Exploratory Fishing – Hits and Misses.

I made a three day fishing trip in which I did more driving than actually fishing and while I had more “misses” than “hits”, I had forgotten just how much fun it was to really stretch my fishing boundaries.

The first spot I fished, and only for about 15 minutes, was Johnson Mill Pond – a 100 acre former mill pond that is very shallow and weedy and lies about four miles east of Coquille. I only found fish in one of the three spots I tried fishing, but in that small spot, I hooked a bluegill on almost every cast I made and they ranged in size from about five to nearly nine inches. I was using a small white fliptail grub on a light (1/32 oz) jighead.

And then it was driving and I didn’t come close to stopping to fish until I hit Highway 140 (Medford). I admit that I thought about fishing Galesville Reservoir, Lake Selmac, the Expo Ponds and Agate Lake, but this trip was to be of a more informative purpose than simply catching fish.

Early that afternoon, I found myself checking out the far side of Willow Lake. I always though it looked far “fishier” than the Resort side, but I did not know how to get there. This time, I made sure to get good directions and I found the east side of the lake to definitely appear to be better bass and crappie habitat than the west side. Because it was about noon and there were numerous people engaged in various forms of water recreation, I decided to wait until another time to spend much time fishing it – but it is definitely on my bucket list.

The last 45 minutes of daylight, I spent fishing Howard Prairie Lake from the bank and caught a number of pumpkinseed sunfish and small largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass. None of the bass measured as much as 11-inches and the pumpkinseed sunfish were much smaller than the nearly seven inch average I had when I first fished Howard Prairie a couple of years ago.

The following morning, I spend a half hour fishing John Boyle Reservoir and caught crappie, tui chubs and a bunch of small largemouth bass. But they were fun on the light tackle I was using. I managed to get a white pelican to swallow one of the chubs I caught. With a nine foot wingspan, they dwarf brown pelicans, and are a very impressive bird when viewed close up. One of the reasons I wanted to fish this reservoir was because on my last two occasions that I had launched my River Rat (a polyethylene float tube type of device), I had paddled up to where the Klamath River entered the reservoir and in each case had spooked a very large fish at the mouth of Spencer Creek while I was quietly paddline more than 50 yards away. I wanted to see just what was making the wakes. So I walked up the side of the reservoir that Spencer Creek enters on – only to discover that Spencer Creek was fenced off. The Creek was also fairly high and there wasn’t enough temperature differential to attract many fish. It looks like I’m going to have to make a float tube trip this fall when the Keno stretch of the Klamath River reopens on October 1st. Because of how warm the water gets in that section of the river, it is closed to fishing from June 16th through September.

I then checked out the upper end of that stretch of the Klamath River which begins at the dam just west of Keno. The area just above the dam is slow moving with heavy algae blooms. The locals never talk about fishing the area above the dam for warmwater fish, but I talked to a guy who used to live there, but now lives in Winchester Bay, and he said he caught largemouth bass, brown bullheads and yellow perch from the Keno area of the Klamath. Ironically, in the section between the Keno Dam and the upper end of John Boyle Reservoir, nobody ever seems to catch any warmwater fish, but there has to be some. However, trout to four or five pounds are regularly caught between Keno Dam and John Boyle Reservoir and ten pounders are possible.

The next step was to visit Fish Lake (the 400+ acre one in Jackson County). I wanted to catch a tiger trout, which were planted in the lake more than a year ago in the hopes that they would feed on the prolific tui chubs. Of course, I always wonder why they do not attempt to revitalie the lake’s former brown trout population (there is a mounted Fish Lake brown in the resort that weighed more than 18 pounds). The tiger trout are not yet legal to keep, but they are a beautiful fish and I really hoped to get a close look at one – but the lake had a heavy algae bloom and I did not bother to fish.

One of the main reasons for my trip was that I wanted to find and fish the Silver Creek Diversion Canal which is located fairly close to the community of Silver Lake. I took the southern route from Highway 97 into Silver Lake and was directed to the local gas station for fishing advice. The angler/mechanic was full of fishing advice, but the most important thing he said was that there was no way that my car was going to make it the five or six miles into the canal – no matter how badly I wanted to fish it. Some of the other places he spoke highy off were Slide Lake for big rainbows, Ana Reservoir for hybrid striped bass, Ana River for rainbow trout and Thompson Reservoir for big largemouth bass and rainbow trout.

After that, it was a pretty long drive north to Redmond. I decided to stay in a motel since there was no way I was going to find my next fishing destination, Reynolds Pond, in the dark.

The next morning, I visited the Alfalfa Store to get one of their famous “Reynolds Pond Maps” and then fished the pond for three hours, catching a number of smallish bass and crappies and three larger bass measuring 16 to 18-inches. However, the reason I chose to fish the ponds was because it was reputed to have large redear sunfish in it and had produced the current state record which weighed a half-ounce under two pounds – and I couldn’t any evidence that there were still redears in the pond. Outside of the larger, extremely hard-fighting bass I caught, the most exciting part of the fishing trip was knocking my spare rod into the water and then grabbing it – forgetting that I was in the process of taking a crappie photo and was holding my digital camera.

Fortunately, about a day later I was able to reuse the camera and download my Reynolds Pond photos – but without the use of my camera, I figured it was a good time to head home to Reedsport.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

Comments are closed.