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The 2015 Annual Fishing Guide

Southwest Zone

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Most lakes in the Southwest Zone are open to fishing year all year, and trout stocking begins in late February and continues to June at most standing water bodies. Lakes opening on April 25 include Howard Prairie Reservoir and Hyatt Lake.

Drought conditions will play a role in water quality, water availability, and fishing conditions throughout 2015. Anglers will need to expect changes and be good stewards to help fish survive potentially extreme conditions. Anglers practicing catch-and-release especially need to be cognizant of how to handle fish carefully.

Diamond Lake is now open for fishing year-round. Ice fishing can be good when there is sufficient ice. ODFW plans to increase stocking to 275,000 trout for the next several years. Lemolo Reservoir will also enjoy some good fishing. This year Lemolo will open April 1 for catch-and-release for brown trout and a 5 trout daily limit for other species. It will then convert to the normal 5 fish per day daily limit for all species from April 25 to Oct. 31. Brown trout fishing tends to be very good in the lake during the spring. Lemolo has produced some brown trout weighing over 10 pounds. The lake will also be stocked with rainbow throughout the spring and has a good number of holdover trout.

Fishing at Lost Creek
Fishing at Lost Creek
-Photo by Dan VanDyke-

Irrigation reservoirs will see a big demand on water throughout the summer. Some reservoirs in the Rogue watershed (Lost Creek Reservoir, Willow Lake) are full to start the season, and access should be good all year. Other reservoirs (Howard Prairie, Fish Lake) will offer good fishing but access will become difficult for boaters as the season progresses.

Howard Prairie Reservoir and Hyatt Lake often produce large trout, and in Lost Creek Reservoir holdover trout up to 17-inches long mix with limits of legal-sized trout. Good holdover of stocked trout means that large rainbows are also available at Tenmile Lakes, Eel Lake and Garrison Lake on the coast. Although weather can get dry in this region, anglers should expect plenty of water and fish for the beginning of the trout season in local reservoirs and lakes.

Sea-run cutthroat generally appear in tidewater in mid-to-late summer in coastal basins.

Trout fishing in most streams in the zone opens May 23, being the fourth Saturday in May. The late May opener for streams helps to protect salmon and steelhead smolts, most of which have left freshwater streams on their way to the ocean by late May. Consult the 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations to check the status of specific streams in your area.


The Southwest Zone includes the Rogue and Umpqua watersheds, and all the coastal watersheds between the Umpqua and the California border. The Rogue and Umpqua offer nearly year-round fishing for salmon and steelhead. Spring Chinook are present in both rivers. On the Rogue, spring Chinook returns are expected to be similar to the good returns experienced over the last couple of years (which included almost 10,000 returns to Cole Rivers Hatchery last year alone), and fishing should be good. The Umpqua is expecting a good run of over 10,000 springers.

Fall Chinook fisheries in the Coos and Coquille rivers draw anglers from far and wide, as do winter steelhead fisheries.


Diamond Lake
January sun breaks out on Willow Lake -Photo by Dan Van Dyke-

Most warmwater fish can be caught year-round, but fishing is best from the spring through fall as water temperatures are warm and the fish are more active. Yellow perch are often the first to start biting in early spring with the water approaching 50oF. Good bets for perch fishing are Tenmile Lakes, Willow Lake and Emigrant Reservoir.
As water temperatures approach and rise above 60oF and the bigger bass move into the shallows to spawn, largemouth bass fishing starts to pick up in places such as Tenmile, Eel and Loon lakes and Galesville, Cooper Creek and Lost Creek reservoirs. Bass will remain active and can be caught throughout the summer, but will be found in deeper water during the hottest weather.

In addition to largemouth, the Southwest Zone also offers opportunities for smallmouth bass. Smallmouth will be readily available in the Main and South Umpqua River beginning in spring and throughout the summer. Good smallmouth fisheries can also be found in Applegate, Lost Creek and Galesville Reservoirs. Smallmouth get active a little earlier than largemouth, can be fished for throughout the spring and summer into fall, and are an aggressive and fun fish to catch.

Crappie also provide good fishing throughout the spring, summer and fall and are found in many of these same waters. However, the strength of the fishery can vary within in each water body from year to year so check with the local ODFW office for the latest information. Other panfish such as bluegill are more predictable and can be caught in most of the coastal and inland ponds, lakes, and reservoirs

More detailed information about these and other waters and how to fish them can be found in the Warmwater Fishing in Oregon brochures for the South Coast and Southwest areas.

To learn what’s biting and where, check out the ODFW Weekly Recreation Report. Each week our biologists update fishing conditions on rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs and ponds throughout the state.

Applegate Reservoir: Applegate Reservoir is a large impoundment on the Applegate River south of Jacksonville near the California state line. It offers good fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as rainbow trout. Spring Chinook salmon are also stocked in the reservoir to supplement the trout fishery and count as part of the trout bag limit

Although Applegate will not fill this year, plenty of fishing opportunity remains. The first release of legal-sized rainbow trout for the year occurs in late April. More rainbows, including some larger fish, will be stocked in late May. These fish, along with some holdovers from last year should provide good fishing throughout the spring and summer. Bank anglers can do well fishing bait from access points at French Gulch, Squaw Creek Arm, Hart-Tish Park, Copper, Carberry Creek and Seattle Bar. Anglers with boats catch fish trolling lures or attractor/bait combinations, or wind-drifting with flies. Anglers targeting the Chinook usually fisher deeper than those fishing for rainbow.

Bass fishing picks up with warmer weather. Look for largemouth bass in the shallow bays and around the willows and other woody structure. The more abundant smallmouth can be found along the rocky shores and points.

The availability of the boat ramps change with reservoir levels and seasons. The French Gulch and Copper boat ramps are open. Hart-Tish Park boat ramp and campground will be open from Friday April 24 through Monday April 27, and then will re-open for the season on May 1Because of lower than normal water levels in the reservoir, the Hart-tish and Copper ramps may no longer be usable after late July. Information about the Hart-Tish boat ramp can be obtained by calling 541-899-9220. Daily reservoir level in feet above sea level can be obtained by calling 1-800-472-2434.

Anglers should be aware that a health advisory has been issued recommending limits on consumption of bass, yellow perch and panfish from Applegate. Information on the Applegate Reservoir advisory, along with general information on mercury and fish

Applegate River: The river is closed to fishing in the spring to protect out-migrating salmon and steelhead smolts, but re-opens for adipose fin-clipped rainbow trout May 23. Two adipose fin-clipped rainbow trout may be kept per day, 8-inch minimum length. Non-adipose fin-clipped rainbow trout and all cutthroat trout must be released unharmed. The use of bait is allowed.

The river also offers one of the best opportunities in the area to catch winter steelhead on a fly Jan. 1 – March 31. Swinging traditional steelhead flies and dead-drifting nymph patterns both work well. Fly anglers will find the best conditions when flows are below 800 cfs, but the river can be fishable at higher flows as well. Flow information can be obtained online at the USGS Wilderville Gauge.

The main stem Applegate upstream to Applegate Dam is open to fishing for adipose fin-clipped (hatchery) steelhead from Jan. 1 through March 31. The first winter steelhead are typically caught in the lower river starting in mid-January, with the fishery peaking from mid-February through the end of the season on March 31. Fishing in March can be excellent. Because the Applegate River is smaller than neighboring rivers, it offers good opportunities for wading anglers. Well-defined holes and runs, and a gravel bottom make it easier to fish.

Drifting bait and casting spoons also are popular winter steelhead techniques.

rogue river
Rogue River
-ODFW Photo-

No fishing is allowed from a floating device, but anglers can use small rafts or pontoon boats to access more water. The Applegate River begins in northern California and flows generally northwest to join the Rogue River west of Grants Pass. Much of the river is in private ownership, so anglers must use caution and always avoid trespassing. The National Forest lands on the upper river, Cantrall Buckley Park, Jackson Campground and Fish Hatchery Park are prime fishing sites.

Agate Lake: Agate Lake is a fairly shallow irrigation reservoir located off of Hwy 140 a short drive northeast of Medford. Because of its low elevation, fishing picks up here pretty early in the season with good fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie and brown bullhead. The reservoir will likely drop to very low levels in late summer similar to what happened in 2014. Jackson County maintains an improved boat ramp on the lake, plus there is plenty of good access for bank fishing.

Arizona Pond (Youth Only): Located in the Arizona Beach State Recreation Area, half way between Gold Beach and Port Orford, Arizona Pond is an excellent place to take the kids fishing. ODFW stocks the lake from late February to the middle of summer with trout up to 4 pounds. Fishing should be good all spring and into summer. Fishing is limited to anglers ages 17 and under.

Big Butte Creek above Cobleigh Bridge and Little Butte Creek above the forks: Open to trout fishing May 23. Fishing is restricted to flies and lures only in both streams. Anglers may keep two trout per day, 8-inch minimum length in Big Butte Creek, while catch-and-release rules apply to Little Butte Creek. Both streams are closed to fishing for salmon and steelhead. There is no limit on brook trout in the headwaters of both streams.

Big Butte Creek flows past the town of Butte Falls and access is primarily on private timber land, with some National Forest land in the headwaters. Little Butte Creek starts in the Cascade Mountains south of Hwy 140 near Fish Lake. The best access is on National Forest land reached by Forest Service Road 37.

