Central and South Coast Fishing Reports December 1, 2017


Sport Groundfish, Inside 40-Fathom Line:

Anglers may no longer catch and retain lingcod (except by spear), any species of rockfish, cabezon, greenling, or other bottomfish (aka groundfish) species, except flatfish species (other than Pacific halibut) inside of the 40-fathom regulatory line. Lingcod may be taken by spear only (with no change to the bag limit or minimum length). See details about the flatfish fishery and lingcod spear fishery below. These regulations are in effect through Dec. 31, 2017, for all Oregon waters, including bays, estuaries, banks, and fishing off of jetties.

Expo Pond at the Jackson County Fairgrounds and Reinhart Park Pond in Grants Pass were freshly stocked in time for Thanksgiving weekend.

Around 400 summer steelhead excess to broodstock needs at Cole Rivers Hatchery were released back into the fishery in the vicinity of Touvelle State Park before Thanksgiving as well.

Continue to look for recent rains to bring Chinook into the Chetco, Elk and Winchuck rivers.


Rains late this week are expected to increase river flows significantly. Anglers need to pay extra attention to water levels and floating debris this year due to impacts from the Chetco Bar fire. Anglers will want to check flows and USFS road closures before fishing the river.

COOPER CREEK RESERVOIR: rainbow trout, bass, bluegill

Cooper Creek received over 10,000 trout in 2017. Fishing is has slowed a little, but there should still be plenty of fish available. Fishing for bass and bluegill should continue to slow into the fall.

COOS RIVER BASIN: Dungeness crab, bay clams, rockfish, salmon

Streams and rivers are now closed to trout fishing until next spring.

A few anglers have been fishing the East Fork Millicoma and South Fork Coos rivers in search of the first returning winter steelhead. Anglers fishing the South Fork Coos River above Dellwood will need a permit from Weyerhaeuser, which they can pick up at the Weyerhaeuser Coos Bay office. In the Coos Basin 1 additional hatchery steelhead may be retained per day for a total aggregate of 3 adult fish harvested daily.

Recreational fishing for bottomfish is closed because the quotas for several species have been reached. This includes the ocean along with bays and estuaries. On Oct. 1, recreational bottomfishing was reopened outside 40 fathoms but for anglers using “longleader” gear only. The daily bag limit for the long-leader fishery has been increased to 10 marine fish but retention of black rockfish, cabezon, lingcod, and other nearshore rockfish (blue, deacon, china, copper, and quillback rockfishes) are not allowed at any depth for the remainder of the 2017 season. Find more information about a longleader setup here.

COQUILLE RIVER BASIN: crab, trout, steelhead

Steelhead anglers will be fishing the tidewater sections of the Coquille River near the town of Coquille in hopes of the first returning winter steelhead. In the Coquille Basin 1 additional hatchery steelhead may be retained per day for a total aggregate of 3 adult fish harvested daily.

ELK RIVER: Chinook

Rains this week should improve river conditions for anglers. Anglers can check river conditions by calling 541-332-0405. The best river height to drift the river is 5.2 feet and dropping.

Rogue River, lower: winter steelhead

With December around the corner, anglers may want to start thinking steelhead. One of the best methods to target winter steelhead is plunking a Spin ‘n Glo off bank. Before heading out, anglers will want to check river flows and fish when flows are dropping.

Rogue River, middle: coho, steelhead, trout

Hatchery coho salmon and summer steelhead are available. One report listed red-colored plugs as producing the best success for boat anglers between Grants Pass and Grave Creek. Spinners, spoons and nightcrawlers caught fish for bank anglers.

The river is also open for trout fishing. Five hatchery trout may be harvested per day. Wild trout must be released unharmed.

PACIFIC OCEAN AND BEACHES: bottomfish, crab,

Recreational fishing for bottomfish opened on Oct. 1 outside 40 fathoms but only for anglers using “long-leader” gear only. The daily bag limit for the long-leader fishery has been increased to 10 marine fish but retention of black rockfish, cabezon, lingcod, and other nearshore rockfish (blue, deacon, china, copper, and quillback rockfishes) are not allowed at any depth for the remainder of the 2017 season.

