February 6th 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

February 6th column

Post by Pete Heley » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:25 am

Thanks to the South Umpqua River, the entire mainstem Umpqua was much more turbid than it has been and crabbing suffered. At some point, the water should clear and crabbing should show some improvement.

Now that a number of spring chinook have been caught in the lower Columbia and Willamette rivers, interest should begin perking regarding the Umpqua and Rogue spring chinook fisheries. Over the last couple of seasons, past experience has not been all that accurate in figuring out the timing of present day fish runs - but here goes. In 2011, the last year for which spring chinook info is available, the Umpqua springer catch was, as near as I could figure from the statistics available on the ODFW website, was 6,797 fish (4,846 mainstem Umpqua, 666 North Fork Umpqua below Winchester Day, 1,230 North Fork above Winchester Dam and below Rock Creek, 27 for the “fly only” area of the North Umpqua between Rock Creek and the closure below Soda Springs Dam and 28 taken on the South Umpqua).

A total of 5,141 spring chinook were taken on the Rogue (395 below Elephant Rock, 1,618 between Elephant Rock and Grave Creek, 589 between Grave Creek and Gold Ray Dam and 2,545 taken above Gold Ray Dam).

Probably of more relevance is when the springers were caught. Seventy one were caught on the mainstem Umpqua in March, 1,146 in April and 1,772 in May. Five springers were caught in the South Umpqua in March and nine in May. The North Umpqua below Winchester Dam produced 9 springers in April and 346 in May and above Winchester Dam, 10 springers were reported taken in April and 223 in May.

As for the Rogue, five sping chinook were reported taken in February between Elephant Rock and Grave Creek, 90 were reported taken in March. and 725 were reported caught in May. Below Elephant Rock, 189 springers were taken in April and 118 in May. Between Grave Creek and Gold Ray Dam, 33 springers were reported taken in April and 194 in May, while the stretch above Gold Ray Dam produced 14 springers in March, 24 in April and 691 in May.

Spring chinook anglers should remember that the timing of heavy rainfall and muddy water sometimes has more to do with the number of springers caught as does the size of the run. As for incidental spring chinook caught in our area in 2011, Yaquina River and Bay gave up 15, Siuslaw River and Bay gave up 170, Coquille River and Bay gave up 5, Coos River and Bay gave up 134 and the Alsea River and Bay gave up 27 - which means that there are very small runs of springers in these systems or that a lot of spring chinook screw up when searching for their home waters.

Fishing off the South Jetty and in the Triangle at Winchester Bay this last week was productive with striped surfperch, greenling, blue and black rockfish and lingcod all entering the catch. Sand shrimp has been in short supply, but those who managed to find some did very well on the perch and greenling A few people are starting to fish area beaches for redtailed surfperch with the best fishing occuring in tamer surf and wind conditions on the last half of the incoming tides.

There are lots of steelhead in Eel Creek, but they are not biting all that well. One angler reported counting 49 steelhead in a short stretch of stream near Eel Lake, but could not entice a single take. There are plenty of steelhead in almost every area stream, but fishing conditions vary. Try to get your fishing info locally and as close (timewise) to when you are actually going to fish as possible.

Some very large steelhead, weighing between 20 and 25 pounds have been reported on the South Umpqua, but reports of an even larger finclipped steelhead taken recently on the North Umpqua has resurrected attention to a practice where anglers have been clipping the adipose fin of previously unclipped steelhead and then releasing them in the hopes that they, their friends or somebody else catches the fish later that year or in later years after it has a healed, clipped adipose fin. The practice is strictly illegal and the ODFW and enforcement personnel have a very difficult time proving such behavior has occurred, but most likely the biggest reason that the practice is not an even larger problem is that the basic selfishness of some anglers keeps them from engaging in behavior that does not directly benefit them in the short term. At any rate, mutilating fish prior to release is illegal and may result in some even more draconian fishing restrictions in the future. If an angler needs to keep steelhead, they need to fish where there are good numbers of keepable steelhead.

Some of these recent warmer afternoons should allow for some largemouth action in shallow ponds or sections of lakes. If a bass angler wants to make a day of it, try choosing a day with an overcast morning since the morning temperatures should be somewhat higher than on a clear, cold morning. While almost nobody targets crappie on the coast, the Eugene area lakes should start giving up some sizable crappie to anglers determined enough to give a good effort in pursuing them. Yellow perch fishing continues to be productive in water less than 12 feet deep in our local lakes and should continue to be productive for the next several weeks. Fish deeper for the perch when targeting clearwater lakes such as Woahink Lake.

Trout plants should be starting anytime, but since the yearly stocking schedule has not yet been added (in its entirety) to the ODFW website, check the regional listings to learn about any plants prior to the schedule being posted. The northwest region stocking report is out and the Florence-area lakes that are scheduled to be stocked next week are: Alder, Buck, Carter, Cleawox, Dune, Elbow, Erhart, Georgia, Lost, Munsel, North Georgia, Perkins and Siltcoos Lagoon. Most waters will receive both barely legal and 16-inch (trophy) rainbows.

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