From Pete Heley at www.PeteHeley.com
Crabbing has slowed down, but seems to better than normal for this time of year. A dock crabber last Friday caught a red rock crab in addition to a couple of legal-sized male dungeness crabs while crabbing off Winchester Bay’s “A” Dock. Red Rock Crabs, while fairly common inside the “Triangle, are very seldom caught in the lower Umpqua River.
Winter bassfishing at Tenmile Lake is getting more consistent and should show noticeable improvement with stable weather and warming temperatures.
While the lakes that received trout plants this week (Alder, Carter, Cleawox, Dune, Lost, Munsel and Siltcoos Lagoon) should have plenty of trout left in them – some are receiving additional plants this coming week. Munsel Lake is to receive 500 trophy rainbows while Alder lake will receive 566 legals, Cleawox is slated for 1,332 legals and tiny Dune Lake is getting 332 legals.
Before ocean conditions deteriorated at the end of last week, anglers were getting limits of lingcod out of Newport. Rockfish have been harder to find, but those caught offshore, like canary rockfish and yellowtail rockfish, have been large.
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.
River forks in the South Coos and Millicoma basins should be in shape this week, with the cold, snowy weather. Steelhead fishing conditions should hold up until higher elevation snow melts off. Steelhead anglers wanting to fish the South Fork Coos River will need a Dellwood Fishing Access Permit, available from the Weyerhaeuser website.
Snowy weather in the Coquille basin should maintain good steelhead fishing conditions until high elevation snow melts off.
Eel Lake has some holdover trout in excess of 15-inches long. Fishing for trout has been decent in deep water near the boat ramp.
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.
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.
Winter steelhead and hatchery chinook have now spread throughout the Rogue. Anglers may want to consider plunking during higher water events. As the water drops, anglers typically switch to side drifting with eggs or tossing spinners.
The Rogue is open for hatchery rainbow trout through March 31; 5/day. Wild rainbow and cutthroat trout must be released.
On the middle river, in the coming weeks, anglers will likely be encountering down runner summer steelhead or kelts, and should limit their handling of these fish by not removing them from the water, if possible. Reports of winter steelhead being caught in the Galice area continue to roll in. Some fish are showing in Grants Pass. Winter steelhead doesn’t really heat up in the Rogue until later in February. The river is holding steady around 1900 cfs and should rise a bit this weekend with measurable precipitation in the forecast for Friday through the weekend.
One wild steelhead per day and 3 per year may be retained below Hog Creek boat ramp if they are at least 24-inches long. Beginning Feb. 1 through April 30, the rest of the Rogue River to Cole Rivers Hatchery will open to retention of wild steelhead at least 24-inches long as part of the daily or annual salmon/steelhead bag limit of 1 wild steelhead per day and 3 per year SW zonewide. Consult the 2019 sport fishing regulations for further information and clarification.
Running plugs from a drift boat is not a bad option. Drifting night crawlers, roe, or yarn balls are always a good call. A diversity of bait will always help your chances when steelhead fishing.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
There have been some really good reports throughout the main Umpqua River. 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.
The peak for the North is in later February and March. Steelhead fishing should be good and recent reports have anglers catching a good number.
There some good reports throughout the South. The river is forecasted to drop back into shape and there should be lots of fish in the river.