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Weekly Recreation Report: Southwest Zone

April 18, 2016

 Southwest Zone Fishing

Winter Steelhead caught on N. Umpqua on fly tied by Travis Walter.
-Photo by Gavin Weaver-

Weekend fishing opportunities:

  • Anglers and would-be anglers can enjoy a weekend of free fishing on April 22-23. On these two days, Oregonians and visitors can fish, crab and clam for free anywhere in Oregon without a license, tag or endorsement. This is the first of eight free fishing days in Oregon this year. Additional free days are June 3-4, Nov. 25-26, and Dec. 31-Jan. 1.
  • Spring Chinook season on the mainstem Umpqua River is up and running with anglers regularly catching a few last week.
  • April is when we usually see good numbers of spring Chinook entering the lower Rogue.
  • Trout fishing has been good on Garrison Lake, where this past weekend both boat and bank anglers were catching trout up to 3 pounds.
  • Several area lakes have been stocked multiple times already this year. Check the SW Zone stocking schedules for details.

 Ice-fishing safety

The moderating weather conditions have been having an impact on ice conditions in many areas. With ice thinning and starting to pull away from shore, anglers should be increasingly cautious when stepping out on the ice. Take the following precautions: use the “buddy system,” wear a PFD in case of thin ice, carry a throw-rope, and use a heavy metal staff to check for thin-ice. REMINDER: The state of Oregon does not allow human-made ice holes larger than 12-inches in diameter or length.

If your favorite fishing spot is no longer listed

It could be the area is closed, inaccessible due to mud or snow, or currently offers limited fishing opportunities. These water bodies will return to the recreation report when conditions change. If you believe something is missing, contact us and we’ll find out why.

Send us your fishing report

We’d love to hear about your recent fishing experience. Send us your own fishing report through ODFW Fishing Reports - the information will be forwarded to the local biologist who may use it to update various ODFW resources such as the Weekly Recreation Report

AGATE LAKE: largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, bullheads

The lake is full and, the boat ramp is open from dawn until dusk. Fishing for largemouth bass, crappie, and other warmwater fish is picking up. The best fishing will likely be during the warmer afternoons.

APPLEGATE RESERVOIR: largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, trout

Applegate Reservoir will be stocked this week with 10,000 legal-sized and 800 two-pound rainbow trout. Trolling with a wedding ring/bait combination has been effective, as has still fishing with bait from the shore. Fishing for smallmouth bass is improving as the weather warms. The water temperature was 49oF as of Monday morning. The Copper Boat Ramp is open and is the best place to launch trailered boats. Hart Tish Park is closed.
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

APPLEGATE RIVER: winter steelhead, trout

The Applegate River is currently closed to all fishing. It will reopen to trout fishing on May 22.

ARIZONA POND: rainbow trout

Trout fishing has been good. The pond is scheduled to receive numerous stockings through the spring. This pond is managed by Oregon State Parks for youth-only fishing. It is located at Arizona Beach State Recreation Site, approximately half way between Gold Beach and Port Orford.

BEN IRVING RESERVOIR: rainbow trout, bass, bluegill, yellow perch, crappie

Ben Irving has been stocked several times with legal-size trout. There are still opportunities to catch carryover fish, as well. Warmwater fishing for bass, crappie and bluegill will improve with increasing temperatures.


The river re-opens to fishing May 22.

COOPER CREEK RESERVOIR: rainbow trout, bass, bluegill

Cooper Creek was recently stocked with several hundred trophy-size trout and has received several deliveries of legal-size trout. Fishing for bass and bluegill will improve with increasing temperatures. Anglers are reporting good catch rates of the trophy-size trout.


Trout were stocked last week in Empire lakes, Bradley Lake, and Tenmile Lakes. Due to a vehicle issues Powers Pond and Mingus Park Pond were not stocked last week but will be stocked as soon as possible. Anglers are having success catching trout using small spinners or Powerbait.

ODFW is implementing a tag reward trout study on Empire Lakes for 2017 in which anglers will be asked to report tagged trout that are caught. Anglers can report tags on the ODFW website. Some of the tags will be worth a $50 gift card. This study is an effort by ODFW to compare stocking of “larger” trout to last year’s stocking of “legal” size trout.

COOS RIVER BASIN: Dungeness crab, bay clams, rockfish, steelhead

Trout fishing in streams is closed until May 22, 2017.

Most anglers have stopped fishing for steelhead in the Coos Basin. Rivers in the Coos basin are open to steelhead fishing until April 30. Anglers fishing the South Fork Coos River above Dellwood will need a permit from Weyerhaeuser. In the Coos basin, one additional hatchery steelhead may be retained per day for a total aggregate of three adult fish harvested daily.

