Wintertime conditions can be challenging for ocean fishers although this week granted some brief respite from typical, seasonal rough ocean conditions driven by high winds. During those couple of days, bottom fishing rewarded anglers with limits of tasty rockfish and decent numbers of ling cod. Crabbing was off a little, particularly for this time of year when catches are frequently good. Those who dropped pots returned with two or three Dungeness per person. Consider that’s roughly $50 worth if one purchased those seas spiders at the local fish monger which, along with plenty of bottom fish fillets and a chance to fish the ocean in January would make it a pretty good day.
As stated in TGF last week and detailed by Bill Monroe in the January 25th edition of the Oregonian, sports anglers have the opportunity to have their voices heard in the shaping of 2016 halibut seasons. Read more in Random Links.
During Oregon winters, we generally have plenty of water and as far as fishing is concerned, some might say often too much. If you find yourself faced with high water woes, try heading up river as generally conditions will be better. Try to find tributaries to the mainstem as fresh water entering is often a fish magnet and sometimes a source of clearer water. Smaller rivers and streams will drop and clear more quickly than larger ones, but the volatility means being at the right time – which is often only for a short while.
Rock and jetty anglers have been doing well on striped surfperch and kelp greenling with bait and rockfish on soft plastics fished on lightweight lead jig heads.
The lower end of Coos Bay, near Charleston has been the only area where crabbers have been successful recently as the lower tidewater areas of the Umpqua, Siuslaw and Coquille rivers have been too muddy and salinity too low for crab to inhabit these areas.
Water levels of the lower Rogue River near Agness will rise to Action Level (about 34,090 cfs) overnight this coming Saturday, then start to drop and continue that trend into the coming week. If the forecast remains accurate, anglers should be able to plunk for winters again starting Tuesday next week. Tip: Try a pink pearl Spin ‘N’ Glo which has been popular and effective here fished right against the bank in four to six feet of water. The Grants Pass stretch will fish somewhat sooner and shows great promise for a rewarding encounter with fresh winter steelhead. The stretch from Grants Pass to Grave Creek will be holding good numbers of fish. Plunkers were catching winter steelhead Wednesday this week below the mouth of the Applegate, a mix of roe, worms and watermelon corkies and dark plugs, especially rattlers. That should make for some great fishing for those plunking the gravel bars between Griffin Park and Alameda Park. Anglers will want to fish below the mouth of the Applegate, so they can target steelhead heading to both the upper Rogue and Applegate River. Target the inside of gravel bars in water that is 3 to 5 feet deep. Use a heavy weight with a spin-n-glow and bait, or a side planer with a plug. Cop Car (black bill with a white body) plugs are often best in the dirtier water, and are always a good choice for winter steelhead. Anglers are allowed to keep 1 wild steelhead a day/5 per year below Hog Creek boat ramp as part of their 2 fish daily limit. Beginning February 1st, it’ll be legal to keep wild steelhead above Hog Creek. Until then, the best bet is the only green water around, and that’s from the mouth of Big Butte Creek up to the Hatchery Hole. There are plenty of late-run summer steelhead in that section, but most are dark and inedible at this time. Catch them on roe, worms and corkies or big pink worms under bobbers. If the silt settles out decently, high-water steelhead fishing could be very good for a mix of late-run summer steelhead and early winter steelhead. Use the same tactics as in the middle Rogue, but focus more on slower water near the bank and in tail outs. The catch has been mostly recycled steelhead that were put in near TouVelle 3 weeks ago. In the high water, bank anglers have been doing best at the hatchery and Chief Hole. Drifting pieces of shrimp or eggs with a puffball have been producing the most fish. Tossing spoons, and spinners can also be very effective. Those fishing from a boat will want to concentrate on the drift from the hatchery to Rogue Elk Park. Plugs will be best in travel lanes outside of the main current. As of January 20th, only four winter steelhead had returned to Coles River Hatchery facility while the summer steelhead count was 3,635.
This time of year is just about the peak of the winter steelhead run on the Chetco River. And this year, the Chetco has been producing steelhead for plunkers at higher flows than in seasons past. Originally, this was due to the manner in which the river maintained decent color despite high water levels but anglers have discovered that high water plunking is just plain effective here. The water is currently rising and will be crazy high by Friday night with the flow expected to hit 18,000 cfs. Not so fishable. It’ll drop as quickly as it rose with Sunday afternoon looking promising as a good time to get out and plunk. Upriver holes like the Ice Box and Miller Bar may be fishable even earlier. Recently, any time the Chetco drops to 9,000 cfs, go fishing. Once flows moderate to 4,00 cfs or so, side-drifting roe or fishing small plugs like the Mag Lip 3.5 will take fish. Expect steelheading to continue at a decent pace here through March. Tip: If the river is high and off-color, head upriver to find better water clarity as the color of the water often improves as you move upstream.
Elk River steelheaders will have a good shot at winters once rainfall eases early next week. Remember that things change quickly on this tiny tributary and best fishing conditions are short-lived. Even when the water level is a little high, if the color is green, it’s fishable. It’s mostly a drift boat show. Tip: throw gobs of roe or drag dark-colored plugs to hook up.
Catch the Tuna Seminars at the Pacific Northwest Sportsman’s Show in the Blue Theater on the following dates:
2/10 – 1:00pm Albacore A-Z
2/11 – 5:00pm Catching Albacore On Those Tough Days
2/12 – 3:00pm Working The Iron
2/13 – 4:00pm Albacore A-Z
2/14 – 4:00pm Working The Iron