Oregon’s first of four “Free Fishing Weekends” will occur on Feb. 17th and 18th— Saturday and Sunday of this weekend. No license is needed to clam, crab or fish — even for salmon and steelhead. The other three Free Fishing Weekends this year will be June 2-3, Sept. 1-2 (Labor Day Weekend) and Nov. 23-24 (the two days after Thanksgiving).

Razor clamming in the Winchester Bay area took a hit last week when the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) announced the closure of razor clamming from the South Jetty of the Umpqua River, at Winchester Bay, to the South Jetty of Coos Bay due to elevated levels of the marine toxin domoic acid. As a result, the recreational harvesting of razor clams is now closed from Cascade Head, north of Lincoln City, to the California border.

Crabbing in Coos Bay near Charleston and near Half Moon Bay at Winchester Bay continues to be very good.

Despite the onset of commercial crabbing along the Oregon coast north of Cape Blanco, recreational crabbing in the ocean is very good as well.

Bottomfishing between Winchester Bay and Charleston continues to be very good and anglers fishing almost any jetty are enjoying decent fishing for striped surfperch, greenling, rockfish and lingcod. Most anglers fishing local beaches for surfperch quit during stormy weather a couple of weeks ago. The few anglers now trying it are enjoying inconsistent success.

Some of the Florence-area lakes that were stocked this week include: Munsel (500 12-inchers); Cleawox Lake (2,000 legals); Dune Lake (500 legals) and Alder Lake (850 legals). All of these lakes, including several others, were also stocked a week ago. The Newport area was heavily stocked this week as Olalla Lake received 4,200 trout (4,000 legals and 200 12-inchers); Upper Big Creek Reservoir received 4,100 trout (4,000 legals and 100 12-inchers and Lower Big Creek Reservoir received 2,000 legal rainbows.

A spring Chinook was reported caught last week on the lower Columbia River near Warrenton and springers have been spotted, if identified correctly, going past the viewing windows of Bonneville and The Dalles dams. It’s getting close to the time the first spring Chinook should be pulled out of the Umpqua and Rogue rivers. Usually it takes a combination of springers actually being in these rivers and someone actually fishing for them to get that first springer landed.

In a decision that seems to indicate some sort of bias, the ODFW decided to allow two-rod angling on the Clackamas and lower Willamette rivers from March 1st through Aug. 15th (except for sturgeon). If the decision had anything to do with spring Chinook fishing, what about the Rogue and Umpqua rivers?

Cathy Reiss, of the Lakeside Marina, reported a fair amount of bassfishing pressure because of surprisingly good winter bassfishing on Tenmile Lakes, good winter weather and anglers wanting too pre-fish the lake prior the upcoming “Frostbite Open” — one of the Pacific Northwest’s most popular bassfishing tournaments.

The Frostbite Open will occur on Saturday, Feb. 24th and the maximum field of 75 boats is already signed up. The weigh-in usually starts around 3 p.m. and is well worth watching. but viewers may have to do some time-juggling as the 24th is also when the Lower Umpqua Flycasters “Flyfishing Expo is held at the Reedsport Community Center. The Frostbite Open weigh-in will be at the Osprey RV Park in Lakeside.

There is definitely a lot going on in the Reedsport area during the next two weekends and there will be some time-juggling and scheduling conflicts. “Confluence 2018” is a major event put on by the Reedsport/Winchester Bay Chamber of Commerce. It will run from 4 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 16th) and from noon until 10 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 17th). There will be live music and dancing with beer and wine-tasting options.

Here’s how I would handle next weekend. I would attend the “Confluence 2018” on either Friday night or Saturday evening. On Saturday morning I would take advantage of Free Fishing Weekend by taking a friend or acquaintance without a license on a fishing, crabbing or clamming trip — then try to do the same thing on Sunday (Feb. 18th).

As for Saturday, Feb. 24th, I would definitely visit The Lower Umpqua’s Flycasting Expo. The very impressive and free event will run from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., but I would leave by 2:30 p.m. so that I could catch the weigh-in for the Frostbite Open in Lakeside at 3 p.m.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking the public’s help in beta testing its free mobile fishing application prior to the app’s official release in April 2018. The Fish Washington app is designed to convey up-to-the-minute fishing regulations for every lake, river, stream and marine area in the state and is available for download now at Google Play and Apple’s App store.

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