Pete Heley Outdoors 4 / 11 / 2018

Quite a few area lakes received trout plants this week. Loon Lake and Lake Marie each received 1,000 legal rainbows. Other Douglas County lakes receiving trout plants include Ben Irving Reservoir with 1,000 legal rainbows; Plat ‘I’ Reservoir with 1,000 legal rainbows; Cooper Creek Reservoir with 1,500 legal rainbows and Galesville Reservoir with 1,667 trophy rainbows. Curry County lakes receiving trout plants included Floras Lake with 150 trophy trout and Garrison Lake with 250 trophies. In Coos County, Bradley Lake received 3,000 legal rainbows and 200 trophies and both Upper and Lower Empire lakes received 250 trophy rainbows. Florence-area lakes receiving trout plants included Carter Lake with 750 trophy rainbows; Cleawox Lake with 1,475 trophy rainbows and Woahink Lake with 1,000 trophy rainbows.

Sometimes when a lake is slated to receive identical trout plants during successive weeks. it is because the earlier stocking was delayed and that may be the case with Cleawox Lake which is slated for 1,475 trophy rainbows next week. Also slated to receive trout plants next week are: Alder Lake, Dune Lake, Empire Lakes, Garrison Lake, Georgia Lake, Mercer Lake, Munsel Lake, Perkins Lake, Powers Pond, Siltcoos Lagoon, Siltcoos Lake, Sutton Lake and North and South Tenmile lakes.

Winchester Bay’s South Jetty continues to offer good fishing for lingcod and rockfish – as does virtually every saltwater jetty in Oregon. Striped surfperch are entering their pre-spawn period and have also been biting well. Greenling, which no longer have a minimum size limit, are being caught primarily on the ocean side of the south side of the “Triangle”.

Redtail surfperch, often called “pinkfins” and walleye surfperch have been biting well on the beach adjacent to the second parking lot south of the Triangle. Other popular surfperch spots are Horsfall Beach near North Bend, Sparrow Park Road near Gardiner and near the mouth of the Siltcoos River at the end of Siltcoos Beach Access Road.

The much-anticipated run of female redtail surfperch up the Umpqua River usually starts around the first week in May and lasts until late July

The first shad should be bending rods on the Umpqua River near Sawyers Rapids and Yellow Creek within the next couple of weeks.

Spring chinook fishing on the Umpqua and Rogue rivers continues to be slow, but it is still early in the season and fishing should improve.

While talking to the folks at Darlings Resort on Siltcoos Lake, I learned that there was 18 bass tournaments scheduled to be held on the lake this year. It was only several years ago that Siltcoos Lake bass tournaments were a rarity. It’s amazing what one well-attended and productive bass tournament can do to a lake’s extended fishing pressure.

I also learned that the heaviest Siltcoos Lake bass taken in a tournament so far this year weighed seven pounds nine ounces and the biggest yellow perch turned in to the resort last year measured 16-inches – which almost certainly would have been a state record if it was caught prior to spawning and weighed on a certified scale.

Striped bass should be on the agenda. On the Smith River, stripers seem to school up in a few holes on the North Fork about three miles upstream of where the North Fork Smith River enters the mainstem Smith River. It seems that every year a few stripers are spotted in the Umpqua River near Sawyer’s Rapids – but seldom fished for. On the Coquille River, the spring striper fishery occurs from the Arago Boat Ramp upriver.

On the Coquille River in the spring, muddy water is often a factor limiting fishing success.

As for largemouth bass angling, some of the larger coastal lakes have water temperatures in the mid-50’s. However for the next couple of weeks we won’t have a series of consecutive warm days needed to raise water temperatures a noticeable amount.

Some of the shallow lakes in the southern Willamette valley in which fishing may improve during a single warmer day would be Ford’s Pond, Plat ‘I’ Reservoir and Selmac Lake.

I wish the ODFW in western Oregon would do more of what the state of Washington did more than ten years ago – and that is plant several juvenile white sturgeon. Washington officials planted the juvenile sturgeon in the upper Columbia River and the survival rate was surprisingly good – to the point where WDFW officials are now concerned with these, now adult, hatchery sturgeon interracting with native sturgeon.
Starting on April 29th, anglers will be allowed to harvest two sturgeon per day from Wanapum or Priest Rapids reservoirs. The sturgeon must have a fork length between 38 and 72-inches.

