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Contact Pete Heley
PO Box 264
Reedsport, OR 97467
Monthly Archives: May 2012
This year’s first limit of redtailed surfperch, more commonly referred to as pinkfins, was taken this last Saturday. The angler used sand shrimp and was fishing directly across the river from the entrance to Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin.
On Sunday, other anglers got quick perch limits while fishing near Marker 12 which is located about a mile and a half upriver from Winchester Bay.
The perch run usually lasts at least six weeks, but in the last few years the run has lasted longer – but with periods when the perch simply refuse to bite. Right now, the perch seem very cooperative, but when boat traffic picks up when the word gets out, sometimes the perch will only bite in the early morning before the boat traffic spooks them into not biting.
Sand shrimp, the most popular bait, can be in short supply when the fishing pressure picks up, but many anglers also try nightcrawlers, cocktail shrimp, sand worms or even Berkeley Gulp products (usually sections of their imitation sand worms).
While most anglers seem to want to fish around Marker 12, the perch can actually be caught from entrance to the East Boat Basin (usually on the other side of the river) all the way up to Gardiner.
A few tips can improve your catch. (1) – Try fishing at daybreak when fishing pressure is high. Heavy boat traffic can take the aggressiveness out of the perch. (2) – Take plenty of bait or use Berkeley Gulp on one hook to make your sand shrimp last longer. Use the Gulp on the bottom hook since that is the hook that gets the most bites from sculpins and other unwanted fish. (3) – The perch often move to more shallow water as the tide comes in, but cannot usually be approached by a large boat without spooking the fish. (4) – When first pulling into your fishing spot, don’t drop your baits straight down – the fish have already moved to one side or the other. Make your first casts well off to the sides of your boat. After about ten minutes, you should be able to catch perch directly below your boat.
Remember, the limit is only 15 surfperch per person, which should be plenty. Don’t abuse this very unique and tremendously popular fishery.
If you want to get some verbal perch tips, stop in and see me on weekends at the Stockade Market located near the East Boat Ramp in Winchester Bay. In addition to the proper tackle and bait, we also sell the WInchester Bay Surfperch Guide which is loaded with surfperch tips.
Good Fishin’ and see photo below for a couple of examples of typical redtailed surfperch.
California did not get their spotted bass until 1974 when they were stocked into Perris Reservoir, a very rich southern California Lake that was not created until 1973. Although Perris produces lunker specimens of all its fish species, it is best known for the world record spotted bass it produced in the 1980’s including spots weighing more than nine pounds that were world records at the time.
In the 1990’s, Pine Flat Lake, a 6,000 acre lake located in Fresno County, took over producing the world’s largest spotted bass with a number of nine pound plus fish taken including, in 2001, the current world record spotted bass of ten pounds four ounces.
But there just seems to be something about California that produces giant spotted bass. Last year, a ten pound spotted bass was taken from Whiskeytown Lake, a 3,460 acre reservoir located west of Lake Shasta, and this spring, at least two spotted bass weighing at least nine pounds were pulled out of Shasta Lake. Additionally, a number of other California waters have produced spots weighing more than eight pounds and over the last several years, a number of giant spots have come out of Bass Lake.
Bass Lake is a nearly 1,200 acre central California lake that offers a somewhat overlooked spotted bass fishery among the many fish species present in the lake. Bass Lake has given up many spotted bass weighing more than seven pounds and one angler has accounted for 15 such bass from the lake by himself.
In fact, California’s dominance as a producer of giant spotted bass may be more impressive than its dominance as a producer of giant Florida-strain largemouths. California has produced 22 of the top 25 largemouth bass, but such largemouths are only present in about a half-dozen states. Spotted bass are present in about 25 states and 22 states have official state records for them. However, only Alabama with an eight pound 15 ounce spot from Lewis Smith Lake is the only state besides California to threaten the mine pount mark. California has produced at least a dozen nine pound plus spots and seems to produce one at least every other year.
So let’s give California its due as the nation’s top producer of giant bass. After all, it’s 67 pound eight ounce striper from O’Neil Forebay is the nationi’s top mark for freshwater bound striped bass and its nine pound 13.5 ounce smallmouth from Pardee Reservoir is no worse than the nation’s fourth best mark – and the largest catch in the in the last several decades.
