Steelhead fishing has generally improved with stable weather conditions and clearing water. Terry Newport braved heavy fishing pressure on the South Fork Coquille River to catch several finclipped steelhead. The mainstem Umpqua River fished very well last week for boat anglers running plugs in the right current speed to match the plugs they are using. For example, a kwikfish works best in slow current speeds, while a hotshot works best in faster water. Of course there are a number of plugs that work well in current speeds in between these two extremes. Some of the best Umpqua River steelhead fishing has been taking place above Elkton. The Umpqua River, with, rare exceptions, remains a catch and release wild steelhead fishery.
Tenmile Creek has been providing consistent steelhead action with most of the fishing pressure taking place at, or just below, Spin Reel Park since most of the steelhead caught are keepable finclipped fish. The stetch between Eel Creek and Tenmile is capable of producing very good steelhead fishing, but has very little fishing pressure since virtually every finclipped steelhead swimming up Tenmile Creek turns off and runs up Eel Creek. Fair numbers of steelhead have been observed in Eel Creek, but few anglers are willing to put up with the extremely snaggy conditions.
Don’t count on Eel Lake producing many steelhead in future years since the STEP Chapter now plants the steelhead they trap in lower Tenmile Creek after they are done with them. In years past, these fish were allowed to enter the lake and often remained in the lake until they were caught, when the lake’s Eel Creek outlet became quite low in the early spring. The same condition sometimes keeps coho salmon smolts in the lake when they want to begin their migration to the ocean. These fish, which may grow to well beyond eight inches in length are not legal to keep as are the legal-sized trout.
It may not result in anything positive, but I applaud the House in the Oregon State Legislature’s decision to allow the use of dogs to hunt cougars. Of course the House Bill still has to pass the Oregon State Senate and the governor for ratification and if it becomes state law it would allow Oregon counties to opt out of the state ban on using dogs to hunt cougars.
While it makes me quite nervous to allow Oregon counties to vote to ignore statewide law, in this particular case successful passage of the bill (LC 62) may allow some of Oregon’s rural counties to better deal with an expanding cougar population brought on by a ban on using dogs to hunt cougars that was voted in by Oregon’s most heavily urbanized areas that rarely have to deal with the problem.
In the meantime, Oregon remains the only western state without a human fatality due to a wild cougar. However, in November of 2013, a woman employee of Wildcat Haven in Sherwood was mauled and killed by a cougar when she entered the enclosure alone. At the was time the cougar was scheduled for relocation.