Southwest Oregon Fishing Reports for May 17th, 2019

Southwest Oregon Fishing Reports

From Pete Heley at

The hottest thing going right now is shad fishing on the Umpqua River. Half-day catches of 40+ shad are common at a number of locations, but the best spot recently has been at Sawyers Rapids – and as the river drops it will get even better. Sawyer Rapids, at less than 27 miles east of Reedsport, is also the closest Umpqua River shad spot to the Oregon coast. Other local rivers hosting shad runs include the Coquille, Siuslaw and Coos-Millicoma rivers.

The first central Oregon coast all-depth three-day opener was a complete bust – and a good example that increasing the quota means little if there are not reachable willing-to-bite fish around. There are four more “fixed” three-day openers which are on Thursday through Saturday of each week and if the 171,103 pound quota is not reached, backup openers will occur every two weeks until the quota is met.

Those salmon caught by spinner-flinging bank anglers at Winchester Bay a few weeks ago have not shown up as upriver spring chinook catches – so perhaps they weren’t spring chinooks at all – but feeder fall chinook following baitfish into the lower Umpqua River.

Surfperch were caught above Winchester Bay last week, but the run has yet to really get going but could do so at any time. As usual, the male surfperch are still biting off the beaches as the female surfperch move into the lower Umpqua River. Winchester Bay’s South Jetty suffered a rare “off week” last week regarding rockfish, greenling, lingcod, and striped surfperch.

Striped bass angling remains surprisingly good on the Smith and Coquille rivers with water clarity influencing the bite on the Coquille River. Freshwater lakes that are still having water clarity problems include Cooper Creek Reservoir, Plat ‘I’ Reservoir and Ben Irving Reservoir.

In some cases, warmer weather can result in lower water temperatures such as occurred recently at Lake Shasta when a considerable amount of melting snow resulted in a several degree drop in water temperatures despite very warm air temperatures.

For those of you who believe the slogan “made in America” means something – America’s boating industry is a wonderful example. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, Ninety-five percent of the boats in the United States were made in the United States and the value of boat exports exceeds the value of boat imports by more than a billion dollars per year.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife puts out question and answer emails every couple of weeks that have varying degrees of relevance to Oregonians. Here are some questions from a recent one.

QUESTION: Why does the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) issue elk tags? Is it because herds get too large for the land to support them? What is the criteria? Are the animals ever relocated to other far away spots? (Allison H.)

ANSWER: CDFW does manage elk populations that, for example, get too large or are having conflicts with existing land uses. But that is not the only reason CDFW recommends a limited harvest of elk.

CDFW’s mission is to manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public.

“Too large” is a subjective descriptor, and there are always going to be differing opinions on how many elk are too many. Tags are issued in areas where a limited harvest is appropriate. Historically, the number of tags issued is low compared to the overall population. This allows for a limited harvest while still allowing the population to expand in most areas.

In some areas where the population is causing damage to property or the population is healthy but there is not a lot of room to expand, CDFW will approve a higher level of harvest to maintain the current conditions (this has been the case at Grizzly Island Wildlife Area). Some of the relocations have not been that far from the source population. In recent years, CDFW has augmented existing populations with elk relocated from restricted habitats that cannot expand. This is done in order to prevent elk populations from exceeding their carrying capacity and subsequent habitat destruction and to assist with genetic diversity.

QUESTION: If there are three of us in a boat fishing for sturgeon, and I catch a sturgeon and then tag and retain it, do I have to then totally stop fishing or can I rebait my line and fish for other species?

ANSWER: If you are in the ocean, boat limits, as described by California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.60, do not apply to sturgeon, per section 27.60(c)(6), so you would be done sturgeon fishing for that day but can continue fishing for other species. Boat limits do not apply in inland waters either, so if you are on inland waters, you are also done sturgeon fishing for that day. In either the ocean or bay you may continue to fish for other species, but it would be good practice to switch baits/gear set-up, techniques, etc. so that there is no question of your intent when an officer comes to conduct a compliance check.

QUESTION: We are heading to the North Coast soon and are planning to camp out and go clamming. How much help can I give my 5-year-old son who will be digging for clams with us for his first time? I want to be able to help him as much as he needs but doesn’t want the clams he digs up to count against my individual bag limit? Can I use the shovel and dig the hole for him while he uses his hands to dig around further and retrieve the clam? I will just be helping him to access the clam, but he will be retrieving it himself.

ANSWER: People have been cited for taking an over limit of clams by doing exactly what you describe above. You can teach your son how to dig, but you cannot dig his limit of clams for him. Part of taking the clam is digging for it, so he would need to do the work. If you feel you are “doing it for him,” you are probably helping him too much.

