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ODFW WEEKLY RECREATION REPORT
Fishing, Hunting, Wildlife Viewing
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Southwest Zone Map

Weekly Recreation Report: Southwest Zone

January 17, 2016

 Southwest Zone Fishing

rogue river
Fishing Rogue River
-ODFW Photo-

Weekend fishing opportunities:

  • Steelhead are being caught throughout the Umpqua River Basin.
  • Recreational crabbing is now open in all Oregon waters.
  • Perch fishing can be good if the ocean settles down.
  • Garrison Lake usually holds good numbers of holdover trout in the 14 to 18-inch range and ODFW recently planted recycled adult hatchery steelhead into the lake.
  • Some anglers are enjoying ice fishing at Diamond and Fish lakes.
  • Trout fishing at Lost Creek Reservoir has been good.
  • The best bet for winter steelhead on the Rogue is the upper river from Big Butte Creek to Cole Rivers Hatchery, which remains fishable even when the rest of the river is blown out.
  • REMINDER: The use of two rods is not currently authorized in rivers and streams, but is restricted to standing water bodies like lakes, ponds and reservoirs.

Ice-fishing safety

With several water bodies beginning to ice over, it’s a good time to be reminded that anglers should always use caution during first-ice conditions. 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 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 92 percent full and the boat ramp is open from dawn until dusk. Fishing for warmwater species is slow with cooler 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 16 percent full. French Gulch is the only boat ramp that is currently useable.

APPLEGATE RIVER: winter steelhead, trout

Beginning Jan. 1, the Applegate River is open for trout and steelhead fishing but remain closed to Chinook fishing. Only hatchery steelhead may be retained and anglers must take care in releasing wild fish. Steelhead fishing in the Applegate is usually slow in January, however, with the high flows we have had this year, fishing could be good once outflow out of the dam decreases and the river clears. Wild trout must be released unharmed.

ARIZONA POND: rainbow trout

The pond has been lowered to help control aquatic vegetation. 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 was stocked with 5,000 trout in 2016, and there are still opportunities to catch carry-over rainbows from last year’s stockings. Warmwater fishing for bass, crappie and bluegill is likely slow with the cooler temperatures.

CHETCO RIVER: winter steelhead

Rain this week will bring the river back up and make for good bank fishing by the weekend.

ODFW has started collecting angler caught winter steelhead for the Chetco River hatchery program. Angler caught broodstock have been used for several years. Anglers interested in participating can contact the ODFW Gold Beach District Office at 541-247-7605. Anglers floating or fishing the river may see brood collection live tanks along the river.

COOPER CREEK RESERVOIR: rainbow trout, bass, bluegill

Cooper Creek has been stocked with over 10,000 rainbow trout in 2016. Fishing for bass and bluegill will slow with dropping temperatures.

Upper Empire Lake, Coos Bay
Upper Empire Lake, Coos Bay
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-

COOS COUNTY LAKES/PONDS: trout

Fishing for trout in area lakes has been slow. Trout stocking in area lakes will start at the end of February/early March.

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

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

Anglers have been reporting steelhead fishing has been decent to slow with a few steelhead caught in the West Fork Millicoma, East Fork Millicoma, and South Fork Coos rivers. Anglers are drifting eggs or corkies along the stream bottom or using a jig suspended under a bobber. Anglers fishing the South Fork Coos River above Dellwood will need a permit from Weyerhaeuser, which they can pick up at the Dellwood office. In the Coos Basin 1 additional hatchery steelhead may be retained per day for a total aggregate of 3 adult fish harvested daily.

Anglers have been 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 now open in all Oregon waters. Crabbing was decent over the weekend in Coos Bay. 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 now closed until May 22, 2017.

Steelhead anglers have reported catching a few steelhead in the North Fork Coquille at LaVerne Park. A few steelhead have been caught on the South Fork Coquille River but overall fishing has been slow. Anglers have had success drifting eggs or corkies. In the Coquille Basin 1 additional hatchery steelhead may be retained per day for a total aggregate of 3 adult fish harvested daily.

Recreational crabbing is now open in all Oregon waters. Crabbing is very slow in the lower Coquille River due to the large amounts of freshwater coming downstream.

