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Fishing and Hunting Report

Fishing and Hunting ReportRiver Outlook ROGUE ' Winter steelhead fishing was really heating up along most of the Rogue this week, with great catches in the Grants Pass and Merlin areas, good showings of fresh steelhead in the lower Rogue and the first winter steelhead of the season upstream of Gold Ray Dam.

The best bet, however, is the waters immediately downstream of the Applegate River mouth. Here, anglers fishing from boats or the bank are faring very well for fresh steelhead 7-12 pounds. Those fishing just downstream of the Applegate have the advantage of casting toward steelhead headed up the Rogue as well as those turning up the Applegate, which sports a good collection of hatchery and wild steelhead.

Boat anglers are using a mix of roe or plugs, but early-season fishing is done primarily with roe and puffballs.

The catch is about 60 percent wild steelhead, according to Jim Broman from Jim's Tackle in Grants Pass. Anglers can now keep one adult wild steelhead over 24 inches as part of their two-fish daily limit, but no more than five a season. The wild winter steelhead harvest season runs through April.

In the Merlin area, anglers drifting through the canyons are picking up good numbers of winter steelhead on roe. Fishing is good all the way to Grave Creek.

In the upper Rogue, a handful of winter steelhead have been caught on plugs, but the run so far is light over Gold Ray Dam and effort is small. Look for the run to peak in late March in the upper Rogue. No winter steelhead have reached Cole Rivers Hatchery as of last Tuesday, which was the last day hatchery workers checked the facility's fish trap.

Upper Rogue water conditions were good Wednesday, with only 1,707 cubic feet per second of water out of Lost Creek Lake. Tributary flows have dropped and cleared somewhat, and that makes for good conditions.

In the lower Rogue, some good catches of winter steelhead were reported Wednesday from angling plunking very close to the bank. Boat traffic was slowed because of the high and dirty water, but conditions were improving by the hour. Use Spin-Glo's at plunking hot-spots like Lobster Bar, Quosatana Creek and Dunkelberger Bar.

In the far upper Rogue, a few late-run summer steelhead and are still available for catching at the Hatchery Hole on roe or worms.

No more hatchery summer steelhead will be recycled in the upper Rogue this season.

Flows out of Lost Creek Lake crept up Wednesday to 2,939 cubic feet per second. That's nice and low for angling conditions. For daily flow reports out of Lost Creek Lake, telephone 1-800-472-2434.

APPLEGATE ' The river was in great shape for winter steelhead fishing, with good catches from the Murphy Dam down to the mouth. Little Cleo's, roe, watermelon corkies and worms are all working well for the steelhead, which are averaging 6-8 pounds. Fly-fishing was improving as well, with single-egg flies, Ugly Bugs and Prince nymphs working best.

The water releases from Applegate Lake were 253 cubic feet per second, which is excellent for bait-fishing and fly-fishing. However, the drop will concentrate the steelhead in holes more than riffles.

All wild steelhead must be released unharmed. No fishing from floating devices is allowed.

CHETCO ' The river was in good shape and winter steelhead fishing has been very good this week, with the steelhead spread out throughout the river system.

A 20-pound winter steelhead was caught Tuesday, marking the first 20-pounder of the season. The fish was caught by someone plunking with a Spin-Glo at Social Security Bar.

Roe and puffballs always out-produce plugs in high water, so concentrate on drift-fishing from driftboats.

Anglers may keep one wild winter steelhead a day, and up to five wild steelhead a year, under new bag limits.

ILLINOIS ' Winter steelhead fishing was improving again as the river has dropped and cleared following last week's rains. Large wild steelhead are now spread out throughout the Illinois, and pressure is light.

The Illinois is open only to catch-and-release fishing, with only artificial flies and lures allowed. No bait is allowed.

COOS/COQUILLE ' Winter steelhead are present and bountiful on both river systems, and dropping water conditions have made for good angling.

Coquille River anglers are focusing on catching winter steelhead in the North and South forks, with roe and plugs out-producing flies.

ELK/SIXES ' Both streams were in good shape and fishing well for winter steelhead fishing this week. Look for solid catches throughout the week until water conditions change dramatically.

Anglers can now keep one wild winter steelhead a day, and up to five a year, from the Elk and Sixes.

UMPQUA ' Winter steelhead fishing is slow in the all-angling section and the fly-only section, but catches are fair for fresh winter steelhead in the main-stem river from the forks downstream to Scottsburg.

In the South Umpqua, winter steelhead fishing is good in the lower stretch, and just fair in the Tiller area.

Lake Outlook LOST CREEK ' Fishing for rainbow trout is fair near the dam, with trolling a good bet now that the water levels have steadied around 43 degrees on the lake's surface. The lake has risen in recent weeks from good in-flows.

No adult steelhead will be released into the lake this year over concerns about possibly contaminating lake water with viruses that could get into Cole Rivers Hatchery just downstream of the dam.

The daily limit is five trout at least 8 inches long, but only one trout over 20 inches. For bass, the limit is five a day with no more than three over 15 inches long, but most bass fishing is catch and release. Angling is open year-round.

