Smallmouth bass fishing near Eugene

elmucho
Greetings fellow bass anglers,
I have to drop of the in-laws at the airport in Eugene for a 5am flight in a little bit more than a week from now. So that means I'll be actually leaving them at the curb around 3am.... since I'm in Waldport I figured I'd bring my bass fishing fly gear and my kayak (I could even bring my 14' Klamath with 20hp if you guys thought it would be worth it) and make a day of it.

Here's my problem: I don't know where I should go in the area - and I've got a serious sickness for smallmouth (OR in second place, largemouth bass) fishing! I could really use some advice.

I'm willing to drive an hour or so north or south from Eugene if there's an epic smallmouth spot that I shouldn't miss. I've considered Cottage Grove Reservoir, Dorena Reservoir and the Umpqua River.

I have no idea how I would fish the Umpqua River from my kayak unless there was a part of the river that was very slow moving that I could paddle back upcurrent to my launch site. I did just fish the John Day river at Le Page Park so if you're familiar with that spot, it's kind of like a big, slow moving pond - that's the kind of current I could handle (I have a Hobie kayak with 180 mirage pedal drive).

I would prefer to fish for river smallies but I'm not opposed to fishing a lake or reservoir. If that was the case, I might consider towing my little tinny boat.

I'm just looking for some sound advice from some fellow smallmouth psychos... if you don't mind sharing, I'd really appreciate it!

Best,

John
 
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NKlamerus
You chose a great time of year as the weather has been phenomenal for bass fishing, except for the wind.

If your really after smallmouth on moving water out of a kayak, you can't beat the Umpqua. It's got to be one of the best rivers in the country for smallmouth fisheries

The Willamette here for sure has smallmouth in it, but it's generally faster and less kayak access (in my opinion), I plan on exploring it more this year to find out.

River forks (on the Umpqua) is a hair faster current wise but offers a bigger variety of structure, currents, and fishable water. The fastest water is where the north dumps in, but I have fished it with just a paddle no issue.

The Umpqua landing is slower water, more traditional current fishing, it's a large straightish stretch, I'm not sure how the water levels look, there's some serious ledges. You'll need to legally avoid the creek mouth near the ramp.

If you want to spot hop and explore there's lots ramps from river forks down the main all the way to the coast, which you could take north home
 
elmucho
Ok this is GREAT information - thank you very much. I'm liking the sound of the slow current at "River Forks" on the Umpqua. Is that a place that is easy to find? I will do my research on it - super excited to fish these spots. Thank you very much - if anything else comes to mind, I won't be taking them to Eugene until July 9th so I've got time. Thanks again!

And just because I'm from San Diego and not used to moving water (I think you call it a "river") to be clear: I can just kayak around on it and won't be swept downstream and have to walk back five miles towing my kayak and gear? Thanks, appreciate the info!
 
NKlamerus
You will be moving downstream with the current, but it's slow enough there you can paddle against it to move upstream

I always recommend paddling upstream and fishing back
 
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elmucho
Got it - thanks man. Hey - just looking at the map and reading some info about Fern Ridge Reservoir - pretty darn close to the Eugene airport and it looks like you can access the Long Tom river from it? How do you feel about fishing Fern Ridge Reservoir? I realize that there aren't supposed to be smallies in there but, shoot, I don't have a problem fishing largemouth either. Just wondering since I have time before I run over there. Thanks again.

Hey one other question - NKlamerus - I just read a great report you wrote about fishing on the Big K Ranch! Now that sounds like something I'd like to do- I will give them a call once my date gets closer but I was wondering about your thoughts about fishing it this time of the year. Specifically, is it (sorry same kind of question again) slow enough for me to paddle up it and float down like the other spots you mentioned, and are water levels good in the next week or so for me to spend the money and hit it up? That place has me excited - your thoughts?
 
NKlamerus
Fern ridge has some really nice bass in it, water is generally brown and the wind can really get it messy out there fast.

The safest bet is Kirk pond for largemouth, there's some recent YouTube videos posted from out there you might also want to check out the Eugene fishing scene Facebook page

If you fish anywhere in Eugene make sure you leave absolutely nothing visible in your vehicle
 
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elmucho
Wow - okay I may have to scratch Eugene "park and fish" off the dance card! hahahahahah not into having a window busted out.
 
hobster
Whatever man I’ve been fishing in Eugene for 27 years and I’ve never had anything ripped off.