Burma and Dutch Herman Ponds: These two old mining ponds are located on BLM land east of the community of Wolf Creek, and are stocked with legal-sized rainbow trout during the spring. The ponds will be stocked in late April. In addition to the trout, these ponds also offer fishing for largemouth bass and bluegill.

Butterfield Lake: Butterfield Lake is located about six miles north of Coos Bay, and just west of Hwy 101 in the Riley Ranch Campground operated by Coos County Parks. The lake has established populations of bluegill, largemouth bass and warmouth, and ODFW stocks the lake with legal-sized and trophy rainbow trout. An access road from the campground to the lake allows trout stocking trucks to reach the lake, and provides access for anglers to launch small boats and canoes. Fishing docks also provide angler access.

This is the only known waterbody in this Zone with warmouth, a scrappy little panfish that looks like a cross between a crappie and a bass.

Chetco River

TROUT: There is fair fishing for resident cutthroat trout in the early season, and for searuns in the late summer.

WINTER STEELHEAD: The Chetco hosts strong returns of both hatchery and wild winter steelhead.

It is the only non-Rogue River stream on the south coast with a hatchery program. ODFW has maintained a wild broodstock collection program on the Chetco River for more than 25 years, releasing up to 50,000 steelhead smolts annually. Releases occur at Social Security Bar, approximately 3 miles upriver from Hwy 101. It is a great fishery, but can be crowed at times.

The majority of the returning hatchery steelhead stay within the lower 8 miles of the river, providing a very good fishery from early December to March. The heaviest concentrations are around the mouth of the North Fork Chetco River up to Loeb State Park.

The Chetco River also has a tremendous wild steelhead population. Both runs return at the same time, and most fish are spawned out by mid-March. The wild fish generally move through the lower river during rain events, providing excellent fishing. The majority of wild fish spawn in the upper river and tributaries. Flows are a key factor in determining when to fish and what method to use. Anglers can keep an eye on the Chetco River flows online. Bank anglers usually start plunking Spin-N-Glos around 9,000 cfs and drift boat anglers do best at 4,000 cfs and dropping.

The Chetco is slow to muddy and clears quickly after a rain event.
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

ODFW has implemented an all angler donated winter steelhead broodstock program. This program allows anglers and commercial fishing guides to be an integral part in maintaining the hatchery program on the Chetco River. Anglers or guides interested in donating winter steelhead can contact the Gold Beach field office at 541-247-7605.
FALL CHINOOK: The Chinook salmon fishery starts in mid-October in the estuary and peaks in mid-November and ends by early December. Access to this fishery is really good. Anglers can fish from one of the many public gravel bars, launch a drift boat, or launch at an improved boat ramp at the Port of Brookings to fish the estuary.
Anglers need to check regulations prior to heading out. There are new bobber and fly angling gear regulations that apply Sept. 1 through Nov. 3.

Cooper Creek, Plat I and Ben Irving reservoirs, Loon Lake, Lake Marie and More: Most local reservoirs and lakes have already been stocked this year although most willcontinue to receive additional trout through early June. Hemlock should be open and stocked for Memorial Day, but call the Forest Service for additional road and campground information at 541-957-3200. Only one trout over 20 inches may be kept per day at any of the lakes. The resort boat ramp at Loon Lake is already open and the BLM ramp will open near Memorial Day

In addition to trout, Cooper Creek, Plat I, Ben Irving and Loon Lake also offer good bass, bluegill and crappie fishing opportunity. Check out the Free Fishing Weekend events at Cooper Creek and Diamond Lake June 7 and then Galesville Reservoir and Lake Marie June 8. For Labor Day weekend, Cooper Creek, Ben Irving, Hemlock, Lake in the Woods, Lemolo Reservoir, Red Top and Lake Marie will be stocked with some extra trout for a fall fishery. Some of these lakes will receive “Labor Day Lunkers” which are trophy trout.

ODFW will host Free Fishing Weekend events at Cooper Creek Reservoir, Diamond Lake, Lake Marie, and Galesville Reservoir the weekend of June 6-7. Contact Greg Huchko in Roseburg at (541) 440-3353 for additional information.

Coos Bay and Coquille estuaries:

CRABBING AND CLAMMING: Recreational crabbing is a popular family activity in the Coos Bay and the Coquille estuaries. Popular areas for crabbing from docks are the Bandon and Charleston marinas. For those with a boat, the inside of Coos Bay’s North Spit, between Charleston and the BLM boat ramp produces lots of Dungeness and red rock crabs. Crabbing can be excellent in the fall, winter and early spring, but typically slows down in the estuaries during late spring and summer, as many crabs will become soft-shelled with the molt.

Numerous clam species such as gapers, cockles and butter clams are available on sand and mud flats of Coos Bay nearly year-round. Marine perch and rockfish species are caught in the bays around concentrations of pilings and rock formations, particularly in spring and early summer.

FALL CHINOOK AND COHO: Fall Chinook angling is the premier fishery in the Coos and Coquille estuaries each year. These salmon return to the lower estuaries in mid-August through late October, extending into November if fall rains come late. The fishery typically starts from the jetties at Charleston up to the city of Coos Bay in August and early September. As fall weather occurs, the fish move up the estuary to the head of tidewater, with bright fish continuing to come in through October. When heavy fall rains occur, the Chinook will leave tidewater for the spawning grounds, and the fishery wanes.

Popular boat fisheries in the Coos occur near the North Bend Airport, off the Boardwalk in downtown Coos Bay, in Marshfield Channel, and in the area near the mouth of Catching Slough. Most fish are caught by trolling plug-cut herring behind a flasher. Bank fishing is available on the Coos Bay Boardwalk, in lower Isthmus Slough near Eastside Boat Ramp upper Isthmus Slough off Highway 42, and at the mouth of Daniels Creek. Bank anglers cast spinners/spoons or suspend eggs and/or sand shrimp under a bobber.

Wild coho fisheries have occurred in the Coos and Coquillle estuaries since 2009, under approval of NOAA and the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission. Open fisheries are still subject to annual approval, based on run forecasts and the ability to meet spawning escapement objectives. Although some anglers target coho salmon, many are caught incidentally to the popular fall Chinook fishery. Coho are usually in these estuaries in mid-September through mid-November, and also leave the open fishery areas when heavy rainfall occurs. Trolling plug-cut herring or a pink spinner will entice a coho to bite, and anglers also cast spinners/spoons.

Coos, Coquille and Tenmile basins:

TROUT: Coos County streams open May 23 for trout fishing; the late stream opener is designed to protect out-migrating salmon and steelhead smolts, which are usually in the ocean or estuary by late spring. Trout regulations for open streams allow harvest of two fish per day, with an 8-inch minimum size. Note that some streams remain closed to all fishing. In streams above tidewater, fishing is restricted to artificial flies and lures only from May 23-Aug 31. Native trout in area streams are primarily coastal cutthroat, although resident rainbow reside in some streams above South Fork Coquille Falls. Check regulations carefully for stream closures, gear restrictions, catch-and-release areas, and season dates, and contact the Charleston Field Office at (541) 888-5515 if you have questions about regulations.

With a little exploration and hiking, streams on the Elliott State Forest provide excellent cutthroat trout fishing away from the crowds. Keep in mind that the bag limit is only two fish per day on these native fish that are not stocked.

In addition to the spring trout stocking, a few area lakes are usually stocked with “fall trout” which are some of the 9-inch “legal-sized” trout that are held at the hatchery and fed until October. At that time, they are usually 14 inches or greater in size. For 2015, due to a logistical issue at the hatchery, the Coos, Coquille, and Tenmile area lakes will not be stocking these fish as fall trout, but they were added to regular spring loads and stocked as “legals.” The fall trout stocking should return in 2016.

BASS, SHAD, and STURGEON: Striped bass, shad and sturgeon are available for anglers in the spring. Green sturgeon are listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act, and must be released. This year’s fishery for green or white sturgeon is catch and release only. Popular sturgeon fishing areas for the Coos estuary are near McCullough Bridge (where Hwy 101 crosses Coos Bay), Haynes Inlet (the northernmost arm of Coos Bay), and upriver near the confluence of the South Coos and Millicoma rivers (five miles east of the city of Coos Bay). A popular sturgeon fishing area on the Coquille River is near the Rocky Point Boat Ramp.

-U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service-

Shad will appear with warm, sunny weather in late May and into June. In general, shad are available in the Coquille river tidewater from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day. Popular shad fishing areas are near Sturdivant Park and near Johnson Mill Pond on the Coquille. Shad returns to the Coos and Coquille rivers have been low for the last four or five years.

Striped bass congregate to spawn in upper tidewater of the Coquille River in the late spring. The population of striped bass in the Coos Basin has been nearly non-existent in recent years. The striper bite is usually best at night. The bite typically slows down during the spawning period in late May and early June, but picks up again post-spawning. Surfperch anglers occasionally catch striped bass in the surf in early spring. The minimum length for harvesting striped bass is 24 inches.

Smallmouth bass were recently illegally introduced into the Coquille River Basin. Most of the smallmouth bass are under 12-inches long but there are a few fish 14-inches or bigger. There are no limits on smallmouth or largemouth bass in the Coquille River Basin. The majority of the smallmouth bass are in the South Fork and mainstem Coquille River.

