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Contact Pete Heley
PO Box 264
Reedsport, OR 97467
Monthly Archives: June 2016
Have you ever felt the excitement of catching a fish? This summer, angling novices can experience the thrill for free. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites all Californians to fish on July 2 and Sept. 3 – no fishing license required. If you would like to fish the rest of the year, you can purchase a license online through CDFW’s website.
“Free Fishing Day is always great opportunity to try an all-American pastime that is one of my favorites,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “If you’re already an experienced angler, I encourage you to invite a friend, relative or neighbor who’s never tried it or who wants more experience.”
A basic annual resident sport fishing license in California currently costs $47.01, but CDFW offers two Free Fishing Days each year – usually around the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend – when it’s legal to fish without one. This year, the first of the two Free Fishing Days falls on the Saturday of Independence Day weekend.
All fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. Every angler must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems.
Anglers can review the sport fishing regulations online (www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations) or use CDFW’s mobile web site to view limits and regulations specific to a body of water (https://map.dfg.ca.gov/sportfishingregs/).
Now that the coastal streams are open to fishing, some anglers may want to do a float trip to catch bass or trout. In past columns, I have hyped floating the Siltcoos River and Tenmile Creek. While Siltcoos River remains an easy, little-fished float, Tenmile Creek no longer is.
Log jams have been reported on Tenmile Creek for the last few seasons, but have proven relatively easy to deal with. However the one I encountered last Thursday was different. There was no way around it and the adjacent shorelines were brushy. My fishing partner, Dwayne Schwartz, decided to paddle upstream back to where we began the float beneath the bridge over Tenmile Creek on Hilltop Drive – a distance of about one and a half miles.
Meanwhile, I managed to get on top of one of the logs, lift my polyethylene float over the log and then walk on the log until I was able to jump towards shore without going over my chest waders. However, in doing so I did manage to get some water into my waders and break one of my swimfins. Fortunately, the fin was still usable and I was able to continue my float downstream as the additional log jams I encountered were in water shallow enough to step over .
Guilt concerning Dwayne having to paddle all the way back upstream kept me from fishing as I hurried downstream. The distance from the difficult log jam down to the takeout at the bridge on Old Highway 101 was about three miles with lots of relatively shallow, faster-moving water that seemed to attract both trout and bass. Although I wasn’t fishing, I did see fair numbers of decent-sized bass and trout and the water downstream of the problematic log jam was easily the “fishiest-looking water of the entire float.
The heaviest largemouth we landed above the log jam weighed about three pounds, but I observed several bass that big or larger as I hurried through the bottom portion of my float. The trout seemed to run from 11 to 14-inches and the yellow perch seemed to top out at about eight to nine inches. We caught no bluegills, crappies or brown bullheads. But the water looked so “fishy” that I know that I will be back – log jam or no log jam.
Still on an exploring kick, I explored a small, quite shallow body of water adjacent to the Trans-Pacific Highway just north of North Bend near the North Coast Overlook. The reason that I decided to fish this particular water was that I had actually seen a largemouth bass in it – a ten incher . However before I actually fished it, a quick peek over the bank where the walkway meets the parking lot revealed several good-sized bluegills and a solitary bass. I walked to the bottom of the walkway and launched my “River Rat” amid heavy weeds only to discover a small beaver dam separated me from the spot where I had spotted the fish
The only option was to get out in the same spot I launched and go to the top of the walkway and slide myself and the “River Rat” down a steep bank into the pond near the fish and hope I didn’t spook
Hookups on my first two casts with a crappie lure convinced me that I hadn’t yet spooked the fish. The first cast resulted in a hookup with a bluegill that appeared to be about eight inches long. It got off, but my next cast got another bluegill stike which I managed to land. At slightly more than 9.5-inches in length, it was the largest bluegill I have landed in the last five years.
The much fishier-looking water farther above the dam resulted in several more strikes from bluegills and smallish largemouth bass. While catching the jumbo bluegill was enough, by itself, for me to consider the short outing a success, it also made me wonder about the fishing potential of several, more substantial bodies of water that are on the right side of the Trans-Pacific Highway as I drive towards the pond adjacent to the overlook.
The spawning run of redtailed surfperch aka “pinkfins” is still going on in the Umpqua River near Winchester Bay. Every day, a few boats get their boat limits, while most anglers struggle to get a few fish. But the fishery is a popular one with numerous boats trying for them each day. The run should last through July with the fishing becoming increasingly inconsistent as the run winds down.
The spring all-depth halibut fishery for the central Oregon coast is over and the summer all-depth season will be Fridays and Saturdays starting August 5th. The near shore halibut season for waters inside 240 feet deep has been open seven days a week since June 1st. Virtually all of the halibut anglers that fished the final spring all-depth opener caught tuna while trolling back to port. Tuna were caught within 20 miles of Winchester Bay with most of the fish about 30 miles out. Tuna were even closer for anglers fishing out of Charlston.
