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Contact Pete Heley
PO Box 264
Reedsport, OR 97467
Monthly Archives: March 2017
This Saturday, April 1, is the Seep Lakes annual opener. All lakes below O’Sullivan Dam and the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge Lakes will be open now with one exception, Warden Lake, which opens on April 29. This spring a number of the year round Seep Lakes have been kicking out quality trout, most notably Upper Goose Lake. Goose has been the hands down best producer with relatively quick limits in the 14 to 16 inch range. Goose Lake has easy access and adequate boat ramps. The best technique has been still fishing with bait.
Here’s a couple of still fishing tips that will put more fish on the end of your line. Know the water and bottom composition. In the spring when the water is clear this is just a matter of looking. Typically you can see weed lines, rocks and small submerged islands just by scanning the water from a vantage point. This will give you and idea of what and where. I like to target weed lines where the break to deep water or any other transition change that these fish will use as highways throughout the day. Weed lines and weed beds are always good producers in the spring as the rising temps through the day will trigger various hatches that these rainbows will feed on. Another good area to target are shallow rocky bays. These spots will always be better on the north or northeast side of the lake because they see more sun throughout the day and are typically the warmest parts of the lake, thus more hatches, snails, leeches crawdads etc. The other areas are inflows and outflows, these are always a good shot in the spring.
Next would be what are you fishing. All of the different lakes vary in bottom structure and make up . Some are gravel, big rock or small, thick weed growth or sparce, mud etc. These are thing you as an angler should consider when picking a leader length to float your bait presentation on. For instance in a area that has dense weed growth on the bottom you will need a longer leader to float the bait up and out of the vegetation. On a gravel or mud bottom a short leader will suffice. I like to keep it simple where as on a clean bottom a foot to 18 inches of leader is perfect. The same math plus the height of the weed growth will give you your answer. So for 2’ of weeds on the bottom, a 3 to 3 1/2 feet will give me that same foot to foot and a half bait presentation above the top of the weeds. Basically just keep your bait up where the fish can see it, not down in the weeds where the fish have to root around to find it. As for bait pretty much everything will work on the right day. I like power bait tipped with a piece of night crawler for bigger trout and just power bait for the little guys. My favorite colors are chartruse, orange, lime and Captain America all with the glitter. One advantage I have found is tying fluorocarbon leaders. This helps for two reasons, one the fish can’t see it and two because they can’t see it, you can get away with higher pound test. This really helps on larger fish.
Good Luck and Remember afternoons are usually better than mornings until our nights warm up.
April 15-16 – Potholes Open Bass Tournament
April 22 – Washington Bowfishing Shootout
Few local lakes are scheduled to be planted this week, but many of those lakes were planted last week and are offering fair to good trout fishing. One lake that is slated to receive a trout plant this week is Loon Lake, which is scheduled to receive 1,000 legal rainbows.
Stocking of the Florence-area lakes will resume the second week of April – as will many of the Coos County lakes. Mingus Park Pond will receive its first trout plant of 2,000 legal rainbows during the second week of April. Bluebill Lake won’t receive its first trout plant this year until the first week of May. It might have proved interesting if Bluebill Lake were planted earlier as it is now connected to Horsfall Lake and Horsfall Lake could have easily had its first rainbow trout ever.
Although the area’s best crabbing is at Charlston, ocean crabbing along the entire Oregon coast remains fair to good for the few people actually trying it. Crabbers using very small boats to crab the “Triangle’ area at Winchester Bay are also having fair success. However, those written warnings of last year for not having a Douglas County Parking Pass while crabbing from the Coast Guard Pier are now actual tickets this year.
Although Douglas County most certainly could have done a better job of introducing the pass, it seems to be the trend that every Oregon County is going to have its own required parking pass – and none of them are going to have reciprocal agreements with other Oregon counties. The one recreation pass that everyone age 62 or older should have is the Senior Pass which costs $10.00 and is valid at 100’s of day use areas in the western United States. Area residents can purchase these passes at the Dunes NRA office in Reedsport.
Area options for striped bass anglers would be the mainstem Smith River above where the North Fork enters, the North Fork Smith River from three to five miles above where it enters the Smith. There is a small population of stripers in the Umpqua that hang out in the spring between Bunch Bar and the Scottsburg Bridge. There are a few stripers that unsuccessfully try to spawn just east of the Elk Viewing Area along Highway 38 near the mouth of Deans Creek. Each summer, some adult stripers enter Scholfield Slough after attempting to spawn in the Umpqua.