WINTER STEELHEAD: The winter steelhead season in the Coos and Coquille basins typically begins around Thanksgiving with peak harvest from late December to late February. In some years, steelhead can be available into April.

In the South Coos River, the best hatchery steelhead fishing is in the lowest five miles above the head of tidewater (located at Weyerhaeuser’s Dellwood Log Camp). The Big Creek Acclimation Site, also known as the “Fivemile Hole,” at milepost 5 is a good place to target adult steelhead returning to the area where they were released as smolts. Above milepost 6, most winter steelhead hooked will be unmarked and must be released, but you can occasionally find a fin-clipped steelhead for harvest. Access to the South Coos River above the Dellwood Gate is by permit from Weyerhaeuser Company, and is subject to their rules. Anglers should call the Weyerhaeuser hotline number at 1-888-741-5403 for recorded information on access and permits. Fishing access permits can be obtained at Weyerhaeuser’s Dellwood office.

Excellent steelhead bank fishing opportunities are available on both the East and West forks of the Millicoma River system.

On the East Fork Millicoma, bank access is available in Coos County’s Nesika Park, with several excellent fishing holes and drifts from which to choose. On the West Fork, public access is available at ODFW’s Millicoma Interpretive Center (MIC), about nine miles upriver from Allegany. Located on lands administered by the Oregon Department of Forestry, the banks at MIC and for several miles upstream provide excellent steelhead fishing opportunities. The ponds at MIC are used for acclimation of steelhead smolts, so adult fish are drawn back to this area.

Limited boat fishing for steelhead occurs on the East and West Fork Millicoma. There are no developed ramps on either fork, but primitive slides do exist here. Both forks have bedrock and boulder areas that make for difficult boating when flows are low.

There are river gauging stations on the South Fork Coos along with the East and West Fork Millicoma rivers that steelhead anglers can use to look at river levels before they leave home. River levels are updated approximately every 15 minutes onto the Coos Watershed Association’s website.

Prime steelhead fishing is available in the major forks of the Coquille River—namely the South, North and East forks. Hatchery steelhead smolts are acclimated and released in areas where angler access and harvest success is good. The South Fork of the Coquille River upstream of the Forest Service boundary is closed to all fishing to protect spawning and rearing steelhead.

The South Fork is the largest of the three forks, and provides good access for boat and bank fishing.

Steelhead smolts are released from acclimation sites at the mouth of Beaver and Woodward creeks below Powers, so adult steelhead are attracted back to these spots. The South Fork between Myrtle Point and Powers is a great area to target these returning fish.

Drift boat launches are located at the mouth of Beaver Creek, at the confluence of the Middle and South forks, and several points in-between. Beaver Creek, Baker Creek, Myrtle Grove State Park and Powers Memorial State Park provide access to popular bank fishing holes.

On the North and East forks of the Coquille River, most fishing is from the bank, although limited drift boating occurs in a few places.

On the North Fork, the most popular steelhead holes are located in Laverne County Park. An acclimation site is located here, so hatchery returns to the area are plentiful.

As an action of the recently-completed Coastal, Multi-Species Conservation and Management Plan, the smolt releases into the East Fork Coquille River were shifted to the North Fork at Laverne Park, nearly doubling that release. The East Fork will still have returning hatchery steelhead for a few years, but after 2017, it will be designated as a “wild fish emphasis area.”

The Middle Fork Coquille River has no hatchery steelhead releases. This river, characterized by boulder and “pocket water”, is a spawning and rearing area for wild steelhead. While their presence is very low, adipose fin-clipped steelhead are legal to harvest in the Middle Fork. There are a few public sites along the Middle Fork because most land is privately owned.

-Photo by Ross Henshaw-

River gage information for the South Fork Coquille River at Powers

Winter steelhead usually do not make their first appearance in the Tenmile Basin until late-December or early January, depending on rainfall.

Steelhead fishing access is available at the Forest Service’s Spinreel Park, just west of Hwy 101. Spinreel Park has a small boat ramp where anglers can launch a drift boat or small boat with a motor. This area is popular with bank anglers that plunk or drift eggs. The Forest Service charges a fee for day use in the park. Steelhead smolts are acclimated and released at the mouth of Saunders Creek in Spinreel Park, in Tenmile Creek near Hwy 101, and at the outlet to Eel Lake. Adult hatchery steelhead are drawn back to these areas and provide for excellent catch rates. Steelhead fishing is open in Eel Creek (below Eel Lake) from Jan. 1 through April 30.

Lower Tenmile Creek is an interesting water body to fish for winter steelhead. Consisting of mostly sand bottom, it has a different “feel” than rivers with a gravel bottom. It can be difficult to locate holding fish in this creek, as it does not exhibit the typical pool-riffle pattern like other rivers.

Fishing lower Tenmile Creek downstream of Spinreel Park begins with a hike through the dunes, and offers a unique steelhead fishing experience. With the big lakes acting as a settling basin, Tenmile Creek is often fishable when other area rivers are muddy following heavy rainstorms.

TENMILE COHO: Wild coho fisheries have occurred in the Tenmile Lakes since 2009, under approval of NOAA and the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission. Along with Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes, Tenmile offers a unique coho fishery in a lake environment. For Tenmile, open fisheries are still subject to annual approval, based on run forecasts and the ability to meet spawning escapement objectives. Coho are usually caught here by casting pink spinners or spoons in the upper ends of the lake arms, near where tributary streams enter the lake. The tributaries are closed to coho angling, as are the canal between the two lakes and Tenmile Creek below the south lake.

Coos County Lakes and Ponds (Powers and Johnson ponds, Bradley, Middle and Lower Empire, Saunders, Butterfield, Bluebill, Eel, Sru, and North and South Tenmile lakes): These public lakes are open the entire year, and are stocked with legal-sized trout (8-9 inches) from March to early June. The early June stocking is just prior to Family Fishing events held at Eel Lake and Powers Pond.

Empire Lakes (in Coos Bay), Bradley Lake (three miles south of Bandon, off Hwy. 101), Powers Pond (south Coos County in the town of Powers), and Johnson Pond (three miles south of Coquille) are also stocked with two-pound and larger trophy rainbow trout in the springtime. Native cutthroat trout as well as stocked rainbow trout are found in Eel Lake and the Tenmile Lakes (just off Hwy 101, near Lakeside), and these lakes produce fair numbers of holdover hatchery rainbow trout in the 17 to 20-inch range.

In Eel and Tenmile lakes, from May 1 to Oct. 31, rainbow trout over 20 inches are considered trout, and may be harvested one fish per day, in accordance with Southwest Zone regulations. They do not need to be fin-clipped to harvest during this “trout” fishing period, nor do they need to be recorded on a tag. This regulation allows harvest of some large “holdover” rainbow trout from the ODFW stocking program. During the period when wild steelhead are passing through the lakes on their way to spawning grounds (Nov. 1 to April 30), the regulations help protect these unmarked fish from harvest.

Trout fishing from a boat in Tenmile Lakes has been excellent the past few years from late April to mid-June. Anglers have had the best success catching trout (both stocked rainbow trout and wild cutthroat trout) by trolling “wedding rings” tipped with a nightcrawler. Popular areas of the lake to troll are Shutter Creek Arm and Coleman Arm in South Tenmile Lake and in the lower main part of North Lake.

North and South Tenmile Lakes and Eel Lake are open from Nov. 1 through April 30 each year for harvest of adipose fin-clipped steelhead; however, steelhead are primarily in the lakes from January through April. Some anglers troll the upper ends of the lake arms for steelhead.

ODFW will host a Free Fishing Weekend event at Tugman Park on Eel Lake on Saturday, June 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Contact Tom Rumreich at (541) 888-5515 for more information.

For 2015, the US Forest Service/Powers Ranger District will hold their annual Kids’ Fishing Derby on May 30. Several groups, including ODFW, will have activity stations at this event, where kids can learn angling skills or make a watershed-related craft.

Hall and Schuttpelz lakes provide a non-stocked trout fishery for wild coastal cutthroat trout. During fish surveys, ODFW fish biologists have sampled cutthroat trout up to 16-inches in these lakes. Schuttpelz Lake is restricted to catch-and-release for trout using artificial flies and lures. Hall Lake is open to harvest of trout and the use of bait. Hall Lake also has a population of small-sized largemouth bass. Hall and Schuttpelz lakes are small coastal dune lakes located right on the border of Coos and Douglas counties. There is a day use area at Hall Lake and a trail from the day use area that leads to Schuttpelz Lake.

Eel Lake, Tenmile Lakes, Saunders Lake, and numerous other small lakes in Coos County support populations of largemouth bass.

The Tenmile Lakes provide one of Oregon’s premier largemouth bass fisheries. Numerous competitive bass tournaments are held there each season, and bass exceeding six pounds are weighed-in each year.

Camping, motels, parks, boating facilities and businesses are located in and around the town of Lakeside, on the shores of Tenmile Lakes. Anglers are reminded that a regulation in effect for Tenmile Lakes requires the release of largemouth bass 15 inches or larger.

A boy with a String of Bass
Fletcher Erhard reeled in this Smallie.
-Photo by Jack Erhard-

Johnson Pond, Saunders Lake (five miles north of North Bend, alongside Hwy 101), Powers Pond, Beale Lake, Eel Lake, Horsefall Lake and a plethora of dune lakes within the U.S. Forest Service’s “Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area” (on the north side of Coos Bay) also have a mix of warmwater fish available in the spring and summer. Some of the more obscure lakes in the dunes are only accessible by foot or ATV trail.

