Monthly Archives: July 2017

Umpqua River Chinooks

Fishing Guide Jaimie Standifer reported good fishing for chinook salmon last week on the Umpqua River near Reedsport, but has enjoyed consistent early morning chinook fishing between the Umpqua River Bar and Reedsport.

Jaimie Standifer got this lucky lady into her limit of Umpqua River chinooks by 8 am.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 7 / 19 / 2017

Every two years the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife goes to the air to release more than 350,000 juvenile trout into more than 500 lakes throughout the Oregon Cascades mountain range. The trout stocked by helicopter are three-inch long fingerlings, 95 percent of which survive the 100 foot drop into the lake. A few lakes receive larger trout hauled in by volunteers on horses or mules. The trout stocked via horseback must be stocked within two hours of being placed into plastic bags filled with oxygen-enriched water and ice. The high lakes trout stocking program occurs during the summer of every odd-numbered year.

Anticipated summer steelhead returns for the Columbia Basin are so low that the ODFW is encouraging anglers to target other fish species and upon hooking a steelhead, know the best fish-handling practices listed on page 13 of the 2017 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations.

Warm water on two major western Montana streams has forced Montana’s fish managers to impose “hoot owl” restrictions on the Smith and Sun rivers – which means no fishing between 2 pm and midnight.

At the same time that our country is pulling out of a major climate agreement, twelve million volunteers in India planted 66 million trees in a single day – July 2nd. I remain very impressed.

On a Tenmile Creek float last week, we caught dozens of yellow perch, but none over eight inches in length. The fishing for largemouth bass was disappointing with no bass landed weighing more than a pound – but within a few minutes we were targeting the perch and trout. The best fishing was for rainbow trout to 13-inches. We also caught and released one cutthroat trout.

Tenmile Creek is free of logjams this year, but is quite narrow in a number of spots – to the point where passage via a pontoon boat is very difficult. A float tube or a kayak is a much better choice. The stream is flowing much more water this year, but seems every bit as weedy as last year. The most efficient float is from the Hilltop Drive Bridge just below South Tenmile Lake down to the bridge on Old Highway 101 just above where Eel Creek enters Tenmile Creek. A float that covers about five stream-miles and takes about six hours. Most anglers leave a second car near the lower bridge or walk the slightly more than one mile back to their car in Lakeside via the railroad tracks.

As for fishing at Winchester Bay, the South Jetty is fishing well for assorted bottomfish, the Triangle is fishing well for the same marine species with a smaller average size. Sand shrimp, Berkley Gulp and smaller curlytail grubs on jigheads all seem to work. Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point are giving up a few chinook salmon to anglers casting spinners from the bank with chartreuse and dark green being the best-producing colors. Boat anglers trolling herring between Winchester Bay and Reedsport are also catching a few chinooks. Don’t expect warm water temperatures to form a thermal barrier holding salmon below Reedsport to the degree it has during the last few seasons.

The latest stats on the ocean fin-clipped coho fishery run through July 9th and 1077 finclipped quota, or six percent of the 18,000 quota of finclipped cohos have caught and kept. The ocean finclipped coho season will end July 31st unless the quota is reached earlier.

Winchester Bay has been the busiest port and has produced the most keeper coho. Garibaldi is the second busiest port and has produced the most kept chinooks – but has recently fished very poorly with only .18 kept salmon per angler for the season. Winchester Bay is averaging .34 kept salmon per angler trip. The most successful ports based on average catch of keepable salmon are Depoe Bay, Charlston and Bandon with .50,.47 and .44 kept salmon per angler trip respectively. The other ports in our zone have fished poorly, but are improving with Pacific City, Newport and Florence averaging .28, .27 and .26 kept salmon per angler trip.

Starting on September 2nd there will be an ocean coho season where both clipped and unclipped coho salmon may be kept with a quota of 6,000 cohos. If the quota is not reached the nonselective season will end on September 30th. In the meantime, the ocean fishery for chinook salmon will continue uninterrupted through October 31st.