Sturgeon caught in these reservoirs will not count toward an angler’s annual limit for sturgeon and anglers will not be required to record sturgeon harvested from the two reservoirs on their catch record cards. Additionally, anglers may fish for sturgeon in Wanapum and Priest Rapids reservoirs with two rods with the purchase of a 2-rod endorsement. This fishery, now in its third season, will run until Sept. 1st.

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.


WDFW News – WDFW Launches New Fish Washington Regulations App Ahead of Fishing Opener.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) debuted a new mobile app today that promises to make determining fishing regulations for Washington waters easier and more convenient.

The free “Fish Washington” app, available on Google Play, Apple’s App store and WDFW’s website (, is designed to convey up-to-the-minute fishing regulations for every lake, river, stream and marine area in the state.

The exception, for now, is the app does not yet include information on shellfish and seaweed collection rules.

“The Fish Washington app is a step in our ongoing effort to make fishing simpler in Washington,” said Thiesfeld. The app release comes ahead of the season’s lowland lakes fishing opener Apr. 28, the state’s biggest fishing day of the year.

The application contains these features, among others:

Interactive map-based rules to help anglers find fishing near them.
Details on harvest limits and allowable gear for fishable species in each body of water.
Links to the Fish Washington website and instructional videos designed to convey when, where and how to fish in Washington.
Locations of boat launches and other fishing access points.
Ability to add waypoints on maps, and report poaching in progress.
Downloadable updates and offline capacity designed for those who may not have cell service in remote areas or on the water.
“The Fish Washington app is a planning and mapping tool that should be on every Washington angler’s smart phone,” said Thiesfeld.

Development of the “Fish Washington” app is part of a larger set of communication initiatives the department is working on in response to public feedback in recent years.

Other examples include ongoing efforts to simplify fishing rules and redesign of the department’s website.

The beta version of the app underwent testing by thousands of anglers in the state over recent months.

Future plans include electronic sportfishing catch record cards and a comparable mobile hunting application.

“We are grateful to the outdoorspeople that made suggestions, tested and helped support us as we have worked to develop this phone app,” said Thiesfeld. “They are a big part of our work to maintain and improve the fishing experience in Washington.”

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Pete Heley Outdoors 4 / 04 / 2018

Possibly a reaction to California closing its abalone season and the resulting increase in abalone harvest in Oregon waters, Oregon decided to close abalone harvest for the next three years – with the Commission requesting annual updates. After 3 years there will be another another rulemaking meeting where the closure will be either be extended or amended with new fishery rules depending on an evaluation of the situation at that time. The Commission suggested a “big game” model be adapted for the fishery (lottery permits).

Officials say salmon soon could return to the upper reaches of the Columbia River for the first time in seven decades.

According to a Northwest News Network report, Cody Desautel, director of natural resources for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville, stated that his group will “trap and haul” fish out of its hatchery and put them above Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams in northeast Washington (respectively 545 and 595 miles above the Pacific Ocean). He says “there will be salmon above Grand Coulee Dam this year for the first time in 70 years.”

Desautel says the plan hangs on one last federal permit from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. If the final permit is approved, Colville fish managers will trap salmon at their hatchery and drive them around the dam by truck, where they’ll be released back into the Columbia River. The tribe will keep track of where those fish go.

If the salmon successfully use spawning areas above these dams, at the very least it should increase the number of salmon entering the Columbia River when their progeny attempt to make the lengthy journey back to their birthplace.

Marine waters deeper than 30 fathoms closed to conventional bottomfishing March 31st and during the last few days of the season the fishing was very, very good with surprisingly heavy fishing pressure. Winchester Bay’s South Jetty has been fishing fair for rockfish, greenling and striped surfperch and good for lingcod.

Fishing pressure for ocean chinook has been very light and unproductive. Spring chinook fishing on the Rogue and Umpqua rivers has been slow, but should show gradual improvement as it is still early for that run. Although no lunker-sized springers have yet been reported caught in either river, hope fully their springers will not exhibit a shrinking average size to the degree that the Columbia River has.

The regulations are quite complex, but there will be sturgeon fishing and retention (white sturgeon only) on the Columbia River this year. While the season is open, the daily limit will be one sturgeon with a fork length of 38 to 54-inches between Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam (minimum fork length 43-inches above The Dalles Dam) and with a season limit of two sturgeon. Make sure to check the ODFW website for more detailed information.

Mingus Park Pond was indeed stocked last week, but I checked it twice last week and saw no evidence of trout. I watched several cormorants go fishless for an hour – yet a young lad started hooking nine to ten inch rainbows every several casts. It was quite pleasing to note that cormorants are very inefficient trout predators in extremely shallow water.

Other Coos County waters being stocked this week include Butterfield Lake and Johnson Mill Pond with with 3,000 legal rainbows each. Upper and Lower Empire Lakes are slated for 1,000 larger rainbows each.

Both Tenmile Creek and Eel Creek remain open for hatchery steelhead through April 30th and since both streams’ steelhead tend to be late-arriving – there should still be fair numbers of steelhead present.

Yellow perch in all area waters are in post-spawn mode, while smallmouth bass should be approaching immedire pre-spawn mode. Crappie should begin spawning in late April. Largemouth bass should begin spawning in early May and bluegills should begin spawning in early June. Bullhead catfish usually spawn in late May or early June.

To reduce the threat to young fish, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is working with several nonprofit and local governmental organizations to haze cormorants on six coastal estuaries over the next two to four months. ODFW has coordinated the cormorant hazing project for the last 9 years, although cormorant hazing in some form has occurred at some Oregon estuaries intermittently since 1988.

Hazing will continue through May 31 on the Nehalem, Nestucca, and Coquille river estuaries, and on Tillamook and Alsea bays. The program will continue through at least July 31 on the lower Columbia River, where hazing will occur at a variety of locations, including Young’s Bay, Blind Slough, and Tongue Point.

The Oregon Bass & Panfish Club recently celebrated its 60th anniversary with an active membership of more than 230. The Portland-based club has had as many 700 members during different periods in the club’s lifetime. The club performs many outdoor-related projects in northwest Oregon, but the neatest thing about the club, to me, is their multi-species fishing tournament where the length of the largest specimen of each fish species is recorded and the largest “total length” wins the tournament.
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.

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Exploring For New Fishing Spots With Google Earth Pro.

Some of my fondest fishing memories memories have been when I have discovered, on my own, secret fishing spots that nobody knew about – or so it seemed at the time I discovered them.

Many of my “discoveries” were simply luck. or perhaps a case of a few fish getting into a spot they had not inhabited before – or perhaps they had human help. And many of these “discoveries” only lasted a year or two before the new fishery dried up or could not maintain itsef due to lack of spawning success.

But some of my “discoveries” were truly special. When I hiked down Lake Creek, the Diamond Lake outlet, in October of 1971, I was looking for a barrier that kept the brown trout in Lemolo Reservoir from reaching Diamond Lake via Lake Creek which in addition to being Diamond Lake’s outlet is also a major tributary of Lemolo Reservoir. Within a quarter mile of the lake I encountered a couple of brush dams and the remains of a small concrete dam that would greatly hinder upstream migration – but the greatest barrier to upstream migration was a 300 yard stretch of slow-moving, very weedy water that was the most food rich water in the entire stream.

The first few years the fall fishing on Lake Creek for brown trout and brookies was superb along with excellent spring fishing for spawning rainbow trout around Memorial Day.

Over the next 20 years, a series of drought years, a tui chub invasion and the resulting rotenone treatment all combined to make the stream less productive. I no longer fish it, prefering to remember Lake Creek it as it was when I first started fishing it.

Another discovery was a pond along the west side of the railroad tracks about midway between Hauser and where the Trans Pacific Parkway. This shallow pond of slightly more than an acre was absolutely loaded with bass when I first discovered it, but a year later the railroad tore out the beaver dam creating the lake when it became large enough so that the pond almost reached the tracks. When the beavers rebuilt the dam, it no longer had the 80 foot long channel with a hard sand bottom that was necessary to bass spawning success as the pond itself had a soft muck bottom.

The beavers also built a dam creating a pond upriver of the original pond, but too far above the original pond to entrap bass and still remains fishless, except for sticklebacks, to this day.

There are numerous other “discoveries”, but I’m sure you realize how wonderful it feels to discover a special, overlooked spot – and the disappointment that ensues, when for one reason or another, the spot doesnt stay special – or undiscovered.

