By Larry Ellis
Pilot staff writer
Fishing report for March 16 through March 23
Don't put your steelhead rods in mothballs yet. It looks like this year is going to have an extended run. Rivers up and down the coast have been experiencing an unusually great season and the Chetco is no exception.
True, the numbers might not be mind-boggling, but as far as steelhead go, they just keep coming. Joe Whaley of Whaley's Guide Service has been getting between two and four steelhead a day and they're either downers or chromers.
No bluebacks yet, reports Whaley. That signifies that the run is far from being done. I believe we're going to catch fish coming and going all the way until our season ends March 31. As of March 23, the Chetco was still flowing around 2,000 cfs, so the fishing's going to be good and clear until April. Closing the Chetco in March is the Chetco's built-in steelhead insurance so our runs won't be threatened in the future.
The middle and upper Rogue is going gangbusters on steelhead, but all the guys in the lower Rogue have completely switched over to springer gear since the first dozen fish were caught a few weeks ago. The outlook is looking good.
"There's fish being caught every day," says Sam Waller of Jot's Resort. "It's not red hot, but there are at least two, three and four fish being caught every day. It's been good, really."
Consequently, a lot of guides are starting to book trips earlier than usual, including Waller.
I think it's going to be a good year, at least better than last season. We had a great fall run and there are at least 200 to 300 winter steelhead going over Gold Ray Dam every day now. It's really been a phenomenal season for the winter steelies.
Springers have to swim in the same ocean, so consequently, the same food is available to them. That could signify a better than usual springer season and possibly even an excellent 2007 fall Chinook run.
This year started out to be phenomenal for surfperch and it just keeps getting better. Anglers who are fishing three hours before the incoming tide through high-slack are doing the best.
The best bait? Raw shrimp. The kind you buy in the frozen food section of Fred Meyer. Shrimp often goes on sale for less than 5 bucks a bag, and a bag will last you a long time. Some guys like to leave part of the shell on because it looks more natural to them that way. I like to use the last part of the shrimp but leave the tail on.
If you have trouble with your shrimp staying on the hook, put a couple wraps of Magic Thread around the bait and it won't fly off when you cast.
One hot spot has been half a mile uphill on the beach from the Winchuck River, and McVay Park has lately been a hot producer as well. When you get down to McVay, just keep heading down the beach until you start getting into the rocks. The fishing's been dynamite. Everyone is fishing the incoming tide.
Use a two- or three-hook dropper rig with 6 ounces of lead on the bottom. You want your rig to stay where you cast it.
Striped, redtails, calico and walleye surfperch are all being caught in the surf with an occasional rockfish thrown in for good measure.
I caught up to Chuck Wright of Brookings on Tuesday while he was filleting a limit of very large surfperch. Chuck said his buddy had just left with a limit of even larger fish, each one averaging at least 2 pounds apiece. All the surfperch have gorgeous coloration, indicative that spawning is occurring. The striped perch are so beautiful they look tropical.
Sporthaven Beach has also been kicking out a fair amount of the flat-siders while the Brookings north jetty and the beach uphill from there are also great places for picking up the bait-stealers.
Other hot spots are at Pistol River, Kissing Rock and the Gold Beach south jetty spit.
Everyone is reporting phenomenal catches of lingcod and rockfish. Most of the lings being caught are the aggressive males guarding the nests. However, there have been some large females being caught as well.
If the seas are calm, head north to Twin Rocks, House or even Mack Arch. If the forecast calls for not-so-sweet seas, but the ocean is fishable (and safe), just fish out front or head slightly south and fish off one of the numerous points.
These points of land extend well out into sea. You'll know when you've hit them when you start losing gear or start hooking fish with some serious shoulders.
Steve and Lisa Pruett, who own Chetco Marine Supply, are chartering the Angler, a 50-foot Modutec vessel skippered by Taylor Freeland.
I've fished on the Angler and I want to tell you, this is one fine riding vessel. It cuts through rough swells like a hot knife going through butter. Walking around the Angler is like walking on land.
If you want to fish on the Angler give Chetco Marine a call.
One lady from Medford caught what looked like a 35-pound lingcod while fishing on the Angler.
"It was one of the biggest lingcod I've ever seen," Steve said. "It was 47 inches long."
It was her first ling ever, and it was hitchhiking on another legal lingcod.
It's really hard for a ling to release its grip from a fish being pulled away from it because its razor sharp teeth are curved slightly inward. Actually, they can't let go that is, unless you give it some slack. If you should get a hitchhiker, reel very slowly and be quick with the gaff or net.
If the ling should let go of your fish, immediately kick your reel into free-spool and drop your gear back down 10 feet. The ling will come back for seconds.