Pete Heley Outdoors

Crabbing from the docks at Winchester Bay was slow over the weekend and while those crabbing from boats did somewhat better, any legal crabs caught were well-earned. After a slow few days late last week, anglers fishing the Umpqua’s South Jetty did better over the weekend. As usual, most of the catch was greenling and surfperch and the most popular bait was sand shrimp.

It seems that sturgeon fishing pressure has picked up and some fish have been caught. Anglers have been fishing from around Reedsport all the way upriver to above tidewater and a few miles above the community of Wells Creek. Even though nuisance bites suffered by sturgeon anglers in the winter go way down, the most popular bait remains sand shrimp. At least one striped bass was reported taken last week from the Smith River.
Most of the area’s steelhead streams have good populations in them, so the best way to pick which one to fish is to go strictly by stream flows and levels – and perhaps which ones hold the most hatchery or finclipped fish.

Skilled, or perhaps determined is a better word, bass anglers should start catching some of their largest bass of the year. Stable weather conditions seem to provide better fishing and the number of bites will almost certainly be low, but it is possible to catch bass in the late winter and early spring that are virtually uncatchable the rest of the year. If using plastics from a boat or float tube, it is important to keep the craft stable enough to be able to recognize what will almost certainly be a light bite. Anglers fishing crankbaits need to fish them slow and near the bottom. On sunny days, it seems that the afternoon fishing is best – possibly because such mornings are usually quite cold. Early season morning bass anglers should look forward to misty or overcast morning as they are usually somewhat warmer although bass in deeper water most likely do not react to any but the largest temperatuare changes.

According to the newsletter put out by Eugene’s Emerald Bass Club, the annual Frostbite Tournament that takes place on Tenmile Lakes each winter is scheduled for Saturday, February 18th this year. The newsletter states that this year’s contest will run from 4 am through 4 pm and some of the past tournaments have produced some very impressive bass catches including one tournament in the last few years where it took more than 20 pounds to place in the top ten. However, early season weather conditions can vary greatly and possibly cause catch rates to do the same. But chances are, the tourney weighs are usually pretty interesting.

Yellow perch should be spawning within the next several weeks and should be at their fattest and with the exception of Woahink and Munsel lakes should be catchable in no more than about ten feet of water. Anglers wishing to partake of the rather poor crappie possibities in our area, fishing at dusk will improve their chances.

Even though lakes that receive trout plants in Coos and Douglas counties will not be planted until March, the lakes and ponds to the north along Highway 101 have good populations of planted trout. One way to decide which one of them if to take the number of trout planted in them and divide that number by the size of the water that received the trout. I will do the math for you this time and I am including trout planted this week: Alder Lake (1386 trout / 3 acres = 462 trout per acre), , Buck (886 trout / 3 acres = 295.3 trout per acre), Carter Lake (1500 trout / 28 acres = 53.6 trout per acre), Cleawox Lake (5000 trout / 61 trout per acre), Dune Lake (1386 trout / 3 acres = 462 trout per acre), Elbow Lake (600 trout / 13 acres = 46.2 trout per acre), Erhart Lake (450 trout / 6 acres = 75 trout per acre), Georgia Lake (150 trout / 2.5 acres = 60 trout per acre), Lost Lake (150 trout / 6 acres = 25 trout per acre), Munsel Lake (2800 trout / 110 acres = 25.4 trout per acre), North Georgia (150 trout / 1 acre = 150 trout per acre), Perkins Lake (236 trout / 4 acres = 59 trout per acre) and Siltcoos Lagoon (920 trout / 5 acres = 184 trout per acre).

There are other factors to consider regarding picking a lake to fish for planted trout. Although the figures in the paragraph above cover trout planted in the last two weeks, as the trout stocking season progresses, the choice becomes more difficult as fishing pressure, fishing success and trout predation (otters, cormorants, ospreys etc.) all affect the number of trout available for you to catch in each given water. Trout anglers should also be aware that in the early season when water temperatures are cold, the more shallow lakes respond more quickly to warm afternoons (relatively speaking) and their trout may be more active. Later in the season, when water temperatues rise, the deeper lakes may have the most active trout.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

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