While private land ownership, and the subsequent postings, have increased over the years, computer mapping software has made exploring easier. My favorite program for doing so is Google Earth Pro – a free application that downloads easily from the internet.

When I am using Google Earth Pro, I am usually looking for small lakes or ponds fairly close to waters that contain fish and have public access. I also look for obviously much wider spots on streams that contain bass or panfish. I also look for barriers that may impact fish movement For example, I found that the best fishing on small central Oregon streams in the late summer and fall was just downstream of beaverdams or other obstructions rather than the actual ponds.

So there you have it – a free software program guaranteed to give you a headstart toward finding you own “secret” spots.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 3 / 28 2018

Adding on to last week’s report about several Silverton-area cougar sightings, one cougar was captured and euthanized – about the same time as a cougar entered a downtown motel complex that was under construction in The Dalles. This cougar was trapped in a room, sedated and then euthanized off site. Euthanization is pretty much the only recourse in dealing with wild cougars that have lost their fear of humans.

While The Dalles is not a major metropolitan area, it does have nearly 20,000 residents and this cougar incident may indicate that Oregon’s cities may not be immune from the results of the urban-dominated statewide vote to ban baiting or using hounds to hunt cougars and bears.

The folks at the ODFW office in Charleston were quite helpful in explaining the stocked trout classification sizes. The classification sizes are simply a rough guideline and since indivual trout grow at different rates and hatchery growth rates for a group vary from year to year – especially in trophy or broodstock trout where varying growth rates over a longer time period may result in major size differences within the same group of stocked trout.

This year’s planted legal trout have been running close to ten inches in length – somewhat larger than the early spring plants of the last few years and it appears that the ODFW is starting to place more emphasis on stocking more trophy trout as they tend to be relatively “comorant-proof”.

Although the ODFW usually tries to make the trout plants early in the week, last week they were running late. For example, Mingus Park Pond had not received its scheduled plant by late Thursday afternoon and when I checked back late Saturday afternoon there was no evidence of what was scheduled to be a plant of 2,000 legal rainbows. I thought a main reason for revamping the trout stocking portion of the ODFW website was to provide later, but more accurate information. In the ODFW’s defense, the plant may have been rescheduled because the pond was very full and and the pond’s outflow was overwhelmed with water flowing around the culvert and out into Tenth Street.

The ODFW’s trout-stocking schedule does not list steelhead plants – those plants are usually mentioned in the recreation report for a particular zone – and Butterfield, Saunders and Upper Empire Lake have all received adult steelhead plants within the last two months.

This week’s trout plants include Eel Lake with 2,500 legal trout. The lake is completely accessible, although construction on a collapsed culvert beneath Highway 101 on Clear Creek that connects Hall Lake and Eel Lake might lead some people to think otherwise. The culvert repair is important as many coho salmon and steelhead actually spawn in the culvert. Saunders Lake is also slated to receive 3,000 legal rainbows this week.

Other waters receiving trout plants this week include Lemolo Reservoir which is slated for 2,000 rainbow trout – a nice addition to the numerous brown trout that inhabit the reservoir. A plant of 3,000 rainbows in southeastern Oregon’s Ana Reservoir might wake up the reservoir’s hybrid stripers which have been caught to weights of nearly 20 pounds

Some of the most popular bottomfishing spots will close at the end of this month when the 30 fathom closure takes effect. As of April 1st, conventional bottomfishing in Oregon marine waters deeper than 30 fathoms will be closed for six months – or until October 1st. Bottomfishing in waters less than 180 feet deep will still be legal, as will the jetties and April is one of the very best months for decent-sized lingcod off of Oregon’s jetties.

Bottomfish anglers can still use 30-foot long leader setups after April 1st to fish for mid-depth bottomfish offshore. Check the ODFW website for additional info on legal rigging and fish species that may be retained. Lingcod and greenling are not legal catches, but canary rockfish are. Once again, check the ODFW website for more complete information.

Fishing for chinook salmon in the ocean, open since March 15th, has been very slow with very little fishing pressure. Several spring chinook were caught last week above Scottsburg. Most of the early season springer fishing takes place between Scottsburg and Elkton, but there are almost certainly a few fish as far upriver as Riverforks Park in Roseburg.