There have been catches of 25+ tuna taken this last week out of both Charlston and Winchester Bay.

The pinkfin run on the lower Umpqua River above Winchester Bay continues with the fishing getting ever more inconsistent. Fishing the surf along area beaches seems to offer more consistent surfperch fishing – especially during the last half of the incoming tide.

A recent tidewater trip for Umpqua River smallmouth revealed a surprising amount of fishing pressure, but a much smaller weed and moss problem than anglers fishing the river above tidewater are having to deal with. Most of the tidewater smallies are ten-inchers with about every fourth fish being noticeably larger. A very few shad are still being caught on the Umpqua River, but the run is pretty much over.

Pete Heley works parttime at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from ‘A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.

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CDFW News – CDFW Confirms Presense Of Wolf Pack In Lassen County, Collars Adult Wolf

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists have captured and fitted a tracking collar to a female gray wolf in Lassen County, and confirmed that the wolf and her mate have produced at least three pups this year.

During summer and fall 2016, remote trail cameras captured images of two wolves traveling together in Lassen County. There was no evidence they had produced pups at that time. While the female’s origins remain unknown, genetic samples obtained from scat indicated the male wolf originated from Oregon’s Rogue Pack. The famous wolf OR7 is the Rogue Pack’s breeding male.

In early May 2017, partner biologists from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) found evidence of recent wolf presence in the Lassen National Forest. CDFW biologists began surveying the area and planning a capture operation to collar one of the animals. On June 30, after 12 days of trapping attempts, the 75-pound adult female gray wolf was captured. After a thorough exam by the biologists and a wildlife veterinarian – including the collection of genetic and other biological samples – the wolf was collared and released.

“The anesthesia and collaring process went smoothly and the wolf was in excellent condition,” said CDFW’s Senior Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Deana Clifford. “Furthermore, our physical examination indicated that she had given birth to pups this spring.”

The following day, July 1, CDFW biologists returned to the field for a routine follow-up check on the female. They encountered tracks of what appeared to be wolf pups, and then found that a nearby trail camera operated by USFS had captured photos of the female with three pups. The pups were gray in color and were serendipitously photographed playing in front of the camera.

These wolves, named the Lassen Pack by the USFS employee who first detected their location, are the second pack of gray wolves known in California since their extirpation in the 1920s. The first confirmed breeding pair in California produced five pups in eastern Siskiyou County in 2015, and are known as the Shasta Pack. The current status of the Shasta Pack is unknown, although one of the 2015 pups was detected in northwestern Nevada in November 2016.

The tracking collar affixed to the Lassen Pack female will collect data relative to her activity patterns, survival, reproduction and prey preferences. The Lassen Pack regularly traverses both public and private lands, including industrial timberlands, and the collar may also help to minimize wolf-livestock conflicts by providing information about the pack’s location relative to livestock and ranch lands. While most of the pack’s known activity to date has been in western Lassen County, some tracks have also been confirmed in Plumas County.

Gray wolves are currently both state and federally listed as endangered. Their management in California is guided by endangered species laws as well as CDFW’s Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California, finalized in 2016. CDFW’s goals for wolf management in California include conserving wolves and minimizing impacts to livestock producers and native ungulates.

The Conservation Plan, a wolf sighting report form, a guide to help distinguish a gray wolf from a coyote and additional information about wolves in California can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf.

Lassen County Wolfpack.

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CDFW News – CDFW Completes 2017 Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey.

he California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its annual waterfowl breeding population survey.

The breeding population of mallards decreased from 263,774 to 198,392 (a decrease of 25 percent) and total ducks decreased from 417,791 to 396,529 (a decrease of five percent).

The decline was not expected, given the abundant precipitation. Low duck observations could be attributed to winter flooding of nesting habitat and the late flooding of rice in the Sacramento Valley.

