Central & South Oregon Coast Fishing Reports for March 25th

Reports from Depoe Bay charter boats indicate that Wednesday this week was sufficiently mild offshore to make it out for bottom fish and results were good for Rockfish which were on a hot bite and that ling cod were biting even better. Multiple boats returned before noon with rockfish limits all around.

Similar reports regarding rockfish catches and ling cod limits have come out of Newport although crabbing has been slow for charters here.

Herring jiggers have taken fish recently in Yaquina Bay out of Newport, but it seems these baitfish are there one day, gone the next so spin the wheel and take your chances.

Beaches up and down the Oregon coast have only been improving for pinkfin surf perch with many of them running large now – to three pounds or better according to some reports. For those not acquainted with this type of fishing best results come in the last two or three hours of an incoming tide with the bite often continuing for an hour or so following the turn of the tide. Sand shrimp are considered the ultimate bait but frustrating to keep on a hook when casting into the surf, so baits of mussel, sand worms or even cooked cocktail shrimp right out of the grocer’s deli case, the latter of which has-been popular and effective recently. Anywhere the surf breaks closer to shore, indicating a deeper area, may well hold surf perch. Good catches have come recently from Nye Beach near Newport, Bandon near Coos Bay and near the wayside at Gold Beach.

Author, blogger and all-around good guy Pete Heley (www.PeteHeley.com) reports from the Reedsport area, “Friday trip to Loon Lake didn’t turn up any pre-spawn crappies and also revealed that the lake’s largemouth had not yet started to relate to shoreline structure in significant numbers. There was little evidence of the lake’s recently planted rainbows, but then I am not sure how much evidence I should expect from a plant that works out to about five trout per acre. There were undoubtedly plenty of trout still left from the previous week’s plant of 2,000 trout (about seven trout per acre) – but they managed to be “scarce” as well.

“Two days later, a bass tournament at Siltcoos Lake showed great bass fishing success with every tournament entrant weighing in bass with three of the bass caught during the tournament being in the seven to eight-pound class. The top five teams all weighed in at least 18 pounds of bass. As usual, the tournament entrants were close-mouthed about what produced for them, but several of them used dark-colored jigs to catch their fish.

“While the extended weather forecast indicates that cold water baits such as spinnerbaits and jigs might be the way to go for the foreseeable future, we shouldn’t have to wait too long before such immediate pre-spawn baits as plastic worms and soft plastic jerk baits become more productive. During the past week, surface water temperatures in degrees have consistently been in the low 50’s. It’s going to be a while before the surface and shoreline water temps reach the 60 degree temperatures that seem to mark the start of the pre-spawn fishery.

“Nevada’s Pyramid Lake continues to pump out 15 to 20 pound Lahontan cutthroats almost daily, while a number of waters in northern and central California are kicking out 15-pound channel cats and ten pound Florida-strain largemouth, but the state’s star catch was another 50+ pound landlocked striped bass from Millerton Reservoir. This striper weighed 58 pounds and bit a live six-inch long minnow – a bait that is not legal to use in Oregon.

“Striped surfperch continue to dominate the catches of anglers fishing off Winchester Bay’s South Jetty, while an evening rockfish bite does the same for anglers fishing out of kayaks and pontoon boats in the Triangle. Spawning lingcod should be available for jetty anglers, although the best week last year for them occurred in April.

“A muddy Umpqua River has put the spring Chinook fishery on hold, but salmon have been caught recently all the way up to below Winchester Dam on the North Umpqua. Since no spring Chinooks have yet been entered into the Wells Creek Inn’s annual contest, doing so would give that first entrant a quick lead.

“Lake Marie was stocked with 2,000 rainbows late last week – which works out to about 300 trout per acre. Florence-area lakes that were stocked last week include: Alder Lake (500 legals, 100 12-inchers and 36 16-inchers; Buck and Dune lakes (each with 850 legals, 100 12-inchers and 36 16-inchers); Carter Lake (2,500 legals); Cleawox Lake (3,000 legals and 150 16-inchers); Elbow Lake (200 12-inchers); Erhart Lake (200 legals and 36 16-inchers); Georgia and North Georgia (each with 150 legals); Mercer Lake (1,500 12-inchers); Munsel Lake (2,250 legals and 150 16-inchers); Perkins Lake (250 legals); Siltcoos Lagoon (850 legals, 450 12-inchers and 106 16-inchers); Siltcoos Lake (1,000 12-inchers) and Woahink Lake (1,000 12-inchers).In Coos County, both Upper and Lower Empire lakes were stocked with 3,000 legal rainbows last week.

“According to information on the ODFW website dated March 7th, there are no advisories or regulations against the taking of bay clams, mussels or crabs for the entire Oregon coast, however the taking of razor clams south of Tillamook Head is still not allowed.

“Deacon rockfish are a newly identified rockfish species that formerly was considered a variety of blue rockfish and in 2016 they are considered to be part of the three blue rockfish limit. Cabezon are currently closed to retention and will be through June when one cabezon 16-inches long or longer will be legal to keep.”

Whenever the ocean lays down, winter steelhead will take that opportunity to cross the bar at Gold Beach. There are a good number of late winters on the Rogue this season as offshore conditions have been rough most of the time so far this year. In addition, there will be many more spring Chinook entering the lower Rogue River to meet up with lucky anglers. At 20,000 cfs only two days ago, flows at Agness have dropped to 15,000 cfs and are predicted to continue moderating well into the coming week. While many are lamenting about high water conditions keeping them from getting on the Rogue to nab one of those springers for themselves, be aware that most guides booking dates for spring Chinook don’t start until April and continue into June. You’re not late to this part, you’re early. Bank anglers will do well in higher flows by using large, noisy lures on side-planers. The Mag Lip 3.5 in gold and red has been a particularly effective winter steelhead plug. As of today, flows at Grants Pass are over 7,000 cfs but have started dropping, though more slowly than the rate at which the lower river is forecast to moderate. The middle river has been on the better producers for side-drifters and plug-pullers. Anglers river-wide can keep one wild winter steelhead 24 inches or longer per day and five per year. There won’t be many options for anglers on the upper Rogue with Lost Creek Reservoir full and the outlet pumping water into the river, this will be a fishing locations only as conditions improve.

With winter steelhead scattered on the Chetco and many even upstream above the forks due to repeated albeit off-and on rains and fronts which have passed through. At this time of the season, it’s common to find a mix of fairly fresh steelhead, those which have spawned in both wild and hatchery varieties. When the water is up, plunking the inside turns is a good plan.

The Elk River hosts a fine, late run of large winters which come in fresh from the ocean with the coming weekend looking like a good possibility for steelheaders. Traditionally, side-drifters using cured eggs or bobber fishers using pink jigs see success, but only if water conditions on this volatile river cooperate.

Garrison Lake in Port Orford has continued to produce limits of trout this week which have averaged eight to 12 inches. In addition to those, however, plenty of 15 to 24 inchers were also taken. The daily trout limit is five, of which only one may be 20 inches or better.

According to a last-minute report today, Empire Lakes near Coos Bay were stocked on Wednesday this week. A total of 3,000 keeper size rainbows have been planted in addition to 250 trophy-sized trout.