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Contact Pete Heley
PO Box 264
Reedsport, OR 97467
Monthly Archives: May 2013
Limits of redtailed surfperch were taken Friday morning (May 31st) between Winchester Bay and Gardiner. Sand shrimp has been the preferred bait, but has been in short supply. Other natural baits such as clam necks and nightcrawlers have also accounted for some of the perch.
The top artificial bait has been Berkley Gulp (sandworms).
A few good catches have taken place in the afternoons, but the most consistent action has been in the very early morning – like daybreak.
Some anglers, in an attempt to make their sand shrimp last longer, often use a hardier bait like the clam necks or a piece of Berkley Gulp on the bottom hook which takes the brunt of almost all the sculpin bites.
The more successful anglers are the ones that cast to the sides or to their front when they first pull into a spot – realizing that the perch will have moved out from beneath their boat – at least for several minutes.
The perch tend to move with the current, so if boats are catching perch in one area, move downstream a polite distance and wait for them to come to you. As for joining a big group of boats – make sure that some of them are catching fish before you do. Amidst a bunch of boats not catching fish is the last place you want to be.
Remember, the daily per person limit on surfperch is 15.
A recent post in one of Oregon’s largest fishing websites concerned a very large sunfish that was believed to be a pumpkinseed sunfish and was caught in a private pond and then put into a aquarium. The sunfish, if correctly identified, would easily have shattered the Oregon state record for pumpkinseed sunfish which currently is a 7.68 ounce fish caught in 1996rom Lake Oswego.
Since both the ODFW which keeps track of most of the state fish records and the Oregon Bass and Panfish Club which keeps track of the warmwater fish records state that fish from private ponds are not eligible for state record consideration, the jumbo pumpkinseed currently living in an aquarium is not eligble for state record consideration. For that matter, one has to wonder why Lake Oswego, which has restricted access to lakeshore property owners and their friends, is eligible for any state fish records.
There are slip ups. Oregon’s bluegill record came from a private pond in central Oregon and a largemouth bass from a private pond near Butte Falls held the state record for several years. But the plain fact is, no Oregon fish records should come from private waters with restricted or no access to the public.
That said, Oregon’s state record for pumpkinseed sunfish is pathetic. How pathetic? If it were not for Tennessee’s even more pathetic pumpkinseed state record of five ounces, Oregon would have the smallest state record pumpkinseed in the nation. Since I have caught many pumpkinseeds weighing six or seven ounces from Howard Prairie Reservoir and the pond formed by the confluence of the North and South Umpquas, it appears that the major reason why Oregon’s record pumpkinseed is not larger is because most anglers cannot identify them or don’t both getting the fish weighed, with witnesses, on a certified scale.
Nineteen states currently have state records for pumpkinseeds and more than half of those state records weighed between one pound and one pound nine ounces. The outlier is South Carolina whose state record pumpkinseed weighed a whopping two pounds four ounces and can boast of at least two other pumpkinseeds that weighed at least two pounds.
Since the national and world records for pumpkinseeds and warmouths is almost the same, 2 pounds 4 ounces and 2 pounds 7 ounces respectively, one has to wonder why Oregon’s state record warmouth weighs one pound 14.2 ounces – or nearly four times (3.93) heavier than Oregon’s state record pumpkinseed. On the other side of the coin, one could also wonder why Washington’s state record pumpkinseed of one pound 1.3 ounces is 2.06 times as large as its state record warmouth of 8.4 ounces.
At any rate, it is high time to replace Oregon’s embarrassing pumpkinseed sunfish record and when it is replaced – let’s hope it is replaced by a pure pumpkinseed and not a hybrid.
As June of 2013 looms we have many signs of the best overall upcoming fishery in two decades on Potholes Reservoir. The most noticable is the vast improvement of the yellow perch fishery. Limits of perch have been common at the MarDon Dock. Additionally, the Lind Coulee arm, the Crab Creek channel and throughout the sand dunes schools of perch have been witnessed by many experienced fisherman as well as bluegill and crappie in new and improved numbers.
