The run of female redtail surfperch into the lower Umpqua River above Winchester Bay is going strong. Although it is still early in the run, there have been a number of boat limits caught last weekend. And the run should last through July.

A word of caution though, there has been an incredible amount of fishing pressure directed at these spawning perch over the last several years and their behavior has changed. During the last couple of years the perch have moved back and forth between the ocean and lower Umpqua River during the larger tides than they ever did during previous years. The perch that stayed in the Umpqua River once they moved in, or did not become less aggressive during considerable boat traffic, have pretty much been removed from the river. The fact that the Umpqua River still hosts a healthy run of female redtail surfperch is a tribute to many of these perch making behavorial adjustments that make them less predictable.

I was invited to use my weekly fishing column to add my “2 cents worth” regarding the recent ODFW meeting at the North Bend public Library. The person making the request described the meeting as “packed full with local anglers angry about the ODFW’s regulation changes regarding salmon rivers.” Most attendees felt the regulation changes were too severe. As ODFW regulation changes go, this is one of the most measured, sensible well thought out policy changes ever — and well designed to keep angler impact to a minimum. No one lost the right to keep a wild Chinook and anglers who feel that they need to keep two wild Chinook per day are simply greedy to a fault.

The audacity, or perhaps arrogance of anglers thinking they should remain unaffected by a shrinking wild Chinook population boggles the mind.

This ODFW policy change is so well thought out that it allows flexibility based on stream flows when setting Chinook seasons on several smaller streams located between Bandon and Gold Beach.

These same angry library attendees were silent when the minimum size limit and daily bag limit were completely removed from striped bass at the start of 2019, but still felt they had the right to be angry when the ODFW made a minimal change to deal with a shrinking population of wild and finclipped Chinook salmon.

Bringing up hatch boxes, Whitlock-Vibert or otherrwise, was simply something pulled out of left field to allow for more griping.

I am actually a big fan of hatchboxes, but I think their use should be closely coordinated with an involved ODFW to maximize their benefit and minimize potential damage.

Congratulations to Craig and Kellie Johnson who landed two Smith River striped bass in the 40-pound class last week. While striper success has dropped off somewhat on the Smith recently, it seems to have picked up on the Coquille River in the Riverton area.

Umpqua River shad fishing, especially at Sawyers Rapids, remains almost too easy.

Somewhat overlooked because of the awesome shad fishing, the Umpqua’s smallmouth bass fishing is excellent and should get even better numbers-wise through September. Smallmouth bass in Woahink Lake have moved to deeper water and few anglers are fishing deep enough to catch them.

Loon Lake is currently offering the best bluegill fishing in our area and has recently given up some crappie exceeding 11-inches near some of the lake’s summer homes docks.

Alder Lake and Buck Lake, two small lakes west of Highway 101 seven miles north of Florence, were stocked this week with 497 and 425 legal trout respectively. Siltcoos Lagoon was planted with 36 trophy rainbows and Cleawox Lake received 1,900 trophy rainbows.

This coming Saturday and Sunday, June 1st and 2nd, is a Free Fishing Weekend where a license is not needed to fish, crab or clam and a tag is not needed to needed to fish for salmon, or steelhead or halibut.

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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