Fished the upper half of Loon Lake on Thursday and a good bass bite more than offset a 20 MPH headwind. Paddling around using swimfins in something barely large enough to hold me provides plenty of exercise and allows me to probe spots too small to fish from a boat.
To fish the entire shoreline of the upper half of Loon Lake takes about eight hours in the float tube-type device I fish out of and the overall bite was excellent with about 30 bass caught and only about five or six dinks. All the other bass weighed a pound, or more and more than a dozen weighed at least two pounds and my largest three all weighed more than five pounds.
The fishing was much better than I expected, since I was unusually organized with my fishing tackle and remembered to bring a good scale and my digital camera. Usually, when I am this well prepared, the fish do not cooperate.
My first big bass was hooked on the uplake side of that portion of Loon Lake Lodge that used to be known as Fish Haven Resort. I was using a five-inch long soft plastic jerkbait in a baby bass pattern made by Castaic. I had cast over a log running out perpendicular to the bank and as my lure approached the log, there was a big swirl on the far side of the log. Lucky for me, the swirl was made by the lunker’s tail and it had actually grabbed the bait on my side of the log.
After a battle of nearly five minutes, I landed a very large female bass. I noticed that there was someone on the dock, so I paddled over to him to see if he could use my camera to take a picture of me and the bass and he happily obliged after getting a promise from me to email him a copy of the fish. After the man handed me my camera, I put the fish on my digital scale only to discover that it was on metric mode and I could not readily adjust it. However, the reading of 2.5 kilograms made for an easy conversion to five pounds eight ounces.
Ten minutes later, on the other side of the Fish Haven Dock, I landed another larger bass. This one weighed 2.81 kilograms and I knew that translated to more than six pounds, but I had to wait until I got home before I knew that this bass weighed six pounds 2.9 ounces.
An hour later, I hooked and landed a bass weighing 2.41 kilograms that later converted to five pounds and slightly more than five ounces.
As in every fishing trip, nothing is ever quite perfect. I thought this trip might be that one exception, but a little later, I had a big bass almost take my jerkbait and then ignore subsequent casts. As I paddled in for a closer look, I discovered that the bass was much heavier than I first thought and appeared to weigh all of eight pounds. However, the fish ignored repeated casts and then to make matters worse, swam directly beneath my float tube, completely ignoring me except for the shade I was providing.
After about 90 seconds of being completely “dissed”, I decided to move on and the fishing continued to be exceptional save for the fact that none of my subsequent bass weighed as much as three pounds.
While Loon Lake should be fishing good for at least the next three weeks for bass, the panfish have not yet started moving into shallow water in big numbers. Trout numbers in the lake appear low and the lake will not be restocked until the first week in June. A trip around the bottom half of the lake revealed the bass there are at least one to two weeks behind the bass in the upper lake.
This may seem rather “nitpicky”, but because Loon Lake Lodge is undergoing repairs and the store/restauant is temporarily closed, I had to wait until I got to Reedsport before I could start bragging.
The picture below is of me in my “River Rat” with my four fishing rods and the five pound eight ounce bass.
Last week I managed to hit six different fishing spots in one day and found the fishing, in general, to be very encouraging.
The first place I tried was Selmac Lake. It’s a long drive for someone living in Reedsport, but usually well worth it. The fishing was absolutely great for bluegill and crappie and even the trout woke up at dusk and also bit well in the early morning. The bass had not spawned as of last week, but were very close. When at Selmac, I always like to get there before daylight and cast a black buzzbait and it worked really well last Monday until my bail spring came undone, something I would have easily noticed in the daylight, but unfixable at 3:00 am.
I waited until daylight to visit the Expo Ponds because I am not familiar enough to know I would find it before daylight. I got to the pond next to the parking area in time to see a teenager “walking on air” as he informed me that he had caught and released bass weighing three and six and a half pounds on a senko. I fished the pond for two hours in a float tube and settled for one 12-inch bass. The other pond, the main one, looked fishier, but there were at least 15 trout anglers fishing it when I took a look at it. If I had opted to fish it, instead of the other pond, I would have had it nearly to myself for at least an hour.