Trolling for rainbow trout has been consistently producing fish in the 2-4 lb range with jumbo rainbow to 6 lbs. Trollers have been having good rainbow action using Rapala Shad Raps, Double Whammy’s, Canadian Wonders and Rooster Tails. Limited reports are coming in from the seep lakes about the Pillar Widgeon Chain producing some extremely large rainbows. Also bluegill, bass and perch have been reported from the Hutchinson Shiner lakes
On Saturday there will be a free fishing event at Tugman Park on Eel Lake. On Sunday, there will be a free fishing event on Lake Marie. These events are wonderful places to introduce youngsters to fishing. The youngsters get a free hotdog and pop for simply registering and can get the same for picking up some litter. In the meantime, there are hourly prize drawings, fishing tackle to use and fishing instruction as needed. It is a great way to get your kids a good start in their fishing careers.
John Reiss (“Ringo”) of Lakeside Marina emailed me a photo of a 15+-inch yellow perch that was caught a little over a week ago. The jumbo perch weighed 1.9 pounds and would almost certainly bested the Oregon state record of two pounds two ounces caught from a Columbia River slough way back in 1971 – if it was caught several weeks earlier while in a pre-spawn condition.
The next two weeks feature all-depth halibut openers (Thursday through Saturday) on May 30th – June 1st and June 6th – 8th. The quota is 120,947 and 34,712 pounds (29 %) were reported caught on the first three day opener. Although the caught rate for the second three day opener was not available when I wrote this, it is reasonable to expect that approximately half the quota remains and if fishing success rates stay consistent for the upcoming two openers, the quota should be very close to being met. The nearshore halibut catch through May 12th was 775 pounds and the quota is 22,263 – so 97 percent of the near shore halibut quota remained after May 12th.
As usual, the all-depth spring halibut season is incredibly unfair to anglers who work regular jobs (Monday through Friday) as they, without taking time off or quitting their jobs, can only fish one of the three days (Saturday) – if ocean conditions allow them to do so. The summer all-depth fishery is a little more fair to working anglers as they have half the chance that nonworking anglers have since the fishing days on the openers are Friday and Saturday.
Adding to the unfairness is the upcoming nonselective coho fishery starting this September which will also be Thursday through Saturday.
As for ocean chinook salmon angling, Charleston has reported goof fishing with an average of a half-fish per angler. But the very few anglers that have fished out of Winchester Bay have enjoyed very good salmon fishing success. The problem is getting ocean and bar conditions that allow anglers to actually get into the ocean and have enough time to find the fish.
Two weeks after the first good pinkfin catch on the Umpqua River above Winchester Bay, some more good catches have been made. The best catch reported last Sunday was 27 pinkfins for a single boat. The fishing has been very erratic and disappointing in general, but it looks like the Umpqua River pinkfin run is finally underway. Sand shrimp and Berkley Gulp are the most popular baits. Of course, fishing for the pinkfins in the surf at area beaches is still going strong.
It has been two weeks since two anglers made a good catch of pinkfins (redtailed surfperch) from the Umpqua River above Winchester Bay and surfperch fishing has been very slow since then. Usually the length of time from the first good catch until everybody is catching them is far shorter than two weeks.
But I believe that part of the gap this year was caused by a number of anglers willing to put in the time to try to catch the first good batch of redtailed surfperch. That first good catch was most likely made immediately after those fish arrived – while during most years, almost all the perch anglers wait until someone else catches the first good batch and sometimes the earliest pinkfins are in the river for a week, or more, before someone actually tries catching them.
Quite a few boats caught a few pinkfins over Memorial Day Weekend, but the catch that caught my attention was the boat that caught 27 perch on Sunday afternoon. They caught one perch in the morning and then 26 more in a short period of time several hours later. While this catch will not guarantee that other anglers are going to make good pinkfin catches – it does indicate that there are enough perch in the river to at least give perch anglers a chance at making a good catch.
