May 15th column

Pete's weekly fishing reports from Oregon!
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Pete Heley
Posts: 114
Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2008 11:35 am
Location: Reedsport, OR

May 15th column

Post by Pete Heley » Thu May 16, 2013 12:09 am

The first all-depth halibut opener was disappointing for most. Success was mostly spotty and many of the halibut taken were rather small by halibut standards. There were a few exceptions. One of the anglers staying in one of Winchester Bay’s RV parks landed a 68 pound fish and an angler in Charleston, who decided to “play it both ways” landed a number of lingcod and an 80 pound halibut. He was fishing in around 150 feet of water.

Fishing for spring chinook has been disappointing, but a fish are still entering the Umpqua River and a few of them are being caught. The feeder chinook have moved farther offshore making them difficult to target for sport anglers, but not fazing the commercial salmon anglers too much. The Spring Chinook Contest sponsored by the Wells Creek Inn will continue through June and Joe Hudson is still leading with his 39.9 pound springer. The contest has other prizes besides the one for the heaviest springer taken.

Most of the lingcod that moved close to the Triangle/South Jetty area to spawn have moved to deeper water. There are still some left that remain there all year, but most of the anglers are using sand shrimp to target the striped surfperch and greening which are the most common fish hanging around the South Jetty.

While at work, I have been getting numerous phone calls and drop bys asking about the Umpqua River’s spring redtailed surfperch run and was all set to email my column in telling people to stay tuned, because it could happen any day - when our senior fish checker, Bill Gates, dropped by Sunday afternoon to let me know that he had checked two guys who fished near Marker 12 that morning and they had caught 17 “pinkfins”. Those perch could be “scouts”, but chances are there are plenty more up there.

Striped bass are gradually dropping downstream to points on the Smith River where bank anglers can target them. Except in a few spots, striper anglers on the Umpqua have to use boats. Sturgeon fishing, except for the fish residing above tidewater on the Umpqua, remains very slow. Shad fishing is improving and is at the point where good catches might be made at any time. Hot pink or chartreuse, as usual, are the popular colors - with anglers and shad.

If one happens to look at any of the area’s lakes or ponds, at dusk, that are stocked with trout they will be surprised by how many trout are still swimming around in these spots. That is a good thing because the next trout plant for the Florence-area lakes will be the week beginning May 27th. Virtually all the Florence-area lakes that receive trout plants will be stocked that week with many of the lakes receiving trophy trout and Cleawox receiving all three trout sizes. The same week, Empire and Tenmile lakes will receive 6,000 legal trout each and the Empire Lakes will also receive 300 trophy trout. Millicoma Pond will also receive 500 legal rainbows. Also on the week beginning May 27th, Loon Lake and Lake Marie will each receive 1,000 legal rainbows. The reason for the timing of these trout plants is to make sure that the area lakes are well-stocked immediately prior to Oregon’s Free Fishing Weekend for this year which is on June 1st and 2nd.

There has been some very good catches of trout and kokanee taken from recently opened waters in central and eastern Oregon, but the thing that has me looking forward to fishing that area is the reduced snowpack which should allow for effectively fishing some of the streams later this summer and fall that have been running too high to fish even in late October in recent years.

Loon Lake, which is my favorite western Oregon bass lake, has almost always treated me poorly when it comes to crappie catches. Much of the reason is that I cannot keep from targeting its sometimes jumbo bass for any length of time. But last Thursday, when I checked out what used to be the Fish Haven dock at the upper campground at Loon, I was surprised to see some crappies mingling with the bluegills and smaller bass. I decided to try to catch some of the crappies before launching my float tube and was surprised to see that the crappies were more active and aggressive than the bluegills. In less than a half hour I landed and released 32 crappies with the largest ones measuring between ten and a half inches and 11-inches. Although they were aggressive in going after my Berkley one-inch power grub, they were not that aggressive when it came to actually biting the lure. I lost about 60 percent of my bites. I then spent the next three hours targeting bass in my float tube and arrive back at the upper dock right at dark. I cast around the outside edge of the dock and landed about ten more crappies and then after taking my float tube out of the water and getting out of my waders, I, once again, targeting the crappies off the dock. I quit after reaching a count of 52 and the only reason I quit was that the smaller crappies were taking over the bite and they were literally swallowing the jig. Somehow, I managed to catch all 52 crappies on ond single white grub and it was in pretty bad shape. I would have changed it out long before I quit fishing - if I had remembered to bring any more with me.

Fishing for bass and various species of panfish should be good in virtually all of our local waters that contain them. Smallmouth bass should be either be done spawning in the Umpqua River - or very close to it. A little more of our recent nice weather and it will be relatively easy to catch 100 smallmouths in a single day - but it will be difficult to catch fish longer than 14-inches. The new daily limit on the Umpqua this year is 15 smallmouths. Most of the largemouths along the Oregon coast have not spawned yet, but inland, along Interstate 5, many of the largemouths have finished spawning - although there should be some male bass guarding nests. Unfortunately, the male largemouths in Oregon that weigh more than three pounds are few and far between.

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