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Fishing report, Dec. 12

OCEAN OUTLOOK

COASTWIDE: Hazardous seas and small-craft advisories are in effect through tonight and things won't get much better this weekend, with 15-knot winds and 11-foot swells predicted for Saturday. Winds will hold steady at 15 knots through Monday but swells will run from 9 feet to 13 feet and that's plenty of bounce to keep virtually all sport anglers off the ocean

The ocean crabbing season is open and Dungeness catches off bay mouths should be very good when weather alllows, but that does not include this weekend.

The South Coast halibut fishery is closed until spring.

Anglers can venture past the 30-fathom line for bottomfishing, but few will bother, as near-shore fishing is good for black rockfish and the occasional lingcod, which have moved farther offshore. The marine aggregate limit in Oregon is seven rockfish a day. Anglers can keep one cabezon as part of that limit. The lingcod limit is two a day with a 22-inch minimum, and that is separate from the marine aggregate.

Crabbers had been doing very well for legal-sized males in most Oregon estuaries, with boat crabbers landing limits or close to them in Coos Bay and other spots before the rains hit Wednsday. The rain will push the Dungeness lower in coastal estuaries and completely out of some until the flood water receed.

Razor clamming is closed from the California border to Heceta Head near Florence because of elevated bacteria levels. There are no minus tides for diggers this week. Charleston clammers have been blown off the beaches by big winds and high seas. Mussels are open along the entire Oregon Coast. Call the state shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474 before harvesting.

COOS BAY: Black rockfish catches are good off the north jetty earlier this week, and crabbing was very good for boat crabbers and decent for dock crabbers until the high freshwater inflows pushed Dungeness out. Look for crabbing to slow through the weekend as high winds and rain hit the coast, then it should pick up again next week. Many red rock crabs in the Charleston area have been tagged as part of a study. Anyone who catches one is urged to call state fish biologists at 541-888-5515.

BROOKINGS: The ocean is a bust for the weekend.

GOLD BEACH: The Rogue bay has turned off for chinook and coho salmon. Surf perch fishing will be poor until the bar conditions improve.

LAKE OUTLOOK

AGATE: The lake is up to 12 percent full, but it's still so murky that it's unfishable and the boat ramp is unusable. Also, the Jackson County Parks Department closes access at dusk.

APPLEGATE: The lake is fishing fairly well for holdover rainbow trout 10 to 14 inches long, but there is little effort there. Trollers are finding fish with Wedding Ring lures spiced with worms between 30 and 45 feet deep. Hart-Tish Park and its boat ramp are closed, and the ramp at Copper is no longer usable. That leaves only the French Gulch ramp for launching. Bass fishing is slow thanks to colder water. The lake was up a bit this week and listed Thursday as 10 percent full.

Applegate Lake has a standing advisory against eating too many portions of warm-water fish caught in the lake because of elevated mercury levels found in the bass and crappie.

DIAMOND: Fishing for trout has been decent but not spectacular and the lack of effort reinforces this. Most of the action is still-fishing with PowerBait or with meal worms under bobbers. Vary your depths. Trolling is slow. The North Ramp near the resort remains open, but the campgrounds are closed. The limit is eight trout longer than 8 inches per day, but only one can be longer than 20 inches. Diamond Lake remains open year-round.

EMIGRANT: The county park boat ramps are unusable. The lake has increased to 15 percent full with the recent rains. There is some bank fishing where Emigrant Creek hits what's left of the lake and near the rowing boathouse, but not much action is going on. Driving on the lake bed is illegal.

FISH: The lake has inched up to 32 percent full after being below the water-gauge most of last month. No boat ramps are usable, however. A few people fishing on float tubes are faring very well for a mix of trout and chinook salmon. Most of the fishing is with bait near the center of the lake or from the bank near the resort. Tiger trout must be released unharmed. Chinook are legally considered trout and can be kept as part of the five-trout daily limit. The chinook are in 12- to 14-inch range.