CDFW biologists and warden pilots have conducted this annual survey using fixed-wing aircraft since 1948. The population estimates are for the surveyed areas only, which include the majority of the suitable duck nesting habitat in the state. Surveyed areas include wetland and agricultural areas in northeastern California, throughout the Central Valley, the Suisun Marsh and some coastal valleys.

The full Breeding Population Survey Report is can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/birds/waterfowl.

The majority of California’s wintering duck population originates from breeding areas surveyed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Alaska and Canada. Those survey results should be available in early August. CDFW survey information, along with similar data from other Pacific Flyway states, is used by the USFWS and the Pacific Flyway Council when setting hunting regulations for the Pacific Flyway states, including California.

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Fishing Lookout Point Reservoir

One of the Eugene area’s most overlooked fisheries is Lookout Point Reservoir, a 13 mile long reservoir located on the north side of Highway 58 between Dexter and Oakridge. The reservoir has produced largemouth bass weighing more than ten pounds and brown bullheads weighing at least three pounds.

The reservoir’s rainbow and cutthroat trout also reach lunker size and the landlocked chinook salmon stocked into the reservoir also reach decent size. Northern pikeminnows also inhabit the reservoir, but what makes Lookout Point nearly unique among northwest fishing spots is its fishable population of walleyes that a few anglers have figured out how to catch.

A nice-sized walleye from Lookout Point Reservoir.

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CDFW News – Nicole Kozicki Recognized Nationally As Wildlife Officer Of The Year.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is proud to announce that Wildlife Officer Nicole Kozicki has been selected as the Pogue-Elms Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. The award, which was formally presented to her at the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) annual conference on July 10, is considered their highest honor. Kozicki is also the first female recipient of the award.

CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division selected Kozicki as the 2017 Wildlife Officer of the Year, which led to her nomination for the WAFWA award. Kozicki has honorably represented CDFW in the San Francisco Bay Area and its communities for 27 years.

“We are very happy to see Wildlife Officer Kozicki receive the Pogue-Elms award for her extraordinary dedication to the protection of California’s natural resources,” said Assistant Chief Steve Riske, who supervises Kozicki. “Her tireless investigations of poaching, pollution, and environmental crimes are an example to her fellow wildlife officers in California and to others throughout the country. Her reputation brings great credit to herself, CDFW and California.”

Kozicki’s ability to handle complex, large-scale investigations — many of which have involved harm to threatened and endangered species — has earned her a reputation as an expert in the field of environmental crimes. Throughout her career, Kozicki has led hundreds of streambed alteration and pollution cases to successful prosecution. Her tireless pursuit of the truth has resulted in hundreds of acres of mitigated lands being preserved in perpetuity and has generated millions of dollars in fines. Fellow wildlife officers as well as investigators from local, state and federal agencies often seek her investigation expertise.

Among the greatest of Kozicki’s accomplishments is her leadership of an investigation related to illegal development practices that threatened two endangered species – the California tiger salamander and the red-legged frog – at Dublin Ranch in Alameda County. Conducted jointly with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the three-year investigation uncovered numerous violations of state and federal law, including egregious grading and illegal stream alterations, habitat destruction and falsification of permitting documents. Kozicki provided testimony in state court for two full weeks. The developer eventually pled no contest to charges of submitting fraudulent documents in an attempt to avoid development requirements. The terms of the plea agreement between the developer, the California Attorney General’s Office and CDFW included almost $1.1 million in fines and restitution, preservation of 107 acres of land in Contra Costa County (known as the Brown Ranch) in a conservation easement and $300,000 put into an account to manage the property.

“Wildlife Officer Kozicki has an extraordinary capability and reputation for investigating cases that affect not only California’s fish and wildlife, but the very habitat where those fish and wildlife live,” said David Bess, Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division. “The benefits of her investigations will be measured for generations to come.”

