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MailTribune.com
  • 2013 Spring Fishing Forecast

  • Applegate Reservoir - Applegate Reservoir offers good fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and rainbow trout. Spring chinook salmon are also stocked in the reservoir to supplement the trout fishery and count as part of the trout bag limit. Anglers also may encounter adult steelhead this spring. Surplus winter steelhea...
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  • Applegate Reservoir - Applegate Reservoir offers good fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and rainbow trout. Spring chinook salmon are also stocked in the reservoir to supplement the trout fishery and count as part of the trout bag limit. Anglers also may encounter adult steelhead this spring. Surplus winter steelhead from Cole Rivers Hatchery will be released above Applegate Dam beginning in late April, pending availability.
    The first release of legal-sized rainbow trout for the year occurs in late April. More rainbows, including some larger fish, will be stocked in late May. These fish, along with some holdovers from last year, should provide good fishing throughout the spring and summer. Bank anglers can do well fishing bait from access points at French Gulch, Squaw Creek Arm, Hart-Tish Park, Copper, Carberry Creek and Seattle Bar. Anglers with boats catch fish trolling lures or attractor/bait combinations, or wind-drifting with bait or flies. Anglers targeting chinook usually fish deeper than those fishing for rainbow.
    Surplus steelhead are being stocked to spawn and benefit the ecology of the river above the dam but also to contribute to fishing. The steelhead are considered trout in the angling regulations for the reservoir and upstream. The river and tributaries above the reservoir open for fishing on April 27.
    Bass angling picks up with warmer weather. Look for largemouth bass in the shallow bays and around the willows and other woody structure. The more abundant smallmouth can be found along the rocky shores and points.
    The availability of the boat ramps change with reservoir levels and seasons. During the spring, the Copper boat ramp is open daily. The Hart-Tish ramp is expected to open in early May and should remain open past Labor Day. Information about the Hart-Tish ramp can be obtained by calling 541-899-9220. Daily reservoir levels in feet above sea level can be obtained by calling 1-800-472-2434.
    Applegate River - The river is closed to fishing in the spring to protect out-migrating salmon and steelhead smolts but reopens for adipose fin-clipped rainbow trout May 25. Two adipose fin-clipped rainbow trout may be kept per day, 8-inch minimum length. Non-adipose fin-clipped rainbow trout, and all cutthroat trout must be released unharmed. The use of bait is allowed.
    The Applegate River begins in Northern California and flows generally northwest to join the Rogue River west of Grants Pass. Much of the property along the river is privately owned, and anglers are reminded not to trespass. Access is available at several parks along the river and on the federal land on the upper section of the river.
    Agate Lake - Agate Lake is a fairly shallow irrigation reservoir located off Highway 140 a short drive northeast of Medford. Because of its low elevation, fishing picks up here pretty early in the season, with good fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie and brown bullhead. In addition, the lake has been stocked with legal and larger-sized rainbow trout already this year. Fishing for bass, bluegill and crappie is improving with the warm weather. Jackson County maintains an improved boat ramp on the lake, plus there is plenty of good access for bank fishing.
    Big Butte Creek above Cobleigh Bridge and Little Butte Creek above the forks - Open to trout fishing May 25. Fishing is restricted to flies and lures only in both streams. Anglers may keep two trout per day, 8-inch minimum length in Big Butte Creek, while catch-and-release rules apply to Little Butte Creek. Both streams are closed to fishing for salmon and steelhead. There is no limit on brook trout in the headwaters of both streams.
    Big Butte Creek flows past the town of Butte Falls and access is primarily on private timber land, with some national forest land in the headwaters. Little Butte Creek starts in the Cascade Mountains south of Highway 140 near Fish Lake. The best access is on National Forest land reached by Forest Service Road 37.
    Burma and Dutch Herman Ponds - These two old mining ponds, located on Bureau of Land Management land east of Wolf Creek, are stocked with legal-sized rainbow trout in late April. The ponds also provide angling for largemouth bass and bluegill.
    Coos Bay and Coquille estuaries - Recreational crabbing is a popular family activity in the Coos Bay and Coquille estuaries. Popular areas for crabbing from docks are the Bandon and Charleston marinas. For those with a boat, the inside of Coos Bay's North Spit, between Charleston and the BLM boat ramp, produces lots of Dungeness and red rock crabs. Crabbing can be excellent in the fall, winter and early spring, but typically slows down in the estuaries during late spring and summer, as many crabs will become soft-shelled with the molt.
    Numerous clam species, such as gapers, cockles and butter clams, are available on sand and mud flats of Coos Bay nearly year-round. Marine perch and rockfish species are caught in the bays around concentrations of pilings and rock formations, particularly in spring and early summer.
    Coos Bay, Coos River and Coquille River - Striped bass, shad and sturgeon are available for anglers in the spring. Green sturgeon are listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act and must be released. This year's statewide bag limit for sturgeon is one fish per day and two fish for the year. Popular sturgeon fishing areas for the Coos estuary are near McCullough Bridge (where Highway 101 crosses Coos Bay), Haynes Inlet (the northernmost arm of Coos Bay), and upriver near the confluence of the South Coos and Millicoma rivers (five miles east of the city of Coos Bay). A popular sturgeon fishing area on the Coquille River is near the Rocky Point boat ramp.
    Shad will appear with warm, sunny weather in late May and into June. In general, shad are available in the Coquille river tidewater from Mother's Day to Father's Day. Popular shad-fishing areas are near Sturdivant Park and near Johnson Mill Pond on the Coquille. Shad returns to the Coquille river have been low for the last four or five years. Shad returns to the Coos basin have been almost nonexistent.
    Striped bass congregate to spawn in upper tidewater of the Coquille River in late spring. The population of striped bass in the Coos basin has been nearly nonexistent in recent years. The striper bite is usually best at night. The bite typically slows down during the spawning period in late May and early June but picks up again post-spawning. Surfperch anglers occasionally catch striped bass in the surf in early spring. The minimum length for harvesting striped bass is 24 inches.
    Smallmouth bass were recently illegally introduced into the Coquille River basin. New for 2013, there are no limits on smallmouth or largemouth bass in the Coquille River basin. The majority of the smallmouth are in the South Fork Coquille River and mainstem Coquille River.
    Denman Wildlife Area Ponds - The ponds found throughout the property offer very good fishing for a variety of warmwater species. Whetstone Pond, adjacent to the Rogue Watershed District office, is the largest. Anglers at Whetstone target largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie and brown bullhead. Carp are also present, and green sunfish are found in some of the ponds. Good bank fishing is available, and boats with electric motors are permitted.
    A variety of fishing techniques can be effective. A simple technique is to fish a size 10, 12 or 14 hook baited with worms below a bobber. Casting small lures and jigs is also effective. Largemouth bass will strike surface or shallow-running lures fished around cover as the water warms. Information and a map of all the ponds are available at the Rogue Watershed District office of ODFW at 541-826-8774.
    A parking permit is required on the Denman Wildlife Area.
    Diamond Lake - Diamond Lake is now open year-round. Anglers need to use care in deciding whether the ice is safe. The snowpack was relatively light this winter, and March had a lot of warm days, so the lake may have ice off by early May. For additional water or fishing conditions, call Diamond Lake Resort at 1-800-733-7593. For road and campground information, call the Forest Service at 541-498-2531.
    The lake will start the fishing season with good numbers of trout. Most will be 10 to 12 inches long and many will be longer than 16 inches. The bag limit on Diamond Lake is eight trout per day. Only one trout longer than 20 inches can be harvested per day. Last year, anglers caught an average of nearly two trout per person. Fishing is expected to be similar in 2013. Of the fish caught, more than 31 percent were released. ODFW will stock about 166,000 fingerling fish, which is similar to last year's stocking. These fish will be stocked about six weeks after ice-off. Many of these will be legal-sized by mid-August.
    Bank and boat anglers enjoyed success with PowerBait and a variety of lures. Fly fishing is also growing in popularity at Diamond Lake. Many of the fly-fishing anglers are using small, inflatable pontoon boats to access the water.
    No live fish can be used as bait at Diamond Lake or any freshwater lake or stream. Penalties for the use of/or release of invasive species has increased dramatically, and more invasive species checks will be conducted statewide.
