SW Oregon Fishing Report for September 28th, 2018

From ODF&W

The two-rod validation for fishing for salmon in Coos Bay ends on Sept. 30. Salmon fishing continues to be slow but anglers have caught some Chinook salmon from the BLM boat ramp up to the head of tide. The majority of the salmon caught this week were jacks with a few adults mixed in. Bank anglers are starting to have success at the mouth of Daniels Creek, upper Isthmus Slough, Coos Bay boardwalk, and Pony Slough. Boat salmon anglers have been catching and releasing wild coho near the airport. There is no retention of wild coho in Coos Bay this season.

Recreational fishing for bottomfish is open in the ocean along with bays and estuaries. The daily bag limit for marine fish is back to 5 plus 2 lingcod. The retention of cabezon is no longer allowed for the rest of the year. Fishing for rockfish and greenling inside Coos Bay near the north jetty and other submerged rock structures has been spotty this past week with good fishing one day and poor fishing the next.

Fishing continues to be good at Diamond Lake. Most anglers are taking home fish averaging 15-inches and we are starting to see more 17-inch or larger fish in creel surveys. Trolling seems to be the most effective technique, but using bait or flies has also been showing positive results.

Fishing for bass and other warmwater species should be good at Willow Lake. It has more water than most reservoirs in SW Oregon, and launching a boat here should be easy. With sunny skies, and the campground and yurts still open through Oct. 1, this an excellent destination for the last weekend in September. Cabins are available year-round (make reservations made through Jackson County Parks), and there are 10 first come-first serve campsites as well, however many of these may be taken with the opener of western Oregon rifle deer season this weekend.

Anglers are picking up Chinook in the Gold Hill and Grants Pass area and from Robertson Bridge to Graves Creek by back-bouncing roe or Kwikfish, or fishing wobblers in deep holes. Look for Chinook rolling in deep holes. If you don’t see anything, best bet is to move on after a few drifts. September is a good time to fish fall Chinook in the middle Rogue area.

The Rogue River is also open for trout fishing. Only hatchery rainbow trout may be retained. All wild rainbow and cutthroat trout must be released. There are half-pounder steelhead present from near Hog Creek downstream throughout the Rogue Canyon. There are many BLM public access points to fish for these from Hog Creek to Graves Creek.

With the start of September, the artificial fly season is underway between Fishers Ferry boat ramp and Cole Rivers Hatchery. Between Sept. 1 and Oct. 31, anglers may only fish artificial flies on any type rod and reel: no added weights or attachments except a bubble. This reach of the Rogue is open to fishing for hatchery summer steelhead and trout. Fishing for Chinook is now closed.

Fly anglers fishing from drift boats have been doing quite well in the Dodge Bridge to Fishers Ferry Reach of the Rogue. Reports of anglers catching a 50/50 ratio of wild to hatchery steelhead have been reported.

The river discharge from Lost Creek Reservoir on Monday was 1,219 cfs and 49oF to benefit spawning spring Chinook in the upper river. For the most current releases of water out of Lost Creek Reservoir, call 1-800-472-2434. All Army Corps facilities on the upper Rogue and at Lost Creek Reservoir, closed during fire concerns, are now open again.

The Rogue River upstream of Lost Creek Reservoir has been stocked with trout for the final time in 2018. Anglers will still find plenty of trout at most sites for the next several weeks.

Trout fishing on Tenmile Lakes has slowed down with the best fishing is in the early mornings. Anglers should focus on fishing in deeper water.

Fishing for largemouth bass has been good with the best fishing in the early mornings or late evenings. Bass are hitting topwater lures in the low light conditions and anglers are switching to plastics and deeper water once the sun hits the water.

Yellow perch fishing is very good fishing on the deep water side of the weedlines in water depths of 7-15 feet. Anglers are using small jigs or a worm on a hook fished near the bottom.

2018 STOCKING SCHEDULE and STOCKING MAP

From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com

The nonselective ocean coho season is now officially over with last Friday’s opener. Anglers could have fished for four to six hours on Saturday without exceeding the quota, but I cannot, and I am pretty sure that the ODFW cannot, figure out how to make partial-day openers work – which is why they never have them.