DIAMOND LAKE: trout

As part of the new 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 year’s 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

Slow. Anglers can expect fishing to improve with some additional rain. 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

Emigrant Reservoir is currently at 54 percent of capacity. The Jackson County boat ramp is now useable. Fishing for warmwater species is slow with the cooler weather. Trout are still available.

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

The amphitheater pond at the Expo was stocked with 1,500 legal-sized rainbow trout in late fall and fishing should be good.

Access from Gate 1.5 will get you to the southernmost pond, which was stocked earlier this year with rainbow trout. Gate 5, which leads to the RV park is open as well. A day use fee to park here is now $4. An annual parking permit can be purchased from Jackson County Parks Department for $30.

Tiger Trout
Cold water and snow in the Rogue but tiger trout were caught through the ice at Fish Lake, Jan. 2017
-Photo by ODFW-

FISH LAKE: rainbow trout, brook trout, spring Chinook

The lake is frozen and anglers have reported catching tiger trout fishing through the ice using a small ice fly and meal worm. Additionally, 900 trophy trout were released the week of Sept. 19-23. The reservoir is now 49 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

Slow. 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

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. Galesville was stocked with about 8,000 legal-size trout and 50 five-pound trophy trout in 2016, and a good number of those fish should still be available as holdovers for harvest.

Fishing for bass and other panfish is likely slow with cooler temperatures. Call 541-837-3302 for information on camping and boat launching conditions.

GARRISON LAKE: rainbow, cutthroat trout

The lake usually holds good numbers of hold over trout in the 14 to 18-inch range. ODFW planted recycled adult hatchery steelhead last week. Additional plantings will occur through the season. These fish range up to 12 pounds and are considered trout. Anglers slow trolling along drops offs can do fairly well. Best fishing is usually in the afternoons when water temperatures have warmed up.

HEMLOCK LAKE & LAKE IN THE WOODS: trout

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.

HOWARD PRAIRIE RESERVOIR:

The lake is mostly frozen at this time but anglers should use caution until it is completely frozen. The lake is now 49 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 frozen but anglers should test the ice before venturing out. Various techniques including bait fishing and ice flies should provide some action while enjoying some high mountain ice fishing.

The reservoir is 54 percent full. Boat ramps are closed for the season.

Cutthroat Trout
Cutthroat Trout
-Photo by Charlotte Ganskopp-

ILLINOIS RIVER: trout, steelhead

Wild steelhead over 24-inches long may be harvested in the Illinois between Klondike Creek and Pomeroy Dam; 1 per day and 5 per year. Fishing is restricted to artificial flies and lures. The Illinois River is open for trout fishing. The Illinois is currently at perfect flows for fishing and should have some winter steelhead present, however, rain this week will most likely blow the river out. It should be fishable again this weekend or early next week.

Since only hatchery trout may be retained, and hatchery trout are not likely to be to be found in the Illinois River at this time of year, fishing will be primarily catch-and-release for the native cutthroat trout.

LAKE MARIE: rainbow trout, yellow perch

Lake Marie was stocked with 5,000 legal trout in 2016. Most anglers use PowerBait or worms to catch trout and yellow perch.

LAKE SELMAC: trout, largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie

Trout fishing should be improving with decreasing water temperatures however there is a lot of aquatic weeds. The lake was stocked with 600 pounders this 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 in Lemolo.

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 was stocked with 7,500 legal-size rainbow trout in 2016. Fishing for crappie, bluegill and bass is likely slow with the cooler 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.

LOST CREEK: rainbow trout, bass

Trout fishing is still good at Lost Creek. Lost Creek reservoir was recently stocked with legal and trophy-sized fish. Recent reports have been encouraging. One angler caught seven trout in about 6 hours fishing a green wedding ring/worm behind an oval egg sinker and dodger. Anglers were successful trolling around the dam and up at the red rock area upstream of the Hwy 62 bridge.

Surface water temperatures have dropped to 43 degrees and the winter 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 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 now open in all Oregon waters.

Bottom fishing has been good when the ocean conditions allow.

Recreational harvest of razor clams is closed on the entire Oregon coast due to elevated levels of domoic acid. Harvest of mussels is open on the entire Oregon Coast. 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.

Bass
Bass fishing fun!
-Photo by Amy Michelle Johnson-

PLAT I RESERVOIR: rainbow trout, bass

Plat I was stocked with 4,500 legal-size trout in 2016. 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 500 “pounder” rainbow trout last week and fishing should continue to be good. Fishing for warmwater species will slow with cooler weather.

