SW Oregon Fishing Report December 7th, 2018

From ODF&W

Lingcod and other bottomfishing in the ocean was going well, but with winter weather on its way crossing the bar may be difficult.

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. Find information about a longleader setup here.

Salmon fishing from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain closed Oct. 31. The Elk River Fall Chinook State Waters Terminal Season continues through Nov. 30.

Ice fishing safety

With several water bodies beginning to ice over, anglers need to be cautious during first-ice conditions. Take the following precautions: use the “buddy system,” wear a PFD in case of thin ice, carry a throw-rope, and use a heavy metal staff to check for thin-ice. The Minnesota DNR has developed guidelines for ice thickness and other safety tips.

Winter steelhead season is coming, and it’s not too soon to check your gear and be monitoring water levels.

Chetco River – Chinook salmon and steelhead season is open from the river mouth to Nook Creek through Dec. 31. The Southwest zone recently received significant rain and flows are back on track for the year. As of Nov. 27, the temporary strike indicator/bobber rule has been lifted. lease see the Southwest zone special regulations and exceptions for current regulations. A visual and status update on the river bar crossing can be found here at the NOAA bar camera webpage.

Anglers are encouraged to drop hatchery fish snouts in the kiosk at the Port of Brookings cleaning station (instructions on how to remove and package snouts are available at the kiosk). Please see the southwest zone regulation exceptions in the regulations book for more details.

Elk River – Chinook salmon and steelhead season is open from the river mouth to Bald Mountain Creek through Dec. 31. With recent rainfall, fish have really begun moving into the river system. Water levels are now high enough for anglers to consider floating in addition to bank fishing. Anglers please see the southwest zone regulation exceptions in the ODFW Sport Fishing Regulations book for more details. Please note: there is a wild Chinook aggregate bag limit rule for Floras/New, Sixes, and Elk Rivers.

To check river current conditions, call 541-332-0405.

Fish Lake – Expect snow at Fish Lake for the weekend. Water levels have been rising and resort ramp is now usable for small boats, but anglers should call ahead to check on conditions and open hours at the resort. The USFS ramp offers a launching point for small boats, individual watercraft and inflatables, however, be advised of stumps.

Anglers have reported good success near the resort casting Kastmasters toward shore. Good-size rainbow have been caught in recent weeks.

Tiger trout, Chinook salmon, brook trout, and larger rainbow trout are available. Larger tiger trout can be targeted by casting lures or streamer flies around structure, but 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 has been stocked several times this year and should have lots of trout from previous stockings. In addition to trout, the reservoir was stocked with coho smolts until 2015. The reservoir is very low and fish should be kegged up.

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 should be decent. Good areas are near dead snags and the boat ramp.

Garrison Lake was stocked for the last time this year with a little over 800 trout the week of Oct. 29. Anglers slow trolling spinners, flies, or wedding ring spinners tipped with a worm all did well. Five trout per day/2 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. Bass have been hanging around riprap areas in shallower portions of the lake. The lake can be very windy. Anglers will want to check the weather before heading out.

Fishing for fall trout in Hemlock and Lake in the Woods can be great. Spinners or “plunking” with worms and/or PowerBait can be effective methods for fishing these lakes. Some anglers are having success with flies.

Anglers fishing the high lakes in the Umpqua District are encouraged to e-mail fishing reports. Contact the Forest Service at 541-496-3532 for road conditions and potential road closures. Remember to only keep trout at least 8-inches long, and only one trout over 20-inches per day.

Laird Lake is a little body of water nestled in the Elk River watershed was stocked earlier this season with 400 legal-size and 25 trophy-size trout. Anglers may keep 5 trout per day. There is an 8-inch minimum size and only one trout over 20-inches may be taken daily.

Lemolo Reservoir – Kokanee and brown trout fishing should improve as they move into the shallower arms of the reservoir to get ready for spawning. 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 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 50 degrees but should continue dropping over weekend.

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.

After a significant rainstorm, the 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. There was an exceptional number of half-pounders and steelhead running up river all fall. This push of fish offers an oddly timed fishing opportunity on the Rogue.

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.

Middle Rogue – Fishing for summer steelhead should be good. The river remains open for hatchery summer steelhead, and the 2018 runs appears to be very strong. With recent rains and the river expected to rise, fish will be pushed to banks. Running plugs from a drift boat may be best best options or drifting nightcrawlers. With the Rogue slowly rising, fish should be on the move. Wild steelhead must be released unharmed. Fishing for summer steelhead below 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.. . 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, in the Fishers Ferry to Shady Cove reach, anglers can still only fish artificial flys and lures, no bait.

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. There are half-pounder steelhead present from near Robertson bridge downstream throughout the Rogue Canyon. This area will likely be pretty dead for adult summer steelhead, so anglers will be waiting for winter steelhead to begin showing in December. There are many BLM public access points to fish for these from Hog Creek to Graves Creek.

Upper River – Fishing is restricted to artificial flies and lures 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.

Excess hatchery steelhead (162 fish) were recycled downstream to Touvelle last week.

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.

As of Nov. 14, 1,876 summer steelhead had entered Cole Rivers Hatchery, with only 24 new for the week. If past years are any indication, around half of the run has yet to enter the hatchery. 127 additional Coho entered for the week, bringing the total to 194 for the year. Anglers should be aware of their identification. Only hatchery coho may be retained, so when in doubt, release the fish. Find updated fish counts at Cole Rivers Hatchery here.

Above Lost Creek – Anglers will still find trout at most sites for the next several weeks but fishing has slowed with very cold water. The Prospect guage is reading 39 degrees.

