Pete Heley Outdoors

The ocean chinook salmon fishery decision for this year should be coming out within the next couple of weeks and if the season starts on March 15th, like it usually does, that means that there will be the possibility of bottomfish/chinook salmon combo trips for the last half of March. Actually, the possibility for such trips will continue for other ports where there are shallow water bottomfish possibilities.

There may be a few spring chinook in the Umpqua River by the time you read this, but someone has to go out and actually catch one before the numerous other spring chinook anglers will begin fishign for them. Usually, the first such fish is caught from the Umpqua River during the first week in March and the first few springers are caught between the Scottsburg Bridge and Sawyers Rapids.

Crabbing success at Winchester Bay has been pretty much limited to boat crabbers who are crabbing at Half Moon Bay. Dock crabbing has been very slow and these shorebound crabbers have to make the decision of crabbing as low in the river and as close to the ocean as they can (the old Coast Guard Pier) or try slightly less muddy water (Dock A). Dock 9 would be a compromise choice. Miserable weather and rough ocean conditions reduced fishing pressure on the South Jetty to almost nothing. The South Jetty has been offering consistent fishing to those who fish it when conditions permit.

As usual, lots of would-be surfperch anglers are starting to ask questions about when the Umpqua River’s famed surfperch run is going to start. If this year’s run is like every other run in recent memory, the perch will enter the Umpqua River in good numbers within a couple of weeks of the third week in May. In recent years, the run has lasted longer, as much as three months. But there have been periods, some as long as a full week, where the perch don’t seem to bite – or they bite so early in the morning that most anglers miss out. While many anglers are impatiently waiting for these perch to enter the river, a few other anglers are making good catches of these perch in the surf. Rough surf conditions can limit surf fishing opportunities, but at least these anglers will have the chance to actually catch some redtailed surfperch over the next 10 weeks while other perch anglers are sitting on their thumbs waiting for the female perch to enter the river.

Two thousand trout are slated to be planted in Loon Lake next week and also, the third week in March, when Lake Marie is also scheduled to receive 2,000 trout. This week, 6,000 trout were scheduled to be dumped into Empire Lakes and 3,000 in Saunders Lake. Central Oregon has some interesting trout possibilities going on right now. These include: (1) flyfishing the Crooked River for mostly rainbow trout below Prineville Reservoir’s Bowman Dam; (2) fishing from shore with nightcrawlers on Crescent Lake for brown trout to more than ten pounds; and (3) fishing for bull trout on Lake Billy Chinook with the best fishing being with large trolled plugs or small baitfish such as anchovies or herring on the reservoir’s Metolius Arm which opens to fishing on March 1st.

Extremely heavy fishing pressure canceled the second half of the proposed two two-day sturgeon fishing seasons for late February. The season was for the Willamette River below Willamette Falls and included the Multnomah Channel and Gilbert River. The quota allowed the retention of 1,768 sturgeon and 1,535 sturgeon were reported kept during the first two day period of Feb. 17 and 18. With more than 86 percent of the quota taken during the first two days, the ODFW was forced to cancel the second two day season (Feb. 24 and 25) since it appeared that more than 700 sturgeon would be caught on the next day of legal retention – greatly exceeding the total quota.

A good example of the trout plants being heaviest where the human population is largest might be Henry Hagg Lake. Henry Hagg is located in Washington County near Hillsboro and is one of relatively few Oregon lakes not open the year around. This year, the lake opens for fishing on Saturday, March 3rd (despite being listed as opening March 4th in the 2012 angling synopsis) and will have 18,000 trout planted for the opener in addition to 600 jumbo trout weighing up to 15 pounds that were planted earlier.

For the first time in more than 50 years, steelhead, chinook salmon and sockeye salmon ascending the Deschutes River will be able to potentially spawn in the Deschutes, Metolius and Crooked rivers above Lake Billy Chinook. This year, about half the returning adults that are trapped will be released into Lake Billy Chinook in the hopes that they will ascend the lake’s three major tributaries to successfully spawn and the other half will be used to for brook stock at the Round Butte Hatchery to raise smolts for release into Lake Billy Chinook in 2013. While it is exciting that many more miles of spawning areas will be available to these anadromous fish, the young salmonoids will be an additional forage source for these streams’ large trout, especially the brown and bull trout that inhabit these streams.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

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