From Pete Heley at www.PeteHeley.com
Winter steelhead are in all of our local streams and fishing success depends on stream conditions in most cases.
Two streams that never seem to muddy up are Eel Creek and Tenmile Creek. Eel Creek is extremely “snaggy” and difficult to fish, while Tenmile Creek is the exact opposite and relatively easy to fish and Tenmile Creek has been hot for the last few weeks with fish to 18 pounds taken.
Almost all the finclipped, keepable steelhead that ascend Tenmile Creek only do so as far as Eel Creek and then swim up Eel Creek as far as the STEP fishtrap just below Eel Lake. Some of Eel Creek’s steelhead actually spawn in the stream before reaching the fishtrap and some of the preferred spawning sites are inside the several culverts on the stream.
But right now, possibly the easiest place to actually land an Eel Creek steelhead would be to fish Butterfield or Saunders lakes, both of which received a healthy dose of Eel Creek steelhead last week via STEP volunteers at the Eel Creek fishtrap. Both lakes also contain largemouth bass, yellow perch, crappies and bluegills and Butterfield Lake even has a very few warmouth sunfish.
The heaviest steelhead reported recently was a 22 pound finclipped buck fron the South Fork Coquille River.
A final reminder about the annual “Lower Umpqua Flycasters Flyfishing Expo” this coming Saturday from 9 am until 3 pm. The location is the Community Center in Reedsport located at 451 Winchester Avenue. Despite the “free price tag” this is not a “rinky dink” show as it features flytying and flycasting demonstrations as well as informational displays by various stream and fish enhancement groups. Food concessions will be present so there is no reason not to make a “half-day” of it and really check it out.
After checking out the Flyfishing Expo, a short drive to Lakeside will give you a chance to watch the weigh-in for the “Frostbite Open”, one of the most highly regarded bass tournaments in the Pacific Northwest.
Despite the often frigid temperatures, the participating anglers have frequently surprised the viewing public with the numbers and sizes of the bass they catch. However, the recent really cold temperatures should provide an especially tough test.
The next couple of weeks should offer the season’s best chance to catch a humungous egg-laden Columbia River Walleye. While most of the early season lunkers are caught below The Dalles, John Day or McNary dams, an angler that could consistently find early season walleye below Bonneville Dam or in the Portland area could become a legend. While big walleyes are caught in these areas, it never seems to happen before June.
While crabbing has definitely slowed down, Winchester Bay’s South Jetty was fishing really good for lingcod just before the Umpqua River muddied up. Expect the good fishing to resume once the lower river clears slightly.
Winter steelhead season is in full swing on the lower Rogue. Anglers have had success from the shore and from boats. From side-drifting or back-bouncing roe to plugs and spinners, multiple fishing techniques will do the trick when it comes to this river. Anglers may want to consider plunking with plugs or a Spin-n-Glow during higher water events. As the water drops, anglers typically switch to side drifting with eggs or tossing spinners. One wild steelhead at least 24” may be harvested per day and three per year as part of a daily and annual salmon/steelhead bag limit.
Now (February 1) through April 30, the entire Rogue from the mouth to Cole Rivers Fish Hatchery is open to steelhead fishing with a limited harvest opportunity of 1 wild steelhead per day and 3 per year SW zonewide. In the Rogue, wild steelhead must be at least 24 inches in length in order to be retained. Consult the 2019 sport fishing regulations for further information and clarification. Good reports of hatchery fish being caught in the Galice and Robertson Bridge area continue to be reported.
Popular methods for winter steelhead fishing include Running plugs from a drift boat, Drifting night crawlers, roe, or yarn balls, or plunking large gravel bars by running spin and glows or side-planning setups with plugs. are always a good call. A diversity of bait including different colored roewill always help your chances when steelhead fishing. Higher water can often be a good thing for bank anglers and plug fishermen as the river will actually “get smaller.” Meaning that fish will be navigating closer to shore and in a narrower migration path. Try targeting 1.5-4 feet of water in these circumstances.
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 downstream every cast or two.
As we progress into later February, popular floats include: Gold Hill to Rogue River, Baker to Lathrop or Ferry Hole, or Griffin Park to Robertson Bridge.
Half-pounders are worth targeting throughout the winter. Target these fish from Galice to Grave Creek by boat, or for the hardy angler willing to hike into the Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue. Anglers report great half-pounder fishing downstream of Rainie Falls. Remember, only 5 hatchery rainbow trout may be retained per day. All wild rainbow trout and cuttroat trout must be released throughout the river.
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”. Boats should not attempt to float through Hellgate Canyon during high water. Drifting roe or night crawlers are very effective.
Further upstream, Griffin Park and Robertson Bridge are good places to plunk or use a side-planer setup with plugs or Spin-N-Glos for bank anglers.
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.
On the Sixes River steelhead season is in full swing! Open from the river mouth to Edson Creek through Dec. 31, anglers are allowed to retain one wild steelhead per day and three per year in the Southwest Zone.. Anglers can target steelhead up to the South Fork of the Sixes River.
On the Chetco, popular from the shore or drift boat, this river has a lot to offer. Many choose side drifting or back bouncing any combination of roe/yarn/puff-balls/corky from a boat. On shore, fly fishing or plunking are the fishing styles of choice for many. Depending on water flow and clarity, try experimenting with Spin-n-Glos, Hot-Shots and Kwikfish. With good fishing and beautiful scenery, you’re sure to have a memorable fishing experience. As we have seen several pushes of fish on the tributary spawning grounds, anglers may soon start to see spawned out steelhead in their catch. Wild steelhead may be harvested 1/day and 3/year in the southwest zone as part of a daily or annual salmon/steelhead bag limit.
Steelhead are in thick right now on the Elk River. By bank and boat, anglers have been reporting their successful fishing trips. From the river mouth to Bald Mountain Creek, the Elk is open for steelhead and Chinook fishing through March 31. Wild steelhead may be harvested 1/day and 3/year as part of a daily or annual salmon/steelhead bag limit.
The main Umpqua River will likely be running a little high for the weekend. However, it can be good plunking weather and folks do pretty well. Most anglers use a pink colored Spin-n-Glo and maybe some eggs. All wild steelhead must be released in the Umpqua so please follow good catch-and-release techniques.
Winter steelhead are running in Tenmile Creek and Eel Creek. The run tends to be a month later than other Coos County rivers, so hatchery fish may be available through March and into April. Closed to trout fishing until May 22, 2019.
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.
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.