Monthly Archives: June 2016

Pete Heley Outdoors 6 / 15 /2016

The hottest fishery continues to be for surfperch in the lower Umpqua River. More than any year in recent memory, this year a 15 perch limit comprised of three different species is achievable. Redtailed surfperch or “pinkfins” are biting well between Gardiner and Half Moon Bay and surprisingly, fair numbers of pile perch have been caught above Winchester Bay, as well. Anglers fishing the South Jetty are also catching fair numbers of striped surfperch.

Although sand shrimp remains the most popular bait, Berkeley Gulp sandworms is a popular artificial bait and last week fair numbers of pinkfins were caught by anglers using the same pink curlytail grubs they normally use to catch shad. The pinkfin run should last through July and into early August.

Umpqua River shad fishing is still going well and should remain productive into early July. Most of the shad have moved upriver of Sawyers Rapids. but as the river level continues to drop, late-arriving shad will start stacking up below the rapids. Suspended moss is affecting all Umpqua River fisheries and sometimes making shorter casts can lessen the problem.

Smallmouth bass are now common in the mainstem of the Coquille River, a considerable distance up the South Fork Coquille and into the lower reaches of all the river’s forks. As the river warms up, the smallmouth fishing continues to improve – but the fishing for striped bass gets tougher and the top time seems to be at dawn, or slightly before.

The Umpqua River, above tidewater still offers the best smallmouth fishing numberswise, but it does seem easier to catch smallies weighing more than a pound on the Coquille.

Loon Lake continues to offer the area’s best bluegill fishing – especially to fly anglers. They are abundant along the lake’s entire shoreline, but the best fishing is usually in the upper half of the lake. Loon Lake’s crappies have been tough to find in recent weeks.

While on the subject of Loon Lake, I would like to point out that it is absolutely ridiculous that the entire Mill Creek outlet is closed to all fishing the entire year. Years ago, there was some anglers snagging salmon and steelhead in the lower reaches above the Umpqua River. But the resulting closure covers the entire stream including water well above the reach of any spawning salmon or steelhead.

The short stretch of Mill Creek between the lake and the bridge on Mill Creek Road has a healthy population of largemouth bass which are currently not available to be legally fished for. Since a few of these bass inevitably drop down Mill Creek far enough to actually feed on salmon, steelhead and trout fry – it seems that closing Mill Creek in its entirety is not the best solution to protect the stream’s salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout.

A similar situation exists on the North Umpqua above Soda Springs Dam which has been closed since a fish ladder was installed which allowed steelhead and some salmon to reach portions of the river above the dam. The closure was to keep anglers from hooking the salmon and steelhead smolts – but it also protects the river’s healthy population of brown trout and a few rainbows that are large enough to feed on the juvenile salmonids as they migrate down river.

While I’m on a good rant, I would like to bring up Reynolds Pond near the community of Alfalfa in central Oregon. This 20 acre pond once had a healthy population of redear sunfish in addition to a fair population of largemouth bass. The pond used to produce a surprising number of good-sized redears and still holds the state record with a redear that weighed a half-ounce shy of two pounds. Either disease, competition from an expanding white crappie population, or quite likely a combination of both, have resulted in the virtual disappearance of the redears.

It’s a shame that the ODFW chose to do nothing to ensure the continuance of what used to be a unique Oregon fishery.

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Umpqua River Pinkfin Photo

Umpqua River pinkfin fishing - a great way to get youngsters hooked on fishing.

Umpqua River pinkfin fishing – a great way to get youngsters hooked on fishing.

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Potholes Reservoir . Mardon Resort Fishing Report

Steve Brady from Othello shows a quality bass he caught in the sand dunes area of Potholes on an evening after work.

Steve Brady from Othello shows a quality bass he caught in the sand dunes area of Potholes on an evening after work.

Brick Fry from Bellingham, caught this quality walleye with Guide  Nathan LaFrance on a Walleye guided trip on Potholes Reservoir.

Brick Fry from Bellingham, caught this quality walleye with Guide Nathan LaFrance on a Walleye guided trip on Potholes Reservoir.