Access to Sru Lake in the National Forest above Powers is typically limited during the early spring by snow. The road to Sru Lake is usually accessible by late April. This is also the time of year when the lake is stocked with legal-size rainbows. Check with the US Forest Service’s Powers Ranger District Office prior to attempting a trip to Sru Lake.

The public parks located on South Tenmile, Eel, and Saunders lakes provide ample access for beginning anglers. Fishing can be done from the bank, or from fishing docks identified with signs at these locations.

Bluegill and yellow perch are popular targets for both beginning and experienced anglers, especially when fishing with kids who like plenty of action. These species tend to be relatively abundant where they are found, and are often found in schools. Bluegills are abundant in Powers and Johnson Mill ponds and the Empire Lakes. These water bodies can be extremely weedy in the summer, making fishing difficult. There are also a few very large bluegills in Butterfield Lake.

North and South Tenmile lakes and Saunders Lake have good populations of yellow perch. Most of the yellow perch anglers will catch are less than 8-inches but anglers have caught perch as large as 14-inches. Yellow perch are excellent to eat and there is no daily bag limit on them. When over-abundant, yellow perch are be detrimental to other fish species.

Equipment for these warmwater species can be as simple as a piece of worm on a hook fished below a bobber and split shot. They can also be caught with a tiny jig tipped with a small piece of worm or other bait to entice the bite. Brown bullhead catfish feed closer to the bottom, and can be taken with night crawlers fished on the bottom using a sliding egg-shaped sinker.

The Empire Lakes and Mingus Park Pond in the city of Coos Bay provide an “urban” trout fishery, but in a park-like setting. These lakes are stocked with rainbow trout to provide fish for youth and family-oriented fishing opportunities. The Empire Lakes are heavily stocked with legal-sized trout and a few loads of trophy trout each year. These lakes have low to moderate populations of warmwater fish such as bluegill, yellow perch and largemouth bass. Anglers have been known to catch 5 pound largemouth bass in Lower Empire Lake.

ODFW will host a free Family Fishing Event on July 4 at Mingus Park Pond from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call Tom Rumreich at (541) 888-5515 for more information.

Curry County Streams: Most Curry County streams are open May 23 for trout fishing. Exceptions are Hunter, Brush, Hubbard, Mussell/Myrtle, Myers and Thomas creeks, which remain closed to trout fishing. Where open for trout, the daily bag limit is two trout at least 8-inches long.

Denman Wildlife Area Ponds: The Kenneth Denman Wildlife Management Area, situated conveniently near Medford, Central Point and White City, offers very good fishing for a variety of warmwater species in ponds found throughout the property. Whetstone Pond, adjacent to the Rogue Watershed District office, is the largest pond. Anglers at Whetstone target largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie and brown bullhead. Carp are also present, and green sunfish are found in some of the ponds. Good bank fishing is available, and boats with electric motors are permitted.

A variety of fishing techniques can be effective. A simple technique is to fish a size 10, 12 or 14 hook baited with worms below a bobber. Casting small lures and jigs is also effective. Largemouth bass will strike surface or shallow running lures fished around cover as the water warms in the spring. Information and a map of all the ponds on the Wildlife Management Area are available at the Rogue Watershed District office of ODFW at 541-826-8774.

A parking permit is required on the Deman Wildlife Area.

Diamond Lake
Diamond Lake

Diamond Lake: Diamond Lake is now open year-round. Angers need to use care in deciding whether or not the ice is safe. The snowpack was relatively low this winter, and March had a lot of warm days, so the lake may have ice off by mid-April. For additional water or fishing conditions call the resort at 1-800-733-7593 and for road and campground information call the Forest Service at 541-498-2531.

The lake will start the fishing season this spring with an increased number of trout. Most of these will be 10 to 12-inches long and many will be over 16-inches. There may be a few sub-legal sized fish from the 20,000 that were placed in the lake during November 2013. The bag limit on Diamond Lake is 8 trout per day. Remember that only one trout over 20 inches can be harvested per day. Last year angling success dropped to 1.1 fish per angler when people were fishing on the 166,000 fingerlings that were stocked in 2012. ODFW stocked additional legal-sized trout in August, then sublegal trout late in November 2013 to improve the fishing success for 2014. ODFW will also increase its stocking from less than 200,000 fingerlings to 275,000. This should increase angler success. These fish will be stocked about six weeks after ice off. Many of these will be legal-sized by late-August.

Bank anglers at Diamond Lake are successful with PowerBait, worms and a variety of lures. Boat anglers tend to troll Ford Fenders, spinners, or anchor and plunk. Fly fishing is also growing in popularity at Diamond Lake. Many of the flyfishing anglers are using small, inflatable pontoon boats to access the water.

No live fish can be used as bait at Diamond Lake or any fresh water lake or stream. Penalties for the use of/or release of invasive species has increased dramatically and more invasive species checks will be conducted statewide.

There will be a Free Fishing Weekend event on Diamond Lake on June 6 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Kids can look forward to some great prizes to go along with some great fishing. Call Greg Huchko at (541) 440-3353 for more information.

Elk River: The Elk has excellent wild winter steelhead and fall Chinook runs that are best fished from a boat. The river does not have a steelhead hatchery program, but anglers can expect to catch some stray adipose fin-clipped steelhead. ODFW does maintain a fall Chinook program with an annual release of 325,000 smolts. Chinook start entering the river in early November and peak mid-December. Elk River fishes best at 5.0 feet and dropping. Anglers can call (541)332-0405 for daily gauge heights and water clarity. Limited bank fishing is available because the majority of land along the river is private property. Most drift boaters put in at Elk River Hatchery and float approximately nine miles to Ironhead boat ramp; both are ODFW properties. Boat anglers side drift eggs, fly fish or run plugs.

Elk River is slow to muddy during rain events, and clears quickly.

Emigrant Lake
Fishing on Emigrant Lake

Emigrant Lake: Emigrant Lake, located southeast of Ashland, has already been stocked this spring with good numbers of legal-sized rainbow trout. The reservoir is 85% full as of late April. One challenge for anglers this spring will be high turbidity levels that persist in the water, left over from some of the larger storms of this past winter. Bait fishing will likely produce the best results while the water is muddy, or the use of lures that rattle/vibrate. Flasher and bait combinations may produce as well.

Fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, black crappie and brown obullheads will improve with warmer weather. Anglers should target these fish around the flooded willows, along the face of the dam and dike structures, and along the rocky points and ledges. For panfish, use a size 10, 12 or 14 hook baited with worms below a bobber. Casting small lures and jigs is also effective. Bass will strike a variety of lures and soft plastic baits fished around the cover.

Emigrant is within biking distance from Ashland, and is a short drive for most Rogue Valley residents. The combination of good numbers of panfish, full facilities at the county park, and a water slide makes Emigrant a great site for a family outing. Anglers should be aware that a health advisory has been issued recommending limits on consumption of all fish from Emigrant except rainbow trout. Information on the Emigrant Reservoir advisory, along with general information on mercury and fish

Euchre Creek: Like all south coast streams, this small creek about 20 miles south of Port Orford has a good wild steelhead run. Bank access to Euchre Creek is all through private property, but bank anglers who ask are generally allowed access to fish. This creek is too small and brushy for boats. Most anglers use roe, cast spinners or fly fish. The creek has a large cutthroat population, but is challenging to fish with all the over-hanging vegetation.

Expo Pond and Reinhart Park Pond: These urban ponds offer an excellent family fishing opportunity in the communities of Central Point and Grants Pass. Both ponds are stocked with rainbow trout throughout the spring, and provide good fishing for bass and panfish in the spring, summer, and fall. Expo Pond is located immediately adjacent to the access road at Gate 5 at the Jackson County Fairgrounds. Reinhart Park Pond is located at Reinhart Park in Grants Pass. Fishing bait, either from a bobber or on the bottom with weight, can be very effective.

A fishing derby to benefit the Disabilities Recreation Project is planned for Expo Pond on Saturday, May 16. The $15 entry fee helps fund work to create accessible fishing areas around the Rogue Valley. For information on the tournament and to sign up check Some large trout from Cole Rivers Hatchery will be stocked for this event.

Fish Lake
Fish Lake
-Photo by Daniel Vandyke-

Fish Lake: Located near the summit of Hwy 140 between Medford and Klamath Falls, Fish Lake has an improved boat ramp, two Forest Service campgrounds, and a resort with cabins, boat rentals and a restaurant. The Forest Service campground should be open by May 1; all other facilities are open. Trout fishing should be good for both bank and boat anglers using bait, lures or flies. Fish Lake is heavily stocked each year with legal-sized rainbow trout. Brook trout are also available.

Illegally introduced tui chub and fathead minnows compete with the rainbow and brook trout in Fish Lake reducing their growth rate. In an attempt to improve the quality of the fishing, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has been stocking predatory fish that hopefully will grow large feeding on the chubs and minnows. Chinook salmon have been released annually since 2009 and are now contributing to the trout fishery.

Tiger trout, a hybrid between a brook and a brown trout, were released into the lake in recent years. These fish have created very popular trophy trout fisheries in other states. Fish Lake and Philips Reservoir (near Baker City) are the only lakes in Oregon to be stocked with tiger trout, and at Fish Lake fish to 18 inches have been caught. All tiger trout caught must be released immediately back into the lake unharmed.

