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Contact Pete Heley
PO Box 264
Reedsport, OR 97467
Monthly Archives: November 2015
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is offering anglers opportunities for tight lines rather than long lines on the day after Thanksgiving.
The “holiday specials” include thousands of large trout averaging 15 to 16 inches in length and weighing 1-1/4 pounds.
The Department is currently preparing to stock lakes in southwest and western Washington in time for Black Friday, Nov. 27. In eastern Washington, thousands of smaller trout stocked in lakes last year should have grown to catchable size.
“In response to high interest in last year’s Black Friday stocking efforts in southwest Washington, we have expanded the program to include lakes in the Puget Sound region and in eastern Washington,” said Larry Phillips, WDFW inland fish program manager. “This is a great opportunity to skip the malls, avoid the stress, and enjoy a fun day on the water with family and friends.”
The six southwest lakes scheduled to receive fish before Black Friday include:
Battleground Lake and Klineline Pond in Clark County
Kress Lake in Cowlitz County
Rowland Lake in Klickitat County
Fort Borst Park Pond and South Lewis County Park Pond in Lewis County
All those lakes will be closed to fishing Nov. 23-26 to facilitate stocking efforts.
Other lakes stocked in preparation for Black Friday on the west side of the state include Spencer Lake in Mason County; American and Ohop lakes in Pierce County; and Offutt and Long lakes in Thurston County.
On the eastside, WDFW began stocking lakes with fry plants last year, which should mean hefty fish in Williams and Hatch lakes in Stevens County, Fourth of July Lake in Lincoln and Adams counties, and Hog Canyon Lake in Spokane County. Each of these eastside lakes will open Nov. 27 and remain open through March 31, 2016.
The Black Friday fishing opener is one of several fishing opportunities made available this fall thanks to the department’s extensive fish stocking efforts, said Phillips. In total, WDFW has been stocking western Washington lakes with some 125,000 catchable trout during the fall and winter seasons.
For up-to-date stocking information this fall, anglers should follow the department on Twitter or Facebook, accessible from http://wdfw.wa.gov, or see the department’s weekly catchable trout stocking report at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/.
Anglers 15 years and older must have a current Washington freshwater fishing license valid through March 31, 2016, to participate.
Last fall, my friend Dwayne Schultz encountered a number of bass anglers who enjoyed very good bassfishing using spinnerbaits on Siltcoos Lake during the Lake’s coho run.
So this year, Dwayne fished buzzbaits on Siltcoos clear through October with good success and spinnerbaits with equal success well into November. He hooked bass to more than five pounds on buzzbaits during the last week in October.
I fished Siltcoos with Dwayne during the first week of November and spinnerbaits were the most productive lure with most of the strikes being rather mild with many fish coming off before reaching the boat. We landed nearly a dozen bass to nearly three pounds and definitely had more action than any of the lake’s numerous coho anglers.
State shellfish managers closed the recreational crab fisheries inside Willapa Bay effective immediately due to elevated marine toxin levels.
The rest of Washington’s coastal areas, including Grays Harbor, remain open for sport crab fishing, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
“Test results indicate crabs elsewhere on the coast are safe to eat,” Ayres said. “We’ll continue monitoring for marine toxins in Willapa Bay and elsewhere along the coast.”
The department announced the closure in Willapa Bay after routine testing showed domoic acid levels in crab exceeded the threshold (30 parts per million) established by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). Domoic acid levels in Willapa Bay crabs collected Nov. 4 were as high as 54 parts per million, Ayres said.
Domoic acid has posed a problem for shellfish fisheries this year along Washington’s coast. Elevated marine toxin levels prompted WDFW to close recreational and commercial crab fisheries on the coast for a portion of the summer season.
WDFW also curtailed razor clam digging this spring on coastal beaches and has not scheduled digs this fall due to elevated domoic acid levels.
Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. Cooking or freezing does not destroy domoic acid in shellfish.
Regular testing of shellfish species found in Willapa Bay – including oysters, hard-shell clams and mussels – shows those shellfish remain safe to eat.
As usual, the use of crab pots is prohibited on the coast through Nov. 30, except in the Columbia River estuary, where pots are allowed year-round, Ayres said. Elsewhere along the coast, crabbers can use other gear, such as ring nets.
Harvesters should check for closures on DOH’s shellfish safety webpage at https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/eh/maps/biotoxin/biotoxin.html.
More information about domoic acid can be found on WDFW’s webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/domoic_acid.html.
A special license plate featuring a steelhead – the official state fish of Washington – could be an option for vehicle owners if a proposal for the new plate is approved by the state Legislature.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is proposing the plate to generate revenue that would be used to help support activities critical to conserving populations of native steelhead.
In much of Washington, native steelhead are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. WDFW is currently taking several actions to restore those populations to sustainable levels, including measures that guide fisheries management, hatchery operations and habitat-restoration programs.