WAFWA represents 23 states and Canadian provinces, spanning from Alaska to Texas and Hawaii to Saskatchewan. WAFWA is a strong advocate of the rights of states and provinces to manage fish and wildlife within their borders. It has also been a key organization in promoting the principles of sound resource management and the building of partnerships at the regional, national and international levels in order to enhance wildlife conservation efforts and the protection of associated habitats in the public interest. Idaho Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Officers Bill Pogue and Conley Elms were killed in the line of duty in 1981, during a poaching investigation. WAFWA created the award in their honor.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 7 / 12 / 2017

A proposal to not require 17 and 18 year olds to have licenses to sportfsh in Californa did not pass out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee and is effectively dead. The bill (AB 478) which would have raised the cutoff age for license-free fishing from 16 years to 18 years was written by the California Sportfishing League and widely supported as a way to turn thousands of youngsters into sportfishing enthusiasts.

Opponents of the bill argued that the state could not afford to lose the 1.55 million dollars it receives each year from the sale of more than 22,000 fishing licenses and related tags to 16 and 17 year olds. The basic fishing license for a resident California adult is $47.01 – the highest in the nation. – and since it is adjusted every year for inflation, likely to stay that way.

The current issue of Bassmaster Magazine features the top 100 bass lakes in America – and then features bass fisheries in Mexico and Africa that serve to make the “top 100 list” less meaningful. The list is broken down into four sections or regions of 25 bass fisheries each. They are: Central; Northeastern; Southeastern and Central.

The top-rated lake overall was Mille Lacs in Minnesota and the top-rated lake in the western region was Clear Lake in northern California. Other bass fisheries in the Pacific Northwest that were included among the top 25 bass fisheries in the western region are: #6 – Lake Coeur d’Alene in western Idaho; #11 – Dworshak Reservoir in southwest Idaho; #12 – The Columbia River in Washington (the lower 300+ miles shared with Oregon – and the only bass fishery on the entire list without any size or quantity limits on its bass – in other words a very impressive bass fishery despite no positive management from the WDFW or ODFW.

#13 – Siltcoos Lake in southwest Oregon; #15 – Potholes Reservoir in southeast Washington; #17 – Tenmile Lakes in southwest Oregon – althouth the surface acreage quoted was only for South Tenmile Lake and doesn’t include the approximately 1,100 surface acres in North Tenmile Lake.

#18 – Moses Lake in southeast Washington; #19 – C.J. Strike Reservoir in Idaho; #21 – Brownlee Reservoir, shared by Oregon and Idaho; #25 – Noxon Rapids Reservoir in southwest Montana.

The central Oregon coast spring all-depth halibut quota has been reached and the summer all-depth fishery will start on August 4th and 5th and be on Fridays and Saturdays until the summer quota is reached.

Although the season is windind down, good catches of shad are still being made throughout the Umpqua River. A few anglers are targeting flounder on the lower Umpqua River with fair, but inconsistent success. Crabs are starting to be a nuisance while flounder fishing and some anglers have switched from using sand shrimp to Berkley Gulp or other soft plastics to decrease crab “bites”.

Fishing for redtailed surfperch or “pinkfin” was good last week upriver of Winchester Bay, but not as good as it was the preceding week. The perch seem to bite best during strong tidal movement with many anglers prefering the incoming tide. When there is a lot of fishing pressure, the earliest-arriving anglers seem to make the best catches and may be spooking the fish for everyone else. The Umpqua’s perch run should last for at least another month and female pinkfins are still entering the Umpqua during series of high tides and gradually get fished down until a fresh batch arrives, During the entire duration of the Umpqua’s perch run, the male redtailed surfperch bite very well along our local beaches.

As for yellow perch, Tenmile Lake has been providing fair fishing for perch to nine inches. The largest yellow perch caught recently have come from Siltcoos Lake – but there doesn’t seem to be many of them. Dwayne Schwartz caught a chunky 13-incher last week that weighed one pound three ounces.

