Fishing Report: March 21, 2014

COASTWIDE - Forecasts call for gale warnings and hazardous seas through today, but then conditions will start to improve, and Sunday looks like it should sport relatively mild seas despite 15-knot winds. That should be good news for bottomfishers looking to get into the lingcod moving near shore for spawning.

Near-shore jigging should be very good for lingcod and black rockfish. This is the best time to catch lingcod. 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.

Chinook salmon fishing is open north of Humbug Mountain, making Coos Bay or Bandon the closest ports to the Rogue Valley that will be open for salmon. Early-season fishing has been slow.

Mussel harvest is closed from Cape Arago to the California border, but everything else is a go for shellfish on the Oregon Coast.

The halibut season for all of Oregon is closed.

COOS BAY - The chinook salmon season opened Saturday, with anglers likely staying somewhat close to shore as they ply the water from 50 to 130 feet down. The chinook are scattered and tough to find in the early season.

Crabbing will improve slightly as salinity levels improve in the bay. Weekend clammers aren't getting any love from the tides, with only minimal tides Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. 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. The Chetco River was running over 4,500 cubic feet per second Thursday and dropping, keeping estuary action slow.

GOLD BEACH - Surfperch fishing is starting to improve off the sand spit with Berkley rubber crayfish or prawns the best baits. Spring chinook salmon are moving through the bay, but the vast majority of the effort is just upstream of tidewater.

AGATE - The lake is up to 93 percent full. No fresh rainbow trout have been stocked yet. Warming water should get the crappie, bass and bluegill active around submerged willows and along the dam. Fish worms or small spinners. For holdover trout, try wind-drifting with worms. No gas motors are allowed. Small electric motors are legal.

APPLEGATE - The lake has risen dramatically in recent weeks, but the drop in inflows has allowed the turbidity to settle somewhat. Trolling for holdover rainbow trout 10 to 14 inches long has been good off points and in the lower section of the reservoir. The French Gulch low-water boat ramp is open, inviting trout trollers and bass anglers to the lake. Bank fishing is poor and will remain slow until water levels get water and fish into the Seattle Bar area.

DIAMOND - The ice is breaking up around the edges and the main ice has softened enough that no one should venture onto it for ice fishing. Based on current weather patterns, open water could be available to anglers in a few weeks. 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.

EMIGRANT - Trout fishing will improve immediately now that the first 3,500 legal-sized rainbow trout of the season were released at the county boat ramps this week. Most of the early action will be in that cove. Try small spinners, worms and streamer flies for holdover trout.

Bass fishing will also start to improve now that the lake is slightly more than half full and the water is warming.

The Talent Irrigation District is transferring some water into the lake from Hyatt Lake, so look for the surface level to rise.

EXPO - The pond recently was stocked with a mix of legal-sized and trophy trout, making for very good urban fishing opportunities. Small Panther Martin spinners, worms and PowerBait have all worked well for rainbows there.

FISH - The lake is suddenly ice-free and fishing fairly well for a mix of trout and chinook salmon, mainly around the resort and the Forest Service boat ramp. 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, HYATT and LEMOLO - The lakes are closed to fishing until April.

LOST CREEK - The first 25,000 legal-sized rainbow trout were stocked this week, split between Taklema and Stewart boat ramps. That will entice anglers to work the lower section of the reservoir, mostly slowly trolling Wedding Ring or Triple Teaser lures behind flashers anywhere from 20 to 60 feet down. The lake is holding somewhat steady now at about 12 feet from full as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has started to back off the outflows from the reservoir. Bass fishing should pick as warmer days start warming the reservoir.

LAKE of the WOODS - The lake is starting to see open water around the edges for anglers to fish PowerBait for brown trout and rainbow trout as well as perch.

WILLOW - The first stocking of the year happened this week with 4,500 legal-sized rainbows, which should spur interest in fishing there. The reservoir was listed Thursday at 77-percent full. Troll Tasmanian Devils or Triple Teasers for trout or wind-drift worms in the afternoon. PowerBait from the bank is a good choice as well, particularly in the cove near the boat ramp where the trout were released.

SELMAC - The lake received another 5,000 rainbow trout this week, and fishing for them should be good on bait from the bank.

ROGUE - Winter steelhead fishing is improving on the upper Rogue and should be good as water releases from Lost Creek Lake drop Sunday under 2,000 cfs for the first time in a while.

The middle Rogue has been slow for winter steelhead, while the lower Rogue is kicking out spring chinook salmon daily but not necessarily in great numbers.

That makes the best bet the upper Rogue until the lower Rogue really turns on for springers.

In the upper Rogue, water flows will drop daily through the weekend. Flows Thursday were listed at 3,370 cfs at Dodge Bridge and 3,780 cfs at Gold Ray. The steelhead should be moving through the weekend, and that means plugs should out-fish roe. The inside turns of gravel bars and downstream of creek mouths are all nice locations either to hit in succession or to camp in.

The middle Rogue has been slow for fresh winters, with a high percentage of spawned-out kelts in the catches. A lot of fresh 20-inch steelhead are around as well, and these fish are under the 24-inch minimum for keeping a wild steelhead in the Rogue. Roe clearly is out-fishing plugs. The flow at Grants Pass on Thursday was 4,270 cfs and dropping.

In the lower Rogue, the best spring chinook salmon fishing has been from Canfield Riffle up to Agness for bankies and boat anglers. Bankies are plunking with Spin-Glo's spiced up with a little roe. Boaters are using anchovies with a Rogue Bait rig or cut-plug lures scented with tuna oil. Steelhead fishing has waned. Flows at Agness were about 6,100 cfs and falling Thursday. Only fin-clipped hatchery springers may be kept, and the catch so far seems to be about half hatchery fish.

CHETCO - The river was down to 1,700 cfs and quite clear Thursday, chasing most winter steelhead anglers off the water. The bite was pretty good for side-drifters, but spawned-out kelts are really starting to make themselves seen in catches. Water levels are forecast to drop into midweek next week.

APPLEGATE - Water releases out of Applegate Lake are dropping daily and will end up at 165 cfs by Sunday. That drop will get winter steelhead moving and make wading the river easier. Winter steelhead are spread out river-wide, but the best fishing has been from the Highway 199 bridge on down, in the Turtle Lane area, and around Jackson Creek Campground. Flows Thursday were 299 cfs at Copper and just under 400 cfs at Applegate. Look for those to drop with the outflow cuts. Egg flies, spoons and yarn balls are working well, as are worms with watermelon corkies. There is no angling from a boat, and all wild steelhead must be released unharmed.

SOUTH UMPQUA - Winter steelhead fishing remains very good, especially for large hatchery fish. The South has seen very good hatchery returns this year. Side-drifting roe or scented yarn balls has been best. Water levels are dropping.

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