Bass action has been in the sand dunes this past week. Several bass anglers have had great action this past week releasing over 30 bass in an evening, using Rebel Pop Rig, Spro Frogs, Spinner baits, Flipping Jigs and especially Yamamoto Senko’s.
Walleye anglers this past week have had mixed reports. The best reports have been from Crab Creek above the power lines boat launch headed to Moses Lake Crab Creek channel.
The MarDon Fishing dock has been producing some trout, perch, bass and crappie to 14”.
Rainbow action using walleye tactics, Rapala Shad Rap and Berkeley Flickershad have been reported at the mouth of Frenchman’s wasteway and where Crab Creek enters the main body of Potholes Reservoir.
Soda, Long and Crescent Lakes are producing walleye and smallmouth bass.

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Winchester Bay Pinkfin Photos

Jamie Standifer with a limit of Winchester Bay pinkfin taken Saturday morning.

Jamie Standifer with a limit of Winchester Bay pinkfin taken Saturday morning.

The makings of several good meals - J. Standifer photo.

The makings of several good meals – J. Standifer photo.

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Umpqua River Pinkfin Fishing Red-Hot This Week.

After six disappointing weeks, pinkfin fishing at Winchester Bay has peaked. All the usual spots above Winchester Bay produced this week, but enough perch were caught by bank anglers at Half Moon Bay – and especially Osprey Point, that many boat anglers decided to drop down and fish near them.

This year, more than any other year in recent memory, bankbound perch anglers have been able to successfully catch the spawning perch.

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Free Dock Fishing At Mardon Resort.

In honor of WDFW’s Feel Free To Fish weekend, this June 11th and 12th we are offering Free Dock Fishing to All. This means that you can fish without a license, compliments of the WDFW and then you can fish free from our dock, compliments of the folks at MarDon Resort. Free dock fishing hours are 6:30 a.m to dusk BUT you must stop at the store for your FREE passes. Kids 12 and under need to bring a life jacket. We do rent life jackets and fishing poles. For more info 509.346.2651

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Pete Heley Outdoors 6 / 08 / 2016

Fishing for redtailed surfperch, locally called “pinkfins” was much improved this weekend in their spawning area on the Umpqua River between Winchester Bay and Gardiner. What seems to be different this year is that some of the best catches were made at Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point – areas that normally do not offer good fishing for spawning perch – but offer bankfishing possibities during the perch run, which in the past has been pretty much a “boat show”.

Also very unusual is the fact that during the last two weeks perch anglers have caught more pile perch than pinkfins and the pinkfins have been very aggressive with many of those taken at Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point hitting spinners intended for salmon. Some flounder have been caught by perch anglers above Winchester Bay, but as usual, most of them have been caught near the main RV park.

A few Chinook salmon are still being caught by anglers casting spinners from shore at Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point. These fish are most likely fall Chinooks chasing forage in the river, but until July 1st, if kept, they must be marked as spring Chinooks on an angler’s combined angling tag.

A few striped bass are quietly being caught by night anglers on Smith River. There has been virtually no striper anglers fishing the Umpqua, but a spring Chinook was landed last week by a shad angler using a shad dart below Sawyers Rapids. Suspended weeds and moss are still a major problem for anglers making long casts – no matter what fish species are being targeted.

Striper anglers wanting to fish the Coquille River at night will have to deal with some mud-filled boat ramps that could drastically complicate hauling a boat out after dark. However, because of recent spawning success, the Coquille River between Bandon and Myrtle Point currently offers the area’s best striper fishing, but most of the fish will fall short of the 24-inch minimum length required for legal retention.

With very little help from Oregon, there were enough halibut landed in Washington waters to reach the quota for the Columbia River Subarea and it closed June 3rd. Through May 29th, there was 31 percent of the quota remaining (40,597 pounds) of the all-depth spring fishery for our subarea. Weather conditions were somewhat improved for the 4th fixed opener (June 2nd – June 4th) and it remains to be decided if there will be any “provisional openers” in the future.

Warm and windy afternoons have turned bass and panfishing into a dusk through dawn pasttime on most of our local waters. Fishing for smallmouth bass is improving on both the Umpqua and Coquille rivers. The more clear waters of the Umpqua favor the use of soft plastics, while medium-sized crankbaits seem to work best on the Coquille. Both rivers have no size or number limitations on smallmouth bass.

