Central & South Oregon Coast Fishing Reports for Jan 20th

Sport boats found welcoming seas and soft (enough) breezes over the past weekend for an easy launch out of Depoe Bay. Those who fished caught everything. Some went out to target lings, taking limits. Others went out to target rockfish initially (lots of canaries in catches), then ling cod, taking limits. For those with foresight to drop pots on the way out, yep, limits again. Don’t miss a chance to try winter bottom fishing. You won’t regret it.

The Saltwater Sportsman’s Show is scheduled to take place in Salem on February 25th & 26th this year and while that may seem a ling was off, it’ll be here before you know it and you’ll want to make plans to catch all the seminars and demonstrations pertinent to you interests. Every skipper of any sized craft should seriously consider learning all they can regarding crossing the bar into the ocean. This is the time when accidents most often occur. Below is a portion of a post from Chris Loos (Tinman) on iFish.net, detailing a little about the presentations he’ll be making with Dan Shipman of the US Coast Guard.

“Yes, Dan and I will be teaming up to present an expanded Bar Crossing/Sea Conditions Seminar. In addition to the seminar, there will be an optional hands-on workshop where you’ll be making actual go/no-go decisions based on real-time weather data. We’ll have laptops set up, and a list of websites so you can actually visit the websites to determine wind, tide, fog and swell conditions. Based on the data, you’ll make mock go/no-go decisions for the week.

“Remember there are FIVE SEPARATE conditions a captain must consider. They are:
* Bar crossing outbound
* Bar crossing on the return (tide conditions will be different)
* Wind and swell conditions outside while fishing
* Visibility (fog)
* Forecast trend (improving or deteriorating?)

“We will cover each of these in detail.

“We will also cover the right and wrong ways to cross rough bars. This will feature some excellent “fail” type videos as well as videos from some of our own Salty Dogs.

“Dan Shipman of the Coast Guard is going to speak about wave sets and series, proper timing of a crossing, and what to look for when timing a crossing. He will also discuss what goes into their decisions to open or close a bar. Dan has 18 years of experience as a Lifeboat Surfman, and a Surfman Instructor, which means he not only driven the 47-foot Motor Lifeboats, but has taught others how to do it on the Columbia River bar. Dan is the real deal. Don’t miss the chance to hear Dan talk and ask questions.

“OCEAN is definitely leveling-up for this year’s Bar Crossing/Sea Conditions seminar. February 25 and 26, Salem Fairgrounds.”

Winter steelheading has been slow on the Siuslaw but conditions and the run are just getting good now. See Random Links for a YouTube slug match from that river on Monday this week (which was between freshets). Drifted, cured coho eggs were responsible for this encounter with a bright hatchery steelhead just over 10 pounds on the scale.

Author, publisher and prolific blogger, Pete Heley (peteheley.com) reports to us from Reedsport, “Some mild ocean and Umpqua River bar conditions last week allowed ocean crabbers and bottomfish anglers to enjoy their recreation with good results. Some of the crabbers reported excellent results in water as shallow as 35 feet as long as they avoided the muddy water pouring out of the Umpqua River. The easiest way to do this is to take advantage of the generally southward movement of the saltwater along the Oregon coast and head slightly north after crossing the Umpqua River Bar. Offshore bottomfishing was enjoyable and productive in the mild conditions. Some offshore bottomfish anglers have ventured out without the mandatory descending devices required to have on board when bottomfishing in waters more than 30 fathoms deep.

“Although I didn’t receive any reports from pinkfin anglers fishing local beaches, if the surf along those beaches was mild as well, it should have been productive. Anglers trying for striped surfperch along the South Jetty made some good catches, although I would be tempted to fish the ocean along the south side of the Triangle to avoid the somewhat muddy river water.

“Lingcod should be moving to area jetties and other spawning structure as they prepare to spawn. Most of the inshore fishing pressure directed towards lingcod at Winchester Bay occurs along the South Jetty, but extended muddy water can pretty much halt fishing success – like it did last spring. In April of 2015, the lingcod fishing along the South Jetty was the best in many years.

“Although muddy water on the Umpqua doesn’t stop the steelhead anglers using plunking techniques, it seems to limit fishing success. on every other steelhead stream. Tenmile and Eel creeks remain clear and fishable and fishing is improving on lower Tenmile Creek, but according to figures posted at the STEP trap on Eel Creek, very few steelhead have reached the trap. The steelhead run in Eel Creek is typically late arriving, so things may improve.

“The recent frigid temperatures have greatly reduced fishing pressure directed at the yellow perch in our local lakes. Presently, the perch in our larger, relatively shallow coastal lakes are in the deepest water, but over the next two months they should gradually move to somewhat shallower water as they approach the spawn.

“With the next extended warming trend, the bass fishing in lakes along the Oregon coast should take off and while the catch numbers may not seem that impressive, the chance to catch the year’s heaviest bass is at its best during the late winter/early spring period. Water clarity will dictate how early anglers can target smallmouth bass on the Umpqua and Coquille rivers. Smallmouths in Woahink Lake won’t approach the shoreline in any numbers until the shallow water is the lake’s warmest. Eel Lake always seems to be a late starter and its smallies are still an incidental fishery and anglers should target the lake’s largemouth with lures that appeal to both bass species.