    Emigrant Reservoir - Emigrant Reservoir already has been stocked this spring with good numbers of legal-sized rainbow trout. Fishing for trout should be good. Bank anglers normally do well still-fishing with bait, while boat anglers normally troll lures or attractor/lure combinations when targeting trout. Trout stocking will continue through May.
    Fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, black crappie and brown bullheads will improve with warmer weather. Anglers should target these fish around the flooded willows, along the face of the dam and dike structures, and along the rocky points and ledges. For panfish, use a size 10, 12 or 14 hook baited with worms below a bobber. Casting small lures and jigs also is effective. Bass will strike a variety of lures and soft plastic baits fished around the cover.
    Anglers should be aware that a health advisory is in effect regarding consumption of all fish from Emigrant except rainbow trout because of mercury levels. Information on the advisory can be found on the DHS website at www.healthoregon.org/fishadv.
    Expo Pond and Reinhart Park Pond - These urban ponds offer excellent family fishing in Central Point and Grants Pass. Both ponds are stocked with rainbow trout throughout the spring and provide good fishing for bass and panfish in the spring, summer and fall. Expo Pond is immediately adjacent to the access road at Gate 5 at The Expo. Reinhart Park Pond is located at Reinhart Park in Grants Pass. Fishing bait, either from a bobber or on the bottom with weight, can be very effective.
    Fish Lake - Located near the summit of Highway 140 between Medford and Klamath Falls, Fish Lake has an improved boat ramp, two Forest Service campgrounds, and a resort with cabins, boat rentals and a restaurant. The lake was still mostly ice covered at the end of March, but anglers should be prepared for varying ice conditions and thinning ice that can create dangerous conditions. The Forest Service campground will open early to mid-May. Once the water warms a little more, trout fishing should be good for both bank and boat anglers using bait, lures or flies. Fish Lake is heavily stocked each year with legal-sized rainbow trout. Brook trout are also available.
    Illegally introduced tui chub and flathead minnows compete with the rainbow and brook trout in Fish Lake, reducing their growth rate. In an attempt to improve the quality of the fishing, ODFW has been stocking predatory tiger trout that hopefully will grow large feeding on the chubs and minnows. Chinook salmon have been released annually since 2009 and are now contributing to the trout fishery.
    Tiger trout, a hybrid between a brook and a brown trout, were released into the lake the last two years. The fish have created very popular trophy trout fisheries in other states. Fish Lake and Philips Reservoir (near Baker City) are the only lakes in Oregon to be stocked with tiger trout. It will take a few years for the tiger trout to grow and their numbers to get high enough to create a good fishery. All tiger trout must be released immediately back into the lake unharmed.
    Bait fishing with worms and floating bait is effective at Fish Lake, and is probably the best bet during the summer. The bank between the two campgrounds is a good place for youngsters to fish. Trollers can do very well at Fish Lake in the spring, fishing flies, lures and small spoons or spinners.
    Fish Lake Resort can be reached at 541-949-8500.
    Floras Lake - Floras Lake, located near Langlois, is stocked in late April with some trophy trout and 5,000 catchable trout. Trout fishing can be good through the spring before weed growth and water temperatures get too high. The lake has a small number of bass. The best way to fish the lake is in a boat, as there is very little shore access. The boat ramp is located at Boice Cope County Park.
    Fourmile Lake - Fourmile Lake is a high-elevation Cascade Mountains lake at 5,744 feet. The lake covers 763 acres, with a maximum depth of 175 feet and average depth of 55 feet, and has excellent water clarity. The lake access is west of Lake of the Woods and requires driving up a dirt road off Highway 140 for six miles. The road into Fourmile Lake is normally accessible by the Fourth of July, although the lake is open to fishing year-round.
    Prospects for rainbow and brook trout are good. Rainbow trout fishing will be excellent. Fourmile Lake will be stocked in late June through August with catchable and trophy-sized rainbow trout up to 19 inches. Lake trout fishing will be fair, with some lake trout exceeding 10 pounds. Kokanee are available but rare in the catch. Expect good traveling sedge (caddis flies) hatches in July in early morning and late evening. Look for carpenter ant and termite winged adults landing on the water in the fall. This appears to bring up every fish in the lake. The best time to fish the lake is morning or evenings, as the afternoon wind can make fishing quite challenging.
    Fourmile Lake will likely not fill this year, so launching small boats from the beach might be problematic. The boat launch is an unimproved ramp with no dock or concrete pad. The launch site can be blocked by trees earlier in the season. There is a $6 fee to launch your boat and a 10-mph speed limit on the lake.
    Fourmile Lake has a nice USFS campground with water and pit toilet. The closest food, gas and other amenitites are at Lake of the Woods Lodge. Bank access is excellent, with all of Fourmile Lake occurring on Forest Service property. Angling from the bank can be productive.
    Fourmile Lake sits at the base of Mount McLoughlin, with spectacular views. The area also has extensive hiking trails into the Sky Lakes Wilderness. The lakes around Fourmile are stocked every other year from helicopter. High lakes stocked with brook trout within a mile of the campground on Fourmile Lake are Badger, Woodpecker and Squaw. Badger is the most productive, and bring a float tube for best success.
    Howard Prairie Reservoir - Howard Prairie opens for fishing on April 27. It provides good fishing opportunities for stocked rainbow trout and bass. Brown bullheads and pumpkinseed sunfish also are available.
    A change in stocking practices is benefiting trout anglers at Howard Prairie. ODFW has been releasing larger-size, 6- to 7-inch rainbow trout fingerlings in the fall, compared to the 2- to 3-inch-long spring fingerlings that used to be released. The size and timing of the release seem to have reduced predation from bass and improved the trout fishing.
    Boat and bank anglers do well at Howard Prairie. Floating baits are popular, while boat anglers trolling flasher and worm or lure combinations usually do well for trout. Fly anglers can do well at the shallow upper end of the lake, especially early in the year.
    Fishing for bass has become very popular in recent years. Largemouth bass occupy the shallow coves with woody structure. Smallmouth bass are abundant along the rocky shores. All the standard bass techniques catch fish.
    Four boat ramps are available, along with full-service campgrounds. A universal access fishing platform is located on a jetty near the resort. Contact Jackson County Parks at 541-774-8183 for campground information. New this year, Jackson County will operate Howard Prairie Resort, with the Mt. Ashland Association operating the store and restaurant.
    Hyatt Lake - Hyatt Lake, located east of Ashland near Howard Prairie, opens for fishing on April 27. Largemouth bass are available at Hyatt, and the lake remains overpopulated with small bass. These fish are easy to catch in the warm summer months and present a nice family fishing opportunity. Most techniques will catch these fish, from fishing night crawlers below a bobber to casting bass lures, and even trolling flies and lures.
    Rainbow trout are stocked annually at Hyatt Lake, and can grow to a good size. The overpopulation of bass has harmed the trout fishery in recent years; however, trout fishing is improving as the bass population is being thinned by transfers to other lakes, and the trout are being stocked at larger sizes. Trout caught by anglers in 2012 were in very good condition throughout the fishing season, so expectations are good for large trout this year. Still-fishing with bait is the most popular technique, but trollers do well also.
    Hyatt Lake Resort has closed and its boat ramp is no longer available. Two BLM campgrounds, each with boat ramps, are located on the lake.
    Illinois River - The Illinois is closed to all fishing April 1 to May 24 to protect out-migrating salmon and steelhead smolts. The Illinois River below Pomeroy Dam opens to steelhead and adipose fin-clipped trout on May 25. Fishing is restricted to artificial flies and lures, and no bait is allowed. The fishery at this time of year is primarily a catch-and-release fishery. Adipose fin-clipped steelhead and rainbow trout, which are actually half-pounder steelhead, can at times be caught in the lower Illinois during the summer and fall. The remainder of the river and its tributaries are closed to all fishing. A large portion of the Illinois River is located in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area. The best access to the river is on the Forest Service land west of Selma and at Oak Flat just above the confluence with the Rogue River.
    Lake of the Woods - Lake of the Woods is about 40 miles east of Medford off Highway 140. Open to fishing year-round, the lake is stocked annually with fingerling rainbow, brown trout and kokanee salmon. Legal-sized and trophy rainbow trout are stocked throughout the spring and summer.
    Good catches of holdover rainbow trout occur early in the spring. Brown trout and kokanee fishing is also good in the spring. Kokanee average about 11 inches. Brown trout are caught during late evening or early morning using large minnow imitations.
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