Currently only chinook salmon of at least 24-inches in length are legal to keep while salmon fishing in the ocean.

Some wildly optimistic anglers continue to think there will be a nonselective coho season in coastal rivers, but there hasn’t been one in several years and without a major improvement in coho numbers – there may never again be a non-selective coho season for coastal rivers.

The coho seasons that run from Oct. 1st through December on Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes are nonselective seasons that allow the taking of either wild or finclipped coho salmon. Throughout October, November and December, second-rod licenses are invalid on these three lakes – even though these lakes almost never have salmon in them on Oct. 1st.

Salmon are showing up in increasing numbers in the “mud hole” at the mouth of Winchester Creek – but have not yet started biting well. In the last few weeks, Osprey Point has been far more productive than Half Moon Bay in giving up keeper salmon to spinner flinging bank anglers. A bassfishing friend of mine caught a salmon the first time he fished a “Rattletrap” at Winchester Bay.

A few chinook salmon are starting to show up at Sawyer’s Rapids and if this year’s fishing is anything like previous years’, the bite will be an early morning one. The aerated water immediately below chute does allow the salmon to be somewhat more active. The coho that reach Sawyers seem to hold on the far, or north side, of the large shallow pool just downstream from Sawyer’s Rapids. Only finclipped coho salmon are legal to keep in Oregon’s coastal rivers.

October trout plants are not yet listed on the ODFW website, but last October, Upper Empire Lake, Saunders Lake, Butterfield Lake and Bradley Lake all received trout plants.

Crabbing at Winchester Bay continues to be good, but “A” Dock was closed to crabbing. The reason for the closure was because a boat returning after dark couldn’t use the moorage space they paid for because of unattended crab traps left overnight.

Salmon Harbor, trying to do the right thing, relented slightly a few days later, and clearly marked an area at the very end of the dock where people could crab – but only while they were watching their crab gear. The current policy is that unattended pots or traps on “A” Dock will be confiscated.

Recreational ocean crabbing will close on October 15th and remain closed through November.

Bottomfishing in marine waters deeper than 180 feet is slated to reopen on Oct. 1st. Cabezon are still under an emergency closure.

An angler who caught a couple of jumbo pile perch last September while fishing with sand shrimp on the western side of Winchester Bay’s East Boat Basin stated that there are pile perch there this year that dwarf the pile perch caught last fall – and pile perch to three and a half pounds were caught last fall.

Concerning the Wickiup Reservoir disaster, factors outside of human control were lack of rainfall and lack of snowpack. But the rate of water withdrawal could have been greatly lessened – if not for an agreement to release enough water to protect the habitat of the black spotted frog. The agreement mandated water releases sufficient to drain the reservoir during years with minimal snowpack.

Last week, juvenile kokanee were observed swimming in large numbers near the dam and being heavily preyed upon by fish-eating birds including white pelicans. The reservoir’s rainbow, brown and brook trout have two choices – either drop down through the dam, which doesn’t have a screen, or swim upstream until they find some deeper, slower-moving water. Hopefully, they will choose the latter.

As for the fish that drop down through the dam, they will heavily impact the resident trout and whitefish in the Deschutes River. A Bend biologist I talked to, said that the river doesn’t have the proper food for kokanee and they will almost certainly perish before reaching suitable water in Lake Billy Chinook – which is more than 50 river miles downstream. Although there will be many obstacles, Billy Chinook will almost certainly receive some of Wickiup’s largemouth bass and brown bullhead catfish. The Deschutes River below the dam may offer decent bass fishing next summer

In future years, Wickiup Reservoir or the Deschutes River will continue to receive some warmwater fish from Crane Prairie Reservoir. But warmwater fish populations won’t build unless there is some slackwater water in the reservoir in the fall and winter. Sad facts about the once great reservoir is that it won’t be a decent bass fishery in my lifetime and it may never regain the honor of being Oregon’s top spot for lunker brown trout.

It remains to be seen how much havoc the hundreds of thousands of fish in the reservoir’s ten thousand surface acres (when full) will cause after being forced into the Deschutes River below the dam.

Heley works part-time at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.