The Coos County trout plants for last week were changed from what was originally scheduled. The changes involve Butterfield Lake, Saunders Lake and Upper and Lower Empire Lakes. Lower Empire Lake is choked with weeds and has very warm water and did not receive any of the 2,000 14-inch trout scheduled to be stocked in it. Instead, Upper Empire Lake received 3,500 trout, not the 2,000 originally slated for it. The extra trout went into Butterfield Lake which received 1,200 instead of 600 and Saunders Lake received 1,200 rather than the 1,300 originally slated for it.

Despite the RV park on Riley’s Ranch, adjacent to Butterfield Lake, being packed over the weekend, Butterfield should offer better trout fishing than Saunders. At slightly more than 50 surface acres, Saunders is more than twice as large as Butterfield and at this time of year the western portion of Butterfield is pretty much disconnected from the larger eastern section where the trout are planted.

In other words, the same number of trout planted in Saunders Lake will be trying to avoid anglers in about 15 surface acres of Butterfield’s eastern section.

Powers Pond, which is also quite weedy, was slated for 1,300 14-inch rainbows last week and Bradley Lake was to receive 800 and is also scheduled for the Oregon coast’s last trout plant this year — an additional 800 14-inchers during the last week of October.

Diamond Lake has been fishing very well and ODFW creel surveys estimate about three and a half fish per angler are being caught and one fish per hour which is higher than this time last year. Anglers are also catching larger fish, with the average fish size at just over 15 inches. Best success comes with trolling lures and bottom fishing with PowerBait while fly-anglers are having good luck on the south end of the lake. Tiger trout are still catch-and-release only. Stocked last year as fingerlings, they are averaging 13 to 16 inches and should begin preying on minnows next year. ODFW recently added 15,000 tigers in the 3 to 5-inch range in addition to those stocked this past spring. The bag limit for trout in Diamond Lake is five legal-sized fish per day with only one of those over 20 inches per day, and two daily limits in possession.

Crappie and some bluegill are still biting for anglers fishing off the fishing dock at Tugman Park on Eel Lake. Two weeks ago, anglers were reeling in their crappies really slow in the hopes that a lunker largemouth would grab them.

Last week, I saw a young angler that topped the techniques used by the previous week’s anglers. This guy would use his ultralight spinning outfit to catch a crappie. He would then put his rod against the railing so that the crappie was splashing on the surface. He then would fish near the crappie with his larger rod and a bass lure.

I didn’t ask if he had a 2-rod license — if he was less than 12 years of age he wouldn’t need one. But at the very least, he was certainly violating the intent and spirit of ODFW’s angling regulations.

Ocean crabbing closed at midnight on October 15th, but remains open in the lower tidewater portions of all of Oregon’s coastal rivers and that includes Coos Bay all the way down to the most western tips of both jetties. Crabbing has been very good and will remain so until we get quite a bit more rain.

Ocean salmon fishing will close an hour after sunset on October 31st. However through the end of October, salmon fishing is restricted inside 40 fathoms — as one would expect, there has not been much ocean salmon fishing pressure since only Chinook salmon of more than 24-inches in waters deeper than 240 feet are legal.

Ocean bottomfishing is now open in waters deeper than 240 feet but only for some mid-depth fish species and I strongly urge anglers intending to bottomfish to check out the new regulations on the ODFW website. Important new info would include the use of a leader of at least 30 feet in length between the lure or bait and a noncompressible float. By noncompressible, I’m pretty sure the ODFW is ruling out hollow or inflatable floats.

The whole idea is minimize the numbers of bottom-hugging bottomfish while still catching the mid-depth species and as a sort of reward for doing so, the daily limit for the legal bottomfish species has been raised to 10. Descending devices are still required to be on board and readily accessible.

Reductions in bottomfish limits is almost a certainty in future years, but how quickly they occur will largely depend how effectively anglers target mid-depth bottomfish and use their descending devices.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted 2018 sport fishing regulations today at its meeting in Salem. Some of the changes anglers will see next year include: (1) Anglers with a two-rod endorsement will be able to use up to five rods when ice fishing (statewide). (2) No bag or size limits for bass in the lower Deschutes River. (3) Changes in the kokanee bonus daily bag limit in Wickiup Reservoir and Lake Billy Chinook to 5 kokanee per day in addition to the daily trout limit (so anglers can take up to 10 kokanee per day).

The Commission will also be asked to adopt new fees for recreational and other licenses that will take effect Jan. 1, 2018. These fees were already approved by the Oregon State Legislature when it passed ODFW’s 2015-17 budget. Typically, ODFW raises fees once every six years but during this six-year cycle, fee increases are staggered with a more modest fee increase every two years. The first stage occurred for 2016 licenses. Beginning with 2018 licenses, the cost of an annual hunting license will increase by $1.50 to $33.50, an annual fishing license will increase by $3 to $41 and a Combination License will increase by $4 to $69. The cost of juvenile licenses will stay the same as part of efforts to make hunting and fishing affordable for young people and their families. To see the full Recreational Fee License Schedule visit ODFW’s budget page.

Pete Heley works part time at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from ‘A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.

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