Monthly Archives: December 2017

ODFW News – Recreational Crabbing Extended Southward

The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announce that recreational crabbing is now open from Cape Blanco, north of Port Orford, to the Columbia River. Crab samples taken from the area indicate that levels of the marine biotoxin domoic acid have dropped below the alert level.

This reopening of the recreational season applies to crab harvested in the ocean and in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties. Recreational crab harvesting remains closed along the southern Oregon coast from Cape Blanco to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid.

Crab and shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants remain safe for consumers.

It is always recommended to eviscerate the crab and discard the “butter” (viscera or guts) prior to cooking. When whole crab are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach into the cooking liquid. It is recommended to discard the cooking liquid, and do not use it in other dishes, such as sauces, broths, soups, stews, stocks, roux, dressings, etc. The consumption of crab viscera is not recommended.

For more information, call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visit the ODA shellfish closures web page at:

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Mardon Resort / Potholes Reservoir Recreation Report

The current water level is 1041.25 feet on the Potholes Reservoir. The water temperature on the main lake is right around 40 degrees with lower temperatures back in the sand dunes.
Fishing: We have had several reports of walleye being caught on the humps towards the face of the sand dunes on Blade Baits. Best bet is to blade bait the humps in 30-40 feet of water, or troll crawler harnesses on a 2-oz. bottom walker. The face of the dam is still producing walleye, smallmouth and trout. Swimbaits, dropshot baits, and football heads with skirted hula grubs and blade baits are the top baits on the dam. Fish 25-35 feet of water next to the dam. Several walleye are being caught off the MarDon dock on Blade Baits and Acme Hyper Glides.
Hunting: The duck hunting has improved this past week with multiple limits of mallards coming in. Several Teal, Redheads, and Bluebills have been taken as well. Goose hunting has been good over the past week with numerous limits being of honkers/lessers reported.
Call the MarDon Store for the latest hunting and fishing info at 509-346-2651
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife held a Commission Meeting on December 8th and 9th in Olympia. Much of the meeting was focused on Rule Simplification regarding fishing regulations. One of the Rule Simplifications on the agenda has a direct affect on our local waters. The WDFW is proposing the elimination of all Panfish special regulations on select waters. The Potholes Reservoir, Moses Lake and Banks Lake will be affected if this proposal is passed. The proposal will remove all size and number limits on Perch, Crappie, and Bluegill in the above-mentioned lakes. The public was able to comment online on the WDFW website and as of November 21, 2017, 301 comments had been submitted on the Panfish issue alone. Out of the 301 comments, 273 opposed the proposal with only 28 supporting the rule change. Furthermore, the public was given the opportunity to testify at the meeting.
Mike Meseberg and Pete Fisher of MarDon Resort, Ron Sawyer of Cascade Marina, Joel Nania, and others made the trip to Olympia to testify against lifting the current Panfish regulations. There were many others that attended and showed support in numbers against this proposal. This proposal, if passed, could have a tremendous negative affect on not only the Panfish in these waters, but on the bass and walleye fishing as well.
The public comment on the WDFW site, the Save Our Limits Facebook campaign, as well as the testimony provided by the public at the meeting opposing this the Elimination of Special Regulations on Panfish appears to have made a difference and it has the attention of the Commission. The WDFW Commission will decide on this issue during the January 19-20, 2018 meeting. The approved rule changes will go into effect in July of 2018.

The Brock Strickland party form Marysville, WA after a successful guided goose hunt with Levi Meseberg of MarDon Resort!

Barb Brady of Othello, WA braved the cold with her husband Steve Brady and got into some nice Potholes Reservoir walleye fishing Blade Baits on the mid-lake humps!

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Montana Outdoor News – FWP Will Hold a Pair of Meetings in Two Hi-Line Towns to Explain CWD Recently Discovered North of Chester.

The meetings are set for 7 p.m., Dec. 21, in Chester and Havre. The Chester meeting will be in the town’s high school auditorium, 511 Main St. The Havre meeting will be at the Hill County Electric Coop, 2121 U.S. Highway 2 NW.

At both meetings, FWP officials will present a background on the disease, what is known about the disease along the state’s northern border and what the department’s CWD draft management plan identifies for actions and management in the future.

