Pete Heley Outdoors 4 / 24 / 2019

As of last weekend, the Umpqua River had dropped somewhat, but was still muddy. Just before it muddied up sprink chinook angling was the best it’s been all season – which is only fair in an otherwise crummy season. Anglers fishing the South Jetty area for lingcod and other bottomfish are finding much clearer water in the ocean on the south side of the “Triangle”.

Very few salmon anglers are taking advantage of the ocean chinook fishery which has been in effect since March 15th. It seems like a few anglers would be targeting springers before they actually get into the Umpqua River.

By the time the lower Umpqua River clears, there may be a few redtail surfperch or “pinkfin” on their spawning run in the two miles of river just above the East Basin entrance at Winchester Bay. One angler landed six pinkfin at Half Moon Bay last Sunday – which is about halfway between the beach and their preferred spawning area.

Striped Bass were biting well on the upper tidewater areas of the Smith River before heavy rains muddied the stream and they should resume biting when the water clears. It won’t be long before the stripers move downstream into the lower tidewater areas. This movement on the Smith River will be from the North Fork Smith River snd the mainstem Smith above the North Fork downstream to the lower several miles of tidewater. On the Coquille River the movement will be from the Myrtle Point or Arago area downstream to the several miles above Highway 101.

Shad fishing may be just days away on several area streams including the Coos/Millicoma, Coquille, Siuslaw and Umpqua rivers. On the Umpqua, the early fishing pressure will almost certainly be in the Yellow Creek area. Other early season spots include near the Elkton school and near the boat ramp at Umpqua. As the river drops, Sawyers Rapids will continue to improve until it dominates the Umpqua’s shad catch.

Offshore bottomfishing using conventional techniques in waters deeper than 240 feet (40 fathoms) ends at the end of April.

Brian Keith, who owns the Harborview Motel in Winchester Bay, recently showed me an impressive photo one of his brown trout-chasing friends had recently sent him. The photo was of a chunky smallmouth bass of approximately five pounds that was caught in Brian’s favorite brown trout lake – Suttle Lake.

Unfortunately for the brown-chasing group that Brian is a part of, Suttle Lake appears to be ideal smallmouth habitat as it sits at an elevation of 2,500 feet and has a large population of stunted Kokanee salmon for a forage base. Time will tell if there is breeding population of smallmouths or just that one jumbo specimen.

Bass anglers in the Grants Pass/Medford area are dealing with latgemouth bass that are actually spawning or on the verge of it. Bass anglers in the Roseburg area are dealing with bass that are on the verge of spawning and coastal bass anglers are dealing with bass that are in various stages of the pre-spawn.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission (OFWC) finalized the 2019 recreational halibut seasons at their meeting on April 19th at St. Helens for all of Oregon’s halibut zones.

Regarding the spring all-depth season for our area( central coast subarea) – there are five fixed open dates: May 9-11, May 16-18, May 23-25, May 30-June 1, June 6-8. – If quota remains, possible back-up dates will be June 20-22, July 4-6, and July 18-20.

In addition to the many lakes planted last week, Butterfield Lake will receive 400 trophy trout this week and Upper Empire Lake will receive 4,500 trout comprised of 2,500 legals and 2,000 trophies.

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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