If he is too young to dig for clams himself, he will probably need to wait until he is old enough to do so. Otherwise, you two can dig for clams together, and we encourage you to do just that so he learns, but they will all become part of your limit.

Pete Heley works parttime at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.

From ODF&W

Bottomfishing has been good when the ocean lays down and anglers have been able to make it out.

Beginning May 1, bottomfishing is restricted to inside the 40-fathom regulatory line. Fishing for lingcod and rockfish has been good when the ocean is calm enough to fish. The daily bag limit for marine fish is 5 plus 2 lingcod. The retention of cabezon is closed until July 2019.

Anglers may also choose to fish the offshore longleader fishery outside of the 40-fathom regulatory line, which is open year round. The longleader fishery has a daily bag limit of 10 fish made of yellowtail, widow, canary, blue, deacon, redstripe, greenstripe, silvergray, and bocaccio rockfish. No other groundfish are allowed and offshore longleader fishing trips cannot be combined with traditional bottomfish, flatfish or halibut trips.

Ocean salmon fishing for Chinook salmon from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt is open. Chinook must be a minimum of 24-inches long. The ocean is closed to coho salmon.

Bradley Lake has been stocked with legal-size rainbows and trophy trout. Warmwater fish like largemouth bass and bluegill should be active now.

No bank fishing without permission from landowners, but an ODFW boat ramp allows anyone to launch and fish from a boat. Anglers can also fish from the dock at the boat ramp. Located about three miles south of Bandon and is one mile west of Hwy 101.

Butterfield has been stocked with rainbow trout pounders and legal-size trout. The trout bite was very good this past weekend, on spinners and spoons.

Butterfield Lake has warmouth, a species of small warmwater fish. They are typically about Bluegill size, looking like a small crappie with a bass-type head.

Conditions for crabbing and rockfish and lingcod angling in Coos Bay should be improving as the mud and heavy freshwater runoff subsides from recent storms. Using a jig with a twister tail has been a great bait for catching rockfish. Anglers have been catching lingcod with a herring floated under a bobber.

Trout fishing in streams and rivers will open May 22, 2019, while lakes in the basin are open year-round.

Striped bass and smallmouth bass should be active now, and there are no size limits or bag limits for these species in the Coquille Basin.

Diamond Lake is the hot place to be right now. Recent reports indicate most successful anglers are using flies and using a quick retrieve. The trout are hungry! One report was of over 50 trout caught and released.

Eel Lake was stocked again the week of May 6 with legal-size rainbow. In addition, the lake usually provides some holdover trout in excess of 15-inches long. The fishing dock is a great place for kids to fish. A small crappie jig tipped with a piece of worm, and rigged about two feet under a bobber will entice bluegill and crappie to bite.

Fishing for warmwater species should be good now, and these fish should be active with spring temperatures.

Approximately 13 miles north of North Bend off Hwy 101, located in Tugman State Park.

Expo Pond was most recently stocked the week of May 6. It also was stocked first week of March and again in mid-April. Fishing for bass, panfish, and trout is good.

Garrison Lake was stocked several times this spring with legals, trophies, and SUPER-trophies. Anglers slow trolling spinners, flies, or wedding ring spinners tipped with a worm all typically do well hooking up with some feisty rainbow trout. Five trout per day/3 daily limits in possession; 8-inch minimum; only one trout over 20-inches long may be taken per day. Bank anglers can find access at the 12th street or Pinehurst boat ramps and off Paradise Point Road. The lake can be very windy so anglers will want to check the weather before heading out.

Lake Selmac will be stocked with another 3,500 legal-sized rainbow the week of May 13 and received another 5,000 legal rainbow trout the week of April 8 to complement fish stocked earlier in February and March. Fishing has been good, reports have been good with fly anglers fishing leeches or streamers and a slow strip. Gear anglers should expect good success as visibility improves. Bass anglers have reportedly been catching fish as the lake water has warmed up.

Fishing can be good this time of year at Lemolo Reservoir. The lake is scheduled to be stocked this week and there have been some good reports. Kokanee in Lemolo are considered trout and therefore fall under the daily limit for trout of 5 per day with only one of those measuring over 20-inches. Contact Lemolo Lake Resort at 541-957-8354 for weather/road conditions and additional information.

Lost Creek will be stocked this week with 10,000 legal-sized trout and 1,500 pounders to complement previous stocking this year. There should still be good populations of holdover fish from last year as well.

Recent reports indicate the fishing continues to be good for trolling and bank angling. Bank anglers have reported success at the spillway access point. Last weekend fishing was reportedly good with large trout caught trolling between the Takelma boat ramp and Stewart State Park. Additional reports indicate trolling under Peyton Bridge has been good as well. The lake is 97 percent full and both ramps are usable.