Anglers are still catching a few rockfish and surfperch along the jetties and submerged rock piles. Fishing for rockfish in the bay has been spotty. The marine fish daily bag limit for bottom fish (rockfish) is seven fish and a separate daily limit for lingcod (two). The 7 fish marine bag limit will remain in place, with these adjustments for 2017: Create a sub-bag limit of 6 black rockfish, Remove the sub-bag limit for canary rockfish, Add China/quillback/ copper rockfishes to the sub-bag limit with blue/Deacon rockfish and change the limit from 3 to 4. Finally remove the 10-inch minimum size for kelp greenling. Retention of cabezon is not allowed until July 1.

Recreational crabbing is open inside the Coos Bay estuary. Crabbing has been slow in Coos Bay but crabbers will need to sort through several short crab to find keepers.

Recreational harvest of bay clams remains open along the entire Oregon coast. Clamming is excellent during low tides near Charleston, off Cape Arago Highway, and Clam Island. There are also good places to dig clams even on positive low tides in Coos Bay.

Recreational harvest of razor clams and mussels is closed from the entire Oregon coast due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes all beaches and all bays. Before any shellfish harvest trip, make sure to check the Oregon Department of Agriculture website for any updates.

COQUILLE RIVER BASIN: crab, steelhead, salmon

Trout fishing in streams is closed until May 22.

Most anglers have stopped fishing for steelhead in the Coquille Basin but recently a few anglers have been catching steelhead on the South Fork Coquille River. Rivers in the Coquille basin are open to steelhead fishing until April 30. In the Coquille basin, one additional hatchery steelhead may be retained per day for a total aggregate of three adult fish harvested daily.

Recreational crabbing is open in the Coquille estuary but crabbing is very slow due to the large amounts of freshwater coming downstream.

Diamond Lake
Diamond Lake
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-


As part of the 2016 regulation simplification process, Diamond Lake is now back to the Southwest Zone regulation of 5 rainbow trout per day.

Anglers that are planning on taking a trip to Diamond Lake should check with the Umpqua National Forest (541-498-2531) for information on seasonal camp and ramp closures. Anglers can check fishing and water conditions at Diamond Lake on the Diamond Lake Resort website, or call their toll free number at 1-800-733-7593, ext. 5 for updates. Diamond Lake is open year-round.

There are plenty of legal-sized holdover trout currently in the lake from previous years’ stockings, and there have been reports of anglers catching trout through the ice. Ice conditions can change pretty quickly so make sure to contact Diamond Lake Lodge for the most up-to-date report on ice conditions. Standard ice fishing jigs, bait such as worms, and Powerbait should provide anglers excellent opportunities for catching trout at Diamond. Diamond Lake was stocked with tiger trout in early June. These fish are intended to assist in controlling illegally introduced tui chub. Tiger trout are catch-and-release only and need to be released immediately and unharmed if caught.

ELK RIVER: closed

The river re-opens to fishing May 22.

EMIGRANT RESERVOIR: rainbow trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie

Emigrant was stocked last week with legal-sized rainbow trout. The reservoir is currently at 98 percent of capacity. Fishing for bass, crappie, and other warmwater species is improving with the warmer weather.

EXPO POND: rainbow trout, largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie

Anglers can once again fish the pond just to the north of the arena, which is now within a RV Park developed by Jackson County. Fishing has been good for stocked rainbow trout. Parking is available to the right as you drive in Gate 5. A day use fee to park here is $4. An annual parking permit can be purchased from Jackson County Parks Department for $30.

Access from Gate 1.5 will get you to the southernmost pond, which was stocked earlier this year with rainbow trout. Fishing for bass and other warmwater fish is picking up with warmer weather.

FISH LAKE: rainbow trout, brook trout, spring Chinook

Fish Lake is now free of ice, and the Forest Service boat ramp is open. The Fish lake Resort restaurant, boat launch, and campground are currently open Fridays through Sundays. Nine hundred trophy trout were released last fall, and the anglers that have been willing to deal with the cold weather have been catching a few of these nice fish, along with the stocked Chinook salmon. Brook trout and tiger trout are also available. Anglers should concentrate their efforts in the water along the shore, which will warm more quickly on the sunny days. The reservoir is now 65 percent full.

Anglers are encouraged to report catches of larger spring Chinook or tiger trout to the local ODFW district office at 541-826-8774. Tiger trout must be released unharmed.

Anglers should be aware that a Sno-Park permit is required between Nov. 1 and April 30.

FLORAS LAKE: rainbow, cutthroat trout

Trout fishing is picking up with warmer water and better weather conditions. The lake is best fished by boat. Anglers can launch at an improved boat ramp at Boice Cope County Park. Boat anglers are reminded to clean all aquatic vegetation off their boats and trailers before heading home to help control the spread non-native plants and animals.

GALESVILLE RESERVOIR: rainbow trout, bass, coho smolts

Galesville has been stocked several times in 2017 with legal-size trout and with over 50 trophy-size trout. In addition to trout, the reservoir has been stocked with coho smolts and there have been reports of them being caught in good numbers on the lake. Many people mistakenly think these fish are kokanee. The coho smolts should be adipose fin-clipped, and please remember to release the ones less than 8-inches long.