Before the state Legislature can consider the proposal, state law requires WDFW to show that people intend to purchase at least 3,500 plates, which would be available for cars, motorcycles and trailers.
“This is a great opportunity for people to show their appreciation for Washington’s native steelhead and to support efforts to help conserve these iconic fish,” said Kelly Cunningham, deputy assistant director of WDFW’s Fish Program.
People interested in purchasing steelhead plates can submit a signature and indicate the number of plates they would likely purchase on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/license_plates/steelhead/. The website includes additional information on the proposal, as well as an image of the plate.
Submitting a signature is not an obligation to buy a plate.
Currently, the initial price of special wildlife-themed background plates ranges from $54 to $72 depending on the vehicle, in addition to the regular license fees. For more information, visit the Washington State Department of Licensing website at http://www.dol.wa.gov/.
The Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today enacted an emergency rulemaking to delay the opener of the commercial Dungeness crab season, which was scheduled to open on Nov. 15, and close the commercial rock crab fishery, which is open year round. The closure could take effect as early as today.
“Crab is an important part of California’s culture and economy, and I did not make this decision lightly,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “But doing everything we can to limit the risk to public health has to take precedence.”
The emergency rule prohibits commercial take and possession of Dungeness crab and all rock crab from ocean waters, including bays and estuaries, north of the Ventura/Santa Barbara county line. Closure of the fisheries shall remain in effect until the Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with the Director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fisheries be open, and the Director of CDFW provides notification to the commercial fisheries.
This decision follows a health advisory issued by CDPH on Tuesday. OEHHA followed that with a recommendation for delays and closures. In similar action, on Thursday, Nov. 5, the Fish and Game Commission voted to delay the recreational Dungeness crab opener and close the recreational rock crab fishery. The recreational Dungeness crab season was scheduled to start Saturday, Nov. 7.
CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in crab along the coast to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened. Once levels drop and the crab are safe, CDFW will coordinate with the Commission so that the season openers for Dungeness crab ensure an orderly fishery balancing recreational and commercial participation.
CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September and results from the most recent tests showed that the health risk to humans is significant. Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and can in some cases be fatal.
Domoic acid is produced from some species of the marine diatom Pseudo-nitzschia. Currently, a massive toxic bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia has developed, significantly impacting marine life along California’s coast. State scientists tested crab from nine ports from Santa Barbara to Crescent City, and determined that domoic acid levels are exceeding the state’s action level.
Algal blooms are common, but this one is particularly large and persistent. Warmer ocean water temperatures due to the El Niño event California is experiencing are likely the cause of the size and persistence of this bloom.
Walleye fishing is still great on Pothoels Reservoir. Your best bet is to troll spinners and crawlers. Troll a Rapala Shad Rap or a Berkley Flicker Shad. People are also blade bait fishing as well. Bass action on the face of O’Sullivan Dam continues to show some nice largemouth bass up to 5 pounds and smallmouth up to 4 pounds. Fishers Trolling are reporting bullheads over 2 pounds on spinners and crawlers. Big Channel Catfish are surprising both boaters and bank fishers. The biggest Channel reported this week was a Frenchman’s Wasteway 12 pounder. The MarDon Dock has perked up for crappie anglers. Bass, Bluegil, Perch and a few Walleye are showing off the dock as well.
Waterfowl hunters are enjoying a fast early morning shoot on Frenchman’s Wasteway as well as the sand dunes on Potholes Reservoir. Goose hunting is picking up as well. New birds are moving into the area on a weekly basis and with a large food source and lots of open water they will stay here until that changes. So Don’t let November slip by, get out and get hunting!
Ocean salmon fishing is now completely closed, even for Chinook salmon. Chinook salmon and finclipped coho salmon are still legal to keep in most of the larger rivers in our area. Winter steelhead usually start showing up in most area streams around the first of December, but the Umpqua river run of winter steelhead start showing up about the first week in November. There are undoubtedly some winter steelhead in the Umpqua by the time you read this column, but these early run steelhead seldom enter the catch below Family Camp and are usually taken while plunking with fairly heavy sinkers and sand shrimp, salmon roe or Spin-N- Glos during periods of high muddy water. Some of the best early season fishing takes place between Family Camp and Sawyers Rapids during high muddy water.
When there fair numbers of steelhead in the Umpqua River and the water is not too muddy, some anglers enjoy great success backtrolling plugs back and forth across pool tailouts. Some of the favorite plugs for this technique include Wee Warts, Tadpollies and Hot Shots. Some of the river’s fishing guides use side planers with their plugs to avoid having their boat spook fish in shallow or clear water.
Local steelhead spots for Reedsport-area residents would include Tenmile Creek which should start receiving steelhead in early December and Eel Creek which opens for steelhead fishing on January 1st. Both of these streams will have fair numbers of late-run coho salmon in them that steelhead anglers will have to deal with, but the cohos are illegal to keep or even target.
