SW Oregon Fishing Report February 15th, 2019

From Pete Heley at www.PeteHeley.com

The first Columbia River spring chinook was caught near Portland on the lower Willamette River on January 29th by Dave Frey. He was fishing by himself with a red prawn for bait. The springer was a finclipped hatchery fish of 16 pounds.

While Oregon’s first springer each year usually is caught in the Columbia or lower Willamette rivers the first springers taken each year on the southern Oregon coast are typically caught from either the Rogue or Umpqua rivers during the last week in February or the first week in March.

Crabbers wanting to use the crab dock just upriver from the Siuslaw River’s South Jetty, need to be aware that the road is closed for repairs near Beach 5 Day Use Area – which is about a half-mile before the crabbing dock.

Crabbing is definitely slowing down at Charleston and Winchester Bay, but is still somewhat more productive than it is at this time in most years.

There were no scheduled trout plants for this upcoming week for our area. Legal rainbows were stocked this week in Alder (566); Cleawox (1,332) and Dune (332). Munsel is the only Florence area stocked this week with larger rainbows and received 500 15-inch trophy rainbows.

Cold air and the resulting lower water temperatures will probably dampen the trout bite for the next few weeks, but with the number of trout planted so far in February in the Florence area (more than 10,000), when the water begins warming up, the bite should be very, very good.

The stocking of the Coos County lakes will begin during the last week in February with Bradley Lake (3,000 legals); Saunders Lake (3,000 legals) and Mingus Park Pond (2,000 legals).

Anglers fishing Eel Lake this winter have been catching fair numbers of small coho salmon that chose to remain in Eel Lake rather than swim down the Eel Creek outlet on their way to the ocean. Extremely low water in Eel Creek probably had a lot to do with them staying in the lake. These fish have been running eight to 14-inches in length and many anglers have been keeping them. When I asked Mike Gray, an ODFW biologist stationed in Charleston (who seems to have memorized the fishing regulation booklet) about these fish, he quickly pointed out to me that these fish were not legal to keep – for a couple of reasons.

(1) – They were not finclipped and Eel Lake was not mentioned under exceptions to the southwest zone and
(2) – They didn’t measure 15 or more inches in length, and once again, were not mentioned under zone exceptions.

Young coho planted in Cooper Creek and Galesville reservoirs are legal to keep and are to be considered part of the five trout daily bag limit – and both these waters are included in the exceptions section for the southwest zone.

I found it very interesting that Bill Taylor, a S.T.E.P. volunteer living in Winchester Bay, had a scale sample analyzed from a 13.5-inch Eel Lake coho by an ODFW biologist this winter and that fish was found to have spent some time in saltwater. Perhaps that 13-inch coho I caught on a plastic worm a decade ago during early August on Tenmile Creek near where Eel Creek enters – wasn’t as unusual as I though it was.

Northern California’s Clear Lake recently held a crappie tournament that was wildly successful. Entrants were allowed to weigh in a maximum of ten crappies – all of which had to measure at least 12-inches in length. The tournament had a full field of 50 boats and the tournament winner weighed in ten crappie weighing 21.42 pounds – or slightly more than two pounds and two ounces per fish. A very impressive average since the heaviest crappie caught during the tournament only weighed 2.68 pounds.

Local anglers should pay special attention to Saturday, February 23rd as two special events will occur then.

The “Flyfishing Expo” will be held at the Reedsport Community Center at 451 Winchester Avenue in Reedsport from 9 am until 3 pm.
This is one of the more ambitious events put on by a single flyfishing club every year. The event will run from 9:00 am through 3:00 pm and will feature FREE door prizes and raffle drawings. Meals and snacks will be available and some of the booths will feature fly tying; fly casting; informational and equipment displays. There are plenty of varied flyfishing-related things to experience and best of all – it’s absolutely FREE!

The other big thing that day will Tenmile Lake’s annual “Frostbite Open” which is one of the northwest’s largest and most popular bass tournaments. This tournament usually fields the maximum 75 boats and the winning weight for a five bass limit usually tops 20 pounds. Recent cold weather and the resulting low water temperatures could severely test the anglers participating in this year’s tournament. However, the anglers have passed similar tests during the tournament in previous years.

People wanting to check out both events should check the Flyfishing Expo first and then check out the Frostbite Open weigh-in which usually occurs around 3 pm at the boat ramp in the Osprey Point RV Park in Lakeside.

Oregon recently lost one of its most accomplished outdoor writers with the passing of Dwight Schuh at age 73 after an eight-year battle with cancer.

