Southwest Oregon Fishing Reports
A series of winter storms have continued to hit the Oregon coast over the last several weeks and have pretty much kept recreational anglers off the ocean. So no new reports or information on how bottomfish fishing has been. If ocean conditions cooperate, lingcod fishing in January can be very good.
The bottomfish fishery is open at all depths. The General Marine Species bag limit is 5 fish.
It’s Free Fishing Weekend Feb. 15 & 16. This weekend you won’t need a license, tag or endorsement to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon that’s open – to fishing, crabbing and clamming. Looking for some ideas? Check out the reports below.
Garrison Lake is a good destination for native trout, uncaught hatchery trout, and even a few lunker, trophy trout!
Both Reinhardt Pond and Lake Selmac received their first stocking of the season this week, in time for Free Fishing Weekend.
The trout bite continues to be good in the Holy Water, the stretch of the upper Rogue between the hatchery and the Lost Creek Lake spillway.
Steelhead are here! Fishing has been pretty hot on the Chetco. Higher water conditions lately have been most favorable for bank anglers with a plunking set-up, but as the water levels drop a bit fishing by boat becomes another great option.
Steelhead may be harvested through March 31. Wild steelhead bag limits are 1/day and 3/year (accumulative zone-wide) as part of a daily or annual salmon/steelhead bag limit.
ODFW runs a volunteer-angler broodstock collection program for steelhead. Anglers interested in participating can sign up for the program by contacting ODFW at 541-247-7605
The Coos Basin rivers levels have been low this past week. Steelhead anglers have been able to catch a few fish per day even in low clear water.
Steelhead anglers wanting to fish the South Fork Coos River above Dellwood will need a fishing permit from Weyerhaeuser to access this portion of the river.
Hatchery steelhead returns in the Coos Basin will be down this year due to low smolt releases two years ago. Because of disease issues at the hatchery then, we were only able to release less than 40 percent of our production goal.
Fishing for rockfish inside the bay has slowed down from the combination of big swells and the amount of freshwater moving into the lower bay from all the recent rain. The daily bag limit for marine fish is 5 of which only one can be a copper, quillback or China rockfish. Anglers are also allowed 2 lingcod per day. The harvest of cabezon will not open until July 1. A jig with a twister tail can be a great bait for catching rockfish.
The South Fork Coquille River has been fishable for both drift boat and bank anglers this past week. Steelhead are spread out from Powers all the way downstream to Myrtle Point.
The North Fork Coquille has been low and clear for the past week. Anglers have been able to catch a few fish this past week but fishing conditions should improve with the next bigger rain. When fishable, the North Fork Coquille has been very busy with bank anglers.
Winter steelhead has picked up in the Lower Rogue. Anglers have had luck using many techniques; currently, the most common being plunking.
Bank anglers will want to look for fish on inside of bends in the river and slots along willow banks.
As the flows begin to drop and the water colors up, folks might also want to consider anchoring up their boats to run plugs.
Half-pounders are still present in the Rogue Canyon and up to about Robertson Bridge, but only hatchery trout can be retained. Wild steelhead over 24 inches can be retained through April 30, 1/day and 3/year as part of the SW zone-wide daily and aggregate bag limit. Both hatchery and wild fish are present in the system and numbers will continue to increase through March.
Summer steelhead may be looking skinny as it nears their time to spawn, and some anglers may begin to encounter kelt or “down-runners,” fish that have already spawned and headed back to the ocean. Please treat these wild steelhead with care and release them unharmed.
Steelhead and trout remain open in the upper Rogue, and summer steelhead fishing has been great still but is starting to wind down as most of the fish are entering their tributaries with the increase in flows.
Bait is again allowed throughout the entire Rogue basin. A simple setup of bouncing or side-drifting bait, or using lures such a spoon, corkie or yarn ball can be very effective in steelhead fishing. Fishing a soft bead or a jig under a bobber or bobber dogging is a very effective technique in the upper river. Often this reach of the river can be much cleaner when the rest of the river is blown out.
This week 3 new winter steelhead showed in the Cole Rivers Hatchery Ladder, bringing the total to 27 for the year. This week 92 new summer steelhead entered the trap at Cole Rivers, for a total of 4,526 summer steelhead to date.
Excess hatchery adult summer steelhead from Cole River Hatchery were recycled back into the system for the final time before Jan. 1. Anglers are still reporting success in catching these fish.
Some summer steelhead have red, blue or green tags extending from the top of the fish near the dorsal fin. ODFW encourages anglers that catch these fish to call the upper Rogue office at 541-826-8774 ext 226.
Trout have been biting well in the Holy Water, the stretch of water between the hatchery and the Lost Creek Lake spillway. Multiple reports of leeches and wooly-buggers were enticing some healthy, large trout. Blue-winged or crippled blue-wing olives have produced as well later in the day.
Anglers are reminded this area is fly-only and catch-and-release, and are encouraged to fill out voluntary angler creel cards (even if they didn’t catch anything) at 8 access sites along this stretch of water. Also, please especially fill out a card if a tagged fish was caught.
Plenty of naturally produced trout are always present in the upper Rogue, however, water has cooled significantly and these fish will be very slow to bite. The river may be inaccessible in some areas due to snow as well.
Anglers can cast flies or smaller lures like a Panther Martin or rooster tail. Often tipping the lure with bait helps to produce. In slower holes, fishing straight bait such as nightcrawler, Pautzke eggs or even PowerBait will produce.
Smith River opened up to Bridge 10 on the North Fork and Sisters Creek on the mainstem on Dec. 1. There should be some steelhead throughout most of the system. The river could be a little high but should be dropping. The Smith sees only light pressure for most of the season and can provide a great experience for anglers looking to get away from the crowds.
Tenmile Creek and Eel Creek are open to steelhead fishing. Steelhead have been caught near Spinreel Park and the mouth of Eel Creek by bank anglers. Bank fishing on Tenmile Creek is limited to the area from the mouth of Saunders Creek to the mouth of Eel Creek, so those spots have been very crowded with anglers.
Chinook fishing is open on the main stem of the Umpqua but usually doesn’t pick up till March. Wild harvest of Chinook is closed in 2020. Hatchery harvest is still allowed.
Steelhead fishing has been decent throughout the main. The river is pretty high right now, but should be dropping. A lot of anglers fish the main by “plunking.” This is usually a good strategy for water that is high and has more color.
Make sure to turn in snouts from hatchery steelhead for a chance to win a gift card. Snout collection barrels are found at Scott Cr, Sawyers Rapids, Elkton, Yellow Creek, Osprey, James Woods, Umpqua, Cleveland, and River Forks boat ramps.
The North is open to Chinook fishing under permanent rule. Anglers may harvest up to 10 wild Chinook per year and two per day.
Fishing should be good this weekend. The annual steelhead Derby took place last weekend and even with less-than-ideal conditions, anglers were successful.
On the south Umpqua, fishing has been good for steelhead anglers. Some good numbers are coming in from the South with some anglers harvesting their limits of hatchery fish.
The river should be in decent shape and dropping. Make sure to turn in snouts from hatchery fish for a chance to win a gift card.