The First Day of Spring (Spring Equinox) is Friday, March 20, 2015. Most of us already have spring flowers but trout ponds, charters and coastal merchants are gearing up for spring break as well.
As of Wednesday, March 11th, it became legal to retain one canary rockfish per day as part of a daily seven rockfish limit although the ODFW is encouraging anglers to only keep the fish that appear to be mortally wounded and release the healthy ones. Doing so will help this fishery to endure.
Bottom fishing was great for lingcod out of Depoe Bay on Wednesday this week with decent ocean conditions. Bottom fishers may venture past the 30-fathom line through March but will be subject to depth restrictions starting April 1st. No foolin’.
Spring All Depth halibut season opens May 14th through 16th (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) with backup dates of May 28-30 and June 11-13. More dates will be added if the quota does not fill. “The 2015 Pacific halibut quota is approximately 1 percent greater than 2014.” according to the ODFW.
Surfperch fishing is very good off most open beaches particularly those around Bandon, Charleston, Gold Beach and off the beaches around Winchester Bay.
At one time, Tenmile Lake was managed for numbers of largemouth bass rather than size. This changed in more recent years, part of which was the implementation of a maximum size limit. That is, no bass over 15 inches in length may be kept, which seems to have been effective as recently one angler was heard complaining that he couldn’t catch one small enough to keep. ‘Sounds good to us!
Crabbing has been slow at Winchester Bay, best for boaters in the Triangle area where catches are reported about 50/50 Dungeness and red rock crab. Striped surf perch and greenling are being taken in good number off the South Jetty. On the Umpqua River, four spring Chinook have been reported as taken in the Wells Creek area. In addition, winter steelhead angling has been decent with some excellent results reported during a couple of days over the past week. One day on particular, 17 steelhead were landed at a location known as the chute. While the area above Elkton has been popular with guides, Kellogg has been producing good numbers as well. Smallmouth bass have started biting with abnormally warm winter weather and fish to four pounds have been reported. With smallies, early-season catches are often the larger fish for the year. Another indication of a possible early run is the report of several shad caught at Sawyers Rapids over the past week. Locals indicate this as the place to fish early season shad as the rapids will pin them down, sometimes for weeks.
As with most Oregon ports this week, lingcod fishing is great out of Charleston. Crabbing has been worthwhile in Coos Bay, best in the lower bay around the jetties. Rockfishing has been quite good between the jetties. Bay anglers are catching pile perch under the McCullough Bridge although these fish come pale in comparison to redtail surf perch for table quality. Crabbing is best near the jetties although most of the catches consist of red rock crab with only a few Dungeness. While the main push of winter steelhead on the Coos River has passed, the recent freshet brought additional fish into the system, breathing new life into the waning run. It is unlikely steelheaders will need to be concerned about the three-adult fish limit at this time of year, though.
When it has been possible to cross the hazardous bar at Gold Beach, offshore anglers have experienced extraordinary results for lingcod. Some have remarked that lings are so thick that it has been a challenge keeping them off bait or lures in order to catch rockfish. Rain through St. Patrick’s Day pushed lower Rogue water levels to 4.6 feet at Agness and flows to 4,700 cfs. The river is forecast to moderate through the weekend but another front will pass on Monday, March 23rd which is predicted to create another scenario nearly identical to that of the 17th. Catches of spring Chinook have been fair to good on the lower Rogue as boat and bank anglers are landing fish daily from Huntley Park to Quosatana Creek. The preference by a wide margin for those fishing from a boat is a Rogue Bait Rig which puts a (green!) spinner blade on the nose of an anchovy while bank fishers first choice is a Spin ‘n’ Glo. Parking in a known migration lane near Elephant Rock on the incoming tide and playing the waiting game is the method preferred here. For winter steelhead, the stretch around Agness should be productive. Winters are into the Grants Pass stretch although anglers may expect to hook a mix of those fish and spent (spawned out) summers which are headed downstream and have lost their wits – they’ll strike just about anything. On the upper Rogue, winters have continued entering the hatchery facility and were doing so even in low water. Try cured eggs or egg flies in this stretch although a pink plastic worm impaled on a jig head has been effective as well.
Many of the locals say it is as good as they’ve ever seen it, referring to lingcod fishing out of the Port of Brookings over the past week. Red, black or white jigs are all working well but it’s a good idea to get out early in the morning before the winds kick up.
The southwest corner of Oregon received about three inches of rain this week, creating a muddy mess of the Elk and Sixes rivers as of Wednesday, March 18th. They will drop and clear rapidly, however, and may even be fishable today but certainly by Friday this week.
‘Most every lake in the Southwest Zone is being planted with trout this week in anticipation of spring break.