By RANDY DOWLER
Sporthaven Marina personnel report that the winter steelhead season on the Chetco and Smith rivers is winding down. Down-runners are currently outnumbering up-river migrating mint- bright winter steelhead.
On the other hand, Rogue River anglers have witnessed an excellent year for winter steelhead. Many anglers have locked horns with more than 100 winter steelhead.
The Rogue River has continued to remain strong, according to Rogue Outdoor Store personnel in Gold Beach.
The lower Klamath River has excellent winter steelheading opportunities in March with very little fishing pressure.
Anglers should focus on clear water sections of side creeks flowing into the main channel.
Crescent City Harbor has been kicking out limits of dungeness crab for those deciated crabbers.
Bottom fishing for both lingcod and black rockfish is seeing strong action. The fishing is very good along the Wild Rivers Coast. Perch fishing usually kicks into high gear sometime during March, but so far there have been no reports of surf fishing success.
Late February or early March officially kicks off spring salmon fever. Of course, once a hapless angler catches wind of the pure adrenaline rush of springer fever, the cure is most definitely worse than the disease.
March 5 was the first reported outbreak of springer fever on the Rogue River in 2003. If the first Rogue River springer of 2004 hasn't been netted already, it probably will be soon.
There are reports that anglers were on the Rogue pursuing spring salmon in early February.
The Klamath River also has a run of spring salmon. Most of them are bound for the Trinity River system.
Amphistichus rhodoterus, also known as redtail perch, are silvery or, occasionally, brassy-colored fish with eight to 11 barred red or brown stripes on both sides.
Amphistichus is composed of two Greek words meaning "double series," which refers to the double row of teeth lining the upper and lower jaws. Rhodoterus is Greek for "rosy." All fins are reddish in color.
They resemble another species called barred surfperch that have yellowish fins and brassy or yellow bars lining their sides.
Redtails devour crabs, worms, mussels, shrimp, sand fleas and small fish.
Redtail surfperch are prolific from Vancouver Island in British Colombia in the north to Monterrey Bay in the south.
However, I caught quite a few in the surf zone near Morro Bay. But barred surfperch are more prolific south of Big Sur.
These fish are excellent fighters for their size and they taste good.
Redtails are shallow-water schooling fish that inhabit sandy shorelines in search of small crustaceans hanging out in the surf zone.
They seldom range deeper than 24 feet. Although primarily found on sandy beaches near the outflow of coastal rivers and streams, they also inhabit rocky shorelines and jetties.
They enter freshwater bays and estuaries to spawn. Little research has been done on their migration patterns.
The largest recorded redtail surfperch was 18 inches long. The oldest from scale samples was 9 years old. An 11-incher is about 6 years old. Females grow faster than males.
Like guppies, redtail perch are live bearers. As many as 39 fry have been counted as offspring per female.
Off the Oregon Coast the research shows that the fish breed in winter and spawn from July to September, peaking in late August and early September.
All local estuaries have a redtail spawning run during the summer months.
Although fishable all year, most anglers wait until the surf lays down and air temperatures warm up.
Fishing the sandy shoreline for redtails is usually best near the outflow of a river or stream during high tides with a good swell, and on overcast days.