Central & South Coast Reports – As our regular contributor Robert Campbell advised above, this is a good weekend to head for the NW Sportsman’s Show with rain and wind preventing offshore outings for the next several days. Weather fronts are destined to mess with angler’s steelheading plans, too, as southwest rivers will swell over the next couple of days.
Heavy rainfall over the next several days will hinder crabbing efforts in coastal estuaries as fresh water drops the salinity levels. This is too bad as bay crabbing has generally been a better bet than ocean crabbing out of southwest ports for most this season.
As mentioned in an earlier issue of TGF, while the ocean rockfish limit will remain seven in 2015, only three may be blue rockfish which are tough to tell from black rockfish. We like the smallmouth/largemouth bass comparison in that the mouth (maxillary) on a black rockfish extends to the rear of the eye socket (as with largemouth bass) while it does not extend to that point on a blue rockfish (or a smallie). The folks at the Curry Coastal Pilot newspaper out of Brookings produced this graphic to show other distinctions between the two: http://www.myoutdoorbuddy.com/fishing_report.php?fishing=10038
Surf perch fishing has been quite good, particularly for this time of year. Beaches at Bandon and Coos Bay have been productive although with storms over the weekend, it will be Wednesday next week before the ocean lays down sufficiently for this activity.
One recreational boats out of Newport have been took multiple Chinook offshore on herring in 400 feet of water while targeting bottom fish. An angler on another boat hooked one on a shrimp fly.
Halibut season off the central Oregon coast for 2015 will be shaped during a 7 PM meeting on February 11th at the ODFW Marine Resources Program office located at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. The fisheries to be set are spring all-depth fixed and back up dates. Interested parties who can’t make that meeting in person can join by online webinar, information about while will be posted at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/finfish/halibut/index.asp or via the online survey at https://oregondas.allegiancetech.com/cgi-bin/qwebcorporate.dll?idx=KUGRVD
Many steelheaders are just going through the motions at the Siletz although boat anglers are taking a few. One pair had four on and landed two over the past weekend.
While there’s a little controversy amongst anglers as to whether the Siuslaw receives any spring Chinook at all, the point has become moot as the 2015 regulations indicate the river opens to Chinook fishing on August 1 this year.
Umpqua mainstem flows will be on the rise this weekend with the water forecast to crest at 60,000 cfs overnight Saturday, February 7th. Fishing had been good for winter steelhead earlier this week despite low, clear, cold water and will once again be decent when conditions allow. The South Umpqua is a best bet for hatchery winters as there should be a good population of them once the river drops and clears.
Water level on the lower Rogue will rise above the ‘Action Level’ of 16 feet at Agness on Saturday, February 7th, but is forecast to fall short of ‘Flood Level’ which would be 17 feet. The flow is predicted to hit nearly 50,000 cfs at that time. As recently as Wednesday this week, it was running extremely low and clear for this time of year. Of course, this freshet is well-timed as fresh winter steelhead and possibly (though not probably) the first of this year’s Rogue springers. The middle Rogue was fishing best of any stretch earlier this week but as with the lower river, the Rogue won’t fish until later in the coming week. Upper Rogue steelheaders were hooking up with winters occasionally but after the water clears following heavy precipitation this week, there will be an improvement;
High water stalled fishing efforts on the Chetco River a couple of days ago and just as it’s settling down, another front is due to cause a genuine blowout – to the tune of a predicted flow greater than 30,000 cfs at Brookings. The river is forecast to crest on Saturday, February 7th, and is unlikely to be fishable by any means prior to the middle of the coming week. Prior to the freshet earlier this week, low, clear water challenged steelheaders but fish were caught daily regardless. Count on the Chetco kicking out winters the moment if drops and clears a little, with plunkers scoring initially. When the river comes back into shape, side-drifting roe has been a consistent producer although plug-pullers are also taking their share. Expect the Chetco to produce winter steelhead through March, giving anglers plenty of opportunities when the river will be in fine shape.
Rain on Tuesday this week bright water levels up at the Elk and Sixes but also caused some murky conditions. Just as these rivers were dropping and clearing, high winds hampered steelheading efforts. When the forces of nature have cooperated, fishing for winters has been fair to good here.
It may be time for ice-fishers with their eyes on Diamond Lake to hang up their jigging rods for the 2015 season. The lake’s surface never did fully freeze and now there’s evidence that ice-out is occurring early this year. With almost no pressure over the winter months, there may be more large trout available as the surface thaws.