Anglers using the “long leader” gear have reported good catches, but it took a little getting used to the long dropper weight.

From TGF’s friend Pete Heley (PeteHeley.com)

While ocean crabbing is still off limits, the crabbing closures for bays, estuaries and the lower tidal portions of larger rivers changed last week to allow crabbing from Tahkenitch Creek south to the North Jetty at Bandon. While this approximately 20-mile southward extension might seem somewhat inconsequential, it means that recreational crabbers can, once again, legally crab the entirety of Coos Bay.

The normal re-opening of ocean crabbing of December 1st was extended to at least mid-December by a combination of low meat content and elevated levels of domoic acid. Until the ocean reopens to crabbing, the only options available to recreational crabbing along the southern Oregon coast are Coos Bay and the lower Umpqua River at Winchester Bay.

While relatively high salinity in Coos Bay means that the entire bay is capable of producing decent crabbing, as heavier rainfall shows up, the better crabbing areas will move closer to Charleston. As for Winchester Bay, there is already a major advantage to crabbing from a boat rather than off a dock. But all three crabbing docks produced near-limit catches last weekend. With continued rainfall, Dock “A”, the farthest upriver of Winchester Bay’s three dock-crabbing choices will be the first to suffer a major decline in crabbing success – followed by Dock “9”. The Coast Guard Pier, which is closest to the ocean will be the last dock-crabbing option to suffer from increased freshwater.

Fishing for yellow perch at Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes has been productive with Tahkenitch the best for numbers and Siltcoos having the largest average size. Another 15-inch perch was caught out of South Tenmile Lake last week. A female yellow perch of 15-inches – caught in February or early March could possibly topple the existing state record of two pounds two ounces.

The Elk and Sixes rivers are still producing hefty chinook salmon. The Elk clears the quickest after a heavy rain, but the Sixes usually has less fishing pressure. As of last week, both streams had very heavy fishing pressure. Within the next two weeks both streams should be giving up winter steelhead as well as late-run fall chinooks.

The coastal coho lakes are still producing salmon and will continue to do so until at least mid-December. Over the last few weeks there were a few anglers fishing Tenmile Creek below the Hilltop Drive Bridge – claiming to be fishing for winter steelhead. Tenmile Creek below that bridge is closed to coho angling as well as being closed to steelhead fishing until December 1st. Both Tenmile lakes and Tenmile Creek above the Hilltop Drive Bridge are open all year for fin-clipped steelhead.

There’s a chance that the 2018 fishing and hunting regulations will be available next week and the ODFW allows hunting and fishing license purchases for the next year as of December 1st. One license that will not cost more next year is a pioneer license which will remain an incredible bargain at $6.00. Resident shellfish licenses will increase from $9.00 to $10.00; Resident fishing licenses for those between the ages of 18 and 69 will increase from $38.00 to $41.00 while the senior fishing license for residents age 70 or more will go from $25.00 to $27.00. The combo hunting/fishing/shellfish licenses for kids age 12 through 17 will remain at $10.00 and the under 18 combined angling tag will remain at $5.00. I am constantly amazed at how many kids cannot remember their social security numbers which would allow them to take advantage of these remarkable bargains. Combined Angling Tags, more common referred to as salmon tags, for those aged 18 and older increased from $35.00 to $40.50 and Hatchery Tags increased by $3.50 to $28.50.

Without attempting to mention every fee increase for the coming year (the info is on the ODFW website), some of the more important fee increases are: Resident Combination from $65.00 to $69.00; Annual Nonresident Fishing from $97.50 to $103.50; 3-Day Nonresident Shellfish from $17.00 to $19.00; Annual Nonresident Shellfish from $26.00 to $28.00 and Sports Pac from $181.00 to $189.50 and the item I feel the most embarrassed to charge for – the Non Resident Combined Angling Tag which went from $26.59 to $60.50 in only three years.

As for the daily licenses – One Days went from $19.00 to $21.00; Two Days went from $34.50 to $38.50; 3-Days went from $50.50 to $55.00 and 7-Days went from $76.50 to $84.50. I’m glad that Oregon didn’t separate their fishing licenses into freshwater and saltwater versions as the states that have gone that route have become much more expensive for those that fish both salt and freshwater.