‘Tis the season, oh, by golly, for chrome winter steelhead! The way the season’s been going, there should still be a chance for late-season Chinook as well. Rainfall starting today, December 3rd, will cause rivers to swell but as they drop and clear, fresh steelhead and in some cases, salmon, will be available.
In some cases, we’re looking for rivers to come into shape for the first time in months following a long, dry period. In this case, higher water with poor to fair visibility is the turf of plunkers and persistent anglers using this technique will catch fish. While aimed a spring Chinook, the rigging is the same as that in the video you’ll find in Random Links.
We’re privileged only to 10-day weather forecast and from that information, river predictions are made. With the rapidly-changing conditions in Oregon, one can only wonder at meteorologists’ frequent accuracy even five days or a week in advance. When we’re looking at what rivers will do in mid-December, rather than a forecast, beyond 10 days is an educated guess.
The closure of crabbing from Heceta Head near Yachats to the Oregon/California border remains in place and includes not only ocean crabbing (which was scheduled to re-open December 1) but also bays. It’s that ol’ devil domoic acid, a naturally-occurring bio toxin discussed in this space previously and for which tests will once again be conducted this week. For those interested in data, read the recent bio toxin reports in Random Links.
Razor clamming is also closed coast-wide due to domoic acid levels and mussel harvesting is closed on the south coast in the same stretch as the crabbing closure.
Good news for fans of beach fishing as well as for those who have wanted to try catching surf perch but haven’t gotten around to it: They’re still catching them. The not-so-good news is that the surf is up – way up – and, along with wind, will make for lousy conditions for the coming week. See Random Links for something to watch until the surf lays down enough to actually fish.
With the lake level rising, Siltcoos will be a prospect for anglers who have yet to get a couple of wild coho. Trolling spinners has taken some but thus far, with few fish in the lake, it has been a true test of patience which has taken several trips more often than not. Coho were also spotted rolling in the Big Creek arm of Tahkenitch Lake early this week but we’re heard nothing about Tenmile Lake. These fisheries are open through December.
Catches of rockfish near jetties in Coos Bay slowed during the last freshet with rain once again falling in the area. There were a few winter steelhead taken from the Coos and Millicoma rivers following the last round of precipitation. Water levels are once again on the rise and, if long-term predictions hold true, won’t start dropping until around the 12th of December. Plunking may be the only alternative until waters drop and clear at which time drifting bait will be the better option. The wild coho fishery closed here on November 30th.
As with most area rivers, rainfall in the third week of November sparked the arrival of winter steelhead on the lower Rogue. At this writing mid-day on Thursday, December 3rd, water levels are rapidly rising but are predicted to be on the fall by this coming weekend which means an opportunity for steelheaders on Saturday and Sunday as flows moderate. Both adult and half-pounder steelhead catches had been good over the last weekend and while all steelhead must be fin-clipped here, half-pounders are considered trout and don’t have to on the steelhead tag. Spinners have been effective for lower river steelhead. The Rogue is running cold in the Grants Pass stretch which has slowed the bite. Not so on the upper river, however, where steelheading has been quite rewarding. Above the Shady Cove Boat Ramos where bait is legal, drifting cure eggs has been most effective, followed closely by scented egg imitations. Pressure is predictably lighter below Shady Cave although fishing has remained good for those using imitation eggs or pulling plugs. Side-drifters are also taking decent numbers of summer steelhead on egg imitations.
This time of year, catching a break from offshore conditions to launch out or Brookings is somewhat of a rare occurrence, but when it is possible, rockfish catches are great just outside the harbor. There were white a few Chinook caught following the last freshet on the Chetco although at this time of the season, they are of mixed quality. Fishing slowed as the river dropped and clear but that trend is well into reversal now. As the river rapidly rises, expect flows to hit about 5,000 cfs at Brookings by Saturday morning. It’s forecast to drop briefly, then take off again with the next storm front in the coming week. When conditions begin to settle, side-drifting is a highly effective technique here for winter steelhead when flows are between 2,000 and 4,000 cfs.
Ocean fishing for Chinook off the mouth of the Elk River closed on the last day of November and reports indicate there was not much participation this season from sport anglers. The late run of Chinook on the Elk and Sixes rivers provides anglers with big, bright salmon through December with mid-month providing some opportunity providing that storm fronts don’t stack one atop the other. If the rivers stay high, swift and roiled, Chinook will still come, but we won’t see then on their trip upriver to spawn.