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Fishing and Hunting Report

River Outlook ROGUE ' Storms forecast for Southern Oregon should raise the river and greatly improve winter steelhead fishing throughout the river.

Best bet likely will be the Grants Pass area, which now has the most fresh winter steelhead of any stretch of the Rogue.

Current catches in the Grants Pass area are fair, with roe out-producing plugs. Some are also using spinners to mild success, and fishing plugs with side-planers from the bank has been poor. Water levels have been so low and cold that the fish are not migrating much. But the Rogue is forecast to raise above 10,000 cubic feet per second in the Grants Pass area later this week if the forecasted rain storms materialize.

Look for excellent steelhead catches when the river drops and clears to fishable levels. The first two days of decent fishing conditions should provide the best steelhead catches of the season so far.

The Grants Pass area has a mix of spawned-out summer steelhead heading back downstream as well as fresh winter steelhead.

Most of the steelhead are 7-12 pounds. The catch is about 60 percent wild steelhead.

Along the entire Rogue, 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 upper Rogue, a handful of winter steelhead are getting caught daily now on roe and flies, but the run so far is light over Gold Ray Dam and effort is small. There are fair amounts of spawned-out wild summer steelhead, and these fish should be released unharmed because their meat is poor and their edibility is suspect.

Fly-fishing has been good because of low and clear water conditions, which are allowing fly-fishermen to get nymph and egg flies near the bottom.

Look for the run to peak in early April in the upper Rogue this year, a bit later than normal because of the lingering low-water conditions.

Upper Rogue water conditions were very low Wednesday, with only 810 cfs of water out of Lost Creek Lake. That's about as low a flow as you will see in winter. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is aggressively trying to fill the lake.

In the Gold Beach area, the first few spring chinook salmon of the season have been caught. The first one, a 23-pounder, was caught March 5 and one bank angler Wednesday caught two fish. They were all caught by anglers plunking with Rogue spinner baits. If the water rises, look for fresh winter steelhead and spring chinook to move into the lower river.

Steelhead fishing from boats in the Agness area has been very good, with a combination of fresh winter steelhead, spawned-out fish heading downstream and halfpounders keeping anglers there busy. Bait is out-fishing plugs or flies. This remains perhaps the most effective fishing location this week for the Rogue, but anglers have to take the long way via Highway 199 to Agness, and that's a long trip.

For daily flow reports out of Lost Creek Lake, telephone 1-800-472-2434.

Low out-flows from the lake also have made good conditions for midge fishing and leeches in the fly-angling-only area known as the Holy Water.

APPLEGATE ' The river is low and clear throughout most of the system, and water releases from Applegate Lake remain steady at 171 cfs. Rains forecasted for this week should raise the river enough to get the winter steelhead fully distributed from the dam all the way to the river mouth. When it drops and clears after the storms, look for great catches from Cantrall-Buckley Park on downstream.

Until then, the winter steelhead will remain scattered among lower river riffles and pools, but they are spooky and difficult to hook. Spoons and flies are now working best, primarily in fast water, where the winter steelhead feel most secure.

If rains come, change to Little Cleo's, roe, watermelon corkies and worms. Those are the best high-water baits for the Applegate.

The fish this year are averaging 6-8 pounds. Fly-fishermen should use single-egg flies, Otis Bugs, Ugly Bugs and Prince nymphs. Most of the effort, and the fish, remain in the lower section downstream of Murphy Dam.

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

CHETCO ' The river was low and clear with poor winter steelhead fishing, but look for a fresh batch of fish to move in if the rains raise the river and put some color back into the Chetco.

The Chetco usually gets a late run of wild fish, and these large steelhead should move in with the next rains.

But bank anglers plunking with Spin-Glo's were still doing fair for winter steelhead, while driftboat traffic was light farther upstream.

Roe and puffballs always out-produce plugs, 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 has slowed again on the Illinois thanks to low and cold flows, with action more on the lower section.

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 fishing should get good to very good again if rains raise and color the rivers.

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 low and clear and tough for winter steelhead fishing this week. But look for good catches of large, wild steelhead if the rains materialize.

Catches have been a mix of fresh and dark steelhead, with bait out-fishing plugs in the high flows.

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

UMPQUA ' In the main-stem, steelhead angling is fair. Good numbers of fish are now in the river from the Forks to Scottsburg, with the most success coming from the Forks to Umpqua area.

In the North Umpqua, winter steelhead fishing is fair in the all-angling section and slow in the fly-only section. The Amacher Park area has been reporting good catch numbers, mainly on bait.

The South Umpqua is fair for winter steelhead. Fishing should continue to improve when water conditions allow.

Sturgeon fishing is fair in tidewater.

Lake Outlook LOST CREEK ' Fishing for rainbow trout is fair near the dam, with trolling a good bet now that the water levels have increased and continue to hover in the 44-degree area, but recent sunny days should warm the water. The lake is rising slower from a lack of in-flow, and the reservoir was less than 23 feet from full Wednesday.

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.

No winter steelhead have been released yet into Applegate Lake.

The lake is open year-round.

EMIGRANT ' Fishing has tapered off for the 3,500 adult summer steelhead transplanted last month into the lake, and most of them have spawned and died.

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

LAKE of the WOODS '

The lake is unseasonably free of ice and open to angling, with light effort. Try trolling very slowly and very deep for the lake's large brown trout. The lake is open year-round. The lake's ice has disappeared and re-appeared three times since Christmas, and a cold snap could re-freeze it again.

Ocean Outlook Ocean-fishing was good amid fairly acceptable ocean conditions. Fishing for surf perch is good in the beaches near Brookings, Gold Beach and Port Orford, with clam necks the best bait.

Crabbing was good at Coos Bay and Winchester Bay, where 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 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.

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 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.

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

Most furbearer seasons are underway. 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. Be sure to look for any trumpeter swans, which 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.