Bait fishing with worms and floating bait is effective at Fish Lake, and is probably the best bet during the summer. The bank between the two campgrounds is a good place for youngsters to fish. Trollers can do very well at Fish Lake in the spring, fishing flies, lures and small spoons or spinners. Fish Lake will not fill this year, but the boat ramp should be usable through mid-summer. Inflatables and small craft can be launched summer and fall.

The Fish Lake Resort can be reached at 541-949-8500.

Floras Lake: Floras Lake is located near Langlois and is stocked in late April with some trophy trout and 5,000 catchable trout. Trout fishing can be good through the spring before weed growth and water temperatures get too high. The lake does have a small number of bass. The best way to fish the lake is in a boat as there is very little shore access. The boat ramp is located at Boice Cope County Park. Anglers should keep an eye on the weather as it can be very windy.

Floras Creek: The creek has an excellent winter steelhead run as well as good returns of fall Chinook. Trout fishing can be very good in the creek, with the New River section one of the best. However, both bank and boat access are very limited due to private land. Floras Creek muddies quickly, clears slowly.

Galesville Reservoir: This 600-acre reservoir is stocked annually with 8,000 legal-sized trout. The lake also has warmwater fishing for bass, crappie and bluegill. Bass between 12 and 15-inches must be released, and only one bass over 15-inches can be kept. The reservoir is also periodically stocked with coho smolts. These coho have typically grown to 11 to 14-inches and tend to bite even when warm weather slows down other fishing opportunities. Although the coho are adipose fin-clipped, many people mistakenly think these fish are kokanee. The reservoir now has a campground below the boat ramp which is operated by Douglas County.

Garrison Lake: Garrison Lake is located in Port Orford and is stocked several times in the spring with trophy and catchable trout. The lake also has cutthroat and holdover trout. Fishing can be really good through May for trout, but warmer water and aquatic weeds make for tough fishing through the summer months. There is a small number of bass in the lake. The best way to fish the lake is by boat, but bank fishing can be good off the fishing pier on 12th street, Arizona Road, or from the foredune. Boat ramps are located on 12th Street and Pinehurst Roads. Anglers should keep an eye on the weather and target the lake when winds are light.

Howard Prairie Reservoir: Howard Prairie, located in the mountains east of Ashland, opens for fishing on April 25. It provides good fishing opportunities for stocked rainbow trout and bass. Brown bullheads and pumpkinseed sunfish are also available.

ODFW stocked good numbers of trout in Howard Prairie last fall and even more fish were stocked in spring 2015. Over 20,000 legal-sized rainbow trout and 600 two pound fish have been stocked by ODFW for opening weekend anglers. Fishing is expected to be good in the spring and early summer despite lower than normal water levels.

ODFW has been releasing larger-size rainbow trout fingerlings in the fall to maintain the trout fishery. These larger-size fingerlings take advantage of the natural food production in the reservoir to become quality trout in good condition. The fall fingerling are reared to 6-7 inches in length, compared to the 2 to 3-inch long spring fingerling that supported the fishery at Howard Prairie for years. Both the size and timing of the release should reduce the risk of predation. Fishing for rainbow trout has improved with the new stocking practices and large trout have often been caught over the last few seasons.

rainbow trout
Rainbow Trout
- Photo by Kevin Clawson-

Both boat and bank anglers do well at Howard Prairie. Floating baits are popular, while boat anglers trolling flasher and worm, or lure combinations usually do well for trout. But anglers will want to fish early in the year for the best access to fish and the best fishing conditions.

Howard Prairie is lower than it was at this time last year. The only improved boat ramp available to anglers is the ramp at the resort. It is expected to have about 3 feet of water on the ramp for the opener, so launching larger boats may not be possible. As the water level drops for irrigation a rocked road near the resort will continue to offer some launching ability for small boats.

The marina is dry and boat rentals will not be available.

Contact Jackson County Parks at 541-774-8183 for additional information on facilities and campgrounds.

Hyatt Lake: Hyatt Lake, located east of Ashland near Howard Prairie Reservoir, also opens for fishing on April 25.

The story line for Hyatt in 2015 is low water. Hyatt is a lower than it was at this time last year, and it will again reach very low water levels this year.

Low water levels mean poor access for boat anglers. The Main ramp at Hyatt Campground is dry and will not be usable this year. The Mountain View ramp has only 8 inches of water depth to start the fishing season. So large boats will not be able to launch at Hyatt this year. The unimproved ramp at Wildcat Campround should provide access for a time this spring for small boats. BLM camprounds will not open until May 16, so Wildcat will not be available to boats until that date.

Even as the reservoir drops this summer, there is plenty of bank access and inflatable boats, kayaks and canoes can be launched from shore. Bank anglers did very well on bass near the in last summer and fall, and trout were caught as well.

Anglers are encouraged to catch and release largemouth over 12-15 inches in length to ensure that these large fish survive the low water. Smaller bass are available for harvest.

No rainbow trout were stocked at Hyatt last fall due to low water, and fish released in the spring did not survive. Approximately 5,000 legal-sized trout have been stocked for opening weekend 2015, and some larger holdover trout should still be available.

Illinois River: The Illinois is closed to all fishing April 1 – May 23 to protect out-migrating salmon and steelhead smolts. The Illinois River below Pomeroy Dam opens to steelhead and adipose fin-clipped trout on May 23. Fishing is restricted to artificial flies and lures, and no bait is allowed. The fishery at this time of year is primarily a catch-and-release fishery. Adipose fin-clipped steelhead and rainbow trout, which are actually half-pounder steelhead, can at times be caught in the lower Illinois during the summer and fall.

The Illinois River provides an excellent opportunity to fish for wild winter steelhead from December through March, with the fishery peaking in January and February.

With its clear water, outstanding scenery, and big fish, the Illinois River is a good destination for anglers seeking a quality fishing experience.

The Illinois River flows out of California into the Illinois Valley, before entering a long canyon leading to the Rogue River at Agness. In the Illinois Valley, private land limits access to the river. In the canyon, most of the land is publicly-owned. Except for the lower three miles, between Oak Flat and the mouth, a lack of developed access points and technical whitewater limit fishing opportunities from a boat. In addition, topography in the canyon makes access to the river difficult in most places, but this also keeps the fishing pressure down.

Anglers willing to make the effort can usually have a beautiful section of river to themselves. The river is full of boulders and ledges that make drift fishing difficult in many places, so casting flies and lures are popular fishing methods. Due to the local geology, the flow in the Illinois can increase rapidly during a storm; however, the river drops and clears quickly afterward.

Fishing in the Illinois River is restricted to artificial flies and lures. Above Klondike Creek anglers may harvest non-adipose fin-clipped (wild) steelhead at least 24 inches in length, one per day and five per year, as part of the steelhead/salmon catch limit. Below Klondike Creek anglers may only keep adipose fin-clipped (hatchery) steelhead, which occasionally stray into the Illinois River from the Rogue. The river above Pomeroy Dam (near Cave Junction) and all tributaries are closed to fishing to protect spawning salmon and steelhead.

Laird Lake: This lake is located north of Port Orford, approximately 30 miles up Elk River Road. The lake is stocked with several hundred legal-sized trout and some trophy trout in late spring. The lake is full of downed wood and bank access is somewhat limited. A small pram or float tube can be a very effective way to fish the lake. Elk River Hatchery is located on the road to Laird Lake and makes a good place to stop and take a tour.

Lake Selmac: The largest standing water body in Josephine County, Lake Selmac is heavily stocked with legal-sized rainbow trout from February through June. The lake is also a renowned producer of largemouth bass, and is managed for trophy bass through a one bass per day limit. Bluegill, black crappie and brown bullhead are also available. Fish for trout near the dam as the water warms. Look for largemouth bass around the stumps and overhanging brush, and for black crappie and bluegill fish from piers and dikes. Fish close to shore at Lake Selmac; it is easy to cast too far and miss the bulk of the fish.

All lake-fishing techniques can be effective. Trout anglers use floating bait or worms with a weight about 2 feet above the hook, cast and retrieve lures or flies, or troll with lures and flies from a boat. A simple technique for panfish, is to use a size 10, 12 or 14 hook baited with worms below a bobber. Casting small lures and jigs is also effective. Largemouth bass will strike surface or shallow running lures fished around cover as the water warms in the spring. During hot weather largemouth bass seek deeper, cooler water, so use leadhead jigs, plastic worms and deep running plugs.

Bank access, boat ramps and camping facilities are available through Josephine County Parks at 541-474-5285. Beginning around mid-April each year, boat rentals are available at the Lake Selmac Resort at 541-597-2277.

Brown Trout
Brown Trout
-Photo by Patti Abbot-

Lemolo Reservoir: Lemolo has a naturally reproducing brown trout population that offers some excellent brown trout fishing in the spring and fall. Ten pound brown trout have been caught at Lemolo. Anglers are reminded that Lemolo is a reservoir that is drawn down during the winter time. This can cause precarious ice conditions. The best spring fishing will be along the shoreline where there is open water. The lake will also be stocked with over 5,000 trout this spring and is scheduled to receive additional trout this fall.