A mule deer buck shot by a hunter Nov. 12 about 30 miles north of Chester near the Canadian border has tested positive for chronic wasting disease. The deer was taken in hunting district 401 in Liberty County.

The test results mark the seventh incident of CWD discovered in Montana wild deer this fall. The other deer came from south of Billings, where more than 1,000 samples were taken from deer, elk and moose this fall. Until this year, CWD had not been found in Montana, though the disease exists in wild deer herds in Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

In anticipation of the disease coming to Montana, FWP recently updated its CWD response plan.

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. It is part of a group of diseases called Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs). TSEs are caused by infectious, mis-folded prion proteins, which cause normal prion proteins throughout a healthy animal’s body to mis-fold, resulting in organ damage and eventual death.

Though there is no evidence CWD is transmissible to humans, it is recommended to never ingest meat from animals that appear to be sick or are known to be CWD positive. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hunters who have harvested a deer, elk, or moose from a known CWD-infected area have the animal tested prior to consuming it. If hunters harvest an animal that appears to be sick, the best thing to do is contact FWP and have the animal inspected.

Some simple precautions should be taken when field dressing deer, elk or moose:

Wear rubber gloves and eye protection when field dressing.
Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. (Normal field dressing coupled with boning out of a carcass will essentially remove these parts.)
For more information on CWD and FWP’s response, please look online at You can email vog.tmnull@esnopserDWC.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 12 / 20 / 2017

Last Tuesday Dwayne Schwartz fished Tenmile Lake for the first time in several months. He started out fishing 3”-inch Berkley Powerbait worms for yellow perch and then switched to nightcrawler-halfs and ended up quitting after an hour with four perch to nine inches. He then switched over to fishing for coho salmon and almost immediately lost his favorite lake coho lure, a red rattletrap, to a snag. Looking for another lure, he spied a chatterbait that he had never used.

Within a few minutes he had caught and released two coho jacks and an adult coho as well as a 15.5-inch trout and a largemouth bass that weighed more than four pounds.

It appears that the three coastal coho lakes are receiving very few fresh salmon and the fishing is basically for salmon already in the lake that have not yet ascended the lakes’ tributary streams where they are off limits to anglers. Yellow perch are available in all three lakes as are rainbow and cutthroat trout with most of the trout coming out of Siltcoos and Tenmile lakes. Cold water temperatures have definitely slowed the perch bite and the abundant perch populations in Florence-area lakes such as Cleawox, Mercer, Munsel,Sutton and Woahink have been largely overlooked. The few anglers fishing the upper ends of Eel Lake’s two arms have been catching a few rainbow and cutthroat trout. Sutton Lake can also offer fair winter trout fishing.

Anglers fishing Tenmile Creek for winter steelhead have encountered a few coho salmon which are illegal to keep or even target. It will happen more often when Eel Creek opens to steelhead angling on January 1st. While Tenmile Creek’s winter steelhead fishery doesn’t really get going until after Christmas virtually all the other steelhead streams in our area contain decent numbers of fish by mid-December.

Jetty anglers tired of only being able to keep only striped are looking forward to January 1st when they, once again, can keep lingcod, rockfish and greenling, but the primary catch on most jetties will still be striped surfperch. Anglers wanting to retain cabezon will have to wait until until July 1st when they can keep one cabezon per day at least 16-inches in length. The normal season for retaining cabezon runs from July 1st through December, but this year’s season was canceled due to the emergency bottomfish closure.

Anglers fishing the surf along area beaches have enjoyed fair to good perch fishing, but the fishing success has varied greatly. The fish have seemed to move around alot and surf conditions don’t always allow for effective fishing. Most of the catch has been redtail surfperch which seem to bite best on the flood or incoming tide. But occasinally, walleyed surfperch show well and they seem to bite best at high slack tide. Most anglers are using Berkley Gulp sandworms in the camo finish for bait.

Recreational crabbing continues to be superb along the open portions of the Oregon coast. Pretty much all of Coos Bay has been productive, but most of the crabbing pressure has been between Empire and Charleston. As for Winchester Bay, Half Moon Bay has been the most popular spot for boat crabbers. Surprisingly, the docks continue to be productive and last Friday, Tom Goodman, of Winchester Bay, brought what possibly was the largest dungeness crab I have ever seen into the Stockade Market. It was caught earlier that morning off “A” Dock and measured 8.5-inches across the back.

