Southwest Oregon Fishing Reports for May 31st, 2019

Southwest Oregon Fishing Reports

From Pete Heley at

The run of female redtail surfperch into the lower Umpqua River above Winchester Bay is going strong. Although it is still early in the run, there have been a number of boat limits caught last weekend. and the run should last through July.

A word of caution though, there has been an incredible amount of fishing pressure directed at these spawning perch over the last several years and their behavior has changed. During the last couple of years, the perch have moved back and forth between the ocean and lower Umpqua River during the larger tides than they ever did during previous years. The perch that stayed in the Umpqua River once they moved in. or did not become less aggressive during considerable boat traffic have pretty much been removed from the river. The fact that the Umpqua River still hosts a healthy run of female redtail surfperch is a tribute to many of these perch making behavioral adjustments that make them less predictable.

I was invited to use my weekly fishing column to add my “2 cents worth” regarding the recent ODFW meeting at the North Bend Public Library. The person making the request described the meeting as “packed full with local anglers angry about the ODFW’s regulation changes regarding salmon rivers. Most attendees felt the regulation changes were too severe. As ODFW regulation changes go, this is one of the most measured, sensible well thought out policy changes ever.- and well designed to keep angler impact to a minimum. No one lost the right to keep a wild chinook and anglers who feel that they need to keep two wild chinook per day are simply greedy to a fault.

The audacity, or perhaps arrogance of anglers thinking they should remain unaffected by a shrinking wild chinook population boggles the mind.

This ODFW policy change is so well thought out that it allows flexibility based on stream flows when setting chinook seasons on several smaller streams located between Bandon and Gold Beach.

These same angry library attendees were silent when the minimum size limit and daily bag limit were completely removed from striped bass at the start of 2019, but still felt they had the right to be angry when the ODFW made a minimal change to deal with a shrinking population of wild and finclipped chinook salmon.

Bringing up hatch boxes, Whitlock-Vibert, or otherwise, was simply something pulled out of left field to allow for more gripping.

I am actually a big fan of hatchboxes but I think their use should be closely coordinated with an involved ODFW to maximize their benefit and minimize potential damage.

Congratulations to Craig and Kellie Johnson who landed two Smith River striped bass in the forty-pound class last week. While striper success has dropped off somewhat on the Smith recently, it seems to have picked up on the Coquille River in the Riverton area.

Umpqua River shad fishing, especially at Sawyers Rapids, remains almost too easy.

Somewhat overlooked because of the awesome shad fishing, the Umpqua’s smallmouth bass fishing is excellent and should get even better numbers-wise through September. Smallmouth bass in Woahink Lake have moved to deeper water and few anglers are fishing deep enough to catch them.

Loon Lake is currently offering the best bluegill fishing in our area and has recently given up some crappie exceeding 11-inches near some of the lake’s summer homes docks.

Alder Lake and Buck Lake, two small lakes west of Highway 101 seven miles north of Florence were stocked this week with 497 and 425 legal trout respectively. Siltcoos Lagoon was planted with 36 trophy rainbows and Cleawox Lake received 1,900 trophy rainbows.

This coming Saturday and Sunday, June 1st and 2nd, is a Free Fishing Weekend where a license is not needed to fish, crab, or clam and a tag is not needed to fish for salmon, or steelhead or halibut.

From ODF&W

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.

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.

On June 2, ODFW will host a free fishing weekend event for youth anglers at Arizona Pond. Bring a rod or borrow one of ours and try for a trophy rainbow trout! The pond will be stocked prior to this event with plenty of fish to catch. Youth anglers fishing this pond are allowed to keep five trout per day; one of which can be over 20-inches. Oregon State Parks manages Arizona Pond for anglers ages 17 and under. The big kids/adults need to stay out of the pool.

Butterfield has been stocked with rainbow trout pounders and legal-size trout. The trout have been biting well on spinners and spoons.

Cooper Creek Reservoir is scheduled to be stocked this week.

Several anglers have reported good fishing, with a couple of salmon being caught.

In the last two years, Cooper has been stocked with coho and Chinook salmon juveniles. 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.

Warmwater is definitely picking up with multiple reports of bass and bluegill. Try fishing for bass around aquatic vegetation in the mid-morning and late afternoon hours.

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 opened last week on May 22, while lakes in the basin are open year-round. Try cutthroat trout fishing on streams of the Elliott State Forest. Middle (Upper) Empire Lake will be stocked with rainbow trout pounders this week, to wrap up the spring stocking for the year.

Anglers are catching American shad in the river near Coquille. The general folklore says to fish for them from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day.

Striped bass and smallmouth bass are active now, and there are no size limits or bag limits for these species in the Coquille Basin. Anglers are catching striped bass from Riverton to Arago.

Trout fishing in streams and rivers opened last week on May 22, while lakes in the basin are open year-round.

Diamond Lake has slowed. Recent reports indicate most successful anglers are using flies and using a quick retrieve or trolling. A big hatch was coming off the lake this past week and the fish seem to be pretty full.

Eel Lake has been stocked with legal-size rainbow, and the lake usually provides some holdover trout in excess of 15-inches long.

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

Emigrant Reservoir has been stocked three times this year and trout have reportedly been caught recently. In addition to trout, crappie and bass are available. Water clarity is good. Warmwater anglers should concentrate on the submerged willows and the rocky area along the dam.

Empire Lakes have been stocked with trophy trout, legal-size, and “pounder” rainbows. Middle (Upper) Empire Lake will be stocked with rainbow trout pounders this week, to wrap up the spring stocking for the year.