In Galesville Reservoir, all landlocked salmon are considered trout and are part of the five-per-day trout limit, with only one trout over 20-inches long allowed for harvest.

Fishing for bass and other panfish will improve with increasing temperatures. Call 541-837-3302 for information on camping and boat launching conditions.

GARRISON LAKE: rainbow, cutthroat trout

Trout fishing has been good when the weather conditions have allowed anglers to get on the lake. Both boat and bank anglers were picking up a mix of trout up to 3 pounds.

ODFW is implementing a tag reward trout study for 2017. Anglers will be asked to report tagged trout that are caught. Some of the tags will be worth money. Anglers can report the tag number to the ODFW Gold Beach office (541) 247-7605 or on ODFW’s website. Tags can be cut off or pulled out of fish being released. The study is an effort by ODFW to see what size of trout contribute to the fishery the best. Garrison is always an excellent trout fishery, and this study will only help improve it.

Lake of the Woods
Lake of the Woods
-ODFW Photo-


Anglers fishing the high lakes in the Umpqua District are encouraged to e-mail fishing reports. Contact the Forest Service at 541-496-3532 for road conditions. The lakes are likely inaccessible due to snow.

Hemlock Lake and Lake in the Woods were scheduled to be stocked this week with rainbow trout, but the lakes may be inaccessible. There are opportunities to catch holdover rainbow trout that were stocked in previous years. Remember only trout over 8-inches may be harvested, and only one trout over 20-inches may be kept per day.


The ice is gone and the lake is 99 percent full. The Willow Point boat ramp, resort boat ramp, and resort campgrounds are now open. The marina (boat rentals and moorage) and restaurant/store will open Saturday, April 22. The Klum Landing, Willow Point, and Grizzly campgrounds and boat ramps will be open by then as well. Fishing has been slow with few big fish showing up in the catch. Try using a threaded nightcrawler under a bobber or Powerbait fished off the bottom. Legal-sized trout have been stocked to complement trout stocked last year.

HYATT LAKE: rainbow trout

The ice has melted and fishing is improving for rainbow trout. Still fishing with bait is productive this time of year; however, fish are being caught of flies and lures as well. The reservoir is 62 percent full. Boat ramps and campgrounds are still closed for the season. Anglers can launch small watercraft and fish from the bank along the west shore.

ILLINOIS RIVER: trout, steelhead

The Illinois River is currently closed to all fishing. It will reopen to trout fishing on May 22.

LAKE MARIE: rainbow trout, yellow perch

Lake Marie has been stocked twice this year with legal-size trout. Most anglers use PowerBait or worms to catch trout and yellow perch.

LAKE SELMAC: trout, largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie

Selmac was stocked with another 5,000 legal-sized rainbow trout last week. Trout fishing has been good; however, be advised there are a lot of aquatic weeds. Anglers are also catching largemouth bass and crappie. Fishing for bass and other warmwater species should be best on the warmer afternoons.

LEMOLO RESERVOIR: brown trout, rainbow trout, kokanee

The reservoir may be difficult to access due to snow conditions. Contact Lemolo Lake Resort at 541-957-8354 for weather/road conditions and additional information.

The reservoir was stocked with 4,500 rainbow trout in 2016. There are also excellent opportunities to catch large brown trout. Lemolo is scheduled to be stocked with rainbow trout in early April, but will likely be delayed due to access.

Kokanee in Lemolo are considered trout and therefore fall under the daily limit for trout of five per day with only one of those measuring over 20-inches.

LOON LAKE: rainbow trout, bass, bluegill

Loon Lake has been stocked several times in 2017 with legal-sized trout. Fishing for crappie, bluegill and bass will improve with increasing temperatures, but there are still opportunities to catch these fish with slower presentations such as jigging.

Visit the BLM and Loon Lake Resort websites for information on opening dates and camping.

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout
-Photo by Jim Yuskavitch, ODFW-

LOST CREEK RESERVOIR: rainbow trout, bass

Lost Creek Reservoir was stocked with 15,000 legal-size rainbow on April 13 and will be stocked with 800 two-pound rainbow trout this week. Recent reports have been encouraging as fish in the 12-16 inch range have been caught. Trolling a wedding ring/worm behind an oval egg sinker and dodger has produced fish. Anglers were successful trolling around the dam and throughout the lake above and below Peyton Bridge. Bank anglers have been catching fish near the Takelma ramp, marina, and spillway using spinners, Powerbait, or a nightcrawler below a bobber. The reservoir is 90 percent full, and the surface temperature is 49oF.

MEDCO POND: rainbow trout, largemouth bass, bluegill

Rainbow trout stocked last fall are available and should provide good fishing. Boat anglers are reminded that gas engines are not allowed on Medco Pond.