Lemolo has a new regulation that will allow it to open April 1 for catch-and-release for brown trout and a 5 per day harvest for other trout species. Starting April 27 through Oct. 31 will be the normal 5 per day limit for all trout species. Lemolo will then go back to catch-and-release for brown trout Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 and 5 per day harvest for other trout.

Lemolo has several Forest Service campgrounds along its shores plus Lemolo Lake Resort which offers lodging, camping and food. The area is accessible to both boat and bank anglers. For information about roads and campgrounds, call the Forest Service at 541-498-2531. Call Lemolo Lake Resort at 541-957-8354 for information on conditions, fishing and their facilities.

Libby Pond: Libby Pond is located approximately 8 miles up the North Bank Rogue River Road and will be stocked prior to Free Fishing Weekend June 7-8 with 5,000 legal-sized trout and some trophy trout. Anglers are reminded that Libby Pond is private and no boats are allowed.

Lost Creek Reservoir: Lost Creek Reservoir, a large impoundment on the Rogue River above Shady Cove, is heavily stocked with legal-sized rainbow trout and offers very good trout fishing only a 45 minute drive from the Medford area. Throughout the summer months, smallmouth and largemouth bass provide an important fishery at the reservoir. Casting jigs along the northern shoreline can be very effective for good-sized smallmouth bass.

Lost Creek has basically been full since about mid-April, and will offer some of the best conditions for fishing in the Rogue watershed.

Trout anglers fishing from the bank primarily use floating bait or worms. Boat anglers use a wide variety of techniques. Trollers often fish wedding ring and night crawler combinations behind a weight, while fly anglers can have success both trolling and casting. Juvenile spring Chinook are also stocked at Lost Creek for the fishery.

Fishing for bass and panfish will improve with warmer weather. Largemouth bass are contributing more to the fishery at Lost Creek due to ongoing transfers from other lakes. With the help of volunteers from local bass clubs, ODFW has released close to 10,000 largemouth bass into Lost Creek Reservoir over the past several years.

Medco Pond: An old log pond situated along the Butte Falls—Prospect Hwy, Medco Pond is stocked with rainbow trout in April and May. Some trout are now stocked each fall to provide an early season fishery for anglers. The pond has good bank access and small watercraft can launched from the shore. Still-fishing with bait is the most popular technique here, but anglers can cast and troll lures as well.

The pond also contains good populations of largemouth bass and bluegill. The bluegill respond well to bait suspended below a bobble, while the bass can be tempted with lures and soft plastic baits.

Pistol River: The river has very good runs of winter steelhead and fall Chinook. Steelhead enter from late December thru March and fall Chinook run starts in early November. The river muddies quickly during rain events and is slow to clear. Most anglers use roe, cast spinners or fly fish. Bank and boat access is limited.

Cutthroat trout fishing can be excellent from mid to late summer.

Access is limited by private property and anglers are reminded to ask first before entering private property. Only the lower 4-5 miles is floatable. The best access for bank anglers is around the mouth of Deep Creek and the South Fork.

Rogue River Basin

Anglers will find some of the best fishing spots in 50 Places to go fishing within 60 minutes of Medford publication. The publication is available on-line and at ODFW offices. An associated Google map with locations and directions also is available on-line

The Rogue River offers fishing opportunities nearly every month of the year.

Winter steelhead migrate up the Rogue from December through May, followed by summer steelhead from June through November. A strong run of wild winter steelhead is supplemented by releases of hatchery fish in the Rogue and Applegate rivers. Winter steelhead provide a popular fishery on the Rogue River, but do not draw the huge crowds like spring Chinook; therefore, anglers can enjoy a little more elbow room. Given the diversity of the rivers within the Rogue Basin, anglers can find water suitable for whatever fishing technique they enjoy.

Returns of winter steelhead to the Rogue River and its tributaries are expected to be near average this winter. Hatchery returns are up through early April at Cole Rivers Hatchery, adding to the fishery opportunity.

Several dams have been removed within the Rogue Basin over the last several years. Savage Rapids, Gold Hill and Gold Ray dams were taken out of the main stem Rogue River. This has greatly improved conditions for all of the Rogue’s native species. For anglers, this means more fishable water. In the areas once impounded by the dams there are now new riffles and runs – prime fishing water for winter steelhead. The dam removals also have reduced migratory delay and stress on fish, and improved chances for successful spawning and the likelihood of solid runs in years to come.

rogue river
Fishing the Rogue River
-ODFW Photo-

Even when winter freshets create high flows and turbid water, anglers can typically still find fishable water on the Rogue between Cole Rivers Hatchery and Big Butte Creek, where the clear outflow from Lost Creek Reservoir makes up most of the river’s flow. Following a freshet, the Illinois River clears more quickly than the Rogue or Applegate Rivers.

Rogue River, lower

CHINOOK: Anglers are focused primarily on spring Chinook in April, May and June from the mouth upstream to Foster Bar, approximately 40 miles. Fall Chinook fishing starts in late July and can be good well into October. The Chinook bag limits change back to zone regulations June 1 from the mouth upstream to Hog Creek. Flows and water temperatures affect spring Chinook fishing success the most. Anglers will want to keep an eye on current river conditions before deciding when and where to fish.

Anglers fishing either off the bank or from a jet boat can do equally as well, depending on the flow. Bank anglers will do the best when flows are around 10,000 cfs and dropping, while boat anglers do best when flows get down around 7000-8000 cfs and dropping at Agness. Rogue River flows

SUMMER STEELHEAD: An early run of summer steelhead usually enters the river the latter part of May and early June.

WINTER STEELHEAD: Winter steelhead fishing kicks off around Thanksgiving, but really picks up in mid-December. The steelhead run will usually peak sometime in late January, but steelhead will enter thru March or early April. Regulations for the lower Rogue River change on Jan. 1 each year and anglers should review the regulations before heading out.

Plunking a Spin-N-Glo is the technique of choice for bank anglers. Steelhead in the lower river all migrate on the inside bends of the river in about two to four feet of water. Anglers new to the fishery can easily get all the information they need to be successful from watching and talking to other anglers on the gravel bar.

The tough part for boat anglers new to the fishery is appreciating how close to the bank steelhead migrate. Usually, you want to anchor the boat about one or two boat widths from the shore, unless the water is really clear.

Public access is very good from the top of tide all the way to Quosatana Campground, approximately 15 miles.

Running plugs is the number one technique among boat anglers. Boat anglers can launch at any of the gravel bars in the lower river, or boat ramps at the Port of Gold Beach, Lobster Creek Campground or Quosatana Campground.

Rogue River, middle and upper

Fishing the Rogue River
Fishing the Rogue River
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

TROUT: The Rogue is closed to trout fishing in the spring to protect smolts migrating to the ocean. Trout fishing reopens May 23, when anglers may keep five adipose fin-clipped rainbow trout per day, 8-inch minimum length. All non-adipose fin-clipped rainbow and cutthroat trout must be released unharmed. Cutthroat trout fishing has been very good in the upper river the last few years complementing a solid rainbow trout fishery.

SPRING CHINOOK: Spring Chinook salmon fishing peaks in the lower river in April and May, while anglers in the upper river above Gold Hill enjoy peak fishing between late May and early July. The Rogue has been flowing much lower and warmer than normal this spring. Over 170 spring chinook have returned to Cole Rivers Hatchery by April 22 and anglers are reporting catches in the upper river. The spring Chinook run this year is expected to be similar in size last year’s run. For much of the run, non-adipose fin-clipped (wild) spring Chinook must be released unharmed, while adipose fin-clipped (hatchery) spring Chinook may be harvested (over 8,600 hatchery Chinook returned to Cole Rivers Hatchery last year). Anglers are encouraged to consult the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for details.

SUMMER STEELHEAD: The first summer steelhead begin to arrive around May but fishing usually remains slow until the numbers begin to build in July providing a great opportunity to catch a steelhead during the hot summer months. The best summer steelhead fishing occurs in September and October.

WINTER STEELHEAD: Winter steelhead normally start to arrive in the area around Grants Pass in late December, with peak fishing in February and March. There is plenty of good bank access along the middle Rogue. Between the city, county and state parks and the federal recreational areas, there are over 20 developed access sites. In addition, much of the land along the river below Hellgate Canyon is owned by the Bureau of Land Management. Some of the most productive sites include Valley of the Rogue State Park, Matson Park, Griffin Park and Robertson Bridge. Bank anglers can enjoy success by drifting bait, casting lures, plunking, and fly fishing.

This section of the river also offers good opportunities for fishing from both drift and motorized boats. With boats ramps distributed every three to five miles along the river, there are a lot of options. Techniques favored by boat anglers include drifting bait, casting lures and flies, back bouncing bait and lures, and back-trolling plugs. Side-drifting bait is becoming increasingly popular in the long, slow runs below Grants Pass.

The removal of Savage Rapids and Gold Ray Dams has opened up new floats for boat anglers; however, boaters should be aware that there are several difficult rapids between the Fishers Ferry and Gold Hill boat ramps. The Rogue River Water Trail brochure provides an excellent description of this reach as part of its map of the middle and upper Rogue between Grave Creek and William Jess Dam.

Winter steelhead are normally caught in the upper river above the former Gold Ray Dam (near Gold Hill) from February through mid-May, with peak fishing activity in March and early April. Because hatchery steelhead returning to Cole River Hatchery supplement a healthy population of wild steelhead, there are a lot of winter steelhead in this section of the river.