ROGUE RIVER

Rogue River, lower: steelhead

Steelhead fishing picked up over the weekend, but rains this week will probably turn the river muddy.

Rogue River, middle: coho, steelhead, trout

The Rogue is currently in decent fishing shape but rain on snow will most likely lead to some turbid flow later this week. Try fishing with nightcrawlers, spinners, and side drifted roe. Nymphing flies is also very effective. Pressure has been light and fishing has been slow to fair. Only hatchery steelhead may be retained upstream of the boat ramp at Hog Creek. However, from the mouth of the Rogue upstream to Hog Creek, wild steelhead greater than 24-inches in long may be retained.

The Rogue River is open to trout fishing. 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, upper: coho, steelhead, trout

The upper river is currently is in great shape for steelhead fishing but rain will create turbid conditions later this week. 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. 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. However, only fin-clipped fish may be retained and all un-marked fish must be released unharmed throughout the upper river. 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 Jan 11, a total of 3,683 summer steelhead have entered the hatchery, with 31 new fish entering for the week. The hatchery also collected the first winter steelhead of the season with 2 fish showing up in the collection. The average outflow from Lost Creek reservoir as of Jan. 17 is 2,150 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, there are fish and 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.

sturgeon
White Sturgeon
- Photo by Kathy Munsel, ODFW-

SMITH RIVER, Umpqua: striped bass, steelhead

The Smith often clears before others in the Umpqua Basin after high flows.

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. Fishing should improve as the river falls into shape.

Sturgeon fishing is catch-and-release only. The daily limit for striped bass is two per 24-hour period. Trout is closed. Chinook closed Dec. 31.

SODA SPRINGS RESERVOIR: closed

TENMILE BASIN: trout, bass, steelhead

Trout fishing in the streams of the Tenmile Basin are now closed until May 22, 2017. Trout fishing in Tenmile Lakes is open all year.

A few steelhead have been reported in Tenmile Creek. Anglers will have success plunking near the acclimation sites or fishing a jig under a bobber. Eel Creek is now open to steelhead fishing. In the Tenmile Basin 1 additional hatchery steelhead may be retained per day for a total aggregate of 3 adult fish harvested daily.

Largemouth bass fishing has been slow. 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.

UMPQUA HIGH LAKES AND FOREBAYS: trout

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

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 off-color recently, with a few reports of steelhead being caught at Cleveland Rapids. Steelhead fishing should start to pick up when the river drops, but plunking will be successful in the higher water conditions.

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.

Steelhead

Winter Steelhead Hen on the North Umpqua
-Photo by Kirk Hasketth-

UMPQUA RIVER, NORTH: steelhead

Winter steelhead are being caught throughout the North Umpqua, though fishing was reported as being slow this past week and weekend as river conditions came back into shape. More rain is forecasted for the coming week which may limit fishing opportunities, but some warm rain may get the fish in the biting mood so watch the river gauges (North Umpqua River water levels at Winchester Dam) and consider getting out on the early rise and later drop.

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.

UMPQUA RIVER, SOUTH: steelhead

The South Umpqua opened to winter steelhead fishing on Dec. 1 upstream to Jackson Creek. Only adipose fin-clipped steelhead may be retained.

Steelhead are being caught up to Canyonville and anglers are hooking into a few hatchery fish. River levels have been high with relatively high turbidity which limited fishing opportunities last week. More rain is being predicted for the coming week so keep an eye on the river gauges for potential opportunities to get out.

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

The lake was stocked this 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. Willow Lake has received a good amount of snow and the County is reporting downed trees throughout the park. The paved ramp should be snow-covered but 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

A few steelhead have been picked up in the lower river. The river clears pretty quickly after a storm and can be a good spot to hit if all other rivers are unfishable.

  Southwest Zone Hunting

OPEN: COUGAR, UPLAND BIRD, WATERFOWL (see regs)

SW Spring bear tags: Just over half of the 4,400 first come first serve tags have been sold as Jan. 10.

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.

COOS COUNTY

Duck Hunting
Toby the yellow lab shows off his work
-Photo by Troy Rodakowski-

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.