According to Jim Carey, of the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach, the Rogue produced three springers three weeks ago, but since then, the catches have been sporadic with nothing much over 20 pounds yet landed. Hopefully, the best springer fishing is yet to come – onboth the Umpqua and the Rogue.

Surfperch fishing has been fair, but inconsistent, during the recent stormy weather. It’s striped surfperch off the jetties and redtailed and walleyed surfperch off the sandy beaches. Sand shrimp, when available, is a popular bait, but this year many anglers have switched to using pieces of Berkley Gulp sandworms with camo being the most popular color choice.

Although the spring striped bass run on the Sacramento River has just started, It should be at least a month before the same thing happens on Oregon’s Smith and Coquille rivers – hopefully there will be enough fish involved for anglers to actually notice.

Crabbing has been very slow, but there were a few good catches made last week at Half Moon Bay at Winchester Bay and near Charleston in Coos Bay. Stormy, wet weather this week definitely will not allow for any improvement in crabbing success. On a more positive note, the old Coast Guard Pier has been repaired and is open for crabbing, although additional work on the far end of the pier is planned once the materials arrive.

Steelhead fishing on Tenmile Creek in the Spin Reel Park area was much improved last week for finclipped fish.

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.

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Tribal Fisherman Sentenced for Selling Sturgeon and Salmon.

A Klickitat County Superior Court judge has sentenced a Columbia River tribal fisherman to four months in jail and fined him $1,050 for illegally selling sturgeon and chinook salmon, concluding a case sparked by a tip to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Donnell Frank, 46, of Portland, Ore., pleaded guilty to three felony counts of unlawful fish trafficking and was sentenced March 19 by Judge Randall Krog.

WDFW Capt. Paul Golden, who heads the department’s statewide investigative unit, said the case began in the spring of 2015, when officers received a tip that one of Frank’s associates was illegally trafficking fish and wildlife.

WDFW Capt. Jeff Wickersham, who heads the department’s southwest Washington enforcement office, said the investigation revealed that Frank illegally sold two wild chinook salmon and five sturgeon, including one that was less than legal size.

Wickersham said Frank caught all of the fish during tribal subsistence fisheries, when commercial sales were prohibited. He said Frank made multiple sales of up to $500 per transaction during 2015 and 2016, primarily out of the back of his vehicle in Goldendale.

Columbia River fisheries are highly regulated to ensure conservation and resource sharing objectives are met, Wickersham said. Populations of harvestable-size sturgeon between Bonneville and McNary dams – the stretch of river where Frank caught the fish – have generally declined in recent years, and both hatchery and federally protected salmon and steelhead are present in that area.

“Salmon and sturgeon have significant economic and cultural importance to people and communities throughout the state,” Wickersham said. “Black-market activities like these tend to increase poaching and undermine efforts to recover endangered stocks.”


Mardon Resort / Potholes Reservoir Fishing Report.

The current water level on the Potholes reservoir is 1043.92 – slightly down from last week. The water temperature is in the low 40’s on the main Reservoir and approaching 50 degrees back in the sand dunes. The gates have been opened and the Potholes Canal is flowing – filling Soda Lake. This water flow will draw fish to the mouth of the canal where it enters the lake.
We have had a few reports walleye being caught this past week on ½ oz. Blade Baits in 50-55 feet of water. The Largemouth bass fishing is picking up on the Reservoir. Reports

Dale Williams with a nice Potholes Reservoir Largemouth bass. The bass had a small catfish sticking out of its mouth when Dale hooked it!

Dallas Hintz caught this 7-pound plus Largemouth this week while fishing a local Seep Lake!

of several fish in the 5-6 lb. range have come in. Fish the sand dunes with a punch rig or a jig with a craw trailer. Trout are being caught in the Seep Lakes on Glitter Mallows, Power Bait, and or worms. Not much happening off the MarDon Dock yet – but it will be picking up soon for trout and crappie as the water temp rises.
We are also running our Spring Break Special March 23rd thru April 15th. Stay 3 nights -pay for 2!
Call the MarDon Store for the latest fishing info and to make reservations at 509-346-2651.

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WDFW News – Spring Migration Season Brings Call to Report Dead, Sick, or Injured Swans.

With spring migration now underway, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) asks that people report dead, sick, or injured swans in western Washington to support ongoing efforts to assess the impact of lead poisoning on trumpeter and tundra swans.

