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Weekly Recreation Report: Southwest Zone

March 28, 2016

 Southwest Zone Fishing

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

Weekend fishing opportunities:

  • Spring Chinook season on the mainstem Umpqua River should be starting up soon – a few anglers already are trying their luck.
  • 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 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 100 percent full and the boat ramp is open from dawn until dusk. Fishing for warmwater should start picking up with the warmer weather.

 APPLEGATE RESERVOIR: largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, trout

Trout fishing has been fair to good. Anglers have been catching trout up to 16-inches. Trout anglers will want to try trolling, and a good bet will be a wedding ring/bait combination. One angler reported a flasher tipped with a worm produced good results during mid-day hours. Fishing with bait from shore in the upper reservoir should also produce.

The lake is currently filling and all boat ramps are accessible.

-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

APPLEGATE RIVER: winter steelhead, trout

The Applegate River is open for trout and steelhead fishing until the end of March. Unfortunately, releases from the dam have increased, making it difficult to fish. Only hatchery steelhead may be retained and anglers must take care in releasing wild fish. Wild trout must be released unharmed.

ARIZONA POND: rainbow trout

The pond level is back to full and ODFW has stocked some trophy trout. 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 two times this year totaling over 4,000 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.

CHETCO RIVER: winter steelhead

Anglers have only a couple of more days before steelhead season closes on the river. The river closes to fishing April 1 until it re-opens May 22.

COOPER CREEK RESERVOIR: rainbow trout, bass, bluegill

Cooper Creek has been stocked several times this year, including several hundred trophy trout. Fishing for bass and bluegill will improve with increasing temperatures. Cooper Creek was recently stocked with several hundred trophy-size trout and received another stocking this past week with legal-size trout.


Excess hatchery steelhead have been stocked into Saunders Lake, Middle Empire, and Lower Empire lakes. Fishing regulations for these stocked steelhead in Empire Lakes and Saunders Lake are just like the trout regulations: anglers can keep 1 fish over 20-inches per day and only need their fishing license.

Trophy trout were stocked last week in Bradley Lake, Empire lakes, and Johnson Mill Pond. Fishing for trophy trout was good in Empire Lakes this past week for anglers using small spinners or using 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.

A few steelhead are still being caught in the Coos basin. Most fish are dark and ready to spawn. 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 and should check with the Dellwood office on how long the fishing permits are valid. 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 to decent in Coos Bay but crabbers will need to sort through several short crab to find keepers. Crabbing from a boat has been better than crabbing from the dock but dock crabbers are picking up a few legal crabs.

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.

Steelhead fishing is open in the Coquille Basin rivers until April 30. Anglers have been catching a few steelhead yet on the South Fork Coquille River. 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 and ice fishing can be a fun pastime during this season.

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. Standard ice fishing jigs, bait such as worms, and Powerbait should provide anglers excellent opportunities for catching trout at Diamond. Make sure to contact Diamond Lake Lodge for the most up-to-date report on ice conditions. 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: steelhead

Anglers have only a couple of more days before steelhead season closes on the river. The river closes to fishing April 1 until it re-opens May 22. River conditions continue to be excellent for some late season steelhead fishing. Boat anglers are reporting a mix of fresh and spawned out steelhead. Anglers can call 541-332-0405 to get the daily river conditions. Best river height is 5.3 feet and dropping.

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

Trout fishing at Emigrant got a jump start last week when it was stocked with 1,000 legal-sized rainbow. Emigrant Reservoir is currently at 90 percent of capacity. Fishing for warmwater species should start picking up with the warmer weather.

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

Expo was stocked with 1,500 legal-sized rainbow recently and was stocked with 1,500 legal-sized rainbow trout in late fall. Fishing should be good.

ODFW will be stocking rainbow trout in the pond that is located directly adjacent to the access road at Gate 5. This is the site that has been stocked with trout for many years. Last year, because of construction, ODFW was forced to stock a different pond.

Anglers at Expo Pond will now be fishing within an RV Park developed by Jackson County. Parking is available to the right as you drive in at Gate 5 at the fairgrounds.

Access from Gate 1.5 will get you to the southernmost pond, which was stocked earlier this year with rainbow trout. A day use fee to park here is now $4. An annual parking permit can be purchased from Jackson County Parks Department for $30.

FISH LAKE: rainbow trout, brook trout, spring Chinook

The lake is partially frozen and the ice is beginning to melt. However, 900 trophy trout were released last fall and fishing should get better as the weather warms. The reservoir is now 59 percent full.

Anglers must remember that Sno-Park permits are needed between Nov. 1 and April 30. Rainbow trout, brook trout, landlocked spring Chinook salmon and tiger trout are available. 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.

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 three times in 2017 with legal-size trout and with a few 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 was good over the weekend. 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 in which 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 was stocked with approximately 6,000 legal size plus rainbow trout in 2016, and Lake in the Woods was stocked with approximately 1,000 legal size plus rainbow trout as well. In addition, 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 currently melting and open water is becoming more prevalent. The lake is now 79 percent full. 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. Boat ramps at Howard are closed for the season.