Waterfowl - Both South Coast and Southwest Goose Zones are currently open for hunting. Western Canada goose numbers are good in both zones. Most birds will be found feeding on green grass on private lands. Some landowners may be willing to allow access to their lands for hunting geese to reduce the loss of green feed normally reserved for livestock. Ask before you hunt. Other geese like lesser and cackling Canada geese are moving through the county. Scouting for these birds using agricultural fields may result in good hunting on private land, as well.

It may be hard for those hunters who live in Coos County to believe that duck numbers are relatively high in the flyway and, specifically, Coos County but they are. Due to the large amount of precipitation that has occurred in western Oregon there are many inundated agricultural fields that allow for good feeding opportunities for those birds. As a result the birds have a broad array of choices of places to feed and loaf. So, ducks are widely scattered throughout the county.

The key to finding good duck hunting in the present conditions is scouting. Most ducks move up into the creek drainages as inundation occurs. The best hunting presently should be in the upper reaches of the tributaries of the Coquille and Coos River systems near the upper extend of agriculture in those drainages. Very little good habitat exists in the forested reaches of these drainages.

Other places hunters should evaluate in their scouting are the Coquille Valley Wildlife Area, located near Coquille, the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, located near Bandon and the islands in Coos Bay that are located within that portion of the city limits where hunting is allowed. To get answers to questions related to these areas, especially that part within Coos Bay city limits contact the ODFW office in Charleston (541)888-5515.

Wilson’s Snipe season is open until Feb. 19. Snipe move into Coos County in late fall and winter. At times they can be found in good numbers. They generally like flooded grass fields and tidal flats with standing vegetation. Also, they can be found in clear cuts and other forest openings where standing water exists. Their primary foods are invertebrates like earth worms and insects. While they are considered shorebirds (the only shorebird we hunt in Oregon) they are best hunted like upland birds. They hold like quail, even better often times. A bird dog with a keen nose is very valuable for hunting snipe especially when it comes to finding downed birds. The call they make upon flushing and the habitat they inhabit make them easy to distinguish from other shorebirds. If you want information to help you recognize these birds please contact your local ODFW office.

Grouse & Quail – All upland bird seasons are now open. Both ruffed and “blue” grouse can be found on the coast but in low densities. Hunters chasing blue grouse should concentrate their efforts at higher elevations, along ridgelines, with open understories; hunting tends to be more productive in older growth forested land. Ruffed grouse can be found at lower elevations, along creek and valley bottoms. These birds can also be seen foraging along forest roads in the early morning and evening. Quail production has been down but above our 10-year average. Both California and mountain quail can be found on the coast. Hunters should target older clear-cuts, young forest stands, closed forest roads, and areas with open thickets and mixed timber.

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.

DOUGLAS COUNTY

Elk - A few controlled elk hunts are currently open. Elk populations are similar to last year so this hunting year will be average. Elk numbers are highest in the Tioga with lower levels in the Dixon, S. Indigo and Melrose units.

Hunting Coyote
Coyote in the Trask unit
-Photo by Erin Caspers-Holmes -
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. Remember a 2017 cougar tag and license is needed to hunt as of Jan. 1.

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 – General bear season is closed. SW Limited Spring Bear tags are being sold now, so now is a great time to plan for a spring bear hunt in Southwest Oregon. There are a total of 4400 SW Limited Spring Bear tags that will be sold this year on a first - come, first - served basis. These tags usually sell out early in February.

Grouse & Quail - Upland Gamebird season is currently open through Jan. 31, 2017. Hunters that kill grouse and Mountain quail are asked to drop off, in a paper bag, the frozen wing and tail of each grouse at the local ODFW office. Please use one bird per bag with each frozen bag of grouse parts including the species, sex, age, unit and general area of harvest for proper analysis. Upland gamebird hunters may want to consider attending one of 3 Grouse Wing Bees. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the birds that we love to hunt. The Westside Forest Grouse Wing Bee will take place on February 1, 2017 at the Umpqua Watershed District Office in Roseburg. Call 541-440-3353 for information about attending.

Waterfowl - Duck and goose seasons are open through Jan. 29, 2017. Check with landowners of flooded/puddled fields before hunting.

Furbearers – Red fox, gray fox, marten, mink, muskrat, river otter, bobcat, and beaver harvest seasons are currently open. Bobcat and river otter pelts can be checked in at the Roseburg Field Office on Mondays from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. An appointment is necessary to insure we can provide the best customer service. Call 541-440-3353 to set up an appointment.

