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.
Ocean swells have kept surfperch anglers off of the coastal beaches. Once the swells calm down, fishing for surfperch should pick up. Surfperch anglers have the best success using sand shrimp or Berkley Gulp sandworms.
Retention of yelloweye rockfish is prohibited by all anglers.
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.
In the last several years, Cooper has been stocked with coho and Chinook salmon juveniles (20,000 coho in 2019). These are often mistaken for kokanee. Anglers may retain up to 5 salmon juveniles in the reservoir as part of their daily trout bag limit. Please remember to release salmon and trout less than 8 inches.
Anglers should be picking up a few trout. The lake was stocked for a kids’ fishing event last week so there should be some rainbows in the lake.
The Coos Basin rivers will most likely be high and unfishable early in the week. But they could be dropping into shape by the weekend depending on the amount of rain we receive during the week.
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 will likely not be fishable for drift boat anglers this week. Bank fishing near Powers should be an option later in the week.
The North Fork Coquille is high and muddy early this week but may be fishable before the weekend. When fishable, the North Fork Coquille has been very busy with bank anglers.
Garrison Lake is a good destination for native trout, uncaught hatchery trout, and even a few lunker, trophy trout!
The Rogue, Illinois, and Applegate are all dropping and look to be in prime condition for steelheading, the fish just have to show. The Applegate is traditionally a later run of fish, but some “scouts” should be showing.
Lost Creek Reservoir is 57 percent full and has raised nearly 20 feet in the last two weeks. Fishing could be affected by the dramatic change.
The Tekelma ramp is the only boat ramp accessible right now. 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.
Trout should be biting well with the cool temperatures. Bass and panfish are available here year-round but will be slow to bite now that the weather has cooled. Trolling a wedding ring and worm combination behind an oval egg sinker is always a good bet.
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.
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 as 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 2-4 feet of water are both effective methods.
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.
Last week 12 new winter steelhead showed in the Cole Rivers Hatchery Ladder, bringing the total to 15 for the year. Last week 129 new summer steelhead entered the trap at Cole Rivers, for a total of 4,309 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.
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 main Umpqua River. 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.
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.
Fishing should be good this weekend. The annual steelhead Derby took place last weekend and even with less-than-ideal conditions, anglers were successful.
Fishing has been good for steelhead anglers on the South Umpqua. Some good numbers are coming in from the South and it’s the best place in the basin to catch 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.