Access for bank fishing is plentiful in this stretch. Bank anglers can enjoy good success between the hatchery and the Hwy 62 Bridge, and at public access points such as Casey State Park, Rogue Elk Park, Takelma Park, Denman Wildlife Management Area and Tou Velle State Park.

Numerous boat ramps allow boat anglers to choose from a variety of popular drifts. The river gets smaller in this upper section, with more defined holes. The area from Cole Rivers Hatchery downstream to Big Butte Creek usually remains fishable when the rest of the river is out of shape due to storm events.

Drifting bait, casting lures, and back-trolling plugs are all popular techniques. Later in the season, fly fishing can be very productive. Fly anglers can find good water for swinging flies with two-handed rods, as well as places to dead-drift nymph patterns.

Anglers may keep non-adipose fin-clipped (wild) steelhead at least 24 inches in length, one per day and five per year, from Feb. 1- April 30. Adipose fin-clipped (hatchery) steelhead may be kept the entire year.

Good boat ramps are well distributed along the Rogue River from the upper boundary of the Wild Section at Grave Creek clear up to Cole Rivers Fish Hatchery, just below Lost Creek Reservoir. A map of boat ramps can be found at the Visit Grants Pass website.

Bank access is readily available on the BLM land below Merlin and at numerous parks managed by Josephine County and the City of Grants Pass. In Jackson County, good bank access can be found at Valley of the Rogue State Park, the Jackson County Parks along the river, and from Casey State Park to Cole Rivers Fish Hatchery. The river gets smaller in this section, with more defined holes. Drifting bait, casting lures, and back-trolling plugs are all popular techniques. Later in the season, fly fishing can be very productive.

Rogue River above Lost Creek Reservoir:

This is the premier summer trout fishery in the Rogue watershed.

Most campgrounds and public access sites on the Rogue River above Lost Creek Reservoir are stocked with legal-sized rainbow trout on nearly a weekly basis between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The program offers an additional excuse to escape the summer heat for the scenic upper Rogue. Brook trout are also available in the headwater streams. Contact the Rogue Watershed District ODFW office at 541-826-8774 for a map of stocking sites.

Siskiyou Mountain Lakes: Several of the small, high-elevation lakes in the Siskiyou Mountains of southwest Oregon are stocked with rainbow or brook trout, and offer excellent fishing opportunities in an intimate setting. Bolan, Tannen, and East Tannen Lakes are located off of the Takelma—Happy Camp Road south of Cave Junction. Bolan is accessible by a Forest Service Road, while Tannen and East Tannen Lakes are within the Red Buttes Wilderness and require a short hike. Miller Lake is located in the upper Applegate drainage west of Applegate Reservoir. It can be reached by either the Carberry Creek Road or Thompson Creek Road; however, anglers must now hike the last two miles to the lake due to a closed bridge. Most of these lakes become accessible by mid-May, and usually remain so until early November. Information and maps for the Siskiyou National Forest and Red Buttes Wilderness Area can be obtained from the Grants Pass Interagency (Forest Service and BLM) Office (541-471-6500).

Fishing Sixes River
Fishing Sixes River
-Photo by Bruce Thorn-

Sixes River: Sixes River muddies quickly, clears slowly, and boasts excellent winter steelhead and fall Chinook runs. Bank fishing and boat access are at Cape Blanco State Park, Hwy 101 bridge, and at ODFW and BLM properties. Boat anglers can find easy floats that range from two to 12 miles. Most anglers fish roe, spinners, run plugs or fly fish.

Cutthroat trout fishing can be excellent in the lower river and estuary from mid to late summer. This area can be very windy and angler will want to look at the weather before heading out.

Sky Lakes Wilderness Area: Many of the lakes and streams within this wilderness area, which straddles the crest of the Cascades between Crater Lake National Park and Hwy 140, offer good trout fishing. Most of the larger lakes are stocked with brook trout, which can grow up to 20-inches long. The streams and a few lakes have naturally-reproducing populations of rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout. The higher-elevation lakes are typically blocked by snow or ice until late June, but then usually remain accessible through October. Some of the lakes are relatively close to trailheads and can be reached by an easy hike. Others require more effort to access. For anglers that want to get away from the crowds and enjoy fishing in beautiful setting, the lakes and streams in the Sky Lakes Wilderness Area can be a great destination.

Smith River (Umpqua Basin):

TROUT: The river has a fair population of resident cutthroat trout and the mainstem sections are open to catch-and-release fishing for trout from May 23 to Sept. 15. The tributaries allow harvest during the trout season, but gear is restricted to artificial flies and lures except in tidewater areas.

WINTER STEELHEAD: Smith River provides anglers an opportunity to catch and release wild winter steelhead. The regulations do allow harvest of adipose-clipped steelhead, but there is no hatchery program in the Smith River basin and stray hatchery fish are rare. Bank access below Smith River Falls is limited due to private landownership. Boat access is available at Smith River Marina, Noel Ranch, Riverside Park, near Taylor Creek, upstream to a wayside just above Doe Creek. Bank fishing access improves above Smith River Falls, as landownership becomes BLM and private industrial. Several unimproved boat slides exist above the falls, with good boat access at Vincent Creek. Several good drifts are available in the Smith River basin.

FALL CHINOOK: Good numbers of fall Chinook move into the Smith River. Most anglers fish from the various segments from Bolan Island to approximately Spencer Creek. The Chinook tend to start entering the Smith from late August through October. Although an adipose fin-clipped coho can be retained, the Smith is not open for a wild coho harvest.

Southard Lake: Southard is a very small hike-in lake. Southard is located at the headwaters of Foster Creek, approximately 40 miles NE of Gold Beach. Anglers wishing to fish the lake should contact the Gold Beach Ranger Station for maps and current road conditions. The lake is annually stocked with a couple hundred fish in the spring depending on weather. The lake gets very little pressure and usually fishes well all summer long.

Spaulding Pond: Located in the Siskiyou National Forest north of Selma, this small pond is stocked with legal-sized rainbow trout throughout the spring. Hatchery releases begin in late April pending snow conditions. Some trout are now stocked each fall to provide an early season fishery for anglers able to access the pond early. Fishing should be good, with the best early spring action happening in the afternoons when the water is the warmest.

Brook Trout
Brook Trout
-Photo by Kevin Clawson-
Toketee Reservoir: Toketee Reservoir, which is up the North Umpqua, is open year-round and provides excellent brown trout fishing in late spring and fall. The trout generally range from 11 to 14-inches. The reservoir is readily accessible to both bank and boat anglers.

Umpqua Basin High Cascade Lakes: The Salmon Trout Enhancement Program (STEP) and volunteers work together to annually stock 11 high mountain lakes in the Umpqua watershed with brook trout. These lakes provide an opportunity for families to enjoy hiking into a lake for some quality fishing. These lakes are within the Umpqua National Forest and several have primitive camp sites near their shore. Lakes presently being stocked include: Maidu, Linda, Calamut, Connie, Skookum, Bullpup, Fuller and Big Twin on the the North Umpqua side, plus Wolf at French Junction and Cliff and Buckeye on the South Umpqua side of the drainage. Fish Lake, in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness area is not stocked, but has naturally reproducing trout.

Umpqua Basin Rivers and Streams: Trout fishing will open this year May 23. Anglers should check regulations carefully for stream closures, gear restrictions, catch-and-release areas, and season dates prior to fishing. Rainbow trout are not stocked in Umpqua basin streams and rivers. Anglers fishing in the Umpqua watershed should check out the new 50 places to fish within 90 minutes of Roseburg,” (pdf) brochure available at the ODFW office.

Umpqua River
SPRING CHINOOK: Spring Chinook start arriving in the lower river in late February. Most of the early angling occurs in the Scottsburg to Scotts Creek area. As the season goes on and the water warms up, the lower Umpqua will become mossy and difficult to fish. Then anglers move to Elkton and above. With this year’s low snowpack, warmer water and lower than normal flows, the Chinook will moving to the North Umpqua more rapidly than years with higher flows. As the fishing effort generally moves upstream to the North Umpqua, floats between Amacher Park and River Forks can be very productive. Later in the spring, the Swiftwater area becomes increasingly popular with bank anglers.

There is a two salmon per day limit and both hatchery and native Chinook are available for harvest. Rock Creek annually releases about 340,000 fin-clipped Chinook smolts each year. Spring Chinook fishing is open on the North Umpqua up to the markers at Rock Creek. The season runs through July 31.

A new anti-snag regulation is in effect March 1 – July 31 from Lone Rock boat launch up to the fly area above Rock Creek. It basically restricts the use of treble hooks. This regulation was successful in reducing the illegal snagging done with treble hooks. See page 11 of the regulation booklet for additional details.

STEELHEAD: The Umpqua is famous for its steelhead fishing. There is year-round harvest of adipose fin-clipped steelhead in the Mainstem and North Umpqua, while the South Umpqua and Smith River are open for adipose clipped winter steelhead from Dec. 1, 2013 through April 30, 2014. The wild run has been strong the last several years, so there are good catch-and-release opportunities throughout the basin. Anglers should remember that no wild steelhead can be harvested in the Umpqua Basin.

Whereas the South Umpqua has a winter steelhead hatchery program, the North Umpqua has a summer steelhead hatchery program.