The ocean season for finclipped coho salmon opened last Saturday with a whimper. According to a fish checker at Winchester Bay, one boat that landed a couple of finclipped cohos on Saturday, did not realize they were legal and threw them back. Chinook salmon are still too deep to be targeted effectively by sport anglers.
Crabbing out of Winchester Bay has been fair at Half Moon Bay and in the ocean but the crabbing in the Umpqua River suffers a major drop off above Half Moon Bay.
There should be fishable numbers of shad in the Umpqua for a couple more weeks, but the fishery is definitely waning. Smallmouth bass fishing is very good above tidewater on the Umpqua and should continue to improve through Labor Day.
Since there haven’t been any recent trout plants, the better trout fishing spots are the larger lakes or streams that have native or carryover fish.
Starting July 1, 2016, nonlead shot will be required when taking upland game birds with a shotgun in California, except for dove, quail, snipe, and any game birds taken at licensed game bird clubs. In addition, nonlead shot will be required when using a shotgun to take resident small game mammals, furbearing mammals, nongame mammals, nongame birds and any wildlife for depredation purposes.
Existing restrictions on the use of lead ammunition in the California condor range, when taking Nelson bighorn sheep and when hunting on all California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wildlife areas and ecological reserves remain in effect.
The next phase of the implementation goes into effect July 1, 2019, when hunters must use nonlead ammunition when taking any animal anywhere in the state for any purpose. There are no restrictions on the use of lead ammunition for target shooting purposes.
Nonlead ammunition for some firearm calibers may be in short supply so hunters should plan accordingly. Hunters are encouraged to practice shooting nonlead ammunition to make sure firearms are sighted-in properly and shoot accurately with nonlead ammunition.
In October 2013, Assembly Bill 711 was signed into law requiring the phase-out of lead ammunition for hunting anywhere in the state by July 1, 2019. The law also required an implementation plan designed to impose the least burden on California’s hunters while adhering to the intent of the law.
In order to determine what was least disruptive to hunters, CDFW coordinated question and answer sessions at sportsmen’s shows, held meetings with hunting organizations, and hosted a series of eight public workshops throughout the state. Incorporating the public input from these workshops, CDFW then presented draft regulations to the Fish and Game Commission.
In April 2015, the Fish and Game Commission adopted CDFW’s proposed regulations and implementation plan.
More information on the phase-out of lead ammunition for hunting in California can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/nonlead-ammunition.
Anglers can reel in salmon off the Washington coast beginning July 1, when the ocean sport fishery gets underway daily in all four marine areas.
This year’s sport fishing opportunities are mostly focused on chinook salmon, which are forecast to return at a rate slightly above the 10-year average, said Wendy Beeghley, an ocean salmon manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Anglers can fish for chinook in all four marine areas.
“We expect a pretty good chinook fishery in the ocean this summer,” Beeghley said. “However, we’ve put restrictions in place in an effort to protect coho, which are forecast to return in low numbers.”
Only Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) will be open for coho retention. Fishery managers have attributed the low number of returning coho to poor ocean conditions last year.
This year’s 18,900 coho quota is a significant reduction from the 150,800 fish quota in 2015 and the lowest coho quota since 1998. The recreational chinook catch quota this year is 35,000 fish, down from 64,000 in 2015.
Marine Area 1 is scheduled to close Aug. 31 while marine areas 2 (Westport), 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) are scheduled to close Aug. 21. Fisheries may close sooner than scheduled if the quota is met. Throughout the summer, anglers can check WDFW’s webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/ for updates on the ocean fishery.
In Marine Area 1, anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon, only one of which can be a chinook. Anglers fishing in Marine Area 2 can retain one salmon daily. In marine areas 3 and 4, anglers will have a two-salmon daily limit. Anglers will be required to release all coho salmon in marine areas 2, 3 and 4, but can keep hatchery coho in Marine Area 1.
Additional information on fishing regulations can be found in Washington’s Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/
The current water level on Potholes Reservoir is dropping rapidly. The highest water level this year was 1045.06, currently pool height level is 1042.70. As the water level lowers, fishing improves.
Bass fishing has been good for, largemouth in the sand dunes and smallmouth near Goose Island and along the face of O’Sullivan Dam. Many of our smallmouth are under fourteen inches. The WDFW have established a perfect limit for smallmouth on Potholes. Ten fish each day may be taken but only one smallmouth over 14 inches may be retained. We have too many smallmouth from 6 to 12 inches, take some home for dinner, so they don’t stunt their population. Our family releases all Largemouth to “swim away and catch them again on another day”.
