Central & South Oregon Coast Fishing Reports for March 3rd

Although the 2017 ocean salmon season remains unsettled, there will be one, for sure. Coho populations are depressed which will undoubtedly result in a reduced quota while the Chinook season which has run from the middle of March through October in the past, is probably up for a trim. Of course, we’ll report any and all updates.

Razor clamming is closed along the entire coast because of domoic acid. Bay clams and butter clams are available coast wide, and mussels are open coast wide. Before digging, check the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474.

Update on herring over the last week indicates they were still in Yaquina Bay and remained in catchable numbers at that time. The vast majority were reported as big females to 10 inches. The crabbing was reported this week as not worth dropping traps inside the bay.

Crabbing is open along the entire Oregon Coast although it’s been poor in bays due to heavy freshwater flows which have been pushing Dungeness either low in the estuary or (less likely) back out to the ocean/.

Surf perch fishing is fair to great, not depending on who you talk to, but whether your fishing a beach that drops off quickly. It’s good almost everywhere (as long as it fits the aforementioned description).
At Sunset Bay (a beautiful place to fish even when they aren’t biting), an angler reported keeping 12 of the 17 surf perch he landed on Wednesday this week.

The winter ocean generally provides outstanding action for bottom fish and this week was no different. When charter boats have been able to get out, they’re loading them up, one angler reported taking 12 anglers out of Depoe Bay on the Trade winds to return with 108 rockfish (including a couple of cabezon) and ling cod. Another boat targeted lings, taking limits of fish to 35 inches while releasing smaller fish.

Author, publisher and prolific blogger, Pete Heley (peteheley.com) reports to us from Reedsport, “Well, it finally happened. the Frostbite Open, for years one of Oregon’s most elite bass tournaments finally had a catch that was disappointing in a major way. For years this tournament gave up amazing early season bass catches during cold, often miserable February weather. Last Saturday, many of the 75 2-man teams got skunked and quite a few more only recorded total catch weights of less than six pounds. There were a few five fish boat limits and the team of McKee/Correa won the tournament with a catch of 18.36 pounds and also won big fish with a 6.23 pound lunker.

The first trout plants for 2017 for Coos and Douglas counties occurred this week. Coos County waters that were stocked include Lower and Upper Empire lakes which each received 2,000 12-inch trout while Bradley and Saunders lakes, Johnson Mill Pond and Powers Pond each received 3,000 legal trout.

Loon Lake was also stocked with 2,000 legal rainbows this week. Other Douglas County waters that were stocked include Ben Irving Reservoir, Cooper Creek Reservoir, Galesville Reservoir and Lemolo Reservoir with 2,000 legal trout each while Plat “I” Reservoir received 1,000 legal trout. With the exception of Lemolo Reservoir, each of the previously mentioned Douglas County waters will be re-planted in two weeks, as will Lake Marie and both Empire Lakes.

Some other fishing options include the Columbia River for spawning and pre-spawn walleyes. Each year it seems that the year’s heaviest walleyes are caught in late February and early March. It’s very interesting that the walleyes of the lower Columbia River, near or downriver of Portland, cannot be found by even the most serious of walleye anglers until June.

Yellow perch in our area seem to be on the verge of actually spawning with the females having loose, well-developed eggs and very chunky bodies. According to a recent article in In-Fisherman Magazine, the yellow perch spawn is dependent upon water temperatures of 45 to 50 degrees and the penetration depth of ultra-violet light.

Herring have entered Yaquina Bay in big numbers.

All depth bottomfishing ends at midnight on March 31st. Bottomfishing in waters less than 180 feet deep is open all year.

If you enjoyed last Saturday’s Flyfishing Expo put on by the Lower Umpqua Fly Casters at the Community Building in Reedsport, you might want to attend the Fly Tying and Fly Fishing Expo on March 10th and 11th at the Linn County Expo Center. Billing itself as the largest fly tying event west of the Mississippi, the event will feature 200 fly tyers, 50 exhibitors and 50 fly-fishing-related classes. Admission is $10.00, but admission is free for veterans, Fly Fishing Federation (FFF) members and youths under 18. The shows website also features a printable PDF coupon that allows an adult free admission – as long as they are accompanied by a child (under 18).

