Fishing Report: Feb. 28, 2014

COASTWIDE - Forecasts call for the ocean to get progressively more mellow through the weekend, and by Sunday the 5-knot winds and somewhat flat seas will be welcome for those heading out for black rockfish and lingcod at near-shore reefs.

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 within the 40-fathom line for rockfish.

Clammers will see evening minus tides today through the weekend, offering some evening digs amid relatively calm seas.

All shellfish fishing is open along the entire Oregon Coast.

The halibut season for all of Oregon is closed, and chinook salmon fishing is closed coastwide.

COOS BAY - Crabbing has slowly improved as salinity levels have moved closer to normal in the bay. Weekend clamming will be better now that wave surges have calmed down. Jetty fishing will improve now that the bay has settled down some. Fish high slack and low slack tides for best results.

BROOKINGS - Ocean salmon fishing is closed. 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 River was still running just under 2,000 cubic feet per second on Thursday.

GOLD BEACH - Surfperch fishing is starting to improve.

AGATE - The lake is slightly less than two-thirds full but the turbidity leaves fishing there a bust. When the clarity returns some, 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 lake is still 13 feet shy of normal pool, but the elevation is creeping close to the French Gulch low-water boat ramp. Bank fishing is poor because the banks are steep and wind waves are creating muddy shores.

DIAMOND - There is still up to a foot of ice on the lake, and ice-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 reporting that they're 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 longer than 8 inches, but only one can be longer than 20 inches. The lake is open year-round.

EMIGRANT - Bass fishing has been slow and looks to remain poor for the time being. Trout fishing will remain nonexistent to slow while the rising inflow dirties the lake. When some clarity returns, try small spinners, worms and streamer flies for holdover trout. The lake has edged up slightly to 40 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 legally considered trout and can be kept as part of the five-trout daily limit.

HOWARD PRAIRIE - The lake is closed.

HYATT - The lake is closed.

LEMOLO - The lake is closed to fishing until spring.

LOST CREEK - Inflows into the reservoir were down to about to 2,300 cfs Thursday afternoon, leaving the upper end of the reservoir dirty. But most of the action in mid-winter is along the face of the dam. Anglers say there has been good trolling with Wedding Ring lures and worms along the dam's face, with the fish anywhere from 30 to 50 feet down. Flashers help. The lake has risen quite a bit in the past week, and it was listed Thursday less than a half-foot from normal for the end of February.

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

WILLOW - The lake is open to fishing, but it's getting little use.

ROGUE - Winter steelhead fishing has improved dramatically riverwide, with good plunking action in the lower Rogue, very good bank and driftboat fishing in the middle Rogue and surprisingly strong winter steelhead catches in the upper Rogue for February. Add to the mix that the first spring chinook salmon of the season was caught Tuesday just upstream of tidewater — and a hatchery fish, to boot — the best bet is wide open. But only one place can be best, and that's probably the middle Rogue.

Flows in the Grants Pass area were down to 3,300 cfs and were forecast to pump up a little tomorrow. The 4 NTUs of turbidity shows that the water has cleared quite a bit since last weekend, when solid catches of winter steelhead were seen from the mouth of the Applegate River down to Grave Creek. Boaters were out-fishing bank anglers, with yarn balls and rattling plugs the best weapons much of the week. The flows at Grants Pass were forecast to jump to 7,000 cfs Wednesday and then above 12,000 cfs Thursday, blowing things out for a bit, but look for excellent catches again late next weekend.

Bank angling has been good with side-planers, but lately it's been casting and side-drifting roe and corkies. Steelhead up to 12 pounds have been caught recently, but most are running 6 to 8 pounds.

The lower Rogue has been very good and surprisingly consistent for winter steelhead for plunkers and boat anglers fishing plugs in migration lanes. Plunkers are using No. 2 or No. 4 Spin-Glo's, and they're fishing a little deeper now that the water has cleared up. But the buzz in Gold Beach is that at least three spring chinook were confirmed caught in the past few days not far upstream of tidewater. Running an anchovy off the bottom from an anchored boat is by far the best tactic for early springers. Expect more to come. Flows at Agness dropped steadily and consistently all week, and they were at 4,800 cfs Thursday. Forecasts have them up to 10,000 cfs again Wednesday and capping off Friday at around 20,000 cfs as another wet storm front moves in.

In the upper Rogue, flows are down under 3,000 cfs at Gold Ray, but they are forecast to get to about 3,300 cfs Saturday and then about 7,000 cfs Wednesday. Until they start really moving up Tuesday, fishing should be good by side-drifting roe or yarn flies soaked in egg juice. Driftboaters are also finding steelhead while fishing plugs inside the main current lines. Flows at Dodge Bridge were back down to 2,620 cfs Thursday, but there was good color to it, because 2,200 cfs of that is coming out of the bottom of Lost Creek Dam. Bank anglers can drift egg flies or cast spinners for steelhead now.

These fish definitely are available. On Wednesday, Cole Rivers Hatchery crews counted 24 fresh winter fish in the collection pond over the past week.

Anglers may keep one wild steelhead longer than 24 inches per day river-wide. Only fin-clipped hatchery spring chinook can be kept.

CHETCO - The river was back under 2,000 cfs Thursday, which has slowed winter steelhead fishing. The river is going to bump up a bit and then drop slowly for winter steelhead anglers before it blows out Thursday. Expect plenty of driftboat traffic this weekend during the annual enhancement derby. Look for steelhead to be hunkered down in deeper runs and under trees until the river gets a little more color to it.

ELK - Water conditions were back down to low and clear with not much change forecast until the middle of next week. Winter steelhead fishing has been good from the hatchery down to Highway 101.

APPLEGATE - Another 42 winter steelhead were captured Wednesday at the fish trap at the base of Applegate Dam, showing that steelhead are definitely dispersed throughout the system. The water has dropped and cleared, so the best action remains down low from the Highway 199 bridge on down. That's typical for this time of year. Use roe, egg flies and spoons. There is no angling from a boat, and all wild steelhead must be released unharmed.

ILLINOIS - The river was dropping and clearing, and fishing for winter steelhead has slowed after a strong week of angling with corkies and egg flies. No bait is allowed.

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