Winter fishing for rockfish and lingcod is excellent

Winter fishing for rockfish and lingcod is excellent when boats can get out. Launches should be possible early next week. In addition, ocean crabbing becomes legal once again starting December 1.

In last week’s newsletter, the closure of Tenmile, Tahkenitch and Siltcoos was stated incorrectly. All of the above lakes will open for wild coho fishing through December 31st, 2014. Thanks and a tip o’ the fishing hat to subscriber Bill S. for catching the gaff.

The first winter steelhead of the season may be caught on the Alsea as conditions improve in the coming week. Native steelhead will be available on the mainstem Umpqua when it drops and clears sufficiently following the storm front due to hit this coming weekend.

The Rogue is forecast to blow out this coming Saturday and Sunday. Even the upper river will experience a significant rise. Once it recovers, fishing will continue for the tail-end of the Chinook run and summer steelhead.

The Chetco should clear sufficiently to plunk early next week with backbouncers and plug-pullers getting in on the action around mid-week. Fishing has been decent as Chinook commonly run big at this time of year as the run is winding down.

The late Chinook run on the Elk and Sixes has rewarded anglers with nice fish following every recent freshet as the rivers rapidly drop and clear.

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Driving past one of the coastal estuaries a few days ago when wind and rain was ferocious and waves were crashing on the east shore rip-rap, it was surprising, amusing and a little scary to see a kayak on the water. Particularly as this tiny boat’s skipper was balancing a full-sized, commercial-style crab pot. Perhaps foolish, but one had to admire his adventurous spirit. For more crazy kayak hi-jinx on video, see Random Links, below.

When those rare windows have opened to allow boats to safely cross to the ocean where they may fish any depth of water without restriction, few are bothering to do so. Nearshore catches of lingcod and rockfish are too good to bother exploring greater depths.

There’s not much hope for offshore launches this weekend, but the prediction from the NOAA for Monday through Wednesday of the coming week look downright friendly with three-foot swells at 11 seconds or better, and light winds. Go get ’em.

Closed since the end of August (yeah, all those Dungeness you’ve been buying from Mega-Mart seafood cases had been frozen since then), commercial and sport crabbers may once again drop pots in the ocean starting Friday, November 28th. Bay crabbing has been good enough the past several weeks that recreational crabbers haven’t missed ocean crabbing.

Correction: In last week’s newsletter, the closure of Tenmile, Tahkenitch and Siltcoos was stated incorrectly. All of the above lakes will open for wild coho fishing through December 31st, 2014. Thanks and a tip o’ the fishing hat to subscriber Bill S. for catching the gaff.

Conditions are predicted to be good on the Alsea in the first week of December following the freshet this weekend. It’s a bit of a long shot for an early fish but winter steelhead will be entering the Alsea sometime in December for sure. It opens above River Edge landing on December 1st.

The graph record of the changes in Umpqua mainstem water flow looks like a roller coaster too wild to ride. Hang on, ’cause it’s headed uphill this weekend toward a major blowout. All is not lost however. As it drops, it’ll offer some decent catch-and-release action for wild steelhead.

The jetty has been producing good catches of rockfish at Coos Bay while the bay continues to produce limits or near limits to crabbers. Effort will be low during stormy periods but Dungeness results are expected to remain good when the weather improves. The wild coho season ends on the Coos River Sunday, November 30th.

With the exception of the last of the Indian Creek fish, Rogue Bay is done for Chinook fishing. The Rogue took a hit from rainfall over the past weekend, rising a couple of feet from Grants Pass to Agness and flow on the upper Rogue increased significantly for the first time this season. The scenario looks remarkably similar for the weekend to come. A few Chinook have been caught on the lower Rogue with catches fair to good around Grants Pass for anglers using bait.  The larger changes in depth and flow coming this weekend on the middle and lower river will stall fishing efforts. Despite lots of leaves in the water, the upper Rogue has been producing steelhead on plugs and egg imitations below Shady Cove boat ramp where bait is disallowed. Above that point, roe has been effective. While the upper Rogue is likely to double in volume Saturday and Sunday, it will be dropping rapidly in the first of next week.

While the Chetco River will dropping through Friday this week, it is forecast to rise over the coming weekend and stay in the 4,800 range for a few days. While that’s a level at which anglers switch to plunking, the prediction of a rapid rise means it’ll be muddy for a while as well. It should clear sufficiently to plunk early next week with backbouncers and plug-pullers getting in on the action around mid-week. Fishing has been decent as Chinook commonly run big at this time of year as the run is winding down. Bear in mind, however that only one wild Chinook per day can be kept and no more than five for the year.

Incidentally, the Chinook salmon run on the Chetco has been so good this year that the ODFW easily exceeded the required number of fish spawned for broodstock which means one more reason for optimism in runs to come.

Smaller rivers such as the Elk and Sixes are volatile, blowing out one day and if the rain stops, dropping and clearing the next. As these two have been on the drop, they have also been producing good numbers of large Chinook. For the latest river conditions, call the hatchery hotline: 541-332-7025. It’s updated daily in season at 8 AM.

A number of anglers have reported that fishing is good for large trout at Garrison Lake near Port Orford.

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