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Contact Pete Heley
PO Box 264
Reedsport, OR 97467
Monthly Archives: February 2014
The steelhead fishing pressure on the Umpqua River has eased up, for a couple of different reasongs. As I am writing this column, the mainstem Umpqua River is running high and muddy and fishing conditions are far from ideal. The other reason for the decreased fishing pressure is that all the other steelhead streams in the area now have enough water in them that the steelhead that were waiting to ascent them now have and are scattered throughout those streams. As these streams clear and the river flows start to decrease, fishing should be very good.
Tenmile Creek and Eel Creek almost never get muddy, but recent flows have been very high and Eel Creek was more murky than usual. However, Eel Creek finally has plenty of steelhead in it judging by how many fish have entered the STEP trap located near where Eel Creek leaves Eel Lake. For some reason, this year very few steelhead anglers are using salmon or steelhead roe for bait – instead opting for sand shrimp.
Anglers who enjoy fishing for bottomfish should be aware that the best time to catch decent-sized lingcod from area jetties will be during the next few weeks. All-depth bottomfishing remains in effect through March and cabezon are illegal to keep until July 1st. Recently, rough bar and ocean conditions have pretty much ruled out off shore bottomfishing.
Smelt numbers in the Columbia River and a few tributaries have rebounded to the point where some harvest has been allowed – and I’m willing to bet there are some currently swimming up the Umpqua River. Decades ago, the Umpqua River’s smelt run was large enough to influence sturgeon movement. Daniel Clayton of Coos Bay found a smelt along the shoreline of Tenmile Lake last week.
Finally, the trout stocking schedules, including those for the south coast, Coos/Coquille and Umpqua zones are now out. The earliest trout plants for the south coast zone will take place in Arizona Pond and Garrison Lake the second week of March.
The first trout plants in the Coos/Coquille zone will take place the last week of February and consist off 3,000 legal rainbows each in Bradley Lake, Johnson Mill Pond, Powers Pond and Saunders Lake. The Empire Lakes, which usually get the zone’s first trout plants, will be stockef the first week of March.
Loon Lake will receive 2,000 legal rainbows the first week of March – and 2,000 more the third week of March, during which Lake Marie will also receive 2,000 legal rainbows. There should be plenty of trout still left in the Florence-area lakes from the extensive trout plants made last week.
Idaho’s Cascade Reservoir produced yet another state record yellow perch on February 16th. Lucas Spaete of Boise caught the jumbo perch, which weighed two pounds 11 ounces, measured 15.75-inches and had a girth of 13-inches.
Spaete was using a small jigging spoon and monofilament testing six pounds.
The last several of Idaho’s record perch have come from Cascade Reservoir.
Other exceptional state record fish from Idaho include: flathead catfish (57 lbs. 8 oz. – Brownlee Reservoir;
mackinaw (lake trout) (57 lbs. – Priest Lake);
common carp (archery) 67 lbs. 10.4 oz. – C. J. Strike Reservoir);
landlocked chinook salmon (42 lbs. – Couer dAlene Lake;
tiger musky (44 lbs. 4 oz. – Little Payette Lake Lake;
northern pike (40 lbs. 2 oz. – Lower Twin Lake);
walleye (17 lbs. 14 oz. – Oakley Reservoir;
smallmouth bass (9 lbs. 11.5 oz. – Dworshak Reservoir);
brown trout (27 lbs 5 oz. – Ashton Reservoir);
brook trout (8 lbs 3 oz. – Henry’s Lake);
bull trout (32 lbs. – Pend O’reille Lake);
kamloops rainbow (37 lbs. – Pend Oreille Lake);
rainbow/cutthroat hybrid (34 lbs. 11.8 oz. – American Falls Reservoir);
kokanee (6 lbs. 9.5 oz. – Priest Lake)
On Jan. 29, wildlife officers conducted a fish business inspection on Kwong Yip, Inc. out of San Francisco, and found what appeared to be shark fins for sale on the premises. It is unlawful to possess shark fin for sale in California. They cited the owner, Michael Kwong, age 42, of San Francisco for the violation. As part of the investigation, wildlife officers seized 2,138 lbs. of product believed to be shark fin. Ongoing analysis is required to verify that all of the seized product is actually shark fin.
Fish and Game Code (FGC) 2021, the law that prohibits possession of shark fin for sale, went into effect in 2011, but included a phase in period to allow restaurants and other businesses to sell off remaining stock. As of Jul. 1, 2013, no person may possess shark fin for sale.
Daniel Clayton, of Coos Bay. recently found a small fish along the shoreline of Tenmile Lakes that is difficult to positively identify.