The next fishing spot I checked out was Galesville Reservoir. I nearly passed on this one since a friend had told me a week earlier that it was muddy, but there was about three feet of visibility when I visited it and in a half-hour fishing within a couple of hundred yards from the boat ramp, I caught five smallmouths with the first four measuring between 12 and 16-inches. A 4-inch ribbontail worm was the lure of choice and I fished less than a half hour for my catch. The smallmouths were cruising in two to four feet of water and there is a very good chance that Galesville’s largemouths will be doing the same thing in two or three weeks.
The next stop was Ben Irving Reservoir which is located west of Winston. A couple of weeks earlier, the reservoir was very muddy, but on the day I visited it (5/14/2012), the was more than a foot of visibility and the bass, bluegills and especially the crappies were in shallow water and biting readily. This reservoir should be fishing very well for at least the next month. In the 10 minutes I fished Ben Irving, I had a number of fish on and the first crappie I landed was a ten incher.
Cooper Creek Reservoir, in Sutherlin, was my next stop and there was close to two feet of visibility near the lower boat ramp. The bluegill were not active, but the crappies made up for it and surprisingly, for me, the yellow perch were also biting well. I had never caught a yellow perch in Cooper Creek before, but had never targeted them despite having heard they were in the reservoir.
Proving that it wasn’t all positive or encouraging, Plat I Reservoir looked even muddier than when I had checked it out two weeks earlier and in a half hour of hard fishing, I could not even find one cooperative bass, bluegill, crappie or trout.
The point of this article is that there is some very good bass and panfishing available Jackson, Josephine and eastern Douglas counties while we wait for the coastal warmwater fisheries to warm up enough to provide good fishing.
It seems that quite a few Winchester Bay anglers took advantage of the “supermoon” on the night of May 5th (Saturday). One angler said that the South Jetty had numerous night anglers fishing that evening including about 20 people fishing inside the Triangle. He reported that the visibility on the rocks was almost as good as it was during the daytime and fair numbers of fish were caught.
Some redtailed surfperch were reported caught off the South Jetty last week and hopefully that is an omen of the Umpqua River’s annual pinkfin run taking place in the very near future. Of course, somebody has to catch the first surfperch upriver before it becomes official. Another good omen would be for someone to make a good catch of shad upriver on the Umpqua and some good catches were made over the last several days at Elkton and Yellow Creek.
This last week, a number of commercial salmon anglers made some good catches while fishing fairly close to the Umpqua River Bar. Fishing for spring chinooks in the Scottsburg area and above has occasionally been very good. As for the Wells Creek Inn’s annual springer contest, the heaviest salmon turned in as of last week was a 34 pounder and the contest is ongoing and does not require pre-registration.
Diamond Lake lost its ice cover last week and fishing has been very good. In fact, this may be the best spring and summer fishing in Diamond Lake in many years, because the daily limit per angler is eight trout and in future years, Diamond will be open the year around and there won’t be a six month period where the trout are not being harvested by anglers.
Cool morning water temperatures and afternoon winds continue to hold down fishing success for largemouth bass and panfish. Tenmile continues to reward experienced bass anglers, but fishing in the smaller lakes and ponds has been, so far, disappointing – but that could change rather quickly.
Not being able to afford a trip to central California, yet itching to try some shallow water bass and panfishing, last week I headed to tiny Selmac Lake, a shallow water impoundment located near Selma – about 20 miles south of Grants Pass. At less than 150 acres, Selmac gets very heavy fishing pressure which is usually directed at the rainbow trout which are heavily stocked in the lake. However, Selmac is rather famous for infrequently giving up some very big largemouth bass including three that were officially weighed in as Oregon state records which have since been bested elsewhere. Selmac’s bluegill and black crappie can occasionally reach lunker size, but usually the bluegill will measure between six and eight inches and the crappie will average about eight or nine inches. Less common fish species in Selmac include brown bullheads and green sunfish.
The fishing was very good last week except that the bass were very skittish, but they usually are when there are nearly 100 people fishing the lake. The bluegills and crappies were very cooperative and one of the bluegills that I lost just as I was getting ready to release it would have weighed a pound. For the first time, while fishing Selmac, I caught some golden shiners on crappie jigs.
