Fishing Report: Friday, Feb. 24

OCEAN OUTLOOK

COASTWIDE: The forecast calls for generally acceptable winds and some bumpy but not unmanageable swells through the weekend. Today expect winds up to 15 knots and three-foot swells, followed Saturday by 10-knot winds and six-foot swells. Sunday calls for 10-knot winds and six-foot swells.

Rockfish anglers have new bag limits for 2017. Canary rockfish are part of the seven-fish marine bag limit, and there is no sub-limit on them, so anglers can have canaries make up their entire seven-fish daily limit if they choose. However, anglers can keep no more than six black rockfish as part of that seven-fish aggregate limit. Also, there's a new, combined, four-fish sub-limit for a combination of blue/deacon, China, copper and quillback rockfish. There is no change to the two-fish lingcod daily limit. Cabezon are off-limits.

Rockfish anglers must carry at least one descending device and use it when releasing any fish caught in 30 fathoms of water or deeper. Anglers can venture past the 20-fathom line.

Crabbing is open along the entire Oregon Coast and estuaries. Crabbing has been poor, however, because of heavy freshwater flows that are pushing Dungeness either low in the estuary or out to sea. Most bays will be turbid, as well.

Razor clamming is closed along the entire coast because of domoic acid. Bay clams and butter clams are available coastwide, and mussels are open coastwide. Before digging, check the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474.

LAKE OUTLOOK

AGATE: The lake was listed Thursday as full. There has been little angling interest of late, and water clarity is poor. Fishing is fair at best for a mix of bass, crappie and perch. No gas motors are allowed. Electric trolling motors are OK. The park closes at dusk.

APPLEGATE: Trolling for rainbows likely will start to pick up this weekend as inflows and outflows have finally settled down at the reservoir, which was listed Thursday at an elevation 1,933 feet above sea level. That's 54 feet from full. Outflows were at 3,200 cubic feet per second Thursday but they'll be slowly walked down to 1,450 cfs through the weekend. Trolling for rainbow trout should improve with the better weather. Try a Wedding Ring lure spiced with half a worm. Fishing off the bank higher up in the reservoir has been good at times for those using PowerBait or worms under bobbers with varying leader lengths.The French Gulch ramp is the only usable ramp at the lake.

DIAMOND: The ice is about six inches thick, and ice fishing has been good for rainbows with worms or PowerBait. Vary your depths. Anglers using portable fish-finders are marking good numbers of trout. All tiger trout must be released unharmed.

EMIGRANT: The lake was listed Thursday at 77 percent full and rising rather rapidly despite the Talent Irrigation District's releasing as much as 500 cfs of water into Emigrant Creek during recent storms.

FISH: The lake was up slightly to 53 percent full Thursday, and ice fishing is still decent for rainbow trout near the Forest Service ramp. Catches are a mix of rainbows and tiger trout. Tigers must be released unharmed. A mix of worms, PowerBait and ice flies have been good.

HOWARD PRAIRIE: The ice is not thick enough for ice fishing, and water levels are rising. The lake was listed Wednesday at 64 percent full.

HYATT: Ice is forming, but anglers are staying away. The lake is 62 percent full.

LOST CREEK: Outflows will drop through the weekend as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stabilizes the lake level after yet another week of heavy inflows. Flows were at 3,200 cfs Thursday, and they'll be down to 2,150 cfs Sunday. The lake already was at the 1,849-foot elevation, which is 4.7 feet above the regular filling schedule. Fishing pressure has been very light this past week amid high inflows. Upstream of Peyton Bridge likely will be somewhat turbid in the coming days. Late winter is often a good time for trolling near the dam with a red or green Wedding Ring lure with a worm. Warmer days are best. Fishing above Peyton Bridge should improve daily until the next rains come.

LAKE OF THE WOODS: Ice-fishing conditions are excellent, and anglers primarily are catching perch with worms near the resort. Few trout or kokanee have showed up in the catch. For them, try deeper water. The resort is open on weekends.

WILLOW: Trout fishing has been a bust lately because anglers are waiting for ice to develop.

EXPO: The pond at the amphitheater might still have a few of the 1,500 one-pound trout stocked at Thanksgiving. Try for them with bobbers and worms or PowerBait. Access the pond through Gate 1.5 off Peninger Road. No boats or float tubes are allowed.

RIVER OUTLOOK

ROGUE: The upper Rogue was starting to pull itself into fishable shape, and a mix of a drop in water releases from Lost Creek Lake and dying tributary flows have settled the river down. The Grants Pass area is still rocking and dirty, but flows look to be manageable perhaps as early as Sunday, while the lower Rogue is a mud-fest that won't play nice with plunkers until mid-week.

That makes the best bet the upper Rogue, and how far up the river you go will depend upon what day you fish. Today the best winter steelhead fishing will be from the Hatchery Hole to Rogue Elk, then down to Shady Cove Saturday and down to Dodge Bridge Sunday. Flows at Dodge were a rough 6,100 cfs Thursday but are forecast to be down to about 3,500 cfs Sunday. Winter steelhead will be on the move, so fishing with plugs in migration lanes and tailouts will be best. Mag Lip 3.0s and 3.5s swim the best, but K-11 Kwikfish are good bets. Pink and silver or gold and red are good mid-season options. The Gold Ray Dam area is forecast to be around 5,000 cfs Sunday, and it might be doable there depending on how much dirty water is coming out of Bear Creek.

Cole Rivers Hatchery techs counted 55 summer steelhead Tuesday, pushing the year to date over 4,000 fish. They also counted 76 fresh winter steelhead, boosting the count so far to 257 steelhead. That's twice the running 10-year average for this week of the season.

Flows at Grants Pass Thursday were at 13,000 cfs and dropping, with the turbidity at Grants Pass down to 28 NTUs. Flows are forecast to be down to about 6,800 cfs Sunday. Those are doable flows, depending upon turbidity. The floats downstream of Grants Pass sport many good high-water holes, mostly slow spots under regular flow events. Plugs will be best, followed by scented yarn balls and roe. Don't forget the worm and watermelon corkie. It's historically been a good bait fished close to the bank after storm events.

In the lower Rogue, plunkers and side-planers were out of business again as flows at Agness were at 31,000 cfs but dropping Thursday. Forget about it until Wednesday, plunkers. When it pulls back into shape, don't be surprised if someone plunking with a plug gets the river's first spring chinook salmon of the season. 

APPLEGATE: The river will be dropping through the weekend, and outflows will finally be down to about 1,450 cubic feet per second. That could open the door for casting spinners for winter steelhead in upper river waters. No fresh winter steelhead were captured this week at the trap at the base of Applegate Dam. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed, and there is no fishing from a floating device.

CHETCO: The river was flowing at 6,650 cfs and dropping Thursday. Looks like forecasts call for flows hovering around 5,000 cfs through the weekend. That's a bit high for winter steelhead, but fishing could be OK farther up the system.

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