The fish could be a sardine, anchovy, or smelt, but I am leaning towards it being a smelt, since decades ago fair numbers of smelt ascended the Umpqua River in late winter or early spring.
More than four decades ago, in late February, I observed a school of what I thought were smelt in a very shallow section of Tenmile Creek about a mile below Spin Reel Park.
Unfortunately, the small fish were extremely spooky in the shallow water and headed downstream and did not stop until they reached the lagoon near where Tenmile Creek enters the ocean. At that point I lost track of the school.
In recent years, the populations of some fish species have either rebounded or have entered new waters. A few years ago, fair numbers of American shad entered Tenmile and Siltcoos lakes and a few even entered Tahkenitch Lake.
The wayward shad appeared to be misguided adults.
Last year, shiner surfperch, more commonly referred to as “pogies” entered the Siltcoos River all the way up to the small dam located just above tidewater.
Smelt numbers along the Oregon coast and in the lower Columbia River and tributaries have increased significantly in the last two years – increasing the odds of the entering coastal waters they avoided in the past.
What remains to be seen is if enough of these newcomers entered Tenmile (and other lakes) to justify taking a look at some new crankbait finishes.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel at Mad River Hatchery began allowing wild origin steelhead and hatchery origin steelhead to enter the hatchery Feb. 4, to start spawning operations. The hatchery action is based on an amended court-ordered stay, signed by Judge M.M. Chesney, allowing hatchery operations to proceed with conditions agreed to by CDFW and the plaintiff Environmental Protection Information Center.
The court action allows Mad River Hatchery to collect, trap and spawn wild origin steelhead for brood stock for one year. Two of the main conditions of the action were the belief by National Marine Fisheries Service that progress was made on the development of a Hatchery Genetic Management Plan and agreement on the collection of natural origin steelhead trout in the coming year.
“Collection operations went very smoothly today,” said Shad Overton, Mad River Hatchery Manager. “It is critical we include both wild and hatchery origin fish to ensure the best genetic diversity of eggs possible for future releases. Our goal is to release 150,000 yearlings next year.”
Trapping, collection and egg take were delayed due to litigation. Spawning usually starts in January and continues through March. This time window allows the hatchery to spawn returning fish throughout the run. This year’s later start is not expected to affect overall spawning operations.
The second meeting of a new Archery Review Public Advisory Committee (ARPAC) will be Saturday, Feb. 15 at ODFW Headquarters in Salem (4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE) from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
The group was convened to review the structure of archery deer and elk hunts across the state. During the meeting on Feb. 15, ARPAC is expected to discuss antlerless harvest and tag structure (in particular, hunts where archery tags for deer and elk are tied together).
ARPAC members include representatives from ODFW, Oregon State Police, Traditional Archers of Oregon, Oregon Hunters Association, Oregon Bowhunters Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, Professional Bowhunters Society and several non-affiliated, “at-large” bowhunters from around the state.
Members of the public are also welcome to attend the meeting but will be asked to hold their comments until a designated time for public comment during the meeting (4 p.m.). Comments can also be sent to su.ro.etatsnull@stnemmoC.WFDO.
ARPAC is expected to meet again on March 8, also in Salem at ODFW Headquarters. By late spring, ARPAC may bring forth recommendations for changing current archery seasons. Any changes would go through a public process before the Fish and Wildlife Commission and not occur before the 2015 season.
In recent years, more than 31,500 bowhunters have pursued deer and more than 28,000 bowhunters have pursued elk annually in Oregon.
Salem, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking public comment on a request to forego fish screening on a point of diversion on Muddy Creek, a tributary of Goose Lake in Lake County. Comments are due by Feb. 26, 2014.
The water user on Muddy Creek applied for a water right through the Oregon Water Resources Department (application #S-87775) in December 2011. OWRD issued the water right permit (S-54800) in February 2013 with a requirement that the applicant provide screening at the diversion. The applicant has applied to ODFW’s Fish Screening Task Force to be excused from compliance with the screening requirement.
Muddy Creek originates west of Lakeview on the Fremont-Winema National Forest. Historically, the creek flowed unimpeded into Cottonwood Creek and then to Goose Lake. The applicant’s dam has impounded Muddy Creek since 1961, forming Muddy Creek Reservoir (locally known as Juniper Reservoir). The point of diversion for the water right permit is at the outlet of the dam.
In issuing the water permit, OWRD specified “The permittee shall install, maintain, and operate fish screening and by-pass devices consistent with current Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) standards.”