The Umpqua River Basin has an estimated population of 30,000 to 40,000 winter steelhead. An estimated 7 to 11 percent of the winter steelhead that swim through the Mainstem are fin-clipped. Thus anglers should anticipate hooking more wild fish than hatchery fish, particularly in the Mainstem, Smith and North Umpqua.

From December through mid-February all of the winter steelhead bound for the North and South Umpqua are still making their way through the Main Umpqua. This makes for an incredible catch-and-release fishery as up to 90 percent of the steelhead hooked will be wild fish and must be released unharmed.

The best fishing opportunities in the Mainstem begin after Thanksgiving and continue through early March. Winter steelhead fishing begins just above tidal influence at Scottsburg. Bank fishing begins at Family Camp and continues upstream on the south side of the Umpqua River to Lutsinger Creek. Sawyer's Rapids and Scotts Creek are just upstream and are popular bank and drift boat spots. There also is good bank access at Bunch Bar wayside, which is owned by Douglas County and at Yellow Creek, Cleveland Rapids and River Forks Park.

Drift boaters can access the river at the Scotts Creek boat ramp and the Sawyer’s Rapids RV Park. Boat fishing is also available at Elkton, Yellow Creek, Osprey, James Woods and Umpqua boat ramps. Boat fishing on the Mainstem tends to be best when water levels area between 8 and 10 feet. Low and cold water conditions can keg steelhead up. Anglers fishing under these conditions should be particularly mindful of practicing good ethical catch-and-release techniques and handle the wild fish as little as possible.

STRIPED BASS AND STURGEON: Striped bass and sturgeon are available in the lower Umpqua and tidewater portion of Smith River. Sturgeon fishing is catch-and-release in the Umpqua. Shad are also in the mainstem Umpqua as the water warms. Various points from the Umpqua boat ramp to Yellow Creek are popular shad fishing spots. The shad run normally occurs from late April through mid-June. Seeing a large number of vehicles parked near Yellow Creek below Tyee is a pretty good indication that there’s a good run and the bite is on. Angling opportunities for shad tend to be best when the Mainstem has average spring flows. Unlike 2011 and 2012 which had high water conditions throughout most of June, 2014 is looking much drier. This may create conditions for a favorable shad season.

BASS: Smallmouth bass are also available on the Mainstem Umpqua and will become progressively more active through the spring and summer. Good bass fishing can be found throughout the Mainstem from Roseburg to the estuary in pools or slack water areas. Areas under bedrock ledges can also be productive. The Umpqua River Basin has a 15 smallmouth bass per day of any size daily limit.

The South closes to all fishing May 1 to 24 and re-opens the same day that trout season opens (May 24).

On the South Umpqua from Winston to Roseburg there are several floats that can be done with an inflatable raft to access the bass, including the new Nichols Park boat ramp off Hwy 42 near Winston. There is also good bass fishing from the bank or boat near Templin (Dog Park) boat ramp in downtown Roseburg.

Winchester Bay offers dock and boat crabbing opportunity throughout the year. The jetties offer rockfish angling and surfperch fishing is also available throughout the spring and early summer. Winchester Bay has also been a successful port for sport fishing for ocean salmon. Come August, both coho and fall Chinook are entering the bay. Bank fishing opportunities extend from Half Moon Bay all the way to Salmon Harbor.

North Umpqua River

SPRING CHINOOK: As the spring Chinook enter the North Umpqua, anglers will have good success fishing for them from Amacher Park below Winchester Dam down to the Forks. Bank angling is limited to the shorelines of the boat ramps such as Amacher, Hestness and River Forks. Later in the spring on through the end of the season on July 31, much of the fishingtakes place along the banks of the Narrows up to Swiftwater Park. There is no Chinook fishing above Rock Creek. Little River off of the North, plus the South Umpqua, and Cow Creek are also closed year-round to angling for Chinook.

North Umpqua River
North Umpqua River
-ODFW Photo-

WINTER STEELHEAD: Winter steelhead fishing in the North Umpqua starts in late December, with peak catch rates in late February through March.

Anglers should remember that the Umpqua no longer has a wild fish harvest. Only adipose fin-clipped steelhead may be kept in the entire basin. Only about 5 percent of the winter steelhead in the North Umpqua are hatchery fish. However, with the strong wild population there is still a lot of catch-and-release opportunity in the North Umpqua.

Boat access is readily available on the lower 30 river miles of the North Umpqua River. Hestness Landing provides access for anglers to the lower North Umpqua River, and Amacher Park boat ramp is located just below Winchester Dam. A drift from Amacher Park to Hestness Landing is often productive for winter steelhead anglers. Above Winchester Dam, boat access is available at Whistlers Bend Park, Gravel Pit boat ramp, Colliding Rivers boat ramp, and a drift boat slide on Lone Rock Road. A boat take-out-only is located on the south side of the river off Page Road. The best boat fishing occurs when the North is between 4 to 7 feet or 1,688 to 6,400 cfs. The North Umpqua can be difficult to float for inexperienced boaters and caution should be used when floating this river.

Bank fishing can be found at River Forks Park, Amacher Park, Whistlers Bend Park, near Colliding Rivers, the Narrows and just below Rock Creek at Swiftwater. Winter steelhead fishing above Rock Creek to Soda Springs Dam is part of the fly water area and is limited to wading and bank fishing. Fishing in the fly water can be productive throughout the season depending on river conditions -- optimal flows are from 1,500 cfs to about 5,500 cfs. Successful fly anglers use 10 to 14-foot spey rods and sink tips to “swing” large weighted or unweighted flies in the winter.

Winchester Dam counts. The counts are not meant to be “real time” but can provide a look back at what the run timing has been in recent years.

South Umpqua River:

WINTER STEELHEAD: Fishing in the South Umpqua starts in late December, with peak catch rates in late February through early April.

The South Umpqua is the center of the Umpqua’s winter steelhead hatchery program. The goal of the hatchery program is to acclimate and release 120,000 winter steelhead smolts per year.

The South Umpqua River provides the best opportunity to catch and keep adipose fin-clipped steelhead.

Boat ramps in the lower South include the new Harold and Sid Nichols boat ramp in Winston off Hwy 42 near Douglas High School, Happy Valley, the Douglas County Fairgrounds, Templin Beach in Rosebur, and River Forks Park.

Several unimproved boat ramps are located at Boomer Hill, Lawson’s Bar, Stanton Park and Canyonville County Park. These boat ramps tend to be in the portion of the South with the highest concentration of hatchery fish. Above Canyonville there are unimproved ramps at Days Creek, Lavadoure Creek, Milo and Tiller. Catch-and-release fishing for wild steelhead is popular in this upper section of the South. The best boat angling is when the water levels are between 7 to 9 feet or about 3,000 to 6,500 cfs.

Bank fishing can be good at Templin Beach, Happy Valley Boat Ramp, the Myrtle Creek Bridge and Stanton County Park. There is also bank fishing available behind Seven Feathers Casino. Cow Creek is open to Middle Creek for steelhead fishing. Both Cow Creek and the South Umpqua River also provide above-average opportunities to catch and release large wild winter steelhead.

Winter Steelhead Fishing Techniques
Bank anglers on the Mainstem are successful plunking with a Spin-N-Glo, with or without prawns or roe, on a 20-24-inch leader rigged with appropriate weight from a three-way swivel. Bank anglers on the North and South Umpqua Rivers prefer drift fishing with a corky, yarn or egg rig. Most will use pencil lead or a slinky about 24 inches above the bait, with just enough weight to keep the bait near the bottom. Anglers in the North Umpqua fly waters should double check the angling regulations since gear use varies by time. Most boaters throughout the Umpqua basin prefer side drifting with eggs or pulling plugs.

Willow Lake: Willow Lake, located in Jackson County southeast of Butte Falls, offers fishing for stocked rainbow trout, as well as largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, brown bullheads and yellow perch. Trout anglers should note a special release of 1,500 rainbow trout averaging one pound each in late May. The lake is full and ready for anglers.

This scenic lake has an improved boat ramp and a county-owned campground. During winter the gate to the ramp is open daily until 5:00pm. The campground opens for the season in April.

rainbow trout
Rainbow Trout
-Photo by Roger Smith-

Trout anglers do well still fishing with bait or trolling lures or attractor/bait combinations. Bass anglers have success casting lures and soft plastic baits to the structure along the shore. Panfish can caught by suspending bait from a bobber.

Information about the cabins and the group campground can be obtained by calling Jackson County Parks at 541-774-8183.

Winchuck River: The Winchuck has an excellent run of winter steelhead and a small run of fall Chinook. It’s also slow to muddy and clears quickly after rains. The upper river flows primarily through Forest Service land with good access for bank anglers. Anglers can float the river, but only experienced oarsman should attempt to. Fishing from a boat is prohibited. Anglers will want to check for any temporary regulation changes that may be in effect for the river prior to heading out.

Cutthroat fishing can be good in mid to late summer in the estuary and lower river.

For more information about fishing opportunities in the Southwest Zone, contact the nearest ODFW office:

Umpqua Watershed District Office
Roseburg, OR 97470

Charleston Field Office
Charleston, OR 97420
Tel: 541-888-5515

Rogue Watershed District Office
Central Point, OR 97502

Gold Beach Field Office
Gold Beach, OR 97444
Tel: 541-247-7605

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