Die hard salmon anglers might want to consider Siltcoos Lake and the upper portion of the outlet stream which should hold fair numbers of coho salmon by the time you are reading this. If last weekend’s rainfall continues into this week, coho may begin entering Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes.
Bass anglers reported very good bassfishing on Siltcoos Lake over last weekend with bass weighing up to at least five pounds hitting spinnerbaits and buzzbaits.
In the meantime, some very good panfishing has been going on. A visit to a lower Umpqua River slough, resulted in white crappies and yellow perch to nearly 11-inches. A one hour visit to South Tenmile Lake resulted in a yellow perch on virtually every cast with the several largest measuring between nine and ten and a half inches The area fished was “Mulkey Beach” (between the County Park and Osprey Point and the lure used was a small white curlytail grum on a microlight jighead. Of course worms and small pieces of perch meat will work equally well. The first cast off fhe fishing dock (Dock #4) at the County Park resulted in a rather small black crappie – a rare catch from Tenmile the last few years.
Until the yellow perch actually spawn late this winter, the fishing should continue to be very good with an increasing chance at jumbo perch as spawning time approaches.
The most recent trout plant took place last week at Bradley Lake (south of Bandon) which received 800 16-inch rainbow trout. Since Bradley is only 30 acres in size, these trout should not be hard to find.
As the salmon run on the Umpqua slowly tapers off, there are still areas that continue to produce. The bankfishing spots at Winchester Bay and Gardiner are still giving up some keepable fish (Chinook salmon and finclipped coho salmon. For the shore anglers that are tired of throwing spinners, there is the “mudhole” at the mouth of Winchester Creek. It hasn’t been a good year, so far, at the mudhole, but it will produce finclipped Chinooks through November with some anglers catching their salmon on bait and bobber rigs using either sand shrimp or salmon roe. These same baits are also accounting for some Chinook salmon for anglers fishing Smith River.
Many salmon anglers have moved south to the Coos and Coquille rivers which usually get their salmon several weeks later than does the Umpqua River. Recently, the Coos has been offering more consistent salmon fishing. Salmon fishing in the ocean for Chinook salmon will close one hour after sunset on Saturday, October 31st. But a few Chinooks will still be entering rivers such as the Umpqua, Coos and Coquille until at least mid-November – but in ever decreasing numbers.
Depending upon how substantial the rain turns out to be that is falling as I write this column on Sunday afternoon, there could be fair numbers of coho salmon in Siltcoos Lake and the legal to fish portion of the Siltcoos River by the end of the month. There should also be some eight foot plus high tides the last week of October which should get some salmon into the Siltcoos River and once in the river its a relatively easy upstream migration into the lake. It’s going to take a lot of rain to get salmon into Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes.
In years past, many of Siltcoos Lake’s jumbo rainbow trout have fallen to plugs and spinners intended for salmon. Last year, according to Dwayne Swartz, one of the area’s most accomplished tournament bass anglers, the largemouth bass in Siltcoos Lake went on a major bite when the coho salmon were in the lake.
I got a chance to fish a couple of overlooked small lakes this last week. They contain very few decent-sized fish, but are still fun to fish with ultralight tackle. Hall Lake produced about 15 small largemouth bass on a Rapala-type lure cast from shore with the two largest weighing about a pound each. Butterfield Lake was tougher. It seems that the ODFW made a heavy plant of fingerling rainbows in the largest (east) section of the lake and these 4-5-inch fish were a complete nuisance. They will definitely effect the lake’s panfish populations as they will be competing directly with the lake’s bluegills, crappies and smaller largemouth bass. As of last week, it seemed that birds and mammals have yet to discover the lake’s new forage base and falling water temperatures will keep bass from preying on the smolts effectively. However it will be late next summer, at the earliest, before these trout grow large enough to become legal angling fare.
I used to fish the sand dunes lakes quite often for bass and panfish, but the more shallow lakes that were located between Hauser and North Bend often suffered from water level problems and sometimes would almost completely dry up.
Last week I checked out a very small pond located near Coos Bay’s North Spit Boat Ramp and was pleasantly surprised to see that it had two or three foot of water and actually looked quite “fishy”. Better yet, I actually saw an apparently healthy ten inch largemouth bass swimming around and made a mental note to fish the pond at a future date.
It seems that the water table in that area is far healthier than it was when the paper mill was operating and the area’s shallow lakes quite possibly retained their fish popularions far better than I would have believed. I plan to have a much better idea of the area’s “fishability” by next spring. But for now, much of the shallow freshwater in this area that I had previously assumed could not support fish for the entire year are now potential fishing spots.
On the downside, unsigned “no trespassing signs” have made access to Beale Lake virtually impossible without a 4-wheel drive vehicle.