HYATT LAKE: rainbow trout

Hyatt is melting quickly and the ice is likely not safe. Anglers fishing the open water will want to try bait fished off the bottom while the water is still very cold. The reservoir is 60 percent full. Boat ramps are closed for the season.

ILLINOIS RIVER: trout, steelhead

Wild steelhead more than 24 inches long may be harvested in the Illinois between Klondike Creek and Pomeroy Dam (located near Cave Junction); 1 per day and 5 per year. Fishing is restricted to artificial flies and lures. Illinois is currently a little high but should be fishable for the final week of the season. Fish were caught around Kerby two weeks ago before the rain. The Illinois will close to fishing March 31.

LAKE MARIE: rainbow trout, yellow perch

Lake Marie has been stocked once 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 will be stocked with 5,000 legal-sized trout this week, complementing the 5,000 legal-sized trout stocked a month ago. Trout fishing should good; however, be advised there are a lot of aquatic weeds. The lake was stocked with 600 pounders last fall and fishing should be good.

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 March, pending access to the boat launch.

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 three 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: rainbow trout, bass

Trout fishing got a boost last week as 20,000 legal-sized rainbows were stocked, complementing the legal and trophy-sized fish stocked last fall. 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 also successful trolling around the dam and throughout the lake above and below Peyton Bridge.

The spring months are shaping up to continue the good trout fishing here. Bank anglers are catching fish near the Takelma ramp and near the marina and spillway using spinners, Powerbait or threading a nightcrawler below a bobber.

MEDCO POND: rainbow trout, largemouth bass, bluegill

Four hundred trout pounders were stocked in Medco in the fall and fishing should be good. 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 will be restricted to inside of the 30-fathom curve starting on April 1.

Recreational harvest of razor clams is CLOSED on the entire Oregon coast due to elevated levels of domoic acid. The recreational harvest of mussels is CLOSED from Cape Arago (south of Coos Bay) 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 twice this year 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

Reinhardt was stocked with 300 legal-sized trout last week and was stocked with 300 legal-sized rainbow three weeks ago. Fishing should continue to be good. Fishing for warmwater species will begin to pick up with the warmer weather.


Rogue River, lower: steelhead, spring Chinook

River conditions should steadily improve through the week. Bank anglers should have the best opportunity at picking up a spring chinook or steelhead as flows drop. April is when we usually see good numbers of spring chinook entering the river.

Rogue River, middle: steelhead, trout

The river is a little high but steelhead have been caught around Grants Pass so try fishing with nightcrawlers, spinners, and side drifted planers and roe. Nymphing flies can also be very effective. Consult the 2017 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for winter steelhead harvest information.

The Rogue River is open to trout fishing through the end of March. Only hatchery trout can be retained and wild trout must be released unharmed. Rainbow trout over 16-inches are considered steelhead and must be tagged as part of the daily salmon/steelhead catch as per zone regulations.

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

The river is a little high and steelhead fishing has been fair. Remember that the river is much clearer from Big Butte Creek to Cole Rivers Hatchery providing an opportunity to fish for steelhead and trout when the rest of the river is not fishable. Anglers can keep 5 hatchery rainbow trout per day through March 31. Non-adipose fin-clipped rainbow trout and all cutthroat trout must be immediately released unharmed.

Note that beginning Jan. 1, the upper Rogue is open to bait, lures and flies from Fishers ferry boat ramp to the deadline at Cole Rivers hatchery. Consult the 2017 Oregon Sport fishing Regulations for more information.

Track the fish returns to Cole Rivers Fish Hatchery by the collection pond tally.

As of March 22, a total of 4,072 summer steelhead have entered the hatchery, with 18 new fish entering for the week. The hatchery also collected 197 winter steelhead bringing the total to 695. The average outflow from Lost Creek reservoir as of March 28, is 4,500 cfs. For more flow and temp information, see link below.

Up to date flow and temp information

Rogue River, above Lost Creek Reservoir: trout

The upper Rogue is currently covered in snow; however, that snow is beginning to melt and there are fish. If you find a safe place to do some fishing, try using bait as the trout are slow to move due to very cold water temperatures.

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, and there have been recent reports of anglers catching steelhead 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.

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 slow but will be picking 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.

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 do 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 high and it looks like it will be for the weekend. Late winter steelhead should be decent with dropping river levels, with “plunkning” being a good strategy. Spring Chinook season should be starting up with a few anglers already trying their luck.

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 having been chronically high this year. Conditions are unfavorable, and it looks like the river will be high again this weekend.

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. Good numbers of steelhead are being caught up to and above Canyonville and anglers are 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 was week with 4,000 legal-sized trout. It was also stocked last fall with 450 rainbow trout pounders. Fishing with a nightcrawler under a bobber should produce throughout the day, and is a great and easy way to get youngsters in on the action. The paved ramp is currently open as water levels have rebounded nicely.

