SW Oregon Fishing Report for April 12th, 2019

From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com

The Charleston ODFW office showed me how to access the trout stocking schedule. I had been going to the home page, selecting “FISH DIVISION and then selecting “FISHING RESOURCES” and then clicking on the “TROUT STOCKING” ICON. This method no longer redirects you to the trout stocking schedule.

After a chat with the Charleston ODFW office, I now select “FISHING” at the top of the ODFW home page and then scroll down to “STOCKING SCHEDULE”.

A special thanks to the Charleston ODFW for the easier access – especially since the ODFW stocked the heck out of western Oregon waters last week.

Waters being planted include: Upper and Lower Empire lakes with 1,000 trophies each; Johnson Mill Pond (3,000 legals); Powers Pond (3,000 legals); Bradley Lake (3,000 legals) Saunders Lake (3,000 legals) and Butterfield Lake (3,000 legals). Eel Lake received 2,500 legals.
Farther south, Garrison Lake received 200 trophies and in the Roseburg area, Cooper Creek (1,500 legals) and Plat “I” (1,000 legals) were stocked. Upper and Lower Empire lakes were stocked last week. Lake Marie at Winchester Bay received 1,000 legal trout last week.

The ODFW stocking schedule seems to be alternating between Lower Empire Lake and Upper Empire Lake receiving 250 trophy trout this week.. The last time this happened, both lakes received trout. Also slated to be stocked this week are Garrison Lake with 450 trophy trout and Cleawox Lake with 1,475 trophy trout.

Many streams along the Oregon coast closed to the retention of hatchery steelhead on April 1st. Some streams such as Coos River, the Millicomas, the South Fork of the Coquille River, the Umpqua River and Tenmile Creek remain open all year for hatchery steelhead. Other streams such as the Siuslaw and North Fork Siuslaw, the East, Middle and North forks of the Coquille and Eel Creek are open for hatchery steelhead through April. Keep your regulations booklet handy.

Spring chinook are finally being landed on the Umpqua River with most of the catch occurring between the Scottsburg Bridge and Elkton – although there should be springers all the way to Roseburg at this point in the season. It’s a pretty sure bet that it isn’t going to be a good season, “springerwise”.

Although there hasn’t been much talk or bragging, the number of anglers starting to fish for striped bass in the upper reaches of tidewater on the Smith River says plenty. Subject to water clarity, the Coquille River near Arago (Myrtle Point) should also start producing stripers.

Lingcod fishing off Winchester Bay’s South Jetty was very good before the Umpqua River muddied up. By the time the river clears up almost all the lings that moved in to spawn will have finished guarding their nests and moved to deeper water – leaving only resident lingcod to fish for. Anglers fishing during high tide or or in the ocean on the south side of the Triangle will find somewhat cleaner water. Offshore spots will be relatively unaffected and they will remain open through April this year.

The latest issue of the Columbia Basin Bulletin quoted research that stated that there will be a surge in invasive species over the next 30 years due the expected increase in marine shipping.

By the time that warmer, more stable weather finally arrives some bass and crappie should be entering their immediate pre-spawn mode and should react quickly by moving to shallow water and becoming more aggressive.

By the time the Umpqua River clears up, some smallmouth bass should actually be on their nests with the rest at the imminent pre-spawn stage. Loon Lake should be a couple of weeks ahead of the coastal lakes when it comes to the bass spawn, but the upper end of the lake is at least two weeks ahead of the bottom end of the lake.

From ODF&W

Anglers are picking up redtail surfperch on the beaches near Coos Bay and Bandon, when surf conditions have allowed.

Bottomfishing has been good when the ocean lays down and anglers have been able to make it out.

Bottomfish anglers may now fish at all depths until May 1. 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 until July 2019.

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, blue, deacon, 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.

Ocean salmon fishing is open for Chinook salmon from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt from March 15 through April 30. Chinook must be a minimum of 24 inches in length. The ocean is close to coho salmon.

