Southwest Oregon Fishing Reports
Recent rains have moved winter steelhead into many coastal rivers. Fishing will be best when water levels begin to drop after a good rain.
Anglers have been catching winter steelhead in the mainstem Umpqua, and fishing should be picking up on the lower Rogue.
In the meantime, anglers are still getting a fair number of summer steelhead in the middle and upper stretches of the Rogue.
Trout anglers can still catch fish that were stocked earlier in the year. As long as conditions allow, places like Fish Lake, Howard Prairie and Lost Creek Reservoir can fish throughout the winter.
Bottomfishing is now open to fish at all depths. The daily bag limit for marine fish is 5 plus 2 lingcod.
The harvest of cabezon along with copper, quillback, and China rockfish are now all closed to boat anglers. Shore anglers will still be able to harvest these rockfish species (but are encouraged to release them) and 1 cabezon a day.
The emergency angling closure in the Chetco River was lifted Dec. 7. Reduced wild Chinook harvest and bag limits remain in effect.
Temporary fishing regulations will be in place through Dec. 31 this year for wild Chinook salmon. Adult wild Chinook may be harvested, 1 per day and 5 per year, as part of daily or annual salmon/steelhead bag limit. However, of the 5 no more than 2 adult wild Chinook may be harvested for the period of Oct. 1 – Dec. 3.
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.
A few winter steelhead anglers are fishing the Coos Basin rivers with little to no success. The rain forecasted for the end of the week should get steelhead moving into the rivers as the water levels come down. 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.
Anglers have reported catching a few steelhead in the tidewater sections of the Coquille River near Arago and the town of Coquille. Most anglers will plunk in these areas with a Spin-n-Glo tipped with eggs or sand shrimp.
Winter steelhead fishing should start to pick up in the Lower Rogue. Anglers might want to try swinging flies, tossing spinners or running plugs. When expecting rain and rising river levels, consider switching tactics and anchor up and back-bounce eggs.
Bank anglers will want to look for fish on inside of bends in the river and slots along willow banks.
The river is open year-round for hatchery steelhead harvest. Beginning January 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.
Half-pounders are still present in the Rogue Canyon, but anglers are reminded only hatchery trout can be retained.
There have been some good reports of steelhead fishing continuing to come in, especially during or after a rain event. Summer steelhead are beginning to get skinny as it nears their time to spawn and no reports have come in yet of fresh winter fish, but they are on their way.
Steelhead will bite on bait, spinners 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.
Some coho have been reported throughout the river, but they may be getting dark and ready to spawn. Only hatchery coho can be retained. Please release wild coho back into the river unharmed with minimal handling.
Boaters floating from Hog Creek to Graves Creek should be familiar with the rapids in this section of the river, and know their takeouts. 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.”
Steelhead and trout remain open in the upper Rogue, and summer steelhead fishing has been good, especially during or directly after a rain event.
Bait is again allowed throughout the entire Rogue basin. A simple setup of bouncing bait, or using lures such a spinner, a plug or a bead can be very effective in steelhead fishing.
Coho may still be present in the river but are likely quite dark at this point, anglers are reminded they can only retain hatchery coho.
337 new summer steelhead entered the trap at Cole Rivers last week, for a total of 3,721 steelhead to date. Excess hatchery adult summer steelhead from Cole River Hatchery are being recycled back into the fishery and anglers are reporting success in catching these fish.
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.
The emergency angling closure in the Sixes River was lifted on Dec 7. Reduced wild Chinook harvest and bag limits remain in effect through the rest of the year. For more information, please see the in-season regulation change tables here.
Steelhead fishing is open through March 31 from the mouth to Edson Creek. The wild Steelhead bag limit is 1/day and 3/year as part of a zone-wide accumulative daily and annual salmon/steelhead bag limit.
Steelhead fishing has been decent throughout the main Umpqua River. With rain in the forecast, the river may be in good shape for the 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. Make sure to turn in snouts from hatchery fish for a chance to win a gift card.
Trout fishing is currently closed on the Main and its tributaries but will reopen next Memorial Day.
Some anglers are giving it a try in the lower North Umpqua. The river has been a little low, but rain is in the forecast.
The North is closed to all fishing for Chinook.
The mainstem South reopened to steelhead fishing Dec. 1. Fishing usually picks up in January and there should be a few around in the lower sections.
The river may be in decent shape with some rain in the forecast. Make sure to turn in snouts from hatchery fish for a chance to win a gift card.