Fishing Report: Feb. 21, 2014

COASTWIDE - Forecasts call for the ocean to get progressively more contrite through the weekend, and by Sunday the 10-knot winds will seem calm, with swells expected to start around 5 feet high and decrease during the day. That's not a normal winter pattern, but certainly one to take advantage of for lingcod and rockfish, both of which have been on the bite during calm days.

Near-shore jigging should be very good for lingcod and black rockfish. Lingcod are starting to move into the shallows in force for the spring spawn, and this is the best time to catch them. Black, white or red jigs are always good bets, but lings are so aggressive now that color doesn't matter.

The marine aggregate limit in Oregon is seven rockfish a day. The lingcod limit is two a day with a 22-inch minimum, and that is separate from the marine aggregate. No cabezon can be kept until July 1. Anglers are no longer relegated to staying within the 40-fathom line for rockfish.

Clammers will see a set of minus tides starting Tuesday that should be good for digging provided the waves don't kick up. All shellfish fishing is open along the entire Oregon Coast.

COOS BAY - Bay crabbing has been slower than normal because of high freshwater content after recent rains. Look for crabbing to improve as rains subside.

BROOKINGS - Jigging for black and blue rockfish as well as lingcod has been very good when anglers have been able to sneak outside of the estuary. Saturday looks OK but Sunday looks better based on the wind and wave forecasts. The Chetco was still running at over 7,000 cubic feet per second Thursday.

GOLD BEACH - The bay fishery is over. Surfperch fishing will not be good until at least a few days after the waters subside.

Lake Outlook

AGATE - The lake has risen quickly to slightly more than half full but the turbidity leaves fishing there a bust. When clarity returns, try wind-drifting for holdover trout with worms. Some fishing for bass, crappie and bluegill can be had on nice days. No gas motors are allowed. Small electric motors are legal.

APPLEGATE - The boat ramps are all exposed and unusable because of extremely low water. The lake is still about 10 feet shy of normal pool. Bank fishing is poor because the banks are steep and wind waves are creating muddy shores.

DIAMOND - Rain and snow has made the surface of the lake a slushy mess that freezes overnight. There is still about 10 inches of ice on the lake, and fishing has been fair to good, with most of the activity straight out from the Diamond Lake Resort marina. The trout are biting lightly, so anglers are missing more fish than they catch. Worms dangled a few feet below the ice is a good place to start, as is PowerBait rigged in a drop-shot fashion (the weight on the bottom and the bait on a hook a few feet up the line), then work your way down until you find the right depth. Most of the rainbows are 12 to 16 inches long, and last year's fingerlings are longer than 10 inches. The limit is eight trout per day over 8 inches, but only one can be longer than 20 inches.

EMIGRANT - Bass fishing has been slow. Trout fishing will remain slow while the rising inflow dirties the lake. When clarity returns, try small spinners, worms and streamer flies for holdover trout. The lake has edged up slightly to 37 percent full, which is still below the normal low pool. However, the Talent Irrigation District is transferring some water into the lake from Hyatt Lake so look for the surface level to rise. A standing public-health advisory continues about eating all but trout from the lake because of elevated mercury levels.

EXPO - Fishing for stocked trout has been slow with little effort despite the recent influx of legal-sized trout. Fish them with worms, small spinners or streamer flies.

FISH - Ice fishing for trout and chinook salmon is fair to good with worms under the ice near the Forest Service ramp and the resort. Tiger trout must be released unharmed. Chinook are considered trout and are part of the five-trout daily limit.

HOWARD PRAIRIE, HYATT - The lakes are closed.

LOST CREEK - Inflows into the reservoir were down to about to 3,600 cfs Thursday afternoon. The upper end of the reservoir is dirty, but most of the action in mid-winter is along the face of the dam. The few anglers hitting the reservoir say there is good trolling with Wedding Ring lures and worms along the dam, with the fish anywhere from 30 to 50 feet down. Flashers help. The lake has risen quite a bit in the past week and was listed Thursday at 1,848 feet elevation. That's more than 27 feet higher than last week, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has caught up to its filling schedule.

LAKE of the WOODS - Ice fishing is very good with worms straight out from the resort. Light snow makes ice fishing access very good. Anglers have been catching rainbow trout, brown trout and perch.

ROGUE - Lower Rogue has been very good for plunkers getting fresh steelhead while fishing close to the bank, while the upper Rogue is high but has good color for those fishing for a mix of late-run and spawned-out summer steelhead as well as a mix of early winter steelhead. The middle Rogue has been too murky to fish, but if it keeps improving like it has, look for winter steelhead fishing there this weekend.

That makes the lower Rogue the best bet for winter steelhead despite high water. Flows at Agness were at 11,200 cfs and dropping Thursday as plunkers get in front of winter steelhead early and often. Great action happened right before dusk Wednesday. Plunkers are using No. 4 Spin-Glo's in either pink and white, pink and pearl or chartreuse. They are getting their best action in about 2 feet of water right next to the bank. The various gravel bars have all done about the same. Some boat anglers are anchoring along inside turns in shallow water and finding fresh winter steelhead with plugs. They are averaging about 8 pounds apiece, which is pretty big for the average Rogue fish.

In the upper Rogue, flows are high but they are a good steelhead green thanks to 2,500 cfs coming out of Lost Creek Lake. Look for releases to ease off a bit after this weekend. Flows at Dodge Bridge were a hefty 4,020 cfs Thursday. That means the upper Rogue's high-water holes will all fish best for driftboaters and powerboaters, while places like Casey State Park, the new Bridge Hole and the Hatchery Hole will be favored by bank anglers. Plug fishing from boats will be best in high-water spots around Shady Cove. Bank anglers can drift egg flies or cast spinners. Flows are forecast to drop through the weekend.

Flows in the Grants Pass area were down to 6,215 cfs, and that would be fishable ... if it wasn't so dirty. The turbidity levels measured Thursday at the Grants Pass water-treatment plant were high at 28 NTUs. Anything under 17 NTUs is fishable, and expect that this weekend. Look for plenty of winter steelhead from the mouth of the Applegate River on down. Plugging high-water holes with K-11s or Mag 3.5s will be best. Pinks and chartreuse will be good, as will the black-and-white Cop Car plugs.

Slow drifting egg flies in slow water will also be good. For bank anglers, look for excellent kite fishing and plunking through the weekend at Griffin Park, Rainbow and other standard gravel bars. Fish 3 feet of water or less. Anglers may keep one wild steelhead longer than 24 inches per day riverwide.

CHETCO - The river was at more than 7,000 cfs and dropping Thursday, which points to likely fishable conditions by Saturday if no new rains muck up the river. When it drops, look for steelhead to be well dispersed throughout the river, with driftboaters fishing roe doing best higher up the system and plug anglers hanging out on inside turns of gravel bars waiting for the steelhead to come to them.

ELK - Water conditions were at 5.5 feet and dropping with decent water color Thursday at the hatchery, meaning it's fishable and will get better through the weekend for winter steelhead. There appears to be plenty of fish spread throughout the system. Roe and plugs will be equally effective, depending upon how crowded the river gets.

APPLEGATE - Seven winter steelhead were captured Thursday at the fish trap at the base of Applegate Dam, showing that steelhead are definitely dispersed throughout the system. The water has been a bit dark but fishable. Most of the fishing activity is from the Highway 199 bridge on down. That's typical for this time of year, but conditions upstream of the Little Applegate River are best for roe, egg flies and spoons. There is no angling from a boat, and all wild steelhead must be released unharmed.

ILLINOIS - The river was up but fishing well for winter steelhead higher up with corkies and egg flies. No bait is allowed.

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