The best crabbing has been in the ocean and it has been almost unbelievable. Many crabbers who have ventured only a short distance out into the ocean have reported catching their boat limit of crabs before completing the first pull of their gear. Ocean crabbing success could change quickly for the worse should commercial crabbing resume and southern Oregon commercial crabbers be limited to the 30 mile stretch of open ocean between Tahkenitch Creek and the North Jetty of the Coquille River at Bandon.

Fishing and hunting licenses for 2018 are now available for purchase, but eager outdoor sportsmen need to remember that those 2018 licenses and tags ARE NOT VALID until January 1st of 2018. For a quick and troublefree license-purchasing experience bring a 2017 or older non-handwritten ODFW-issued license or tag with you. If it has clear, scanable barcode the license can be purchased in seconds.

One of the most disappointing aspects of selling ODFW licenses is how many 12 to 17 year olds that want to take advantage of the $10.00 yearly license that allows them to legally hunt, fish, crab or clam, but they do not know their social security numbers. Having one’s SSN entered into the ODFW licensing system is a requirement for purchasing any yearly license or tag for anyone 12 years of age or older. This bargain combo license, as well as a $5.00 salmon tag is also available to nonresident youths, as well – if they know their social security numbers.

The last of Oregon’s free fishing weekends which would have been Dec. 30th and 31st was canceled this year and the dates changed for 2018. The free fishing weekends for 2018 are February 17th and 18th, June 2nd and 3rd, September 1st and 2nd and November 23rd and 24th.

I hope that the outdoor sportsmen that think the ODFW already charges too much for their licenses and tags realize they are paying even more when they purchase their licenses and tags online due to the $2.00 shipping and handling fee.

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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More Winchester Bay Crabbing Photos

Lil’ Frankie Corbett had a great time crabbing with her family this week end in Winchester bay…34 crab including this bigger than her monster!

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Winchester Bay Surfperch

While jetty anglers have had to settle for striped surfperch, they will be able to keep lingcod, rockfish and greenling as of January 1st. In the meantime they can enjoy some decent, if inconsistent,

A number of pinkfin limits were caught from anglers fishing the beach west of the three parking lots south of Winchester Bay on Salmon Harbor Drive.

While the pinkfins (redtail surfperch) seem to bite best on the incoming or flood tide, walleyed surfperch seem to start biting at high slack tide.

surfperch fishing in the surf along the beaches south of the Triangle.

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Ocean Crabbing Continues to Be Great at Winchester Bay.

Prior to the reopening of the commercial crab season, recreational crabbing near the Umpqua River Bar continues to be very, very good.

Kathy Clemens seems quite pleased with “The Umpqua Angler’s catch of ocean dungeness crabs.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 12 / 13 / 2017

Crabbing at Winchester Bay continues to exceed expectations. Ocean crabbing near the Umpqua River Bar has been very good and most of the crabs have been relatively full. Half Moon Bay has been crabbing well. Last weekend there were some good crab catches made above Winchester Bay – which should mean that all three of Winchester Bay’s designated crabbing docks should continue producing crabs.

Last Saturday I sold several 2017 shellfish licenses to people that had bought 2018 shellfish licenses from a northwest employee-owned chainstore that were told the licenses were valid immediately. Luckily, the officer that checked them allowed them to purchase their 2017 shellfish licenses and “baby sat” their catch until they returned with valid licenses.

One of the local guides has been offering ocean crabbing trips for $75.00 per person and the crabbing has been so good that some of the trips have only lasted a half hour before the boat limit was reached.

Since Coos Bay has reopened for crabbing it has been very good, but Bandon remains closed However on calmer days, crabbers with the proper-sized boats can venture over the Coquille River Bar to crab the ocean – as long as they stay north of the North Jetty.

Commercial crabbers extended their closure through December. Between the North Jetty on the Coquille River (Bandon) and from Tahkenith Creek to the Washington border the commercial crabbing closure is a voluntary industry-imposed one. Elsewhere along the Oregon coast the closure is due to elevated levels of domoic acid.

