Fishing Report: Feb. 7, 2014

COASTWIDE - Forecasts call for a gale watch along the South Coast through today, with winds decreasing over the weekend to 10 knots Sunday as new storm fronts move through the region. Swells are forecast to drop from 6 feet Friday to 2 to 4 feet Sunday, meaning later in the weekend will be better than today for near-shore jigging for black rockfish and lingcod, which remain in the area. Expect plenty of rain.

For clammers, no new minus tide are forecast over the next week. All shellfish fishing is open along the entire Oregon Coast.

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.

COOS BAY - Crabbing has been quite slow in the bay. Look for a spike in storm runoff into the bay this weekend, which won't help crabbing. Most clam digging is centered around Charleston and Clam Island. Black rockfish catches are good near the inside of the north jetty, but look for that to drop off amid freshwater flows into the bay.

BROOKINGS - Ocean salmon fishing is closed. Jigging has been very good for rockfish and lingcod when anglers can sneak outside of the estuary. This weekend doesn't look like one of those times.

GOLD BEACH - The bay fishery is over. Surfperch fishing has been slow.

AGATE - The lake is almost one-fourth full heading into this weekend's storms, which should leave weekend trout fishing poor. The boat ramp is usable. Some wind-drifting for trout is occurring with worms, and some bass, crappie and bluegill can be caught on nice days. No gas motors are allowed. Small electric motors are legal.

APPLEGATE - The lake's boat ramps are exposed and unusable because of extremely low water. The lake is about 38 feet shy of normal low pool and virtually inaccessible. Bank fishing is poor because the banks are steep and wind waves create muddy shores.

DIAMOND - The lake sports up to 7 inches of ice, 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. Dangle worms a few feet below the ice to start, then work your way down until you find the right depth. PowerBait rigged in a drop-shot fashion (the weight on the bottom and the bait on a hook a few feet up the line) also works well. 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. The lake is open year-round.

EMIGRANT - Bass fishing has been slow, and the prognosis looks very poor amid low and cold water conditions. Trout fishing is slow. Try small spinners, worms and streamer flies. The lake has edged up slightly to 29 percent full, which is below the normal low pool. Trout are scattered, and effort has been nearly nonexistent during recent cold weather.

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. A few tiger trout are being caught, and they must be released unharmed. The chinook are legally considered trout and are part of the five-trout daily limit.

HOWARD PRAIRIE, Hyatt, Lemolo - The lakes are closed.

LOST CREEK - The Takelma boat ramp near the dam is open and accessible, as is the marina ramp. The lake has risen four feet in the past week and is now 1,816 feet above sea level with a surface temperature of 42 degrees. Trolling for trout is best near the face of the dam, with Wedding Rings and worms pulled behind flashers anywhere from 30 feet to 50 feet deep. That's been best for trollers. Bank anglers in the Takelma area are catching trout with PowerBait. The trout are up to 18 inches long.

LAKE of the WOODS - Ice fishing has been good with worms straight out from the resort. Anglers have been catching rainbows, brown trout and perch.

WILLOW - The lake is open to fishing and is good for those slowly trolling Tasmanian Devils or Triple Teasers for holdover trout.

ROGUE - The recent rains have winter steelhead moving in the lower Rogue, with some starting to show in the middle Rogue and more on their way this weekend. The upper Rogue saw a little flurry of movement among late-run summer steelhead, but no fresh winter steelhead have hit the region. And middle Rogue anglers are just starting to get giddy about winter steelhead in the Galice area.

That has the best bet moving to the middle Rogue early next week. But until then, winter steelhead won't be much on the bite as water levels finally rise thanks to the first real set of winter storms moving into the region. Flows at Grants Pass are forecast to peak at about 3,650 cubic feet per second Monday, then they'll drop rather rapidly for the next two days before shooting up to 6,000 cfs Thursday. That makes Monday through Wednesday good steelhead days, followed by all of next weekend. Side-drifting roe or egg flies from driftboats will be the method of choice, but don't fret about switching to plugs as the water drops.

Focus on migration lanes, the inside turns of gravel bars and the heads of pools. These steelhead will definitely be on the move, especially downstream of the mouth of the Applegate River.

In the lower Rogue, fly-fishermen have done well for a mix of adult winter steelhead and halfpounders from Agness down to the head of tidewater. But that will tail off this weekend as water levels rise and peak at about 5,000 cfs Monday. After that, look for some very good days until Thursday, when another storm front will push the flows up to about 9,000 cfs Thursday. As that water drops, winter steelhead should be bountiful from Dunkelberger Bar on up. But the conditions will favor boaters and plunkers and not fly-fishermen, who have had their way with steelhead there on streamers this past month. Plunkers will do well at Dunkelberger as soon as the river crests.

Anglers may now keep one wild steelhead longer than 24 inches per day river-wide, and five for the season.

The upper Rogue River continues to kick out a few summer steelhead for driftboat anglers. Another 119 summer steelhead hit the Cole Rivers Hatchery collection pond this week, but no fresh winter steelhead were found in the trap. Some new ones could show up by the end of next week thanks to the rises in water flows.

Flows at Gold Ray Dam were 1,329 cfs Thursday just as rain moved into the Rogue Valley. Flows there are forecast to reach 3,500 cfs Monday and then drop off considerably. That should lead to a flurry of late-run summer steelhead catches until the river shoots up to 5,000 cfs there Thursday. After that, it's time to prospect the upper Rogue for winter steelhead either by sidedrifting eggs and yarn flies or plugging some of the deeper runs between Shady Cove and Dodge Bridge.

Bank angling will be best downstream of the TouVelle State Park boat ramp, the riffle upstream of the Rogue Elk Park campground, the new Bridge Hole and the Hatchery Hole. The vast majority of the catches will be late-run or spawned-out summer steelhead. Bait fishing is legal riverwide for steelhead.

CHETCO - Steelhead fishing should slow down for a couple days as the river rises and peaks at 7,000 cfs Monday. Look for excellent winter steelhead fishing early next week between storm fronts. The river will peak at 12,700 cfs at the end of the week. That will put steelhead all the way into the headwaters of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area.

ELK - The water will rise through the weekend and provide very good winter steelhead fishing most of next week from the hatchery down to Highway 101. Roe will out-shine plugs, but expect the river to be crowded.

SIXES - The river should fish very well for winter steelhead throughout the system next week between storms.

UMPQUA - Winter steelhead fishing is very good with roe in deeper runs in the Elkton area on down to Sawyer's Rapids, one of the best steelhead stretches now in western Oregon thanks to decent flows and good fish numbers. Roe is out-producing plugs, and a few are taking streamer flies fished deep.

APPLEGATE - The river is open for winter steelhead fishing, but water releases from the very low Applegate Lake were dropped down to 80 cfs. No winter steelhead have been confirmed in the stream so far this year, and no steelhead have reached the hatchery collection trap at the base of Applegate Dam. Look for this weekend's rains to draw the first winter steelhead into the lower river. Catch-and-release is required on all wild fish, and there is no fishing from a floating device.

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