It’s been a tough couple of weeks on the Umpqua. The entire river below Roseburg and the South Umpqua to above Canyonville have been high and muddy and fishing has been terrible. A few spring Chinook should be entering the river, but there will be no way to know for certain until the river drops into shape and people actually start fishing it. The timing of the first spring Chinook catch each season depends as much on river conditions and fishing pressure as it does on the salmon’s arrival.

The new owners of the Wells Creek Inn have indicated that they plan on continuing the restaurant’s Spring Chinook Derby.

Larry Smith, my favorite source of fishing information for the Roseburg area, passed away last month at 74 years of age and will definitely be missed. Larry, along with his wife Clara owned and operated City Sporting Goods in Sutherlin for 42 years.

Three people from Eugene dealt with muddy water in the Lower Umpqua by dragging their small boat into the “Triangle” . When they quit an hour later, they had 22 legal crabs. They cited whitecaps inside the Triangle due to strong winds as the reason they quit and sought out freshwater fishing options near Lakeside. Seawater incursions during high tides have kept the Umpqua River near the South Jetty clear enough to be fishable when wind and wave conditions allow it.

Commercial and sport anglers have received unwelcome news on the predicted return of Chinook salmon this year to California waters. State and federal fishery scientists presented updates on the numbers of spawning Chinook and the expected abundance for the upcoming fishing season at the annual Ocean Salmon Information Meeting held in Santa Rosa today.

Forecasts suggest there are 230,700 Sacramento River fall run Chinook adults in the ocean this year, along with 54,200 Klamath River fall run adults. Both forecasts are lower than those of recent years, with the forecast for Klamath fall run being among the lowest on record. Salmon from these runs typically comprise the majority of salmon taken in California’s ocean and inland fisheries.

“With a poor forecast for Klamath fall run and continued concerns over the winter run, California anglers will see reduced Chinook fishing opportunity as compared to last year,” said Brett Kormos, a senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

Chinook that will be harvested in ocean fisheries in 2017 hatched two to four years ago, and were deeply affected by poor river conditions driven by California’s recent drought.

CDFW and federal fish agency partners have expended millions of dollars on measures to minimize the impacts of the drought. These efforts have included trucking the majority of hatchery salmon smolts to acclimation pens in the lower Delta, improving hatchery infrastructure to keep juvenile fish alive under poor water quality conditions and partnering with sport and commercial fishermen to increase smolt survival. Though all of these efforts helped, other environmental factors – such as unusually warm water conditions in the ocean – were beyond human control.

The 2017 forecasts, in addition to information on endangered Sacramento River winter Chinook, will be used over the next two months by fishery managers to set sport and commercial fishing season dates, commercial quotas, and size and bag limits.

Season dates and other regulations will be developed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and California Fish and Game Commission over the next two months. For more information on the salmon season setting process or general ocean salmon fishing information, please visit the Ocean Salmon Project website or call the salmon fishing hotline at (707) 576-3429.”

Pete Heley works weekends at the Stockade Market & Tackle in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.

Steelheaders on the lower Rogue were just starting to hope … hope, that is, that the water would finally drop and clear. It is quite fishable now and will remain so through tomorrow, March 4th. Unfortunately, the nest weekend-timed storm front will arrive early Saturday morning with the Rogue on the rise all weekend and into the week to come. The Grants Pass stretch is frequently the darling of steelheaders at this time of year, and rightfully so. This is the place to be on the Rogue in March – but not when the water is high and turning muddy. The upper river will offer little more other than the place to fish first once this freshet turns around.

While winter steelheading has been pretty darned good this season on the Chetco, it’s forecast to blow out over the weekend. It’ll be a steep rise starting late Friday and a slow recovery. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that nearly all the Broodstock steelhead needed for spawning this year have been collected. These brooders will produce 50,000 smolts to be released into the Chetco.

The latest report indicates the ice is still solid Diamond Lake and fishing has been good for rainbows with worms or Power Bait. Remember, too that tiger trout must be released unharmed.

Webinar Driftboating and bank fishing the Wilson River with Pro Guide Bob Rees January 20th