Monthly Archives: November 2012

Newport’s Most Overlooked Fishery

Although the Big Creek Reservoirs, also known as Newport Reservoir, receive a fair amount of fishing pressure, virtually all of it is directed at the rainbow trout that are frequently planted in these two approximately 20 acre reservoirs – and the trout fishing after a plant can be very, very good.

However, these reservoirs also have good populations of several warmwater species that are almost never fished for. The warmwater fish do not seem to be as abundant in the upper reservoir which is somewhat larger than the lower reservoir, but the fishing for warmwater fish in the late spring on the lower reservoir can be excellent.

The first time I dumped my float tube into the lower reservoir, I only did so because as I was standing along the road running alongside the reservoir I happened to see a school of bass swim by. They were not lunkers, but they were big enough that I figures I had better launch my tube. In about three hours, I managed to fish the entire reservoir and had almost constant action. The bass were biting short, but I must have had about 50 strikes and landed about a dozen smallish bass, Yellow perch were biting very lightly, but I managed to land about 20 of them. But the big surprise, was getting into some great crappie action on fish to about nine-inches in length.

The crappie were located in a large cove adjacent to the road near the middle of the reservoir and one of the fish I hooked on the 1/100 oz tube jig slowly swam off with most of my 2# test line. It most likely was a largemouth bass, but if if was a crappie, it was a giant.

Brown bullheads are also present in the reservoirs, but are almost taken accidentally by trout anglers fishing bait. Bluegills have been reported, but if they are still present in the reservoirs, they are rare.

The point of this article is to inform Newport-area anglers that when the trout fishing falls off after the latest plant, there are still plenty of things to fish for in these two reservoirs located just east of Highway 101 at the north edge of Newport.

This photo was taken from the upper end of the lower reservoir which offers the best warmwater fishing of the two reservoirs.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 11/28/2012

High muddy water slowed crabbing at Winchester Bay last weekend and the few crabbers still trying worked hard for their catch. The key was to crab as far downriver as possible which was Half Moon Bay for boat crabbers and either the Coast Guard Pier or Dock 9 for dockbound crabbers. Crabbing is hold up very well at Charleston as the water is still quite salty.

Although rough conditions in the ocean and the Umpqua River Bar have limited bottomfishing options, anglers recently fishing off the South Jetty have enjoyed some fair fishing. However, the most common fish species are greenling and striped surfperch and they are almost always taken by bait and sand shrimp has recently been in short supply.

Although a few diehard salmon anglers are still.catching a few bright fish, most of the salmon fishing pressure has moved south.where the salmon fishing can be very good or very bad depending upon river conditions and the amount of fresh fish entering a particular streams. Anglers that know how long it takes a particular stream to clear make the correct choices as to which river to fish. Some large salmon have been caught, but the largest reported so far is a 61 pound chinook from the Chetco River.

The Umpqua almost certainly has the first arrivals of its winter steelhead run already in the river. However, since the fishery is pretty much a catch and release fishery, fishing pressure will remain nominal. A few anglers plunk for steelhead from Family Camp up to just below Sawyers Rapids, but anglers using other techniques seem to start using them at Sawyers Rapids. Tenmile Creek should have a few early arrivals now entering the stream, but the fishery doesn’t pick up, in normal years, until early December. Eel Creek doesn’t open until January 1st, but will have steelhead in it when it opens.

Although trout trollers are having a tough time catching fish, anglers stillfishing with bait are having better luck. Rainbows exceeding 20-inches in length have been caught recently at Tenmile Lakes, but other large coastal lakes are capable of producing fair angling for bait anglers. The key is whether or not they receive searun trout as well as native trout and carryover planters.

Except for Tenmile Lakes, there has been very little fishing pressure for yellow perch and fishing has recently been tough for most perch anglers. Major exceptions are Jim Spickelmire and his wife Betty. Jim is an ex-fishing guide from Grangeville, Idaho who has managed to find time to garner more than 30 patents. Jim has developed an extremely effective fishing strategy for fishing off the fishing dock at the county park on Tenmile Lakes in Lakeside. Jim and his wife have recently been averaging more than 50 perch per outing while using this technique and he had no qualms about explaining the technique in detail while talking to me.

Jim starts out with taking a few perch and pickling them. Then he cuts the picked perch into tiny cubes no more than one-quarter inch thick. He takes one of these cubes and places on the middle of the shank of a Gamakatsu #4 thin wire hook and then uses just enough weight to get the tiny offering down close to the bottom. Since Jim and his wife are not into crowding people, he usually fishes anywhere on the fishing dock where there is a fair amount of room and that can be anywhere from the the end of the dock to various spots along the narrow part of the dock and he has fished off both sides of the dock – and while other perch anglers are catching a few perch per hour, Jim and Betty are catching a perch every few minutes. Another benefit of his technique is that the hook is never swallowed and the perch are easily removed from the hook.

The reason the Spickelmire’s do a fair amount of their perch fishing at Tenmile Lakes, despite the fact that Idaho is loaded with great yellow perch waters is that they love eating dungeness crabs and Idaho definitely has a lack of good crabbing spots.

