On the Water: Lights out crabbing and steelheading

By Larry Ellis, fishing columnist January 09, 2013 09:12 am

Editor’s note: The fish column published on Jan. 5 was a repeat. This is the column that was meant to be published. 

The New Year is starting off on an upbeat this year, with steelhead entering the Chetco and Rogue Rivers in fair quantities and giving anglers a lot to hope for in 2013.

The Chetco continued improving on January 2 and 3, with January 3 being totally light’s out for anglers side-drifting roe. We’re talking about fresh chrome-bright steelhead. Soon the river will be too low, slow and clear to effectively drift-fish or side-drift. So when all other techniques can’t be deployed, that’s the time when back-trolling plugs come into their own glory.

With the river continuing to drop and clear to gin-clear conditions, anglers from shore are going to have to start drift-fishing yarn balls, Corkies, and Puff Balls, and downsizing their gear to lighter line.

During these conditions, a size 12 Corky in the color pearl red, also known as pearl pink will start to be the go-to color. Use this size Corky with a number 4 hook. Yarn ball makers should also start thinking about making very small yarn balls made with Glo Bugs Yarn in a combination of colors, baby pink and either white or champagne, to match the same color as the aforementioned Corky.

Meanwhile, guides on the lower Rogue have been enjoying lights-out action anchoring up and setting out plugs. Plunkers have also been doing quite well.

“There’s a lot of fish being caught,” said Larry Cody from the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach on Thursday. “There’s so much action right now it’s hard to mess up. I’ve heard of a lot of people breaking off 20- and 25-pound leaders so we’ve got some really healthy fish here.”

All the guides who are fishing are bringing big numbers of fish to the boats. I’ve been hearing from a dozen to 20-plus steelhead a day. It’s just been red hot.

“I’m also hearing a lot from the bank guys who are doing really well, or they’re in here complaining because they’re losing fish,” adds Cody.

In the lower Rogue, anglers may now keep one wild fish a day with a minimum length of 24 inches and no more than five fish for the entire year. Hatchery fish of course may be retained until you’ve filled your hatchery harvest tag, which can be bought on an unlimited basis.

As of last Thursday with the river colored up, the hot Spin-N-Glos for Rogue plunkers have been the size 2 pearl in the colors pearl red with either Mylar or black wings, or sherbet with white or Mylar wings

Last week may have left a few people scratching their heads as to what size hooks to use with their Spin-N-Glos (SNG).

As a general rule of thumb, if you’re using a Gamakatsu treble hook, match the size of the hook to the size of the SNG. So size 2 trebles with a size 2 SNG, size 4 trebles with a size 4 SNG, size 6 trebles with a size 6 SNG.

If you’re using single Gamakatsu octopus hooks, use a size 1 or 1/0 with a size 2 SNG, size 1 or 2 hooks with a size 4 SNG, or a size 2 hook with a size 6 SNG. Use a little bit of roe inside the egg loop and smear some Mike’s sand shrimp scent gel on your plugs and SNG’s.

The crabbing still continues to be phenomenal for anglers setting pots in 100 feet of water. On one visit to the cleaning station last week, I saw four crabbers unload two full ice chests of Dungeness crab, and the crab were jumbos, heavy and well-packed with meat.

Crescent City Harbor continues to kick out quick limits of Dungeness crab as well. Action on the B Street Pier has slowed down to a standstill.

Tight lines!