Central and South Coast Fishing Reports for February 17th, 2017

Central & South Oregon Coast Fishing Reports – With the Sportsmen’s Show in full swing over the past weekend, many south coast charters put in an appearance at the Expo Center rather than the fishing grounds. Those who endured, enjoyed the chance to get out with clients catching plenty of rockfish and lingcod as well as good catches of large, ocean-fresh Dungeness crab.

Although anglers seeking bottomfish can venture past the 20-fathom line to whatever depth they wish at this time of year, shallow water can hold big fish as lingcod are coming inshore to spawn. Find them staging around rocky areas and jetties.

Remember too, that rockfish anglers have to carry at least one descending device this season and forevermore to release any fish caught in 30 fathoms or deeper. This will go a great way to increase survival rates for released fish in deep water. Photo credit: Captain Tyler Turner of Tacklebuster

The Finalized 2017 Halibut Fishing Dates:
Spring All-Depth Halibut dates are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Central Coast Sub-Area (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain) quota: 51,712 pounds for Spring All-Depth.

May 11-12-13 & 18-19-20

June 1-2-3, 8-9-10 & 15-16-17


June 29-30

July 1-13-14-15-27-28-29

Nearshore Season opens June 1 through October 31 or through a quota of 28,897 pounds

Author, publisher and prolific blogger, Pete Heley (peteheley.com) reports to us from Reedsport, “The crabbing closure from Coos Bay’s North Jetty to Heceta Head was lifted Feb. 10th – so, once again the entire Oregon coast is open to recreational and commercial crabbing. For how long, one can only guess.

Also on Feb. 10th, following the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced that it will extend the open area of the commercial rock crab fishery northward to Bodega Bay in Sonoma County.
The commercial rock crab fishery is now open from 38° 18′ N. Lat. (Bodega Bay, Sonoma County) south to the California/Mexico border. Closure of the commercial rock crab fishery north of Bodega Bay shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fishery be open. In the meantime, CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in rock crab within the closure area of the coast. CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September. The most recent test results showed that domoic acid in rock crabs from Bodega Bay and Point Reyes had fallen below the alert level of 30 ppm in their viscera.

It seems that our governor is urging ODFW commission members to rethink their vote to allow gill nets to remain in the Columbia River. Perhaps it was the potential loss of millions of dollars in federal aid that Oregon put at risk when it chose to break with the state of Washington in how to manage the 309 miles of the Columbia River Oregon shares with Washington. If Gov. Brown is unhappy with that vote, perhaps she have put more thought into her recent commission appointments. The Commission will take up this issue at either their scheduled March 17 meeting or at a special meeting before April 4. The huge Columbia River, always difficult to manage properly, will be even more difficult until Oregon and Washington get on the same page.

On Wednesday, Feb. 15th, the Christmas trees collected by the Oregon Coast Anglers and stored at Les Schwab’s will be hauled to Elkton where 14 students will be picked up to assist in placing the trees in Fitzpatrick and Sawyer creeks for habitat enhancement for salmonid smolts. Some larger trees have already been anchored in these streams to make placement of the Christmas trees easier and more effective. Two ODFW biologists assisted with the project.

On Saturday, Feb. 25th, the annual Expo put on by the Lower Umpqua Flycasters will take place between 9 am and 3 pm at the Reedsport Community Center. Admission is free and 26 fly tiers are expected to reveal their expertise to public scrutiny.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a land acquisition that will add 95 acres to the Coquille Valley Wildlife Area in Coos County during their meeting in Tigard on Feb. 11th. The wildlife area provides wetland habitat for wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities. The Nature Conservancy is providing funds to acquire the property.

Stanley Paalksnis, an Onalaska, Wisconsin resident, is looking at losing his fishing privileges for 12 years and fines of $24,683 along with having his fishing boat seized for illegally poaching more than 2,500 panfish. The sentencing is to occur in the near future.

