SW Oregon Fishing Report for March 1, 2019

From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com

Coos County received its first trout plants this week. Altogether 14,000 trout will be planted and all of them will be in the “legal” size classification measuring 8 to 10-inches. The waters being planted are: Bradley Lake (3,000); Johnson Mill Pond (3,000); Powers Pond (3,000); Saunders Lake (3,000) and Mingus Park Pond (2,000).

Next week Loon Lake is slated to receive 2,000 legal rainbows.

Most area streams have plenty of steelhead in them and fishing success depends primarily on stream conditions as well as fishing skill. Tenmile Creek in the Spin Reel Park area has been fishing especially well the last few weeks and although there hasn’t been fishing pressure directed at Eel Creek, the number of steelhead in the STEP fishtrap would seem to indicate that “steelies” are well-represented in the creek below the trap. When I talked to Curt Thompson at the Flyfishing Expo he insisted on me looking at the video output of the camera located in the fishtrap. Currently, Saunders and Butterfield lakes hold adult steelhead that were recently transported from the Eel Creek fishtrap by STEP volunteers.

Winter steelhead are in all of our local streams and fishing success depends on stream conditions in most cases. Two streams that never seem to muddy up are Eel Creek and Tenmile Creek. Eel Creek is extremely “snaggy” and difficult to fish, while Tenmile Creek is the exact opposite and fairly snag free in most sections – and Tenmile Creek has been hot for the last few weeks with fish to 18 pounds taken. Almost all the finclipped, keepable steelhead that ascend Tenmile Creek only do so as far as Eel Creek and then swim up Eel Creek as far as the STEP fishtrap just below Eel Lake. Some of Eel Creek’s steelhead actually spawn in the stream before reaching the fishtrap and some of the preferred spawning sites are inside the several culverts on the stream.

Pacific herring showed up in Yaquina Bay and Coos Bay in large numbers last week to spawn and may, in lesser numbers, be spawning in other estuaries as well.

From ODF&W

Bottomfish trips out of Newport last week were limited by unfavorable weather conditions, however, anglers reported rockfish catches had improved slightly and that lingcod fishing was still good.

At Applegate Reservoir trout anglers have reported success trolling a flasher/wedding ring/worm combination, or just a night crawler behind a flasher. Fishing should be good.

Arizona pond was stocked at the end of 2018 and many holdover trophy trout from last year are still lurking in the deeper water. Youth anglers fishing this pond are allowed to keep five trout per day; one of which can be over 20-inches. Oregon State Parks manages Arizona Pond for youth fishing, ages 17 and under.

The Chetco River is popular from the shore or drift boat, this river has a lot to offer. Many choose side drifting or back bouncing any combination of roe/yarn/puff-balls/corky from a boat. On shore, fly fishing or plunking are the fishing styles of choice for many. Depending on water flow and clarity, try experimenting with Spin-n-Glos, Hot-Shots and Kwikfish. With good fishing and beautiful scenery, you’re sure to have a memorable fishing experience. As we have seen several pushes of fish on the tributary spawning grounds, anglers may soon start to see spawned out steelhead in their catch. Wild steelhead may be harvested 1/day and 3/year in the southwest zone as part of a daily or annual salmon/steelhead bag limit.

In the Coos River Basin as well as the Coquille River Basin heavy rain caused area rivers to be extremely high and muddy last weekend. Larger rivers will take several days to come back into shape. Steelhead anglers wanting to fish the South Fork Coos River will need a Dellwood Fishing Access Permit, available from the Weyerhaeuser website.

On the Elk River steelhead are in thick right now. By bank and boat, anglers have been reporting their successful fishing trips. 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.

Anglers slow trolling spinners, flies, or wedding ring spinners tipped with a worm all typically do well hooking up with some feisty rainbow trout on Garrison Lake. 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 5,000 legal rainbow trout the week of Feb 11. Early reports indicate fishing was pretty tough with the cold weather and reduced visibility. Visibility at Selmac can be dramatically influenced by precipitation and tributary inflow. It can take a week or more to clear. When visibility is good, reports have been good with fly anglers fishing leeches or streamers and a slow strip. Gear fisherman should expect good success as visibility improves. Aquatic vegetation at Lake Selmac has died off quite a bit. With limited options for low elevation lakes this time of year, Lake Selmac may be worth an exploratory trip.

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.

On the ocean, 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 for the remainder of the year. 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, 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.

Through March 31, the Pistol River is open for steelhead fishing. Wild steelhead may be harvested 1/day and 3/year as part of a daily or annual salmon/steelhead bag limit. Please remember that anglers will need to obtain landowner permission before crossing private land adjacent to the river.

Winter steelhead season is in full swing 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” may be harvested per day and three per year as part of a daily and annual salmon/steelhead bag limit.

The Rogue is open for rainbow trout through March 31; 5/day. Wild rainbow and cutthroat trout must be released.

On the middle river anglers continue to encounter the occasional spawned-out summer fish. These “downrunners” or kelts are very colored up, and exhibiting a “sunken” or sucked in belly. Anglers are encouraged to use catch-and-release best practices by limiting their handling of these fish, not remove them from the water if possible, and release them as soon as possible.

Fishing was good for winter steelhead prior to the river blowing out the early part of this week. Anglers were mostly catching bright winter fish, with about 10-15 percent of the catch being downrunners. Both bank anglers fishing plugs and side-planners, and boat anglers were catching fish. Recent reports indicated plugs, eggs and yarn balls all producing winter fish from boats, with about 40 percent of the catch being hatchery fish. As the river drops back into shape, expect fishing to continue to get better.

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.

Popular methods for winter steelhead fishing include Running plugs from a drift boat, drifting night crawlers, roe, or yarn balls. Bank anglers typically use a side-planning setup with plugs. A diversity of bait including different colored roe will always help your chances when steelhead fishing. 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.

As we progress into March, 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.

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.

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, 3,399 summer steelhead had entered Cole Rivers Hatchery, with 47 new fish for the week. Only 5 new winter steelhead were collected for the week, bringing the total to 245 fish for the season.

On the Sixes River steelhead season is in full swing! 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.

Steelhead fishing opened on Smith River up to Sisters Creek Dec. 1. There should be a number of fish coming into the river with recent rains and it might be in shape if the snow doesn’t cause it to rise too much. Access may be tough due to winter weather, unless you are driving from the coast.

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. Closed to trout fishing until May 22, 2019.

For the main stem of the Umpqua River it’s tough to tell what the river will be doing for the weekend since the weather seems to be unpredictable. Right now if the snow melts it might be another plunking weekend. Most anglers use a pink colored Spin-n-Glo and maybe some eggs. All wild steelhead must be released in the Umpqua so please follow good catch-and-release techniques.

On the North Umpqua steelhead fishing should be good and recent reports have anglers catching a good number. The peak for the North is in later February and March. Depending on snow melt the river might be a little hight this weekend. Hwy 138 was closed Wednesday and might be still closed in the latter part of the week.

The south river is on the rise and depending on snow melt might be higher than desirable for the weekend. Anglers were doing well in the upper sections of the South around Canyonville when it was low.