Recently, Eel Lake has been fishing well for largemouth bass and a few smallmouths. Crankbaits have been producing best. Some trout are also being caught, but no reports on crappies or brown bullheads.

Umpqua River shad fishing is still going strong and as the river continues to drop, an increasing number of anglers are catching their shad at Sawyers Rapids, which fishes best at low river levels.

Crabbing at Winchester Bay is fair, but much improved over that of the last several months. Recently, active large female crabs have replaced active sublegal-sized crabs as the #1 complaint of area crabbers.

Trout plants are being phased out for this summer. Cleawox, which received 2,250 foot-long rainbows last week, was the last Florence-area lake to be planted and no more trout plants are scheduled until the spring of 2017.

North and South Tenmile Lakes and Upper and Lower Empire Lakes were stocked last week, but the next trout plant in Coos County won’t occur until the second week of October when 14-inch trout will be stocked in Bradley Lake (800); Butterfield Lake (600); Lower Empire Lake (2,000); Upper Empire Lake (2,000); Powers Pond (1,300) and Saunders Lake (1,300).

Both Loon Lake and Lake Marie were stocked last week and the next trout plant won’t occur until the 4th week of August when Lake Marie is slated to receive 800 trophy rainbows.

Quite a few people took advantage of Oregon’s “Free Fishing Weekend” and for those who would like to sample the fishing, crabbing or clamming in the state of Washington before actually purchasing a license, Washington’s “Free Fishing Weekend” will be next Saturday and Sunday (June 11th & 12th).

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Umpqua River Pinkfin Update.

The best and most consistent fishing for redtail surfperch at Winchester Bay occurred last weekend. The surfperch, referred to locally as “pinkfins” first showed up in the Umpqua River upriver of Winchester Bay more than six weeks ago, but the run didn’t build up enough to provide consistently good fishing – until last week.

The normal spawning area where the female pinkfins birth their live young runs from where Winchester Bay’s East Basin enters the Umpqua River upriver as far as Gardiner and the run’s duration usually runs from early May through July.

But a lot of things about this year’s run are very unusual.

(1) – This year’s run took far longer to build up after the first perch arrived than did previous runs.

(2) – Some of the best catches have been made at Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point – areas well downriver of the pinkfins’ normal spawning area.

(3) – Some of the best catches have been made by anglers casting spinners while salmon fishing from shore.

(4) – Almost as many pile perch have been caught by pinkfin anglers fishing above Winchester Bay as they have pinkfins

The Umpqua River’s pinkfin run is a unique and special fishery – but more than ever, a transforming fishery where current information trumps past experience.

Jim Purcell holds up an Umpqua River pinkfin double. Jamie Stanifer shot the photo.

Jim Purcell holds up an Umpqua River pinkfin double. Jamie Stanifer shot the photo.

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Oregon Department Of Forestry Update.

On any hot summer day, it’s not uncommon to find a line of dusty cars and trucks waiting for a riverside spot in the Tillamook State Forest off of Highway 6. Music blares from a packed parking lot as the Wilson River’s banks swell with day-trippers cooling off in the water. Jennifer Magby from ODF, and a Tillamook County sheriff direct traffic and answer questions as the line of people zigzag searching for a parking spot.

As state wildfire officials prepare for the summer after three severe wildfire seasons, ODF recreation staff are working nonstop to ensure the increasingly-popular Tillamook, Clatsop and Santiam State Forests are enjoyed by families and twenty-somethings alike, as once-hidden gems now fill with hundreds of visitors.

Through a series of advisory group meetings representing recreation groups and community leaders, public hearings, and an overdue evaluation of the agency’s recreation fee structure and campsite capacity, fee revisions and capacity limits have been applied for this summer and beyond.

To continue providing a great experience that visitors have come to expect, ODF revised these recreation rules to keep up with increasing and unsustainable demand for state-owned recreation areas––demand which has outpaced capacity and resources available for management––often resulting in conflicts between user groups and creating major issues for sanitation and the environment, safety, and vandalism.

The new rules provide solutions for alleviating short-term concerns, while providing the tools necessary to address long-term issues.

