Fishing Report: Friday, Jan. 26

OCEAN OUTLOOK

COASTWIDE: Gale watch, small-craft advisories and hazardous seas warnings are in effect today amid 20-knot winds and 14-foot swells. Saturday is forecast to bring winds up to 30 knots and 13-foot wind waves, with things calming down a bit Sunday with 15-knot winds and 9-foot swells.

There's a five-fish marine aggregate rockfish daily limit for bottomfishers. Lingcod fishing is in full swing. When conditions improve, anglers may still fish for midwater rockfish species outside 40 fathoms using 30-foot leaders and floats to stay off the bottom. The midwater species limit is 10 per day, so this will be an attractive option for bottomfishers.

Surfperch fishing is hit-and-miss during winter, and fishing is not expected to be worthwhile this weekend.

Crabbing is open in the ocean and estuaries from Cape Blanco near Port Orford to the Washington border after tests showed domoic acid levels in Dungeness had dropped to safe levels. Crabbing is closed south of Port Orford.

The recreational harvest of razor clams is closed from Cascade Head to Winchester Bay and from Coos Bay to the California border due to domoic acid, including all beaches and bays. Afternoon minus tides begin Sunday and run the rest of the week, but be careful digging in the dark, especially on open beaches during high surf conditions. The recreational harvest of mussels is open along the entire coast. Before digging, check the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474.

LAKE OUTLOOK

AGATE: Fishing has been good for recently stocked rainbow trout. The lake was up a bit to 32 percent full. Fishing pressure is light. Fish PowerBait or worms under bobbers off the bank or anchored in 10 feet or so of water. No gas motors are allowed. Electric trolling motors are OK. The park closes at dusk.

APPLEGATE: Fishing pressure has been light, with water levels extremely low. However, Forest Service staff have cleared some of the mud at the low-water ramp in French Gulch, so it could be usable depending on the size of the boat and truck. Bank fishing has been good for those trying near the dam or off points. Outflows have remained steady at 150 cubic feet per second. Try still-fishing with small bits of PowerBait and very light weight off the bank in the French Gulch area.

DIAMOND: The lake's ice has melted, the north boat ramp is open and fishing for rainbow trout had been good, but heavy snows have kept anglers away the past few days. When fishing resumes, use worms under bobbers or PowerBait off the bottom.

EMIGRANT: The lake was listed Thursday at 40 percent full and rising slowly over the past week. Fishing pressure is light, and some midday bass fishing has been very good in what's left of the pool near the bottom of the reservoir. The county boat ramp is open during daylight hours. Some holdover trout are available.

EXPO: Another 1,000 legal-sized rainbow trout and 150 18-inchers were stocked just before Christmas, and anglers are still finding them. Worms and PowerBait are the staples. There is a $4 day-use fee to park there off Gate 5.

FISH: The ice is mostly melted and is not safe for angling, and the area has plenty of snow. Recent heavy snows have kept anglers away. Trout fishing had been slow amid very light pressure. Cast bait into open water for rainbow trout. Tiger trout must be released unharmed. Sno-Park permits are required. The lake was listed at 72 percent full Thursday.

HOWARD PRAIRIE: Trout anglers are waiting for the ice to develop for ice fishing, which does not look promising for the next few weeks. Fishing for rainbow trout should be good in open water for bank anglers. The marina is closed. The lake was listed at 68 percent full, very high for this time of year.

HYATT: BLM has closed the boat ramps at its recreation area. The lake is up slightly to 45 percent full. Any fishing now is off the bank in ice-free areas.

LOST CREEK: Flows out of Lost Creek were holding steady Thursday at 1,400 cfs, allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to slowly begin filling the reservoir, which was up 4 feet this past week to 1,822 feet above sea level. The few anglers on the lake are finding trout by trolling near the dam and around the island off the Takelma boat ramp.

LAKE OF THE WOODS: Most of the lake was ice-free and ringed with snow Thursday. The resort has canceled an ice-fishing clinic that was set for Feb. 10-11. Fish for perch and rainbow trout with worms or PowerBait near the resort and other open water.

RIVER OUTLOOK

ROGUE: Rains are going to cause flows to bump around this weekend and that will determine whether winter steelhead fishing will turn good in the middle Rogue or just turn on in the upper Rogue, while the lower Rogue could be good by this weekend if water conditions improve.

That makes the middle Rogue the best bet. While some winter steelhead have been caught recently, water conditions turned ugly Thursday as flows at Grants Pass showed 13 NTUs. That's right at the high end of steelhead fishing. While flows will fluctuate this weekend, winter steelhead fishing should be good if the NTU levels drop to 11 or 10. Side-drifting worms and corkies will be very effective as it always is right after storms, while plugs will be better for intercepting migrating steelhead.

In the upper Rogue, the first winter steelhead showed up this week at Cole Rivers Hatchery, which is about normal. Though it's only one, it indicates that fresh steelhead have made it to the upper Rogue, so this stretch is viable for steelheaders tired of catching late-run or spawned-out summer steelhead. The issue, however, is going to be flows.

Flows at Dodge Bridge were up to 2,274 cfs Thursday, thanks largely to the 1,400 cfs releases from Lost Creek Lake. Flows are forecast to peak this morning and bounce around this weekend depending upon how the rains materialize. Similar fluctuations are forecast for the old Gold Ray Dam site, where flows Thursday were at 3,060 cfs and forecast to rise to around 3,300 cfs today. These increases in flows should bring early winter steelhead into the lower section of the upper Rogue.

Another 100 summer steelhead were captured this past week at Cole Rivers Hatchery, with 43 of them recaptures. That puts the running total to 3,275 steelhead, the lowest since 2014 but about 500 fish above the 10-year running average.

All wild coho must be released, but that's rarely an issue. Hatchery coho are notoriously poor biters and are usually poor eating quality when caught in the upper Rogue. No new coho have reached the hatchery, indicating the run likely is over.

In the lower Rogue, a few winter steelhead have been caught by bank and boat anglers recently, but effort and success have been light. Flows at Agness were about 14,500 cfs Thursday and dropping, likely creating good weekend conditions for plunkers chasing winter steelhead. Use Mag Lip 3.5s or K-11 Kwikfish.

APPLEGATE: Some early winter steelhead were reported all the way to Fish Hatchery Park, and flows were up Thursday to 223 cfs at the town of Applegate. Most of the fish are spawned-out summer steelhead and should be carefully released. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed, and there is no fishing from a floating device. Side-drifting worms and corkies or casting spinners or spoons will be best. Fly-fishing with egg flies can also be good, but the cold water has the steelhead a bit less active than ideal.

CHETCO: Flows were up above 11,000 cfs Thursday but dropping. It was unclear from the river forecasters whether it will drop enough to get some winter steelhead fishing in this weekend before flows spike again next week.

ELK: The river was looking good for winter steelhead fishing, with water levels up but with good enough color for angling. Flows Thursday were 6.6 feet at the hatchery, but the murky-green color was good enough to get locals out there — perhaps not good enough conditions to warrant a trip from the Rogue Valley.

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