Southwest Oregon Fishing Reports for December 29th, 2017

From ODF&W


Beginning Jan 1, 2018, the recreational bottomfish fishery will reopen with a 5 fish daily bag limit, no sub-bag limits (except cabezon when open).

Due to in-season regulation changes, for the remainder of 2017 anglers may NOT catch or retain lingcod, any species of rockfish, cabezon, greenling, or other bottomfish species except for flatfish species like sanddab and starry flounder. Surfperch fishing is not impacted by this closure, and remains open.

Public piers provide opportunities to catch surfperch and baitfish and to drop crab pots (but check first for crab health safety closures). Learn about surfperch fishing.

When fishing from shore or inside estuaries and bays, it is important to check the tide. Many fish that swim into estuaries and bays, including salmon, surfperch, and Pacific herring, tend to come in with the tide. Catch of these species is more likely to occur closer to slack tide. Additionally, the accessibility of some areas can be completely dependent on the tide. Do not allow the incoming tide to become a safety hazard.

Anglers are reporting fair surfperch fishing from southern Oregon beaches.

Anglers from Winchester Bay are reporting good surf perch fishing in the Triangle and south jetty areas.

With steelhead rivers vacillating between low and clear, and high and muddy, anglers may want hit Garrison Lake for some trout fishing.

Expo and Reinhart ponds have been recently stocked with rainbow trout.

Winter steelhead should pick up on the Coos and Coquille rivers once we get some significant rain.

Winter steelhead fishing continues to pick up on the Umpqua.

Anglers have been catching trout up to 19-inches while trolling in Tenmile Lakes.

Anglers have been catching some surfperch when ocean swells have been small.

CHETCO RIVER: winter steelhead

Winter steelhead fishing picked up last week as river conditions improved with some much needed rain. Bank anglers faired the best, as most boat anglers were still trying for Chinook.


Some anglers are starting to ice fish. However, conditions may not be safe. Make sure to contact Diamond Lake Lodge for up-to-date conditions. Anglers can check fishing and water conditions at Diamond Lake on the Diamond Lake Resort website, or call their toll free number at 1-800-733-7593, ext. 5 for updates. Diamond Lake is open year-round. Anglers should also check with the Umpqua National Forest (541-498-2531) for information on seasonal camp and ramp closures.

Diamond Lake has been stocked with tiger trout. These fish are intended to assist in controlling illegally introduced tui chub. Tiger trout are catch-and-release only and need to be released immediately and unharmed if caught.

As part of the 2016 regulation simplification process, Diamond Lake is now back to the Southwest Zone regulation of 5 rainbow trout per day.

ELK RIVER: Chinook, winter steelhead

Rains last week improved river conditions and anglers were able to catch a few Chinook. Anglers also reported catching some steelhead. To check river conditions, call 541-332-0405. The best river height to drift the river is 5.2 feet and dropping.

Rogue River, lower: winter steelhead

Winter steelhead are being picked up by anglers plunking Spin-n-Glos. Very few boats are on the river.  This is just the beginning of the winter steelhead run.

With the first of the year approaching, anglers are reminded to check the 2018 fishing regulations before heading out.

From Pete Heley at


The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announce that recreational crabbing is now open from Cape Blanco, north of Port Orford, to the Columbia River. Crab samples taken from the area indicate that levels of the marine biotoxin domoic acid have dropped below the alert level.

This reopening of the recreational season applies to crab harvested in the ocean and in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties. Recreational crab harvesting remains closed along the southern Oregon coast from Cape Blanco to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid.

Crab and shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants remain safe for consumers.

It is always recommended to eviscerate the crab and discard the “butter” (viscera or guts) prior to cooking. When whole crab are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach into the cooking liquid. It is recommended to discard the cooking liquid, and do not use it in other dishes, such as sauces, broths, soups, stews, stocks, roux, dressings, etc. The consumption of crab viscera is not recommended.


The commercial Dungeness crab fishery will open on most of Oregon’s coast on Jan. 15, 2018. Dungeness crab will be ready to be harvested from Cape Blanco to the Columbia River, and north into Washington.

While the commercial season can open as early as Dec. 1, the opening can be delayed to ensure a high quality product for consumers by allowing crabs more time to fill with meat.