“As we continue to host significantly more people at our state forest recreation areas, we’ve worked to put rules and structure in place to create an enjoyable experience for all of our visitors while protecting natural resources and seeking longer-term solutions,” said Stephanie Beall, a long-time recreation coordinator for the ODF Forest Grove District. “These rule revisions help us to continue providing the same quality and high level service enjoyed by many over the years while limiting negative interactions with this beautiful area.”

These fee revisions are the first in more than twenty years as ODF state forests continue to be the most financially equitable option for local communities looking to experience and enjoy the outdoors for a reasonable price. These fee revisions and camping rule changes include:

Revised fees: drive-in sites are $15 per night; walk-in sites are $10 per night; group sites are $50 per night. Extra vehicles will be charged $5 per night, per vehicle.
A campsite may not be occupied by more than eight people and two motor vehicles, unless otherwise posted.
Registered campers must physically occupy campsites each night during the entire length of their stay. Sites cannot be reserved in advance except for group campsites at select campgrounds.
Other revisions resulting from the rulemaking process include:

All large commercial events of more than fifty people, scheduled for longer than four hours, held on state forestland will require organizers to submit an application for a permit, which can be obtained through a local ODF district office. Office locations can be found here: http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/AboutODF/Pages/MapOffices.aspx
All forage or feed used on state forestlands for horses or other animals must be certified weed-free, primarily to avoid introducing invasive species to the area.
ODF will assume custody and remove all abandoned property found after 48 hours in designated recreation areas.
ODF staff and law enforcement reserve the right to exclude or evict visitors not complying with recreation rules.
“Despite the rain and recent cloudy weather, it’s still really dry out there,” said Mike Cafferata, the district forester for the Forest Grove District. “It’s critical that whenever you’re enjoying Oregon’s state forests, that you always practice fire safety, be aware of dry brush, and help keep your state forests green, safe and clean.”

The ODF State Forests Division manages nearly 820,000 acres of state forestlands for greatest permanent value by law, requiring that these lands produce a range of economic, environmental and social benefits. Each year, public comment opportunities provide a forum for feedback on forest management activities, and formal advisory committees comprising of county representatives and forestry professionals meet regularly to guide this work with the Oregon Board of Forestry.

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Columbia River Sport All-depth Halibut Fishery To Close June 3rd.

The Pacific halibut all-depth sport fishery in the Columbia River Subarea will close for the remainder of the year effective Friday, June 3 at 11:59 p.m., fishery managers announced today.

The all-depth fishery from Leadbetter Point in Washington to Cape Falcon in Oregon opened on May 1 and was scheduled to be open every Thursday-Sunday through Sept. 30 or until the harvest of 10,509 pounds of Pacific halibut, whichever came first. However, preliminary estimates indicate that landings are nearing the quota and not enough remains for additional open days.

Effort in the Columbia River Subarea in 2016 was similar to 2015 and catch rates were good, enabling anglers to harvest the entire quota for this fishery in a similar timeframe as in 2015.

The Columbia River nearshore fishery (inside the 40-fathom line off of Oregon) remains open Mondays through Wednesdays until Sept. 30 or until the quota of 500 pounds is reached, whichever comes first.

Opportunities to fish for Pacific halibut remain open in other areas of Oregon, as well. Off the central Oregon coast between Cape Falcon (near Manzanita) and Humbug Mountain (near Port Orford), anglers may fish for halibut inside the 40-fathom line beginning June 1, seven days a week through Oct. 31 or attainment of the harvest quota (24,799 pounds) for that fishery.

The all-depth halibut fishery off central Oregon is scheduled to be open Thursday, June 2 through Saturday, June 4 and may have additional days if quota remains which will be announced by noon on Friday, June 10.

A second summer season is scheduled to begin on August 5 and will be open every other Friday and Saturday until Oct. 31 or the quota of 51,603 pounds has been met. The high-relief area of Stonewall Bank, west of Newport, is closed to all halibut fishing.

The area between Humbug Mountain and the OR/CA Border is open at all depths for Pacific halibut seven days a week through Oct. 31 or until the quota of 8,605 pounds has been met, whichever comes first.

Days on which Pacific halibut fishing is open will be announced on the NOAA Fisheries hotline (1-800-662-9825) and posted on the ODFW Marine Resources Program Web site.

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