Fishing and Hunting report
River Outlook ROGUE ' Winter steelhead fishing remains spotty along the Rogue after this week's rains pushed the river too high and dirty for effective fishing in the middle Rogue, while the upper Rogue was starting to kick in as a very viable alternative for early-run winter steelhead that already have crossed Gold Ray Dam. The lower Rogue has been good for steelhead, but most anglers there are trying to catch the first spring chinook of the season.
The best bet for the weekend is the upper Rogue, which could be the only game in town if the rains forecast for the immediate future end up materializing.
The upper Rogue was in good shape for winter steelhead fishing this week, and catches were good for anglers fishing rubber-legged flies under bobbers. Effort has been light, mainly because most anglers were hammering the winter steelhead on the South Umpqua or the middle Rogue, but effort started to pick up Wednesday when high waters elsewhere sent anglers to Shady Cove.
Conditions were great. The out-flows from Lost Creek dam were 1,819 cubic feet per second of 41-degree water. That's perfect for winter steelheading. Other than flies, good catches have come from anglers drift-fishing with yarn pieces soaked in roe juice. Roe still works.
Through Feb. 20, 2,541 winter steelhead have crossed Gold Ray Dam ' excellent for early March. More telling, 239 bonafide winter steelhead have already hit Cole Rivers Hatchery, so the fish are well distributed.
In the middle Rogue, things don't look as well. After a few really good winter steelheading days, the river rose and the turbidity levels jumped to 14 NTUs on Wednesday. Generally, 11 NTUs is about as high as you can get for decent fish visibility. When it clears, look for excellent catches throughout the middle Rogue, and anglers won't necessarily have to focus on waters downstream of the Applegate now. The steelhead are everywhere. However, it might not clear until the weekend.
— Bank fishing with roe and corkies has been good in the waters downstream of Savage Rapids Dam prior to the rains.
Some plunkers continue to work the near-shore waters of the lower Rogue, and catches have been good in the high, but relatively green water through Wednesday.
No spring chinook had been caught and verified as of Wednesday afternoon, though several boats of anglers are trying and several have reported hooking and losing spring chinook.
The entire Rogue is open to the harvest of up to one wild steelhead over 24 inches a day, and no more than five a year. The total daily limit is two adult steelhead fish.
For daily flow reports out of Lost Creek Lake, call 800-472-2434.
APPLEGATE RIVER ' Winter steelhead catches have been fair to good, but the steelhead are pretty well spread-out and water conditions iffy on the lower stretch of the river.
Flows out of Applegate Dam are up to 673 cubic feet per second, which means less of the upper section is fishable now than last week.
Try roe, worms and watermelon corkies and even spinners tumbled downstream in riffles. Look for the fish to be on the move.
No fishing from a floating device is allowed, and anglers should ask permission before fishing on private lands.
The river is open to steelhead angling downstream of the deadline below Applegate Dam. The limit is two hatchery steelhead a day. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed.
UMPQUA ' Winter steelhead fishing was excellent on the South Umpqua and good on the North Umpqua until the recent rains rose and dirtied the streams to unfishable conditions.
When the waters drop, look for the South Umpqua to be very good for winter steelhead fishing all the way up to the Tiller area, though most anglers are focusing their efforts on the lower section near Canyonville. Bait fishing has been good on the South Umpqua, with fly-fishing more suspect amid the higher flows.
North Umpqua anglers are not faring as well as those on the South, but catches remain fair to occasionally good in the all-angling section.
ELK/SIXES ' Both rivers were high and could be unfishable after the current waves of storms move through the area. The coast was experiencing fits of heavy rain Wednesday and the rivers were rising, but angling still could be good for winter steelhead on both streams if the turbidity levels do not get too bad.
Bait has been out-producing plugs. Both rivers are now open to the harvest of one wild steelhead a day and up to five a year as part of the two-steelhead daily limit.
COOS ' Fishing for winter steelhead was very good this past week amid high but fishable conditions. Roe is out-producing plugs. There's a good chance the river could rise to unfishable conditions by Friday if the rains hit Coos County hard.
The rivers are open to the harvest of up to two hatchery adult steelhead a day, but all wild steelhead must be released unharmed.
COQUILLE ' Water conditions were extremely high but fishable, making for excellent angling recently on the South Fork of the Coquille, where a good mix of wild and hatchery fish are present this season. Bait is out-producing plugs, chiefly because more people are bait fishing than plug fishing. Effort has remained high.
The river is open to the harvest of hatchery winter steelhead, but all wild steelhead must be released unharmed.
CHETCO ' The river was high but clear enough to fish, though catches of fresh winter steelhead have dropped and more spawned-out steelhead are starting to show up in the catches.
As the rains subside and the river starts to drop, look for improved catches of fresh, late-run winter steelhead throughout the lower section of the river. Those fishing higher up will get a mix of fresh and darker fish, with roe likely the best bet.