APPLEGATE ' Trout fishing is fair for those trolling points and coves, while the smallmouth bass bite remains fair near the dam's face. Bass anglers are reminded that they cannot keep any bass between 12 inches and 15 inches, and just one bass longer than 15 inches can be part of the five-bass daily limit.

The lake is open year-round.

EMIGRANT ' Fishing is fair for the 3,500 adult summer steelhead transplanted last month into the lake, with a variety of methods working. Some people trolling small spinners with worms are picking up steelhead, while a few are getting them still-fishing with worms and bobbers from the dam or from boats scattered along the lake. The fish are starting to congregate near the mouth of Emigrant Creek and in the creek's lower section, which is open for angling year-round.

All adult steelhead stocked into the lake are legally considered trout and can be kept as part of the regular trout bad limit of five a day, but only one of those can be over 20 inches long.

Ocean Outlook Ocean-fishing was good Tuesday and Wednesday as flat ocean conditions have allowed for some rare January bottomfishing. Charterboats were motoring out of the Chetco River harbor Wednesday, and more were scheduled for Thursday. Jigging for rockfish was very good.

Bottom fishing should be good when rough conditions break.

Crabbing was excellent at Coos Bay and Winchester Bay, where dropping river levels have remained high but bay salinity has held stable. The daily limit is 12 male crabs.

Hunting Outlook GENERAL ' Hunting opportunities are starting to get limited now that the main big-game, upland game-bird and waterfowl seasons are over. The season for common snipe remains open through Feb. 23 statewide. The crow season closed through Friday statewide. Chukar, Hungarian partridge and California quail seasons closed Friday. Eastern Oregon upland seasons are also closed.

Northwest Oregon goose hunters should check the regulations for open areas and take note that goose hunting on Sauvie Island is closed for the season.

The 2003 general cougar season is open statewide for those hunters with a 2003 hunting license and cougar tag. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reminds hunters and anglers to buy their 2003 license and tags before making plans to go afield.

ROGUE '

Duck and goose seasons are over, so there is very little hunting activity now in Jackson and Josephine counties. However, there are some antlerless elk hunts in the Evans Creek and Rogue foothills areas through March, with small numbers of tags already allocated through the controlled-hunt drawing process last summer.

Cougars are secretive and difficult to hunt, but numbers are high in Southwestern Oregon. The best method of finding cougars is by predator calls in areas with good deer numbers.

UMPQUA ' Duck and goose hunting was fair before the season closed last weekend. There remains some limited-entry hunting for antlerless elk throughout Douglas County, but tag numbers are limited and they were all allocated through last summer's limited-entry draw.

BAKER ' Cougar season in the Blue Mountain Zone is open. Cougar numbers appear to be increasing, and hunters should look for animals where deer and elk are congregating on winter range.

Coyotes are abundant. Be sure to ask permission to hunt on private properties.

KLAMATH ' Cougar-hunting conditions are improving with more typical winter weather. A few cougar have been taken in the county. A combination of snow tracking and predator calling are the best methods to employ.

Most furbearer seasons are under way. Consult ODFW's Furbearer and Hunting Regulations for details. Bobcat and river otter must be checked in at ODFW offices.

Watchable Wildlife ROGUE ' A covered viewing station on the Denman Wildlife Area provides a good opportunity to view waterfowl, egrets, raptors and songbirds. The structure was built by the Oregon Hunters Association and is accessed by a paved, wheelchair-accessible pathway. It is located on Whetstone Pond, just north of the ODFW office.

KLAMATH ' Viewing opportunities remain good throughout the Klamath Basin. A fair number of tundra swans still remain in the Klamath Basin. Be sure to look for any trumpeter swans that are larger than the tundra swans. More winter weather should improve viewing for bald eagles as they congregate in the Klamath Basin, most notably in the state line area near the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. Fair numbers of rough-legged hawks can be viewed in pastures and fields hunting for rodents.

SUMMER LAKE ' Since most game bird hunting seasons are closed, many species will be easier to view. Fair numbers of wintering waterfowl, are scattered throughout the Summer Lake Wildlife Area now, and early breeding species such as Canada geese and mallards are beginning to pair up and search for territories.

Most passerine species have departed, but a few wintering species, especially song sparrows and marsh wrens can be found throughout the marsh in tall emergent vegetation. Sparrows and other passerines can be found at wildlife area headquarters, the rest area and at homestead sites where they are attracted to the tree and shrub cover found at those locations. The major dike roads (Bullgate, Windbreak and Work roads) and the tour loop are now open to motor vehicle traffic and will remain that way until March 15, when they are closed to reduce disturbance to nesting and migrant waterbirds.

NORTH COAST ' Elk are on Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area consistently during daylight hours, especially morning and evening. Several different herds occupy the various parts of the area, with the herd of larger bulls generally in the western-most portion.

Gray whales are migrating south along the Oregon coast from their summering grounds off Alaska to the Baja, California, area where they winter. Whales can be seen from prominent coastal heads such as Cascade Head, Cape Lookout, Cape Meares and Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain.