Central and South Coast Reports April 29th, 2016

Central & South Coast Reports – Bottom fishing has been excellent out of Depoe Bay most days, although this week the ling cod bite dropped off while rockfish limits were common. With lings spawning and highly aggressive, how is the time to get out and catch one of the big ones.

The Fish & Wildlife Commission adopted late fall terminal ocean fisheries for Chinook in the Elk River and Chetco River areas. Season regulations can be found at bwww.odfw.com

Pacific Halibut Regulations – The Commission also set Pacific Halibut regulations which are posted on the ODFW Website. The total 2016 catch limit will be 1,140,000 pounds, 17 percent more than in 2015. Changes to the sport fisheries:

The opening date of the Central Coast subarea nearshore fishery will move up one month (to June 1, 2016 from July 1 last year) to provide additional halibut fishing opportunity early in the season.

In Southern Oregon Coast subarea, retention of other flatfish will be allowed while halibut are on board, at all depths.

From the ODFW this week, and report on 2016 Coho seasons – “A mark-selective coho season from June 25 through the earlier of Aug. 7 or a 26,000 fish quota, and a non-mark-selective coho season from Sept. 3 through the earlier of Sept. 30 or a 7,500 fish quota. Unlike prior years, there will be no rollover of unused impacts from the summer season to the September fishery. State managers will monitor the fisheries and may recommend further reduction or closure of the September coho season if performance of the earlier summer fishery indicates low abundance. Opportunities for harvest of wild coho in coastal rivers will be very limited in 2016. ODFW may also propose very conservative fisheries in the Umpqua, Coos, and Coquille rivers as well as traditional coastal lake fisheries. These decisions will be made in June. Due to recent poor returns in mid-Coast and North Coast areas, ODFW does not intend to propose wild harvest fisheries in areas north of the Umpqua River.” Anglers have reason for concern as to whether they close or limit fishing on Siltcoos, Tahkenitch, and Ten Mile Lakes for wild coho fishing and retention.

Surfperch have been caught on the beaches on the central and south coast. However, perch haven’t moved into the estuaries yet – although that should be happening any day. A check over the past weekend and again this week confirmed that Pinkfin are yet to move into Winchester Bay on their spawning run. When that happens, it can be lights-out fishing. When the perch are running, the fish that enter the bay all females so fishing for male pinkfin often holds up well for beach anglers. Surfperch are a diverse group of fish that provide a variety of angling opportunities. Spring is traditionally the time when marine perch species like Pile Perch and Walleye Perch are found in numbers in Oregon estuaries; Striped Sea perch are found year-round in rocky areas like jetties; and ocean surf is the place to find Redtail Surfperch and Silver Perch. ODFW reminds beach anglers, “The bag limit for surfperch is generous at 15 per day. However, a lot remains unknown about the status of surfperch populations off the Oregon Coast, so, as usual, take only what you will use.”

Pete Heley, a regular TGF contributor, writer, blogger and self-publisher of books on fishing in Oregon and Washington, reports, “Spring Chinook fishing on the lower Umpqua River continues to be productive for anglers casting large spinners at Half Moon Bay. The most consistent fishing is usually close to high tide, but salmon have recently been caught at all stages of the tide. In fact, more spring Chinooks have been caught at Winchester Bay this spring than any year in recent memory. Last Saturday, Reedsport resident Randy Walters, stopped by the Stockade Market while I was working to ensure that I got a good look at the salmon he had caught that morning. The 17 pounder was the fourth salmon he had landed in five days of spinner flinging at Half Moon Bay. Randy’s recent salmon-catching success has pretty much ensured that he will have company on fishing trips to Half Moon Bay in the near future.

“While the lower river has been unusually productive for salmon, there is still a good number of springers being caught from Scottsburg upriver all the way to just below Winchester Dam on the North Umpqua – and the season is barely half over. The heaviest springer turned in at the Wells Creek Inn’s springer contest now stands at 39.7 pounds. However, suspended weeds and moss are starting to become a nuisance for the Umpqua’s spring Chinook anglers fishing above Scottsburg.

“Shad are in the river and are probably accounting for most of the springer fishermen’s bites that don’t result in hookups. Expect shad fishing to improve over the next several weeks as the Umpqua River continues to drop and clear.

“Those redtailed surfperch caught last week above Winchester Bay have not yet turned into hordes of spawning “pinkfins”. However the run should be imminent. The hot fishing for striped surfperch off the South Jetty at Winchester Bay has largely been replaced by improved fishing for greenlings and rockfish. Crabbing remains slow for legal crabs at Winchester Bay, but there are enough small crabs for folks to entertain their young children.

“Crappies and bluegills continue to provide light tackle action at the upper end of Loon Lake, but most area waters that contain warmwater fish are fishing well. Crappies should be finished spawning very shortly – and will definitely become harder to find. The bluegills be in the shallow areas of most area lakes and be easy to see and catch through the rest of the summer. Largemouth bass are now spawning in most of the coastal lakes and fishing shallow or near-shore waters will generally produce best.

“Most area waters have fair numbers of uncaught stocked rainbow trout, but the waters that will be stocked this week are Millicoma Pond and Bluebill Lake. Bluebill Lake, the extremely shallow lake on the west side of the road to Horsfall Beach, is slated to receive 3,000 legal rainbows in its only trout plant this year. Many of the lakes in Coos, Douglas and Lane counties will be stocked during the first week in May.”

With lingcod spawning and aggressive now, limits are being taken daily from Coos Bay, Brookings and even Gold Beach when anglers can get out. There also appears to be no shortage of them. When fishing is frantic, lings see a great many lures offered so fine tuning your gear can make all the difference. Recently, ling cod anglers downsizing their line test to 15-pound mono or 25-pound braid (the equivalent of about 10-pound monofilament) discovered they get many more strikes. Those using 60-pound pre-tied leaders found it tough to take limits. South coast pro guide Capt. Andy Martin (541) 813-1082 took angler “Glenn” out fishing this week to catch this decent lingcod. Fish was a hitchhiker that hit a large rockfish as it was being reeled in.

Spring Chinook are entering the lower Rogue River though there has been no push of great numbers yet. The river at Agness will be dropping through the weekend and doing so fairly rapidly. Flows are forecast to go from the current reading if over 5,800 cfs down to about 4,600 by Monday. If predictions remain accurate, water level and flow will be rising once again starting Tuesday in the week to come and continue rising through the first week of May. Fishing is generally spotty on the Grants Pass stretch of the Rogue, with the winter steelhead run winding down and summer steelheading just getting started. Spring Chinook are passing through and a few have been landed by drift fishers and plug pullers. Catches of winters have been fair in the middle and upper Rogue but almost all of them are dark this late in the season. Upper Rogue plug fishers have been using primarily Mag Lip 3.5 lures in bright colors on the inside bends of gravel bars with occasional success for springers as numbers build. Those numbers are reflected in hatchery counts at Cole Rivers as well. The early season showing has been fairly impressive, unlike the winter returns which were below 10-year averages. Summer steelhead are entering the facility as well with the exception of those intercepted by anglers as they maje their way upstream.

Diamond Lake is completely clear of ice although the water is murky and fishing has been spotty. It usually turns on after ice-out so there’s still hope. Night crawlers have been taking far more trout than Power Bait but that is likely to change in coming weeks.  From the Diamond Lake Facebook page, “Diamond Lake Resort Is looking for summer employees. Cooks, clerks, maintenance, housekeepers, servers, dishwashers and marina. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to views like this while getting paid.”