Crappie continue to produce at the MarDon fishing dock. Also rainbow trout, perch, bluegill, bass, walleye, catfish and even some carp are being reported at the dock. This past week rainbow have been amazing trolling on the face of the sand dunes, using Rapala’s and Berkley Flicker Shads.
Walleye action in Crab Creek has been producing better walleye this week. Find a piece of brush or willow 4-6 ft. deep that drop into the main crab creek channel of 10’ to 30’ depth. That’s been the method this past week. Fisher Brothers and Mack’s Lure rigs with night crawlers have been the ticket.
Recreational Halibut Update
Central Oregon Coast Spring All-Depth Closed
Columbia River Subarea
All-Depth and Nearshore—closed for the remainder of 2016. The entire subarea quota has been caught.
Central Oregon Coast Subarea
Spring All-Depth season— after an additional two-day opener, the total landings are 132,097 pounds; 23,983 pounds landed this last week. This is 2,059 pounds over the spring allocation. Therefore, there will be no additional Spring All-Depth back-up dates. The Spring All-Depth fishery is closed for the remainder of 2016.
The success rate for anglers once again varied by port, with a coast-wide average of 60%. Anglers out of Garibaldi had the lowest success rates (20%), while anglers out of Charleston (70%) had the highest. Average size of fish landed last week was approximately 25 pounds round weight. For the spring all-depth fishery this year, the average size was approximately 24 pounds round weight, which is roughly the same as in 2015.
Summer All-Depth Season—opens August 5-6. If quota remains after those dates, the summer all-depth season can be open every other Friday and Saturday. Quota = 49,544 pounds.
Nearshore Season— opened June 1, seven days per week. There has been 3,644 pounds landed so far. This leaves 21,125 (85%) of the quota remaining. The average weight of fish landed last week was approximately 25 pounds round weight.
South of Humbug Mountain subarea—there has been a total of 956 pounds landed. This leaves 7,649 pounds (89 %) of the quota remaining. The average size of landed fish so far this season has been approximately 28 pounds round weight.
Spring halibut season is over for the central Oregon coast subarea and many anglers that fished the first(and last) provisional spring opener last Friday and Saturday took advantage of warm water and good ocean conditions to troll successfully for tuna on the way back to port after halibut fishing. Lots of tuna were caught with the best results occurring south of Winchester Bay and especially west of Charleston – with many tuna taken only 20 miles offshore. Lots of different lures caught fish, but the “Mexican Flag” color pattern seemed to be especially effective. This year’s tuna season is looking especially promising.
The Umpqua River pinkfin fishery is still going strong and should last through the month of July, but last weekend cooperative fish were tough to find. One angler said he finally found the perch – in the fifteenth spot he fished.
Here’s a few ways to increase your chances when pursuing these spawning pinkfins. (1) – When first anchoring at a spot, cast to the sides of your boat rather than dropping your baits over the side – because the perch won’t be directly beneath your boat – at least not for several minutes. (2) – Avoid fishing near groups of boats that are not catching perch. They are basically telling you where the fish aren’t – although in rare instances the boats may have enough bait in the water to chum the perch in. (3) – The perch are in almost constant movement and usually when you are catching perch and the bite stops, it’s because the perch have moved, rather than quit biting. – and they usually move in the same direction as the tide is flowing. (4) The perch tend to bite best when there is noticeable tidal current, but fishing in the early morning offers two advantages in that boat traffic has not yet spooked the perch and the wind is not yet a factor.
Some striped bass are being caught on Smith River and striper carcasses were left in the dumpster at the fish cleaning station at Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin last week. Don’t expect much striper talk as these anglers tend to be a secretive lot.
Anglers casting spinners from the bank at Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point are still catching a few salmon each week and and fishing success should improve over the next several weeks.
The ocean finclipped coho salmon season opens Saturday with a quota of 26,000 fish. If the Chinook salmon move closer to the surface and become reachable by sport anglers – the ocean salmon fishing could be good. Some Chinook salmon will begin entering the lower Umpqua River on their spawning run in early July.
Crabbing at Winchester Bay continues to improve with ocean crabbers enjoying the best success, but crabbing at Half Moon Bay is also productive. Crabs are becoming a nuisance to flounder anglers fishing near the RV park in Winchester Bay. Some anglers have discovered that the crab problem can be minimized by slowly, but constantly moving their flounder-intended baits across the bottom.
I recently read an interesting article in the USA Today newspaper that stated that the annual summertime low-oxygen area in Maryland’s Cheasapeak Bay would be normal-sized this year. I thought that sounded pretty good in an era of ever-increasing air and water temperatures – until the last part of the article went on to state that this year’s low-oxygen area would have the same water volume as it would take to fill 2.3 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.
