Larry Ellis, fishing columnist

Fishing report for

Jan. 27 andndash; Feb. 2

Last week anglers caught steelhead in the Chetco using practically every technique known to man. On Saturday, at 5,000 cfs, the river was too high for boaters to hit the water, but it was the perfect height for plunking. Several fish were caught from the bank.

On Sunday, when the river dropped toward 3,000 cfs, drift-boaters started nabbing steelhead by side-drifting Puff Balls-and-roe and pulling plugs like traditional Wiggle Warts and Hot Shots.

But a new plug put out by Yakima Bait Company also saw the inside of several steelhead mouths last week andndash; the 3.5-inch MagLip.

It's really exciting whenever a new lure hits the market. One of the people who spanked the chromers with this new plug was noted Clackamas and Deschutes River guide Bob Toman of Bob Toman's Guide Service.

"I'm really liking this lure," says Toman. "So do the steelhead. It's really good in all water conditions (high and off color to low and clear)."

Another guide who caught several Chetco River steelhead last week on this plug was Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing, who nailed both his steelhead on the color blue pirate. One of his clients was grinning ear-to-ear andndash; so was Martin. And so was I.

I'm really impressed with this new lure. Pacific Northwest angling icon Buzz Ramsey from Yakima Bait Company saw the potential of putting out a smaller version the larger 4.5-inch MagLip. When he told me months ago that he was working on this 3.5-inch version, I could hardly wait for it to come out.

I spoke with Ramsey last week just as he was travelling home from the Puyallup Sportsmen's Show in Washington State, when he informed me that it wouldn't be long before this steelhead magnet will be hitting the shelves.

This plug is a perfect back-trolling steelhead plug that works well in both slow and fast water. It works exceptionally well in slow 1 mph water, which is exactly what Chetco River anglers can expect this week as the river drops toward 1,200 cfs.

This new MagLip also has a skip-beat action built into it, just like its big brother. The lure will run straight for several feet then suddenly jump to one side andndash; run straight for several more feet and then jump to the other side. It's a marvel of technology.

The new 3.5-incher also has the capability of diving to 14 feet when flat lined, which means that it gets to the bottom quick.

Plug-pullers aren't the only anglers who will be wanting to use these new plugs. Steelhead fishermen targeting the lower Rogue will also want to have some of these in their quivers as well. I would not be surprised one bit if the first springer of the year is caught on one of these plugs by an angler fishing for winter steelhead.


Thursday was probably one of the best days I have ever seen for winter steelhead on the Chetco this season. Fishing should continue being good through next week although the river will continue dropping and clearing. That means start thinking about using more pink items: pearl pink Corkies, pink Puff Balls, pearl pink Spin-N-Glos andndash; you get the picture.

Due to dropping water levels, plunking will be out of the question, but side-drifters and plug pullers should do well from a drift-boat, while drift-fishing will be the technique that rules fishermen from the bank.


February can also be a great month for catching surfperch. On Thursday there were plenty of striped surfperch carcasses in the Port of Brookings Harbor's fillet station trash bins, as well as a few rockfish as well.

Crabbing was good on days like Thursday, when the seas were calm. Crabbers were setting their pots and rings in depths ranging from 40 to 60 feet.


The beginning of February is also a great time of the year for trout fishing in Lake Garrison near Port Orford.

ODFW won't be planting any legal-size rainbows until the end of the month which means that the only trout you will be catching are holdover rainbows that wintered over from last season. These trout are beautiful specimens ranging from one-half to just over a pound.

"And there are some trophy holdovers between 4 and 5 pounds in there as well," says Todd Confer, district biologist for the southern Oregon coast.

During this month, the crowds are minimal and anglers can have the whole lake to themselves.

You really need a motorized boat to fish Garrison effectively. How you fish it will depend on how thick the weeds are.

If you can find an area without much weed growth, then trolling a spinner, Kastmaster or Super Duper can often be very effective.

But due to the heavy weed growth, most anglers will be bait fishing. The number one go-to bait at Garrison is floating dough baits such as PowerBait, Zeke's Floating Bait, Nitro Bait and Pautzke's Fire Bait.

The best technique for utilizing these dough baits is the sliding sinker method.

The typical way to rig up is to use 6-pound monofilament main line. Thread the end of your main line through the hole in a one-half ounce egg sinker and tie it off to a number 5 Berkley barrel swivel.

On the end of the swivel, tie an 18-inch piece of 4-pound monofilament, and tie a size 16 Eagle Claw gold treble hook on the end of the leader. That's a typical rig for a weedless bottom. There is a good chance that you'll find this type of bottom early in the winter, or at least be able to find patches of clear bottom between the weeds.

Rainbow and chartreuse are the two highest-producing colors of PowerBait. Wrap a piece of dough around the treble hook, make your cast and reel in slowly as the sinker goes to the bottom. Performing this procedure keeps your line, leader and egg sinker in line with each other.

Lay your rod against two stable points of the boat and open the bail to your spinning reel. When the line starts zinging out, count to three, flip over the bail and set the hook.

Tight lines!