Pete Heley Outdoors 4/03/2013

Spring chinook fishing on the Umpqua River has started to pick up. It seems that most of the bites are non-aggressive or tentative and many of the hooked fish are coming loose, but the overall activity level has picked up. Additionally, there has been some springer activity in the ocean and lower Umpqua River. Once again, most of the bites have been tentative and only a few fish have been landed. Alec Howard, while fishing with his dad, Scott Howard of Team Strikezone, hooked and landed a 20 pound springer last Sunday while trolling the jetty near the Coast Guard Tower on their way in from a bottomfishing trip. Even though Alec gave the fish plenty of time to finalize the bite, it was still hooked barely inside the mouth. A small increase in water temperature should make things much easier.

The fact that more than a dozen people stopped by to ask me when the ocean salmon opened has convinced me that the ODFW simply has to rehire the people that were in charge of getting their fishing information out – after all, by the time you read this, the ocean chinook salmon season will have been open about three weeks (since March 15th). In the ocean, the minimum legal size for the chinooks is 24-inches.

There was a lot bottomfish-directed fishing pressure over the weekend and some great lingcod catches were made. However, fishing success off the South Jetty was surprisingly inconsistent last week. One angler came into where I work last Saturday stating that the South Jetty/Triangle area was only jetty area in which he had yet to catch a fish. I managed to convince him that our bottomfish behaved pretty much like the fish he was catching off other jetties and I was sure that the “law of averages” would kick in for him. He came in the next day with a big smile on his face and stated that he had caught a limit of larger than average greenling and a cabezon that would have easily been large enough to keep if he had caught it after July 1st. Most of the fish were taken on sand shrimp, although a few lingcod anglers hooked fish on larger jigheads and plastics. Anglers fishing the jetty area from boats did well on rockfish and lingcod casting metal jigs.

Due to limited fishing pressure and, up till last week, cooler than normal water temperatures – there are plenty of stocked trout left in all the lakes that received recent plants. This week, Loon Lake is slated to be stocked with 1,500 legal rainbows and Saunders Lake with 3,000. Next week, Eel Lake is slated to receive 2,500 legal rainbows while Butterfield Lake and Lake Marie are slated for 2,000 and 1,000 legal rainbows respectively. South of Florence, Carter and Cleawox lakes are slated to be stocked next week. Carter is slated to receive 2,500 legal and 500 foot long rainbows and Cleawox is slated to receive 2,000 legal, 200 foot long and 300 trophy rainbows.

The Medford area has been giving up some outsized largemouth bass and the Roseburg area seems on the verge of offering the same. It appears that anglers wanting to fish the shallow water on our coastal lakes will have to wait a few weeks for improved fishing success. Anglers that carefully pick their fishing spots on the Umpqua can catch some nice-sized smallmouths right now. Even though the water is still cold, some of the backwaters can be much warmer than the main river curent. The backwaters that are the warmest are those where the upper ends are farther upriver than where the backwater joins the main river. These water at the upper ends of these backwaters will be segregated from the main river current allowing a greater temperature differential than those backwaters where the ends are farther downriver than where they join the Umpqua. These backwaters will almost always have some cooler river water entering them.

Crappie anglers should consider the next four weeks as prime time to catch these tasty panfish. While the lakes between Eugene and Medford produce larger crappie, at times the bluegills can be a nuisance. However, for the next several weeks, water temperatures should be cool enough to limit bluegill interference. While few anglers take advantage of the after dark bite, the crappies usually become active at least an hour before dark.

Dave Hudson was one year ahead of me through Lakeside Elementary, North Bend Junior and Senior High and Southwestern Oregon Community College. Since his recent retirement, he has been very active on facebook with many posts that would be considered public service posts and the one he posted last Sunday definitely got my full attention. He re-posted a photo from A.J. Zolten of a neighbor’s home and property that was covered by oil from the Exxon pipeline spill at Mayflower, Arkansas. The fact that it is much worse than media covereage would have one believe may be due to the fact that the local authorities have denied press access to those wishing to actually cover the spill. I cannot envision this type of behavior happening in Oregon or Washington – yet another reason to be proud to be an Oregonian.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

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