Fishing and Hunting Report
River Outlook ROGUE ' Fishing for retread summer steelhead was excellent in the upper Rogue, while a good showing of early winter steelhead, including lots of wild fish, has bank anglers busy in the lower Rogue. The middle Rogue was good for halfpounders and spawned-out summer steelhead as well.
There are Christmas fish all over the Rogue, but the best bet is the upper Rogue, thanks to the recent release of about 3,200 excess summer steelhead. The recycled steelhead from Cole Rivers Hatchery were split Friday and Monday between the Modoc Unit of the Denman Wildlife Area and the TouVelle State Park boat ramp.
Fishing for these steelhead will be excellent with flies and lures all week, and the numbers are so high that the unusually huge concentration of fish could make for some easy catching.
Beginning Jan. 1, anglers in the upper Rogue can use roe or worms to catch these fish. Until then, it's flies and lures only, with barbed or barbless flies allowed.
In the far upper Rogue upstream of Rogue Elk Park, summer steelhead anglers can use bait while fishing. Most of the action remains in the Hatchery Hole, where a good mix of late-run coho and summer steelhead are getting caught consistently throughout the day. Roe is the main bait.
Only fin-clipped coho and summer steelhead may be kept.
Water conditions were very good for bank angling in the lower Rogue, where good numbers of early winter steelhead continue to move into the river. Bank fishing with Spin-Glo's was very good at Huntley Park, Lobster Creek and Dunkelberger Bar. The vast majority of the catch has been wild fish so far, and they all must be released unharmed until Jan. 1. On New Year's Day, anglers from Whiskey Creek near Rainie Falls will be allowed to keep one wild fish 24 inches or longer per day, but no more than five per season.
In the middle Rogue, there were good catches of spawned-out summer steelhead heading downstream. These fish, called kelts, are primarily wild fish that must be released unharmed. These fish should be handled carefully, and anglers should try not to take them out of the water.
The kelts are biting roe and puffballs.
Rainie Falls has been good for late-run hatchery coho and some summer steelhead kelts on roe and puffballs.
Flows out of Lost Creek Lake jumped to 1,031 cubic feet per second as the lake is just a hair short of its normal mid-winter water level. For daily flow reports out of Lost Creek Lake, telephone 1-800-472-2434.
The coho salmon/steelhead limit remains two adult fin-clipped fish a day.
APPLEGATE ' The river was high and muddy and very poor for trout fishing. Steelhead fishing resumes Wednesday, with a fair amount of late-run wild steelhead likely in the lower section. The vast majority of these fish are wild and must be released unharmed.
Until Wednesday, anglers can fish only for trout, with bait allowed. Consciously fishing for steelhead is illegal until Jan. 1.
The trout limit until Wednesday is two fin-clipped trout 8-16 inches long. Any trout more than 16 inches long is considered steelhead and must be released.
CHETCO ' The river was fishing well for winter steelhead drawn in by the recent freshets, and the steelhead already have distributed throughout much of the river. Fishing was best from Loeb Park downstream to the Market Hole, and most boat traffic is in that stretch. Roe and puffballs are out-fishing plugs.
Beginning Wednesday, anglers may keep one wild steelhead a day, and up to five a year. Until then, only fin-clipped steelhead may be kept as part of the two-fish daily limit.
Most of the chinook have spawned by now, and there are still some stragglers in the river. Most of these fish are dark and few anglers are targeting them.
COOS/COQUILLE ' Fresh winter steelhead are now heading up both the Coos and Coquille river systems. The South Fork of the Coquille is good for early winter steelhead, but high water levels have dampened successes there. The lower Coos River upstream of tidewater, as well as the lower Millicoma River, have also been good for early winter steelhead. These systems can flood rapidly, so check conditions before traveling.
Roe and corkies are the top choices for steelhead anglers, with plug fishing from boats very effective on the South Fork of the Coquille.
ELK/SIXES ' Both streams were high but clear enough for decent fishing for late-run chinook and some early winter steelhead. The Elk gets a good run of Christmas chinook, with a mix of fairly bright and fairly dark fish.
The Sixes has fewer fish in it now than the Elk, but catches were good in the Orchard Hole and in a few miles of river upstream of Highway 101.
The Winchuck River has been good for large chinook in the freshwater section of the river. Roe and plugs are both effective.
Lake Outlook HOWARD PRAIRIE ' The lake is closed.
HYATT ' The lake is closed.
DIAMOND ' The lake is closed.
LOST CREEK ' Fishing for rainbow trout is fair near the dam, with trolling a good bet now that the water levels have cooled to 43 degrees on the lake's surface. The lake is back up to just a hair beneath elevation 1,812, which is the normal winter level. Look for water releases to begin going up and down based on weather conditions.
Trolling for trout in the top 10 feet of the water column is good near the dam. No adult steelhead will be released into the lake this year over concerns about possibly contaminating lake water with viruses that could get into Cole Rivers Hatchery just downstream of the dam.
Angling access off the water intake tower, along the southeast corner of the dam and along the dam's upper face are open.
The daily limit is five trout at least 8 inches long, but only one trout over 20 inches. For bass, the limit is five a day with no more than three over 15 inches long, but most bass fishing is catch and release. Angling is open year-round.
