Pete Heley Outdoors 2 / 28 / 2018

The State of Oregon has an opportunity to secure the Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) Leaburg Hatchery on the McKenzie River. The Corps has announced that it plans to close the hatchery this summer as it shifts the current Leaburg production (trout and steelhead) to a private contractor. ODFW currently operates the hatchery for the Corps. The Corps has proposed a no-cost lease of the facility to ODFW, which could produce an additional 260,000 spring Chinook smolts and 100,000 trophy trout if ODFW can secure the necessary state funding.

CCA Oregon is working with Senators Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) and Fred Girod (R-Stayton) to secure an additional $350,000 in supplemental funding for ODFW to operate the facility through next June. This state funding would be combined with $150,000 of Columbia River Basin Endorsement funds paid by sports anglers to enhance recreational fisheries and implement the Columbia River reforms.

This is a great opportunity to secure an additional state fish hatchery (the state hasn’t built a new hatchery in over 40 years) AND increase spring Chinook hatchery production to benefit sport fisheries stretching throughout the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. Meanwhile, the enhanced production of trophy trout would represent a 20 percent increase in the total Willamette Valley releases of trout, a major boost to sportfishing opportunity and local economies.

So, how would this hatchery affect anglers living on the Oregon coast?

By increasing the number of salmon in the ocean along the Oregon coast and increasing Oregon’s total trout-rearing capacity – which should mean more trout available to be stocked in many Oregon waters that receive trout plants or even resuming trout plants in Oregon waters that are no longer stocked. Even if none of the additional trout were stocked along the Oregon coast, additional trout plants elsewhere in Oregon would reduce or dilute fishing pressure directed at the trout actually planted near the Oregon coast.

Speaking of trout plants – several Coos County and Douglas County waters were stocked this week. In Coos County, Bradley Lake, Johnson Mill Pond, Powers Pond and Saunders Lake each received 3,000 legal rainbow trout. In Douglas County, Loon Lake and Cooper Creek Reservoir each received 2,000 legal rainbows and Plat “I” and Ben Irving reservoirs each received 1,000. Galesville Reservoir in southern Douglas County was stocked with 1,667 trophy rainbows of 15-inches in length or more.

Although the Florence-area lakes have not been planted in nearly three weeks, they should still have decent numbers of uncaught trout as they received large numbers of trout when they were stocked.

Cold weather slowed a surprisingly good winter bass bite at Tenmile Lakes and may have been an obstacle to garnering good catches at last Saturday’s “Frostbite Open”. However the tournament has had great catches during cold weather in years past and there were some impressive catches this year, as well.

Chris Carpenter took big bass honors with a 7.47 pound lunker and teamed up with Travis Glass to win the tournament with a five bass limit weighing 22.70 pounds. The team of Jeff Abbott and Ray Hobbs finished second with five bass with a weight of 17.42 pounds. Jay Culver and Aubrey Hollaway teamed up for third with a five fish limit weighing 16.96 pounds. There were lots of bass caught that weighed between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds.

Congratulations to the Lower Umpqua Flycasters for hosting their very interesting and free Flyfishing expo in Reedsport last Saturday. It’s a shame that we have to wait a whole year until the next one. An outdoor sportsmen show that should offer different content than similar shows in the western portion of Oregon is the Central Oregon Sportsmen Show at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in Redmond. It runs from March 1st through March 4th.

Winchester Bay’s South Jetty is still offering fair fishing for striped surfperch, greenling and rockfish and the fishing for lincod is definitely improving. Hopefully, the South Jetty will continue to be productive as bottomfishing will close in waters beyond 30 fathoms at the end of March. In the meantime, offshore bottomfishing out of Winchester Bay remains excellent with good numbers of sizable lingcod taken.

Bad news for outdoor sportsmen who oppose license and tag price hikes. License revenue in Alaska rose in 2017 despite the stateselling 20 percent fewer licenses because of hefty fee hikes. This not the sort of “example” that will make other states think twice before increasing the price of their hunting and fishing licenses.

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.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

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