Mr. Paalksnis, aged 74 had his boat and home recently searched by Wisconsin DNR in November 2015 and the wardens seized over 2,500 panfish. The mixed bag included bluegills, crappies and perch putting the man well over the possession limits for each type. Paalksnis also confessed to the illegal sale of fish in Chicago, where he was selling bags for 5 dollars over a 20 year period.

Paalksnis’ biggest mistake was not practicing his unsportsmanlike fishing in the Pacific Northwest on the Columbia River where Washington and Oregon have recently removed all limits on spiny ray fish species.

Florence-area lakes being planted with trout this week include Alder Lake (850 legals); Cleawox (2,000 legals); Dune Lake (500 legals) and Munsel Lake (500 12-inchers). All these lakes received substantial trout plants last week.

Newport-area fishing spots were also planted this week with Olalla Reservoir getting 4,000 legal and 200 15-inch trout and Big Creek Reservoir #1 getting 2,000 legals and Big Creek Reservoir #2 getting 4,000 legals and 100 15-inchers. The north Oregon coast will not receive anymore trout plants until mid-March, but some Coos County and Douglas County waters will begin receiving trout plants in late February.

Yellow perch are in their immediate pre-spawn stage and water temperatures in most of our local lakes are now in the 45 to 50 degree range that usually signals the start of spawning season.

Bass fishing should become productive with slightly warmer weather. Some serious local anglers wait for water temperatures to reach 51 to 55 degrees and that usually occurs earliest on north or west shorelines. Three good early season bass lakes are Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes.

Tenmile will host the annual “Frostbite Open” on Saturday, Feb. 25th. The weigh-in will be held at Osprey Point RV Resort after 3 pm. The tournament should be close to its 75 boat limit and the success of these early-season bass experts makes the weigh-in worth watching.”

Winter steelhead have continued entering the Cole Rivers hatchery facility on the upper Rogue. We mention this not because the number of fish is remarkable but that it indicates accurately the distribution of these fish river-wide. Yeah, that’s good news! On the other hand, just as at this this time last week, water is rising as the river progresses toward full-scale blowout. OK, that was a little dramatic as the volume of water is less but the effect is the same – we’re not fishing for Rogue winters again this weekend. It’s good in the long run; good for the fish, the fishing and the river but waiting sucks. Speaking of which, the Rogue will not drop to fishable, even ‘plunkable’ levels this week at all, at least according to predictions from smart weather guys. There may be a shot coming up for the weekend of February 25th but that’s a long ways into the future to be predicting precipitation of river levels anywhere in Oregon, but particularly on the Oregon coast where conditions are volatile and change quickly. That aside, we think it’ll fish over the last weekend in February.

A week ago today which would be Thursday last week, the Chetco River was high. Like 40,000 cfs high and we lamented along with winter steelheaders near the river. As has been the case this season, our regrets were interspersed with thanks for these freshets which give life (and winter steelhead) to coastal streams, if, that is, they are doled out in reasonable portions, as has been the case this year. High water over an extended period of time has washed out steelhead seasons of the past – not this time. Currently (sigh), the Chetco is rising again. For those who haven’t taken advantage of those opportunities to plunk as the river dropped into a suitable range of less than 10,000 cfs or others who haven’t side-drifted, plug-pulled or bobber-dogged the Chetco as it dipped to the 4,000 cfs range, you’ll just have to believe us. It’s fishing well during those opportunity windows. Now ain’t one of ‘em but plunkers nay have a shot ‘long about Sunday, February 19th if the forecasting model remains true. After that, the weekend of the 25th shows promise ….

Water levels at the Elk River are forecast to top 10,000 cfs which should bring in winter steelhead. Keep an eye on the rapid changes occurring here as it will drop, clear and fish before other area rivers. But it also goes out of shape just as fast.

With the surface ice reported again this week at six inches thick, Diamond Lake ice fishing is ongoing and yielding good results for anglers using worms or Power Bait.

Last week, TGF reported regarding the Army Corps of Engineers sending out ‘feelers’ to find private parties who might be interested in buying a fish hatchery or two. This week, the Oregonian picked up on the story; it’s in Random Links, below. In a related story (at the next link, below), it seems the Land Board is peddling parks as well.