By Larry Ellis
Pilot staff writer
Chetco steelhead seasonwinding down
Steelhead action on the Chetco was a little on the slow side last week, with low and clear water making it difficult to sneak up on the metalheads. But that all could change this week.
As of Friday morning, the river was spiking upward toward 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) and by the looks of things, it wasn't going to stop for nuttin'. With rain in the forecast for Saturday, both plunkers and side-drifters may get one last shot of high water before the river closes for salmon and steelhead at the end of the month.
Often these freshets will trigger new batches of fish to head up the river, and March is ordinarily a good month to nab a few fresh, mint-bright steelies as well as a few blue-back metalheads.
In addition to fresh bulletheads moving upriver, there should be a few downers heading back to sea as well.
Now don't go dissin' da downers. Call them whatever you want, whether they're downers, down-backs, gunnies, gun barrels, snakes or tubes, they're back on-the-feed and very aggressive biters.
After all they've been through, they deserve another shot at the Chetco next year. In addition to completing a spawning mission, they've made it through the gauntlet of seals, sea lions, conga lines and flotillas, so please release them gently so they'll have another shot at coming back next year. At this stage of development, they are truly a sea-run rainbow.
Limits of rockfish and lings
There were several days on the ocean last week where it was as flat as a lake. Anglers who took advantage of these calm days were not disappointed.
Every fish you could think of was being filleted at the Brookings cleaning station.
Lots of lingcod limits came to the fillet tables, in fact, practically everyone who went uphill toward House or Twin limited on lings.
In addition there was a good variety of rockfish as well, and all were a good grade. Chinas, blacks, blues, vermilion, quillback and coppers were all being filleted. Limits were the rule as well.
In addition, there were some nice size sea trout (minimum size 10 inches) and cabezon (minimum size 16 inches) caught as well.
A single leadfish with a couple shrimp flies spaced 18 inches apart above the leadfish brought home most of the bottom-grabbers.
Furthermore, surfperch were coming to the cleaning tables in good numbers as well. The number one bait seems to be small pieces of raw shrimp, however Andy Martin from wildriversfishing.com and a friend nailed about 50 of them using Berkley Gulp! Shrimp. They caught both redtails and striped perch as well, cutting the shrimp up in pieces. Both of them released the vast majority of the fish they caught.
Libby Pond stocked with trout
If you're interested in a little rainbow trout action, consider heading to Libby Pond. Last week it was stocked with 667, legal-size 'bows of the Cape Cod strain. In addition to last week's planting, sometime after March 17, it is also getting a load of 300 trophy-size trout, courtesy of ODFW.
Those guys are really a kick in the pants to catch. Oregon's trophy-size trout are all over 2 pounds each and are well worth making the effort to cast a Panther Martin spinner, Little Cleo, Kastmaster or Super Duper.
If you're a bait fisherman, you might try using some Pautzke Green Label salmon eggs underneath a sliding bobber. Pautzke eggs will work in practically any trout-type situation.
Now I've been using these things since I was a kid. Here's trick I found for curing the blues. Whenever I'm a little down-in-the-dumps, I'll take a fresh jar, close my eyes, crack the lid open and take one mellow whiff. I can't tell you the amount of lakes and streams that immediately spring to mind.
Usually it starts at Puddingstone Reservoir and ends up at Happy Jack's, but somewhere in between, the tour takes me through lakes, ponds and streams throughout the Sierra Nevadas.
Anyway, back to reality. If the eggs don't get you bit, then try using some Berkley Power Bait in the colors rainbow or chartreuse. If you go with the Power Bait, use a sliding sinker method.
Take a quarter-ounce to a half-ounce egg sinker and thread it up your mainline, which should be no more than 6-pound test. Next tie a crane swivel on the end. Take some 4-pound test and tie up some leaders about 18-inches long. On one end tie on a size 16 gold treble hook and tie the other end to the remaining hole of the crane swivel.
When they first stock these fish, often they are roaming the edges of Libby, just like they're used to in the hatchery.
Put some Power Bait on the treble hook, making sure you cover the hook completely, and then dunk it in the water to give it some firmness. Make your cast. As your sinker is dropping to the bottom, reel in a couple cranks so that your leader and bait will be in line with your main line.
Find a forked stick, jam it in the sand and prop up your rod inside the fork. Leave the bail open so the trout can take your line without feeling any tension. As soon as your rod tip quivers, gently pick up your rod and let the trout take a few more feet of line before finally putting the screws to 'em.
To get to Libby Pond, head up the north bank of the Rogue River Road. A few miles up by Kimball Creek you'll see a store. Hang a right and follow the road to the old Rod and Gun Club.
The limit is five trout, but only one of them may be over 20 inches. So if you catch one of the trophies, let someone else have a shot at the rest.
Thought of the day
Marine reserves are a lot like vacuum cleaners.