Big Chetco River Steelhead

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Central & South Coast Reports – The ocean was friendly on Wednesday this week, allowing Charters to venture offshore out of Depoe Bay and Newport. Catches of ling cod and rockfish were good with limits common on a flat ocean. Offshore anglers are reminded that cabezon may not be retained as part of a rockfish limit until July 1.

One complaint heard repeatedly this week regarding offshore ling cod fishing is that the wind has been too light to get a decent drift. No complaints about ocean conditions, though.

Crabbing has been slow in the ocean out of Newport but it’s still worse for ports to the south. It’s hardly worth the effort out of Brookings, for instance.

Today, January 8th would be a good day for an offshore launch, as would any day this coming weekend and into the coming week. Small swells at decent intervals will be accompanied by soft breezes if the current predictions hold true.

Winter steelheading is taking off on the Siuslaw River. Slowly, but it is beginning to show a little life. Give it time; it’s still early in the season.

Steelheading on the mainstem Umpqua will remain a catch-and-release affair for the most part as the cast majority of fish hooked will be wild. A similar situation will exist on the North Umpqua as number build here. Most of the steelhead on the South Umpqua will be of hatchery origin so this would be the logical destination for anglers looking to take a winter home for dinner.

Boats launching for bottom fish out of Coos Bay are doing well for rocks and ling cod, the latter of which are being caught in 20 to 100 feet of water as they are moving shallower at this time of year to spawn. High, murky water which shut down rockfishing along Coos Bay jetties has cleared with catches starting to pick up once again. Crabbing is also improving as salinity levels return to normal. The West Fork Millicoma River has produced some winter steelhead this week. The Rogue was running in the 4,000 cfs range at Agness on Thursday, January 8th although it is forecast to gradually moderate over the coming week. There will be no significant drop in water level according to NOAA predictions. Steelheading has been fair to good for drift fishers. Winters are entering the middle Rogue where catches have been picking up for side drifters. On the upper Rogue, flows resulting from Lost Creek Reservoir releases are moderating which has allowed fishing to resume here.

New Year’s Day was marked the turning point for the Chetco River, from producing a few steelhead to steadily pumping out a mix of bright hatchery fish and chrome wild steelhead. Over the last week, a native steelhead three feet in length and estimated to weigh 19 pounds was caught and released by a guide boat client who was side-drifting roe. Another angler landed a 20-pounder on a plug. The river was at roughly 1,000 cfs the morning of January 8th, forecast to drop to less then 850 cfs early in the coming week. It remains to be seen when precipitation will turn around this low water condition. Recently, side-drifting and drift-fishing bait has taken fish. Low water has caused the action to slow but the Chetco is expected to produce winter steelhead into March.

Snow has fallen periodically on the banks of Diamond Lake but the water has yet to freeze sufficiently to allow for ice fishing.

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