The Coos River basin rivers have been running high and muddy because of the High and out-of-shape after recent extreme rains. Most of the steelhead are dark and spawned out, but there are still reports of brighter steelhead around. Steelhead season is open in the Coos Basin above tidewater until April 30.

Conditions for crabbing and rockfish and lingcod angling in Coos Bay should be improving as the mud and heavy freshwater runoff subsides from recent storms. Using a jig with a twister tail has been a great bait for catching rockfish. Anglers have been catching lingcod with a herring floated under a bobber.

Trout fishing in streams and rivers will open May 22, 2019, while lakes in the basin are open year-round.

The Coquille River basin rivers are high, off-color, and some are flooding after recent extreme rains. Most of the steelhead are dark and spawned out but there are still reports of bright steelhead around. Steelhead season is open until April 30 in many Coquille forks.

Trout fishing in streams and rivers will open May 22, 2019, while lakes in the basin are open year-round.

The ice at Diamond is likely becoming unsafe. Follow ice fishing safety tips and proceed at your own risk. The ice may start breaking up any day now.

Eel Lake has been stocked with legal-size rainbow. In addition, the lake usually provides some holdover trout in excess of 15-inches long. The fishing dock is a great place for kids to fish. A small crappie jig tipped with a piece of worm, and rigged about two feet under a bobber will entice bluegill and crappie to bite.

Fishing for warmwater species should pick up as spring progresses and water temperatures warm.

Approximately 13 miles north of North Bend off Hwy 101, located in Tugman State Park.

Emigrant Reservoir received its first stocking of 1,000 legal trout for the year the week of March 18 and will be stocked again the week of April 8. In addition to trout, crappie and bass are available but water clarity is not good at this time. Warmwater anglers should concentrate on the submerged willows.

The boat ramp nearest to Emigrant Lakes at The Point RV Park is open. Any size fishing boat should be able to launch now. All other boat ramps are closed or very inaccessible, but the reservoir is continuing to fill. The Point RV Park is open year-round. The Oak Slope Tent Campground is scheduled to open March 15, 2019.

Empire Lakes were stocked the week of March 18 with trophy trout, and they are scheduled to receive “pounder” rainbows in early April. These lakes will be stocked several times in spring 2019 with larger trout to minimize bird predation.

Warmwater species are present year-round, but may be lethargic in colder weather. Try fishing bait near the bottom, or very slow presentation of lures.

Garrison Lake was stocked several times in March. Due to inclement weather and flooding, stocking for April has been slightly postponed. Anglers slow trolling spinners, flies, or wedding ring spinners tipped with a worm all typically do well hooking up with some feisty rainbow trout. 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. The lake can be very windy so anglers will want to check the weather before heading out.

Lake Selmac received another 5,000 legal rainbow trout the week of March 25 to complement fish stocked earlier in February. The lake was scheduled to be stocked the week of April 8 but that has been postponed until next week. However, the recent rains have likely created turbid water and it will be a while before it clears. When visibility has been good, reports have been good with fly anglers fishing leeches or streamers and a slow strip. Gear anglers should expect good success as visibility improves.

Lost Creek received its first stocking of 20,000 legal rainbow trout the week of April 1. There should still be good populations of holdover fish from last year as well. However, record inflow into the reservoir has led to cloudy water above Peyton Bridge. The lake is 90 percent full and both ramps are usable. Surface temperature has risen to 49 degrees.

Recent reports indicate anglers have found success on red wedding rings fished with a worm behind a dodger or flashers, as well as 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.

Rogue River – Anglers are still catching winter steelhead. 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-Glo 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-inches may be harvested per day and three per year as part of a daily and annual salmon/steelhead bag limit.

Reports of spring Chinook catch have begun to trickle it. Hatchery Chinook may be retained year-round. Wild Chinook opens for retention June 1. This spring, ODFW is conducting a genetic study on wild chinook by collecting fin tissue samples. Anglers interested in learning more and participating in this project can contact ODFW staff at 541-247-7605.

