From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com
Dwayne Schwartz of Reedsport reported having fish bite two of the large Berkley Gulp worms in half while fishing for lingcod off Winchester Bay’s South Jetty. When he fished the same spot three days later, he caught a 22-inch ling that had both of his bitten-in-half worms in the back of its throat. The same thing happened a few minutes later when another fish ripped his Gulp worm off his hook. Dwayne quickly tied on an identical bait and recast and caught a legal-sized ling that spit up his “lost” Gulp worm as he was landing it.
Larger lingcod are currently present as a 32-incher was caught from the South Jetty last Sunday.
Smaller waters in Jackson and Josephine counties have already graduated to decent topwater fishing for largemouth bass. Roseburg-area waters should offer similar fishing, but fisheries near the Oregon coast will most likely need a few more weeks of decent weather. A short fishing trip to Loon Lake last Sunday afternoon revealed good numbers of bluegills and a few crappies and largemouth bass near the old Ducketts Dock at the upper end of the lake. An Emerald Bass Club member fishing the lake with a large swimbait landed several large bass to nearly seven pounds.
Something that southern Oregon’s outdoor enthusiasts should be aware of is that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has recently seen an increased number of confirmed and suspect cases of canine distemper virus, especially in red foxes, in northern California.
This last weekend had beautiful weather and good ocean conditions, however many anglers reported very slow fishing for rockfish, with more deacons than blacks. Lingcod fishing also has been slow with many released fish just shy of the legal limit. Limited success was reported by trying a variety of areas and lures.
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.
Trout fishing closed on many SW streams from April 1 through May 22, consult the regulations.
The Chetco and Coos River basins – Steelhead returns should begin to drop off as the month progresses, and some of the steelhead encountered will be spawned out.
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.
By bank and boat, anglers have been reporting their successful fishing trips on the Elk River. 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. Anglers please see the southwest zone regulation exceptions in the ODFW Sport Fishing Regulations book for more details.
Garrison Lake was stocked several times in March already and will be stocked again in April. 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 Marie was stocked the week of March 18, but fishing can be good any time. Most anglers use PowerBait or worms to catch trout and yellow perch.
Trout fishing in the Rogue is closed but will reopen May 22.
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-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.
There have been spotty reports of early spring Chinook. Hatchery Chinook may be retained year-round. Wild Chinook opens for retention June 1.
On the middle river, anglers are catching bright winter fish and over-wintering half-pounders that are still in the system. 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.
Expect more winter steelhead to move 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.
Due to forecast rain this week into next, the upper Rogue will likely be high and turbid. Water will be clear upstream of Big Butte Creek but flows from the dam will be a bit 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 March 28, 3,645 summer steelhead had entered Cole Rivers Hatchery, with 16 new fish for the week. 159 new winter steelhead were collected for the week, bringing the total to 685 fish for the season. Only around 15-20 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 March 28, 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.
The Sixes River is 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.
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.
Tenmile Lakes should start giving up some nice holdover trout in the coming weeks; some can measure over 17-inches long.
Fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie and brown bullhead catfish should begin to “turn on” with spring weather and longer days.
Yellow perch fishing should also pick up this time of year, 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.
Right now it looks like the Umpqua River is going to be a litte 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.