelhead is of hatchery origin. It seems that warm water curtailed steelhead-marking operations of the Makah Tribe’s hatchery on the Hoko River. When these fish started returning to the Hoko River unmarked, steelhead having dorsal fins of less than 2 and 1/8-inches were deemed to be of hatchery origin. The standard of 2 1/8 -inches has been used elsewhere to identify unclipped hatchery steelhead. The new method of determining hatchery origin will most likely continue until the unmarked hatchery steelhead are no longer entering the Hoko River.

Bradley Lake, stocked during the last week in October, is the last lake to receive planted trout along the Oregon coast, but Butterfield and Saunders both have fishable numbers of uncaught stocked trout. Walter Wirth Lake and Walling Pond in Salem as well as the Alten Baker Canal in Eugene will receive trout plants through December. Junction City Pond will be stocked with larger trout in mid-December.

A few skilled and determined bass anglers are still catching a few bass, but the catch of anglers using lures designed to appeal to both bass and salmon on Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes has consisted almost entirely of salmon and larger trout.

My friend, William Lackner, has put together an absolutely awesome website that has loads of outdoorsy information guaranteed to help anglers, hunters and travelers in western Oregon. The site’s name is “ Mile by Mile Guide to the Oregon Coast” and its URL is: Check it out once and you’ll be back.

Washington State wildlife managers are evaluating the behavior of 11 young deer at a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center in Thurston County, where they euthanized three fawns and an elk calf last week after finding those animals had become habituated to humans.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has confirmed that several turkey vultures have been poisoned from the veterinary euthanasia drug pentobarbital in the Simi Valley area of Ventura County.

Seven turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) were found dead or impaired in California’s Simi Valley in October. Two of these were successfully rehabilitated by the Ojai Raptor Center, but the other five died. Pentobarbital exposure was confirmed in the digestive system of one of the dead turkey vultures. The source of the exposure remains unknown.

Pentobarbital is a drug used by veterinarians to euthanize companion animals, livestock and horses. If the remains of animals euthanized with pentobarbital are not properly disposed of after death, scavenging wildlife – such as turkey vultures and eagles – can be poisoned. Veterinarians and animal owners are responsible for disposing of animal remains properly by legal methods such as cremation or deep burial.

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.

Leave a comment


ODFW is waiving all fishing licensing requirements on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to #optoutside with friends and family during the long holiday weekend.

On Nov. 24 and 25, 2017, all fishing, crabbing and clamming in Oregon will be free for both Oregon residents and non-residents. That means no licenses, tags or endorsements are needed on those days. All other fishing regulations apply.

Leave a comment

Boise River Gives Up Giant Rainbow Trout.

Jason Waidelich, of Nampa, Idaho, was fishing the Boise River with his ultralite spinning outfit spooled with monofilament testing four pounds when he hooked a behemoth rainbow trout.

After a lengthy battle Jason wrestled the trout to shore. The trout measured 34-inches long and had a 23.5-inch girth. When weighed on a USDA certified scale the lunker rainbow weighed 19 pounds four ounces.

While Jason’s catch is amazing, the Boise River has infrequently given up trout that were true lunkers. Years ago, the Boise gave up a brown trout of about 20 pounds and a few years ago the nearby Clearwater River gave up a 20# rainbow below Dworshak Dam. The extremely chunky 30-inch fish had obviously been feasting on fish chopped up by the dam’s turbines.

Jason Waidelich with his lunker rainbow trout.

Leave a comment

Nov. 30 Meeting to Discuss New Coos Mtn TMA.

The Southwest Region Council of the Access and Habitat program will host a public meeting Nov. 30 at 3:30 p.m. to discuss a possible new Travel Management Area to be known as the Coos Mountain TMA within the Tioga Wildlife Management unit.

The meeting will be held at ODFW’s Central Point office, 1495 East Gregory Road. Attend in person or call 1-877-336-1831 and enter participant code 804246.

Commercial timberland ownership in the area has shifted in recent years. The new TMA would provide “Welcome to Hunt” access on 63,000 acres so that hunters would have access to more private and public land in the area. TMAs typically involve some motor vehicle restrictions and help regulate access so private landowners are more willing to open their property to hunters.

The A and H program funds projects that provide hunter access and/or improve wildlife habitat on private land in Oregon. It’s funded by a $4 surcharge on hunting licenses and big game auction and raffle tag sales.

For more information, please contact Jade Keehn, ODFW’s A and H SW Regional Coordinator at, (541) 826-8774 x232.

Leave a comment

CDFW News – CDFW Awards $1.3 Million for Restoration in Watersheds Impacted by Marijuana Cultivation

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of four projects to receive funding for habitat restoration projects within California’s Northern Coastal watersheds most impacted by unregulated cannabis cultivation.

The awards, totaling $1.3 million, were made under CDFW’s Cannabis Restoration Grant Program, and will support cleanup and habitat restoration at inactive cannabis cultivation sites.

“These grants mark an important step forward in our efforts to address the extensive damage to habitat and toxic chemicals threatening a host of wild species,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “Providing a resource to address the impacts of reckless cannabis cultivation adds an important piece to the complex puzzle of our existing watershed restoration work.”