Medco will be stocked with 2,000 legal-size rainbow trout the week of May 13. Largemouth bass and bluegill are available, and fishing for them is getting better with the warmer weather. Anglers are reminded that Medco Pond is privately owned. Gas engines are not allowed on the pond, and bank access is restricted to the west shore.

Anglers are catching a few steelhead on the lower Rogue River and the early portion of the summer run should start showing by the end of this month. Beginning May 1, only hatchery steelhead may be retained.

We had a good push of spring Chinook in April. With the Rogue warming and clearing slightly, effort and catch has trailed off some, but should pick up with the rain and cooling trend this week and part of next. Spinners, plugs, anchovies, and sardines have all been used successfully. Hatchery Chinook may be retained year-round. Wild Chinook opens for retention June 1.

On the middle Rogue the winter steelhead run is beginning to slow but there are reports of fish being caught in this section of river. Both bank anglers fishing plugs and side-planners, and boat anglers are catching fish. Recent reports indicated plugs, eggs and yarn balls all producing winter fish from boats.

More hatchery spring Chinook have reportedly been caught in this section as well and many more should be arriving soon. Based on reports from the lower river, expect a good push of hatchery and wild spring Chinook to hit the middle Rogue very soon.

Fly anglers that nymph will want to use prince nymphs or copperswans, steelhead brassies, stone flies, ugly bugs, or will want to fish large dark flies if swinging. Don’t be afraid of color such as black and chartreuse, black and blue, black and purple, black and pink, or black and red. If tying your own flies, don’t be afraid to add a little bit of flash dubbing or tinsel in the body of your fly. Also, covering lots of water when working through a run is a good technique when swinging flies. Trying moving 4-5 feet downstream every cast or two.

Popular floats include: Gold Hill to Rogue River, Baker to Lathrop or Ferry Hole, or Griffin Park to Robertson Bridge.

Boaters floating from Hog Creek to Graves Creek should be familiar with the rapids in this section of river, and know their takeouts. Experienced oarsmen/woman 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”.

The upper Rogue is in good shape and expect flows to hold around this level for the foreseeable feature. The higher flows from the last couple weeks have brought more winter steelhead and a few more spring Chinook into the upper Rogue. Spring Chinook were being caught in the upper river last weekend and this is the very beginning of the run. Trout fishing is closed and will reopen May 22.

There is good public access for bank fishing and boat access at Cole Rivers Hatchery, McGregor Park, Casey Park, Rogue Elk, Shady Cove, Takelma, Dodge Bridge, Modoc, Denman Wildlife Area, Touvelle State Park, Gold Ray and Fishers Ferry. Most floats in the upper Rogue have been from the hatchery or Rogue Elk downstream to Shady Cove. Dodge Bridge to Touvelle is an excellent float but anglers should be aware that they will encounter Rattlesnake Rapids. If you are not ready for Rattlesnake, many floats will start at the ODFW Modoc Access Site and float to Touvelle or Fishers Ferry.

Fly anglers that nymph will want to use prince nymphs or copperswans, steelhead brassies, stone flies, ugly bugs, or will want to fish large dark flies if swinging. Don’t be afraid of color such as black and chartreuse, black and blue, black and purple, black and pink, or black and red. If tying your own flies, don’t be afraid to add a little bit of flash dubbing or tinsel in the body of your fly. Also, covering lots of water when working through a run is a good technique when swinging flies. Trying moving 4-5 feet down every cast or two.

At Tenmile Lakes conditions should be prime for bass, crappie, bluegill, and brown bullhead catfish angling at this time. Anglers also use small jigs or a worm on a hook fished near the bottom to catch yellow perch this time of year.

All wild steelhead must be released in the Umpqua so please follow good catch-and-release techniques. Some summer steelhead should be around, and a few are being caught.

Spring Chinook should be in the river; however, reports have been mixed. Most anglers fish for spring Chinook from a boat using plugs or bait.

Shad anglers are at the usual spots between Scottsburg and Roseburg, and some folks are having great success. The typical season is from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day.

Trout fishing will reopen on May 22, 2019.

Some of the North Umpqua and tributaries are open for trout (those above Slide Creek Dam): check the fishing regulations to see which areas are closed.

We are entering the “shoulder” season for steelhead. Most of the winters should be done spawning and heading out, and some early summers might start showing up. A few summers have been caught, but it is a little early

A few Spring Chinook have been caught, but it is a little slow.

Fishing in the Triangle and South jetty has been successful at Winchester Bay.

2019 Stocking schedule and Stocking Maps