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A possible alternative to area anglers planning to fish Owyhee and Brownlee reservoirs for crappie is Lake Shasta, which is closer and produced a 19-inch crappie last week that weighed 3 1/2 pounds.

The crappie tournaments that started last month on Clear Lake in Northern California have been both popular and successful. In the first few tournaments, the largest crappies weighed more than 2 1/2 pounds and the heaviest 10-crappie bag weighed more than 20 pounds. Judging from the number of crappies weighing 2 pounds — that size crappie must be a dominant, or major-year class on the giant lake.

Fishing for Chinook salmon in the ocean is now legal for Chinooks measuring at least 24 inches. The season, which started on March 15th, is slated to run through October, but one of the three options currently under consideration would restrict salmon angling during October to marine waters less than 240 feet deep.

There are still no reports of spring Chinook salmon being caught in the Umpqua River. Last week an angler reported hooking a good-sized fish while casting a spinner at Half Moon Bay in Winchester Bay, but lost the fish before he could positively identify it.

While winter steelhead angling in most area streams is slowing down, Cathy Reiss of Ringo’s Lakeside Marina reported that Tenmile Creek was fishing good through last week. She also reported that this year’s steelhead were averaging larger than they have for the last few seasons and while many anglers use such baits as salmon roe or sand shrimp, the most effective lures have been MagLips and Aerojigs.

Scheduled ODFW trout plants are sometimes canceled, delayed, or changed. A good strategy is to have the phone number of a source you trust that is close to the water that is scheduled for stocking. Since a trout plant can occur any day, Monday through Friday of the scheduled week — a trusted source can help finetune your trout fishing trips.

Lake Marie received its first trout plant of 2019 this week when it received 2,000 legal rainbows and Powers Pond also received a plant of 150 trophy trout.

The trout plant scheduled for last week at Johnson Mill Pond was made several days later and 50 trophy trout may be added this week. The trout plant scheduled last week for Mingus Park Pond was made this week instead. Upper Empire Lake is scheduled to receive its first trout plant this year when it receives 400 trophy rainbows this week. Perhaps more importantly, warming water temperatures will likely improve the trout bite in lakes that have already received trout plants this year.

Loon Lake has good water color and the upper end of the lake appears very “fishy” with several brushpiles on the shoreline near the old “Fishhaven/Ducketts Dock” that extend into the water. This new structure should attract the lake’s warmwater fish when they move shoreward, which they have yet to do.

According to surveys quoted in the Columbia Basin Bulletin, a number of factors indicate improving ocean conditions for salmon. The good news is that copepods off Newport are mostly of cool-water, lipid rich species; krill lengths off Northern California have increased — an indicator of available forage for salmon and other species; anchovy numbers are on the rise; and several indicators of juvenile and adult salmon survival increased slightly off the Northwest Coast — especially for coho salmon, which are expected this year at average numbers after several years of low returns, according to the report.

Less favorable news is the finding that there is warmer than average subsurface water in the southern portion of the California Current and there is strong hypoxia (lack of oxygen) on the shelf in the northern areas.

It looks like our local lakes are approaching normal water levels, but unless we receive additional rain in the next several months, there may still be water level issues. This year it appears that central and eastern Oregon may actually fare better water-wise than western Oregon. The snow levels are normal or above normal in all areas of the state and since snow melts gradually, it’s like “money in the bank” when it comes to possible water issues.

University of Washingon researchers looked at deer behavior when approached by wolves. The study found that white tailed deer are graceful runners who will seek flat ground in an effort to outrun wolves. White-tailed deer are more comfortable running from wolves and sometimes move to flatter ground, where they can better see wolves coming.

But mule deer have developed a quick jump escape technique that makes them appear to be bouncing on a pogo stick. This is effective for escaping on uneven, rocky ground. The researchers found that mule deer will move to higher elevations and steeper slopes to avoid the predators.

Washington fisheries personnel have decided that the belated run of smelt into the Cowlitz River isn’t large enough to justify opening the season this year.

Despite below average water and air temperatures, several bass tournaments are being held each week statewide. Unfortunately, they are all pretty much the same. The tournament that I find the most interesting is the annual multi-species tournament held each year by the Portland-based Oregon Bass and Panfish Club.

In this tournament, anglers get points based on the length of their largest specimen of each allowed fish species that they catch. The most effective strategy is to catch as many different fish species as possible before attempting to upgrade size-wise.

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.

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