SW Oregon Fishing Reports for February 23rd, 2018

From ODF&W

Bottom Fishing

When weather and ocean conditions have allowed anglers to get out on the ocean, fishing has been good out of most ports. For larger lingcod, try fishing closer to shore instead of offshore, as a somewhat larger average size has been reported. The rockfish bite has been very slow out of Newport this past week, as per angler reports.

In the flatfish fishery, creels typically include sanddabs, sand sole, and Petrale sole. Creels from the Offshore longleader trips often consist of a nice grade of yellowtail, widow, and canary rockfishes.
Diamond Lake fishing has been good during the abnormally high air temperatures and no snow. The last report from the lake was that it was free of ice and fishable.

Fish Lake was stocked last week with 700 larger-size rainbow trout. Tiger trout and Chinook salmon also have been stocked. Brook trout also are available. Fish Lake is currently ice-free but that could change depending on the weather. Reports from the lake indicate rainbow in the 14-inch range are being caught. Anglers have had good success in boats casting flies and lures like little close in to shore and retrieving back to the boat. The lake is currently 72 percent full. Anglers should be aware that a snow park permit is needed to use the USFS lot at the boat ramp in winter. The resort will be open Fridays through Sundays during the winter.

Lake Selmac was stocked last week with 5,000 legal-size rainbow trout complimenting the legal-sized, large rainbows and fingerlings stocked last fall. Road closures are still in effect due to work on the spillway for the dam, but a detour reportedly remains available to the Mallard Loop area of the lake. Boat anglers are reminded to clean weeds off boats before leaving the lake.

Lower Rogue River – There is some rain in the forecast this week, but it likely won’t be enough to alter river conditions. A few winter steelhead are being picked up by anglers plunking Spin-n-Glos. Boat anglers are starting to catch more steelhead. Most fish are being caught while boats are anchored up and running plugs waiting for steelhead to move up river. Boat anglers side drifting eggs in the Agness area are also picking up some fish. It has been chilly lately so bundle up!

The middle Rogue is low and fishing for winter steelhead has been fair. Holdover half-pounders are present and are biting aggressively. Yarn balls, plugs and fly-fishing all work well throughout the middle river. The river is also open for trout fishing. Five hatchery trout may be harvested per day. Wild trout must be released unharmed.

As of Tuesday morning, the flow in Grants Pass was 1,640 cfs, the water temperature was 39oF, and the clarity was 1 NTUs. For those interested in checking conditions before getting on the river, the City of Grants Pass Water Division’s website offers information on river conditions at Grants Pass as well as a link to a river camera.

Winter steelhead are available in the upper Rogue but it will take some time for large numbers of fish to arrive. Updated fish counts at Cole Rivers Hatchery can be viewed here.

Trout are also available. Only hatchery rainbow trout can be kept, while all cutthroat trout and wild rainbow trout must be released unharmed.

The river discharge from Lost Creek Reservoir was 1,100 cfs and 42oF on Tuesday, Feb. 20. For the most current releases of water out of Lost Creek Reservoir, call 1-800-472-2434.

From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com

While the ODFW planted trout at many spots around Oregon for last weekend’s “Free Fishing Weekend”, they sure didn’t plant any trout around our area. Hopefully, there were fair numbers of stocked trout left from previous plants in some of the Florence-area lakes. While I’m griping, I might as well mention the “new, improved” trout stocking portion of the ODFW website. Hopefully, there will be major improvements in this portion of the site, but as of now, it is pretty much useless for planning a fishing trip around anticipated trout plants more than ten days in the future.

Before they “improved” the site, it showed that Loon Lake was slated to be stocked the last week of this month and Lake Marie was to be stocked the second week of March.

Oregon’s crab fishery got a wake-up call this week when the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the immediate closure of all recreational crabbing on the southern Oregon coast from Cape Blanco to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes Dungeness and red rock crab harvested from the ocean as well as in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties.

What is unprecedented, at least in recent years, is a requirement that commercial crabbers crabbing south of Cape Blanco must have the crab viscera (guts) removed by a licensed processor prior to being available for public purchase. There is also a recall on all live or whole-cooked crab caught since Feb. 13.

Crabbing at Winchester Bay, has suffered the least, “closure-wise”, and crabbing is still fair, but getting tougher for the dock crabbers. Most boat crabbers are still getting near-limits if they’re spending much time at it. The most productive crabbing has recently been the lower portion of Coos Bay near Charleston.

Sadly, this year’s commercial crab season may be a harbinger of what will be normal for future crab seasons – one can only hope it isn’t so.

Low, clear water has the steelhead fishing on hold. There seem to be fair numbers of fish in most local streams, but they seldom bite in such conditions and fishing is poor.

Bottomfishing has been fair off of area jetties and boats venturing offshore to deeper reefs are still doing great for lingcod and fair to good for rockfish. Winchester Bay’s South Jetty produced striped surfperch to 14-inches and two pounds last week on Berkley Gulp. It was only about ten years ago that the world record for striped surfperch was one pound and 14 ounces and that fish remained the record for 38 years.

They are still catching some redtail surfperch off area beaches, but last week they were running small, and the occasional walleye surfperch even smaller. The stormy weather seemed to move the fish around and fishing is inconsistent – but improving.

I know I’m repeating myself, but it’s the best time to catch yellow perch at their maximum weights is now. By the first week of March, the spawn will be over and those chunky egg-laden female perch will, once again, have normal girths.

My new fishing-goal for this year is to catch bass from 50 different waters in Oregon. As often as I actually go fishing, this goal is more difficult to achieve than it would first appear. I think I’m going to have to catch bass from multiple small waters in the Hauser and Florence areas on the same day. I also want to make sure that I catch all four species of bass (largemouth, smallmouth, striped and spotted) while I am doing it – all the while not cutting back on the time I spend fishing for other species.

The striper will most likely be an incidentally-taken fish while fishing the Coquille River for smallmouth bass. The spotted bass may be the tough one since they have been in Lost Creek Reservoir for at least ten years and I’ve never caught one, but Dorena and Cottage Grove reservoirs have small numbers of them and those waters are 100 miles closer than Lost Creek. The main purpose of this goal is to “force” me to go fishing more often and in new places.

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.

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