Umpqua River spring Chinook angling is improving after last week’s heavy rains and there seems to be considerable fishing pressure directed at them between the Scottsburg bridge and Elkton. Anglers fishing spinners from the bank at Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point have reported very few hookups but springers were landed at both Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point this week. Very few anglers have tried to catch Umpqua River bound springers in the ocean near the Umpqua River Bar.
Offshore bottomfishing using conventional gear is closed as of May 1st in waters more than 40 fathoms deep. Long leader techniques in water more than 40 fathoms deep remains open year round. Although lingcod are not a legal catch by this method, blue and deacon rockfish now are.
Shad are now being caught in the Yellow Creek area on the Umpqua River. Fishing is currently slow, but is sure to improve as the river level drops and the water clears.
I did an exploratory road trip to evaluate bass and panfish waters along Interstate 5 between Sutherlin and Medford and was disappointed to find Ben Irving Reservoir near Winston to be very muddy and Cooper Creek Reservoir in Sutherlin to be nearly as muddy. Surprisingly, Ford’s Pond, just west of Sutherlin, was the clearest I have ever seen it. Galesville Reservoir, just east of Azalea, was also very clear and appeared to be at least 10 feet higher than it was at this time last year.
The lake that I actually intended to fish, Selmac Lake, appeared to be at a normal springtime level with about 3 feet of visibility. The bass spawn seemed imminent with bass starting to move into the shallows. The crappies were just finishing up their spawning and pre-spawn bluegills seemed to be everywhere. According to the host at the boat ramp on the south side of the lake a 9-pound largemouth was caught the day before I showed up and a much larger bass was laying dead on the shoreline. Hopefully the lunker’s demise was spawn-related and not due to low oxygen levels that caused a lunker bass die-off less than two years ago.
The less than 90 minutes of bankfishing I did at Selmac was surprisingly productive. It seems that a blugill bit the 3-inch Power Bait trout worm on every cast and when a bluegill didn’t grab it, a crappie or a small bass would. I didn’t land any fish over a foot in length, but the largest bass and crappie were right there. I did break off a crappie that would have measured at least 12-inches when it bit right at my feet in less than a foot of water while I was standing on a discarded section of concrete pipe.
The bass and bluegills at Selmac seemed to be scattered along the entire shoreline, but the crappie were tight to the outside edges of shoreline reeds along Reeves Creek Road. I didn’t hook any trout, but the lake has received nearly 10,000 planted trout in the last two months.
I didn’t fish after dark because the 15 to 20 mile per hour winds persisted and I had not seen any big bass along the shoreline.
As of last Saturday, Eel Lake at Tugman State Park was producing a few largemouth bass and rainbow trout. The bluegills and crappies haven’t yet shown up at the park, but they never seem to until after the spawn is over. Anglers wanting to find panfish at Tugman should pick a calm day and fish near evening.
As for Loon Lake, it’s not quite back to where it was before the recent heavy rains, but the water clarity is improving and bluegills are starting to move back to the shoreline at the upper end of the lake. The heavy rains and muddy water seem to have scattered the recently planted trout.
Although the bassfishing at Tenmile Lake has been somewhat inconsistent, good catches are being made every day. Fishing has been poor for rainbow trout, bullhead catfish, bluegills, crappies and even yellow perch.
Anglers who have recently fished northern California’s Lake Shasta have been enjoying good trout and bassfishing, but the real surprise has been the size of some of the recent bluegill and crappie catches with bluegills weighing 16 to 24 ounces and crappies measuring 14 to 17-inches with a few even larger.
Most Oregonians seem to think that the five new commissioners that Kate Brown appointed to be ODFW commissioners will be an improvement over the last batch — if only because Bruce Buckmaster, a commercial fishing/gill net advocate, will no longer be a commissioner. Hopefully, Brown is able to correct past mistakes and the new commissioners are able to make us “proud.” Time will tell.
Many waters along the central and northern Oregon coast were planted this week or last week. The only local waters listed for being stocked this week are Tenmile Lakes, but Butterfield Lake received 400 trophy trout last week and Upper Empire Lake received 4,500 trout comprised of 2,500 legals and 2,000 trophies.
According to the most recent issue of the Columbia Basin Bulletin heavy rain over the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia and the eastern Pacific Ocean is a good indicator that temperatures in central California will reach 100 degrees in four to 16 days, according to a collaborative research team from the University of California Davis and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Climate Center in Busan, South Korea.
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.