Hopefully, this catch will not be the second false alarm and is instead an indicator of much improved surfperch angling on the Umpqua River above Winchester Bay.
In the meantime, anglers fishing the surf at such beaches as the third parking lot (southermost) at Winchester Bay, at the end of Sparrow Park Road (Gardiner) and near the mouth of the Siltcoos River (Siltcoos Beach Access Road) are still enjoying very good surf fishing for the pinkfins.
John Reiss, “Ringo”, of Lakeside Marina on Tenmile Lakes reported that a yellow perch weighing 1.9 pounds was caught recently. The state record yellow perch is a two pound two ounce fish from a Columbia River backwater. Had this perch been caught several weeks earlier, it could have easily threatened, or actually bested that state record fish.
Perhaps they will get tired of me pointing on this major injustice, but that is not going to be the case. As usual, the all-depth spring halibut opener, on open weekends, runs from Thursday through Saturday. Usually the fishing starts out fairly good and then gradually drops off as the fishing spots get fished down. That means that, in most cases, Thursday and Friday tend to be more productive than Saturday – when anglers with regular Monday through Friday jobs have their only chance to fish – without taking time off from work.
The summer all-depth halibut season is a little more fair, since it runs on Fridays and Saturdays giving anglers with normal weekday jobs fully half the chance to catch a halibut as does anglers that are not working or are working in jobs that allow them to fish for halibut both days. The 50 percent opportunity is much better than the 33 percent opportunity afforded spring halibut anglers working normal jobs.
Making matters worse, is this year’s non-selective coho salmon season which starts on September 1st and 2nd this year (Sunday and Monday) and then switches over to Thursdays through Saturdays – giving anglers working Monday through Friday the same 33 percent chance that they have during the all-depth spring halibut openers.
This has been going on for a number of years now – and not one ODFW employee has managed to explain how this “strategy” is fair to all anglers.
There are a number of ways to make it a little more fair. Three day openers could run Saturday through Monday – or we could all pray for more people opting for early retirement and a sharp increase in Oregon’s unemployment rate.
It seems that the catch of redtailed surfperch taken Sunday morning (May 12th) above Winchester Bay was a false alarm. There has been very few perch caught upriver since then. However, that single catch should encourage more perch anglers to give it a try as more perch should be moving in very soon. During most years, perch anglers sit back, content to wait until someone else goes out and actually makes a good perch catch. In some of those years, the perch were most likely in the river for a week or more before someone went out and caught the “first one”. This year, a number of different anglers were willing to experiment and make the effort to catch the earliest members of the perch run. Because of that, the very first perch were quickly discovered before any reinforcements arrived. In other words, by the time you are reading this, there is a good chance that more perch will have arrived upriver.
On a very encouraging note, despite some wind-caused ocean and Umpqua River Bar conditions, the few boats that ventured out for at least a few hours last week made some very good salmon catches. Al Black, of Winchester Bay, and three other anglers accounted for eight chinooks and about ten cohos last Friday and on Saturday, Fred Babcock and three other anglers accounted for six chinooks and a fair number of cohos. Perhaps the best news from Babcock was that they threw some crab pots in the ocean in about 35 feet of water while they fished and ended up with 26 legal, very firm crabs.
Meanwhile, crabbing remains very tough for dock crabbers at Winchester Bay and boat crabbers are having to work hard for their crab catches at Half Moon Bay.
The South Jetty/Triangle area is still producing good bottomfishing and boat anglers out of Charleston are making good rockfish and lingcod catches fishing just inside of 180 feet (30 fathoms).
All-depth halibut fishing is not open this week and hopefully, when it reopens next week, the fishing will be better than it has been.
Shad fishing has picked up greatly and some very good catches have been made. Much of the non-boating shad fishing pressure has been at Yellow Creek, but if the Umpqua River keeps dropping, Sawyers Rapids should be giving up some great shad fishing on an increasing number of shad refusing to ascend the rapids. Chartreuse and hot pink, as usual, remain the most popular colors on the flies, shad darts and gitzits that anglers use to catch these acrobatic fish.