The first shiner I caught measured more than ten inches in length, was full of roe and weighed all of a half pound. It was bigger than any of the recently stocked rainbow trout that I caught. After catching the shiner, that was pretty much all I could think about. Selmac Lake drains into the Illinois River and then into the Rogue River. Although they were originally present in the Southeast, where they are the preferred bait for big Florida-strain largemouth bass, they have managed, with help, to find their way into a number of other top bass lakes including a number of lakes in California. They are capable of reaching a foot in length and provide major forage for large bass and other predators while at the same time competing with other gamefish for food and even consuming newly hatched gamefish.
A call to the the ODFW office in the Denman Management Area in Medford, confirmed that the fish were, indeed, golden shiners and not rudd, a very similar minnow found in Europe. They have been in Selmac for at least several years and the biologist I talked to was unworried about them escaping Selmac, because the Illinois River is extremely unsuitable for them and in several snorkling surveys on the Illinois, he has yet to spot a golden shiner.
In the meantime, the next time I visit Selmac, I will probably use even smaller gear while panfishing in the hopes that I can catch some of the minnows should I get bored with the lake’s very cooperative bluegills and crappies. Selmac, more than any other Oregon water that I am aware of, responds the quickest to warming spring temperatures and as of last Tuesday, the bass were in immediate pre-spawn mode and the panfish had moved to shallow water in big numbers. Trout angling, also because of the water temperatues, was much better in the early morning and right before dark.
After hearing hundreds of boat owners complain about having to get an Aquatic Invasive Species Permit, I was starting to get a little sympathetic until I learned that in the first week of operation this year, two inspection stations found invasive mussels on boats undergoing an inspection after being moored out of state. One boat, inspected in La Grande after being moored in Saginaw Bay, Michigan was found to have zebra mussels which could have contaminated a number of nearby waters that drain into the Snake or Columbia rivers. The other boat, inspected in Central Point and moored at Lake Havasu (on the California/Arizona border) could have easily have contaminated any number of waters that drain into the Rogue River system. While these tiny invasive mussels cause millions of dollars in damage to boat motors, pumps and water-related construction, the biggest problem with them is that they filter out much of the food that very small and newly hatched fish feed on – causing a crash in fish populations from the bottom up. At any rate, it appears the program is working and I, for one, am very glad it is.
The 25 pound striper being hoisted by Eugene’s Rick Kruitt is rather typical for those on the Umpqua River system and the most encouraging sign is that they seem to be much chunkier and healthier than they were only several years ago. Striped bass on the Smith River have dropped down into the mid and lower tidewater areas where they seem to be much easier to catch when fishing off the bank. Although there are a number of places where bank anglers can hope to hook stripers, the most popular spot is along the guard rail located two miles upstream from Highway 101. Virtually all the fishing takes place at night and some nights there is little room to park.
Crabbing continues to be slow at Winchester Bay as the amount of freshwater coming down the Umpqua remains high. Some legal crabs are being caught, but even the best catches involve a lot of effort for the legal crabs taken.
The South Jetty continues to fish well and although the most common fish taken are almost always greenling and striped surfperch, a number of lingcod, including some very large ones, were hooked over the weekend. Fair numbers of people fished the surf for pinkfins last week with almost as many fishing between the second and third parking lots south of Winchester Bay as fished the North Beach Area at the end of Sparrow Park Road. So far, there have been no reports of pinkfin catches above Winchester Bay, but the time for the beginning of that run should be very close. Of course, someone has to go and catch the first ones.
Although the Umpqua River Bar was unrestricted most of last weekend, there were very few anglers trying for chinook salmon in the ocean or lower river. There was some sporadic success for spring chinooks in the Scottsburg area and above and there was talk about a 47 pound fish being taken. There are shad in the river, but very few success stories when it comes to catching them, but that could change very quickly. I would like to point out that there still seem to be lots of anglers that assume the blinking yellow lights near the Coast Guard Station in Winchester Bay mean a bar closure, when all it really means is that there is some sort of restriction – often only affecting boats of 16 feet in length or shorter. Some charterboats fishing out of Charleston over the weekend reported very good salmon fishing.
