Crabbing continues to be very good in the lower Umpqua River at Winchester Bay with boat crabbers making good catches upriver to at least a half-mile above town and as far downstream as Half Moon Bay and out into the ocean when the bar and ocean conditions make ocean crabbing possible. While most of the dock crabbers are catching less than their limits, very few of them are going home hungry.
The few people fishing the Triangle and South Jetty have reported fairly good fishing for seaperch and greenling with an occasional cabezon, rockfish or lingcod entering the catch. Anglers able to reach and fish the offshore reef between ten and 11 miles southwest of Winchester Bay are reporting excellent lingcod fishing with fair numbers of incidentally taken rockfish.
Except for the Umpqua River, every stream in the area is waiting for sufficient rainfall to entice their steelhead to actually ascend them. However, there should excellent steelhead fishing in all of our local streams immediately following even one good rain storm.
Largely ignored during the winter in our area, yellow perch, crappies and bullhead catfish do bite well in cold water and are heavily pursued in eastern Oregon which is much colder than the Oregon coast. I’ve mentioned it before, but wintertime bullhead catfishing in our three largest, but shallow local lakes can be very good. Just look for deeper water (at least 15 feet deep) and drop a nightcrawler, or other preferred bait to the bottom.
Anglers willing to travel can have some great winter flyfishing for redband trout and whitefish on the Crooked River below Bowman Dam which forms Prineville Reservoir. The reservoir can also provide good fishing, even from the bank, for rainbow trout. The portions of the Deschutes River that are open all year can provide some sizable trout, especially brown trout, but much of the river is difficult to land large trout in when the flows are high and the flows are high right now. Anglers fishing Klamath Lake can catch some sizeable rainbows in the spring areas of the lake which often do not ice over. Eastern Washington’s Rufus Woods Lake, a large impoundment ont he Columbia River usually provides very good fishing for triploid rainbows that average about three pounds, but can run to 30 with 20 pound fish taken every year. Bank anglers do best with bait, but boat anglers do well trolling jigs and flies. These fish are pen raised and often return to the pens they started out in. Baum Lake, in north central California near Burney is an 80 acre impoundment that receives frequent and massive trout plants, mostly rainbows, but occasionally brown and brook trout as well and despite the high numbers of fish, they seem to grow fast with rainbows to at least ten pounds caught during the winter months and more than one brown exceeding 20 pounds has been pulled from the narrow, river-like reservoir.
It seems that the state of Washington is going to wage full-scale war against the northern pike in the Pend O’reille River that seem destined to reach the Columbia River. Right now, the pike have mostly impacted the scrap fish in the river, but populations of largemouth bass and yellow perch have been shrinking, as well. Although pike have been caught weighing at least 30 pounds from the Pend O’reille, the pike populations is dominated by fish weighing less than five pounds and if the population explosion cannot be countered, the growth rate will surely slow and the pike will be far more likely to move great distances to seek better feeding areas. It is kind of ironic that the sterile tiger muskies of Washington state have provided the state with an exciting fishery, mostly catch and release since it takes a 50-inch fish to reach the minimum length to legally keep and the trout fishing in every water they are in seems to have improved, but the proliferation of the northern pike in the Pend O’reille have outgrown their welcome and may pose an unaddressable problem to waters downstream including the upper Columbia River.
Reading about the problems going on regarding hunting and fish in some of our neighboring states can make one more appreciate living in Oregon. If it isn’t the governor of Washington trying to divert about 1.5 million dollars derived from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses to the state’s general fund, it is the new director of California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife saying that hunting and fishing are of secondary importance to his department. The director, a former leader of Trout Unlimited, seems to be applying tunnel vision to the state’s very numerous hunting and fishing possibilities. The state is still letting members of the Human Society (HSUS) provide some instruction to the state’s game wardens. While their cash donations to the department should be appreciated, it is difficult to believe that any instruction provided by HSUS would not be an attempt to further their anti-hunting and fishing agenda.