Warmwater species like bluegill, crappie, and largemouth bass should be biting well in late spring/early summer.

Expo Pond will be stocked this week with 1,000 legal-sized trout and was recently stocked in early May as well. Fishing for bass, panfish, and trout is good.

Fish Lake will be stocked this week with 3,500 legal-size rainbow and also was stocked the week of May 13 with 4,500 legal-sized trout and 500 “pounder” trout. Fishing is reportedly pretty good.

Tiger trout, Chinook salmon, brook trout, and larger rainbow trout are available. Remember that tiger trout must be immediately released unharmed. Anglers are encouraged to report their catch of tiger trout to fish district staff at 541-826-8774.

Galesville was stocked the week of April 29 and should have lots of trout from previous stockings. In addition to trout, the reservoir was stocked with coho smolts until 2015.

In Galesville Reservoir, all landlocked salmon are considered trout and are part of the five-per-day trout limit, with only one trout over 20-inches long allowed for harvest.

Fishing for bass and other panfish has been good. Good areas are near dead snags and the boat ramp. Try a slow retrieve with a diving crank bait.

Fishing in the spring for trout in Hemlock and Lake in the Woods can be good this time of year. Fishing at Lake in the Woods and Hemlock should be great with recent stockings. Spinners or “plunking” with worms and/or PowerBait can be effective methods for fishing these lakes.

Howard was stocked with 7,500 legals last week and also was stocked with 7,500 legals in late April. Fishing has been good. Reportedly, larger holdover rainbows have been caught in about 8 feet of water off the marina as well.

All facilities are now open. The standard day use fee applies.

The access road to the dam remains locked. Anglers can still walk the shoreline and fish the point to the south of the dam. No open water was spotted here earlier in the week. There is good bank access via BLM property on the NW side of the lake via the Keno Access Road.

Hyatt has water (57 percent full), will be stocked this week with 7,450 legal-size rainbow trout, and is reportedly fishing ok based on the limited reports. Trolling and bank fishing has produced trout and the bass are waking up as well. Hyatt was also stocked with 7,500 legal-size rainbow the week of April 29.

Johnsons Mill Pond has been stocked with legal-size and trophy rainbow trout, and the fishing should be good for bluegill, crappie, and largemouth bass.

Lake Marie was stocked recently, but fishing can be good any time. Most anglers use PowerBait or worms to catch trout and yellow perch.

Lake Selmac will be stocked with 1,000 legal-size rainbow this week and has been stocked several times since February, including 3,500 legal-size rainbow the week of May 13. Fishing has been good, with reports of fly-anglers doing well with leeches or streamers and a slow strip. Gear anglers have been finding success as well. 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 was stocked the week of May 13 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 was stocked the week of May 13 with 10,000 legal-size 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 continues to be good as well. The lake is 97 percent full and both ramps are usable.

Medco will be stocked this week with 2,000 legal sized rainbows this week and was 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.

Powers Pond has been stocked with legal-size and trophy rainbow trout. Largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and brown bullhead catfish are available year-round, and should be biting well on these warmer spring days.

On the lower Rogue anglers are catching a few steelhead 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. And with recent rainfall, we may see another push of fish over the next week or so. Spinners, plugs, anchovies, and sardines have all been used successfully. Hatchery Chinook may be retained year-round. Wild Chinook opens for retention June 1.

Hatchery rainbow trout season opened May 22. Five hatchery trout may be retained daily. Wild rainbow and cutthroat trout must be released. Rainbow trout over 16-inches are considered steelhead.

On the middle river fishing for hatchery rainbow trout opened May 22. Fishing has been slow in this section of the river. 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. Spring Chinook continue to be caught in the upper river and this is the very beginning of the run. Winter steelhead and now a few summer steelhead are around and there are enough of them to try your luck for these fish over the weekend. A few salmonflies have hatched in the upper river around Casey Park so expect topwater action for trout and steelhead to ramp up.

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.

As of May 22, a total of six summer steelhead have entered Cole Rivers Hatchery. 103 new winter steelhead were collected last week, bringing the total to 2,787 fish for the season. 391 spring Chinook entered the hatchery last week bringing the total to 542 spring Chinook this season.

The river opened to trout fishing May 22.

The Rogue above Lost Creek Reservoir will be stocked this week and this will occur weekly through the summer. With cold water, you’ll want to swing your lure right in front of fish, so work through a hole a bit more slowly.

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 night crawler or Pautzke eggs, even PowerBait will produce.

The Tenmile Lakes have been stocked with legal-size rainbow trout. Tenmile Lakes provide some nice holdover trout this time of year, and some can measure over 17-inches long. Try trolling slowly with a spinner or spoon, tipped with a worm, to catch these larger trout. The Tenmile Lakes will be stocked with rainbow trout this week, to wrap up the spring stocking for the year.

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 reopened on May 22, 2019. The mainstem is catch-and-release only, but in tributaries 2 per day may be kept as long as they meet the 8-inch minimum length.

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.

Some stretches of the South are closed to fishing still. Please consult the fishing regulations for more info. Trout fishing in the entire basin is catch-and-release only.

Willow Lake was stocked last week with 4,000 legal-sized rainbows and 1,500 pounders and received its first stocking of 4,000 rainbow trout the week of March 18. The boat ramp at Willow Lake is open and the lake is full. Clarity at the lake is improving but it’s not crystal clear yet. Recent reports indicate that some anglers had been finding trout here and there with very little in the way of crowds!

2019 Stocking schedule and Stocking Maps

Webinar Driftboating and bank fishing the Wilson River with Pro Guide Bob Rees January 20th