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Overlooked Fishing Spots Around Toledo, Oregon

In spite of there being limited warmwater fishing opportunities for Toledo area there is a hidden, almost completely overlooked section on the relatively popular freshwater fishing spot – Olalla Reservoir.

Olalla is a fairly deep, more than 100 acre fishing spot located about four miles north of Toledo and receives frequent plantss of various-sized rainbow trout and surplus steelhead and virtually all of the fishing pressure is directed at the trout.

However, Olalla is a very good fishing spot for warmwater gamefish. The lake has produced largemouth bass weighing more than ten pounds and some of the yellow perch are good-sized as well. Bluegills are less common and usually top out around seven to eight inches. Although there have been reports of brown bullhead and crappie catches, they are rare, if present at all, and anglers should not count on catching them.

One of the best sections of Olalla to fish for warmwater fish about five acres of relatively shallow water located just beyond the end of Olalla’s east arm. There is a narrow strip of clay about five yards wide that separates this water from the main lake and the two are connected by a fairly deep culvert.

The only way to properly fish this overlooked spot is to drag a small boat or float tube across the strip of land connecting the two spots and the best early spring bass fishing on Olalla Reservoir usually occurs in this spot.

Unfortunately, due to vandalism, Olalla Lake is only usable by the public during daylight hours.

This view is of the “disconnected” section that is almost completely overlooked on Olalla Reservoir.

Another very much overlooked Toledo-area fishing spot is Olalla Slough adjacent to Toledo. In the past, this slough produced largemouth bass, brown bullheads and there were reports of other warmwater fish species. Occasionally, rainbow and cutthroat trout would enter the catch. Now, almost completely unfished, there are almost certainly warmwater fish still present that are big enough to interest anglers – if they were aware of the fishery.

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Overlooked Waldport-Area Fishery

Located less than three miles east of Waldport on the south side of the Alsea River Highway, 45 acre Eckman Lake gets very little fishing pressure – except when it receives one of its frequent trout plants.

The view from the walkway of the fishing dock at Eckman Lake. The Alsea River Highway runs along the left side of the photo.

However, this very shallow lake also contains brown bullhead catfish and largemouth bass and although they are not overly abundant they are capable of reaching good size. Eckman once held the Oregon state record for brown bullheads with a fish weighing more than two pounds. Oregon has since decided to lump all of its bullhead catfish species (black, brown and yellow) into a single category.

Eckman also prduces a few really big largemouth bass with fish weighing at least nine pounds being taken in past years. Much of the lake is too shallow to hold decent bass and the best bass water is along the Alsea River Highway. If bass angler enjoys the challenge of tough fishing for potentially big bass, Eckman Lake would be a good choice.

Although Eckman does not have a boat ramp, it does have a fishing dock and a restroom and they are located on the northwest portion of the lake only a few feet from the Alsea River Highway.

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A Few Of My Favorite Fishing Things

SOME OF MY FAVORITE FISHING THINGS

Here are some of my favorite things related to fishing – in no particular order.

(1) – Favorite method of attaching super braid lines to either fluorocarbon or monofilament. There are a number of recommended knots for doing this, but I have had my best luck using the smaller swivels and tying the braided line to one end (I use a palomar knot) and the non-braid to the other end using either a palomar knot or a clinch knot. Depending on whether there is much breaking strength difference between the line and the leader, in order of decreasing knot strength, I attach the non-braid with either a palomar knot, an improved clinch knot or a clinch knot. I definitely want the leader to break before the main line and preferably, if it must break, at the lure. That is why I use a slightly less efficient knot at the lure.

(2) – Favorite weekly outdoor columnist – Definitely Carrie Wilson whose column appears nearly every week in Western Outdoor News. Carrie is a marine biologist who works for the California Department of Fish and Game and she does a great job of giving direct and understandable answers to a wide variety of outdoor-related questions. Those of you who have directed very many questions to outdoor biologists and enforcement personnel will realize how rare this is.

(3) – My favorite soft plastic jerkbait is – without a doubt the five-inch Castaic Jerky J series. I usually use the largemouth bass pattern and have found that the plastic used in making these lures is heavier than in most similar lures allowing much more options when retrieving it. I always make sure that there is a small bend in the upper portion of the lure which allows me to achieve better action on a slower retrieve. The five inch size seems to attract more big bass than do smaller versions of soft plastic jerkbaits. Although the company does not make a yellow perch pattern, it has a couple of patters that with a black magic marker can easily be made into a good perch imitation. My favorite choice for this strategy is the ayu color pattern.

