Central and South Coast Fishing Reports December 15th, 2017


With the Chetco, Elk and Winchuck rivers running low and clear, anglers may want hit Garrison Lake for some trout fishing.

Winter steelhead should be arriving to Coos and Coquille rivers.

Winter steelhead fishing is picking up on the Umpqua.

Trolling for wild coho and holdover rainbow has yielded some quality fish in Tenmile Lakes.


Low and clear. Anglers may find some early steelhead holding in the lower river waiting for the next good rain. There are a few fresh Chinook holding in some of the deeper holes, but most salmon have started to spawn.

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

Streams and rivers are now closed to trout fishing until May 22, 2018.

The rivers in the Coos Basin are low and clear. Steelhead anglers are not reporting any fish being caught. Fishing should pick up with the next significant rain. Anglers fishing the South Fork Coos River above Dellwood will need a permit from Weyerhaeuser, which allows the angler to access up to the Seven Mile Bridge. Permits can be obtained at Weyerhaeuser’s 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.

COQUILLE RIVER BASIN: crab, trout, steelhead

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

The steelhead rivers in the Coquille Basin are running low and clear. Steelhead anglers have been plunking in 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.

Beginning Jan. 1, anglers will have the opportunity to harvest 1 wild steelhead per day, 3 for the season from the East Fork Coquille River. The open area for steelhead fishing in the East Fork remains the same as in past years.


Trout fishing has slowed after an excellent summer and early fall. Fishing can still be productive under the right conditions, but anglers need to be alert for light bites. Diamond Lake has been stocked with tiger trout. These fish are intended to assist in controlling illegally introduced tui chub. Tiger trout are catch-and-release only and need to be released immediately and unharmed if caught.

As part of the 2016 regulation simplification process, Diamond Lake is now back to the Southwest Zone regulation of 5 rainbow trout per day. Anglers that are planning on taking a trip to Diamond Lake should check with the Umpqua National Forest (541-498-2531) for information on seasonal camp and ramp closures.

ELK RIVER: Chinook

Low and clear. 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

A few winter steelhead have been picked up. 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

Summer steelhead are available, but cold, clear water is making fishing challenging. Anglers should down-size their tackle and work their offerings slowly along the bottom. The river is also open for trout fishing. Five hatchery trout may be harvested per day. Wild trout must be released unharmed.

As of Tuesday morning the flow in Grants Pass was 1990 cfs, the water temperature was 40oF, and the clarity was 1 NTUs. For those interested in checking conditions before getting o1596n the river, the City of Grants Pass Water Division’s website offers information on river conditions at Grants Pass as well as a link to a river camera.

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

Crabbing at Winchester Bay continues to exceed expectations. Ocean crabbing near the Umpqua River Bar has been very good and most of the crabs have been relatively full. Half Moon Bay has been crabbing well. Last weekend there were some good crab catches made above Winchester Bay – which should mean that all three of Winchester Bay’s designated crabbing docks should continue producing crabs.

Last Saturday I sold several 2017 shellfish licenses to people that had bought 2018 shellfish licenses from a northwest employee-owned chain store that were told the licenses were valid immediately. Luckily, the officer that checked them allowed them to purchase their 2017 shellfish licenses and “baby sat” their catch until they returned with valid licenses.

One of the local guides has been offering ocean crabbing trips for $75.00 per person and the crabbing has been so good that some of the trips have only lasted a half hour before the boat limit was reached.

Since Coos Bay has reopened for crabbing it has been very good, but Bandon remains closed However on calmer days, crabbers with the proper-sized boats can venture over the Coquille River Bar to crab the ocean – as long as they stay north of the North Jetty.

Commercial crabbers extended their closure through December. Between the North Jetty on the Coquille River (Bandon) and from Tahkenith Creek to the Washington border the commercial crabbing closure is a voluntary industry-imposed one. Elsewhere along the Oregon coast the closure is due to elevated levels of domoic acid.

I’ve been reassured that “work” has started on Winchester Bay’s crabbing pier, but the “visible” part of this work isn’t yet visible. The project is scheduled for completion in March.

The California Fish and Game Commission voted last week to close the 2018 northern California recreational abalone fishery due to ongoing environmental conditions that have significantly impacted the abalone resource. The closure affects next year’s recreational abalone season, which was scheduled to open on April 1, 2018. The Commission’s 4-0 decision (Commissioner Jacque Hostler-Carmesin was absent) upholds the policies of the Abalone Recovery and Management Plan, which was adopted by the Commission in December 2005. Over the past several years, the Commission has taken several actions to reduce take and shorten the season to protect abalone from the unprecedented environmental conditions.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission set regulations for recreational and commercial groundfish seasons last week at their meeting in Salem. The state’s regulations are based on federal quotas. After hearing public testimony, the Commission adopted a five-fish bag limit (reduced from seven this year), in hopes of providing a year-round fishery in 2018. (The 2017 bag limit design was higher at seven fish, which was not sufficient to provide for year-round fishing, prompting an early closure that disrupted coastal charter businesses and anglers.) The Commission also approved an offshore longleader fishery with a 10-fish bag limit from January-March and October-December (though an April-September season may be added if federal regulations are adopted). Longleader gear can better target offshore rockfish species and lessen pressure on nearshore black rockfish. Further in-season adjustments to groundfish seasons could happen if needed to keep under allowed harvest levels and ODFW is committed to monitoring and reporting effort and catch at more frequent intervals. The cabezon fishery will remain the same (open July 1-Dec. 31 with bag limit of one cabezon).

Winter steelhead fishing is well underway and with the exception of Eel Creek (which opens Jan. 1st) most streams are open for fishing. Early catches on Tenmile Creek have been mostly unclipped, unkeepable fish. The next period of substantial rainfall should bring in good numbers of fish. When that happens, it’s a big advantage to know which streams clear the quickest.

Colder weather has slowed, but not stopped the yellow perch bite. Since they normally spawn between mid-February and late March, they should be approaching their peak weight for the year. If you catch a female yellow perch measuring 14-inches or more in the next three months you should take the trouble to get it weighed on an accurate scale. It just may eclipse the current two-pound two-ounce state record – and after 46 years it’s time that record was replaced.

Pete Heley works part-time at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from ‘A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.

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