TILLMOOK, Ore. – Cape Meares Lake is being lowered to facilitate repairs to a dam in the southeast corner of the lake.
Cape Meares Lake is located approximately seven miles northwest of Tillamook and is a popular fishery for trout, bass, and surplus hatchery steelhead.
ODFW recently began lowering the lake. The lake will continue to drop until it stabilizes at a point where the dam repair work area can be isolated. Repairs are scheduled to begin in late summer. The intention is to draw down the lake the minimum amount necessary to accomplish the work site isolation, although it is unknown how low that may be, according to Robert Bradley, ODFW district fish biologist.
Anglers and boaters will likely experience reduced access to the boat ramp, reduced shoreline and surface area until the project is completed in the fall.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking for public comment on the Oregon Forage Fish Management Plan, which will establish protections for forage fish through new fishing regulations, and guide resource management decisions.
Forage fish are small, schooling fish which serve as an important source of food for other fish species, birds and marine mammals. There are forage fish species that are currently tracked and managed individually, such as sardine, herring and mackerel; in some years, these species are caught in large numbers.
In contrast, the Forage Fish Management Plan applies to a grouping of forage fish species that are not currently caught in significant numbers, such as sand lance, smelt, and squid. These species are caught in commercial and recreational fisheries.
“The Oregon Forage Fish Management Plan is designed to allow our existing fisheries to thrive while preventing new forage fish fisheries from forming without thorough consideration and review,” said Dr. Caren Braby, Marine Resources Program Manager.
A federal forage fish plan and regulations for fisheries occurring in federal waters (more than 3 miles offshore) were established by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service in May. The Oregon Forage Fish Management Plan extends forage fish protections into state waters. While largely consistent with the federal strategy, the state plan provides a unique management approach in Oregon waters, according to Dr. Braby.
“This plan will link Oregon’s waters with federal offshore waters, making regulations and management priorities consistent and continuous, stitching together protections of the marine food web along the entire West Coast.”
The plan, once adopted, will achieve the following management goals:
Support existing ecosystem resilience and reliance on forage fish
Do not constrain existing fisheries
Support sustainability of existing fisheries, relative to the reliance on forage fish prey
Collect data to inform tracking and monitoring of forage fish catch in Oregon fisheries
Use an ecosystem based approach to managing forage fish, rather than a single species approach
Use a precautionary, conservative approach to fisheries management
The Oregon regulations are in development and will be proposed for adoption by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission at the September 2016 meeting, with regulations effective January 1, 2017. In preparation, ODFW is accepting public input on these management changes, including an open public comment period on the Oregon Forage Fish Management Plan through July 13, 2016. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To download a copy of the draft plan, go to: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/mrp/ffmp.asp or call (541) 867-4741
This past week walleye action on the Potholes Reservoir is vastly improving. Our two experienced guides Shelby Ross and Nathan LaFrance have been providing some memorable guided walleye trips on the reservoir. When I last visited with the guides they were finishing their limits in under two and a half hours. That is very uncommon! Many other walleye enthusiasts are doing much better now too. Daryl and Jo Keeney trolled Crab Creek from the south to reach the area above Crab Creek boat launch, by the time Daryl reached the crab creek launch he had already limited. At the MarDon fish cleaning station we are seeing more walleye limits daily.
Bass fishing on Potholes Reservoir has been very good. Last Sunday night my son, grandson and myself caught and released over 40 bass and one walleye on a square bill KVD strike king plug in bluegill and neon bluegill. (We like our square bill).
Our water has cooled down and top water was active for us. Hang on, next week we return to 90-degree daytime temperatures. Than it will be back to our old guide Skip Davis favorite time of the year (Cardiac Fishing) or TOP WATER.
Many walleye trollers are reporting more perch, brown bullhead catfish and one 12-inch Channel Catfish on spinners and worms. Trout continue to show at the mouth of Crab Creek.
The water level on Potholes Reservoir is about two feet below high water and lower water means better catching for all. The MarDon dock has been showing trout on power bait to 4lbs, more perch, a few bluegills, bass and some fine crappie.
Come to the MarDon Tackle shop and ask about a great new crappie lure called an “Electric Chicken”.
WDFW has organized a tagged Trout Derby. This is a statewide event. Grant County lakes participation are Corral Lake, just south of MarDon and Vic Meyer Lake in the Sun Lakes area. Between the two lakes there are 25 tagged trout. The dates for this event are April 23, 2016 – September 6, 2016. Catch a derby tagged fish, then call 360-902-2464 and collect your prize. You must have a valid 2016 Annual freshwater or combination fishing license. Children 14 years of age and under do not require a license.