More stripers have dropped down to the mid and lower tidewater areas of the Smith and Umpqua rivers, but fishing remains slow. Except for the oversized sturgeon hangling out in the Umpqua River opposite milepost 21 on Highway 38 east of Wells Creek, sturgeon fishing on the Umpqua below Reedsport is also very slow.
Bass and panfishing continues to improve and some of the Medford-area lakes have warmed very fast. Lake Selmac warmed up so fast that the blueghills and the latest third of the largemouth bass population are spawning at the same time – and the last of the lake’s spring trout plants were canceled due to water temperatures. There is absolutely no reason to postpone an Umpqua River smallmouth bass fishing trip. The smallmouth are biting very well and the river has dropped enough to make ensure water clarity and the fishing easy. Most of the largemouth bass in our coastal lakes have not yet spawned, but they are getting close.
There will be some trout plants during the week beginning May 27th leading up to Free Fishing Weekend on June 1st and 2nd. Loon Lake and Lake Marie will each receive 1,000 legal rainbows. Empire Lakes and Tenmile Lakes will each be stocked with 6,000 legal rainbows and the Empire Lakes will receive an additional 300 trophy rainbows. As for the Florence-area lakes, Alder, Buck and Dune lakes will each receive 425 legal rainbows and 36 trophy rainbows. Cleawox Lake will receive 2,000 legal rainbows, 1,800 foot-long rainbows and 250 trophy rainbows. Erhart Lake will receive 100 foot-long rainobws and Georgia and North Georgia will each receive 75 foot-long rainbows. Perkins Lake will receive 100 foot-long rainbows and Siltcoos Lagoon will receive 425 legal and 36 trophy rainbows. The larger coastal lakes have been fishing fairly well, but Tenmile Lakes has really stood out for anglers trolling bait or lures with rainbow trout to at least 20-inches taken recently.
Most of the central and eastern Oregon trout waters are providing good trout fishing. Some of these waters are going to be very low by late summer and fall and this will be the year to fish them. Anglers fishing these spots in future years will be dealing with waters trying to recover from the low water conditions that will be evident this fall. Crane Prairie Reservoir has given up more jumbo brook trout (to more than 20-inches) this spring than any year in recent memory.
It seems that there is a new species of bass available for our country’s anglers to fish for. The bass is referred to as the “Choctaw” bass and was first discovered in 2007 while doing a broad-based genetic study on bass and the first “Choctaw” bass came from the Chipola. Additional DNA testing revealed the bass to be present in the Choctawhatchee River and other nearby streams on the western Florida panhandle and coastal river systems in Alabama. The bass is closely related to the spotted bass and any differences are not easily noticeable to the naked eye.
It is almost certain that a number of anglers will try to be among the first to catch a Choctaw bass, but since foolproof identification can only be made through DNA testing, these anglers will only be guessing as to whether, or not, they were successful. One also has to wonder if the Choctaw bass ever made it to California, would it get much larger than its southeastern counterparts – like the spotted bass where the 20+ heaviest spots ever weighed all ame out of California.
Extensive DNA testing may hold the key to discovering many other isolated bass species just different enough to have its own DNA. In the meantime, enjoy the Choctaw bass, which may have a limited run if fisheries personnel in Florida and Alabama cannot do a good job of protecting it from hybridization with other bass species – especially the spotted bass.
The name for the bass was chosen because its range is similar to that one held by the Choctaw Indians.
This Choctaw bass was collected from Florida’s Holmes Creek in February 2012.
It appears that the long range plan for Winchester Bay is to ignore the East Boat Basin on which virtually every business paying rent to the Harbor sits. A very interesting video about the plan regarding dock removal of the East Basin docks, put out by Art Dever, is available on Google.com (revedmusic.com). Make sure that you make the search after going to Google.com.