People can report their observations 24 hours a day by calling (360) 466-4345, ext. 266 through the end of April. Callers should be prepared to leave a short detailed message including their name and phone number, along with the location and condition of the swans.

Swans die from lead poisoning each year in western Washington after ingesting lead shot while foraging in shallow underwater areas, in fields and roosts where sources of lead are present. Although lead shot has been banned for waterfowl hunting nationwide for more than two decades, the risk to swans remains.

Washington state attracts more than 17,000 trumpeter swans each year, said Kyle Spragens, WDFW waterfowl manager. Most of those birds flock to the fields of Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish counties, although the species has expanded its range recent years, he said.

Spragens said department has received reports of sick and dead swans in Clallam and Pierce counties just within the past week.

“We strive to respond to every report we receive,” Spragens said. “Our goal is both to help individual swans and to locate sources of lead poisoning.”

Spragens said people who observe dead, sick, or injured swans should avoid handling or collecting the birds. Puget Sound Energy and volunteers from the Northwest Swan Conservation Association assist WDFW with that task, he said.

WDFW and other organizations have been working since 2001 to locate sources of toxic lead.

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Pete Heley Outdoors 3 / 21 / 2018

After the sizable trout plants last week, most area lakes have uncaught planters still in them, but a couple of area lakes will receive their first trout plants of this year – this week. Woahink, a fairly deep lake of nearly 800 acres will receive 1,000 trophy rainbows and within a week, many of these trout will migrate to the three northernmost arms of the lake which will then have a population density sufficient for the trout to be successfully targeted.

Both Upper and Lower Empire Lakes are each slated for 400 trophy rainbows this week. The Empire Lakes total about 55 acres – about the size of Saunders Lake and most of the carryover trout left in these fairly shallow lakes will be in Upper Empire as Lower Empire missed some scheduled plants late last summer due to high water temperatures caused by warm weather and weedy, shallow water.Usually these lakes start receiving trout plants in early to mid-February, but this will be their first trout plant this year.

Mingus Park Pond, only two feet deep and covering two acres should really perk up when it receives 2,000 legal rainbows this week. The small pond’s meager panfish population will have to compete with the trout while the few bass large enough to consume the freshly stocked trout will be following them around hoping to do exactly that, and almost all of this will be visible from the bank surrounding this shallow pond. One can also expect an influx of trout anglers and predatory birds – mostly seagulls and herons.

Also being stocked this week are Bradley Lake (200 trophies) and Powers Pond (3,000 legals and 150 trophies). Johnson Mill Pond, which had the access gate locked last week due to high water, is slated to receive 50 trophy rainbows this week.

Six acre Elbow Lake is slated to receive 1,400 trophy rainbows this week.

Yellow perch have pretty much finished spawning so the chance of encountering truly hefty perch is reduced, but the bite should be more consistent and the fish more scattered – reducing the chance of getting “skunked”. Warmer, more stable weather would help the freshwater bassfishing, which is appears to be one warm and stable weather week away from busting completely loose from the mediocre fishing of the last few weeks.

Winchester Bay’s South Jetty, along with most other jetties along the Oregon coast, have been producing fair fishing for assorted bottomfish and good fishing for lingcod. Bottomfishing in waters deeper than 30 fathoms is scheduled to close at midnight on March 31st – so if you want to get a trip out to the most productive spots – you’ve got two weeks to do it – or wait until October 1st.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding sturgeon anglers to return their 2017 Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards as required by law. Although the deadline to report their catch was Jan. 31, 2018, so far about 13,754 – or 31 percent – of the 44,374 report cards have been returned. Sport fishing regulations require that all sturgeon anglers return their report cards, even those who did not encounter sturgeon and who did not fish for white sturgeon.

“Anglers who return their report cards are providing very good data, helping to protect the white sturgeon fishery, and helping to rebuild the populations of white sturgeon and threatened green sturgeon,” said Marty Gingras, CDFW Sturgeon Program Manager. “This is especially important given the years of drought that harmed recent sturgeon reproduction.”

White sturgeon and green sturgeon are anadromous, meaning they move from the ocean or brackish water to spawn in freshwater. Because their populations were reduced by commercial fishing in the 19th century, sturgeon fisheries were mostly closed from 1901 through 1953. Since 1954, recreational fishing for white sturgeon in California has been allowed, and the fishery continues to be restricted in an effort to rebuild it. Green sturgeon is a federally listed threatened species and may not be fished for or harvested.

