The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife wants to remind ocean anglers of two important regulation changes that begin April 1 and continue through the end of September.
Sport fishing for bottomfish offshore of the 30-fathom line (as defined by waypoints) is closed beginning April 1. In previous years the fishery was closed outside the 40-fathom line on April 1.
“The change is to reduce catch-and-release mortality of yelloweye rockfish,” said Lynn Mattes, ODFW sport groundfish project leader. “In recent years the bottomfish fishery has had to move from inside 40 fathoms to inside of 20 fathoms during the middle of the summer. By starting at 30 fathoms on April 1, hopefully impacts to yelloweye rockfish will be reduced enough that we can delay or even eliminate the 20 fathom restriction later in the season.”
Anglers may occasionally catch, but cannot keep, yelloweye rockfish while fishing for other species. Yelloweye rockfish, along with canary rockfish, are considered overfished by NOAA Fisheries and a certain percentage of those caught and released must be reported as mortality. Yelloweye rockfish generally live in deeper waters so bringing the fishery inside 30 fathoms is intended to decrease the catch rate of this species, while still allowing anglers to fish for other bottomfish such as black rockfish and lingcod. Additionally, yelloweye rockfish caught and released from shallower than 30 fathoms have a lower mortality rate, so savings are twofold.
Fishing the Triangle/South Jetty at Winchester Bay has been good for striped surfperch and fair for greenling and rockfish. Athough this is the time of year when the larger lingcod move to shallower water, relatively few have been caught by jetty anglers – but that may be because few anglers have been using the larger lures and baits that goodsized lingcod prefer.
Although the first Umpqua River spring chinook was caught more than three weeks ago, few other springers have been caught since then. However, April is usually a top month for springers and if the river stays fishable,the springer fishing should show major improvement.
Trout, bass and panfish anglers are enjoying improved fishing success and the improvement should continue for the next several weeks.
As for trout stocking, a number of Coos County lakes are slated to be stocked over the next two weeks. Empire Lakes was scheduled to receive 500 16-inchers this week, while Bradley was slated for 200 and Johnson was slated for 50. Next week, Bradley Lake, Saunders Lake, Johnson Mill Pond and Powers Pond are each slated to receive 3,000 legal rainbows. Middle Empire Lake is slated for 2,500 legal rainbows and Butterfield Lake is scheduled for 400 12-inch rainbows.
Next week is when Lake Marie is scheduled to receive 2,000 legal rainbows and Loon Lake 1,500. The next trout plants sceduled for Florence-area lakes won’t occur until the second week in April.