Fishing and Hunting Report
Fishing and Hunting ReportRiver Outlook ROGUE ' Winter steelhead fishing should improve as fresh fish are now moving through the Lower Rogue Canyon, while the upper Rogue is a mix of old summer steelhead and a few new winter steelhead. Also, the lower Rogue has been good for bank and boat anglers as well.
The best bet for this weekend is the far lower stretch of the middle Rogue, where anglers can intercept the fresh steelhead drawn upstream by recent rains.
The river conditions are starting to improve. Water levels are good, and there is good color there as well. The water also is warming, which will get the steelhead more active.
In the middle Rogue, angling should be fair to good anywhere from the mouth of the Applegate on downstream. Roe is out-producing plugs, and that should be the norm unless water levels drop strangely low.
Most of the steelhead are 7-12 pounds. The catch is about 60 percent wild steelhead, according to Jim Broman from Jim's Tackle in Grants Pass.
Anglers can now keep one adult wild steelhead over 24 inches as part of their two-fish daily limit, but no more than five a season. The wild winter steelhead harvest season runs through April.
In the upper Rogue, a handful of winter steelhead have been caught on roe and flies, but the run so far is light over Gold Ray Dam and effort is small. There are fair amounts of spawned-out wild summer steelhead, and these fish should be released unharmed because their meat is poor and their edibility is suspect.
Look for the run to peak in late March in the upper Rogue. The first handful of winter steelhead have made it to Cole Rivers Hatchery.
Upper Rogue water conditions were very low Wednesday, with only 899 cubic feet per second of water out of Lost Creek Lake. That's about half the flow of two weeks ago.
Steelhead fishing from boats in the Agness area has been very good, with a combination of fresh winter steelhead and halfpounders keeping anglers there busy. Bait is out-fishing plugs or flies.
For daily flow reports out of Lost Creek Lake, telephone 1-800-472-2434.
APPLEGATE ' The river was in good fishing shape higher up in the system, but most of the steelhead remain in the lower end where the water flows are high and more difficult for good angling ' especially for fly-fishers who need slower, more shallow waters for nymphing.
But a fresh batch of winter steelhead now moving through the Lower Rogue Canyon could boost fish numbers by this weekend or early next week. If rains don't swell the river too much in the upcoming week, look for improved angling in the Applegate upstream of Murphy Dam as well as the lower stretches.
Little Cleo's, roe, watermelon corkies and worms are all the best bets for the steelhead, which are averaging 6-8 pounds. Fly-fishermen should use single-egg flies, Ugly Bugs and Prince nymphs. Most of the effort, and the fish, remain in the lower section downstream of Murphy Dam.
The water releases from Applegate Lake were hovering around 400 cfs, which will concentrate the fish in holes and deeper riffles upstream.
All wild steelhead must be released unharmed. No fishing from floating devices is allowed.
CHETCO ' The river was high ' hovering around 6,000 cfs ' during most of the week, and that chased most anglers off the Chetco and onto the neighboring Smith River in California. But bank anglers plunking with Spin-Glo's were still doing well for winter steelhead, while driftboat traffic was light farther upstream.
The catches are a mix of fresh and dark fish now.
Look for the Chetco to drop today through the weekend if the dry weather comes through as forecast. The Cal-Ore Enhancement Derby will be held Friday and Saturday, putting 25 boats per day on each river. That could make the Chetco a spot to avoid those days.
Roe and puffballs always out-produce plugs, so concentrate on drift-fishing from driftboats.
Anglers may keep one wild winter steelhead a day, and up to five wild steelhead a year, under new bag limits.
ILLINOIS ' Winter steelhead fishing should get good again on the Illinois now that the river has risen and warmed some from recent rains. However, there seems to be fewer fish in the river this year, and more seem to be hovering in the lower sections of water on the Curry County side.
Look for fair to decent catches of wild steelhead.
The Illinois is open only to catch-and-release fishing, with only artificial flies and lures allowed. No bait is allowed.
COOS/COQUILLE ' Winter steelhead fishing was good on both systems despite high water.
Coquille River anglers are focusing on catching winter steelhead in the North and South forks, with roe and plugs out-producing flies.
ELK/SIXES ' Both streams were high but still fishing well for winter steelhead this week. Catches have been a mix of fresh and dark steelhead, with bait out-fishing plugs in the high flows. Look for good fishing through the weekend if new rainstorms do not hit the coast. The river sports an all-wild run of steelhead.
Anglers can now keep one wild winter steelhead a day, and up to five a year, from the Elk and Sixes.
UMPQUA ' Winter steelhead fishing is slow in the all-angling section and the fly-only section, but catches are fair for fresh winter steelhead in the main-stem river from the forks downstream to Scottsburg.