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.

Sixes River – Chinook salmon and Steelhead season is open from the river mouth to Edson Creek through Dec. 31. With current rainfall and more in the forecast, fish will begin to move upriver. Anglers can target steelhead up to the South Fork of the Sixes River. Please see the southwest zone regulation exceptions in the ODFW Sport Fishing Regulations book for more details. Please note: there is an aggregate bag limit rule for Floras/New, Sixes, and Elk Rivers for wild Chinook.

Steelhead should start entering Tenmile Creek in mid to late December.

Trout fishing is starting to pick up again on Tenmile Lakes. Trout anglers are catching rainbow trout and cutthroat trout, some measuring nearly 20-inches long.

The wild coho fishery opened in Tenmile Lakes on Oct. 1 and will run through Dec. 31. Salmon anglers may harvest 1 wild coho per day with up to 5 wild coho for the year in aggregate with Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes. A few wild coho were caught in the lake earlier in November but has been slow since. Fishing should improve when we get more rain.

Fishing for largemouth bass has been good. Bass are hitting plastics and jigs fished in deeper water.

Yellow perch fishing is very good this fall with lots of fish in the 9- to 12-inch range. Look for yellow perch in the deeper mudflats in the lake. Anglers are using small jigs or a worm on a hook fished near the bottom.

2018 STOCKING SCHEDULE and STOCKING MAP

From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com

The 2019 regulation booklets are now out for both hunting and fishing and the good news is that the rumors of no fee increases were absolutely true and 2019 licenses and tags can now be purchased – in several different ways.

(1) – You can purchase your licenses and tags the way you always have from your usual ODFW license retailer, ODFW regional office or print at home (after visiting the ODFW website) -which will provde you with hard copies of the items purchased. (2) – You can purchase digital licenses, tags, endorsements or validations that can be displayed on your smart phones. The ODFW website (myodfw.com) can offer assistance with this type of purchase.

If opting for the smart phone option, keep in mind to keep your phone fully charged – as the purchased documents must be immediately available upon request.

Different law enforcement officials may have different ideas of “immediately available” and last spring an angler fishing for shad at Yellow Creek was ticketed for keeping his fishing license in his car – less than 100 yards from where he was fishing.

There were very few changes in the 2019 fishing regulations, but the one that jumped out at me was the removal of numbers and size limits on striped bass. The stated reason was to simplify Oregon’s angling regulations, but what it tells me is that fish species that have been in Oregon for only 130 years – are just not very important.

Since I had not heard anything about the tiger muskies and tiger trout that had been stocked for several years in eastern Oregon’s Phillips Reservoir, I decided to call Tim Bailey, the District Biologist for the ODFW office in La Grande. Tim informed me that both programs were pretty much failures and in the process of being discontinued or had already been terminated.

When I suggested that perhaps the ODFW’s efforts were somewhat “half-hearted”, since several other states were enjoying major success with both fish species, Tim quickly assured me that lack of effort was definitely not the case. Over a five year period the ODFW had planted about 50,000 tiger muskies into Phillips Reservoir – a body of water of about 2,200 surface acres when full – and had very few of them caught by anglers. Most of the early muskie plants were of five-inch fish. The later plants were of ten-inch fish, but both fish sizes suffered extreme mortality – most likely from fish-eating birds like mergansers and cormorants and with the ten-inch planted muskies, ospreys.

The average size of the tiger muskies stocked by Washington state in their very successful tiger muskie program is 12-inches. The Washington tiger muskie program is basically a catch and release fishery since the minimum size for retention is 50-inches. Even the first tiger muskie exceeding 50-inches that was landed, although legal to keep, was promptly released. Both that muskie and the current state record of 37.88 pounds were pulled from Curlew Lake in eastern Washington.

According to Wikipedia, much better survival rates for larger stocked tiger muskies translates into the larger planted muskies being more cost-effective. Western states that have tiger muskie stocking programs include: Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

As for Phillip’s Reservoir’s tiger trout – the reservoir simply was not suitable habitat for them. More suitable are Diamond Lake and Fish Lake (Medford area), which currently have catch and release fisheries for tiger trout with a few of the hybrids exceeding 18-inches in length.

We’ve had enough rain to get coho salmon into the three coastal lakes that allow fishing for them. Recently, Siltcoos Lake has been providing the best salmon fishing. Tahkenitch Lake got some fresh salmon after a very slow three weeks and Tenmile Lake finally received fishable numbers of coho salmon. The Bite’s On Tackleshop in Empire reported that one of their customers trolling South Tenmile Lake last week, hooked and landed a 25 pound chinook salmon.

A good salmon fishing strategy is to fish near where tributary streams enter all three of these lakes as it is late enough in the season for the salmon to actually enter these spawning tributaries should we get more rain. However, the actual tributaries are closed to fishing during salmon season.

Tenmile has also been giving up fair numbers of decent-sized yellow perch and some of the more serious bass fishermen have been having fair, if inconsistent success, on largemouth bass.

South coast streams such as the Elk and Sixes rivers both have good numbers of chinook salmon in them and anglers familiar with these rivers adjust their fishing plans almost daily as the Elk River tends to clear more quickly than does the Sixes.

Recreational ocean crabbing is now legal and while crabbing in Oregon’s bays and the lower portions of Oregon’s coastal rivers is definitely slowing down, some decent catches are still being made. Winchester Bay’s South Jetty has been offering fair fishing for striped surfperch, greenling, rockfish with some lingcod when it has been calm enough to actually fish it.

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.