Umpqua River sturgeon fishing remains very slow, but there continues to be some good catches of striped bass in the Smith River. Smallmouth bass fishing on the Umpqua can be productive, but few people are trying for them.
Largemouth bass fishing has perked up almost everywhere, but panfish success remains poor. Yellow perch and crappie can be taken in cool water, but most sunfish species do not bite well until the water gets into the mid to high 60’s. One can expect tough fishing on the sand dunes lakes west of the railroad tracks between Lakeside and North Bend as most of these lakes are shallow, but much higher than normal for this time of year. An additional two or three feet of depth can dramatically increase the amount of fish holding water – sometimes as much as five or more times as there would be at normal lake levels. Bass in the coastal lakes and ponds should be in the pre-spawn mode for at least the next couple of weeks.
Roseburg area lakes such as Cooper Creek and Ben Irving are still muddy, but Cooper Creek has produced some decent fish catches despite the muddiness. Almost every other place, including Plat I Reservoir, is clear enough to fish, but most of the coastal waters are still too cold for the best bass and panfishing.
Anglers that like to fish the pre-spawn and spawn for largemouth bass will usually find it easier to find shallow-water bass in round lakes rather than narrow lakes or lakes with many long arms. The reason for this is that there will be less shoreline per surface acre on the round lakes than the other lakes and assuming the bass populations are similar for their surface acreage, there will simply be less shoreline for those bass to move toward.
A couple of short articles in the April 21st issue of Science News were quite interesting. The article by Susan Millus dealt with the inability of some animals with specialized diets to detect sweets. The inability is due to a lack of a certain gene and affects mostly meat-eating predators although chickens seem to have the same inability to detect sweets. This inability is a rather minor one to carnivores, but it does take away one possible avenue towards dealing with the seals and sea lions in our area. It means that it will be virtually impossible to get them hooked on ice cream and chocolate to the point that they no longer consume our salmon, steelhead and sturgeon.
The article by Rebecca Cheung deals with crayfish and should be of interest to those who handle them as food or bait. It seems that quite often the larger claw of a crayfish is not the stronger one and even when a crayfish has two similar-sized claws, one is often much stronger than the other. So don’t assume, while handling crayfish, that avoiding the larger claw is always the most sensible thing to do. It seems that a major use of a large claw is intimidating other crayfish prior to actual combat.
Oregon is once again part of the nationwide “Wanna Go Fishing for Millions” contest sponsored by Cabelas, the Outdoor CHannel and a number of fish and wildlife agencies including the ODFW. The fishing period begins May 5th and runs through July 8th, but all catches must be logged by midnight Eastern Time on July 8th to be eligible. The three Oregon waters that will have fish tagged for this contest are: Crane Prairie Reservoir in central Oregon; Dexter Reservoir alongside Highway 58 east of Eugene and Blue River Reservoir near the community of Blue River north of the McKenzie River and Highway 126. Pre-registration is required and made be done by going online and visiting Cabela’s website. Besides the possibility of winning as much as two million dollars for catching a single fish, there are many other prizes including some valuable ones such as Ranger boats and brand name fishing tackle. Each selected water will have from eight to 15 fish tagged with a small spaghetti tag and should you catch one, you need to go online to Cabela’s website and enter the tag number and other required information.
The state of Washington is encouraging anglers to catch and keep northern pike in the Pend Oreille River in the eastern part of the state. While northern pike have been caught for several decades in Long Lake, Spokane area reservoir, on the Spokane River, they have remained a rare incidental catch – primarily because fluctuating water levels have greatly restricted spawning success. Such is not the case on the Pend Oreille River where spawning conditions in Box Canyon and Boundary reservoirs have resulted in an exploding pike population. Although pike to at least 30 pounds have been caught, the population is now dominated by young pike weighing less than five pounds and growth rates may slow to the point where the pike become stunted. Furthermore, while the pike have primarily dined on non-gamefish, as those populations dwindle, gamefish populations will become more heavily impacted. Despite having numerous small bones, pike are a coldwater gamefish with tasty flesh and, in Washington, there is no limit on size or numbers.