ODFW has completed surveys that show fish presence above and below Muddy Creek Reservoir, said Pete Baki, ODFW Fish Screening Program coordinator. In 1979 ODFW first sampled the reservoir in and captured eight redband trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) (four larger than 17 inches), 1,147 speckled dace, and one pit roach. The Department also documented redband trout and larval lamprey ammocoetes above and below the reservoir in Muddy Creek in 2007. The larval lamprey were likely Goose Lake lamprey (Entosphenus sp.) and Pit-Klamath lamprey (Entosphenus lethophagus) – both endemic to the basin.
The water user may be excused from compliance by the Fish Screening Task Force when it meets Feb. 28, 2014 at the ODFW Headquarters, 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE, Salem, OR 97302-1142.
Members of the public can send written comments to or request additional information from Pete Baki, Statewide Fish Screening Coordinator at the address listed above, email email@example.com, or by calling (503) 947-6217. Comments need to be received by Feb. 26, 2014.
SALEM, Ore. – Anglers who turn in their 2013 combined angling tag and/or hatchery harvest tag before May 16, 2014 could win one of over 100 outdoor products or gift cards from Bi-Mart.
ODFW is sponsoring the promotion to try to increase the number of returned tags. Currently, the department estimates, only about 20 percent of anglers return their combined tags, which are required to fish for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and Pacific halibut.
“We get a lot of important harvest information from harvest tags,” said John Seabourne, operations manager for the ODFW Fish Division.
The information is used to determine harvest rates and effort rates in Oregon’s salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and halibut fisheries. The information is also posted on the ODFW website where anglers can check the harvest rates in their favorite water bodies.
Anglers who return their tags by the May 16 deadline will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win prizes that include Bi-Mart gift cards and Okuma rod and reel combos.
Completed tags can be returned in person to any ODFW office or license agent. Anglers many also mail their tags to ODFW Tag Returns, 4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. SE, Salem, Ore. 97302.
WDFW lists proposed razor clam digs
on ocean beaches through April
OLYMPIA – Clam diggers looking forward to the next razor clam dig on Washington beaches now have two more months of possible options to consider.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has released a list of proposed digs in March and April, adding to one previously announced for Feb. 26-28.
None of those digs has yet received final approval, but the list will allow diggers to start planning their next trip to the beach, said Dan Ayres, WDFW shellfish manager.
“We expect to add some digs at Mocrocks and Copalis in April, but we need to measure harvest levels next month before we can do that,” Ayres said. “As usual, we’ll give the final word on all of the scheduled digs once we receive the results of upcoming marine toxin tests.”
Ayres also noted that the seasonal shift from evening tides to morning tides will occur March 30, four days into a proposed six-day dig.
“That’s another reason to announce these tentative digging dates as soon as possible, he said. “The last thing we want to do is take people by surprise.”
Proposed digs are tentatively scheduled on the following dates, beaches and low tides:
Feb. 26, Wednesday, 4:15 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors
Feb. 27, Thursday, 5:04 p.m.; -0.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks
Feb. 28, Friday, 5:49 p.m.; -0.8 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks
March 1, Saturday, 6:32 p.m.; -0.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks, Copalis
March 2, Sunday, 7:13 p.m.; -0.3 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks
March 3, Monday, 7:53 p.m.; +0.3 feet; Twin Harbors
March 26, Wednesday, 3:52 p.m.; 0.3 feet; Twin Harbors
March 27, Thursday, 4:48 p.m.; 0.1 feet; Twin Harbors
March 28, Friday, 5:38 p.m.; 0.0 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks
March 29, Saturday, 6:23 p.m.; 0.0 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks
Seasonal switch to morning tides
March 30, Sunday, 6:53 a.m.; -0.1 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks
March 31, Monday, 7:39 a.m.; -0.5 feet; Twin Harbors
April 1, Tuesday, 8:22 a.m.; -0.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach
April 2, Wednesday, 9:05 a.m.; -0.6 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach
April 3, Thursday, 9:49 a.m.; -0.3 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach
April 14, Monday, 6:46 a.m.; +0.2 feet; Twin Harbors
April 15, Tuesday, 7:24 a.m.; -0.3 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach
April 16, Wednesday, 8:03 a.m.; -0.6 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach
April 17, Thursday, 8:43 a.m.; -0.8 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach
April 18, Friday, 9:26 a.m.; -0.8 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach,
April 19, Saturday, 10:14 a.m.; -0.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach
April 20, Sunday, 11:06 a.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach
Ayres noted that the 2nd Annual Long Beach Razor Clam Festival will be held April 19-20. Informational is available at http://longbeachrazorclamfestival.com/ .
Under state law, diggers can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.
All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2013-14 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.
For updates on upcoming digs, see WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html .