HOWARD PRAIRIE: The lake is closed to angling until April 25.

HYATT: The lake is closed to angling until April 25.

LOST CREEK: Fishing for trout is best upstream of Peyton Bridge but also good for deep trolling near the dam. Some 12- to 15-inch trout have been taken there recently. Bass fishing is slowing down dramatically amid plunging water temperatures that saw Thursday's surface temperature at 48 degrees. At 1,811 feet above sea level, the water level has dropped again to where the marina boat ramp doesn't work for most trailered boats. The Taklema ramp will remain usable.

LAKE OF THE WOODS: Fishing effort is very light, but trolling with green or black Wedding Rings should work OK for rainbow trout, while pink ones should knock the kokanee well for those bothering to try. Water levels remain very good. Still-fishing with PowerBait from the bank has been decent for trout, especially early.

LEMOLO: Fishing is good for a mix of holdover lunker trout from earlier fall stocking. Trolling deep gets a mix of trout and kokanee, while still-fishing near the resort with PowerBait is good. From now through Dec. 31, all brown trout must be released. The reservoir still will be open for fishing, and rainbow trout and kokanee can be harvested for the five-trout limit.

WILLOW: Fishing from the bank with PowerBait or worms has been fair around the resort and directly across from the county boat ramp, but there is very little effort.

RIVER OUTLOOK

ROGUE: The upper Rogue's water levels are rising today and will peak Saturday, likely triggering a nice bite for late-run summer steelhead and spawned-out kelts Sunday. The middle Rogue is holding on for solid but not spectacular summer steelhead while anglers there wait for fresh early-run winter steelhead to arrive. And down low, early winters were getting caught by bank and boat anglers this past week but everyone is waiting for this latest storm to pass.

That means the best bet remains the upper Rogue upstream of the Shady Cove boat ramp, because that's where the entire tackle box is available. Small clusters of roe or egg-soaked egg flies are the ticket for steelhead used to sucking on loose chinook eggs. Pink rubber worms are starting to work well again, too. Side-drifting eggs or yarn flies at tailouts and the heads of pools is best, but stay out of the chinook redds.

Flows out of Lost Creek Lake dropped Thursday and were scheduled to be down to 1,600 cubic feet per second Saturday as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers preps for higher inflows. Look for the Corps to dial up the flows next week to draft the reservoir down for another storm forecast for next week. As the flows go up, look for poorer catches but a nice flurry should occur again next week when the releases drop.

Downstream of the Shady Cove ramp is open to flies and lures only and no bait. That makes it something of a plugging show with mixed results. Crayfish plugs and black-and-silver WeeWarts or K-9 Kwikfish are good choices. Plastic egg flies are also legal for fly-fishers in this stretch, and they are terrific point flies when fished with a heavy dropper fly such as an Ugly Bug. Conditions, however, are dirtier and not very desirable.

In the middle Rogue, fishing will be decent everywhere from Valley of the Rogue State Park through the Galice area, where anglers are getting one or two steelhead a day but plenty of fish between 20 inches and 30 inches until the river started to rise markedly Thursday. Flows at Grants Pass are set to peak at about 5,300 cfs today and drop pretty quickly, and that should trigger a nice bite Sunday.

In the lower Rogue, a few winter steelhead have been caught with plugs from boats around Lobster Creek, and plunking with Spin-Glo's and roe has been fair at Dunkelberger Bar and other plunking hot-spots. Look for that to resume early next week.

CHETCO: The river was blown out and rising Thursday and set to peak around 13,000 cfs today before dropping quicklly. That could mean good winter steelhead fishing as early as Saturday afternoon for locals and Sunday for traveling steelheaders.

COOS: The wild coho season is closed in the basin.

ELK/SIXES: The Elk was listed at 6.4 feet and rising steadily Thursday at the Elk River Hatchery and dirty. Look for good winter steelhead fishing as early as Sunday, with a few of those Christmas chinook showing up as well.