Anglers can keep up to one canary rockfish as part of the seven-fish bottom fishing aggregate limit, but anglers should keep canaries only if they are bleeding and likely to die if released. The canary quota is low enough that, if met, could curtail rockfish catch limits later this year. Cabezon may not be taken offshore until July 1 under the regular seasonal closure.
Surplus hatchery steelhead were recently released in Garrison Lake, which also has a fair number of trout and offers viable alternative to streams.
Most of the rivers have winter steelhead entering now. This time of year, steelheaders should keep an eye on river conditions and be ready to hit the rivers as waters start to drop and clear. The best places to catch steelhead can change quickly as such fishing conditions and stream flows and water clarity can change daily. Usually, the best fishing takes place after a stream rises and then starts to drop.
Although the Illinois River is restricted to artificial flies and lures only, it is in fine fishing shape and has decent numbers of winter steelhead available. It’s good and getting better. From Klondike Creek upstream to Pomeroy Dam, steelheaders can keep one wild steelhead at least 24″ up to five per year, as part of daily or annual salmon/steelhead bag limit.
Crabbing in Winchester Bay has been slow with all the fresh water and mud that’s been washing in form the river. The mainstem Umpqua is closed to wild steelhead harvest, but remains open year-round for adipose fin-clipped steelhead. Winter steelheading will continue to improve along with water conditions. There have been reports of good numbers of hatchery steelhead being taken on the mainstem with Cleveland Rapids particularly productive. The mainstem Umpqua is closed for trout fishing until May 22. Winter steelheading is improving and the river has remained fishable even at higher water levels. Bank anglers targeting winter steelhead have been catching them around Rock Creek. All wild steelhead have to be released. Fishing in the fly water area is restricted to fly fishing only through June 30 with a single barbless fly. The South Umpqua is open for the taking of hatchery winter steelhead now with catches continuing to improve as the water levels drop. There will be plenty of hatchery steelhead available here.
With the lower Rogue still flowing at more than 11,000 cfs as of Thursday, February 4th, that’s too much water to fish. The level and flow are dropping quickly so plunkers fishing Spin ‘n’ Glos will be the first to connect with fresh winter steelhead by Saturday or Sunday. The lower river will continue to drop into the week to come. The Grant Pass stretch of the Rogue River historically fishes best at a flow of less than 6,500 cfs. At mid-afternoon on February 4th, it was 5,700 cfs and forecast to continue dropping for several days. Tip: Drift corkies or bait to take winter steelhead. If pulling plugs and there’s still a lot of color, try dark colored, rattling plugs first. The middle Rogue should fish great over the coming weekend. Upper Rogue fishing has been producing steelhead but until recently, all that has been available are very late season, ratty looking summers. We say until recently because winter steelhead are showing up at Cole Rivers hatchery so there will be a number of them in the upper river and that number will continue to improve from this point forward.
When boats have been able to get out to the ocean from the crabbing report from the Port of Brookings. crabbing has been good as well as catches of lingcod and rockfish. With roiled, fresh water pumping out of the lower Chetco, one couple was less than optimistic crabbing inside this week. With the water muddy, they reported catching no rockfish that day but surprising themselves, they boated two limits of Dungeness in about 35 feet of water right off the beach in front of the Best Western Motel using chicken parts for bait. While the Chetco is currently rising, the forecast indicates it will crest at roughly 4,000 cfs then start to drop in the early morning hours of Friday, February 5th. This moderating trend is predicted to continue for a week, then the river will rise again for the next weekend. We wish that these forecasts were actually that accurate, but sadly, they are not. What they are is all you or TGF has to go on in order to prepare for and predict fishing trips. That said, it’s fairly safe to count on the river dropping over the coming weekend and into the week. The Chetco has been the domain of plunkers between high water events but currents of less than 4,000 cfs and dropping will mean productive side-drifting for boaters. This style of fishing puts lots of fish in the boat but requires all anglers on board use the same tackle and that the oarsman knows how to position the boat so those fishing can effectively work consecutive stretches of water. The steelhead will be there, for sure. Plenty of hatchery fish are mixed with wild and they’ll be on the bite in these conditions. As the river was dropping earlier this week, one of the guide boats limit all the clients on board with one happy winter steelheader landing a 20-pound hatchery steelhead. It’s the peak of the season so this is a great tome to hit the Chetco.
There were several boats fishing the Sixes River on Wednesday this week and a few reports indicate that winter steelhead were taken. It was pretty good earlier this week and there should certainly be fish available until it gets too skinny to fish.