Southwest Oregon Fishing Reports
A series of winter storms has continued to hit the Oregon coast over the last several weeks and has 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.
Steelhead are here! Fishing continues to be hot on the Chetco. Higher water conditions are most favorable for bank anglers with a plunking set-up, but as the water levels drop fishing by boat becomes another great option.
Flicking flies, tossing spinners, running plugs, bobber dogging, and bouncing eggs are all tried and true options. ODFW has been conducting spawning surveys/redd counts in tributaries and have noted a plethora of spawning wild adults. Additionally, anglers have noticed down-running spawned-out kelts in their catch.
The Coos Basin rivers levels continue to be low and clear. Steelhead anglers have been able to catch a few fish per day even in low clear water by targeting the deeper water especially with a riffle at the head of the pool.
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.
The South Fork Coquille River has been running very low for this time of the year. A couple of fish have been caught from the Beaver Creek boat ramp downstream to the 7-mile marker but most fish and anglers are in the stretch from the 7-mile marker to Myrtle Point.
The North Fork Coquille continues to be very low and clear. Anglers have been struggling to catch fish in LaVerne Park for the past couple of weeks.
Last week, Saunders Lake got 30 excess hatchery steelhead, which should spice up any trout anglers diet.
The Tekelma ramp and Lost Creek Lake Marina ramp are both accessible for boat launching. This is probably the best lake for launching larger trailered boats at this time and the trout fishing will continue to be good throughout the winter and early spring.
Trout should be biting well with the cool temperatures. Bass and panfish are available here year-round but will be slow to bite in cooler weather. Trolling a wedding ring and worm combination behind an oval egg sinker is always a good bet.
The small bump in river flows this past weekend should have winter steelhead starting to show more in the Galice Area. The Grants Pass area has been pretty slow so far.
Both Reinhardt Pond and Lake Selmac received their first stocking of the season last week. There should still be fish around for this weekend.
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 spinners, spoons, bobber dogging, and bouncing eggs.
The river is open year-round for hatchery steelhead harvest. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, wild steelhead may be harvested 1/day and 3/year as part of a daily or annual salmon steelhead bag limit from the mouth of the Rogue up to Hog Creek. The wild steelhead bag limit is accumulative zone-wide.
Reports of early-run spring Chinook are already coming in. Hatchery Chinook salmon may be harvested year-round.
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 though March and April.
Some anglers may begin to encounter kelt or “down-runners,” summer Steelhead that have already spawned and headed back to the ocean. Please treat these wild steelhead with care and release them unharmed.
Boaters floating from Hog Creek to Graves Creek should be familiar with the rapids in this section of the river, and know their takeouts. Locals would recommend against floating through Hellgate Canyon if flows are over 5,000 cfs. Experienced oarsmen/women are recommended here. There are many BLM public access points to bank fish from Hog Creek to Graves Creek. This is often referred to the “Galice area.”
There is excellent bank access in this section of the river, and recent reports indicate that some plunking/side planner techniques are starting to pick up fish. Plugs from a drift boat, or a Spin-n-Glow on the inside bend of a sweeping gravel bar fished in 2-5 feet of water are both effective methods. The clearer the water, the further out the fish will be.
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 inflows.
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.
The week of February 11 had three new winter steelhead show in the Cole Rivers Hatchery Ladder, bringing the total to 27 for the year. In addition, 92 new summer steelhead also entered the trap at Cole Rivers, for a total of 4,526 summer steelhead to date.
Anglers should still keep on the lookout for tagged hatchery summer Steelhead. 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 still 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. With low flows anglers have been doing the best near the lower stretch of the Holy Water, wading out on the submerged gravel bar.
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 eight access sites along this stretch of water. Also, please especially fill out a card if a tagged fish was caught.
Thirty excess hatchery steelhead from the Eel Lake fish traps have been planted in Saunders Lake this past week. Once in the lake, these fish are considered trout and can be harvested as part of your daily trout bag limit, which is 5 trout per day with only 1 fish over 20 inches.
Saunders Lake is scheduled to be stocked with rainbow trout in early March.
Largemouth bass and bluegill are available year-round.
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.
Steelhead fishing has been decent throughout the Umpqua main. The river is dropping and more anglers are focusing on the main and drift fishing. 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.
Chinook fishing is open but usually doesn’t pick up till March. Wild harvest of Chinook is closed in 2020. Hatchery harvest is still allowed.
The North is open to Chinook fishing under permanent rule. Anglers may harvest up to 10 wild Chinook per year and two per day.
The river is fairly low for this time of year. Try smaller presentations during low clear water conditions.
Fishing has been good for steelhead anglers on the south river. 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.
Snout collection barrels can be found at Douglas County Fairgrounds, Happy Valley, Lookingglass, Myrtle Creek, Lawson Bar, Stanton boat ramps and Seven Feathers access area.