Loon Lake is offering excellent fishing for bluegill, good fishing for largemouth bass, fair fishing for crappies and uncaught planted rainbow trout. The upper end of the lake is offering good fishing for brown bullhead catfish.

Fishing has been surprisingly good for ocean coho, but, as expected, wild coho are dominating the catch. A few chinooks have also been caught by ocean salmon seekers. Most of the ocean salmon catches have come from water 200 to 300 feet deep with most anglers running their baits 30 to 75 feet beneath the surface. Fall chinooks are entering the Umpqua River in increasing numbers and are now a viable “Plan B” when the ocean is too rough or the Umpqua River Bar uncrossable.

Through July 2nd, Winchester Bay has been the Oregon’s busiest salmon fishing port and has produced approximately three times as many retained coho as any other Oregon port south of the Columbia River. Garibaldi was the second busiest port and has dominated the chinook salmon catch

Pete Heley works weekends at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from ‘A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.

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Mardon Resort / Potholes Reservoir Fishing Report

The fishing on the Potholes Reservoir continues to be good for all species. The water level has dropped just under 12 inches this week this week and is currently at 1039.15 feet. Water temperatures in the dunes are in the mid to upper 70’s and the main lake is running in the mid-70’s
The trout fishing continues to be good for fish in the 2-5-pound range. Anglers have been trolling Rooster Tails, long lining Flicker Minnows, and Needle fish in 15-30 feet of water from the MarDon Resort to the State Park, along Medicare Beach, and up the Lind Coulee. The trout fishing has improved off the MarDon dock. Dock fishermen are using worms and Power Bait both under a float and on the bottom.
The walleye are still in the dunes and in the brush – but are starting to move towards the outer dunes and weed lines. They are holding in 8-15 feet with some moving slightly deeper. Storm GT 360s, Flicker Shads, Smile Blade – Slow Death Rigs, and Wally Pops have been the top producers. Top colors are orange and chartreuse, and perch patterned crankbaits. With the warm temperatures – early in the morning and late in the evening are the best times for the trout and walleye.
Crappie fishing has been fair this week with reports of big crappie coming off beaver huts back in the dune sand up Lind Coulee by the M-Road bridge. Top crappie baits are still been the Trout Magnet in brown and in white & chartreuse, the 2” Kalin’s Triple Threat grub in Bleeding Tennessee Shad, and standard crappie jigs. The Rapala Rattlin’ rap in size RNR-04 working as well and is a good search bait. The best crappie bait off the MarDon dock has been the brown Trout Magnet tipped with a maggot. Perch and bluegill are being caught of the dock on worms and crappie jigs. Dock fishing is only available to registered guests staying at MarDon Resort.
Largemouth fishing in the dunes continues to be very good. The fish are hitting SPRO frogs, spinnerbaits, and creature baits such as the Keitech Crazy Flapper pitched to the edges of cover with a ½ oz. tungsten weight. The smallmouth are hitting Storm 360 GT swimbaits, Flicker Shads, tubes, and drop-shotting DS Minnows and Keitech Custom Leeches along the face of the dam in 6-18 feet of water. Topwater fishing is picking up with the warmer water temps and is an exciting way to fish.
Long Lake and Heart Lake have been the top producing lakes for trout in the Seep Lakes this week. Power Bait and worms floated off the bottom and crankbaits have been the top baits. Long Lake has been producing walleye, smallmouth and trout on crankbaits. Hutchinson Lake continues to produce quality crappie and bluegill on crappie jigs, Don’s Crappie Spin, and Rapala Rattlin’ Raps. Lower Hampton is producing good catches rainbow trout.
Be sure to stop by the store for the latest fishing information.

Jim Marshbanks – president of the Moses Lake Crappie Club with a nice 26.5″ walleye caught off the MarDon dock. Jim was using a red and white crappie jig!

