There still has not been much salmon fishing activity in the ocean near the Umpqua River Bar. Salmon have been caught, but the bar has often been rough and many anglers still associate the two blinking yellow lights with a complete bar closure rather than a restriction which may only effect boats of 16 feet or less. Over last weekend, quite a few spring chinook were taken from the Umpqua above the Scottsburg Boat Ramp all the way up to at least Elkton.
Inshore halibut season (depths of less than 240 feet) opened May 1st. The all-depth halibut three day openers will not begin until the the second Saturday in May (May 10th).
Sturgeon angling remains slow despite an increasing number of anglers trying for them. Striped bass fishing at night on the Smith River has been at least fair, but the stripers in the Umpqua remain woefully underfished. Despite rumors to the contrary, there have been no verified reports of shad taken yet on the Umpqua. Smallmouth bass should be biting in the slowest sections or backwaters on the Umpqua.
Although our top bottomfishing spots are too deep to be legal to fish, the South Jetty has been producing well when wave action isn’t severe. Subdued wave action also makes fishing the surf for redtailed surfperch (pinkfins) far more enjoyable. There has been a lot of interest in the Umpqua’s pinkfin run and some anglers have even tried to be the first to encounter them, but the initial catches most likely won’t taken place until the second week in May.
The Florence area lakes that have or will receive trout plants this week include: Carter Lake with 2,500 barely legal rainbows; Cleawox Lake with 2,000 barely legals and 150 trophy trout and Munsel Lake with 1,500 foot long rainbows and 150 trophy trout. Many Coos County lakes are slated to be stocked this week including: Empire lakes with 6,000 legal trout and scheduled to receive 3,000 legal rainbows are Bradley, Eel, Saunders and North Tenmile as well as Powers Pond. Millicoma Pond is scheduled for 500 legal rainbows and Blubill Lake, a very shallow lake adjacent to the road to Horsfall Beach, is slated to receive 2,000 legal rainbows. Lake Marie and Loon Lake are not scheduled to receive their next trout plants (1,000 legal rainbows each) until the first week in June just prior to Free Fishing Weekend.
I spent five minutes last Sunday afternoon checking out Junction City Pond, a tiny less than four acre pond, located on the south end of Junction City. The pond receives more fish per acre than any spot in western Oregon and the area’s fishermen are well aware of that fact. There were approximately 40 cars in the parking lot and at least 60 anglers scattered around the pond. When I first fished this pond more than 30 years ago, there were decent populations of smallish largemouth bass as well as crappie, bluegills and brown bullheads. The heavy trout plants in recent years seem to have reduced the numbers of warmwater fish, but the pond is a great spot to introduce young kids to fishing and many Eugene area angles have caught their first fish, almost always a planted rainbow trout, at the pond. In our area, the most heavily planted lakes are Cleawox and Empire lakes.
Although sometimes the word gets out, the ODFW is not in the habit of publicizing their plants of broodstock rainbows or surplus steelhead. The policy makes sense as one can only guess how fervent the hatchery truck followers would be if they knew for sure that there were truly big trout scheduled for release.
I checked out a number of my favorite fishing spots last week and was, in general, disappointed. While Triangle, Cottage Grove and Dorena lakes were all clear enough to fish, despite the warm day, there were no visible fish in the shallows. Dexter, and Lookout Point were too muddy for enjoyable fishing, but the “Powerbait” crowd were catching some trout at Dexter. Even muddier were Cooper Creek Reservoir near Sutherlin and Ben Irving Reservoir west of Winston (the muddiest of all the waters checked). Loon Lake was somewhat muddy, but fishable and if one fishes the upper end of the reservoir above, or to the side of, the water entering the lake from the Lake Creek inlet, it is even less muddy and warmer too. However, the store at Loon Lake is closed for repairs and one needs to remember to bring their tackle and food with them. I even went so far as to visit Selmac Lake, a shallow lake about 20 miles south of Grants Pass, and it was less muddy than I expected. However, the bass were not biting that day as even the guys in bass boats had switched over to planted rainbows and black crappie. On a hunch, I waited until dark and in about 25 casts I landed three bass weighing at least a pound with the biggest right at two pounds.
Virtually all of the lakes and ponds on the coast are clear and very fishable. However, there have been very few 60 degree afternoons on the coast and the water temperatures are not yet sufficient to bring warmwater fish into the shallows in meaningful numbers. Usually, water temperatuers in the low to mid-60’s will do it, but with very few exceptions, air temperatures have to reach that mark first. The rare exceptions when spring water temperatues may be warmer than the warmest days are due to springs or dark bottomed area or muddy water that may heat up slightly warmer than the air temperatures. Looking for such spots is usually an indication of pure desperation or extreme optimism.