SW Oregon Fishing Report January 25th, 2019

From Pete Heley at www.PeteHeley.com

A current hot topic on the internet is the number of complaints regarding undersized crabs that are being sold in larger markets from Newport north to Astoria and in the Portland area. The complaints are surprising in that the commercial crab fishery is closely regulated to the point where any long term benefit from selling undersized dungeness crabs would be unlikely. It is interesting that none of the complaining posters has yet to actually measure any of the” undersized” crabs.

The commercial crab fishery doesn’t need any more negative news as the last several years have featured several toxin-related closures.

In fact, the commercial crab fishery in northern California just reopened after being closed due to elevated levels of domoic acid in tested crabs.

Some ice fishing took place at Diamond Lake last week, but warmer temperatures and a fair amount of rain put a stop to it. Anglers fishing the larger coast lakes for the next five weeks should be catching some very girthy yellow perch.

From ODF&W

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.

On the Chetco River chinook salmon and steelhead season is open. Wild chinook may be harvested 1/day and 5/year as part of the daily or annual salmon/steelhead bag limit. Wild steelhead may be harvested 1/day and 3/year as part of a daily or annual salmon/steelhead bag limit.

Heavy rains in the South Coos and Millicoma basins caused high/turbid water over the weekend. Look for improved steelhead angling conditions with river flows decreasing as the week progresses. Steelhead anglers wanting to fish the South Fork Coos River will need to purchase a Dellwood Fishing Access Permit from the Weyerhaeuser website.

Trout fishing in streams and rivers will reopen May 22, 2019, while lakes in the basin are open year-round. Spring stocking of Coos area lakes will begin the last week of February and first week of March.

Heavy rains in the Coquille basin caused high/turbid water over the weekend. Look for improved steelhead angling conditions with river flows decreasing as the week progresses.

On Eel Lake, fishing for trout has been decent in deep water near the boat ramp. Eel Lake has some holdover trout in excess of 15-inches long.

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

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.

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.

The Rogue is open for hatchery rainbow trout through March 31; 5/day. Wild rainbow and cutthroat trout must be released.

On the middle, the last weekend’s heavy rain and high river flows should mean the end of summer steelhead fishing. Anglers will be encountering downrunners or kelts, and should limit their handling of these fish by not removing them from the water, if possible. No reports of what this water has done to half-pounder fishing yet, however, it should help to move in some fresh winter steelhead. Winter steelhead doesn’t really heat up in the Rogue until later in February. The river should be dropping into good conditions as the week and weekend progresses.

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 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 SW zonewide. Consult the 2019 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. Target these fish from Galice to Grave Creek by boat, or for the hardy angler willing to hike into the Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue. Anglers report great half-pounder fishing downstream of Rainie Falls. Remember, only 5 hatchery rainbow trout may be retained per day. All wild rainbow trout and cuttroat trout must be released throughout the river.

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.

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. There have probably been more duck hunters out here than anglers as of late.

The last stragglers of this year’s summer steelhead run are making their way to the hatchery. 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, nightcrawlers, spinners or jigs under bobbers.

As of Jan. 16, 3026 summer steelhead had entered Cole Rivers Hatchery, with 40 new for that week. The initial early pulse of winter steelhead slowed to only 3 new fish for the week, bringing the total to 225 fish for the season; still a great start.

Tenmile Creek water levels increased this past weekend with heavy rains, but conditions remain fishable. Eel Creek opened to steelhead fishing starting on Jan. 1. Closed to trout fishing until May 22, 2019.

There have been some really good reports throughout the main Umpqua. The current forecast has the river coming into shape maybe by the weekend. All wild steelhead must be released in the Umpqua so please follow good catch-and-release techniques.

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 some good reports throughout the South. The river is forecasted to drop back into shape and there should be lots of fish in the river.