From ODF&W

THIS WEEKEND IS FREE FISHIGING WEEKEND IN OREGON. During the President’s Day Weekend, Feb 16-17, you do not need a license to fish clam or crab in Oregon.

Bottomfish trips out of Newport last week were limited by unfavorable weather conditions, however, anglers reported rockfish catches had improved slightly and that lingcod fishing was still good.

The bottomfish fishery is open at all depths with a General Marine Species bag limit of 5 fish, and a separate lingcod limit of 2 fish. No cabezon may be retained until July 1. The longleader gear fishery outside of the 40-fathom regulatory line is open all year. Catches often consist of a nice grade of yellowtail, widow and canary rockfishes.

When the ocean swells are small, late winter/early spring can typically be good for surfperch fishing on Coos County beaches.

Lake Selmac is scheduled to receive 5,000 legal rainbow trout this week, just in time for Free Fishing Weekend Feb.16-17). Selmac is one of the first waterbodies in the Rogue District to receive a stocking for the year. Visibility at Selmac can be dramatically influenced by precipitation. It can take a week or more to clear. When visibility is good, reports have been good with fly anglers fishing leeches or streamers and a slow strip. Gear fisherman should expect good success as visibility improves. The first trout plant of the year is scheduled for the second week of February. Aquatic vegetation at Lake Selmac has died off quite a bit. With limited options for low elevation lakes this time of year, Lake Selmac may be worth an exploratory trip.

The pond at Reinhardt Community Volunteer Park in Grants Pass is scheduled to receive one of the first trout plants in the Upper Rogue District this week. These 300 fish should be a nice addition to this weekends free fishing days (February 16 and 17). This is a great place for a family to explore with very easy access for everyone. A relatively simple set up which includes either a nightcrawler fished below a bobber, or floating power bait fished off the bottom are all you need to catch a trout here. If you choose to use power bait below a bobber, make sure to add some split shot to your line below the bobber to keep the power bait from floating on the surface. Non-toxic split shot often made of tin are very good options for youth fishing.

Bait is again allowed throughout the entire Rogue basin. 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. Waterfowl season is now done, so boat traffic will now just be anglers.

The upper Rogue water levels don’t typically fluctuate dramatically upstream of Elk Creek. So while the rest of the river is falling into shape after a storm, this is a great section of river to explore. Try fishing roe, night crawlers, spinners or jigs under bobbers.

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 Feb. 5, 3,283 summer steelhead had entered Cole Rivers Hatchery, with 59 new fish for the week. Only 3 new winter steelhead were collected for the week, bringing the total to 236 fish for the season; still a great start.

Steelhead season is open from the Sixes River mouth to Edson Creek through Dec. 31. Recent rainfall encouraged fish to move into the river system. Anglers can target steelhead up to the South Fork of the Sixes River.

There have been some really good reports throughout the Umpqua main. The current forecast has the river coming into shape by the weekend. All wild steelhead must be released in the Umpqua so please follow good catch-and-release techniques.

Steelhead fishing should be good and recent reports have anglers catching a good number on the North Umpqua. The peak for the North is in later February and March.

And the South Umpqua River is expected to rise and might not be fishable for the weekend.

Heavy rainfall this week will have most river forks in the South Coos and Millicoma basins high and muddy this week. Steelhead fishing conditions may be marginal until rivers drop and begin clearing. Rain is in the forecast through the weekend but getting lighter early next week. Steelhead anglers wanting to fish the South Fork Coos River will need a Dellwood Fishing Access Permit, available from the Weyerhaeuser website.

Heavy rainfall this week will have most river forks in the Coquille basin high and muddy this week. Steelhead fishing conditions may be marginal until rivers drop and begin clearing. Rain is in the forecast through the weekend, but getting lighter early next week.

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 44 degrees.

Recent reports indicate anglers have found success on red wedding rings fished with a worm behind a dodger or flashers have produced fish, as have PowerBait fished deep while trolling.

Lake Marie has been stocked several times in 2018. Most anglers use PowerBait or worms to catch trout and yellow perch. The local STEP hatchery released clipped rainbow trout into Lake Marie in the spring of 2017 and 2018. Please e-mail Greg.F.Huchko@state.or.us if you catch an adipose fin-clipped fish. This information will help inform ODFW and the local STEP group on the possibility of continuing the project.

Trout can be caught year-round at Tenmile Lakes, but fish may not be too aggressive in cold water. Some holdover trout measure over 17-inches long. Look for fishing on holdover trout to improve in the next few months.

Fishing for largemouth bass and other warmwater species will slow down in cold weather. Presentations will need to be slow, as fish may be lethargic.

Yellow perch fishing should also pick up in the next few months, with some 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.