I live in West Eugene and whenever I go for smallies it’s down in Elkton. It’s the closest part of the Umpqua to Eugene and Fishing there can be off the hook. There is a road that follows the river and there are lots of good spots, can’t remember the name now. I always bring my pontoon and it is pretty much like a lake in that part of the river no worries about being swept away. Rivers have been pretty high this spring, not sure what it looks like now, haven’t been there yet this year but it’s a great choice! I just go south on Bertelsen which hooks up with Lorane Highway which leads to 38 and Elkton
 
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elmucho
Thanks man - sounds like a great spot and that's the kind of info that's helpful to me "pretty much a lake in that part of the river". I've got an inflatable Hobie "kayak" thing and I like fishing off it so those spots sound real good. Really appreciate the info!
 
hobster
No worries. If you are heading to Elkton on 38 take a left right before the bridge and then your first right across the river and then you’re on Mehl creek rd. Lots of access off that road and LOTS of smallies😉
 
elmucho
Oh man, getting the Benchmark map out and starting to put red "X"s on it! Getting fired up - thanks a bunch.
 
NKlamerus
I drove down to Elkton today, water is cleaned up but higher than it was last year, yellow Creek is moving pretty good but should be an easy paddle! Let us know how you do, if you need anything PM me while your down there I should get an instant notification

Im not saying fishing Eugene isn't worth it, but there's reports every week across fishbrain and Facebook of busted windows at kirk/fern, Horton, triangle, delta, or the Willamette access under beltline. It's definitely been worse the last couple years from what I've read, just don't leave things exposed and use common sense, that'll eliminate most risks
 
elmucho
Couldn't stand waiting, just booked a night at Tyee Campground on Umpqua, July 6th... gonna go scout around that whole area. Fire away if you've got any info for me... I think I'm right near the spots we've been talking about.
 
Oregunner
There are two different Tyee campgrounds. One is a BLM site on the Umpqua, and one is south of Florence, on the coast. Hopefully you reserved a spot at the right one. :) Have fun. Try 3” senkos, rigged wacky. Watermelon, #2 hook. Split shot up the line 12”.
 
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elmucho
Ha! Yes I did - I noticed that and was careful to reserve at "Tyee Recreation Site" on Umpqua River. I'm 99% a fly angler but that doesn't mean that I don't have a bag of Senkos and a spinning rod with me. I'll give it a shot - thanks for the tip on the split shot up the line.
 
Oregunner
I fly fish for trout, but haven’t had the same luck with smallmouth on a fly. Maybe when I get tired of catching bunches of SM on ultralight spinning gear, I’ll put more time in with the fly rod.
 
elmucho
That sounds like a good plan! Best fly fishing for smallies I've had is at Le Page Park Campground on John Day river - you could fish small poppers just about all day long (as long as it wasn't crazy windy) for them.


Smallmouth bass fishing near Eugene Smallmouth bass fishing around Eugene
 
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SparkyofSoCal
Some parts of the John Day at the right time are the greatest confidence builders for fly fishing. Poppers or a mouse just get it in the water. They may just be dinks but they are fun.
 
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Snopro
Columbia at dawn and dusk is fishing very well for SMB on the fly this week. Switch to shad when the sun is higher in the sky.
 
elmucho
Would love to get back up there and fish the Columbia but I found that I really have to watch the wind when I'm in my kayak - easy to get shut down from fishing by too much wind. The next time I head over I'm going to plan my trip (I usually camp for three nights or so when I go up) around a wind forecast. I have used windy.com at home - do any of you guys use that site? If not, do you have any advice on working with, or around the wind? What forecast sites do you use for fishing the Columbia?

Also - that's a dang big river - without giving up any "secret spots" what would be a good starting point for a guy fishing off a Hobie pedal kayak (propulsion through foot driven fins).

Finally, here's a fly that worked great when I was up at the John Day - Murdich Minnow - these things swim really well and on a floating line you can fish them over the tops of weed beds. Super quick and easy tie as well. I just whipped this one up (tying stuff up for an upcoming trip):

Screen Shot 2022-07-04 at 12.02.57 PM.png

SparkyofSoCal said:
Some parts of the John Day at the right time are the greatest confidence builders for fly fishing. Poppers or a mouse just get it in the water. They may just be dinks but they are fun.
Agreed 100% I can only get there once a year (I live most of the year in San Diego) - love fishing there.
 
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