Pete Heley Outdoors 1/16/2014

The area’s hottest fishing is for winter steehead on the Umpqua River. The most productive stretches on the mainstem Umpqua are from around Sawyers Rapids upriver.  – and the hottest technique seems to be backtrollimg with diving plugs like Hotshots and Wee warts.Some of the best areas in the lower ends of pools where the water starts picking up speed (tailouts), although other areas where water flow is the right speed will also produce – but the steelhead are usually more concentrated in the tailout areas – especially those that have long stretches of poor holding water on each side of them.

people walking the beach just north of the Siuslaw River at low tide last week reported that they encountered hundreds of dead and dying crabs on the beach. The dead crabs  were both male and female – and most were large enough to be legal if they were males. There were enough dead crabs that the seagulls and other scavengers were temporarily overwhelmed.

A similar occurence was reported im June.

The die-offs are attributed to hypoxic or low oxygen conditions and were very rare prior to 2002, since the hypoxic conditions in 2002 also killed long-lived sea creatures like starfish.

While hypoxic ocean conditions were a factor in the poor success of sport crabbers this year, a more serious problem might be a reduced crab population in future years – since these hypoxic-related die-offs have been appearing with increasing  frequency over the last dozen years.

Steve Godin, a very knowledgeable advocate for Umpqua River anglers has convinced me that the upcoming ODFW meeting in Reedsport is an important one. Here’s what is at stake in his own words – “ODF&W has scheduled a Public Meeting in Reedsport to gather input regarding the Coastal Multi-Species Conservation and Management Plan. The meeting is scheduled for January 29 at the Community Center, 451 Winchester Ave, Reedsport from 6:00 – 9:00 PM. Proposed new fishing regulations will reduce the annual quotas for Wild (Non- Hatchery) Fall Chinook Salmon and Spring Chinook Salmon. ODF&W is proposing managing salmon fishing with a sliding scale based on forecasted abundance. ODF&W has not defined the formula for determining salmon abundance for the Umpqua River. Generally in a ten year period, ODF&W predicts there would be one bad year, seven average years and two good years. The impact to harvesting Wild Fall Chinook on the Umpqua River would be 2 fish per day / 20 fish per year in high abundance years, 2 / 10 in average abundance years (most of the time) and 2 / 5 in low abundance years. The impact to harvesting Wild Spring Chinook on the Umpqua River would be 2 / 10 in high abundance years, 2 / 5 in average abundance years and 1 / 1 in low abundance years. Current regulations for Winter Steelhead are that you may not take a Wild Winter Steelhead on the Umpqua River. There is no scientific rational for not allowing anglers to keep some Wild Winter Steelhead on the Umpqua River, at least based on the current abundance of these fish. If enough fishermen and interested parties attend this meeting and voice their opinions (for or against), ODF&W could change these proposed regulations. This proposal is still considered a DRAFT. Those unable to attend this meeting can still submit comments to ODF&W by Email to by February 10, 2014. More information regarding the Coast Multi-Species Conservation and Management Plan can be found on the ODF&W web site.”

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

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