Pete Heley - 6/28/2012
The last fishing days of the spring all-depth halibut season will be Friday and Saturday (June 29th and 30th). By choosing Thursday as the day to drop when all indications were that the quota would be exceded by allowing three days of fishing, the ODFW only gave retired and non-working anglers twice the chance to get a halibut trip in that someone working a normal Monday through Friday job would have. Normally, during the spring halibut season, a those anglers working a normal work week only have one-third the chance to get a halibut trip in that more flexible anglers do. The previous three day opener brought the total halibut catch up from 52 % to 79 % and convinced the ODFW that another full three day opener wouldmean that the spring quota would be more than met.
Through June 17th, 96,017 pounds of the 120,821 spring all-depth halibut quota had been caught. Rough Umpqua River bar conditions and poor ocean conditions kept Winchester Bay from being much of a player in this spring season and most of the halibut were caught in the northern portion of our zone. The leading halibut ports so far with their catches for this season are: Newport (55,144); Garibaldi (24,031); Depoe Bay (6,353); Charleston (4,321); Bandon (3,030); Port Orford (2,165). Pacific City and Winchester Bay reported less than 700 pounds of halibut caught through June 17th. The summer halibut quota of approximately 48,000 pounds may be adjusted upward slightly due to the spring quota not being met.
Ocean salmon fishing, when possible, has been fairly productive for chinooks and this Sunday, the finclipped coho become legal to keep and should make limits somewhat easier to come by. So far, the chinook have seemed to be holding in water less than 100 feet deep and the cohos somewhat deeper. Those salmon anglers that have been dropping crab pots in the ocean while salmon fishing have been making some good crab catches. The bait dock does have some live herring and will be attempting to add to their live bait inventory during the next several weeks. There was a rumor circulating around Winchester Bay that the ocean coho season started early and it appears that at least a few salmon anglers believed it. Some of the charterboats targeting the ocean chinooks have been doing quite well -Strike Zone Charters had boat limits three out of four days entering this week.
The South Jetty seemed to take Friday and Saturday off this last weekend, a most unusual occurence, but rebounded somewhat on Sunday and should, once again, be our area’s most consistent fishery. Umpqua River sturgeon fishing remains slow, while nighttime striped bass angling on the Smith River is fair.
The Umpqua’s pinkfin run has been giving up some good perch catches, but as we move into the middle third of the run (timewise) the boat traffic directed at these perch has them spooked to the point - that, once again, the most consistent fishing is in the first couple of hours after daybreak. Sand shrimp remains the most popular bait.
The water flows on the Umpqua River have gradually dropped to the point where some anglers are starting to wade or walk the shorelines while targeting smallmouth bass and some nice-sized bass have been caught. Of course, those anglers floating the river in small boats or float tubes will almost always catch the most fish. While nightcrawlers is a great choice for fishing from the bank, those floating the river and concentrating on covering lots of water usually do best with soft plastic baits.
Some Reedsport area anglers have been making some good catches of crappies from Loon Lake. Fishing pressure for crappie at the lake has dropped off markedly since the bluegills became established and the pesky “gills” make it difficult to target the crappie. That said, Loon Lake has a few cralppie that will top a pound and a half. A couple of ways to minimize the bluegill problem is to fish for the crappie in somewhat deeper water or fish in the evening or at night when the crappie become more active. Crappies also become active earlier in the spring than do the bluegills and that time period sometimes offers the year’s best crappie angling.
Trout fishing at Tenmile Lakes has been good for trollers and a number of pre-spawn bullhead catfish have been taken by the trout anglers. Usually at this time of year, the bullhead catfish have already spawned and are in the shallows guarding their nest or fry. The much later than normal bullhead spawn tends to prove that this has been a very cool spring and early summer.
Pete Heley lives in Reedsport, Oregon and works at the Stockade Market in Winchester Bay. He is also an outdoor writer and his favorite pasttimes are: fishing, playing pool, doing trivia quizes and crossword puzzles. His three most impressive catches of Oregon fish include a 22 pound coho salmon from Tenmile Lakes, a brown trout of more than 15 pounds from the Crooked River Ranch area of the Deschutes River and a nine and a half pound largemouth bass from Loon Lake.