From Pete Heley at www.PeteHeley.com
Crabbing at Half Moon Bay continues to be better than expected. More rain may move most of the crabs closer to or into the ocean where sport crabbers will have to compete with commercial crabbing fleet.
The South Jetty continues to fish well when conditions allow anglers to fish it. Over the last few years, the numbers of lingcod and striped surfperch seem to have declined slightly, but the numbers of greenling and rockfish have increased.
Recent rains have ensured that virtually every coastal stream has fair numbers of winter steelhead in them. Now the key to fishing success is to be aware of which streams are in the best fishing condition. Eel Creek, which typically gets its steelhead later than larger streams probably has more coho salmon in it than steelhead and the salmon are not legal to keep.
In fact, fair numbers of salmon smolt typically opt to remain in Eel Lake rather than swim down the Eel Creek outlet during low water years – sometimes reaching a length of 14-inches, but are not legal to keep under current regulations. However landlocked coho salmon were legal to keep when they were stocked in Galesville Reservoir and they have been stocked in Cooper Creek Reservoir for the last two years and the daily limit is five – in addition to the five trout daily limit.
Tenmile Lakes seem to be the best winter largemouth fishery, but it is winter – a bass of less than three pounds was the heaviest bass landed in a recent bass tournament.
It will be several more weeks before lakes in our area start receiving trout plants – but if someone needs a quick “fix”, they might consider Junction City Pond, an eight acre pond located on the west side of Highway 99 just south of Junction City. The pond was planted this week with 2,250 legal rainbow trout and 500 trophies (15-inchers) – or more than 340 trout per acre. If you go – expect company.
Beginning Jan.1, there will be a new steelhead bag limit on rivers where wild steelhead harvest is allowed. Check the 2019 Sport Fishing Regulations for details.
A series of water-laden storms have moved through the southwest zone. Rivers are up and fish are moving. Winter steelhead and hatchery chinook have now spread throughout the Rogue. Anglers may want to consider plunking during these higher water events. As the water drops, anglers typically switch to side drifting with eggs or tossing spinners.
On the middle, fishing for summer steelhead has slowed, but anglers are still picking up some fresh late summers, as some downrunners. Winter steelhead started showed up at Cole Rivers Hatchery a week ago, likely nudged through the system with the Christmas and New Years high water. Last week a number of angler reported winter steelhead showing up around Galice, which is downstream of Hog Creek for those unaware of the Rogue landmarks. These fish are on the move, and likely heading for the upper river.
One wild steelhead per day and 3 per year may be retained below Hog Creek boat ramp if they are at least 24-inches long. Beginning Feb. 1 through April 30, the rest of the Rogue River to Cole Rivers Hatchery will open to retention of wild winter steelhead at least 24-inches long as part of the daily or annual salmon/steelhead bag limit of 1 wild Steelhead per day and 3 per year. Consult the sport fishing regulations for further information and clarification.
Running plugs from a drift boat is not a bad option. Drifting nightcrawlers, roe, or yarn balls are always a good call. A diversity of bait will always help your chances when steelhead fishing.
Gold Hill to Rogue River, Baker to Lathrop or Ferry Hole, or Griffin Park to Robertson Bridge are all good floats this time of year.
Half-pounders are worth targeting throughout the winter from Lathrop downstream to Graves Creek. Last weeks report of Half-pounders in the Galice area was surprisingly slow, however, for the angler willing to hike in below Graves Creek and Rainie Falls, reports are very good for half-pounder steelhead fishing.
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. Drifting roe or nightcrawlers are very effective.
Further upstream, Griffin Park and Robertson Bridge are good places to plunk or use a side-planer setup with plugs or Spin-N-Glos for bank anglers.
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.
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. There have probably been more duck hunters out here than anglers as of late.
There’s still probably 10-15 percent of the summer steelhead run expected to enter the hatchery. Last week was another excellent push of fish. Expect another few weeks of the tail end of the hatchery summer steelhead fishery. Try fishing roe, nightcrawlers, spinners, or jigs.
The upper Rogue water levels don’t typically fluctuate dramatically upstream of Elk Creek.
On the Umpqua, there should be winter steelhead throughout the main and the river might come into shape for the weekend. There have been reports of fish being caught throughout. All wild steelhead must be released in the Umpqua.
Steelhead fishing should be good and recent reports have anglers catching a few in the lower river. The peak for the North is in later February and March.
There should be decent numbers of steelhead in the South and a few are being caught.
Anglers are catching hatchery winter steelhead in the West Fork Millicoma, East Fork Millicoma, and South Fork Coos rivers. Steelhead anglers wanting to fish the South Fork Coos River will need to purchase a Dellwood Fishing Permit from the Weyerhaeuser website.
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. Cabezon retention is closed until July 2019.
Steelhead anglers have caught a few hatchery steelhead in the mainstem Coquille and lower reaches of the South Fork Coquille. Another good rain is needed to get the next group of fish to move upriver.
There have been recent reports of folks fishing on the ice, 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.
Make sure to contact Diamond Lake Lodge for up-to-date conditions. Anglers can check fishing and water conditions at Diamond Lake on the Diamond Lake Resort Facebook page or call 541-793-3333 for updates.