Central and South Coast Fishing Reports June 23rd, 2017

From our friend Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com

The Pacific halibut nearshore recreational fishery in the Columbia River Subarea will close for the remainder of 2017 effective 11:59 p.m., Friday, June 23.

The entire recreational Pacific halibut fishery quota (all-depth and nearshore) for the Columbia River Subarea will have been met by then, according to fishery managers ODFW, WDFW, IPHC and NFMS. The fishery will remain closed for the rest of the year.

Opportunities to fish for Pacific halibut still remain open in other areas of Oregon

Off the Central Oregon Coast, between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mountain, anglers can fish for Pacific halibut inside the 40-fathom regulatory line, seven days per week until Oct. 31, or attainment of the 28,897-pound quota for that fishery. There will be an announcement by noon on Friday, June 23 if enough quota remains for any back-up dates for the spring all-depth season. The summer all-depth season is scheduled to begin Aug. 4-5, and will be open every other Friday and Saturday until Oct. 31, or attainment of the 60,203-pound quota for that fishery.

The area between Humbug Mountain and the OR/CA border is open for Pacific halibut seven days per week through Oct. 31, or until the quota of 10,039 pounds has been met.

Days on which Pacific halibut fishing is open will be announced on the NOAA Fisheries hotline (1-800-662-9825) and posted on the ODFW Marine Resources Program sport halibut webpage.

Although none of our local lakes have received a trout plant in more than two weeks, trout fishing in some lakes continues to be surprisingly productive. I visited Loon Lake last Tuesday and found the bass fishing disappointing – especially for larger bass, but the trout and panfish angling was exceptional. I hooked at least 30 trout and settled for a five trout limit and also caught double digit numbers of bluegills and smaller bass and landed eight crappies to boot. The lure I was using was a three-inch Berkley power worm threaded on a black 1/32nd ounce jig head. I’m sure other small lures would also have worked.

Other trout possibilities would include Tenmile Creek and Siltcoos River. One angler floated Tenmile Creek from the launch ramp adjacent to the intersection of Park Avenue and South 6th Street down to the Old Highway Bridge just upstream of where Eel Creek joins Tenmile Creek. He was using a Panther Martin spinner, normally an effective trout lure, but hooked more bass than trout including a lunker that he battled for several minutes before it broke off. He also encountered some difficulty navigating a narrow section of the river about a mile below the lake. I am familiar with the stream’s narrow stretches where bankside brush almost reaches the center of the stream and the best way to navigate them is to get properly lined up and then to float through them without using the oars. Removing a single oar from its oarlock can help fend off brush and logs and help stay properly lined up.

Siltcoos River gets surprisingly little fishing pressure despite producing trout exceeding 20-inches and largemouth bass exceeding five pounds. A dam three miles downstream of the lake marks the downstream end of most floats and the stream is large enough and deep enough that smaller motorized craft can easily travel back upstream to the lake – as can those fishing from canoes and kayaks.

After the last all-depth halibut opener (June 8th – 10th) for the central Oregon coast subarea, the total landings are 87,265 pounds. This leaves 64,447 pounds or 43% of the spring all-depth quota remaining. The remaining “fixed” openings are June 15-17. There will be an announcement by noon on Friday, June 23 if enough quota remains for any back-up dates to be open.

Angler success varied by port; ranging from 70% out of Newport to near 100% out of Charleston. Newport was the high effort port for the week and accounted for 68% of the total number of halibut. The remaining ports all had approximately an 80% success rate (8 fish landed for every 10 anglers). Average size of landed fish also varied by port from 16 pounds round weight in Pacific City to 27 pounds round weight in Newport. Coast wide the average weight of the halibut taken was 24 pounds round weight.

I’ll have to admit that the changes made to bass retention on Tenmile Lake definitely slipped by my “radar”. Previously, all bass longer than 15-inches had to be released. The new regulations that went into effect a couple of years ago now allow one bass longer than 15-inches to be kept and the daily limit is five bass. It seems that a few of the signs posted around the lake still quote the old limit.

I Had the pleasure of getting to view a couple of impressive warmwater fish pictures last week. Curt, a friend from Creswell showed me his friend’s eight-pound walleye from Lookout Point Reservoir near Oakridge. Walleyes are present in, but seldom caught, from Lookout Point, but Curt’s friend specially targets them and catches them regularly. Joe, from “The Bite’s On” tackle shop in Empire showed me the photo of a 13.5-inch black crappie a friend emailed him. It was caught in Lake Selmac.

The road into Horsfall Beach and Horsfall Lake still has high water issues, but a few high clearance vehicles are starting to access them. High water at Beale Lake has made going back and forth between the lake’s three sections relatively easy, but the fish are scattered and fishing for largemouth bass and yellow perch is only fair. Saunders Lake is providing fair fishing for yellow perch and largemouth bass and planted rainbow trout. There are also a few bluegills and crappies in the lake.

A few crappies were caught at Eel Lake last week and it seems that the lake now contains fishable numbers of bluegill. Fishing at Butterfield Lake on Riley’s Ranch has been slow, but there are still some planted trout left. Most of the uncaught trout are in the smaller west section of the lake where they have been pretty much ignored after leaving the main lake by swimming under the small railroad trestle between the two sections of the lake. The large weeded near the railroad tracks in the main lake that seems to provide the best fishing for bluegills and black crappies is starting to form.

Smallmouth bass fishing on the Umpqua and Coquille Rivers is improving and smaller incidentally-caught striped bass are starting to surprise smallmouth anglers on the Coquille. The smaller stripers have been running between 18-inches and the 24-inches required for retention and they seem most common downstream of Riverton. However, the liquor store/tackle shop in Coquille reports that a giant striper of slightly more than 60 pounds was caught last month near Arago.

The Stockade Market’s annual “Pinkfin Derby” last weekend seemed to completely stop the pinkfin bite. There were some pile perch and striped surfperch taken. An encouraging note is that while the striped surfperch have pretty much finished spawning and the pile perch are close to spawning with well-developed babies, the unborn baby “pinkfins” are much smaller and less developed – which should mean that the run should last several more weeks.

While some anglers believe the daily surfperch limit of 15 is too generous and a daily limit of eight or ten fish would be more sustainable, the state of Washington recently raised their daily surfperch limit from nine fish to 12 because they believe the surfperch population is strong and not overfished.