Oregon’s best striper fishery for the last few years has been the Coquille River. The stretch running from three miles above to three miles below the Arago boat ramp usually has fair numbers in the spring. Many of the stripers will be sublegal fish of less than 24-inches in length but those young stripers ensure that the Coquille River will remain a striper fishery for the next decade. A key factor in this spring fishery is water clarity as the Coquille muddies up quite easily.
The scarcity of 60 degree days has kept the shallows and shoreline water in our local freshwater lakes cool enough to limit their appeal to pre-spawn warmwater fish. Anglers fishing water ten to 15 feet deep are making decent catches of bass, but most anglers do best when a substantial portion of a lake’s fish population is in the easily fished shallows. Even a couple of consecutive 65 degree days could provide a sufficient temperature differential to greatly improve fishing success. One thing I have noticed about the largemouth bass spawn is that the later they move into the shallows, the quicker they finish spawning and scatter.
The same may be true for crappies. In each of the last three years, the crappie spawning period at the Fish Haven dock at the upper end of Loon Lake has been increasingly short.
Winter steelhead angling is definitely winding down. While there are still decent numbers of fish in some of the smaller streams, many of them have already spawned and are in very poor shape. Anglers that have been lucky enough to catch one of the steelhead dumped into Saunders Lake by the STEP chapter operating the Eel Creek fish trap are dismayed by their poor condition.
Most of the yellow perch in our local lakes have finished spawning, but have definitelt not yet put on their post-spawn feedbags.
Offshore bottomfishing at depths deeper than 180 feet (30 fathoms) will close this Friday (March 31st) at midnight. More shallow marine waters will continue to be open. Anglers fishing the ocean for Chinook salmon are not restricted by water depth.
Despite some contrary reports, Steve, the new owner of the Wells Creek Inn told me last week that were continuing the annual Spring Chinook Derby and already had as many people signed up as signed up lasy year. Additionally, there will be a band playing on Friday , Saturday and Sunday of last weekend and this coming weekend. Last weekend, the merchandise for a “completely silent” auction was placed on display at the restaurant and while the band is playing this coming weekend the merchandise will be awarded to the winning bidder. Prizes include a chain saw and a rod and reel outfit with a retail value of $400.
Specialty Tags Offer Hunt of a Lifetime
The Nevada Department of Wildlife wants to remind sportsmen applying for the big game tag draw not to forget about specialty tags.
Silver State Tag
The Silver State Tag allows hunters the opportunity to hunt one of four big game species (mule deer, elk, desert bighorn sheep and antelope) anywhere in the state with any legal weapon from August 1- December 31. The winners also walk away with thousands of dollars’ worth of additional prizes. Each tag comes with a list of goods including rifles, optics, hunting gear, guided hunts and taxidermy. Silver State Tag allows resident and nonresident sportsmen a chance at a hunt equivalent to a Heritage Auction Tag while contributing to wildlife habitat restoration in Nevada. Please see the list of prizes and donors on the Silver State Tag link at www.huntnevada.com.
Partnership in Wildlife Tag
The Partnership in Wildlife Tag allows sportsmen to hunt in any open unit in the state (season dates and weapon class for each hunt unit applies). This year the PIW program is offering 22 resident mule deer tags, three nonresident mule deer tags, five tags for resident antelope, three resident elk tags, one California bighorn sheep tag and one desert bighorn sheep. It is only $10 per species to apply. Like the Silver State Tag, hunters may only apply once during the big game tag application period.
Nevada Dream Tag
While not part of the application process, the Nevada Dream Tag is also an amazing opportunity for resident and non-resident hunters alike. The Nevada Dream Tags Program is a raffle that allows resident and nonresident sportsmen a chance at the hunt of a lifetime while also contributing to wildlife habitat restoration in Nevada (season dates and weapon class for each hunt unit applies). One of the best aspects of this raffle is the ability to purchase tickets for your family and friends.
Five Dream Tags will be awarded in 2017: one for elk, California Bighorn Sheep, desert bighorn sheep, antelope and mule deer. All that is required to get started in the raffle is to first purchase a Resource Enhancement Stamp for $10. Once you have your stamp, you can purchase an unlimited number of raffle tickets for each species available for only $5 each. You can purchase both the RES Stamp and the raffle tickets at NVDreamTag.org.
State shellfish managers have approved a morning razor clam dig starting March 30 with openings alternating between Mocrocks and Copalis beaches through April 2.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the four-day dig – the first dig of the season on morning tides – after marine toxin tests showed that clams on those two beaches are safe to eat.
Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, said diggers should be aware that only one beach – either Mocrocks or Copalis – will be open each day of the upcoming dig.
Ayres also reminds diggers that all state fishing licenses expire March 31, so they will need to purchase a 2017-18 fishing license if they plan to participate in the digs approved for Saturday, April 1, and Sunday, April 2.
Licenses applicable to digging razor clams include an annual razor clam license, a shellfish license or a combination fishing license. A three-day razor clam license is also available, although it is restricted to digging days in a single licensing year.
All licenses are available online at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/ and from sporting goods stores and other licensing outlets throughout the state.
The upcoming dig is approved on the following beaches, dates and morning low tides:
March 30, Thursday, 8:58 a.m.; -0.6 feet, Mocrocks
March 31, Friday, 9:47 a.m.; -0.6 feet, Copalis
April 1, Saturday, 10:40 a.m.; -0.5 feet, Mocrocks
April 2, Sunday; 11:39 a.m., -0.1 feet, Copalis
Long Beach and Twin Harbors remain closed to digging, because they have not yet met state testing requirements for marine toxins, Ayres said.
Copalis Beach extends from the Grays Harbor north jetty to the Copalis River and includes the Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis areas.
Mocrocks Beach extends from the Copalis River to the southern boundary of the Quinault Reservation near the Moclips River, including Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Seabrook, Pacific Beach and Moclips.
Maps of those beaches and information about razor clam digs proposed in the future are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html
Most of the trout lost at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Chelan Fish Hatchery due to heavy rain last week will be replaced by other state hatcheries for stocking in northcentral Washington lakes.
About 340,000 rainbow, brook, and tiger trout fingerlings, representing 57 percent of the hatchery’s expected annual production of those species, were lost the night of March 21 when a water intake became clogged.
Eric Kinne, WDFW Hatchery Systems Manager, said heavy rain washed soil and debris into the intake, plugging the screens and cutting off water flow to the fish incubation building. The rain washed down the steep hillside behind the hatchery, where re-vegetation is still underway following wildfires in 2015 that destroyed all the soil-holding trees.
Kinne said WDFW is moving surplus fish from the state’s Columbia Basin and Spokane hatcheries to replace most of the loss. As a result, lakes in Douglas, Chelan, and Okanogan counties will receive at least 80 percent of their planned trout stocking this spring. He said WDFW is continuing to search for more fish to replace the lost stocks.
The Chelan Hatchery, located near the town of Chelan in Chelan County, is one of the oldest trout hatcheries in the state, using gravity-fed springs as its sole water source. It annually produces 1.3 million rainbow, brook, brown, cutthroat, and tiger trout and kokanee for lowland and high lake stocking.
The state hatchery is adjacent to another hatchery, which is owned by Chelan Public Utilities District and operated by WDFW. Production at that hatchery was not affected by the heavy rains, because groundwater wells provide its water.
California’s recreational salmon fishery will open in ocean waters on Saturday, April 1, 2017, from Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude) south to the U.S./Mexico border. The recreational salmon fishery north of Horse Mountain will remain closed for all of 2017 due to historically low numbers of Klamath River fall Chinook salmon.
The April 1 opening was set to provide angling opportunity until the remainder of the 2017 salmon seasons are decided next month by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) during its April 6-11 meeting in Sacramento, and by the Fish and Game Commission at its April 13 teleconference.
The daily bag limit is two Chinook per day and no more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. For complete ocean salmon regulations in effect during the month of April, please visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) ocean salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429.
“Salmon abundance estimates are down this year, which is likely due to California’s recent drought and ocean conditions that were poor for salmon survival. Low forecasts for Klamath River fall run and continued concern over Sacramento River winter run are expected to limit fishing opportunity for the 2017 season,” said CDFW environmental scientist Kandice Morgenstern.
For anglers fishing north of Point Conception (34° 27’ 00” N. latitude), no more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used, and no more than one rod shall be used per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat with salmon on board. In addition, barbless circle hooks are required when fishing with bait by any means other than trolling.
Between Horse Mountain and Point Arena (38° 57’ 30” N. latitude), the minimum size limit is 20 inches total length. For areas south of Point Arena, the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length.
As seasons may close early or be subject to closure periods in 2017, anglers are advised to visit CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline for the latest information on open fishing dates and locations. Many areas are likely to see reduced fishing opportunities this year compared with 2016 due to lower estimates of salmon stocks.
