Southwest Oregon Fishing Reports
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.
Steelhead are here! Fishing has been pretty hot on the Chetco. Conditions lately have been most favorable for bank anglers with a plunking set-up.
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.
The Coos Basin rivers were all fishable over the weekend with some anglers harvesting a few hatchery steelhead. Rains early this week bumped the river levels back up but they could remain fishable depending on the amount of rain we receive over 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 was just fishable over the weekend for drift boat anglers. But rains early in the week bumped the river level back up. There have been a couple of fish caught by bank anglers in the Powers area. 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.
Half-pounders are still present in the Rogue Canyon and up to about Robertson Bridge, but anglers are reminded only hatchery trout can be retained. Remember, Steelhead over 24 inches cannot be retained above Hog Creek until Feb. 1. Zone aggregate bag limits apply.
There have been a few reports of some bright winter steelhead making their way up the river, mostly down in the Galice area. Their numbers will be increasing, especially with the rain forecast.
Steelhead will bite on bait, yarn balls, spinners, spoons or a well-placed fly. Wild steelhead must be released unharmed unless you are below Hog Creek Boat Ramp, there anglers may keep 1 wild steelhead per day and 3 per year.
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 98 new summer steelhead entered the trap at Cole Rivers, for a total of 4,061 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 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.
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 but, the river is forecasted to go up and it might be high. 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 will reopen on the mainstem of the Umpqua River Feb. 1. Wild harvest of Chinook is closed in 2020. Hatchery harvest is still allowed.
Steelhead fishing has been decent throughout the main. With rain in the forecast, the river may be a little high this weekend. A lot of anglers fish the main by “plunking.” This is usually a good strategy for water with more color and when the water is high.
Some anglers are giving it a try in the lower North Umpqua. The river is up but looking like it might fall into shape for the weekend.
The North reopens to Chinook Feb. 1 under permanent rule. Anglers may harvest up to 10 wild Chinook per year and two per day.
The mainstem South reopened to steelhead fishing Dec. 1. Fishing usually picks up in January and anglers have been picking up some fish.
The river may be in decent shape with snow in the hills and the river should be dropping. Make sure to turn in snouts from hatchery fish for a chance to win a gift card.
Update – a few folks have asked about reporting in this section and why we’re not including information that Pete Heley anymore. He has passed away. We very much appreciated his contributions over the years and we know he had a great impact on his community overall. You can read about his life here. Thanks Pete!