Bottomfishing should be decent if the ocean lays down.
Bottomfish anglers may now fish at all depths for the remainder of the year. 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 for the remainder of the year.
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, 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.
There is snow in the forecast and that could limit access to some higher elevation lakes. Check ahead for road conditions, and be prepared for sudden changes in the weather.
Lost Creek will be the primary draw for trout anglers in the Rogue watershed now through early spring. Large rainbow have been stocked to complement fish remaining as holdovers from earlier releases. Water levels are lower than usual right now, so trailered boats can only launch at the Takelma boat ramp currently. Surface temperature is 47 degrees.
Last weekend the action was sporadic but anglers were catching fish up to 16-inches long. Red wedding rings fished with a worm behind a dodger or flashers produced fish, as did PowerBait fished deep while trolling.
Some of the trout have external parasites called copepods. Fish parasites generally do not pose a threat to humans when fish are cooked, and copepods can be scraped off prior to cooking. Anglers are encourage to keep fish that have copepods while staying within the daily limit, since release simply allows the parasite to expand to other hosts.
Lakes typically accessible from hiking trails and that were stocked in the last couple years are: Calamut, Connie, Bullpup, Fuller, Cliff, Buckeye, Maidu, Pitt and Skookum lakes. These lakes can be tough to get to in the winter and with the cold temperatures, fishing will likely slow.
Red Top Pond offers excellent bank fishing opportunities and was stocked around Labor Day with large rainbow trout. In addition, there should be plenty of holdover legal-size trout from previous stockings in these waterbodies.
There should be winter steelhead that are starting to poke their way into the Umpqua River and the river should be in good shape. All wild steelhead must be released.
Steelhead fishing will be transitioning to winter steelhead as we enter December on the North Umpqua. Usually winter steelhead are around in high numbers in mid- to late December.
The South reopened after the annual closure to winter steelhead on Dec 1. A few fish should start moving into the river in December, but more should follow as we get closer to January.
Just in time for winter break from school, the little Arizona Pond will be stocked with rainbow trout early next week. Many holdover trophy trout from earlier this year are also still lurking in the deeper water. 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 youth fishing ages 17 and under.
After a significant rainstorm, the lower Rogue received some much needed water. This has encouraged fish to move upriver as well as into the tributaries for spawning.
Anglers may want to consider plunking during these higher water events. As the water drops, anglers should switch to side drifting with eggs or tossing spinners.
Coho salmon are also still moving up river. Anglers have reported catch in the lower sections of the Rogue. Only hatchery coho may be kept as part of an angler’s adult and jack salmon daily bag limit.
For a current view of the Rogue from the Isaac Lee Patterson Bridge in Gold Beach, check out the ODOT’s camera.
Fishing for summer steelhead on the middle continues to be good, but many of these fish will be entering seasonal tributaries to spawn soon. Wild steelhead must be released unharmed. The river remains open for hatchery summer steelhead, and the 2018 runs appears to be very strong. Running plugs from a drift boat continues to be good, but drifting nightcrawlers and even throwing blue fox or mepps spinners have been producing.
Gold Hill to Rogue River, Baker to Lathrop or Ferry Hole, or Griffin Park to Robertson Bridge are all good floats this time of year. Remember, upstream in the Fishers Ferry to Shady Cove reach, anglers can still only fish artificial flies and lures, no bait.
Half-pounders are worth targeting this time of year from Lathrop downstream to Graves Creek. Fishing for these from Hog Creek boat ramp to Graves Creek has been good, however only experienced driftboaters should be floating these floats as you will encounter Galice Chute and Argo Rapid; know where your take outs are if you don’t want to run these rapids. There are many BLM public access points to bank fish for these from Hog Creek to Graves Creek.
The Rogue River is also open for trout fishing. Only hatchery rainbow trout may be retained. All wild rainbow and cutthroat trout must be released.
Fishing is restricted to artificial flies and lures on the upper, between the Shady Cove boat ramp and Fishers Ferry. Bait is allowed between Shady Cove and Cole Rivers Hatchery. There is good public access at McGregor Park, Casey Park, and Rogue Elk where bait is allowed. 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.
Anglers are still picking up coho from the hatchery to Rogue Elk. Try fishing spinners or jigs as slow as possible in the deeper holes. This is probably one of the last weeks to target Coho.
The upper Rogue water levels don’t typically fluctuate dramatically upstream of Elk Creek, but the rain forecasted throughout the week should get fish moving. Water color should also improve.
Above Lost Creek Reservoir anglers will still find trout at most sites for the next several weeks but fishing has slowed with very cold water. Expect snow. The Prospect guage is reading 39 degrees. With cold water, you’ll want to swing your lure right in front of fish.
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, even PowerBait will produce.
From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com
Quite a few lakes in western Lane County will receive their first trout plants for 2019 during the first week in February and 2019’s first trout plants for Coos County will take place in Mingus Pond and Powers Pond during the fourth week in February.
Some cohos are still being caught in Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes and a few of them are not dark. Most of the Tenmile Lake coho run is still in the lagoon where some of them are turning dark. Unless we get a decent amount of rain rather quickly, anglers fishing lower Tenmile Creek for winter steelhead are going to have to deal with a bunch of coho salmon which they cannot keep. A few coho will be caught from these three lakes up till the December 31st season closure by which time virtually all of the cohos will be quite dark.
Small to mid-sized streams along the south coast offer anglers their best chance for late-run fall chinook. These streams normally close to salmon fishing on December 31st and include the Elk River, Floras Creek, Hunter Creek, Pistol River, Sixes River and Winchuck River.
By mid-December most of the streams in our area will have some winter steelhead in them, but Eel Creek, the major tributary of Tenmile Creek does not open for hatchery steelhead until January 1st.
Offshore bottomfishing continues to be very good with almost everybody using standard bottomfishing tactics which allow them to keep lingcod. Rough ocean conditions have limited jetty fishing opportunities, but fishing has been good when conditions allow relatively safe fishing.
Recreational ocean crabbing has been legal since December 1st and fairly productive when conditions allow ocean access. The commercial crab season has been delayed until at least January 1st because of low meat content in crabs tested from both the southern and northern portions of the Oregon coast. Should the meat content in one of these “problem” areas were to improve, it would allow the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission to draw a single line to separate open and closed commercial crabbing waters along the Oregon coast. However the commission will not draw two such lines to delineate open commercial crabbing waters.
Dock crabbing has been fair, at best, but boat crabbers on the Umpqua River below Winchester Bay and in the lower portions of Coos Bay have been making some good catches.
Pete Heley works part-time at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.