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As for hot local fisheries, the redtail surfperch spawning in the Umpqua River above Winchester Bay went on a torrid bite last week. Last weekend was Washington’s Free Fishing Weekend. Oregon’s next Free Fishing Weekend is on August 17th and 18th. An additional Free Fishing Weekend will occur on November 29th and 30th.

The last two times I drove into Tugman Park, there were at least six anglers fishing off the fishing dock. The only time I’ve seen that many people fishing off that dock is when the lake’s warmwater fish were active. So I naturally assumed that the panfishing was heating up. A fishing buddy fished the lake two consecutive days and found the black crappies to be very cooperative, the small largemouths less so and the bluegills not quite active enough to actually bite. Unfortunately the crappies averaged small and appeared quite thin as did the smaller largemouths. The crappies were just finishing the spawn and were quite dark Despite their small average size, a few 10-11-inch fish were present. The larger bass in Eel Lake seemed to have totally disappeared — at least as far as anglers are concerned.

Western Oregon trout plants are pretty much over until fall. Lakes still holding fair numbers of planted trout include Cleawox, Saunders and Eel. Cleawox Lake received nearly 4,000 trophy rainbows in the last few weeks.

Striped bass were observed chasing baitfish near the Gardiner boat ramp last week. If you really want to catch a striper during daylight hours, try the Coquille River near Riverton about 10 miles east of Bandon.

The run of female redtail surfperch into the lower Umpqua River above Winchester Bay is still going on. and the bite has become much more consistent. And there have been temporary shortages of sand shrimp — usually followed rather quickly by shortages of Berkley Gulp sandworms.

Although it is still early in the run, a number of boat limits were caught last weekend. And the run should last through July. Fishing success has been spotty. Most surfperch anglers limit their fishing success by avoiding all logic when it comes to their fishing strategies.

I’m convinced the most consistent strategy is to start early. Many surfperch anglers plan their start around certain mid-tides and that is wonderful if that certain midtide is the one with the best bite. The “hot bite” may vary “tide-wise. The perch may be in different locations in the three miles above Winchester Bay and may intersect with anglers at varying spots and tidal stages. Early morning arrivals also do not have to worry about boat traffic making the perch less aggressive. They also are less affected by the strong winds that usually start by mid-morning. This year’s early arrivals also are less affected by the weekend traffic congestion in Reedsport.

This avoidance of logic is not restricted to boaters targeting the pinkfin spawning run into the lower Umpqua River.

Anglers fishing the beach for surfperch would be well-advised to trade in their monofilament line for super braid. The advantages are numerous. The no-stretch feature of the braid helps detect light bites and in hook-setting. At less than one-third the diameter a superbraid allows longer, more effortless casting, and the thinner diameter is less effected by tidal currents to the point of allowing the use of lighter weights.

The hottest local fishery continues to be Umpqua River shad fishing. The Yellow Creek area is still producing well as of last weekend, but most of the fishing pressure has shifted to Sawyers Rapids. Most of the shad are just below the chute on the opposite side of the river from Sawyers Rapids RV Park.

Bank anglers can catch some shad on the Highway 38 side of the river by fishing the chute entering the large shallow pool about 500 feet below the rapids.

Because of rough ocean conditions, it appears that the spring all-depth halibut season will not meet its quota of 171,103 pounds. June 6-8 is the last fixed opener for the spring season and back-up dates will every other Thursday through Saturday until the spring quota is met or approached.

The summer all-depth halibut season is set to start on Friday August 2nd, with back-up dates every other Friday and Saturday until the summer quota is met or approached..

Ocean salmon fishing at least for cohos should be much better this season. The selective or finclipped ocean coho season will run from June 22nd through August 25th or until the 90,000 finclipped coho quota is met.

Chinook salmon fishing in the ocean is ongoing and slated to run through October. Recently, there have been a few decent Chinook catches in the ocean out of Winchester Bay.

It seems that there is growing amount of fishing pressure directed at walleyes in Lookout Point Reservoir including some guides. Almost all the fishing pressure occurs after dark and it seems that most of the walleyes are being caught on the north side of the reservoir.

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One can reasonably expect ODFW trout plants into coastal waters to be slowing down as many waters become less suitable for receiving trout plants.

Loon Lake is western Oregon’s best bluegill fishery — and it’s not even close.

Loon Lake is also our area’s best spot to catch a foot-long crappie.

If I were targeting big crappies, I would fish the docks on the summer home side of the lake and I wouldn’t use normal-sized crappie lures..

Last year, I discovered that Loon’s largest crappie were not interested in anything smaller than a 3-inch swimbait.

Some informational tidbits from the latest issue of the Columbia Basin Bulletin include:

*After 6-Year Ban, Barbed Hooks Return For Columbia River Salmon, Steelhead Fishing, Harvest Managers Say Catch/Release Mortality Rates Unchanged With Barbless; Dismal Returns Make Summer Chinook Season Unlikely.

*The Pike Danger: Will Economic Impact Report Light A Fire On Suppression Efforts?

Some Eugene-area TV stations recently ran some videos regarding the severe drawdown of Fall Creek Reservoir.

While the initial headline extolling the extermination of invasive species in the reservoir had me thinking they were talking about zebra and quagga mussels I was shocked when they were talking about black crappies and largemouth bass.

It seems that salmon and steelhead smolts had a difficult time passing through the dam on their downstream migration. Fall Creek Reservoir. The reservoir has undergone severe annual drawdowns for more than a decade and the crappie and largemouth bass fisheries suffered major declines. But more than a decade ago, Fall Creek Reservoir had a highly regarded largemouth fishery and it also had an overlooked black crappie fishery for fish up to and even exceeding 3 pounds.

So it was difficult to listen these TV news announcers, both of whom appeared to be in their 30s, gleefully announcing the extinction of the crappies and largemouth bass in Fall Creek Reservoir.

The newscasters were obviously unaware that both black crappies and largemouth bass had been swimming around Lane County waters for more than 40 years before they were born.

A biologist from the ODFW office in Springfield assured me that the extermination of the crappies and bass was a byproduct of trying to help the reservoir’s outmigrating smolt find passage through the dam and the shape and bottom contours of the reservoir did not offer any havens for the reservoir’s warmwater fish at much lower water levels.

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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