Pete Heley Outdoors 10 / 12 / 2016

Nearly two years ago there was considerable discussion about Bass Pro Shops buying Cabelas and then nothing was heard for nearly a year. Then last week the buyout was presented as pretty much a “done deal”. I guess when one business entity absorbs another business entity that is almost as large as they are, it takes some time.

I have always felt that prices were slightly lower at Bass Pro and they carried a more exensive product line than at Cabelas. Bass Pro Shops also has a wholesale division and their wholesale division, American Rod and Gun, allows their products to be sold by other retailers. The acquisition may eventually allow some fishing tackle retailers to personally check out some products they might be interested in carrying. Don’t expect any major changes in the near future.

It seems that the Pacific northwest states are starting to pay more attention to the population levels of marine forage fish species. Last week California had a meeting to take a closer look at how the state was going to manage marine forage fish. Starting Oct. 3rd, the ODFW began a closure on commercial anchovy fishing in the Columbia River due to uncertainty regarding the impacts the anchovy catch has on salmon and the local ecosystem. Small-scale bait fishing in the river will be allowed to continue, but boats must go to the ocean to seek larger volumes of anchovies if the demand continues.

A number of Coos County waters will be stocked with 14-inch trout this week. They are: Upper and Lower Empire Lakes (2,000 trout each); Powers Pond and Saunders Lake (1,300 trout each); Bradley Lake (800 trout) and Butterfield Lake (600 trout). Water temperatures in the lakes receiving trout should allow good survival, yet not be so cold that feeding activity is reduced. The year’s last trout plant in Coos County will occur in Bradley Lake when 800 14-inch trout will be stocked during the week beginning Oct. 24th.

Crabbing continues to be very good at Winchester Bay and Charlston. While crabbing in coastal rivers remains open all year, ocean crabbing will be closed from October 16th through November 30th. Fishing area jetties has been productive and relatively uncrowded since most coastal sportsmen are either salmon fishing or crabbing. The very few anglers fishing area beaches for surfperch are catching some redtailed surfperch, but fishing has been spotty.

The Coquille River continues to offer good fishing for smallmouth bass. Most anglers are tossing crankbaits and are also catching a few sublegal striped bass. Two of the most favored stretches include the mile each side of the Arago Boat Ramp and the lowermost mile of the Coquille’s South Fork. Last October, several anglers fishing salmon roe for Chinook salmon caught good-sized striped bass instead.

The healthy rain last week was enough to make the salmon more active, but will also make it much less likely that many shallow sand dunes lakes north of North Bend will suffer a fish kill this fall or winter. Each year these lakes shrink to the point of virtually drying up and their fish populations shrink accordingly. Then when winter and spring rainfall fills these lakes to their full size, the fish that managed to survive scatter throughout the much larger lake. The result is a low density fish population and tough fishing.

Ideally, a lake would undergo fall shrinkage to the point where the fish population is cramped, but doesn’t suffer a full or partial die off or stunted growth and when the lake fills to its maximum surface acreage in the spring the fish density is still fairly high.

These smaller lakes between Lakeside and North Bend are the area’s most under-utilized resource and perfect fishing spots to use a canoe, kayak or float tube.

Each year late in the season, I out a small, but interesting fishery knowing full well that by the time it begins fishing well the following spring, virtually everyone who reads this will have forgotten all about it.

So the spot I am outing is Mingus Park Pond. This tiny pond averages about two feet deep and is filled with waterfowl and people out for their daily walk. But the pond also contains a few bluegills, a few brown bullheads, a few goldfish and a surprising number of decent-sizes bass. The pond even received a plant of 2,000 legal rainbows last April.

Many of the bass taken at Mingus Park are caught by members of a facebook club, the Coos County Bass Masters, whose original facebook page featured Mingus Park Pond.

Most of the pond’s bass are caught at night and the largest ones have weighed at least eight pounds – and most are released to bite again.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

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