Rich Slusher from San Francisco with a upper Tillamook Bay spring Chinook caught on a spinner.

SW Oregon Fishing Report for May 3rd, 2019

From Pete Heley at

Umpqua River spring chinook angling is improving after last week’s heavy rains and there seems to be considerable fishing pressure directed at them between the Scottsburg bridge and Elkton. Anglers fishing spinners from the bank at Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point have reported very few hookups but springers were landed at both Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point this week.. Very few anglers have tried to catch Umpqua River bound springers in the ocean near the Umpqua River Bar.

Offshore bottomfishing using conventional gear is closed as of May 1st in waters more than 40 fathoms deep. Long leader techniques in water more than 40 fathoms deep remains open year round. Although lingcod are not a legal catch by this method, blue and deacon rockfish now are.

Shad are now being caught in the Yellow Creek area on the Umpqua River. Fishing is currently slow but is sure to improve as the river level drops and the water clears.

I did an exploratory road trip to evaluate bass and panfish waters along Interstate 5 between Sutherlin and Medford and was disappointed to find Ben Irving Reservoir near Winston to be very muddy and Cooper Creek Reservoir in Sutherlin to be nearly as muddy. Surprisingly, Ford’s Pond, just west of Sutherlin, was the clearest I have ever seen it. Galesville Reservoir, just east of Azalea, was also very clear and appeared to be at least ten feet higher than it was at this time last year.

The lake that I actually intended to fish, Selmac Lake, appeared to be at a normal springtime level with about three feet of visibility. The bass spawn seemed imminent with bass starting to move into the shallows. The crappies were just finishing up their spawning and pre-spawn bluegills seemed to be everywhere. According to the host at the boat ramp on the south side of the lake, a nine-pound largemouth was caught the day before I showed up and a much larger bass was lying dead on the shoreline. Hopefully, the lunker’s demise was spawn-related and not due to low oxygen levels that caused a lunker bass die-off less than two years ago.

The less than 90 minutes of bankfishing I did at Selmac was surprisingly productive. It seems that a blugill bit the 3-inch Power Bait trout worm on every cast and when a bluegill didn’t grab it, a crappie or a small bass would. I didn’t land any fish over a foot in length, but the largest bass and crappie were right there. I did break off a crappie that would have measured at least 12-inches when it bit right at my feet in less than a foot of water while I was standing on a discarded section of concrete pipe.

The bass and bluegills at Selmac seemed to be scattered along the entire shoreline, but the crappie were tight to the outside edges of shoreline reeds along Reeves Creek Road. I didn’t hook any trout, but the lake has received nearly 10,000 planted trout in the last two months.

I didn’t fish after dark because the 15 to 20 mile per hour winds persisted and I had not seen any big bass along the shoreline.

As of last Saturday, Eel Lake at Tugman Park was producing a few largemouth bass and rainbow trout. The bluegills and crappies haven’t yet shown up at the park, but they never seem to until after the spawn is over. Anglers wanting to find panfish at Tugman Park should pick a calm day and fish near evening.

As for Loon Lake, it’s not quite back to where it was before the recent heavy rains, but the water clarity is improving and bluegills are starting to move back to the shoreline at the upper end of the lake. The heavy rains and muddy water seem to have scattered the recently planted trout.

Although the bass fishing at Tenmile Lake has been somewhat inconsistent, good catches are being made every day. Fishing has been poor for rainbow trout, bullhead catfish, bluegills, crappies, and even yellow perch.

Anglers that have recently fished northern California’s Lake Shasta have been enjoying good trout and bass fishing, but the real surprise has been the size of some of the recent bluegill and crappie catches with bluegills weighing 16 to 24 ounces and crappies measuring 14 to 17-inches with a few even larger.

Most Oregonians seem to think that the five new commissioners that Kate Brown appointed to be ODFW commissioners will be an improvement over the last batch – if only because Bruce Buckmaster, a commercial fishing/gill net advocate will no longer be a commissioner. Hopefully, Brown is able to correct past mistakes and the new commissioners are able to make us “proud” – time will tell.

Many waters along the central and northern Oregon coast were planted this week or last week. The only local waters listed for being stocked this week are Tenmile Lakes – but Butterfield Lake received 400 trophy trout last week and Upper Empire Lake received 4,500 trout comprised of 2,500 legals and 2,000 trophies.

