Chinook fishing starts to pick up

Pete Heley /

Published Apr 10, 2013 at 05:00AM

Spring chinook fishing on the Umpqua River has started to pick up.

It seems that most of the bites are nonaggressive or tentative and many of the hooked fish are coming loose, but the overall activity level has picked up. Also, there has been some springer activity in the ocean and lower Umpqua. Again, most of the bites have been tentative and only a few fish have been landed.

Alec Howard, fishing with his dad, Scott Howard of Team Strikezone, hooked and landed a 20-pound springer Sunday while trolling the jetty near the Coast Guard Tower on the way in from a bottom-fishing trip. Even though Alec gave the fish plenty of time to finalize the bite, it was still hooked barely inside the mouth. A small increase in water temperature should make things much easier.

Because of limited fishing and, up until last week, cooler than normal water temperatures — plenty of stocked trout remain in all the lakes that received recent plants.

This week, Loon Lake is slated to be stocked with 1,500 legal rainbows and Saunders Lake with 3,000. Next week, Eel Lake will receive 2,500 legal rainbows while Butterfield Lake and Lake Marie are slated for 2,000 and 1,000 legal rainbows, respectively.

South of Florence, Carter and Cleawox lakes will be stocked next week. Carter will receive 2,500 legal and 500 foot-long rainbows and Cleawox will get 2,000 legal, 200 foot-long and 300 trophy rainbows.

The Medford area has been yielding some outsized largemouth bass and the Roseburg area seems on the verge of offering the same.

It appears that anglers wanting to fish the shallow water on coastal lakes will have to wait a few weeks for improved prospects.

Anglers who carefully pick their fishing spots on the Umpqua can catch some nice-sized smallmouths right now. Even though the water is still cold, some of the backwaters can be much warmer than the main channel. The warmest backwaters are those where the upper ends are farther upriver than where the backwater joins the main river.

The water at the upper ends of these backwaters is segregated from the main river current, which allows a greater temperature differential than those backwaters where the ends are farther downriver than where they join the Umpqua. These backwaters will almost always have some cooler river water entering them.

Crappie anglers should consider the next four weeks as prime time to catch these tasty panfish. While the lakes between Eugene and Medford produce larger crappie, at times the bluegill can be a nuisance. However, for the next several weeks, water temperatures should be cool enough to limit bluegill interference. While few anglers take advantage of the after-dark bite, the crappies usually become active at least an hour before dark.