WINCHESTER BAY: bottomfish, perch

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

WINCHUCK RIVER: winter steelhead

Anglers have only a couple of more days before steelhead season closes on the river. The river closes to fishing April 1 until it re-opens May 22.

  Southwest Zone Hunting


SW Oregon 1st come, 1st serve spring bear tags are sold out.

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 opens 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.


Elk - A few controlled elk hunts are currently open. Elk populations are similar to last year so this hunting year will be average.

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. With lower snow levels, hunters can find higher success by finding fresh tracks and then calling in these big cats. 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 –If you purchased one of the Southwest Limited Spring Bear tags, start to scout for the earliest green up areas for the hunt that starts April 1. Look towards south facing grassy slopes and ridgelines and lush meadow/creek bottom areas where the skunk cabbage grows the thickest. Bear activity has been quiet so far in Douglas County. Areas within the coast range are greening up nicely. South facing green areas and ridgeline forest roads will be the first to show bear activity. Bears will be feeding on grasses and new shrub growth. The Cascade Range’s higher elevation habitats are a little slower to produce good forage for the April 1 opener, so coast range units will be your best bet for seeing bears early.

Grouse & Quail - Upland Gamebird season is currently closed.

Waterfowl - Duck and goose seasons are closed.

Furbearers – Mink and muskrat harvest seasons are currently open.


Spring Bear season opens April 1 here in Southern Oregon. All of the SW spring bear tags are sold out. 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 opens April 15th, the daily bag limit is one male turkey or a turkey with a visible beard. Turkey season continues through May 31st.

The weekend of April 8th-9th is a youth spring turkey hunt; this hunt is open to all youth 17 years of age and younger.

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.

Furbearers: All furbearer populations in our area remain at healthy levels. Hunters should be aware that there are traps in the area and remember that it is against the law to disturb a legally set trap.

Muskrat/mink season closes March 31.

 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


Turkey Vultures - The turkey vultures have arrived in the Umpqua Valley. Watch for roosted turkey vultures with wings wide open, warming in the morning sun and watch out for turkey vultures as you drive the local roads. Many vultures are hit and killed by vehicles as they forage on road struck animals.

Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
Photo by Nick Myatt, ODFW

Winter Raptors – Many different raptors are still in the Umpqua Valley for the season. These birds of prey will winter in the valley and can be viewed by traveling rural roads and watching trees, perches and fence lines. Watch for Bald Eagles, golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, harriers, kites, peregrine falcons, kestrels and more as they hunt and hunker down in our valley’s moderate winter climate.

Deer – Columbian White-tailed deer and black-tailed deer can be seen throughout much of the Umpqua Valley’s agricultural lands in strong numbers.

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 concentrating around ponds, lakes, wetlands and flooded fields throughout Douglas County. Trying to identify which of the 11 different varieties of Canadian Geese present can be challenging to both seasoned goose hunters and bird watchers.

Wading Shore Birds– Plat I Reservoir, Ford’s Pond, Cooper Creek Reservoir and other bodies of water in Douglas County are great places to watch for wading shore birds.

Turkeys – Turkeys are abundant on the Umpqua Valley floor. As spring approaches, 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 - As temperatures start to warm up on the valley floor, pacific (chorus) tree frogs will start to vocalize around ponds, puddles and ditches as they prepare for breeding. Listen for them on warmer days and evenings.

Owls - Start to listen for Great Horned Owls and smaller owls calling in the evenings and early morning near local wooded habitats.


Project Feeder Watch is a continent-wide citizen science program that uses citizen to count and identify birds visiting backyard bird feeders and other location. This program continues through March. If interested visit web page for more info.

Rogue Valley Audubon Society

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 8:30am.

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 newly built 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, and carp. 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

Thanks to a couple of high school seniors from a Medford school, several sections of trail have been improved upon by putting a thick layer of bark down to prevent excess water and mud. The students completed their project last week and now a large section of the Denman Interpretive trail should be much more enjoyable to hike. The Denman Interpretive trail provides a great opportunity to view many different species of wildlife. Deer, beavers, river otters, and a large variety of bird species are just some of the many species you have the chance of running into.

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.

Bohemian Waxwing

There have been recent sightings of Bohemian Waxwings along the Pacific Crest Trail and in the Soda Mountain National Monument outside of Ashland. This is a very interesting looking bird that is not commonly seen in our area.

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.


Crows and Raven are similar to each other. Crows are smaller in size (17.5 inches) with smaller beaks with fan shape tail in flight and they make a caw sound. Whereas ravens are larger (24 inches) with long heavy bills, wedge shaped tail, with a low, drawn-out croak call and are protected.

For a great birding trail along the southern coast, visit Oregon Birding Trails. (1/17/2017)

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