The PFMC is currently considering three alternatives for California’s 2017 commercial and recreational ocean salmon regulations, including season dates and size limits. The public is encouraged to comment on any of the proposed alternatives that can be found on the PFMC website at www.pcouncil.org.
Final sport regulations will be published in the 2017-2018 Supplemental Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, which will be posted online in May at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations.
CDFW reminds anglers that retention of coho salmon is prohibited in all ocean fisheries.
Kandice Morgenstern, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2879
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478
The Sand Hill Crane Festival is this weekend, March 24-26. Many exciting activities are scheduled, please visit their website for event information. sandhillcranefestival.org
Just by taking a drive around the Royal Slope Area you can see Sand Hill Cranes and many other species of wildlife. Spring is alive and well in Central Washington.
Walleye fishing has begun in the Lind Coulee arm of Potholes Reservoir. Surface water temp’s in the upper Lind Coulee are 48 degrees. At the mouth of Frenchman’s Wasteway where it enters Potholes Reservoir the surface temps are 49 degrees. At the Crab Creek Powerline Boat Launch the surface temps are 47 degrees. Your best bet to catch a walleye right now is to fish with a blade bait.
The Beach House at MarDon Restaruant will be opening Friday, March 24th at 4pm. We are excited for some new menu items to try out and as always you can get a great cocktail or sip on a draft beer while looking out at the lake. Please call (509) 346-9688 for to go orders or to make reservations.
April 15-16 – Potholes Open Bass Tournament
April 22 – Washington Bowfishing Shootout
May 6-7 – Spring Walleye Classic Tournament
May 20-21 – Northwest Bass Event (nwbass.net)
May 26-29 – Memorial Day Weekend
June 2-4 – Heroes Salute Weekend Special. All police, Fire & Military stay the first night at regular rate and gwet the 2nd night free.
June 3-4 – Washington Bowfishing Championship
June 3-4 – Big Bass Trail Tournament (bigbasstrail.com)
June 10-11 – Free Fishing Weekend in Washington State
Oregon Free Fishing Days
April 23 and 24th
June 3rd and 4th
Outside of continued cool, often rainy weather, most of the news this week has been good.
The ODFW Commission reversed their earlier vote regarding Columbia River gillnetting by a unanimous 7 – 0 vote and may now be considered “back on the reservation”. Kudos to the Washington Fish Commission for refusing to agree with the earlier vote of the Oregon Commission. Even better, the portion of salmon allotted to sport anglers was increased. Newspapers and various online fishing forums are giving this subject the in-depth coverage it deserves.
It was decided that the first of Oregon’s “free fishing weekends” this year will be April 22nd and 23rd – a weekend when there should be multiple fishing options. The regular “free fishing weekend”, before Oregon added additional such weekends will be June 3rd and 4th this year – also a good time to fish and that date should offer better crabbing.
Also, it appears that Soda Springs Reservoir, a 25 acre reservoir on the North Umpqua River will reopen to fishing next year. The reservoir has been closed the last few years following work on the dam that opened up several miles of the North Umpqua above the reservoir for salmon and steelhead spawning. The proposed regulation change was made after fisheries personnel actually observed large trout, mostly brown trout, feeding on smolts. Sometimes common sense does prevail.
The ocean Chinook salmon season opened as usual on March 15th. However, the season is “locked in” only through April at which time there will be an evaluation and the season may not last until its usual Oct. 31st closure.
A number of Coos County waters will be stocked with trout this week. Bradley Lake, Butterfield Lake and Saunders Lake as well as Johnson Mill Pond and Powers Pond will each receive 3,000 legal rainbows. Trophy rainbows of 15-inches or slightly longer will also be stocked, with 200 going into Bradley, 150 into Powers Pond and 50 into Johnson Mill Pond.
Also being stocked this week are Eel Lake with 2,500 legal rainbows. Both Upper and Lower Empire Lakes are each slated to receive 1,000 14-inch rainbows and 250 trophy rainbows.
Anglers visiting the northern Oregon coast should be aware that virtually all the area waters that receive trout plants between Tillamook and the Washington border will be stocked this week.
Bottomfishing in Marine waters deeper than 180 feet will close at the end of March.
Warmwater angling has been very disappointing with unusually cool water temperatures and inconsistent, often miserable weather. As of last week, many of the walkways to docks adjacent to coastal boat ramps have been under water. Horsfall Lake, which almost dries up every fall is now full to the point where it is blocking access to Horsfall Beach.
At least the days are getting longer.
Pete Heley works weekends at the Stockade Market & Tackle in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.