One of the most overlooked fish available to those fishing our Pacific Coast is the striped surfperch (Embiotoca lateralis) – also known as rainbow or squaw perch. Unlike the redtailed surfperch (pinkfin), the striped surfperch is primarily found near jetties, docks or mud-bottomed bays or coves. The current record for this species is two pounds one ounce and was taken from Washington more than 30 years ago. California, Oregon and British Columbia currently do not have official records for this fish which bites readily on ghost or sand shrimp and other small baits. Two years ago, two striped surfperch weighing at least three pounds were caught from the South Jetty at the mouth of the Umpqua River at Winchester Bay, but since Oregon does not keep records for them, their weights will forever remain unofficial. Some anglers target these surfperch as a way to get ready for fishing for pinkfin in the surf or in the lower Umpqua River when the pinkfins spawn between Winchester Bay and the community of Gardiner from May through July.
Kobe Bryant – Falling a couple of points shy of winning this season’s scoring title and generally acknowledged as the greatest “closer” of his generation, Kobe’s biggest problem when it comes to winning this season’s MVP is that the Lakers played quite well without him. Additionally, Kobe’s rather anemic field goal percentage of .430 would be the lowest of any MVP winner in the last 50 years except for Allen Iverson’s .420 mark for the 2000-2001 season.
Carmelo Anthony – Carmelo’s problem-filled season was very much hidden by his strong finish to the regular season. However, his early season problems with fitting into the Knick’s team concept cost his coach (Mike D’Antoni) his job and at the end of the regular season, Carmelo’s field goal percentage was a rather anemic .430.
Dwight Howard – Dwight led the league in rebounding and his field goal percentage of .573 was the highest in the league of those attempting at least six field goals per game. However, Howard missed much of the regular season and his problems with Stan Van Gundy definitely affected the overall performance of the Orlando Magic.
Kevin Durant – A very worthy candidate, Durant averaged 28 points per game on the way to winning his third consecutive scoring title and his field goal percentage of .496 was his highest ever. However, at times, it seemed like the Oklahoma City Thunder virtually ignored Durant and instead relied on Russell Westbrook and James Harden to score their points.
Derick Rose – Last year’s M VP was in the running for this year’s award until spending a good portion of the season on the bench with injuries. A dynamic leader as the Chicago Bulls’ point guard, Rose won last year’s MVP award despite only shooting .445. This season’s field goal percentage of .435, when added to his injury woes, has pretty much taken him out of this year’s MVP race.
Dwayne Wade – The all-time leading scorer for the Miami Heat, but overlooked compared to the NBA’s other elite players, Wade was extremely efficient when completely healthy this season and his PER (player efficiency rating) showed it. However, Wade spent much of this season sitting on the bench or playing while hurt. But Wade’s biggest obstacle to winning an MVP award is that he is playing alongside LeBron James which means that he will have to settle for being the NBA’s best sidekick.
Chris Paul – Another player that spent part of the season injured, Paul is generally considered the NBA’s best point guard and his PER this season was topped only by James. Paul’s sterling offensive productioni (.478 fg’s; .371 3 pt’s; .861 ft’s – along with 9.1 assists and only 2.1 turnovers per game) is somewhat counterbalanced by his defensive liabilities.
LeBron James – A polarizing figure ever since leaving Cleveland, James had one of the best all-around seasons in NBA history this last season. LeBron’s per game average of 27.1 becomes more impressive when one realizes that he made more than 53 percent of his field goal attempts and 36 percent of his three pointers and almost certainly, because of his brute strength, made more three point plays than any other player. James also averaged 6.2 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game and defended fiercely this season, no matter which position player he was guarding. This season’s PER of 30.80 was one of the highest ever and was more 13 percent higher than Chris Paul’s next best mark of 27.09.
There still has not been much salmon fishing activity in the ocean near the Umpqua River Bar. Salmon have been caught, but the bar has often been rough and many anglers still associate the two blinking yellow lights with a complete bar closure rather than a restriction which may only effect boats of 16 feet or less. Over last weekend, quite a few spring chinook were taken from the Umpqua above the Scottsburg Boat Ramp all the way up to at least Elkton.
Inshore halibut season (depths of less than 240 feet) opened May 1st. The all-depth halibut three day openers will not begin until the the second Saturday in May (May 10th).