Rogue River, middle – Trout fishing in the Rogue is closed but will reopen May 22.

Anglers were catching bright winter fish before the rain arrived but the river is blown out and it will take extra time for it to recover after this event. Both bank anglers fishing plugs and side-planners, and boat anglers are catching fish. Recent reports indicated plugs, eggs and yarn balls all producing winter fish from boats. This is the historical peak run timing for winter steelhead in this area so expect fishing to continue to get better.

A few hatchery spring Chinook have reportedly been caught in this section as well but the majority of these fish are lower in the system.

Now 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.

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.

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.

Popular floats include: Gold Hill to Rogue River, Baker to Lathrop or Ferry Hole, or Griffin Park to Robertson Bridge.

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. Also, just downstream of the Alameda boat ramp is Argo Rapid. Inexperienced boaters should not float this section. If you find yourself here, stay far right.

Further upstream, Griffin Park and Robertson Bridge are good places to use a side-planer setup with plugs or plunking Spin-N-Glos for bank anglers. In the Galice area, Rand, Rainbow, Chair and Ennis are good bank access locations.

Rogue River, upper – The upper Rogue is extremely high and that will continue into next week. However, high flows will bring more winter steelhead into the upper Rogue throughout the next couple weeks. Trout fishing is closed and will reopen May 22.

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.

Water will be clear upstream of Big Butte Creek but flows from the dam will be very high for this time of year. Watch the river as you drive up as conditions change quickly.

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 April 3, 3,645 summer steelhead had entered Cole Rivers Hatchery, with no new fish last week. 436 new winter steelhead were collected last week, bringing the total to 1,121 fish for the season. Only around 20-30 percent of the winter steelhead run is typically into Cole Rivers Hatchery by this time of the year, so there should be plenty of weeks ahead for opportunities to catch Rogue Winter Steelhead. As of April 3, no spring Chinook have entered the hatchery yet.

Steelhead fishing has slowed down in both Tenmile and Eel creeks. Steelhead fishing in rivers and streams closes on April 30.

Tenmile Lakes should start giving up some nice holdover trout in the coming weeks; some can measure over 17-inches long. The lake is scheduled to be stocked with trout the week of April 16.

Fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie and brown bullhead catfish should begin to “turn on” with spring weather and longer days.

The Tenmile Lakes have been very high with heavy rains this spring. The water level should begin to drop and temperatures rise with better spring weather. This should improve the fishing conditions for bass and other warmwater fish in the coming weeks.

Yellow perch are the earliest spawners, and they will be congregating which can make for good fishing if you locate a school. 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.

Umpqua River, Mainstem – Right now it looks like the river is going to be a little high for most people drift fishing, but plunking can be good.. Most anglers use a pink Spin-n-Glo and maybe some eggs for plunking, which can be good when the river is high and turbid. All wild steelhead must be released in the Umpqua so please follow good catch-and-release techniques.

Spring Chinook should be in the river and there is a rumor the first springer of 2019 has been caught. Most anglers fish for spring Chinook from a boat using plugs or bait.

Trout fishing will reopen in May 2019.

Umpqua River, North -Steelhead fishing should be good and recent reports have anglers catching a few. THowever, the river will likely be too high for most anglers drift fishing.

Spring Chinook are on their way, but no reports of anyone catching any yet.

Some of the North Umpqua and tributaries are open for trout (those above Slide Creek Dam): check the fishing regulations to see which areas are closed.

Note that as of Oct. 1 fishing in the fly water area is restricted to the use of a single, barbless artificial fly.

Umpqua River, South – The river will likely be high for the weekend, which can be tough fishing. Folks willing to go near the deadline might be able to get to where the river is fishable. The deadline is the Jackson Cr bridge near Tiller, OR. Lots of hatchery fish have been reported this year. Anglers were doing well in the upper sections of the South around Canyonville this past week.

On Winchester Bay fishing in the Triangle and South jetty has been successful.