From Pete Heley at www.PeteHeley.com
The fishtrap just below Eel Lake on Eel Creek was checked last week and had about 35 adult cohos and 50 jacks in it, most of which were quite dark. These salmon had to ascend Tenmile Creek for about three miles before heading up Eel Creek (which was virtually dried up a month ago). The salmon in the Eel Creek trap did not have to continue up Tenmile Creek, but easily could have reached the lake – an indication that some non-hatchery cohos did enter Tenmile Lakes this year.
Starting on January 1st, second rod licenses for 2019 will be legal to use on Tenmile Lakes – as well as on Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes, since the salmon seasons on these lakes will be over.
More than any other lake in our area, Tenmile is giving up occasional good catches of largemouth bass- mostly to anglers slowly fishing scented soft plastics. Yellow perch caught recently in our area are getting pretty “chunky” and will get even more so before they actually spawn in late February or early March.
Although the season is winding down, there are still some late-run fall chinook in the Elk and Sixes rivers and Floras Creek should have a few chinooks in by now as well. A 45 pound fall chinook was reported caught on the Chetco River two weeks ago.
Recently, the key to success on these streams has been hitting them when stream conditions are such that they are at their most fishable. The same can be said for any winter steelhead stream.
Wild (unclipped) steelhead will be legal to keep on several south coast streams with a daily limit of one unclipped steelhead and a seasonal limit of three unclipped steelhead. These streams are the Elk and Sixes rivers, Pistol and Winchuck rivers.
Crabbing has been surprisingly good in the lower portions of Coos Bay and the Umpqua River. The Charleston area of Coos Bay and the Half Moon Bay area on the Umpqua River were giving up limits to boat crabbers last week. A few of the dock bound crabbers even managed to make decent crab catches.
The ocean has been open to recreational crabbing since December 1st, but weather and bar and ocean conditions have not allowed many crabbers to try it. Barring an extension or elevated toxin levels in tested crabs, the commercial crab season is scheduled to begin on January 1st. The commercial crab season in northern California has been delayed to at least January 15th because of elevated toxin levels in tested crabs.
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.
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.
Trout fishing in streams and rivers will reopen May 22, 2019.
Steelhead fishing opened on Smith River up to Sisters Creek Dec. 1. There should be a number of fish coming into the river with recent rains and the river should be fishable.
There should be winter steelhead throughout the Umpqua 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.
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.
There should be decent numbers of steelhead in the South and a few are being caught.
After a significant rainstorm, the Rogue received some much needed water. This has encouraged fish to move upriver as well as into the tributaries for spawning.
Anglers may want to consider plunking during these higher water events. As the water drops, anglers should switch to side drifting with eggs or tossing spinners.
Coho salmon are also still moving up river. Anglers have reported catch in the lower sections of the Rogue. Only hatchery coho may be kept as part of an angler’s adult and jack salmon daily bag limit.
In the middle: Fishing for summer steelhead has slowed as many of these fish are entering seasonal tributaries to spawn. The first winter Steelhead of the season showed up at Cole Rivers Hatchery last week, so these fish should be throughout the river. However fishing for these does not typically heat up until later in February. Still, rain pulses will move fish and good pods of winter steelhead now through April.
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 as the river when the river is higher, but drifting nightcrawlers and even throwing Blue Fox or Mepps spinners has been producing when water clarity is better.
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. Drifting roe or nightcrawlers are very effective. Fishing for these from Hog Creek boat ramp to Graves Creek has been good, however only experienced driftboaters should be floating these floats as you will encounter Galice Chute and Argo Rapid; know where your take outs are if you don’t want to run these rapids. There are many BLM public access points to bank fish for these from Hog Creek to Graves Creek.
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’s still probably 10-20 percent of the summer steelhead run expected to enter the hatchery. Last week was an excellent push of fish. Expect another week or two of the tail end of the hatchery summer steelhead fishery. Try fishing roe, nightcrawlers, spinners, or jigs. The Coho run is just about done.
The upper Rogue water levels don’t typically fluctuate dramatically upstream of Elk Creek.
Expect snow and limited parking above Lost Creek Reservoir. Anglers will need to walk into fishing access sites. There are still trout available for the hardy angler. The Prospect gauge is reading 39 degrees. With cold water, you’ll want to swing your lure right in front of fish.
Anglers can cast flies or smaller lures like a Panther Martin or rooster tail. Often tipping the lure with bait helps to produce. In slower holes, fishing straight bait such as nightcrawler, Pautzke eggs, even PowerBait will produce.
A few steelhead have been caught in Tenmile Creek this past week. Eel Creek opens to steelhead fishing starting on Jan. 1.
Trout fishing is starting to pick up again on Tenmile Lakes. Trout anglers are catching rainbow trout and cutthroat trout, some measuring nearly 20-inches long.
The wild coho fishery closed Dec. 31.
And on the ocean, bottomfishing should be decent if the ocean lays down.
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.