Pete Heley - 10/10/2012
Winchester Bay crabbing continues to be the hottest thing going in our area. Virtually all the boat crabbers that are putting in a reasonable amount of time are getting all the crabs they want. Even the dock crabbers are making good catches, but there have been some two or three hour stretches where female crabs have dominated the catch. The most successful crabbers don’t panic, but just keep crabbing until the male crabs become active again. Decent crab catches have been made all the way up to about a mile upriver from the entrance to Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin.
It seems that the ocean has warmed slightly and salmon fishing near the Umpqua River Bar has improved slightly. Fishing remains inconsistent, but there appears to be fair numbers of happy salmon anglers each day. Bank anglers continue to catch a surprising number of salmon, but there bite seems to be best at daybreak and also near high tide.
The somewhat smaller rivers in our area seem to be improving and lots of salmon have come from the Siuslaw, Coos and Coquille rivers. Despite everyone’s worries, none of the wild coho quotas on area rivers are close to being met.
Siltcoosl Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes are now open for salmon fishing. However, don’t count on catching any cohos just yet. Siltcoos, whose small dam is located at the upper end of tidewater will be the first of these lakes to get salmon, but without some major rain, or in the case of the Siltcoos River, some very high tides, the salmon fishing in these lakes is still weeks away.
Some anglers have been taking advantage of the reopening of bottomfishing in waters deeper than 180 feet. Success has been very good for lingcod and bottomfish, but the two best catches were boat limits of lingcod andc bottomfish made by Scott Howard’s Strike Zone Charters who managed to boat multiple lingcod weighing more than 20 pounds. Despite the optimistic weight estimates of many successful lingcod anglers, when one gets the privilege of viewing lingcod that actually weigh a legitimate 20 pounds, they realize what an impressive beast they are.
That unannounced jumbo trout plant at Lake Marie is still producing good trout fishing results, while Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes are still producing decent fishing for carryover and searun trout - usually by trolling with spinner and bait. Several trout fishing spots near Medford recently received extra trout that were purchased from a private hatchery and were stocked in Applegate, Hyatt, Howard Prairie and Selmac lakes as well as Expo and Reinhart ponds. The 7,000 trout were a mix of barely legal and one pound rainbow trout and Howard Prairie Lake also is slated to receive 16,000 fingerling rainbows.
Smallmouth bass angling on the Umpqua River remains productive, especially from late afternoon until dusk. Largemouth bass are biting fairly well in most area lakes, although early morning temperatures may slow the early bite. Some fair-sized yellow perch have been caught recently with much of the meager fishing pressure directed at them taking place at Tahkenitch Lake.
I think many hunters knew this was coming. The Oregon Legislature adopted a $25 penalty on hunters who fail to turn in their 2012 deer and elk tags by the January 31st, 2013 deadline. In defense of the ODFW, they recommended a $10 penalty, but were overruled by the legislature who felt the higher penalty would spur better compliance. A surprising number of hunters preferred the high fee for the same reason that the Oregon Legislature did. The penalty will be imposed when the hunter purchases his 2014 hunting license. Remember, this penalty only applies if hunters do not do what they are already supposed to do.
It appears that the State of Washington, whose fisheries department has long been the most even-handed when it comes to dealing with their warmwater fishing opportunites has decided to throw their smallmouth bass, walleye and channel catfish fisheries under the bus in the Columbia and Snake rivers. If the “still under consideration” proposal takes effect there will be no limits on the aforementioned fish in the states two largest rivers.
The proposal, if enacted, will almost certainly have a slight negative impact on these fisheries, but any improvement in the salmon and steelhead fisheries will most likely be offset with an increase in the northern pikeminnow populations in the Columbia and Snake rivers. In fact, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) may have to start paying out some real money regarding their pikeminnow harvest program. Since most of the bass anglers affected by this legislation routinely release their catch and the walleye and catfish anglers very seldom catch the limits they now have on these fish, this proposal appears to be a nearly meaningless way to make many salmon and steelhead anglers happy.
If the proposal becomes law, one can only guess how the ODFW will respond to it.
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.