PACIFIC OCEAN AND BEACHES: bottomfish, surf perch, crab

Recreational crabbing is open along the entire Oregon coast.

Bottom fishing has been good when the ocean conditions allow. Fishing for bottom fish is now restricted to inside the 30-fathom curve. A few black rockfish have been seen feeding on/near the surface recently.

Recreational harvest of razor clams is CLOSED on the entire Oregon coast due to elevated levels of domoic acid. The recreational harvesting of mussels is OPEN along the entire Oregon Coast from the Columbia River to the California border. Before any shellfish harvest trip, make sure to check the Oregon Department of Agriculture website for any updates.

Surf perch fishing has been good when ocean swells are small. Surf perch anglers will do the best fishing with sand shrimp or Berkely Gulp sand worms.

PLAT I RESERVOIR: rainbow trout, bass

Plat I has been stocked several this year with legal-size trout. In addition to trout fishing, the lake also has good bass fishing. Anglers may have success catching trout and bass with bait such as PowerBait and nightcrawlers where access is available.

Some of the trout may have copepods which are tiny parasites on their bodies and gills. These are not harmful to humans, but the lesions can be removed and the meat should be thoroughly cooked.

REINHART POND: trout, largemouth bass, bluegill

Reinhart Pond has been stocked with legal-sized rainbow trout. Fishing should continue to be good. Fishing for warmwater species is picking up with the warmer weather.


Rogue River, lower: spring Chinook

Spring Chinook fishing picked up over the weekend as a few fish moved through the lower river. Even with a lower run forecasted, the water conditions continue to be excellent for catching fish from the bank or a boat. Most anglers are picking up springers on anchovies. April is when we usually see good numbers of spring Chinook entering the river.

Rogue River, middle: steelhead, trout

Fishing for winter steelhead is winding down now that many of the fish have spawned and are headed downstream. The first few spring Chinook salmon of the season have been landed. Anglers are reminded that only hatchery Chinook with clipped adipose fins may be retained.

The Rogue River is currently closed to fishing for trout to protect the out-migrating salmon and steelhead smolts.

As of Monday morning, the flow at Grants Pass was 4,930 cfs, turbidity was 3 NTUs, and the water temperature was 49oF. The Rogue, however, is predicted to rise with the rain forecast for this week. For those interested in checking conditions before getting on the river, the City of Grants Pass Water Division’s website offers information on river conditions at Grants Pass as well as a link to a river camera.

Up-to-date flow and temp info

rogue river
Rogue River above Lost Creek
-Photo by Rick Swart, ODFW-

Rogue River, upper: steelhead, trout

Winter Steelhead fishing has been fair, but is winding down. Spring Chinook should start arriving in the upper river anytime now. Anglers are reminded that only hatchery Chinook with clipped adipose fins may be retained. Fishing conditions should improve this week as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to reduce flows coming from Lost Creek Reservoir.

The Rogue River is currently closed to fishing for trout to protect the out-migrating salmon and steelhead smolts.

As of April 12, a total of 1,420 winter steelhead and no spring Chinook have returned to Cole Rivers hatchery. (Track the hatchery returns at fish returns to Cole Rivers). The outflow from Lost Creek Reservoir on Monday morning was 3,004 cfs, but is scheduled to drop to 2,500 cfs by Wednesday. Water temperature in the river was 46oF. The flow at RayGold was 4,520 cfs, but is expected to rise with the rain forecast for this week.

 Up to date flow and temp information.

Rogue River, above Lost Creek Reservoir: trout

The Rogue River and its tributaries above the reservoir support rainbow, cutthroat, brook, and brown trout. Snow is still restricting access to much of the area, and high, cold flows will make fishing difficult.

SMITH RIVER, Umpqua: striped bass, steelhead

The Smith often clears before others in the Umpqua Basin after high flows. Steelhead season has been difficult with high flows most of the year. Winter steelhead fishing opened on Dec. 1 upstream to Bridge 10 (approx. 14.5 miles up the N.F. Smith R. Rd.) on the North Fork Smith and upstream to Sisters Creek on the mainstem. Retention is only allowed on adipose fin-clipped steelhead.

Sturgeon fishing is catch-and-release only. The daily limit for striped bass is two per 24-hour period. Trout and Chinook are closed.


Soda Springs remains CLOSED. There has been some recent articles stating that the reservoir is open to fishing. The reservoir is closed to evaluate its use by salmon and steelhead.

TENMILE BASIN: trout, bass, steelhead

Trout fishing in the streams of the Tenmile Basin are closed until May 22. Trout fishing in Tenmile Lakes, Eel Lake, Saunders Lake are open all year. Anglers have been catching trout in Eel and Tenmile lakes trolling wedding ring spinners tipped with a worm.