Waterfowl - Duck and goose seasons are open through Jan. 29, 2017. Check with landowners of flooded/puddled fields before hunting.

Furbearers – Red fox, gray fox, marten, mink, muskrat, river otter, bobcat, and beaver harvest seasons are currently open. Bobcat and river otter pelts can be checked in at the Roseburg Field Office on Mondays from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. An appointment is necessary to insure we can provide the best customer service. Call 541-440-3353 to set up an appointment.

JACKSON, JOSEPHINE, CURRY COUNTIES

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.

As of Nov. 1 hunting on the Hall Tract is restricted to Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. In addition on the Military Slough unit at the end of Touvelle Rd there are some fields that have started to flood of which were also planted this past summer. On this section of Denman hunting is open seven days a week. For more information consult the 2016 Oregon Game Bird Regulations.

Upland Game Birds: Grouse season is open, the daily bag limit is 3 of each of the two species. Both Grouse and Quail season close Jan. 31. Refer to the 2016 Oregon Game Bird Regulations for more information.

Wilson's Snipe
Wilson's Snipe
- Photo by Charlotte Ganskopp-

Waterfowl: This season has been an average harvest year up to this point and will continue thru Jan. 29. Duck harvest has dropped during the past week on the Denman Wildlife area; however it seems that the geese have moved in based on the increasing success of hunters. Ponds on the Denman Wildlife Area are full, and the planted fields have been mostly eaten by the waterfowl at this point in the year. In order to improve your harvest success try to find landowners willing to let you hunt their private ponds this season. Consult page 20 of the Oregon Game Bird Regulations for more information.

Wilson’s Snipe season continues thru Feb. 19. Snipe is another challenging bird to hunt for they are small, fast and erratic low-flying birds that can be hard to identify. Be sure to know how to differentiate it from killdeer and other shorebirds before you hunt. Snipe may be spooked in areas where there are high numbers of hunters but other times a person can walk up on them. Snipe almost always emit a call when they take off in flight. The best time to hunt snipe will be late fall and winter months. Denman Wildlife Area has decent numbers of snipe.

Cougar season is open statewide year-round or until zone quotas are met (all zones open as of 1/17/2017). 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: November marks the beginning of trapping season throughout Oregon, and many of these seasons will continue until March 31 of next year. 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.

 Southwest Zone Wildlife Viewing

COOS COUNTY

Mute Swan Male
Mute Swan Male
- Photo by Simon Wray-

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

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. From the lookout, viewers can see California sea lions, Steller sea lions, harbor seals and elephant seals. Do not approach seals and sea lions you may find on Oregon beaches. 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

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 presently. 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 extend of these drainages in large numbers.

Seabirds

Seabird abundance seem to have declined recently in the coastal portions of Coos County. This may be due to the large amount of precipitation this fall. However, there are still birds here to view. The Charleston Marina and the lower Coquille River at Bullards Beach Park are good places to spend time looking. 12/20/2016

DOUGLAS COUNTY

Hummingbirds –Most hummingbirds will be looking to migrate south to warmer climates this time of year. If food is reliable, some species, such as the Anna’s Hummingbird, will hang around locally. Avoid the commercial hummingbird mixture you can buy in the store since the red dye can produce digestive problems for these small birds. Remember that you can make your own hummingbird food utilizing 4 parts water to 1 part sugar ratio but always make sure the sugar goes completely into solution before hanging up for use.

Winter Raptors – Many different raptors are starting to move into 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 and Pelicans – 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. With the colder weather, their numbers will be concentrated around limited food sources. 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.

JACKSON and JOSEPHINE COUNTIES

Rogue Valley Audubon Society

The Rogue Valley Audubon Society will be having their annual Medford Christmas bird count on Saturday, Dec. 17. In addition the Ashland Christmas bird count will be held on Thursday, Dec. 29. More information

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. 1/10/2017

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

Bohemian Waxwing
-Wickipedia-

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.

Waterfowl

This is the time of year that many different species of waterfowl are migrating through our area. Look for them near rivers and other bodies of water. Wetlands and marsh areas can also be a great place to seen geese feeding. There is a wide variety of duck species to observe as well as a few species of geese. Recent stormy weather in our area has brought in many migrating ducks, because of this the next few weeks will be a great time to view many different species of waterfowl as they pass through our area.

Snipe

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

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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