Anglers have been reporting slow rockfish bite the last couple of weeks. When weather and ocean conditions have allowed anglers to get out on the ocean, fishing can be 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.
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.
Fish Lake is now ice-free and fish up to 14-inches are being caught.
Chetco River steelhead fishing has been fair. With recent rain, the water level is up and steelhead conditions are great. This should be a prime weekend to get out there. Conditions are favorable for plunking and for fishing by drift boat.
The steelhead rivers in the Coos Basin are running high and muddy with the recent rain. The West Fork Millicoma River will become fishable first followed by the East Fork Millicoma and South Fork Coos rivers. Several steelhead swam into the fish hatchery on the West Fork Millicoma River this weekend. Steelhead anglers are having success fishing eggs or yarn balls along the bottom or by fishing a jig suspended below a bobber.
Anglers fishing the South Fork Coos River above Dellwood will need a permit from Weyerhaeuser, which allows the angler access up to the Seven Mile Bridge. Permits can be obtained at Weyerhaeuser’s Coos Bay office. In the Coos Basin, 1 additional hatchery steelhead may be retained per day for a total aggregate of 3 adult hatchery fish harvested daily.
The steelhead rivers in the Coquille Basin are running high and muddy with the recent rain. There are still a lot of hatchery steelhead on the move early this week on the North Fork and South Fork Coquille rivers. The North Fork Coquille will be the first steelhead river in the basin to become fishable. Steelhead are being caught on yarn balls, eggs, and even spinners. In the Coquille Basin 1 additional hatchery steelhead may be retained per day for a total aggregate of 3 adult fish harvested daily.
Fish Lake was stocked recently 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 into 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.
The lower Rogue River, with recent rainfall, the water level is up some. Winter steelhead are being picked up by anglers plunking Spin-n-Glos. Boat anglers are also catching some steelhead. Most fish are being caught while boats are anchored up and running plugs waiting for steelhead to move upriver. Boat anglers side drifting eggs in the Agness area are also picking up some fish.
There is some early interest in spring Chinook. With favorable water conditions, anglers might see some early fish move through.
The middle Rogue is up a little and fishing for winter steelhead has been fair. Rain this week could muddy things up but that will bring more fish into the area and fishing should be better by this weekend. 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 2,580 cfs, the water temperature was 41oF, and the clarity was 5 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.
Recent rains have brought the levels on the mainstem of the Umpqua River back to around normal, anglers were catching a lot of fish in the Main, and it should still be good whenever conditions allow.
Chinook fishing has reopened on the Main, however, fishing usually doesn’t pick up until March. Though some anglers may start trying for springers any day.
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.
Recent rains should make for some good fishing throughout the North Umpqua River. Chinook fishing opened on the North up to Deadline Falls. Springer fishing doesn’t usually pick up until March.
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.
Fishing has been good recently and, with recent rains, fishing should be good throughout the South Umpqua River.
From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com
The State of Oregon has an opportunity to secure the Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) Leaburg Hatchery on the McKenzie River. The Corps has announced that it plans to close the hatchery this summer as it shifts the current Leaburg production (trout and steelhead) to a private contractor. ODFW currently operates the hatchery for the Corps. The Corps has proposed a no-cost lease of the facility to ODFW, which could produce an additional 260,000 spring Chinook smolts and 100,000 trophy trout if ODFW can secure the necessary state funding.
CCA Oregon is working with Senators Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) and Fred Girod (R-Stayton) to secure an additional $350,000 in supplemental funding for ODFW to operate the facility through next June. This state funding would be combined with $150,000 of Columbia River Basin Endorsement funds paid by sports anglers to enhance recreational fisheries and implement the Columbia River reforms.
This is a great opportunity to secure an additional state fish hatchery (the state hasn’t built a new hatchery in over 40 years) AND increase spring Chinook hatchery production to benefit sport fisheries stretching throughout the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. Meanwhile, the enhanced production of trophy trout would represent a 20 percent increase in the total Willamette Valley releases of trout, a major boost to sportfishing opportunity and local economies.
So, how would this hatchery affect anglers living on the Oregon coast?
By increasing the number of salmon in the ocean along the Oregon coast and increasing Oregon’s total trout-rearing capacity – which should mean more trout available to be stocked in many Oregon waters that receive trout plants or even resuming trout plants in Oregon waters that are no longer stocked. Even if none of the additional trout were stocked along the Oregon coast, additional trout plants elsewhere in Oregon would reduce or dilute fishing pressure directed at the trout actually planted near the Oregon coast.
Speaking of trout plants – several Coos County and Douglas County waters were stocked this week. In Coos County, Bradley Lake, Johnson Mill Pond, Powers Pond and Saunders Lake each received 3,000 legal rainbow trout. In Douglas County, Loon Lake and Cooper Creek Reservoir each received 2,000 legal rainbows and Plat “I” and Ben Irving reservoirs each received 1,000. Galesville Reservoir in southern Douglas County was stocked with 1,667 trophy rainbows of 15-inches in length or more.
Although the Florence-area lakes have not been planted in nearly three weeks, they should still have decent numbers of uncaught trout as they received large numbers of trout when they were stocked.
Cold weather slowed a surprisingly good winter bass bite at Tenmile Lakes and may have been an obstacle to garnering good catches at last Saturday’s “Frostbite Open”. However the tournament has had great catches during cold weather in years past and there were some impressive catches this year, as well.
Chris Carpenter took big bass honors with a 7.47 pound lunker and teamed up with Travis Glass to win the tournament with a five bass limit weighing 22.70 pounds. The team of Jeff Abbott and Ray Hobbs finished second with five bass with a weight of 17.42 pounds. Jay Culver and Aubrey Hollaway teamed up for third with a five fish limit weighing 16.96 pounds. There were lots of bass caught that weighed between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds.
Congratulations to the Lower Umpqua Flycasters for hosting their very interesting and free Flyfishing expo in Reedsport last Saturday. It’s a shame that we have to wait a whole year until the next one. An outdoor sportsmen show that should offer different content than similar shows in the western portion of Oregon is the Central Oregon Sportsmen Show at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in Redmond. It runs from March 1st through March 4th.
Winchester Bay’s South Jetty is still offering fair fishing for striped surfperch, greenling and rockfish and the fishing for lincod is definitely improving. Hopefully, the South Jetty will continue to be productive as bottomfishing will close in waters beyond 30 fathoms at the end of March. In the meantime, offshore bottomfishing out of Winchester Bay remains excellent with good numbers of sizable lingcod taken.
Bad news for outdoor sportsmen who oppose license and tag price hikes. License revenue in Alaska rose in 2017 despite the stateselling 20 percent fewer licenses because of hefty fee hikes. This not the sort of “example” that will make other states think twice before increasing the price of their hunting and fishing licenses.
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.