From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com
Heavy rains last week greatly raised pond and lake levels and caused muddy water and near flood conditions in many streams and it is highly unlikely that Johnson Mill Pond, located in a swampy, muddy area, received its trout plant on schedule.
Eel and Tenmile Creeks are not muddy and offer poor to fair fishing for winter steelhead.
The ODFW stocking schedule and may be amended several times each week, but as I am writing this column, the waters scheduled to be stocked with trout this week include Buck Lake (425 trophies); Sutton Lake (1,500 trophies); Siltcoos Lagoon (881 trophies); Munsel Lake (3,300 trophies)and North Tenmile Lake (3,000 legals). Whenever North Tenmile Lake is stocked, South Tenmile Lake receives the same amount of fish.
Offshore bottomfishing is still very good and remains open through April. Surf fishing area beaches for redtail surfperch has been very inconsistent, but occasionally very good. Crabbing has been poor as Oregon’s coastal rivers are high and muddy. Crabbing the ocean has been fair and the bottom half of Coos Bay, between the North Spit Boat Ramp and Charleston, has been good.
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. Find information about a longleader setup here.
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.
Coos River Basin – Steelhead returns are winding down, and most of the steelhead will be dark and spawned out.
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.
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.
Emigrant Reservoir received its first stocking of 1,000 legal trout for the year the week of March 18 and was stocked again last week. In addition to trout, crappie and bass are available but water clarity is still 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 have been stocked with trophy trout and “pounder” rainbows. They are scheduled to be stocked again with trophy trout the week of April 22.
Warmwater species like bluegill, crappie, and largemouth bass should be getting more active with spring weather.
Galesville was just recently stocked with large trout and should have lots of trout from previous stockings. In addition to trout, the reservoir was stocked with coho smolts until 2015.
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 good. Good areas are near dead snags and the boat ramp. Try a slow retrieve with a diving crank bait.
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.
Lost Creek received its first stocking of 20,000 legal rainbow trout the week of April 1 and will be stocked again this week with another 15,000 legal-sized trout and 800 trophy trout. There should still be good populations of holdover fish from last year as well. Recent reports indicate the fishing has been good for trolling and bank angling. 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. The 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 encouraged to keep fish that have copepods while staying within the daily limit since release simply allows the parasite to expand to other hosts.
Lower 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.
Middle Rogue River – Trout fishing in the Rogue is closed but will reopen May 22.
Anglers were catching bright winter fish before the rain arrived and now that the river is getting back into shape expect fishing to be good again. 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. We are just past the historical peak run timing for winter steelhead in this area so expect good fishing to continue.
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 as 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.
The upper Rogue is a little high but dropping into good shape for the weekend. The higher flows from last week have brought more winter steelhead into the upper Rogue. 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 16, 3,645 summer steelhead had entered Cole Rivers Hatchery, with no new fish for the last 2 weeks which indicates the end of the summer steelhead. 68 new winter steelhead were collected last week, bringing the total to 1,349 fish for the season. As of April 16, no spring Chinook have entered the hatchery yet.
Smith River can be a great place to fish for winter steelhead and is often overlooked as it is a little out of the way. The season is open through April 30. Please see the southwest zone regulation exceptions in the ODFW Sport Fishing Regulations book for more details. The Smith is one of the first to clear after high water, so keep an eye on river levels as we move toward the weekend.
The Tenmile Lakes 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. Anglers use small jigs or a worm on a hook fished near the bottom.
The Tenmile Lakes are scheduled to be stocked with legal rainbow the week of April 16.
Tenmile Lakes should start giving up some nice holdover trout in the coming weeks; some can measure over 17-inches long. Trolling slow with a wedding ring tipped with a worm can produce a few trout in Tenmile Lakes.
North Umpqua River – Steelhead fishing should be good and recent reports have anglers catching a few. The river should be in good shape for the weekend.
Spring Chinook are on their way, but no reports of anyone catching any yet.
South Umpqua River – The river should be in good shape for the weekend. 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.
Willow Lake received its first stocking of 4,000 rainbow trout the week of March 18. The boat ramp at Willow Lake is open and the lake is full. Clarity at the lake is not good due to heavy rain, but recent reports indicate that some anglers had been finding trout here and there with very little in the way of crowds!