A Nice Largemouth bass caught back in the dunes on a SPRO Frog.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 7 / 05 / 2017

A few fall chinool salmon are starting to enter the lower Umpqua River. Boat anglers trolling herring along the South Jetty are having some success on the chinooks, but the best bite has been in the ocean for coho salmon. Only fin-clipped cohos at least 16-inches long may be kept, but about 80 percent of the cohos taken last week were unclipped and unkeepable. The bank fishery for chinook salmon at Winchester Bay should gradually improve until it peaks in late August. But by then any decrease in angling success on chinooks will be more than offset by improving fishing for coho salmon. Finclipped coho salmon are legal to keep the entire year in the Umpqua River.

Some of the less typical salmon catches last week would include Steve Godin and and his fishing partner who’s Friday catch of five salmon included four finclipped, keepable cohos. Another angler, Kelly Blair caught three chinooks last week including a 24 pounder while casting spinners from the bank at Half Moon Bay and a chinook salmon of approximately 30 pounds was caught by a boat angler trolling a herring near Gardiner.

The fishing for redtailed surfperch has been very good for the last ten days and there are plenty of fish in the spawning area, but the fish move around alot and fishing success can vary greatly. I received an email from one angler whose fishing buddy was told by a fish checker that the bite was very slow and she thought the run was pretty much over. Ironically, very early that same morning two different boats stopped by the market where I work to to show off their boat limits of perch. They had started fishing at first light and had their boat limits before 6 am.

Quite often, when people rely on a single reporting source, the information given does not match up with the information that checking several sources would have provided. The female surfperch appear to be a long ways from spawning as the baby perch they bear live appear to be relatively undeveloped. As the perch in the spawning area get caught down, more female perch will be leaving the ocean and entering the river prior to spawning and this should be more evident following a series of of very high tides.

Since trout plants stopped several weeks ago, trout fishing has been slow in most waters. Because they have fair numbers of carrover trout as well as native and searun trout, the larger lakes have been providing the better trout angling recently and two of the best ones have been Tenmile Lakes and Eel Lake.

Shad fishing is starting to wind down on the Umpqua, but good catches are still being made. Chartreuse and hot pink remain the most productive colors.

Striped bass fishing on the Smith and Umpqua rivers appears to be very slow, but information has been hard to get. Striper fishing on the Coquille River seems to be improving with the best catches being made after dark.

Crabbing at Winchester Bay seems to be steadily improving with one guide offering short ocean crabbing trips with a two person minimum. A few guides are offering ocean salmon and crab combo trips. While crabbing in the ocean has been the best, crabbing in the lower Umpqua River has also been very good. Dockbound crabbers have to work harder for their crabs, but virtually all of them are catching some legal crabs.

One fishery that seems to be largely ignored is for brown bullhead catfish which should be just coming off the spawn. Siltcoos and Tenmile Lakes seem to have the best bullhead populations in our area, but virtually all of our local lakes and larger streams contain some bullhead catfish.

Bad news regarding the access to Horsfall Beach and Lake. It seems that being underwater for several months has degraded the road to the point where standing water is no longer the major factor in the road closure. A USFS employee stated that there is a chance that the road will not be usable until late summer of 2018. In the meantime, a sand road is being constructed from Horsfall Day Use Area which is currently accessible to Old Bark Staging Area which currently isn’t – in an attempt, in my opinion, to avoid having to refund monies collected for sand dune camping permits.

Pete Heley works weekends at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from ‘A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone

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Jumbo Macs On A Kokanee-Free Diet.

Small in comparison to most mackinaw/lake trout lakes, 1150 acre Cultus Lake lacks one other ingredient important to other mackinaw lakes in the Pacific Northwest – and that is a strong kokanee forage base.

Yet Cultus has produced multiple 35+ pound macs that grew up eating whitefish, rainbow trout and smaller lake trout.

A 36# Cultus Lake mac taken this year.

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