SW Oregon Fishing Reports for April 19th, 2018

From ODF&W

Bottom Fishing

Weather this last couple of weeks has prevented most anglers from fishing for bottomfish. Reports from the last week prior to the series of systems moving through indicated that the lingcod bite had slowed somewhat, but many anglers were still able to get their limits. Rockfish fishing had been a lot more hit and miss with anglers spending more time to catch close to their limit. Reminder that as of Sunday, April 1, the bottomfish fishery is restricted to inside of the 30 fathom regulatory line.

The longleader gear fishery outside of the 40 fathom regulatory line has been authorized to continue in April through September. Recent catches from the offshore longleader trips often consist of a nice grade of yellowtail, widow and canary rockfishes. Reminder that the Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Area is closed to all bottomfish trips, including longleader trips.

The Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation area, approximately 15 miles west of Newport, is closed to bottomfish (groundfish) and halibut fishing year round.

On the Lower Rogue River we’ve had a bit of rain, but the water level should begin to drop this week. Spring chinook has started to turn on. Bank anglers plunking have had some success in the lower Rogue. Steelhead has been winding down, but can still be harvested through the rest of April. There should be great fishing opportunities over the next few weeks.

Steelhead fishing has been fair on the middle Rogue River, and the first spring Chinook are arriving in the middle Rogue. Yarn balls, plugs and fly-fishing all work well throughout the middle river.

The Rogue River is currently closed to trout fishing. It will reopen for trout on May 22.

Winter steelhead are available in the upper Rogue, and fishing has been good. The first spring Chinook of the season has arrived at Cole River Fish Hatchery. Updated fish counts at Cole Rivers Hatchery can be viewed here.

The Rogue River is currently closed to trout fishing. It will reopen for trout on May 22.

Around the Umpqua weather forecasts have been off a bit recently. Springers are still hard to come by and most winter steelhead have moved through the system. There should be more springers to come and the later part of April can be decent for winters.

There have been reports of large groups of juvenile steelhead moving through the basin. Please remember to release these fish quickly and unharmed. Trout fishing in the mainstem Umpqua tributaries will reopen May 22, 2018 and is catch-and-release only.

Steelhead fishing was really good before the North Umpqua River came up. The river is looking really good for steelhead fishing and should be good through the end of the month. Chinook fishing opened on the North up to Deadline Falls, but very few have been caught so far.

Check with the US Forest Service regarding potential trail closures on the North Umpqua. Most access points are open, but some trails remain closed after this summer’s fire. The North Umpqua is closed to Chinook fishing till February. Trout fishing in North Umpqua and its tributaries is closed until May 22, 2018.

Note that from Oct. 1 through June 30 fishing in the fly water area is restricted to the use of a single, barbless artificial fly.

UMPQUA RIVER, SOUTH: winter steelhead

Prior to the rise in the south Umpqua Riverr fishing has been really good. There has definitely been a mix bag, but there are still some bright fish moving through the river. The Umpqua has a late run of steelhead. Watch the river level as fishing should be good if it drops back into shape.

Smith River steelhead fishing is open upstream to Sisters Creek on the mainstem and to bridge ten (~14.5 miles up the N.F. Smith River Rd.) on the North Fork. Steelhead fishing should still be productive in the month of March. The Smith can be one of the first to clear after a large storm. Striped bass fishing usually picks up in the spring, but they can be hard to find.

Fishing for bass and other warmwater fish has been getting better, especially on warm afternoons. Consider Agate Lake, Emigrant Reservoir, Expo Pond, Lake Selmac and Reinhart Park Pond.

Anglers have reported catching rockfish and lingcod inside the Umpqua jetty and in Coos Bay near the north jetty and other submerged rock structures.

From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com

There was some good news last week regarding ocean salmon fishing. The ocean chinook season, which normally runs from March 15th through October 31st, but this year was only slated to run from March 15th through April 30th has been extended to its normal October 31st closing date. As for ocean coho salmon, the quota for finclipped cohos was increased to 35,000 from last year’s 15,000. There will also be a nonselective ocean coho season which will run on Fridays and Saturdays beginning on September 7th and run until September 29th or when the quota of 3,550 cohos is reached.

The ocean finclipped season will start on June 30th and run through September 3rd – if the 35,000 finclipped coho quota has not been reached.

Generous quotas and seasons will not ensure good ocean salmon fishing – only the opportunity to fish. The ODFW forecast for coho is down this year for both the Oregon coast and Columbia River, – largely due to poor ocean feed conditions.

Ocean salmon anglers can look forward to more opportunity this year based on recommendations made last week for federal waters (outside three miles) during a Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Portland.

The PFMC recommendations will be forwarded to NOAA Fisheries for approval and implementation. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will be asked to adopt matching rules for State waters (inside 3 mi) at their April 20 meeting in Astoria.

Unlike the full closure to salmon fishing last year, the area south of Humbug Mt to the OR/CA border will be open to sport fishing for chinook from May 19-Aug. 29. The strong forecast for Rogue River fall Chinook is a bright spot for the coast this year.

Commercial troll fishing for Chinook will be open intermittently along the whole Oregon coast from May through the summer. In 2017, all commercial salmon trolling was closed south of Florence.

Winchester Bay’s South Jetty continues to provide fair fishing for striped surfperch, greenling and rockfish and good fishing for lingcod. Muddy Umpqua River water can best be dealt with by fishing near high tide when the clearer ocean water is most evident. Fishing for redtail surfperch in the surf has been fair to good at Sparrow Park Road, near the second parking lot south of Winchester Bay – and also at Horsfall Beach near North Bend.

Trout plants this week in the Florence area include Alder Lake (850 legals, 511 trophies); Dune Lake (850 legals, 711 trophies); Perkins Lake (325 trophies); Siltcoos Lagoon (881 trophies); Siltcoos Lake (1,000 trophies) and Sutton Lake (1,500 trophies) Trout plants in Coos County include South Tenmile Lake (3,000 legals); Powers Pond (3,000 legals; and Lower Empire Lake (2,000 trophies). Upper Empire Lake is slated to receive 2,000 trophy rainbows next week. Garrison Lake, in Port Orford, was also stocked (3,000 legals, 200 trophies).

Normally, April is a productive month to catch striped bass. Because of low striper numbers in the Umpqua River-Smith River system and muddy water in the Coquille River there have been no recent reports. The small striper population that once existed on the Rogue River above Gold Beach seems to have disappeared with colder water releases from Lost Creek and Applegate reservoirs.

Recent cool temperatures has put the “kibosh” on warmwater fishing success. Spawning crappie have yet to show up at the upper end of Loon Lake or the lower end of Eel Lake.

If and when the Umpqua River clears and drops there should be fishable numbers of shad in the river.

Police are asking for the public’s help after three bald eagles were found shot to death near Albany on March 16. An Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division trooper responding to tip discovered three dead eagles in the Tangent area south of Albany. Gunshot wounds were found on each bird.

An angler that recently posted a picture of a lower Cowlitz River spring chinook on a popular online fishing site was met with numerous posts filled with anger, scorn and even derision – to the point where the angler posted even more detailed information on the catch and promised to continue to do so in the future.

It is with deep regret that I received news of the passing of Patrick McManus. He once wrote me a very encouraging letter to me regarding one of my attempts at a humorous article decades ago. I consider McManus to have had the zaniest sense of humor of any outdoor writer in my lifetime – with the possible exception of Ed Zern.

Pete 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.