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Lower Umpqua Fly Caster Expo

David Roberts with Fly Tyer's Den ties a fly during the 2017 Lower Umpqua Fly Casters Exposition at the Reedsport Community Center. The free event for this year will be held Saturday. 

Winter steelhead are in all of our local streams and fishing success depends on stream conditions in most cases. Two streams that never seem to muddy up are Eel Creek and Tenmile Creek.

Eel Creek is extremely “snaggy” and difficult to fish, while Tenmile Creek is the exact opposite and relatively easy to fish and Tenmile Creek has been hot for the last few weeks with fish to 18 pounds taken. Almost all the finclipped, keepable steelhead that ascend Tenmile Creek only do so as far as Eel Creek and then swim up Eel Creek as far as the STEP fishtrap just below Eel Lake. Some of Eel Creek’s steelhead actually spawn in the stream before reaching the fishtrap and some of the preferred spawning sites are inside the several culverts on the stream.

But right now, possibly the easiest place to actually land an Eel Creek steelhead would be to fish Butterfield or Saunders lakes, both of which received a healthy dose of Eel Creek steelhead last week via STEP volunteers at the Eel Creek fishtrap. Both lakes also contain largemouth bass, yellow perch, crappies and bluegills and Butterfield Lake even has a very few warmouth sunfish.

The heaviest steelhead reported recently was a 22-pound finclipped buck from the South Fork Coquille River.

A final reminder about the annual “Lower Umpqua Flycasters Flyfishing Expo” this coming Saturday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. The location is the Community Center in Reedsport located at 451 Winchester Avenue.

Despite the “free price tag” this is not a “rinky dink” show as it features flytying and flycasting demonstrations as well as informational displays by various stream and fish enhancement groups. Food concessions will be present so there is no reason not to make a “half-day” of it and really check it out.

After checking out the Flyfishing Expo, a short drive to Lakeside will give you a chance to watch the weigh-in for the “Frostbite Open,” one of the most highly regarded bass tournaments in the Pacific Northwest.

Despite the often frigid temperatures, the participating anglers have frequently surprised the viewing public with the numbers and sizes of the bass they catch. However, the recent really cold temperatures should provide an especially tough test.

The next couple of weeks should offer the season’s best chance to catch a humungous egg-laden Columbia River Walleye. While most of the early season lunkers are caught below The Dalles, John Day or McNary dams, an angler that could consistently find early season walleye below Bonneville Dam or in the Portland area could become a legend. While big walleyes are caught in these areas, it never seems to happen before June.

While crabbing has definitely slowed down, Winchester Bay’s South Jetty was fishing really good for lingcod just before the Umpqua River muddied up. Expect the good fishing to resume once the lower river clears slightly.

While the first spring Chinook salmon have already been caught in the Columbia and Willamette rivers one can reasonably expect the first springers to be caught on the Rogue and Umpqua rivers over the next weeks. In most years, the date of the earliest springer catch is as dependent upon how many anglers are actually fishing for them as it is on how many salmon are actually in the river. Let’s hope it’s a good season.

According to an article in “The Columbia Basin Bulletin,” more than 1 million adult coho salmon are expected along the Oregon coast and Columbia River in 2019. Some 905,600 of those are forecasted to enter the Columbia.

That’s much higher than the 2018 forecast of 349,000 fish (286,200 of those turned into the Columbia) and far more than the disappointing actual run last year of 230,700 fish (147,300 into the Columbia). The 10-year average is 416,100 fish.

According to Stuart Ellis of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and a member of Oregon Technical Advisory Committee, “The increase is due to what we think are some better ocean conditions especially off the Oregon coast and some better jack returns.”

NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Law Enforcement is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information that leads to a civil penalty or criminal conviction in the shootings of California sea lions in and around West Seattle. More than 12 sea lions have been confirmed shot in Washington’s King and Kitsap counties since September.

Who would have thought that when Steve Godin and several area members of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) decided to part ways with the CCA and form their own angling group, they would be so successful. But that is the only way to describe the resulting fishing club.

The Oregon Coast Anglers (OCA) has undertaken numerous local fishing-related projects over the last several years and this year has started a “Conservation Scholarship Fund,” which offers $500 scholarships to students graduating from local high schools in 2019. The only requirement is that the scholarship recipients plan to pursue their higher education in majors that relate to conservation of the earth’s resources. The Oregon Coast Anglers has endowed the scholarship fund with $3,500 and the high schools that are included in the program include: Bandon; Elkton; Mapleton, Marshfield, North Bend; Reedsport and Siuslaw (Florence).

For more information on the scholarship program, other OCA projects, or joining the OCA, please call Steve Godin at 541-255-3383.

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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