Steelhead season is open in Tenmile Creek and Eel Creek until April 30. Steelhead fishing has been very slow in the Tenmile Basin. In the Tenmile Basin, one additional hatchery steelhead may be retained per day for a total aggregate of three adult fish harvested daily.

Largemouth bass fishing has been decent and will continue to pick up as the water temperatures warm up. Anglers are catching bass near structure or on the deep end of the weed lines using jigs or rubber worms. As the water continues to warm largemouth bass will be feeding more in shallow water.

TOKETEE LAKE: brown trout, rainbow trout

Fishing is open in Toketee year-round, but weather conditions may prevent access. For more information call the U.S. Forest Service at 541-498-2531.


Lakes accessible from hiking trails and that were recently stocked are: Calamut, Connie, Bullpup, Fuller, Cliff, Buckeye, Maidu, Twin “b”, Pitt lake and Skookum. Anglers fishing the high lakes in the Umpqua District are encouraged to e-mail fishing reports. Contact the Forest Service at 541-496-3532 for road conditions as many lakes are likely difficult to access due to snow.

Red Top Pond, which offers excellent bank fishing opportunities, was stocked with 1,500 legal size plus rainbow trout in 2016. In addition, there should be plenty of holdover legal-sized trout from previous stockings in these waterbodies. Anglers fishing the high lakes in the Umpqua District are encouraged to e-mail fishing reports.

UMPQUA RIVER, MAINSTEM: steelhead, spring Chinook

The mainstem Umpqua is closed to wild steelhead harvest but remains open year-round for adipose fin-clipped steelhead. The mainstem has been low but it looks like it will be high for the weekend. Late winter steelhead should be decent with dropping river levels, with “plunking” being a good strategy. Spring Chinook season is in full swing with regular reports of anglers catching fish throughout the main.

On the Main, anglers can harvest 2 wild spring Chinook per day and up to 5 wild springers from Feb. 1 – June 30. From July 1– Dec. 31, you can harvest 2 wild Chinook per day, and in combination with the other salmon/ steelhead recorded on your salmon tag, up to 20 fish total. Fin-clipped hatchery fish can be recorded on a separate hatchery harvest tag that is available. There is no limit on the number of hatchery tags that can be purchased. Daily limits still apply.

It's a keeper!
South Umpqua River Steelhead
-Photo by Uriah Kuehl-


Winter steelhead are being caught in the North when the river is in shape. Watch the river gauges (North Umpqua River water levels at Winchester Dam) as water levels have been chronically high this year. Fish can still be caught at higher water levels especially if water clarity is decent, and there have been reports of steelhead being caught during the recent higher water levels.

Note that from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 through June 30, fishing in the fly water area is restricted to fly fishing only with a single barbless fly. Per the new regulation, from Feb. 1 – June 30, two wild Chinook per day can be harvested. Ten wild Chinook may be harvested in the North during this time frame in aggregate with wild Chinook harvested in the Main.


The South Umpqua opened to winter steelhead fishing on Dec. 1 upstream to Jackson Creek. Only adipose fin-clipped steelhead may be retained. Anglers are still hooking into a few hatchery fish. Pay attention to river gages for the South as it has been high and unfishable a large portion of the time this season. The South Umpqua will likely be a little high for most anglers this weekend.

WILLOW LAKE: rainbow trout, largemouth bass, black crappie, brown bullhead

The lake is full, and was stocked last week with 4,000 legal-sized trout. It was also stocked last fall with pound-sized rainbow trout. With its lower elevation, Willow Lake can be a great destination for anglers in the early spring. The paved ramp is open.

WINCHESTER BAY: bottomfish, perch

Fishing for bottom fish in the Triangle and South jetty has been successful.


The river re-opens to fishing May 22.

  Southwest Zone Hunting


Wolves and coyotes can look alike

Most wolves in the state today are in northeast Oregon but a few have dispersed further west and south. Wolves are protected by state and/or federal law and it is unlawful to shoot them. Coyote hunters need to take extra care to identify their target as wolves can look like coyotes, especially wolf pups in the mid-summer and fall. Please report any wolf sightings or wolf sign to ODFW using the online reporting system.

Use the Oregon Hunting Map to see where to hunt.

Black Bear
Black Bear
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-


Hunters need to be aware that ownership of several timber land parcels in Coos County has recently changed. In some cases the new owners have different access policies than their predecessors. Make sure you know what the policy is before accessing private land and don’t assume the policy is the same as prior years.

Spring Black Bear- The spring Black Bear season opened April 1. The hunt that pertains to Coos County is the SW Oregon Limited hunt. Tags for this hunt are sold out now. For those who do have tags and plan to hunt the beginning of the season it is likely to be too early to find good numbers of active bears, although some will be out and about. Generally, bear activity increases as the weather improves. As anyone from Oregon can attest we have seen a lot of bad weather this spring. This kind of weather generally makes bears unlikely to move far from their dens. When they do they will be in search of green grass as this is the food they generally key in on when their digestive system is becoming active after a long period of inactivity. The best feed will be found on south or west slopes in places where there are openings in the forest canopy. Clear cuts and land slide areas on hill sides are where this kind of feed can be found in abundance.

