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A winter steelhead is released on the Rogue River near Shady Cove in April. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch

Fishing report, Feb. 1, 2019

OCEAN OUTLOOK

COASTWIDE: A small-craft advisory is in effect through Sunday morning, so that is a quick no-go for ocean fishing. Friday calls for winds up to 25 knots and wind waves building to 8 feet. Saturday will see winds backing down to 10 knots but expect a 10-foot mixed swell. Sunday should see pretty much the same as Saturday.

The marine aggregate rockfish daily limit for bottomfishers is five fish. Cabezon must be released unharmed. Rockfish angling is open beyond the 30-fathom line. A descending device to help release rockfish caught in deeper water is mandatory on all boats.

Lingcod are in the midst of their spawn. They are aggressive and will take most jigs or frozen sardines. Fishing is very good when anglers can get out, particularly around rock piles and kelp beds.

Surfperch fishing has been hit and miss and is weather-dependent. Nesika and Winchuck beaches have been the most consistent, with fishing better on calmer days. Try casting Berkly Gulp sandshrimp, sand worms or prawns.

All recreational crabbing is open coast-wide after the closure south of Cape Blanco was lifted late Thursday. Crabbing should be good. North of Cape Blanco, bay crabbing has been good to very good in Charleston and Bandon, but expect poorer catches this weekend because of higher freshwater levels in estuaries from this week’s rains.

The commercial crab season is open south of Cape Blanco, but commercial crab must be eviscerated before sale because that’s where the domoic acid builds up in Dungeness.

Razor clamming is closed from the mouth of the Umpqua River to the California border due to domoic acid levels. Bay clamming is open along the coast, but the recreational harvest of mussels is closed from the Coquille River south jetty to the California border. Before digging, call the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474.

LAKE OUTLOOK

AGATE: The lake has risen slightly and is 34 percent full. However, the water is turbid and there is very little use. The ramp is open. No gas motors are allowed. Electric trolling motors are OK. The park closes at dusk.

APPLEGATE: The lake level continues to drop as outflows are more than double the inflows as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers remains in flood-control mode at the reservoir. That changes Friday with the official start of the filling season at Applegate Lake. The lake is 63 feet from full. Not much angling effort going on. The low-water boat ramp at French Gulch is usable.

DIAMOND: Ice fishing has been good, and most of the action is right off the pizza parlor on the south end and 50 yards straight out from the resort. Worms and small jigs have worked well, as has chartreuse-garlic PowerBait. Vary depths until you get into the rainbows. Keep an eye on the weather. Snow Wednesday turned to rain, and that could harm ice thickness.

EMIGRANT: The lake is up a hair to 30 percent full. Few anglers are venturing to the lake edge near the county park. All boat ramps are closed, and there is no driving below the high-water line.

EXPO: Trout fishing is poor, but fishing for largemouth bass can be decent with crankbaits fished slowly.

FISH: Ice fishing has begun near the Forest Service ramp and right off the resort. Try near underwater springs for trout. Worms, jigs and rainbow PowerBait are popular. The lake is up to 42 percent full, a hair above last week.

HOWARD PRAIRIE: The lake is icing over, but no reports of ice fishing have come in. The lake water gauge listed the lake at 29 percent full Thursday.

HYATT: Access is very poor, and the lake is icing over, but no reports of ice fishing have been made. The lake is up a hair to 11 percent full.

LAKE OF THE WOODS: Ice fishing has resumed after heavy rains weakened the ice last week. Fishing with worms outside of the resort has been effective. Lots of perch are in the mix at deeper levels, with rainbows biting worms in the top 10 feet of the water column.

LOST CREEK: The lake has shot up to 1,827 feet above sea level, which is a few feet above the general filling schedule. Both boat ramps are open and the vast majority of the angling activity is occurring near the dam and near the Takelma ramp. Fishing has been good for those trolling Wedding Ring lures spiced with a worms. Some are also using small flashers. Inflows remain more than double the outflows, which have held steady at 1,050 cfs, but that could rise because of the lake levels.

WILLOW: The lake is open and angling activity is very light.

SELMAC: Bass fishing is poor.

RIVER OUTLOOK

ROGUE: A few early-run winter steelhead continue to get caught in the upper Rogue, which appears to have one of the best early runs in a decade, while the middle Rogue continues to be slow for winter steelhead around Grants Pass but better in the Grave Creek and Galice areas. The lower Rogue is good for winter steelhead around Agness, but colder water conditions have slowed the winter steelhead bite.

That makes the middle Rogue the best bet this weekend, but it’s a light endorsement. Cold conditions and a slow rise in flows could make for a tough bite. It’s been a bit rough in the middle Rogue, with guides working hard for two or three steelhead a day. Flows at Grants Pass were down to 1,602 cfs, with just 3 NTUs of color. That’s not so good. Flows will start increasing later Friday and are forecast to peak just below 5,000 cfs Monday. Side-drifting roe for winter steelhead has been best, with side-planing slow for bankies. Some plug fishing has occurred near tailouts.

In the lower Rogue, conditions have slowed for winter steelhead, with flows down by half to 4,400 cfs from last week. Flows are forecast to start climbing Saturday and peak late Tuesday at somewhere just shy of 10,000 cfs. As it drops and clears, look for another good round of winter steelhead fishing at gravel bars from Huntley Park to Agness. Bank anglers fishing pearl-pink or cop car Spin-Glos have fared well so far this season. Bank anglers side-drifting roe or Mag Lip 3.5 lures have also done well downstream of Agness.

In the upper Rogue, flows are below 1,300 cfs at Dodge Bridge and they will start rising today, peaking Sunday somewhere around 3,500 cfs. The cold weather is not helping. Just three winter steelhead hit Cole Rivers Hatchery over the past week. However, the 233 winter steelhead that have reached the hatchery so far is by far the highest in more than a decade. Flows out of Lost Creek Lake were at 1,050 cfs, but look for that to increase after the next freshet because the reservoir is already ahead of its filling schedule. Fish winter steelhead with roe, worms and watermelon corkies and Mag Lip 3.5 plugs.

As the river drops, look for winter steelhead along the banks and migration lanes, because the fish will be on the move. Side-planers, plunkers and plug fishermen should focus on water 4 to 6 feet deep and right on the current rips.

This week another 88 new summer steelhead and 15 recaptured steelhead were caught in the Cole Rivers Hatchery collection pond.

Anglers can now keep one wild winter steelhead at least 24 inches long per day, and three per year, in the Rogue downstream of the Hog Creek boat ramp.

APPLEGATE: The river is open to steelhead fishing, and a few winter steelhead could be near the mouth or in the lower river. However, most catches have been wild and spawned-out summer steelhead that must be released unharmed. Flows out of Applegate Lake were holding steady at 1,000 cfs Thursday. After this weekend’s rain, start looking for winter steelhead from Murphy down. Use Blue Fox spinners, yarn flies or worms and watermelon corkies. No wild steelhead can be kept on the Applegate, and there is no fishing from a floating device. All cutthroat must be released. Rainbow trout longer than 16 inches are considered steelhead.

CHETCO: The river has been slow for winter steelhead amid low and cold flows. Look for flows to peak Tuesday around 3,800 cfs, which should trigger a good late-week bite.

ELK AND SIXES: The river Thursday was low and clear, with rather poor conditions for winter steelhead fishing. Look for a good bite by midweek.

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