I’ve been reassured that “work” has started on Winchester Bay’s crabbing pier, but the “visible” part of this work isn’t yet visible. The project is scheduled for completion in March.

The California Fish and Game Commission voted last week to close the 2018 northern California recreational abalone fishery due to ongoing environmental conditions that have significantly impacted the abalone resource. The closure affects next year’s recreational abalone season, which was scheduled to open on April 1, 2018. The Commission’s 4-0 decision (Commissioner Jacque Hostler-Carmesin was absent) upholds the policies of the Abalone Recovery and Management Plan, which was adopted by the Commission in December 2005. Over the past several years, the Commission has taken several actions to reduce take and shorten the season to protect abalone from the unprecedented environmental conditions.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission set regulations for recreational and commercial groundfish seasons last week at their meeting in Salem. The state’s regulations are based on federal quotas. After hearing public testimony, the Commission adopted a five fish bag limit (reduced from seven this year), in hopes of providing a year-round fishery in 2018. (The 2017 bag limit design was higher at seven fish, which was not sufficient to provide for year-round fishing, prompting an early closure that disrupted coastal charter businesses and anglers.) The Commission also approved an offshore longleader fishery with a 10-fish bag limit from January-March and October-December (though an April-September season may be added if federal regulations are adopted). Longleader gear can better target offshore rockfish species and lessen pressure on nearshore black rockfish. Further in-season adjustments to groundfish seasons could happen if needed to keep under allowed harvest levels and ODFW is committed to monitoring and reporting effort and catch at more frequent intervals. The cabezon fishery will remain the same (open July 1-Dec. 31 with bag limit of one cabezon).

Winter steelhead fishing is well underway and with the exception of Eel Creek (which opens Jan. 1st) most streams are open for fishing. Early catches on Tenmile Creek have been mostly unclipped, unkeepable fish. The next period of substantial rainfall should bring in good numbers of fish. When that happens, it’s a big advantage to know which streams clear the quickest.

Colder weather has slowed, but not stopped the yellow perch bite. Since they normally spawn between mid-February and late March, they should be approaching their peak weight for the year. If you catch a female yellow perch measuring 14-inches or more in the next three months you should take the trouble to get it weighed on an accurate scale. It just may eclipse the current two pound two ounce state record – and after 46 years it’s time that record was replaced.

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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Tenmile Lakes Mixed Bag

Dwight Schwartz, of Reedsport, started out fishing for yellow perch on Tuesday, December 12th. However, a half hour of fishing with nightcrawlers only resulted in four perch to nine inches – so he switched to salmon fishing and almost immediately lost his favorite lure – a rattletrap. Looking for another lure, he spied a chatterbait that he had never used.

Within a few minutes he had caught and released two coho jacks and an adult coho as well as a 15.5-inch trout and a largemouth bass that weighed more than four pounds.

Dwayne’s winter largemouth measured 20-inches and weighed four pounds and three ounces.

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CDFW News – Northern California Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Opener Pushed Back to Dec. 31.

The director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced an additional 15-day delay for the upcoming commercial Dungeness crab season, based on the results of another round of pre-season quality testing conducted on Dec. 5. The tests continued to show that Dungeness crab are not yet ready for harvesting.

The delay affects Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties). The season in these districts is now scheduled to open on 12:01 a.m. Dec. 31, 2017, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2017.

Crab quality tests are conducted regularly to ensure that crab are filled out enough prior to harvesting. Tests follow guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee, which is overseen by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Additional testing will be scheduled to occur by Dec. 22. If quality remains low, an additional delay until Jan. 15, 2018 will be issued by the director. This date is the latest the season can be delayed due to quality testing.

No vessel may take or land crab within Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 during the closure period. In addition, any vessel that lands crab from ocean waters outside of Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9, or any other delayed opening areas in Oregon or Washington, for 30 days following the opening of those areas as outline in California’s Fair Start Provision (Fish and Game Code, section 8279.1).

The director’s memo can be found here.

The updated Frequently Asked Questions for the current 2017-18 season addresses questions regarding the Fair Start provision.

For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit

For more information about Dungeness crab fisheries in California, please visit

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