Dave Frey of Lake Oswego inked the season’s first spring Chinook from the region on Monday. Dave’s 16-pound hatchery fish took a red prawn in the Milwaukie area.

SW Oregon Fishing Report for March 22nd, 2019

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From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com

A possible alternative to to area anglers planning to fish Owyhee and Brownlee reservoirs for crappie is Lake Shasta which is closer and produced a 19-inch crappie last week that weighed three and a half pounds.

The crappie tournaments that started last month on Clear Lake in Northern California have been both popular and successful. In the first few tournaments, the largest crappies weighed more than two and a half pounds and the heaviest ten crappie bag weighed more than 20 pounds. Judging from the number of crappies weighing two pounds – that size crappie must be a dominant, or major year class on the giant lake.

Fishing for chinook salmon in the ocean is now legal for chinooks measuring at least 24-inches. The season, which started on March 15th is slated to run through October, but one of the three options currently under consideration would restrict salmon angling during October to marine waters less than 240 feet deep.

There are still no reports of spring chinook salmon being caught in the Umpqua River. Last week an angler reported hooking a good-sized fish while casting a spinner at Half Moon Bay in Winchester Bay, but lost the fish before he could positively identify it.

While winter steelhead angling in most area streams is slowing down, Cathy Reiss of Ringo’s Lakeside Marina reported that Tenmile Creek was fishing good through last week. She also reported that this year’s steelhead were averaging larger than they have for the last few seasons and while many anglers use such baits as salmon roe or sand shrimp, the most effective lures have been MagLips and Aerojigs.

Scheduled ODFW trout plants are sometimes canceled, delayed, or changed. A good strategy is to have the phone number of a source you trust that is close to the water that is scheduled for stocking. Since a trout plant can occur any day, Monday through Friday of the scheduled week – a trusted source can help finetune your trout fishing trips.

Lake Marie received its first trout plant of 2019 this week when it received 2,000 legal rainbows and Powers Pond also received a plamt of 150 trophy trout.
The trout plant scheduled for last week at Johnson Mill Pond was made several days later and 50 trophy trout may be added this week. The trout plant scheduled last week for Mingus Park Pond was made this week instead. Upper Empire Lake is scheduled to receive its first trout plant this year when it receives 400 trophy rainbows this week – but earlier reports had Lower Empire receiving the plant. You may have to check both lakes to find the trout.

Perhaps more importantly, warming water temperatures will likely improve the trout bite in lakes that have already received trout plants this year.

Loon Lake has good water color and the upper end of the lake appears very “fishy” with several brushpiles on the shoreline near the old “Fishhaven/Ducketts Dock” that extend into the water. This new structure should attract the lake’s warmwater fish when they move shoreward – which they have yet to do.

According to surveys quoted in the Columbia Basin Bulletin, a number of factors indicate improving ocean conditions for salmon. The good news is that copepods off Newport are mostly of cool-water, lipid rich species; krill lengths off Northern California have increased – an indicator of available forage for salmon and other species; anchovy numbers are on the rise; and several indicators of juvenile and adult salmon survival increased slightly off the Northwest Coast – especially for coho salmon, which are expected this year at average numbers after several years of low returns, according to the report.

Less favorable news is the finding that there is warmer than average subsurface water in the southern portion of the California Current and there is strong hypoxia (lack of oxygen) on the shelf in the northern areas.

It looks like our local lakes are approaching normal water levels, but unless we receive additional rain in the next several months, there may still be water level issues. This year it appears that central and eastern Oregon may actually fare better water-wise than western Oregon. The snow levels are normal or above normal in all areas of the state and since snow melts gradually – it’s like “money in the bank” when it comes to possible water issues.

From ODF&W

Popular from the shore or drift boat, the Chetco 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.

Steelhead anglers wanting to fish the South Fork Coos River will need a Dellwood Fishing Access Permit, available from the Weyerhaeuser website. Steelhead returns should continue through March, but numbers will typically begin to drop off as the month progresses.

There have been recent reports of folks fishing on the ice at Diamond Lake, and catching fish. Follow ice fishing safety tips and proceed at your own risk. While ice fishing, anglers with a two-rod endorsement may use up to five rods.

Diamond Lake has been stocked with tiger and brown trout. These fish are intended to assist in controlling illegally introduced tui chub. These trout are catch-and-release only and need to be released immediately and unharmed if caught.

On Elk River, 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.

Expo Pond was just recently stocked during the first week of March. It will receive another stocking of 1,500 legal trout the second week of April. Fishing for bass and panfish is fair.

The Illinois River is open for trout fishing and winter steelhead through March 31. Steelhead fishing should be great with the recent storms and fish should be available for the angler willing to take a scenic drive. Since only hatchery trout may be retained, fishing will be primarily catch-and-release for wild trout, as the Illinois does not have a hatchery program. Wild winter steelhead may be retained in a few areas, but are subject to new daily and seasonal bag limits of 1 per day and 3 per year SW zone wide in waterbodies were wild harvest is allowed. Consult the 2019 fishing regulations for areas open to retention of wild steelhead.

Lost Creek is scheduled to receive its first stocking of 20,000 legal rainbow trout this week. There should still be good populations of holdover fish from last year still present. The lake is 81 percent full and both ramps are usable. Surface temperature has risen to 47 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.

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.

Anglers are mostly 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. We are nearing peak run timing for winter steelhead in this area so 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.

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 fish to move into the upper Rogue throughout the next couple weeks as fishing always gets better the closer to April we get. 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 March 20, 3,594 summer steelhead had entered Cole Rivers Hatchery, with 33 new fish for the week. 44 new winter steelhead were collected for the week, bringing the total to 311 fish for the season. Only around 10 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 20, no Spring Chinook have entered the hatchery yet.

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. Please see the southwest zone regulation exceptions in the ODFW Sport Fishing Regulations book for more details.

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.

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. Steelhead fishing should be good and recent reports have anglers catching a few. The river should be in shape for the weekend and there should be lots of fish in the river.

The river should be in 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. Check out the South River Gauge.

Willow Lake is scheduled to receive its first stocking of 4,000 rainbow trout this week. The boat ramp at Willow Lake is open and the lake nearly full. Clarity at the lake is not ideal as the reservoir has been filling, but recent reports indicate that some anglers have been finding trout here and there with very little in the way of crowds!

This last weekend had beautiful weather and good ocean conditions, however many anglers reported very slow fishing for rockfish and lingcod at regular fishing spots. Limited success was reported by trying a variety of areas and lures.

Surfperch fishing on ocean beaches can be excellent this time of year, when safe surf conditions allow.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will finalize the 2019 sport halibut seasons at their April 19 meeting. Staff recommended season dates are below:

Central Oregon Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt.)

Spring All-Depth Fishery: Fixed dates: May 9-11; May 16-18; May 23-25; May 30-Jun 1; and Jun 6-8. Back-up dates, if quota remains, are: Jun 20-22; Jul 4-6; and Jul 18-20. Quota = 171,103 pounds

Summer All-Depth Fishery: Opens Fri, Aug 2 and Sat, Aug 3, then every other Fri and Sat until the quota is taken or Oct 31, whichever is earlier. Quota = 67,898 pounds

Nearshore fishery: Opens June 1, seven days per week until the quota is taken or Oct 31, whichever is earlier. Quota = 32,591 pounds

Southern Oregon Subarea (Humbug Mt. to the OR/CA Border)

Opens May 1, seven days per week until the quota is taken or Oct 31, whichever is earlier. Quota = 11,322 pounds.

2019 STOCKING SCHEDULE AND STOCKING MAP