SW Oregon Fishing Report for March 8th, 2019

From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com

The first spring chinook was reported taken from the Rogue River two weeks ago and according to “The Rogue Outdoor Store” in Gold Beach, three have been reported caught so far. None of them were lunkers and they were caught between five and 12 miles above Gold Beach.

As for the Umpqua River, if anyone has caught a springer this year, they have not done a very good job of bragging about it. But if none have been caught yet, the first springer should be caught soon after the Umpqua River clears up.

Boat crabbers are still making decent catches at Half Moon Bay at Winchester Bay, but very few crabs are far enough up the Umpqua River to be within reach of dock crabbers. A couple of the crabbing docks at Charleston are producing for dockbound crabbers.

Recreational crabbing is closed on the southern Oregon coast from Bandon to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes Dungeness and red rock crab harvested in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties. Recreational crab harvesting from Bandon north to the Columbia River (including the Coquille River estuary) remains open in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties.

For recreational crab harvesters, it is recommended that crab always be eviscerated prior to cooking, which includes removal and discard of the viscera, internal organs, and gills. Because of Oregon’s precautionary management of biotoxins, the crab and shellfish products currently being sold in retail markets and restaurants are safe for consumers. Before clamming or crabbing, it’s always wise to call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448-2474.

Winchester Bay’s South Jetty is still producing lingcod, greenling, rockfish and striped surfperch, but the recent nuddy water has slowed the bite. The water in the lower Umpqua River does clear up somewhat at high tide and if an angler fishing off the south side of the “Triangle” in the ocean would be fishing in water that is even more clear – and the water gets even clearer as one moves toward the beach.

An interesting side note regarding the Frostbite Open that was recently held on Tenmile Lake was that one boat landed at least three bass by casting to fish that were clearly visible. Getting multiple visible bass to bite in that cold water and light rain is an amazing and very rare accomplishment.

The cold weather and the resulting cold water temperatures have definitely slowed the trout bite.

Trout plants over the next couple of weeks include lakes in the Roseburg, Florence and Newport areas. Waters planted this week include: Garrison Lake (near Port Orford – 200 trophy trout); Ben Irving Reservoir (near Winston – 1,000 legals); Cooper Creek Reservoir (near Sutherlin – 2,500 legals); Galesville Reservoir(near Azalea – 2,500 trophy trout) and Loon Lake (near Reedsport – 2,000 legals).

Waters scheduled to be stocked next week include: Big Creek Reservoir #2 (near Newport – 3,200 trout – 1,200 legals and 2,000 trophies); Buck Lake (near Florence – 702 trout – 566 legals and 135 trophies); Cleawox Lake (near Florence – 3,161 trophy trout); Eckman Lake (near Waldport – 666 legals); Mercer Lake (near Florence – 1,500 trophy trout); Siltcoos Lagoon (near Florence – 106 trophy trout) and Siltcoos Lake (near Florence – 1,000 trophy trout).

Cottage Grove and Dorena reservoirs, near Cottage Grove, are slated to be stocked next week with 1,667 and 1,500 trophy rainbows respectively – which if they are near full pool, works out to one planted rainbow per acre. The thousand rainbows going into Siltcoos Lake is less than one trout for every three surface acres.

From ODF&W

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

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.

Anglers interested in participating in the angler-caught steelhead brood stock program may inquire about signing up at the Gold Beach ODFW office 541-247-7605.

Fair weather this last weekend allowed rivers in the Coos River Basin to drop back into shape. Steelhead returns should continue through March, but numbers will begin to drop-off as the month progresses. Steelhead anglers wanting to fish the South Fork Coos River will need a Dellwood Fishing Access Permit, available from the Weyerhaeuser website.

Steelhead are in thick right now in 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.

At Garrison Lake 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.

The Illinois River is open for trout fishing and winter steelhead through March 31. 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.

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.

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 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.

And the upper; 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.

The river is expected to continue dropping to around 3000 cfs by this weekend.

Steelhead season is in full swing on the Sixes River too! 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 and other warmwater species will slow down in cold weather. Presentations will need to be slow, as fish may be lethargic.

Yellow perch fishing should also pick up in the next few months, 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.

On the mainstem of the Umpqua River, it looks like the river might be in good shape for plunking this 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.

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.

On the South Umpqua, 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.