Oregon Central & South Coast Fishing Reports

TGF revealed the recommended dates halibut fishing in 2016 in last week’s newsletter as these dates invariable will be graven in stone when verified in April. These dates are: May 12-14, May 19-21, May 26-28 and June 2-4 with back-up dates to be announced as the quote is 15% higher this year than last.

An advisory Email regarding summer all-depth halibut fishing, sent by the ODFW earlier this month stated: “The summer all-depth season will open August 5-6, every other Friday until October 31 or the quota is attained.” TGF staff realized this is probably inaccurate. Sure ‘snuff, a check of the online map indicates an omission and this should read “every other Friday and Saturday after Aug. 5-6 through October 31st or quota, etc.” So, go fishing!

With rain falling this weekend, south coast rivers will rise (not so good) then start falling (very good) and winter steelhead are in most of them. Expect to find winters in the Siletz, Alsea and Siuslaw rivers as precipitation slows, then stops in the coming week.

Recreational harvest of bay clams remains open along the entire Oregon coast.
As another weather front buffets the coast, it will be a few days until the Umpqua system drops and clears but it will be a good bet as conditions improve. Winter steelheading has been good on the mainstem Umpqua River at Cleveland Rapids. Fishing in the South Umpqua and North Umpqua Rivers has been excellent when those rivers have been in decent shape.
Anglers have been catching good numbers of hatchery winter steelhead on the South Umpqua River around Stanton Park with the river remaining fishable even at higher water levels. North Umpqua bank anglers are targeting winter steelhead with success around Rock Creek

Coos Bay crabbing has been reliable for decent numbers. As with any inshore crabbing, best results will occur on the incoming tide. The Oregon Department of Agriculture still recommends discarding Dungeness innards, including the ‘butter.’ Clamming is almost always reported as excellent here even on fairly modest low tidal series. Winter steelhead catches have been good on the South Fork Coos River and the East Fork Millicoma River over the past week. These decent results are expected to resume once the Coos system recovers from the weekend freshet. Steelheading has been slow on the West Fork Millicoma River as it has suffered from low, clear water. Following the current round of precipitation, it should show some improvement. Steelheaders are taking winters by drift fishing corkies or eggs and fishing jigs under a bobber area also. Anglers fishing the South Fork Coos River above Dellwood must pick up a permit to do so from Weyerhaeuser, available at their office in Dellwood. Steelheaders are allowed to keep an additional hatchery fish on the Coos system, making for a three fish daily bag limit here.

Rain has started falling on the south coast and with the precipitation, waters of the Rogue are swelling river-wide. Lower Rogue steelheaders have been plunking, throwing hardware or drifting bait depending on typically variable February conditions, Boats using various techniques including side-drifting and pulling plugs have had fair to good results. Water level and flow will start dropping late Saturday and should start fishing again on Sunday. The combination of run timing providing a good shot of fresh, bright winter steelhead and river conditions improving into the coming week is expected to produce excellent fishing. While fishing on the Grants Pass stretch of the Rogue was lackluster in January, as the winter steelhead run started working its way through the middle river it turned on, often making it the best choice on the river. It will remain to be seen whether this or the lower Rogue will fish better but the only mistake anglers could make is not fishing it. It’ll be a very good week here. The Upper Rogue still has summer steelhead, a few of which will look pretty bright, belying the fact they’re spawned out. Just grab one of these fish by the nethers, though, and it will be obvious what they’ve been up to. The belly will be soft, and indication of the poor quality of the flesh. Let ’em all go. In this stretch, there are some winter fish available but why bother when steelheading will be so much better down river?

With the calming of the river bar, expect the lower Rogue River to kick out plenty of winter steelhead as well for anglers anchoring up and setting out plugs like Mag Lip 3.0 or antique Wiggle Warts and Wee Warts, as well as the Brad’s Wigglers and Wee Wigglers.

While the Chetco was slow over the past week, winter steelhead catches improved dramatically starting off Monday this week. Since then it has been good but variable with Tuesday this week moderately productive while many boats limited out early yesterday. There are a mix of bright hatchery fish and some unmarked wild steelhead in the lower river currently. a lot of bright hatchery fish in the lower river and as the river was getting too low to fish well on Wednesday this week, rain started falling and the Chetco started rising. The level and floe are forecast to be on the rise through Friday with water cresting on Saturday at a modest 7,00 cfs. As water drops, fishing will continue almost immediately with
boats side-drifting Puff Balls and roe as well as pulling plugs, with action continuing throughout the week.

Heads up for those who live near or plan be visiting the Brookings area in the immediate future. Herring showed up in the bay at Crescent City late last week and since then, folks have been taking them by the bucketsful. A California fishing license is required to jig for them, but the cost would be offset in bait savings when they’re in en masse as they are now. Jig fishers expect another week of productive fishing although herring can appear and disappear in a heartbeat so the sooner, the better.

There’s still no ice fishing to be had at Diamond Lake following the brief freeze ‘n’ thaw in January. It may be over as the chances of an early spring this year seem greater than more winter weather but we’ll see. Over 300,000 fingerling rainbow trout are scheduled to be stocked here at ice-off. When will that be? Now? Later? It the PDFW’s call. Fortunately, there are lots of holdover trout in the lake for the catchin’.