Charter boats out of Depoe Bay report that sloppy conditions on Tuesday this week transitioned to smooth enough for a pleasant experience for all on Wednesday. More importantly, they caught ling cod and rockfish both days. No report had come in at deadline for today but with the upcoming forecast, all saltwater anglers have smiles on their faces.
Ling cod spawn at this time of year which brings them into shallower water where they’re accessible to shore-bound anglers casting jugs with curly-tailed plastic bodies and are at their most aggressive which is saying something for this saltwater predator which is often out for blood. Casting these jigs near rocky structure, particularly near kelp beds will often lead to encounter with jumbo-sized lings at this time of year.
By their nature, rockfish will be found in haunts with ling cod. To target them, use a jigs a couple of sizes smaller (lighter) than those intended for lings. Rockfish bit easily and if it appears that’s not the case, you’re probably trying where the fish aren’t. Just keep in mind that the same seven-fish limit applies regardless of where they’re caught and that Cabazon cannot be counted as a part of that limit until July.
While it’s legal to keep one canary rockfish as part of the rockfish limit, most release them unharmed due to the quota on them. If the canary quota fills, offshore bottom fishing may be closed in order to protect their numbers.
Predictions for offshore conditions are for small wind waves, low swells and long periods between them. In addition, gentle coastal breezes will accompany starting tomorrow (Friday) and continuing through the weekend to come. This is great news for those looking to launch boats in order to cross the bar for a salt fix, cast from coastal jetties or rocks as well as anglers hoping to cast from the beach for prolific and cooperative pinkfin surf perch. The opportunity is there but don’t wait to take advantage of this situation because ocean swells are forecast to increase in height starting Monday, April 4th.
While the ocean offshore and bays inshore are open to crabbing, results weren’t good in bays following heavy rain a week or so ago which reduced salinity and arguably sent Dungeness back out to the ocean.
Now that everything has dried out and rivers are dropping, crab are one again becoming active in bays and estuaries with catches starting to improve. Through it all, boat have scored good catches in the ocean whenever they’ve been able to get out and those results will only continue.
Now that coastal rivers have dropped and cleared with weather improving, several spring Chinook weighing from 18 to 25 pounds have been taken on the Umpqua River this week.
Author, blogger and all-around good guy Pete Heley (www.PeteHeley.com) reports from the Reedsport area, “Virtually all of Oregon’s ice-fishing spots have now posted soft ice advisories. However, the rainbow trout in these spots should be cruising the shorelines for a couple of reasons. (1) – The shoreline shallows are often slightly warmer and closer to the rainbows’ preferred temperature than the colder deeper water and (2) – They are in or approaching spawning mode and often cruise the shoreline looking for gravelly areas – even in current-less waters where they seldom, if ever, successfully spawn. When doing so, they are within easy reach of bank anglers fishing in areas of open water.
“Idaho continues to produce new state record fish for their new catch and release division. A 94-inch white sturgeon beat the record and then was almost immediately topped by a 98.5-inch fish. All of Idaho’s white sturgeon catch and release records have come from the Snake River. Other recently set catch and release Idaho state records include a 20-inch Bonneville whitefish from Bear Lake and a 22-inch northern pike minnow from the Payette River.
“A recent fishing report posted to an online website, while being exciting and intriguing to some northwest outdoorsmen, is of grave concern, perhaps even terrifying to most northwest anglers. The post was intentionally somewhat vague, but a small group of anglers fishing somewhere close to the upper end of eastern Washington’s Roosevelt Lake managed to catch 17 northern pike up to 34-inches in length. Northern pike are relatively active in cool water and such efficient predators that northwest fisheries biologists will surely better appreciate the bass and walleyes they have now.
“It was only a few years ago that several agencies teamed up to corral an out-of-control population of northern pike on eastern Washington’s Pend Oreille River. The tremendously expensive project was successful in greatly reducing the river’s pike numbers, but an established pike population in the upper Columbia River will be a fish management problem of a much larger magnitude.