APPLEGATE ' Trout fishing is fair for those trolling points and coves, while the smallmouth bass bite remains fair near the dam's face. Bass anglers are reminded that they cannot keep any bass between 12 inches and 15 inches, and just one bass longer than 15 inches can be part of the five-bass daily limit.
The lake is open year-round.
EMIGRANT ' The lake level is low, and trout fishing is slow. Some excess summer steelhead will be released into the lake in January, but no release dates or numbers have been set.
The lake is open to angling year-round.
Ocean Outlook Crabbing crashed in the bays at Brookings, Coos Bay and Winchester Bay, where heavy flows of fresh water pushed the crabs out of the estuaries and into the ocean. Ocean crabbing is not an option; spots like Brookings were mired in seas with waves of more than 20 feet high. It will take a while for the bays to recover from the freshets to a point where crabs will be drawn in. Look for Coos Bay to improve first, then Winchester Bay and then the ocean area near places like Brookings and Bandon.
The daily limit is 12 male crabs.
Butter clams can be found in shoreline rocky areas on heavy outgoing tides (called minus tides). The best clamming on the south coast is for butter clams, which are also called steamer clams. They can be found at Rocky Point (just south of Port Orford), and Macklin Cove along the mouth of the Chetco River. Razor clams are not as abundant on the south coast, but sometimes can be found on Myers Creek Beach about five miles south of Gold Beach. For updated public-health advisories on shellfish, telephone the Oregon Department of Agriculture's shellfish hotline at 1-503-986-4728. Check regulations for limits and legal harvest methods.
Bottomfishing was a bust again as rough surf has kept boats in the bays.
Hunting Outlook GENERAL ' Waterfowl hunters are reminded that shooting pintails is closed in Western Oregon, including Jackson and Josephine counties.
Goose hunting has improved as foul weather has helped get birds moving.
Western Oregon hunters have through Tuesday evening to hunt bears. Recent storms have helped draw bears into hibernation, so they will be more difficult to find.
The snipe season re-opens Saturday after a mid-season closure.
Blue and ruffed grouse seasons remain open in most of Eastern Oregon through Sunday, yet remain open through Jan. 5 in the rest of the state.
ROGUE ' Duck hunting has improved somewhat slowly for locally hatched birds, with better weather conditions scattering the ducks. Some decent shooting days have occurred recently along uninhabited stretches of the Rogue River and at the Denman Wildlife Area. Water levels on the wildlife area are filling rapidly from the recent rains.
Hunters working the edges of older clear-cuts away from primary roads should find the greatest numbers of mountain quail. The mountain quail season runs to Jan. 5. The best opportunities are at middle elevations in the Cascades and at higher elevations in the Coast Range.
Both blue and ruffed grouse numbers are excellent this year. However, birds are now becoming wise and more difficult to find, so explore secondary roads. The seasons end Jan. 5.
UMPQUA ' Duck and goose hunting has been fair.
KLAMATH ' Blue and ruffed grouse hunting should remain good for both species, following good brood production this year. The Cascades offer the best opportunities. Look for blue grouse along ridgetops, while ruffed grouse can be found in riparian areas.
Duck and goose hunting remain fair throughout the Klamath Basin, which is drawing lower than average numbers of all species.
SUMMER LAKE ' All of Lake, Harney and Malheur counties are now open for duck and goose hunting. Success should improve as better weather conditions have hit the region.
SOUTH WILLAMETTE ' A good cottontail rabbit hunting opportunity exists at the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area near Corvallis. This area has an abundance of blackberry clumps, fallow grassy areas and wetlands which combine to provide ideal rabbit habitat. Best success is by using a dog to help get the rabbits to run from one berry patch to the next. Persistence and patience are required to run them out of the brush without the aid of a dog (use a stick to rattle the brush). Rabbit hunting is permitted on the area through February, with a free permit available from self-service check stations at the parking areas.
Watchable Wildlife ROGUE ' A covered viewing station on the Denman Wildlife Area provides a good opportunity to view waterfowl, egrets, raptors and songbirds. The structure was built by the Oregon Hunters Association and is accessed by a paved, wheelchair-accessible pathway. It is located on Whetstone Pond, just north of the ODFW office.
KLAMATH ' Viewing opportunities remain good throughout the Klamath Basin. Fall migration is well under way with good numbers of migratory waterfowl staging in the basin. On Upper Klamath Lake, look for many species of ducks including lesser scaup, canvasback, mallard and northern shoveler. Other species already have moved south, including white pelicans, great egrets, and black-crowned night herons. Now is a good time to get your bird feeders out. Be sure to periodically clean your feeders to reduce the spread of diseases.
SUMMER LAKE ' Viewing opportunities are only fair at this time due to game bird hunting seasons. Large numbers of migrant waterfowl are concentrated on the wildlife area, but most are restricted to refuge portions of the wildlife area that are closed to all entry. The Schoolhouse Lake viewing blind affords excellent opportunities to view large numbers of waterbirds.
Most passerine species have departed, but fair numbers of migrants, especially sparrows, can be found at the wildlife area office, the rest area and at homestead sites where they are attracted to the tree and shrub cover found at those locations.