(4) – My favorite fishing lake in central or eastern Oregon. It used to be East Lake back when it had lots of decent-sized rainbows, a few jumbo browns and a fair amount of brookies. In the fall, the brookies would school up on some very visible small gravel areas along the shoreline opposite the resort and would eagerly attack small lures and flies – and the average brookie measured all of 15-inches. Today, East Lake offers even more angling variety with rainbow trout, brown trout, Atlantic salmon and kokanee salmon being stocked. However, the brookies are no longer stocked and have pretty much died out. Try as I might, I just cannot find the brookies’ replacements to be as interesting as they were. So my new favorite fishing lake for central-eastern Oregon is Lake of the Woods located between Medford and Klamath Falls. It is approximately the same size as East Lake and offers even more fishing variety. The last time I fished it, in three hours of fishing near the resort, I landed approximately 50 fish on light tackle, but even more impressive was the variety of fish I landed. On my second cast, I landed a two pound rainbow and the fishing got more interesting after that. I ended up catching rainbow trout to 18-inches, a 16-inch brown trout, a number of black crappie to ten inches, quite a few yellow perch to at least nine inches, a bunch of smallish smallmouth bass and a one-pound largemouth bass. I did not catch any of the lake’s kokanee salmon or brown bullheads and if I wanted to, I could have hiked up Rainbow Creek, one of the lake’s small inlet streams, to catch some of its smallish brook trout.

(5) – My favorite western Oregon Lake is a tossup between Loon Lake and Lake Selmac. Lake Selmac is noted as a consistent producer of jumbo largemouth bass, but also has populations of bluegill and black crappies that are abundant, yet reach good size. Brown bullheads and a small populations of warmouth round out the lake’s warmwater fish species and the lake is very heavily stocked with rainbow trout. Because much of the lake is quite shallow, Selmac starts producing good fishing well before any of the other area lakes.

As for Loon Lake, it is the lake where I learned the finer points of bass fishing and I know it well enough to fish it effectively after dark. Large sections of the lake are overhung by brush and trees that reward my ability to cast far beneath them and my very best bass catches always seem to come from Loon Lake. Although few of Loon Lake’s planted trout reach respectable size and the crappies are relatively scarce, good-sized brown bullheads are available near the inlet and the lake has an abundant population of bluegills to at least nine-inches in length. Loon Lake is a wonderful lake to flyfish, but the best fishing is in the early spring before the boat traffic gets ridiculous or in the upper end of the lake where boat speed is greatly restricted.

(6) – My favorite electronic fishing equipment is – without a doubt the Fish Buddy – which is a portable depth finder with one important difference. It does side scans that show the air bladders of fish. It works really well on warmwater fish and the bottomfish anglers encounter when fishing off jetties. However, despite salmonids not having air bladders, it will show trout measuring more than 13-inches in length. It does not tell an angler which species of fish it is marking or how large they are, but it does allow an angler to cast to fish that have not already been spooked.

(7) –  My favorite device to fish out of is called a “River Rat” and it hasn’t been made for about 20 years. It is shaped like a conventional float tube and is made out of polypropylene and only has a depression where the hole through a conventional float tube is. It allows me, with swim fins, to paddle through water as shallow as six inches at a speed of up to four miles per hour (unlike a conventional float tube, one doesn’t have to push most of their body through the water to move. It seems like it also allows me to closely approach fish without spooking them. Since it is somewhat physically demanding, I don’t know how much longer I can keep fishing out of it – but so far, so good.

(8) – When flyfishing, my favorite fly for most conditions is a black leech pattern. Ideally, it has a weighed head consisting of lead wire covered by the wrapped body material and is tied on a thin wire hook. When tied to the tippet with a loose knot (I often use a regular knot and then use another fish hook to create a little space around the hook eye so that I can more easily impart action to the fly. I really like to give a subtle up and down quiver to the fly and the number of different species that take this lure consistently surprises me.

(9) – My favorite online fishing site is WashingtonLakes.com. Although it has an Oregon section (oregonfishingnews.com), most of the site is aimed at Washington anglers and it is absolutely the best site I am aware of when it comes to getting uncluttered fishing reports. Better yet, a viewer can select any of the numerous listed fishing spots to view multiple fishing reports for any particular fishing spot. Of course, the site has lots of other reasons to give it a good luck such as helpful fishing videos, online fishing maps and much more. But I tune into this site primarily to view the fishing reports.

(10) – My favorite western Oregon river is the Umpqua River. It offers so much variety. What other northwest river system holds such varied fishing records as the national record for fly tackle-caught striped bass – at 64 pounds eight ounces, a national and world record that has stood for more than 40 years; the Oregon state record for chinook salmon at 83 pounds and the Oregon record for green sunfish at slightly more than  11 ounces.

(11) – My favorite central and eastern Oregon stream is the Deschutes River. My favorite sections of this river lie between Tumalo and Lake Billy Chinook. The fish I pursue are brown trout and there are some true lunkers in certain stretches of this river with some of the browns weighing well over ten pounds. Moving along the river is difficult, but the steep canyon walls ensure that some sections of the river are in the shade most of the day. My best brown that I actually landed was caught between the Folley Waters and Steelhead Falls and weighed more than 15 pounds on a certified scale in the supermarket in Terrebonne and it struck a hand-painted Rapala that I had added a herring scent to. Since the jumbo brown was taken above Steelhead Falls, it will most likely remain the largest stream-reared brown I will ever land.

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