Pending news that seems to have everybody’s attention is the decision to reduce the daily limit for wild or unclipped Chinook salmon to one fish on many South Coast streams. The daily limit will remain at two fish on the Rogue and Umpqua rivers.
On the Coos Basin, the daily limit for unclipped Chinook salmon is one fish from either the Coos or Coquille rivers with a seasonal limit of five fish from August 1st through December 31st with no more than two unclipped Chinooks coming from the Coquille River, which is closed to Chinook angling above the Highway 42S crossing near Sturdivant Park in Coquille.
The daily limit on the Chetco River is one unclipped Chinook per day with a seasonal limit of two unclipped Chinook from August 1st through December 31st — the only open water is from the mouth up to river mile 2.2
The Elk River, Sixes River and Floras Creek, taken together, have a daily limit of one unclipped chinook and a season limit of five such fish. Floras Creek will be closed from August 1st through December and the Sixes will be closed below Highway 101 from August 1st through December and the Elk River will be closed between Swamp Creek and Highway 101 for the same time period.
These upcoming changes regarding the retention of unclipped Chinook affect every Oregon coastal river that hosts Chinook salmon runs in slightly different ways and I urge anyone planning on fishing for salmon this fall to read the complete proposal on the ODFW website.
An ocean fishery for Chinook salmon in the Brookings area will begin May 25th and run through September 2nd.
The hottest, most consistent fishing in our area remains shad fishing on the Umpqua River.
Other shad fishing possibilities include the Smith River between the falls and the upper tidewater areas; The Siuslaw River between Davis Chute and the “Guard Rail Hole; The Coquille River near the Arago Boat Ramp and the Coos and lower Millicoma rivers. The lower several miles of the South Umpqua River also hosts shad runs, but none of these other possibilities can hold a candle to the Umpqua and the best fishing currently is at Sawyers Rapids where 50 shad catches are the norm for a half-day fishing trip.
Surprisingly, the next hottest local fishery has been the striper fishing on the Smith River.
While the lower several miles of the Smith is getting most of the recent fishing pressure, there are also stripers in the Umpqua River between Gardiner and Sawyers Rapids. Scholfield Slough hosts a striper population during the summer and fall months.
Because of muddy water, the Coquille River has received little fishing pressure directed at striped bass so far this year, but recently gave up a dozen stripers weighing more than 15 pounds in the week before the most recent rains muddied the river once again.
The two top floatfishing streams in our area are rounding into prime fishing shape. While Siltcoos River won’t open to fishing until May 22nd, the river offers an easy float down to the dam which is located more than two miles below the lake. Siltcoos River has a fair population of largemouth bass and yellow perch and some surprisingly large trout (both rainbows and cutthroats). Very few anglers actually fish the river instead opting for birdwatching and sightseeing.
The other floatfishing option is Tenmile Creek between the lake and the railroad trestle. Although the trestle is about four stream miles below the lake, the hike back to your rig via the railroad tracks is only about a mile.
No log jams have been reported on Tenmile Creek this year and the best fishing areas seem to be the most narrow areas with streamside brush. Largemouth bass and rainbow trout are the most common catches.
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Local fly anglers should consider Saunders Lake, where the most recent trout plant seems to have generated a considerable amount of surface activity. Trollers are having very good success on Eel Lake for planted rainbow trout with a few native rainbows and cutts along with a few carryover rainbows. Much of the recent fishing pressure has been directed at largemouth bass and the lake has a few smallmouth bass as well.
Tenmile Lake has been fishing very good for largemouth bass to 4 pounds with a few larger. Ringo’s Lakeside Marina reported that an angler fishing a nightcrawler for Tenmile Lakes trout recently caught a jumbo bluegill that weighed 1 pound and 10 ounces.
Crappie have been scarce this spring in western Oregon waters, but here are some semi-local spots where you have a decent chance to catch them.
LOON LAKE: The crappies haven’t shown up at the old Duckett’s dock on the upper lake in their usual numbers, but there has been some decent catches made near some of the summer homes.
EEL LAKE: The crappie haven’t shown up at the fishing dock at Tugman Park — but they never do until after they are done spawning. But crappie seekers should find fish by fishing along shoreline stretches near dusk.
SELMAC LAKE: The crappie spawn is over, but the lake offers the best chance at catching a crappie measuring at least 13-inches. Try fishing the outside edges of near-shore reedbeds.
COOPER CREEK RESERVOIR: Stumps near the middle of the reservoir and the lower end of the reservoir near dusk should produce small numbers of crappies measuring 10 to 12 inches.
LOOKOUT POINT RESERVOIR: Has produced more than one crappie weighing more than 4 pounds — but try finding them in this 13 mile long reservoir.
COTTAGE GROVE RESERVOIR: Capable of giving up fair numbers of good-sized crappies near the dam during October.
BEN IRVING RESERVOIR: Usually offers consistent fishing for 9 to 11-inch crappies when the water isn’t to murky. Vandalism near the boat ramp has resulted in the gate being closed at dusk.
SILTCOOS LAGOON: This small planted trout fishery has a fair population of six to eight inch crappies - use small lures.
Perhaps it is a symbol of our current times, or maybe not, but the way Bass Pro Shops wholesale Division (American Rod and Gun) abruptly closed thousands of accounts last year — forcing many businesses to scramble to set up new wholesale accounts — was absolutely abhorrent. To make matters worse, the company began quietly setting up new wholesale accounts involving about 10 feet of wall space in large grocery stores including McKay’s, Price and Prides and Ray’s Sentrys in western Oregon, while making no attempt to reinstate the numerous accounts they already had.
None of these “new accounts” that I checked out was capable of giving out useful fishing advice.
This breech of ethics and lack of loyalty was more than enough to justify switching my online fishing tackle ordering from Bass Pro Shops to Tackle Warehouse without one bit of remorse.