Bear hunters should spend late afternoon hours glassing likely habitats from vantage points. Take your time glassing these places as bears are surprisingly hard to see, especially when there are burned stumps in the area they are feeding. Bear activity, even in their most active times, is generally low in mid-day. Mornings can be good for seeing bears but they generally are only out for a short time after daylight. Afternoons tend to be best.

Coyote - Numbers are strong throughout Coos County. Using predator calls to lure them in can be an effective method for harvesting coyotes. Try calling in early morning and late afternoon. Be sure to ask permission before hunting on private land.

Cougar - Hunters can expect an average year. Cougars are abundant throughout with indicators pointing to stable or increasing numbers. Hunting cougar is a challenge because these animals are very secretive, but harvest success is greatest adjacent to private land with high deer populations using a predator call. Remember a 2017 cougar tag and license is needed to hunt as of Jan. 1.


Cougar – The cougar season is currently open. Hunters can expect an average year. Cougars are abundant throughout with indicators pointing to stable or increasing numbers. Hunting cougar is a challenge because these animals are very secretive, but harvest success is greatest adjacent to private land with high deer populations using a predator call.

Coyote - Numbers are strong throughout Douglas County. Using predator calls to lure them in can be an effective method for harvesting coyotes. Try calling in early morning and late afternoon. Be sure to ask permission before hunting on private land.

Black Bear – Bears are becoming more active in both the Coast Range and the Cascades. Hunters should target bears along south facing green slopes, grassy abandoned roads, and marshy creek bottoms. Look for locations where food is available in great supply and make it a point to be there before sunrise or just before sunset for the best opportunity to spot a black bear.

Spring Turkey –The general spring season opens April 15th and runs through May 31st. All indicators point to a healthy turkey population in Douglas County. In general, most turkeys are found on or adjacent to low-mid elevation private lands associated with oak savannah habitat. ODFW has also supplemented prime habitat within the Umpqua National Forest with turkeys over the last several years. Healthy turkey production around the Toketee, Tiller and Upper Cow Creek areas of the Umpqua National Forest can give hunters a different experience and opportunity to test their turkey calling skills. Hunters are reminded to obtain permission before hunting on private lands.


Spring Bear season opened April 1 here in Southern Oregon. Bear numbers are very good here in Southern Oregon, especially in the Applegate and Rogue units which have some of the highest bear harvest numbers in the state. Typically the harvest improves as the season progresses; this may be especially true this year after our severe winter. Typically boars emerge from their dens earlier than sows and cubs. Remember that it is illegal to harvest a sow with cubs. In general it is good to start off the season glassing open hillsides during sunny mornings and evenings. Bears will most likely be out at this time feeding on grasses and anything else they can fill their bellies with. As the season continues into May another useful method of hunting is using a fawn distress call. There are many newborn fawns this time of year so you are imitating a natural food source. Other predator calls can be successful as well. Remember that within 10 days of harvest you are required to check your bear skull in at an ODFW office, the skull must be unfrozen and preferable have the mouth propped open. For more information refer to page 30 of the 2017 Oregon Big Game Hunting Regulations.

Spring Turkey season opened April 15, the daily bag limit is one male turkey or a turkey with a visible beard. Turkey season continues through May 31. Turkey numbers remain good in our area which should lead to a productive hunting season.

Denman Wildlife Area: Remember to get your parking permit. Hunters get the permit free with their purchase of an annual hunting license. Reminder, starting April 1 bird dog training will be restricted to within the “dog training area” along Touvelle road except for organized permitted events. Remember to place your parking permit on the dash of your vehicle.

- Royalty Free Image-

Cougar season is open statewide year-round or until zone quotas are met (see zone quota page). Cougars travel many miles a day and often use major ridge lines to find prey, these ridge lines are location for predator calls. Unlike other predators, cougars will usually take longer to come in to predators calls so be prepared to sit for 1 hour or more. It is a good idea to use specific cougar sounds in conjunction with a general prey distress sound, cougar whistles can be one of these very useful sound while calling. Unlike other species cougars will come in slowly and spend lots of time looking for the source of the sound. So be sure to remain very still and keep your eyes open for the cougars head only, as they will often peer around an obstacle to get a better view while remaining hidden.

This time of year can be productive by driving roads after a fresh snow and looking for cougar tracks. By doing this you can narrow down the area worth setting up and calling. There is a mandatory check in of all cougars harvested within 10 days of the after harvest; the unfrozen skull, hide, and proof of sex must be taken to an ODFW office during normal business hours. If a female cougar is harvested it is also mandatory to bring in the reproductive tract in order to gain valuable population data. For more information refer to page 34 of the 2017 Oregon Big Game Hunting Regulations.