In the South Umpqua, winter steelhead fishing is good in the lower stretch, and remains just fair in the Tiller area. The Tiller-area does not have hatchery fish present, and the steelhead tend to show up a bit later there as well.
Lake Outlook LOST CREEK ' Fishing for rainbow trout is fair near the dam, with trolling a good bet now that the water levels have increased to 44 degrees on the lake's surface. The lake has risen in recent weeks from good in-flows.
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.
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 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 ' Fishing is fair for the 3,500 adult summer steelhead transplanted last month into the lake, with a variety of methods working. Some people trolling small spinners with worms are picking up steelhead, while a few are getting them still-fishing with worms and bobbers from the dam or from boats scattered along the lake. The fish are starting to congregate near the mouth of Emigrant Creek and in the creek's lower section, which is open for angling year-round.
All adult steelhead stocked into the lake are legally considered trout and can be kept as part of the regular trout bag limit of five a day, but only one of those can be over 20 inches long.
LAKE of the WOODS '
The lake is unseasonably free of ice and open to angling, with light effort. Try trolling very slowly and very deep for the lake's large brown trout. The lake is open year-round. The lake's ice has disappeared and re-appeared three times since Christmas, and a cold snap could re-freeze it again.
Ocean Outlook Ocean-fishing was good amid fairly flat ocean conditions.
Crabbing was good at Coos Bay and Winchester Bay, where dropping river levels have remained high but bay salinity has held stable. The daily limit is 12 male crabs.
Hunting Outlook GENERAL ' Hunting opportunities are starting to get limited now that the main big-game, upland game-bird and waterfowl seasons are over. The season for common snipe remains open through Sunday statewide. The crow season closed Friday statewide. Chukar, Hungarian partridge and California quail seasons all closed.
Northwest Oregon goose hunters should check the regulations for open areas and take note that goose hunting on Sauvie Island is closed for the season.
The 2003 general cougar season is open statewide for those hunters with a 2003 hunting license and cougar tag. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reminds hunters and anglers to buy their 2003 license and tags before making plans to go afield.
Duck and goose seasons are over, so there is very little hunting activity now in Jackson and Josephine counties. However, there are some antlerless elk hunts in the Evans Creek and Rogue foothills areas through March, with small numbers of tags already allocated through the controlled-hunt drawing process last summer.
Cougars are secretive and difficult to hunt, but numbers are high in southwestern Oregon. The best method of finding cougars is by predator calls in areas with good deer numbers.
UMPQUA ' Duck and goose hunting was fair before the season closed last weekend. There remains some limited-entry hunting for antlerless elk throughout Douglas County, but tag numbers are limited and they were all allocated through last summer's limited-entry draw.
BAKER ' Cougar season in the Blue Mountain Zone is open. Cougar numbers appear to be increasing, and hunters should look for animals where deer and elk are congregating on winter range.
Coyotes are abundant. Be sure to ask permission to hunt on private properties.
KLAMATH ' Cougar-hunting conditions are improving with more typical winter weather. A few cougar have been taken in the county. A combination of snow tracking and predator calling are the best methods to employ.
Most furbearer seasons are underway. Consult ODFW's Furbearer and Hunting Regulations for details. Bobcat and river otter must be checked in at ODFW offices.
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. A fair number of tundra swans still remain. Be sure to look for any trumpeter swans, which are larger than the tundra swans. More winter weather should improve viewing for bald eagles as they congregate in the Klamath Basin, most notably in the state line area near the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. Fair numbers of rough-legged hawks can be viewed in pastures and fields hunting for rodents.
SUMMER LAKE ' Since most game bird hunting seasons are closed, many species will be easier to view. Fair numbers of wintering waterfowl are scattered throughout the Summer Lake Wildlife Area now, and early breeding species such as Canada geese and mallards are beginning to pair up and search for territories.
Most passerine species have departed, but a few wintering species, especially song sparrows and marsh wrens, can be found throughout the marsh in tall emergent vegetation. Sparrows and other passerines can be found at wildlife area headquarters, the rest area and at homestead sites where they are attracted to the tree and shrub cover found at those locations. The major dike roads (Bullgate, Windbreak and Work roads) and the tour loop are now open to motor vehicle traffic and will remain that way until March 15, when they are closed to reduce disturbance to nesting and migrant waterbirds.
NORTH COAST ' Elk are on Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area consistently during daylight hours, especially morning and evening. Several different herds occupy the various parts of the area, with the herd of larger bulls generally in the westernmost portion.
Gray whales are migrating south along the Oregon Coast from their summering grounds off Alaska to Baja, California, where they winter. Whales can be seen from prominent coastal heads such as Cascade Head, Cape Lookout, Cape Meares and Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain.