Fishing Report: Friday, March 23

OCEAN OUTLOOK

COASTWIDE: A hazardous seas warning is in effect into this afternoon, with southwest winds up to 25 knots and 4-foot wind waves and 3-foot swells. Winds are forecast to back off to 20 knots Saturday, but swells will rise to 10 feet amid thunderstorms. Sunday will see winds backing down to 5 knots but it will take a bit for the ocean to settle down as 9-foot swells slowly decline to 4-foot swells, according to the forecast.

The marine aggregate rockfish daily limit for bottomfishers is five fish. Anglers are allowed to 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.

Lingcod fishing continues to be excellent when anglers can get out, particularly out of Brookings, and anglers this past week benefited from excellent ocean conditions.

Surfperch fishing has been solid at times off the Rogue River sand spit off the south jetty, as well as at Nesika Beach. Fish with Berkley Gulp sand worms or sandshrimp.

Commercial and recreational crabbing is open coast-wide.

Afternoon minus tides begin Monday and run through the week, with the best tide for Brookings being a minus-0.5-foot low tide at 3:43 p.m. Wednesday. Razor clamming has been very good in the open stretch from the Columbia River to Cascade Head, including the clam-rich Clatsop County beaches. Bay clamming and the recreational harvest of mussels was open Thursday along the entire coast, but that can change quickly, so check the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474 before digging.

LAKE OUTLOOK

AGATE: The lake was stocked last month with 350 larger-sized rainbow trout to go along with trout stocked in early winter. Fishing for them has been fair to good with PowerBait or worms under bobbers. The lake is down this week a bit to 91 percent full, but turbidity is a problem. No gas motors are allowed. Electric trolling motors are OK. The park closes at dusk.

APPLEGATE: The low-water boat ramp at French Gulch and the Copper ramp are open but the Hart-Tish ramp remains closed until the concessionaire returns. The lake was up 6 feet this week to almost the 1,931-foot elevation, yet bank-fishing access remains poor and often muddy. Slow trolling of Flatfish or Wedding Ring lures could be good, and still-fishing in the French Gulch cove with PowerBait should be good. The surface temperature is in the low 40s.

DIAMOND: The lake is iced over and cloaked with more snow, and there is no safe access to it at this time. When angling resumes, look for very good catches of rainbow trout on worms and PowerBait as well as chironomid flies. All tiger trout must be released unharmed.

EMIGRANT: The lake was listed Thursday at 60-percent full. The lake was stocked earlier this week with 1,000 larger rainbow trout at the county boat ramp, and that’s where the action is for bait fishers using PowerBait or worms under bobbers. Trollers need to work Wedding Rings very slowly. Bass fishing has been good on plastic worms and grubs fished slowly. The county boat ramp is open during daylight hours.

EXPO: The pond was stocked late last month with 300 larger rainbows, and they are still getting caught on worms, PowerBait and small spinners. There is a $4 day-use parking fee off Gate 5.

FISH: The lake was stocked earlier this month with 700 larger-sized rainbow trout, but the lake has since iced over and is covered with snow, so there is no safe access. A sno-park pass is needed to park at the Forest Service lot near the boat ramp.

HOWARD PRAIRIE: The lake is iced and snowed over, with very poor access. The boat ramp at Willow Point is open, but access is not plowed so getting there is highly unlikely this weekend. The marina is closed.

HYATT: BLM has closed the boat ramps at its recreation area. The lake is icing over and heavy snows have blocked access.

LAKE OF THE WOODS: The lake is covered with snow and ice, and access is very difficult.

LOST CREEK: Another 20,000 larger rainbow trout were split earlier this week between both boat ramps. Most of the action is in the lower third of the reservoir. Flows out of Lost Creek are about 900 cubic feet per second — about as low as it goes — and that has helped raise the water level as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers looks to capture as much runoff as possible. The lake was up to 1,849.5 feet above sea level Thursday. The few anglers on the lake are finding trout by trolling green Wedding Ring lures near the dam and around the island off the Takelma boat ramp. Bank anglers using PowerBait at either side of the dam also are faring well.

RIVER OUTLOOK

ROGUE: Winter steelhead fishing is finally starting to turn on in the middle Rogue, where anglers are expecting good showings of steelhead in Grants Pass once this freshet starts to drop and clear by Sunday. The upper Rogue has seen a few winter steelhead moving, but the counts are just enough to give steelhead a shot there once the water drops and clears. The lower Rogue continues to be light for early spring chinook salmon, but that’s OK because it’s still early.

That makes the middle Rogue the best bet. The questions are going to be water, turbidity and when the runoff from this current storm drops and clears enough for angling. That appears to be Sunday, based on Thursday stream forecasts. Flows at Grants Pass were forecast to peak midday Saturday around 7,000 cfs and then drop quickly. That should have steelhead moving Sunday, and fishing should improve throughout the day. Catches before the storm were picking up on bait and plugs, largely below Robertson Bridge, and a few spring chinook have been hooked and lost by steelheaders. A spring chinook reportedly was caught this past week at Rainie Falls, so the game might be afoot there.

For plug fishers, find a nice migration lane near willows and hammer that with MagLip 3.5 lures — black and copper or gold and black are good bets.

The cold water in the upper Rogue is finally giving way to runoff, with flows at 1,600 cfs Thursday and forecast to peak Saturday around 3,200 cfs, which is a hair above average. However, only 900 cfs of that is clean water out of Lost Creek Lake, so turbidity will be an issue. Flows at the old Gold Ray Dam site were up to 2,350 cfs as the storm moved in, and forecasts are looking at flows peaking around 5,300 cfs late Saturday before dropping quickly. Sunday might be fishable downstream of TouVelle State Park, but that’s a tough call to make until the storm plays out.

Another 88 winter steelhead reached Cole Rivers Hatchery this past week, by far the best showing of the early season. The count is only 188 to date, and that’s far below the 10-year running average of 544 fish by this time of year. The hatchery count is only good for comparisons, since the vast majority of the winter steelhead run are wild fish bound for spawning streams lower in the system. Still no spring chinook in the upper Rogue.

Anglers can now keep one wild winter steelhead longer than 24 inches river-wide, and no more than five per year.

APPLEGATE: Look for a spike in flows this weekend from the rain, and that should bring fresh winter steelhead into the river and push them all the way to the dam. The first four adult winter steelhead of the season were collected this week at the trap near the dam’s base. Fishing is just getting started, and it is set to close March 31. That’s pretty typical for the Applegate. Fish spoons, spinners, roe, worms with watermelon corkies or egg flies. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed, and there is no fishing from a floating device.

CHETCO: The river was blown out Thursday at more than 8,500 cfs and rising, with flows set to peak Saturday around 18,000 cfs before dropping quickly. The graphs don’t look good for the resumption of winter steelhead fishing until early next week.

ELK: River conditions should be good for some high-water winter steelhead fishing through the weekend on the Elk and Sixes with roe or egg flies. Flow updates at the hatchery were unavailable Thursday.

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