Prior to the opener, crab vessels may set gear from Jan. 12 onwards, using the “pre-soak” period of time to set gear in anticipation of the first pull of ocean crab pots on Jan. 15.

The recreational crab fishery in Oregon is already open in this same region (Cape Blanco north to the Columbia River). The area south of Cape Blanco will remain closed to both recreational and commercial crabbing due to persisting domoic acid in the region. Continued testing will determine when this closed area can reopen.

All Oregon crab product on the market is safe to eat.

Commercial Dungeness crab is Oregon’s most valuable fishery. Last year’s season opening was also delayed but still brought in the record high ex-vessel value of $62.7 million, with 20.4 million pounds landed (about 22 percent above the 10-year average).

Winchester Bay Crabbing Report

Gary Wolfer reported that he took advantage of calm ocean conditions to crab the ocean. Gary and two friends ended up with a boat limit (36) of crabs and most of them were well over the 5 3/4-inch minimum legal size. The most productive area was a couple miles north of Winchester Bay off Sparrow Park Road in 35 feet of water.

Since I cannot come up with any physical product that I dearly want for a Christmas present, I came up with some occurrences that, if they happen, will make me very happy and I definitely will not feel shortchanged gift wise. While I realize that many of these “wishes” make too much sense to ever come to pass, I can hope. Here’s my list:

(1) – The new bottomfish regulations and limits will be closely adhered to and will allow the season to run the entire year without emergency adjustments or closures.

(2) – The parking areas and boat ramps on many waters, that have early closures due to vandalism, will have their open hours extended past dusk to benefit bass and crappie anglers – such waters include Ben Irving, Galesville and Olalla reservoirs – and many others.

(3) – Any future boat ramp docks be constructed with both boat owners and boat-less anglers in mind – and only enforce the fishing restrictions on current such docks when boats are actually using the ramp or dock.

(4) – The ODFW resume recordkeeping responsibilities for the state’s record fish. Although the Oregon Bass and Panfish Club has done a decent job of recordkeeping, their interest in different fish species is not consistent across the board. There is no valid reason why Oregon does not keep state records for marine or estuary fish species or northern pike minnows or carp for that matter. It’s also a shame that Oregon doesn’t keep track of black, brown and yellow bullheads – instead choosing to lump them all together for recordkeeping purposes.

(5) – Coming up with an effective way to reduce and deal with Oregon’s seal and sea lion problem – it seems that there ought to be a way to reduce their fertility – and their population.

(6) – Ditto for cormorants. I can tolerate, while resenting, fish predation by mink, otters, herons and ospreys because fish can adjust their behavior to somewhat reduce such predation.

(7) – Reopen Soda Springs Reservoir to fishing. The reservoir is presumably closed to protect salmon and steelhead fry hatched in the North Umpqua River above the reservoir – while at the same time protecting the brown and rainbow trout that will undoubtedly be eating them.

(8) – Reopen Mill Creek to fishing – or at least the portion inaccessible to salmon and steelhead. It seems somewhat inconsistent to remove all limits on bass in the Umpqua River while protecting the bass in one of the Umpqua’s largest tributaries.

(9) – A rainfall pattern that ensures that the many shallow sand dunes lakes and ponds have sufficient water levels to avoid fall fish kills, yet not have so much water that the fish are scattered and hard to locate.

(10) – Tiger trout and tiger muskies become legal to keep – on a very limited basis.

Whale Watching Week starts December 27th. Although the “official” whale watching site is located in Depoe Bay, it isn’t the best Oregon location to actually view migrating whales. There are better whale-viewing sites in our local area including Shore Acres Park (just south of Charleston), Cape Perpetua (north of Florence) and Face Rock (just south of Bandon).

But many people consider the very best spot to view migrating gray whales along the entire Oregon coast is from the viewing area overlooking the mouth of the Umpqua River in the Umpqua Lighthouse State Park in Winchester Bay.

While the upcoming “Whale Watching Week” is also referred to as “Winter Whale Watching Week”, there is also a “Spring Whale Watching Week” which begins on March 24th.

Pete Heley works part-time at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from ‘A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.

Webinar - Building Your Own Gear with Pro Guide Chris Vertopoulos - January 29th