Central & South Coast Reports for May 6th

Today the wind is fierce, blowing out of the North. For several days previous we had good weather and good fishing. Limits of Rockfish for everyone, several days in a row and very good numbers of the highly prized Ling Cod as well, many limits of Ling in fact. Conditions in the coming week look really good!

Limits of lings and rockfish are still coming in daily from Coos Bay, Brookings and even Gold Beach when anglers can get out.

ODFW sez, “Here come the whales! May and June are great times to view migrating gray whales off the Oregon coast. Some gray whales make their way up to summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea, while others are part-time residents and stay off the Oregon coast from June until November. Quite a few gray whales were spotted last week in the nearshore waters off of Brookings and Port Orford. The best time to view whales is on calm days – as stormy weather tends to make viewing challenging. Look for whales as they surface to blow air, and occasionally flip their talks above the water. Don’t forget to bring binoculars! “

ODFW sez, Oregon clammers can learn the ins and outs of bay clam populations in Alsea Bay through a presentation by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shellfish biologists on May 19 at the Oregon Coast Community College South County Center in Waldport (3120 Crestline Drive, Waldport, OR 97394). The presentation will begin at 6:30pm. Nice weather and negative low tides mean this should be a great weekend for bay clamming. Check out the updated maps on where to clamming here. Some recommended areas to go are the Charleston Triangle in Coos Bay for gaper clams and Netarts Bay for butter clams. Gaper clam digging under the bridge in Yaquina Bay is really good during low tides like we’ll see May 6-10. The purpose of the presentation is to share results from the 2015 survey of Alsea Bay’s clam populations, including where they are found, their abundance, and their preferred habitat. he presentation will focus on clam species that are popular with recreational clammers such as, purple varnish, soft shell, cockle, and gaper clams.

This week, blogger and author of several Oregon fishing books, contributor Pete Heley (peteheley.com) reports, “I transposed two numbers last week when reporting the heaviest spring Chinook salmon entered in the Wells Creek Inn’s springer contest. The same fish still leads the contest, but it weighed 37.9 pounds and not the 39.7 pounds I reported last week.

“Umpqua River springer fishing has slowed somewhat, but it seems that almost every day a boat or an angler manages to exceed expectations and get one or two salmon hookups. Recent Half Moon Bay salmon hookups bode well for upriver springer success in the near future.

“Last year’s most successful South Jetty lingcod fisherman told me last week why he didn’t spend much time targeting them this year. It seems like every time he planned to target lingcod this spring on the South Jetty the water was either too rough or murky enough to impact fishing success. Pat Jones has switched over to targeting striped bass on Smith River – which has been a rather well-kept secret so far this spring. The best numbers of stripers continue to be in the Coquille River which has, only recently, became clear enough for good fishing.

“A number of boats caught fair numbers of redtailed surfperch or pinkfins last weekend while fishing near Marker 12 on the Umpqua River above Winchester Bay. Some of the perch taken last week were dandies and the fishing should quickly improve as I don’t think the recent catches are a false alarm regarding their spawning run. Sand shrimp (ghost shrimp to Californians) is the favorite natural bait, but nightcrawlers also work. The most popular artificial bait is a piece of Berkley Gulp Sandworm in the camo color.

“When using two hooks, placing a piece the Berkley Gulp sandworm on your bottom hook will definitely reduce the number of sand shrimp you’ll go through as saltwater sculpins and other nuisance “biters” will usually grab the bottom bait.

“In recent years, the top perch-producing areas have been from straight across the river from the East Basin entrance upriver to Marker 23. Look for groups of boats – preferably ones catching perch. Anchor a polite distance away and cast to the sides for the first several
minutes until any perch spooked by the arrival of your boat have calmed down. The schools of
perch usually swim with the current – so a good place to anchor is down current from a group of boats catching perch.