Western Gray Squirrel is currently open for the part of the Rogue Unit south of Rogue River and S. Fork Rogue River and North of Hwy 140 where the season remains open year round with no bag limit. Squirrels can be found in oak or mixed conifer stands. This is a great animal to hunt for first time hunters.

Coyotes are abundant in our area. Remember to ask for permission to hunt on private lands. Hunter can find coyotes around meadows and brush piles where mice and rabbits are found. Predator calls are very useful when used in conjunction to known prey base.

 Southwest Zone Wildlife Viewing


Viewing Note: Mute Swan

“There have been unconfirmed reports of a mute swan in Coos County outside of Coquille near Johnson Mill Pond (log pond).” If you see this bird, please take pictures and call your local ODFW office. Mute swans are considered invasive species in Oregon.

Marine Mammals

Stellar Sealion
Steller Sea Lions - Rogue Reef
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Seal and sea lion abundance in coastal waters around Coos County is high at this time of year, especially south of Coos Bay. At Simpson Reef, a heavily used haul out exists. Presently, large numbers of Steller and California sea lions are using the haul out. Also, large numbers of harbor seals are present. It is likely that Northern elephant seals are there too. All of these animals are visible from the look out at Simpson Reef located along Cape Arago Hwy. Do not approach seals and sea lions you may find on Oregon beaches.

California grey whales, humpback whales and others tend to migrate through Oregon waters in spring as they head back to the North Pacific and the Bearing Sea. March and early April are great times to see these animals. At times several whales can be seen at once from one vantage point. California grey whales will often come very close to shore feeding. It is not uncommon to see these huge animals next to jetties and nearshore rocks or just outside of the furthest breaking waves on beaches.

Cape Arago is a wonderful place to see these animals, for those wanting to see them. Occasionally these whales will even enter Coos Bay. Generally, the best time is at or near high tide, when the water next to shore is deepest.

If you think an animal you find is in trouble, contact your local ODFW office to report the animal or contact the Marine Mammal Stranding Network an (800) 452-7888.


Waterfowl numbers are high presently in the Coos and Coquille drainage systems, but that may be hard to believe due to the fact that these birds are widely scattered. Large amounts of precipitation lately has resulted is extensively inundated agricultural lands throughout Coos County and other parts of the coast. Those who are interested in seeing these birds should spend their time searching the upper extents of tributaries of the Coos and Coquille drainages where agricultural lands exist. Birds will, generally not move into the forested extent of these drainages in large numbers.

Coquille Valley Wildlife Area (CVWA) is located near the town of Coquille. To access CVWA area take Hwy. 42 from Coquille toward Coos Bay. From there take North Bank Rd. to the west. The public parking area for CVWA is located about ½ mile west from the intersection of Hwy. 42 and North Bank Rd. along North Bank Rd. Beaver Slough Tract, located north of the public parking area, is open to public access. It is a great place to paddle a canoe in the spring when water inundation makes that form of travel easy. Wildlife Viewing opportunity abound along Beaver Slough. Refer to the map posted at the public parking area to make sure you stay on your public land. Permits are required for anyone who accesses CVWA. The permits are available at the parking area and are free of charge. Make sure you put the “A” half in the appropriate box at the parking area and carry the “B” half with you. At the end of the trip put this half in the same box after filling it out. Enjoy this newly acquired wildlife area.


Winter storms bring seabirds in close to shore. Many even move into the bays to forage on fish and crustaceans. On occasion over the past few years, herring, a small schooling fish, have, spawned in the rocks and vegetation found close to the bar but within Coos Bay. This causes a great congregation of a variety of seabirds. A great place to view these birds is the parking area next to a pump station at Fossil Point in Coos Bay. This pump station is located next to Cape Arago Hwy. When this spawning event occurs hundreds of scoters, scaup and a variety of other birds often found in the marine environment will congregate there to feed on herring eggs. Precisely when herring spawn seems to be variable but when they do thousands of eggs are attached to vegetation in rocky areas during a single night. 3/28/2017


Elk – Roosevelt elk can be viewed taking advantage of the Umpqua Valley’s agricultural lands. Many local grass producers are visited nightly by large herds of elk that can be viewed during early morning and evening hours as they move between food and cover.

Waterfowl – Ducks and geese are nesting around ponds, lakes, wetlands and rivers throughout Douglas County. Watch for nestlings following adult waterfowl in the following weeks as they learn to forage.

Turkeys – Turkeys are abundant on the Umpqua Valley floor. Watch for toms strutting and gathering hens for spring breeding. Look for these birds within the oak savannah habitat and surrounding oak woodlands where food and roosting resources are available. ODFW does not recommend feeding turkeys as these concentrated birds do a significant amount of damage to properties and buildings when concentrated around baited sites within residential and agricultural areas.

