Central and South Coast Fishing Reports December 8th, 2017


The forecast for this weekend for much of the Oregon coast is for high waves (15+ feet). Take care anytime you’re near the ocean, but especially this upcoming weekend.
Shore and estuary anglers may fish for surfperch, flatfish species like starry flounder and sanddabs, and baitfish (herring, for example).

Reminder – 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 will be released back into the fishery in the vicinity of Touvelle State Park by Thanksgiving as well.

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


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.

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

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

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.


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.

Galesville Reservoir should have good numbers of trout from previous stockings. In addition to trout, the reservoir was stocked with coho smolts until 2015. Many people mistakenly think these fish are kokanee. The coho smolts should be adipose fin-clipped, and please remember to release the ones less than 8-inches long.

In Galesville Reservoir, all landlocked salmon are considered trout and are part of the five-per-day trout limit, with only one trout over 20-inches long allowed for harvest.

Fishing for bass and other panfish should be decent. Call 541-837-3302 for information on camping and boat launching conditions.

ELK RIVER: Chinook

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

Hatchery coho salmon and summer steelhead are available. The river is also open for trout fishing. Five hatchery trout may be harvested per day. Wild trout must be released unharmed.

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

As of Dec. 1st, recreational crabbing in the ocean is now legal – subject to the existing closures along the Oregon coast. There is some confusion because the commercial crabbers have not started their season yet. The commercial crabbers voluntary delay is due to low meat content in ocean crabs. Their season should resume on or shortly after Dec. 15th – subject to closed to areas closed due to high levels of Domoic acid. So right now recreational crabbers can crab in the ocean from the North Jetty on the Coquille River at Bandon northward to Tahkenitch Creek and from Cape Foulweather (south of Depoe Bay) northward to the Washington border.

Because of rough ocean and bar conditions, most recreational crabbing in southern Oregon is taking place in the first 1.5 miles of the Umpqua River above the ocean and in Coos Bay.

As of last weekend, all the crabbing docks in Winchester Bay were producing crabs, but the most dock last week was the old Coast Guard Pier – which happens to be the “dock-crabbing” option that is closest to the ocean and true saltwater.

People interested in crabbing from shore should watch the KATU video of Bill Lackner doing so at Netarts Bay (http://katu.com/afternoon-live/lifestyle-health/crabbing-101)

Looking for a really good “outdoors-related” job? The new Office of Outdoor Recreation will hire a director in the coming months – and the pay scale tops out at more than $97,000 per year. Check out the Parks and Recreation website for more information.

The hunting and fishing regulation booklets for 2018 are now out and 2018 licenses and tags can now be purchased. Changes from last year, of which there are relatively few, are highlighted in bright yellow. One ironic note regarding the 2018 regulations for Diamond Lake is that it is illegal to keep tiger trout or brown trout. When crafting a plan to control tui chubs, the ODFW steadfastly refused to consider brown even though brown trout have rarely entered the lake via Lake Creek – the outlet stream that connects Diamond Lake with Lemolo Reservoir which has a well-established brown trout population. Brown trout would definitely have been a cheaper, more effective option than tiger trout and would not have required protection from angler retention.

As for ocean regulations, as many as six bottomfish proposals are being considered. I’m hoping they pick the simplest version that will allow year-round fishing – and I hope they do it soon. I think essentially shutting off jetty fishing for the bankbound angler was a travesty that needs to be corrected as soon as possible.

My favorite Oregon bass and panfish lake became far less appealing and worthy of a nearly four-hour drive when I learned of a recent fish kill on Lake Selmac. The die-off consisted almost entirely of largemouth bass of which nearly 100 were three to six-pound lunkers. While the die-off numbers might not seem that much in a much larger lake, it almost certainly represented more than one-third of the jumbo bass in the 148-acre lake.

The die-off could possibly be due to a low oxygen level caused by dying vegetation in the shallow, very weedy lake. My belief is that there are bad aspects in everything good and good aspects in everything bad – and I’m thinking that Selmac will have less fishing pressure and more panfish along with better planted trout survival over the next few years – along with fewer lunker bass.

Salmon fishing is just about over. Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile are still producing some cohos but most of the recent catches seem to be salmon that have been in the lakes awhile and the numbers of newly-arriving salmon has been disappointing. The same can be said for the late-run chinook salmon runs on the Elk and Sixes rivers. While the runs are definitely not over – it’s a case of steadily shrinking success. The Chetco River has produced several chinooks weighing at least 48 pounds in the last two weeks. As for the coastal coho lakes the number of bass incidentally caught by salmon anglers seems to have picked up over the last two weeks.

Winter steelhead fishing is going well on most streams and the portion of Tenmile Creek downstream of the Hilltop Drive Bridge in Lakeside became legal on Dec. 1st. However, Eel Creek, the stream’s major tributary, does not open until January 1st.

For those of you traveling over the holidays, western Nevada’s Pyramid Lake is still producing at least one 18 to 24-pound cutthroat trout per week – some of them to fly anglers fishing near shore.

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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