“Many anglers fishing this unique surfperch run time their fishing trips based on the tide. However, the schools of perch may bite at different tidal stages at different locations. Stick with whatever is working for you. During the peak of the pinkfin run the boat traffic may be heavy enough to dampen or stop the bite.

“Major trout plants are on the ODFW agenda for this week. Coos County lakes being stocked include: Bradley Lake, Butterfield Lake, Lower Empire Lake, Upper Empire Lake, North Tenmile Lake, South Tenmile Lake and Saunders Lake (3,000 legal rainbows each); Eel Lake and Sru Lake (2,000 legal rainbows each). Florence-area lakes being stocked this week include: Carter Lake (2,000 legal rainbows); Cleawox Lake (2,500 legals and 150 16-inchers) and Munsel Lake (1,000 12-inchers and 150 16-inchers) and Sutton Lake (1,500 12-inchers).

“In most of the area bass waters the bass are spawning or in immediate pre-spawn mode. At Loon Lake, the bass haven’t spawned yet, but most of the crappies have – and moved away from the “Duckett’s-Fish Haven” dock at the upper end of the lake. Bluegill seem to be everywhere in the upper end of the lake.

:”On Thursday, May 19th, the GRWB STEP Chapter will be fin clipping fall Chinook salmon at Gardiner. Anyone interested in helping them do this should call Bill Taylor at: 541 – 361 – 6063.

“The 2016 ocean salmon and halibut pamphlets are now out and available at fishing license retailers. No surprises so far and will cover the ocean regs in more detail in future columns. There is ongoing effort for shading the usual areas on the Umpqua bit our observer saw nine being caught on either hardware or by fly casters. The bright note here is that it really will be by day for these fish to arrive. ”

We’re in-between the late winter steelhead and the early summer-runs, so this is not a good month to visit the North Umpqua.

Sadly, most anglers are not finding spring Chinook on the lower Rogue River. Low flows and clear water at Agness haven’t been helped, but that’s about to change, at least on the short term. Unlike northwest Oregon, the south coast is receiving some significant precipitation which is predicted to push the water level in the lower Rogue at Agness up a foot with the flow increasing from the today’s 5,300 cfs to over 7,000 cfs by Saturday evening. This freshet will be reflected in level and flow for the entire length of the river although the middle Rogue has slowed for winter steelhead with very few even fishing this stretch lately. On the upper Rogue, a few springers are getting caught daily by boat anglers fishing brightly-colored plugs or back-bouncing roe and sand shrimp combinations. The best action is in migration lanes on overcast days on the inside turns of gravel bars. As the water drops, it can be best to stay in a productive migration lane. Winters on the upper river are almost all dark and the majority have already spawned. Seasonal rules have changed so all wild steelhead must be released unharmed for the rest of the year.

The report from Brookings Fishing this week is of “wide open fishing for lunker-size rockfish and lingcod, with quick limits on most days. Our Ladies and Lings tournament begins May 1. Visit www.brookingsfishing.com for more information.”

With the halibut season out of Brookings opening May 1st, we were hoping to get reports of early action north of Brookings in a couple of hundred feet of water but so far only silence. We’ll continue to hope/

How about a new world record? That oughta put the Port of Brookings in the limelight for a while! Brookings resident Ranse Fife certainly wasn’t imagining such an event when he boarded the charter craft Super Star over the past week. Nor did the thought enter his head as, having limited on rockfish, he switched gear to target ling cod. Not even when he hooked what he thought was a big ling, which turned orange as it surfaced to give him a few last-minute moments of grief before succumbing to the mate’s gaff. The fish couldn’t be denied when the ODFW fish-checker’s scale back in port put this Vermillion rockfish at 15.5 pounds, a full three and a half pounds heavier than the previous record. We congratulate Mr. Fife and wish him patience as the IGFA weight certification process frequently takes three to nine months.

According to the resort at Diamond Lake, the fishing just started picking up May 1st. The water was just too cold until this last weekend.