Central and South Coast Reports

News from the ODFW: “Beginning March 11, ocean anglers will be able to retain one canary rockfish as part of their marine daily bag limit – a move intended to reduce waste that results from releasing injured fish.

““The retention of canary rockfish for the first time in over a decade is good news because it means the population is recovering,” said Patrick Mirick, ODFW assistant program leader. “However, canary rockfish recovery is still fragile, and we encourage anglers to continue to avoid targeting canary rockfish and to keep one only if it is wounded and unlikely to survive if released.”

“In addition to allowing anglers to keep a wounded fish, the new retention rule also will allow scientists to recover data from canary rockfish that are brought into the docks. They will use this data to better understand the rockfish population and track progress toward recovery.”

One of the charters out of Depoe Bay reported that over the past weekend, they had over 30 ling cod on board by 10 AM. Fishing for rockfish and lingcod is open to all depths until the end of March.

The Chinook salmon season from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain will open March 15th and continue through April 30th. The PFMC will have its annual meeting prior to the closure and it is likely that the season will be extended. The bag limit is two per person 24 inches in length or better. More ODFW News: “The area between Cape Falcon and the Oregon/California Border will NOT open for commercial troll salmon fishing for the period of March 15 through March 31. The area will open for commercial troll for Chinook Salmon fishing within this area for the period of April 1 – 30. Fishery managers agreed that this was needed to reduce impacts on Klamath River fall Chinook in order to provide more flexibility in the other season options that are under development.”

Surf perch fishing has continued to produce limits or near-limits off south coast beaches, particularly near the mouths of rivers or bays.

Olalla Reservoir (located northeast of Newport) has been producing good numbers of trout which have varied in size from smallish to “that’s a good one.” Boat trolling small wobblers or spinners has been most productive.

Rockfish catches have been good in the Triangle and around the South Jetty at Winchester Bay although crabbing has slowed recently. While Umpqua flows have been effected by a lack of precipitation, there will be a respite early in the coming week with the brief storm front passing. Good timing should lead to hooking some winter steelhead. Boaters should be aware that the launch at Scottsburg is still unfinished with no: dock yet installed. Mud at the base would surely create difficulties for powerboats trying to launch here.

As with most areas, boats launching out of Charleston have been slaying ling cod and doing pretty well for rockfish. Inside Coos Bay, rock fishing has been decent near the jetties with perch fishing is picking up as well. “Steelhead rivers in the Coos Basin still remain very low and clear,” stated the ODFW. “The peak of the steelhead run is over but anglers should still be able to find a few fish around.”

When boats have been able to get out across the extremely hazardous bar at Gold Beach, the lingcod bite has been red hot. Low, clear, cold water has been a problem for steelheaders on the entire Rogue River system although anglers have been eking out a fish or two daily by working deeper stretches where flows are slower. Rain this weekend will have the greatest effect on the lower Rogue as the river is forecast to pick up a foot and a half in depth near Agness with flows increasing from 2,100 cfs to 4,300 cfs. Waters will crest on Monday, March 16th, they are predicted to drop fairly rapidly. It was a good day for 87-year old Johnny Briggs who celebrated his birthday fishing with pro guide Shaun Carpenter and caught the first springer of 2015 was near Quosatana Creek on March 5th. Rainfall should also improve the burgeoning spring Chinook fishery which has been producing salmon from Huntley Park to Quosatana Creek on Rogue Bait Rigs adorned with anchovy. First light will tip the odds in the angler’s favor slightly so be on the river early for best results with springers.  While the effect of this weekend’s freshet will be far less upriver, it will nonetheless put steelhead on the move. Bait has been most effective on the middle river. Winter steelhead have continued entering Coles River hatchery in mild weather with nearly 500 counted so far this season. Upper Rogue steelheaders will do well on a variety of offerings including plugs, cured roe and jigs.

The lingcod bite out of Brookings Harbor has been excellent with anglers limiting  on lingcod from 8 to 15 pounds often in an hour or less. Chetco River flows are dreadful and will drop to the 400 cfs range by Saturday according to NOAA predictions. Rain falling on Sunday and Monday should push that to about 1,700 cfs where steelheaders should have a shot at winter targets.