Projects approved for funding through the Cannabis Restoration Grant Program include:

Reclaiming our Public Lands and Watersheds from the Environmental Threats of Trespass Cannabis Cultivation ($1,068,415 to Integral Ecology Research Center);
Bull Creek Cannabis Recovery Project ($94,510 to Eel River Watershed Improvement Group);
SF Usal Creek Headwaters – Trash and Toxin Cleanup ($83,840 to Eel River Watershed Improvement Group); and
Whitethorn Grove Clean Up ($64,831 to Sanctuary Forest, Inc.).
Projects funded under the 2017 Cannabis Restoration Program are scheduled to commence in early 2018.

The Cannabis Restoration Grant Program was established by CDFW in 2017 in response to legislation aimed at regulating the burgeoning legal cannabis industry. In his signing message to Assembly Bill 243 (Wood, Medical Marijuana), Governor Brown directed, “the Natural Resources Agency to identify projects to begin the restoration of our most impacted areas in the state.”

“I have seen firsthand the devastation to the watersheds caused by these rogue cannabis growers,” said Assemblymember Jim Wood, the author of AB 243. “They divert water, use prohibited herbicides and leave behind hundreds of butane canisters and chemical ponds that pollute our waterways affecting the salmon and trout populations. I am thankful that Governor Brown allocated $1.5 million this year to kick off this very targeted restoration program for the North Coast area and look forward to the state identifying future funds so we can continue this critical work.”

General information about CDFW’s Cannabis Restoration Grant Program can be found at

Leave a comment

WDFW News – WDFW Delays Commercial Crab Fishery on Washington Coast Due to Low Meat Content.

State shellfish managers have delayed the opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery on Washington’s coast due to inadequate meat in crab shells.

The commercial fishery on Washington’s coast typically opens Dec. 1. Recent testing indicates crabs along the coast do not have sufficient meat in their shells to meet industry standards for harvest. The fishery will be delayed until at least Dec. 16 to allow more time for crabs to fill with more meat.

Another round of testing will take place after the Thanksgiving holiday to determine whether the fishery can open Dec. 16 or will need to be further delayed, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“It’s not unusual for crabs to need more time to fatten up,” Ayres said. “We’ll re-evaluate in another week or two.”

Contrary to an erroneous news report, WDFW did not delay the commercial crab fishery due to a harmful algae bloom, Ayres said. Algae blooms can cause elevated levels of domoic acid, which can be harmful or fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. Recent test results indicate crabs along the Washington coast are currently safe to eat.

Recreational crabbing remains open in Washington’s coastal waters as well as in several areas of Puget Sound. More information about recreational crab fishing in Washington can be found on WDFW’s website at

Leave a comment

WDFW News – Washington Sportsfishing Records Fall on Consecutive Days.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) confirmed today that two state sport fish records fell during one late September weekend.

Mike Benoit, of Gig Harbor, set a new state record for the largest opah caught off the coast of Washington on Sept. 23. The 37.98-pound fish measured 32.5 inches. Benoit was live bait fishing with anchovies out of Westport.

The new record exceeded the previous opah record by more than two pounds. That record was held by Jim Watson on a fish caught 45 miles off the coast of Washington.

Then, on Sept. 24, Erik Holcomb of Lynden set a new state record for the largest blue shark. The 49.50-pound fish measured 71 inches. Holcomb was also live bait fishing with anchovies out of Westport.

The new record exceeded the previous blue shark record by almost 22 pounds. That record was held by Zachary Jackson on a fish caught 57 miles off the coast of Washington.

A complete list of Washington’s sport fishing records is available at

Leave a comment

Endangered Foxes Poisoned By Rodenticides.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is investigating the poisoning of two San Joaquin kit foxes found dead in Bakersfield last month. Although the foxes were found ten miles apart, the cause of death was the same: exposure to high levels of the second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide, brodifacoum, which resulted in severe internal bleeding and hemorrhaging. The carcasses were discovered by residents of Kern City and north Bakersfield who reported them to the Endangered Species Recovery Program (ESRP), a local conservation group that monitors kit foxes in the city and greater Central Valley. ESRP has been working closely with residents in both areas, as this urban kit fox population has declined in recent years due to a fatal outbreak of sarcoptic mange.

San Joaquin kit foxes are only found in California and are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Despite the many obstacles kit foxes face in the wild, most notably due to habitat loss, they seem to be thriving in the Bakersfield area and have become beloved city residents. This urban population is increasingly more important to the survival of the species as natural habitats disappear. However, city living is risky. Urban kit foxes are more likely to die from vehicle strikes, dog attacks, entombment, diseases transmitted by domestic pets or invasive wildlife, and poisoning from anticoagulant rodenticides. Rodents are kit foxes’ primary food item, which makes them terribly vulnerable to poisons ingested by rodents. When they eat rodents that have been poisoned with these baits, they’re exposed to those rodenticides.

Due to their harmful impacts on non-target wildlife — including hawks, owls, bobcats and mountain lions — second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides are now restricted in California. Since July 2014, four of these chemicals can only be legally sold to and used by professional exterminators. CDFW urges residents to help protect kit foxes by using alternate means of rodent control such as exclusion, sanitation and trapping, and to ask any pest control professionals they employ to do the same.

To learn more, please visit our webpage at For more information, please call or email the CDFW Wildlife Investigation Laboratory at (916) 358-2954 or

If you find a San Joaquin kit fox that appears to be impaired, please contact the CDFW or ESRP at (661) 835-7810.

Leave a comment