Amphibians - The frogs and salamanders are out. Start to watch for frog and salamander egg masses and tadpoles to show up in ponds, puddles, creeks, and ditches. This can be a fun experience for kids and their parents to watch the development and metamorphosis processes of these critters.

Reptiles – As we get warmer, longer days, watch for local lizard, snake and turtle populations to become more active. Lizards and snakes will be taking advantage of morning and evening sun and southern exposed rock formations (and roads) to warm themselves. Turtles will be seen basking on logs and banks of local ponds, streams and reservoirs.

Umpqua Valley Migratory Bird Day – This year’s local event will be held at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in cooperation with the Earth Day and Energy Fair events on Saturday, April 22, 2017. ODFW and partners will be bringing 300 songbird house kits for children to put together. Other partners, including Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Umpqua Audubon Society and other bird enthusiasts will have many other displays and activities for attenders of all ages.


Rogue Valley Audubon Society

The 2017 Birdathon is on May 5th at 6:00 pm and will continue for 24 hours. This is a chance for you to create a team and have a friendly competition with other birders from around the valley in an attempt to raise money for the Rogue Valley Audubon Society. More information

First Wednesday of the month bird counts at Agate Lake. On the first Wednesday of every month the Rogue Valley Audubon Society gathers at Agate Lake outside of White City to conduct a bird count. The event is open to the public and starts at 8:30 am.

Denman Wildlife Area

Denman Wildlife Area
-Photo by Bob Swingle-

Denman Wildlife Area

Take one of two trails off Touvelle Road and enjoy birdwatching and sightseeing. This is the time of year when the wildlife area greens up with variety of flowers and wildlife. Below the fourth pond and to the north, you will find the Denman horse trail (2.5 mile) that provides great views of the Upper Table Rock and opportunities to see birds that live in oak trees, wedge leaf ceanothus and areas of riparian vegetation along the Little Butte Creek. The trail to the south that runs along the forth pond dike is our interpretive trail, come in to the office and pick up and interpretive trail guide. You will learn of some of the history of the wildlife area and the different environment unique to our area. A wide variety of wildlife can be found along this 1 ½ mile trail.

A covered viewing station on the Denman Wildlife Area provides a good opportunity to view waterfowl, egrets, raptors and songbirds. The structure was built by the Oregon Hunters Association and is accessed by a paved, ADA-accessible pathway. Two additional fishing dikes have been created on Whetstone pond to provide more fishing access, it is possible to catch bass, bluegill, bullhead catfish, black crappie, and carp. Warm water fishing should become more productive as the weather improves. The pond is located just north of the ODFW Rogue Watershed Field Office in Central Point.

A prescribed burn was conducted on the Denman Wildlife Area near Little Butte Creek last fall for habitat restoration and enhancement. This newly opened area could potentially be a good spot to view wildlife frequenting the area and benefiting from the habitat improvement. Last month it was seeded with a mix of red clover, birdsfoot trefoil, and other desirable grasses. As the weather continues to get better we should start to see fresh growth for wildlife to feed on.

Song Birds

Several types of swallows are beginning to nest in our bird boxes around the Denman Wildlife area office.

Canada Geese

Canada Geese mate for life and pairs are breaking off from their flocks to find nesting sites. They will begin claiming and defending a small pond or at least a portion of a larger pond for nesting.

Turkey Vultures

A few turkey vultures are starting to appear in the Rogue River Valley from their wintering grounds. The Denman Wildlife Area and surrounding areas is a good place to view these birds and possibly get some good pictures.

Red-naped Sapsucker

The Red-naped Sapsucker is a member of the woodpecker family; it is characterized by the red on its nape as well as its throat. They are short distance migrants that winter in woodlands and aspen groves. Common in the Rocky Mountains and low lying state lands it is seldom seen as far west as the Rogue Valley, however during the past few weeks there have been sightings near Emigrant Lake in Ashland. It gets its name from its coloration as well as its feeding behavior. The Red-naped Sapsucker will drill tiny holes in tree bark in neat rows, then return to feed on the sap that leaks out.

Wilson's Snipe
Wilson's Snipe
- Photo by Maxine Wyatt-


Snipe are small, fast and erratic low-flying birds that can be hard to identify. They can be easily confused with killdeer and other shorebirds. Snipe are found in muddy or shallow water areas feeding on insects. Snipe almost always emit a call when they take off in flight. Denman Wildlife Area has decent numbers of snipe.


Turkey are beginning their breeding season and it can be an interesting display to watch. Males called toms are starting to collect groups of females called hens. Toms have begun to make sounds called gobbles which can be heard from long distances. These toms spend much of their time strutting, which consists of them spreading their tail feathers and puffing up their chest feathers in order to impress the hens they are trying to attract. There are turkeys throughout southern Oregon, including on the Denman Wildlife Area. Be aware that spring turkey hunting season runs April 15-May 31.

For a great birding trail along the southern coast, visit Oregon Birding Trails. (4/11/2017)

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