From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com
As of last weekend, the Umpqua River had dropped somewhat but was still muddy. Just before it muddied up spring chinook angling was the best it’s been all season – which is only fair in an otherwise crummy season. Anglers fishing the South Jetty area for lingcod and other bottomfish are finding much clearer water in the ocean on the south side of the “Triangle”.
Very few salmon anglers are taking advantage of the ocean chinook fishery which has been in effect since March 15th. It seems like a few anglers would be targeting springers before they actually get into the Umpqua River.
By the time the lower Umpqua River clears, there may be a few redtail surfperch or “pinkfin” on their spawning run in the two miles of river just above the East Basin entrance at Winchester Bay. One angler landed six pinkfin at Half Moon Bay last Sunday – which is about halfway between the beach and their preferred spawning area.
Striped Bass were biting well on the upper tidewater areas of the Smith River before heavy rains muddied the stream and they should resume biting when the water clears. It won’t be long before the stripers move downstream into the lower tidewater areas. This movement on the Smith River will be from the North Fork Smith River and the mainstem Smith above the North Fork downstream to the lower several miles of tidewater. On the Coquille River, the movement will be from the Myrtle Point or Arago area downstream to the several miles above Highway 101.
Shad fishing may be just days away on several area streams including the Coos/Millicoma, Coquille, Siuslaw and Umpqua rivers. On the Umpqua, the early fishing pressure will almost certainly be in the Yellow Creek area. Other early season spots include near the Elkton school and near the boat ramp at Umpqua. As the river drops, Sawyers Rapids will continue to improve until it dominates the Umpqua’s shad catch.
Offshore bottomfishing using conventional techniques in waters deeper than 240 feet (40 fathoms) ends at the end of April.
Brian Keith, who owns the Harborview Motel in Winchester Bay, recently showed me an impressive photo one of his brown trout-chasing friends had recently sent him. The photo was of a chunky smallmouth bass of approximately five pounds that was caught in Brian’s favorite brown trout lake – Suttle Lake.
Unfortunately for the brown-chasing group that Brian is a part of, Suttle Lake appears to be ideal smallmouth habitat as it sits at an elevation of 2,500 feet and has a large population of stunted Kokanee salmon for a forage base. Time will tell if there is a breeding population of smallmouths or just that one jumbo specimen.
Bass anglers in the Grants Pass/Medford area are dealing with largemouth bass that are actually spawning or on the verge of it. Bass anglers in the Roseburg area are dealing with bass that are on the verge of spawning and coastal bass anglers are dealing with bass that are in various stages of the pre-spawn.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission (OFWC) finalized the 2019 recreational halibut seasons at their meeting on April 19th at St. Helens for all of Oregon’s halibut zones.
Regarding the spring all-depth season for our area( central coast subarea) – there are five fixed open dates: May 9-11, May 16-18, May 23-25, May 30-June 1, June 6-8. – If quota remains, possible back-up dates will be June 20-22, July 4-6, and July 18-20.
In addition to the many lakes planted last week, Butterfield Lake will receive 400 trophy trout this week and Upper Empire Lake will receive 4,500 trout comprised of 2,500 legals and 2,000 trophies.
On the Pacific 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.
At Applegte Reservoir trout anglers have reported success trolling a flasher/wedding ring/worm combination, or just a night crawler behind a flasher. Bank anglers at the creek mouths have reported good catches over the last week using bait and spinners. The lake was stocked last week with 10,000 legals and 800 quality trophy trout.
Butterfield Lake was stocked in early April with legal-size trout and will be stocked this week with pounders. Surplus winter steelhead adults were stocked into Butterfield Lake and can be harvested as trout, keeping in mind that only one trout per day over 20-inches may be kept as part of the trout bag limit.
In the Coos River and Coquille River Basin, steelhead returns are winding down, and most of the steelhead will be dark and spawned out.
American shad typically begin running in early May. The general folklore says to fish for them from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day.
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.
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.
Garrison Lake was stocked several times in March and again earlier this month with trophies and SUPER-trophies. 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/3 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.
On the Lower Rogue anglers are still catching a few steelhead, but this run is winding down. Through April 30,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. Beginning May 1, only hatchery steelhead may be retained.
From a boat or on shore, spring Chinook fishing is reaching its peak right now. Spinners, plugs, anchovies, and sardines have all been used successfully. 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.
On the Middle Rogue anglers were catching bright winter fish before the rain arrived and now that the river is getting back into shape fishing is 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 more hatchery spring Chinook have reportedly been caught in this section as well but the majority of these fish are lower in the system. Based on reports from the lower river, expect a good push of hatchery and wild spring Chinook to hit the middle Rogue within the next week or two.
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.
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.
The upper Rogue is in good shape and expect flows to hold around this level for the foreseeable feature. The higher flows from the last couple weeks have brought more winter steelhead and a few spring Chinook 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.
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.
At the time of this writing, the hatchery report has not been sent out for the last week so 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 run. 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.
Saunders Lake has been stocked with legal-size rainbow trout. Surplus adult winter steelhead were also stocked into Saunders Lake and can be harvested as trout, keeping in mind that only one trout per day over 20-inches may be kept as part of the trout bag limit. Largemouth bass and bluegill are available year-round.
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.
The Tenmile Lakes water levels are dropping and temperatures rising with sunny spring weather. This should improve the fishing conditions for bass and other warmwater fish in the coming weeks. Anglers use small jigs or a worm on a hook fished near the bottom to catch yellow perch this time of year.
The Tenmile Lakes were stocked with legal rainbow the week of April 16.
Tenmile Lakes provide some nice holdover trout this time of year, and some can measure over 17-inches long. Troll slow with a wedding ring tipped with a worm to catch these larger trout.
On the mainstem of the Umpqua River Spring Chinook should be in the river; however, reports have been mixed with some reporting good catch rates, and others reporting zeros. Most anglers fish for spring Chinook from a boat using plugs or bait.
Shad should start up as we get closer to Mother’s Day (the usual start of the main part of the season).
On the North Umpqua, steelhead fishing should be good and recent reports have anglers catching a few. The river should be in good shape for the weekend. A few fresh fish are around, but there are a lot of downstream migrants.
Spring Chinook are on their way, but no reports of anyone catching any yet.
And the south 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.