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The hottest thing going right now is shad fishing on the Umpqua River. Half-day catches of 40+ shad are common at a number of locations, but the best spot recently has been at Sawyer Rapids — and as the river drops it will get even better. Sawyer Rapids, at less than 27 miles east of Reedsport, is also the closest Umpqua River shad spot to the Oregon coast. Other local rivers hosting shad runs include the Coquille, Siuslaw and Coos-Millicoma rivers.

The first central Oregon coast all-depth three day opener was a complete bust — and a good example that increasing the quota means little if there are not reachable willing-to-bite fish around. There are four more “fixed” three day openers which are on Thursday through Saturday of each week and if the 171,103 pound quota is not reached, backup openers will occur every two weeks until the quota is met.

Those salmon caught by spinner-flinging bank anglers at Winchester Bay a few weeks ago have not shown up as upriver spring Chinook catches, so perhaps they weren’t spring Chinooks at all, but rather feeder fall Chinook following baitfish into the lower Umpqua River.

Surfperch were caught above Winchester Bay last week, but the run has yet to really get going — it could do so at any time. As usual, the male surfperch are still biting off the beaches as the female surfperch move into the lower Umpqua River. Winchester Bay’s South Jetty suffered a rare “off week” last week regarding rockfish, greenling, lingcod and striped surfperch.

Striped bass angling remains surprisingly good on the Smith and Coquille rivers with water clarity influencing the bite on the Coquille River. Freshwater lakes that are still having water clarity problems include Cooper Creek Reservoir, Plat ‘I’ Reservoir and Ben Irving Reservoir.

In some cases, warmer weather can result in lower water temperatures such as occurred recently at Lake Shasta when a considerable amount of melting snow resulted in a several degree drop in water temperatures despite very warm air temperatures.

For those of you who believe the slogan “made in America” means something, America’s boating industry is a wonderful example. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, 95 percent of the boats in the United States were made in the United States and the value of boat exports exceeds the value of boat imports by more than a billion dollars per year.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife puts out question-and-answer emails every couple of weeks that have varying degrees of relevance to Oregonians. Here are some questions from a recent one.

QUESTION: Why does the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) issue elk tags? Is it because herds get too large for the land to support them? What is the criteria? Are the animals ever relocated to other far away spots? (Allison H.)

ANSWER: CDFW does manage elk populations that, for example, get too large or are having conflicts with existing land uses. But that is not the only reason CDFW recommends limited harvest of elk.

CDFW’s mission is to manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public.

“Too large” is a subjective descriptor, and there are always going to be differing opinions on how many elk are too many. Tags are issued in areas where a limited harvest is appropriate. Historically, the number of tags issued is low compared to the overall population. This allows for a limited harvest while still allowing the population to expand in most areas.

In some areas where the population is causing damage to property or the population is healthy but there is not a lot of room to expand, CDFW will approve a higher level of harvest to maintain the current conditions (this has been the case at Grizzly Island Wildlife Area). Some of the relocations have not been that far from the source population. In recent years, CDFW has augmented existing populations with elk relocated from restricted habitats that cannot expand. This is done in order to prevent elk populations from exceeding their carrying capacity and subsequent habitat destruction, and to assist with genetic diversity.

QUESTION: If there are three of us in a boat fishing for sturgeon, and I catch a sturgeon and then tag and retain it, do I have to then totally stop fishing or can I rebait my line and fish for other species?

ANSWER: If you are in the ocean, boat limits, as described by California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.60, do not apply to sturgeon, per section 27.60(c)(6), so you would be done sturgeon fishing for that day but can continue fishing for other species. Boat limits do not apply in inland waters either, so if you are on inland waters, you are also done sturgeon fishing for that day. In either the ocean or bay you may continue to fish for other species, but it would be good practice to switch baits/gear set-up, techniques, etc. so that there is no question of your intent when an officer comes to conduct a compliance check.

QUESTION: We are heading to the North Coast soon and are planning to camp out and go clamming. How much help can I give my 5-year-old son who will be digging for clams with us for his first time? I want to be able to help him as much as he needs but don’t want the clams he digs up to count against my individual bag limit? Can I use the shovel and dig the hole for him while he uses his hands to dig around further and retrieve the clam? I will just be helping him to access the clam, but he will be retrieving it himself.

ANSWER: People have been cited for taking an overlimit of clams by doing exactly what you describe above. You can teach your son how to dig, but you cannot dig his limit of clams for him. Part of taking the clam is digging for it, so he would need to do the work. If you feel you are “doing it for him,” you are probably helping him too much.

If he is too young to dig for clams himself, he will probably need to wait until he is old enough to do so. Otherwise, you two can dig for clams together, and we encourage you to do just that so he learns, but they will all become part of your limit.

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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