One wild steelhead may be kept as part of the two-steelhead bag limit.
ALSEA ' Winter steelhead fishing is good, with more than 1,000 recycled hatchery fish released recently on the river's lower end.
Lake Outlook HOWARD PRAIRIE ' The lake is closed to all fishing.
HYATT ' The lake is closed to all fishing.
DIAMOND ' The lake is closed to all fishing.
LOST CREEK ' In-flows to the lake dropped to about 2,250 cubic feet per second Wednesday, but cold, rainy and windy conditions have kept most people from fishing the lake. Trollers can do well for trout near the dam's face and around the marina.
The lake is up to elevation 1,847 feet, which puts it 25 feet short of full. With heavy snowpack, the lake is expected to fill on schedule.
The lake is open year-round for trout and bass fishing, with trout anglers out-numbering bass anglers throughout the cold-weather months. Trolling for trout is good near the base of the dam. Water levels have risen enough that the ramp at Stewart State Park reaches the water.
The lake's surface temperature rose another degree this past week to 44 degrees Wednesday.
APPLEGATE ' Few people are fishing for rainbow trout or bass, and the heavy in-flows from last week have subsided. Flows into the lake were just less than what was going out, meaning the reservoir has stabilized for now.
The lake is open year-round, but most of the reservoir is muddy.
EMIGRANT ' The lake is close to full and water has covered much of the willows area, but the warmwater fish that use these submerged willows are still a bit lethargic. Some smallmouth bass and perch catches have been reported, but effort is light and probably will remain light until April.
Fishing for stocked winter steelhead has dropped dramatically as most fish have moved out of the lake and into tributaries, mostly on private land.
The lake is open year-round to angling.
SELMAC ' The lake was stocked recently with 4,400 legal-sized rainbow, and catches have been good with worms and PowerBait. The lake is the first in the region for stocking, because its shallow water creates good early-season survival opportunities.
Ocean Outlook The ocean out of Brookings was fishable Tuesday and Wednesday, with private boaters and charterboat anglers doing very well for bottomfish, including lingcod.
Crabbing has improved in the bays, but recent rains continue to cause salinity levels to fluctuate and drive the crabs either low in the bays or back over the bar.
Remember, a shellfish license is now needed for crabbing and clamming.
Hunting Outlook ROGUE ' Results of the spring bear hunt are available, and leftover tags will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis March 15. There are plenty of southwest Oregon bear tags available in the leftover sale.
Predator hunting is good, with coyote pelts near their prime. Use predator calls near clearcuts. Only a hunting license is needed for coyotes.
KLAMATH ' Cougars are harvested either by tracking in the snow, using predator calls, setting on kills or a combination of these techniques. Recent snowfall has improved cougar hunting conditions. Cougars are available throughout the county but will concentrate in areas with wintering deer.
Coyote hunting is good this time of year. The use of predator calls is an effective technique. Good hunting can be found throughout the county except at the highest elevations. Don't overlook the forested areas, but be prepared for closer shots than are typical in open country.
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 on Whetstone Pond, just north of the ODFW office.
WILLAMETTE ' Snowshoe rabbits are found in both the coast range mountains and in the Cascade mountain areas. In the coast range, these rabbits are brownish in color all year. In the Cascade mountains and throughout the rest of their range, these rabbits turn white in the winter. They are very conspicuous during years when winter snows are late in arriving and they have already molted into their white winter coat. These rabbits can be observed by driving slowly on logging roads early in the morning or by following tracks in fresh snow to where they are hiding.
NORTHWEST ' Brown pelicans are common along the northern Oregon coast in the fall. They can be seen roosting along the south jetty of the Columbia River, and on many offshore rocks along the coast. They are also frequently seen feeding in estuaries.
Great egrets are tall, white heron-like birds that can be seen along the northeastern portions of Tillamook Bay, especially Larson's and Miami coves. They often are seen feeding on the mud flats at low tide, but sometimes roost in trees along the edge of the bay.
Peregrine falcons have finished nesting, but still can be seen along the coast feeding on seabirds and waterfowl. They sometimes can be spotted resting on nearshore rocks, such as Three Arch Rocks.
Viewing opportunities for migratory birds are excellent. Bald eagle concentrations peak in February. Tundra swans and Canada geese are a common sight in the Klamath Basin. Snow geese and white-fronted geese have begun moving back into the area and will remain until spring. Good viewing opportunities exist on the Klamath Wildlife Area and the Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge.
SUMMER LAKE ' Viewing opportunities will improve as winter fades and spring nears. A few hardy waterfowl species are beginning their northward migration. White-fronted geese and some duck species have returned to the area. Tundra swan numbers are beginning to increase as well.
Raptors remain well represented and as migrant waterfowl return, viewers can expect to see increased numbers of bald eagles.