According to the most recent issue of the Columbia Basin Bulletin heavy rain over the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia and the eastern Pacific Ocean is a good indicator that temperatures in central California will reach 100 degrees in four to 16 days, according to a collaborative research team from the University of California Davis and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Climate Center in Busan, South Korea.

From ODF&W

On the ocean, bottom fishing has been good when the ocean lays down and anglers have been able to make it out.

Beginning May 1, bottomfishing is restricted to inside th 40-fathom regulatory line. 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 for Chinook salmon from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt is open. Chinook must be a minimum of 24 inches in length. The ocean is close to coho salmon.

Trout anglers have reported success trolling a flasher/wedding ring/worm combination, or just a night crawler behind a flasher at Applegate Reservoir. Bank anglers at the creek mouths have reported good catches over the last week using bait and spinners. The lake was stocked the week of April 15 with 10,000 legals and 800 quality trophy trout.

Arizona pond was stocked early last month and again last week. The April stocking schedule was slightly modified due to inclement weather and flooding. This month, third grade anglers from all over Curry County will be participating in the STEP-run Reel Fish Days fishing education program through their schools. 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 anglers ages 17 and under. The big kids/adults need to stay out of the pool.

In the last two years, Cooper Creek Reservoir has been stocked with coho and Chinook salmon juveniles. These are often mistaken for kokanee. Anglers may retain up to 5 salmon juveniles in the reservoir as part of their daily trout bag limit. Please remember to release salmon and trout less than 8-inches.

Warmwater is definitely picking up with multiple reports of bass and bluegill. Try fishing for bass around aquatic vegetation in the mid-morning and late afternoon hours.

In the Coos River Basin and Coquille River Basin, 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.

Fishing for warmwater species should be good now, and these fish should be active with spring temperatures.

Expo Pond was just recently stocked with legal-size trout during the first week of March and again in mid-April. Fishing for bass, panfish, and trout is good.

Fish Lake was stocked with 5,000 legal-size trout the week of April 22 and fishing is reportedly pretty good.

Tiger trout, Chinook salmon, brook trout, and larger rainbow trout are available. Remember that tiger trout must be immediately released unharmed. Anglers are encouraged to report their catch of tiger trout to fish district staff at 541-826-8774.

In Galesville Reservoir, all landlocked salmon are considered trout and are part of the five-per-day trout limit, with only one trout over 20-inches long allowed for harvest.

Fishing for bass and other panfish has been good. Good areas are near dead snags and the boat ramp. Try a slow retrieve with a diving crank bait.

Galesville is scheduled to be stocked this week and should have lots of trout from previous stockings. In addition to trout, the reservoir was stocked with coho smolts until 2015.

On the lower Rogue River, 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.

And on the middle, anglers were catching bright winter fish before the rain arrived and now that the river is back into shape fishing is ok. 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.

More hatchery spring Chinook have reportedly been caught in this section as well and many more should be arriving soon. Based on reports from the lower river, expect a good push of hatchery and wild spring Chinook to hit the middle Rogue very soon.

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 the 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”.

The upper Rogue is in good shape and expects 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 more 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.

As of April 23, 3,645 summer steelhead had entered Cole Rivers Hatchery, with no new fish for the last 3 weeks which indicates the end of the summer steelhead run. 427 new winter steelhead were collected last week, bringing the total to 1821 fish for the season. As of April 23, no spring Chinook have entered the hatchery yet.

The Tenmile Lakes were stocked with legal-sized rainbow trout this week. Tenmile Lakes provide some nice holdover trout this time of year, and some can measure over 17-inches long. Try trolling slowly with a “wedding ring” type lure, tipped with a worm, to catch these larger trout.

Conditions should be prime for bass, crappie, bluegill, and brown bullhead catfish fishing at this time. Anglers also use small jigs or a worm on a hook fished near the bottom to catch yellow perch this time of year.

All wild steelhead must be released in the Umpqua so please follow good catch-and-release techniques.

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).

Trout fishing will reopen on May 22, 2019.

Some of the North Umpqua and tributaries are open for trout (those above Slide Creek Dam).

We are entering the “shoulder” season for steelhead. Most of the winters should be done spawning and heading out and some early summers might start showing up.

Spring Chinook are on their way, but no reports of anyone catching any yet.

The south river is closed to all fishing during the annual shutdown from May 1 through May 21. The river opens to bass and trout fishing May 22.