Sturgeon angling remains slow despite an increasing number of anglers trying for them. Striped bass fishing at night on the Smith River has been at least fair, but the stripers in the Umpqua remain woefully underfished. Despite rumors to the contrary, there have been no verified reports of shad taken yet on the Umpqua. Smallmouth bass should be biting in the slowest sections or backwaters on the Umpqua.
Although our top bottomfishing spots are too deep to be legal to fish, the South Jetty has been producing well when wave action isn’t severe. Subdued wave action also makes fishing the surf for redtailed surfperch (pinkfins) far more enjoyable. There has been a lot of interest in the Umpqua’s pinkfin run and some anglers have even tried to be the first to encounter them, but the initial catches most likely won’t taken place until the second week in May.
The Florence area lakes that have or will receive trout plants this week include: Carter Lake with 2,500 barely legal rainbows; Cleawox Lake with 2,000 barely legals and 150 trophy trout and Munsel Lake with 1,500 foot long rainbows and 150 trophy trout. Many Coos County lakes are slated to be stocked this week including: Empire lakes with 6,000 legal trout and scheduled to receive 3,000 legal rainbows are Bradley, Eel, Saunders and North Tenmile as well as Powers Pond. Millicoma Pond is scheduled for 500 legal rainbows and Blubill Lake, a very shallow lake adjacent to the road to Horsfall Beach, is slated to receive 2,000 legal rainbows. Lake Marie and Loon Lake are not scheduled to receive their next trout plants (1,000 legal rainbows each) until the first week in June just prior to Free Fishing Weekend.
I spent five minutes last Sunday afternoon checking out Junction City Pond, a tiny less than four acre pond, located on the south end of Junction City. The pond receives more fish per acre than any spot in western Oregon and the area’s fishermen are well aware of that fact. There were approximately 40 cars in the parking lot and at least 60 anglers scattered around the pond. When I first fished this pond more than 30 years ago, there were decent populations of smallish largemouth bass as well as crappie, bluegills and brown bullheads. The heavy trout plants in recent years seem to have reduced the numbers of warmwater fish, but the pond is a great spot to introduce young kids to fishing and many Eugene area angles have caught their first fish, almost always a planted rainbow trout, at the pond. In our area, the most heavily planted lakes are Cleawox and Empire lakes.
Although sometimes the word gets out, the ODFW is not in the habit of publicizing their plants of broodstock rainbows or surplus steelhead. The policy makes sense as one can only guess how fervent the hatchery truck followers would be if they knew for sure that there were truly big trout scheduled for release.
I checked out a number of my favorite fishing spots last week and was, in general, disappointed. While Triangle, Cottage Grove and Dorena lakes were all clear enough to fish, despite the warm day, there were no visible fish in the shallows. Dexter, and Lookout Point were too muddy for enjoyable fishing, but the “Powerbait” crowd were catching some trout at Dexter. Even muddier were Cooper Creek Reservoir near Sutherlin and Ben Irving Reservoir west of Winston (the muddiest of all the waters checked). Loon Lake was somewhat muddy, but fishable and if one fishes the upper end of the reservoir above, or to the side of, the water entering the lake from the Lake Creek inlet, it is even less muddy and warmer too. However, the store at Loon Lake is closed for repairs and one needs to remember to bring their tackle and food with them. I even went so far as to visit Selmac Lake, a shallow lake about 20 miles south of Grants Pass, and it was less muddy than I expected. However, the bass were not biting that day as even the guys in bass boats had switched over to planted rainbows and black crappie. On a hunch, I waited until dark and in about 25 casts I landed three bass weighing at least a pound with the biggest right at two pounds.
Virtually all of the lakes and ponds on the coast are clear and very fishable. However, there have been very few 60 degree afternoons on the coast and the water temperatures are not yet sufficient to bring warmwater fish into the shallows in meaningful numbers. Usually, water temperatuers in the low to mid-60’s will do it, but with very few exceptions, air temperatures have to reach that mark first. The rare exceptions when spring water temperatues may be warmer than the warmest days are due to springs or dark bottomed area or muddy water that may heat up slightly warmer than the air temperatures. Looking for such spots is usually an indication of pure desperation or extreme optimism.