Pete Heley Outdoors 4 / 24 / 2018

Spring chinook fishing has improved somewhat on both the Umpqua and Rogue rivers but no genuine lunkers have yet been reported on either river. Bank anglers casting large spinners for springers at Winchester Bay have yet to report any salmon taken. In the last two weeks most of the Umpqua River springers have been taken between Wells Creek and Elkton. Fishing is improving as the river drops and clears and shad could start biting at any time.

Smallmouth bass should start biting on both the Umpqua and Coquille rivers and muddy water can be both a blessing and a curse – limiting which lures are effective, but warming up much quicker than clear water. Smallmouths in Woahink Lake should be gradually moving into shallow water over the next few weeks as their spawn approaches.

With about half the bass in Woahink Lake now being smallmouths, it seems inevitable that some of them will leave the lake via the Woahink Creek outlet and end up in Siltcoos Lake – which doesn’t seem that suitable to them, but also reach the Siltcoos River outlet stream which is suitable for them. The same travel path has resulted in fair numbers of northern pikeminnows in the 100 yard stretch of stream immediately above the dam on the Siltcoos River – which is about three miles below the lake.

It looks like its going to be two to four weeks before the coastal largemouths get serious about spawning, but largemouth fisheries in the Medford area should be in their immediate pre-spawn stage, while spawning largemouths in the Roseburg area will lag their Medford-area brethren by about a week. Last week, two anglers fishing the upper end of Loon Lake, while using large rainbow trout-imitating lures accounted for six largemouth bass weighing at least five pounds. Warmer temperatures this week should allow for improved fishing in virtually all the bass and panfish lakes.

Numerous lakes in our area were planted last week and cool weather limited fishing success, so there should be plenty of stocked trout left. The only lake in our area stocked this week is Upper Empire Lake which received 2,000 trophy trout and will receive 2,500 legal rainbows next week. Other Coos County waters being stocked next week include Bradley Lake (3,000 legals); Eel Lake (3,000 legals) and the West Fork of the Millicoma River (500 legal rainbows).

Also stocked next week, Bluebill Lake gets its first trout stocking of 2018 – a plant of 3,000 legal rainbows. Other waters receiving trout next week include: North and South Tenmile Lakes with 3,000 legal rainbows each; Butterfield Lake (3,000 legals and 400 trophies) and Saunders Lake (3,000 legals). Florence-area lakes slated to be stocked next week include: Carter Lake (750 trophies); Cleawox Lake (345 legals and 1,477 trophies); Munsel Lake (1,650 trophies) and Sutton Lake (1,000 trophies).

Redtail surfperch were first reported in the Umpqua River last year during the last week in April – but then disappeared for nearly two weeks before they resumed their spawning run in earnest. Presently, anglers fishing the surf near the second parking lot south of Winchester Bay have been enjoying fair to good fishing while using two to three-inch pieces of Berkley sandworms in the camo color pattern.

With a slightly lower quota than last year, all-depth halibut for the central Oregon coast is set to begin its 3-day openers this year on May 10th. The openers for the spring season will be on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and the first four fixed or locked-in openers will be: May 10th – 12th; May 24th – 26th; June 7th – 9th and June 21st – 23rd.

As usual, every spring I write about the unfairness of the spring all-depth halibut season. People that work a regular Monday through Friday work week only get to fish one day per spring opener – if they can get out and actually fish. There are other ways the ODFW is being obviously unfair. When a separate halibut quota was being considered for the southern portion of the central coast subarea they used fish-catch data rather than fish-population data to decide how the central coast subarea quota would be divided up. Quotas that are based upon previous years’ catches heavily favor Newport which has a more friendly bar and a large halibut fleet.

However, a quota based on the actual halibut population in each portion of the central coast subarea would be fair to each portion and would likely extend the season on the southern portion of the central Oregon coast subarea.

While I am at it, I would like to repeat my annual gripe about the upper section of Mill Creek being included in the Mill Creek closure. The stream was closed because of anadromous fish snagging, but the upper 2+ miles of it are unreachable by anadromous fish – and the section between Loon Lake and Mill Creek Road, when it was legal to fish, offered very good angling for small to medium-sized largemouth bass.

A visit to the Coos County Courthouse’s Assessor’s Office indicated to me that some of the “No Trespassing Signs” between Hauser and North Bend have little validity. There doesn’t seem to be a downside to illegally posting property and actually may be a rather effective way to avoid sharing your favorite fishing spot with other anglers.
I truly wish such activity was pursued as zealously by law enforcement agencies as actual trespassing is.

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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