Anglers can return their overdue report cards by mail to the address printed on the card or – until April 1, 2018 — they can report online at the CDFW website at

If the pathetic rate of tag returns does not improve, California may have to address the problem the way Oregon did for some hunts – by imposing a $25 non-reporting fee when a license is purchased the following year.

Commercial and sport anglers received mixed news last week regarding the status of Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook – California’s two largest Chinook salmon populations. While adult returns of both stocks were well below minimum escapement goals in 2017, and projected abundance for both stocks is modest compared to historic averages, state and federal fishery scientists reported an increase in the number of jacks (two-year-old Chinook) that returned to spawn in 2017. Higher jack returns, as seen in 2017, can indicate the potential for increased abundance of adult (three years old or older) Chinook for 2018 fisheries.

This year’s forecast of Columbia River fall chinook is down more than 50 percent from the 10-year average. While the ocean chinook salmon fishery opened on March 15th – as usual, the season will almost certainly will not have its normal October 31st ending date. In fact, the current season, subject to possible extension, only goes to April 30th – and a major factor in opening it at all was that the early ocean chinook salmon season typically has little fishing pressure. The commercial ocean chinook season will remain closed during the current six week recreational fishery.

Late last week, Silverton, a Marion County city with about 10,000 residents experienced a rash of cougar sightings including one sighting by a property owner of a cougar actually killing a deer on his property. Despite several attempts to track down, trap or even kill what is obviously multiple cougars, authorities have so far been completely, almost spectacularly, unsuccessful. Perhaps it’s time to bring back government “hunters” – or let someone show what a well-trained pack of cougar hounds are capable of.

So far, Oregon remains the only northwest or west coast state without a human fatality due to a wild cougar attack. A few years ago, an animal park employee was killed on the premises at Wildcat Haven in Sherwood while cleaning a cougar enclosure..

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.

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Cougar Found in Downtown Hotel in The Dalles.

A two-year-old male cougar that travelled all the way into downtown The Dalles and into a hotel complex was euthanized today after wildlife managers determined it was a public safety risk.

At 9:30 a.m. today, City of The Dalles Police responded to an incident at the Oregon Motor Motel downtown after reports of a wild animal within the complex. The animal was in a room under construction down a narrow walkway.

ODFW arrived at the scene at 9:45 a.m. The cougar was secured in a small room and ODFW was able to access the room through a vent in the wall. Staff sedated the animal with drugs administered via dart gun, and then transported the cougar off-site and euthanized it in a safe location.

The cougar had been spotted at this same location on March 18 in the evening, according to a Facebook post seen by ODFW staff.

Cougar sightings are not uncommon in the outskirts of The Dalles, especially this time of year when deer are on winter range just outside the city. “But a cougar coming this far into downtown, into the business district and deep into a hotel complex, and not showing fear of people or wariness of urban environments? That’s just extremely odd,” said Jeremy Thompson, ODFW district wildlife biologist. “This may have been a cougar that was unable to establish its own home range in its natural habitat.”

“Considering this cougar’s concerning behavior, it was deemed a public safety risk not suitable for relocation, and so it was euthanized,” said Thompson.

According to ODFW’s current records, today’s incident marks the sixth time in 2018 that a cougar has been euthanized due to public safety concerns. (A Silverton cougar was euthanized over the weekend.)

Under the state’s cougar management policy and state statutes, specific behaviors indicate that a cougar is a public safety risk. Those behaviors include attempting to break into a residence/structure and showing loss of wariness of humans.

ODFW does not relocate cougars that display these behaviors or cause agricultural damage. Cougars that have shown these behaviors and are relocated are likely to return to where they were causing problems in the first place and repeat the same behaviors, or repeat them in their new habitat. Further, because cougars are territorial, relocating cougars to new habitat can lead to conflict with other already established cougars, resulting in an animal’s injury or death.

Oregon has a healthy cougar population of approximately 6,400 statewide, up from just 200 in the 1960s when they were reclassified as a game mammal and protected in Oregon. Cougars, especially males, are extremely territorial. The need of some cougars to establish a home range could be driving them into urban and suburban areas.

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