“Since almost all of Oregon’s adult yellow perch have already spawned, it appears that Oregon’s relatively humble 45 year old state record for the species will stand for yet another year. If Oregon’s two pound two ounce state record perch had the same body shape as Idaho’s current state record (2.96 lbs. – 15.63-inches long), it would only be 14-inches long.
“Last year, a few early-arriving shad were caught during the first two weeks of April on the Umpqua River near Yellow Creek.
“Bureau of Reclamation fish technicians were netting the Link River, a shallow connection between Upper Klamath Lake and Lake Ewauna for short-nose sucker when they captured a massive white sturgeon. The sturgeon, which was quickly released back into Lake Ewauna, was estimated to be eight to ten feet long and weigh between 300 and 400 pounds – and be more than 60 years old.
“White sturgeon were released into Upper Klamath Lake during the 1950’s and while they survived, they did not reproduce. In the past, sturgeon were caught by anglers fishing where the Williamson River enters Upper Klamath Lake and where the Wood River enters Agency Lake at the north end of Upper Klamath Lake. Anglers wanting to target the increasingly sparse population need to remember that it is strictly a catch and release fishery.
“Many Coos County waters received trout plants this last week. They include: Bradley Lake (3,000 legal rainbows and 200 16-inchers); Butterfield Lake (3,000 legals and 400 14-inchers); Eel Lake (2,500 legals); Johnsons Mill Pond (3,000 legals and 50 16-inchers); Powers Pond (3,000 legals); Saunders Lake (3,000 legals. Both Upper and Lower Empire lakes each received 3,000 legal rainbows and 250 16-inch rainbows.
“Loon Lake is slated to be stocked with 1,000 legal rainbows this week. Both Carter Lake (2,000 legals) and Cleawox Lake (2,500 legals and 150-16-inchers are slated to be stocked during the week beginning April 4th. Those plants will bring this year’s total for Carter to 6,000 trout and this year’s total for Cleawox to 11,200. Cleawox is the most heavily planted lake on the Oregon coast – unless one considers Upper and Lower Empire lakes as one lake. By the first week in April, together they will have received 18,500 trout and are slated to receive 41,300 for the year – a very impressive total for about 50 acres of water.”
The angling buffet which is the Rogue River should not disappoint over the next several days. Waters of the lower river crested and started dropping on March 23rd. That’s just over a week ago with the flow and level moderating since. This trend will continue although forecasts indicate the water will nearly level out through Sunday, then drop ever-so-slightly into the coming week. Combine with gentle offshore wind and wave, this will be good for fishing in a couple of ways. Spring Chinook in particular although similarly steelhead (summers as well as winters) will hold outside a bay or estuary when the ocean is rough. Now that it’s calm, there’s nothing to deter them. Also, when water levels are dropping, anadromous fishes are encouraged to move upriver and moving fish are more susceptible to anglers’ offerings. With the water clear, salmon and steelhead can see the aforementioned offerings. This means fresh springers will be entering the lower Rogue and let’s face it: this is the target of most fishers even though it’s still early for best results. They’re particularly susceptible to bait, so drifting or bobber fishing roe is a good approach. As of today, March 31st, the river at Agness is six feet, flowing at 8,000 cfs and will moderate just a bit for your weekend angling pleasure. The middle Rogue has been productive and there’s no reason to think it’ll be anything different now. Springers are in the Grants Pass stretch as well as a mix of wild and hatchery late-season winter steelhead. As of today, flows here are 4,200 cfs with little change expected in the near future. Side-drifting should prove lethal and pulling plugs is bound to fool some fish. The upper Rogue remains the least appealing location on the river, not because it’s terrible but elsewhere on the river are better options.
Some Brookings charter operations are just getting started this week for the 2016 ocean season. Fishing has been good, however, just outside the harbor entrance when boats have been able to get out between storm fronts. Limits or rockfish has been the rule for ocean fishers out of Brookings but ling cod catches have been spotty in unsettled weather. With offshore conditions settling down boats will be able to access the better ling cod spots.