Reports over the last couple of weeks indicate that the lingcod are on the bite and most anglers are able to get their limits pretty easily, with reports of some larger fish being caught relatively shallow. Rockfish fishing has been a lot more hit and miss with anglers spending more time to catch close to their limit. Other species showing up on bottomfish trips include kelp greenling, with some petrale sole mixed in.
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.
The planned ocean Chinook salmon (all salmon except coho) season will open as scheduled from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt. from March 15 through April 30, 2018. The bag limit will be two salmon, except closed to retention of coho, with a minimum size of 24-inches for Chinook and a minimum size of 20-inches for steelhead. Within 15 fathoms of depth off Tillamook between Twin Rocks and Pyramid Rock all retained Chinook must have a healed fin clip.
Galesville should have good numbers of trout from previous stockings. The reservoir has been stocked with 2,000 trout this year and is scheduled to receive another 2,000 trout this week. Also 50 lunkers between 7 and 15 pounds were stocked this week. In addition to trout, the reservoir was stocked with coho smolts until 2015. Anglers have reported recent catches of coho measuring up to 14-inches. Many people mistakenly think these fish are kokanee. The coho smolts should be adipose fin-clipped, and please remember to release the ones less than 8-inches long.
In Galesville Reservoir, all landlocked salmon are considered trout and are part of the five-per-day trout limit, with only one trout over 20-inches long allowed for harvest.
Fishing for bass and other panfish should be decent. Call 541-837-3302 for information on camping and boat launching conditions.
Winter steelhead fishing continues to be pretty good on the lower Rogue River. River conditions have been almost perfect and many steelhead were reported caught over the weekend with good catches reported by boat and bank anglers. Spring chinook continues to be spotty. Anglers can expect spring chinook numbers to pick up over the next couple weeks.
The middle Rogue woke up and fishing for winter steelhead has been pretty good. March into early April is typically peak migration through the middle Rogue for winter Steelhead. 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 2,340 cfs, the water temperature was 48oF, and the clarity was 6 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 and fishing was good over the weekend with the first good reports of winter fish being caught. 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 900 cfs and 42oF on Tuesday, March 20. For the most current releases of water out of Lost Creek Reservoir, call 1-800-472-2434.
Recent rains should make for some good fishing throughout the North Umpqua. Chinook fishing opened on the North up to Deadline Falls. Springer fishing doesn’t usually pick up until April. The first confirm springer was harvested this last weekend.
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.
Steelhead fishing was good last week on the Chetco River with anglers picking up a mix of fresh and spawned-out steelhead. This is a great time of year to run plugs or fly fish the river as boat traffic has dropped. Angers can expect fishing to remain good through the month of March.
With just enough rain to keep the Elk River in perfect condition, anglers have been doing well on steelhead. Drift fishing is still the best method, but running plugs can be very effective this time of year. To check river current conditions, call 541-332-0405. The best river height to drift the river is 5.2 feet and dropping.
The Illinois River will rise again this week from the forecast rain but should be in great shape by the weekend, just like last week. Fishing has continued to be good when the river is dropping for those putting in the effort. Only hatchery trout may be retained. Wild steelhead over 24-inches may be harvested, 1 per day and 5 per year. See 2018 fishing regulations for more information.
From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com
After the sizable trout plants last week, most area lakes have uncaught planters still in them, but a couple of area lakes will receive their first trout plants of this year – this week. Woahink, a fairly deep lake of nearly 800 acres will receive 1,000 trophy rainbows and within a week, many of these trout will migrate to the three northernmost arms of the lake which will then have a population density sufficient for the trout to be successfully targeted.
Both Upper and Lower Empire Lakes are each slated for 400 trophy rainbows this week. The Empire Lakes total about 55 acres – about the size of Saunders Lake and most of the carryover trout left in these fairly shallow lakes will be in Upper Empire as Lower Empire missed some scheduled plants late last summer due to high water temperatures caused by warm weather and weedy, shallow water. Usually these lakes start receiving trout plants in early to mid-February, but this will be their first trout plant this year.
Mingus Park Pond, only two feet deep and covering two acres should really perk up when it receives 2,000 legal rainbows this week. The small pond’s meager panfish population will have to compete with the trout while the few bass large enough to consume the freshly stocked trout will be following them around hoping to do exactly that, and almost all of this will be visible from the bank surrounding this shallow pond. One can also expect an influx of trout anglers and predatory birds – mostly seagulls and herons.
Also being stocked this week are Bradley Lake (200 trophies) and Powers Pond (3,000 legals and 150 trophies). Johnson Mill Pond, which had the access gate locked last week due to high water, is slated to receive 50 trophy rainbows this week.
Six acre Elbow Lake is slated to receive 1,400 trophy rainbows this week.
Yellow perch have pretty much finished spawning so the chance of encountering truly hefty perch is reduced, but the bite should be more consistent and the fish more scattered – reducing the chance of getting “skunked”. Warmer, more stable weather would help the freshwater bassfishing, which is appears to be one warm and stable weather week away from busting completely loose from the mediocre fishing of the last few weeks.
Winchester Bay’s South Jetty, along with most other jetties along the Oregon coast, have been producing fair fishing for assorted bottomfish and good fishing for lingcod. Bottomfishing in waters deeper than 30 fathoms is scheduled to close at midnight on March 31st – so if you want to get a trip out to the most productive spots – you’ve got two weeks to do it – or wait until October 1st.
This year’s forecast of Columbia River fall chinook is down more than 50 percent from the 10-year average. While the ocean chinook salmon fishery opened on March 15th – as usual, the season will almost certainly will not have its normal October 31st ending date. In fact, the current season, subject to possible extension, only goes to April 30th – and a major factor in opening it at all was that the early ocean chinook salmon season typically has little fishing pressure. The commercial ocean chinook season will remain closed during the current six week recreational fishery.
Pete Heley works parttime at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from ‘A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.