“As for striped bass, wait for the water to clear and then target them on the Smith River in the ten miles of stream between Smith River Falls and the North Fork Smith River and the North Fork Smith about three to five miles above where it enters the mainstem Smith River. On the Coquille River, target them from just below the Arago Boat Ramp upriver to the mouth of the South Fork Coquille River.

“Although it most likely won’t affect many Oregonians, the last portion of the California coast that was closed to commercial crabbing reopened on Jan. 16th. Excepting marine reserves, the entire California, Oregon and Washington coasts are now open to commercial and recreational crabbing.

“I found the following article by Huffington Post reporter Ryan Grenoble most interesting.

““The neurotoxin domoic acid inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” after hundreds of sooty shearwaters ingested the poison in the summer of 1961 and, well, lost their minds.

“The crazed birds likely consumed domoic acid via small fish like anchovies and sardines. It also tends to collect in shellfish, like clams, crabs and lobsters. And, according to a study published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it may become more prevalent as oceans warm, threatening birds and humans alike.

Researchers at Oregon State University, the University of Oregon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife studied the prevalence of domoic acid over the past 20 years in the Pacific Northwest, and found it strongly correlated with water temperatures that are warmer than normal.

“For now, warmer waters typically stem from events like El Niño and a decades-long climate cycle called “Pacific decadal oscillation,” the study found. It isn’t yet clear how climate change, which also warms the oceans, might affect the toxin’s prevalence.

““When water’s unusually warm off our coast, it’s because the circulation and patterns in the atmosphere has changed, bringing warm water from elsewhere — and this is happening at the same time that we also see high domoic acid in shellfish,” Morgaine McKibben, a doctoral student at Oregon State and the study’s lead author, told E&E News.

““It has a very strong mechanistic connection,” McKibben added.

“The toxin is produced by some species of Pseudo-Nietzsche ― a type of phytoplankton ― during warm algae blooms, and gets passed up the food chain by animals that eat it. Sea lions, otters, dolphins (and other cetaceans) and humans all are at risk, notes the Marine Mammal Center.

“While some animals can eventually cleanse themselves of the toxin, the threat can persist long after the warm water recedes.

““For example, razor clams are filter-feeders that bioaccumulate this toxin in their muscles, so they take much longer to flush it out than other shellfish,” McKibben said in a statement. “The higher the toxin levels, the longer it takes for razor clams to be safe to eat again, perhaps up to a year after warm ocean conditions have subsided.”

“Animals poisoned by domoic acid tend to become lethargic and disoriented, and experience seizures and death. Symptoms in humans include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal cramps, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Severe cases can lead to headache, dizziness, confusion, loss of short-term memory, motor weakness, seizures, profuse respiratory secretions, cardiac arrhythmia and coma.

“It isn’t just a health risk. An Oregon State University statement notes that officials have to shut down shellfish harvests when domoic acid levels are high, causing economic harm.

“Since health officials first identified domoic acid as a health threat in 1987, Pacific Northwest shellfish harvests have been halted in 2003, 2015, and 2016. The West Coast crab industry took an estimated $100 million hit in 2015 alone, Oregon State University said.””

The Rogue River is presented from lower to upper in our reports. Short-term prospects on the lower Rogue are not that bright as it is just passing out of Flood Stage (17 feet at Agness) as of this writing on the afternoon of January 19th. It is predicted to drop lower than the Alert Level (14 feet) on Friday this week, dropping for the most part over the coming weekend. The problem is, it won’t drop enough for fishing. By Sunday it’ll still be over 10 feet and flowing at roughly 27,000 cfs. Plunkers may be tempted in the coming week and rightfully so if there’s any clarity to the water. The Grants Pass stretch will fare a little better but the upshot is that we’re on a virtual trip upriver to find the better fishing. The concept that rivers clear upstream first is a solid idea based in science-y stuff. If the waters of the Rogue are muddy, head upstream to find clear water. The first sure instance of clear water will be above Big Butte Creek at Casey Park. This creek is the uppermost source of sediment so from here to the Hatchery Hole has just gotta be in a non-muddy state. Speaking of which (kinda), Cole Rivers Hatchery counted the first couple of winter steelhead last week which leads us to think there are plenty more downstream. A short confession here as the Rogue will eventually be in shape for plug pullers. This technique has been referred to generically as “pulling plugs” in order to avoid what may be interpreted as a ‘plug’ for a product (pun absolutely punintentional). On the Rogue, however, Mag Lip 3.5 and 3.0 plugs work so well, it’s no surprise their use is nearly ubiquitous.

There seems to be plenty of interest in Diamond Lake ice fishing. First, the short version – yes, the ice is still thick enough (six inches or more) following the warm-up and rain. Now it’s snowing which will continue for a while. A recent report indicated that 50 or more ice fishing stations can be seen on the lake, even on weekdays. Average catch is around a half-dozen trout, amongst which a couple will probably be 14 inches or so. The kettle is on, so if this is your cup o’ tea, drink up!