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Fishing Report: Friday, Feb. 27

OCEAN OUTLOOK

COASTWIDE:  Fishing conditions will be fair today with 10-knot winds and 6-foot seas, but forecasts call for 25-knot winds Saturday and 15-knot winds Sunday. That wind, though it comes with less surf than normal, likely will blow most bottomfish anglers off the water through the weekend.

The ocean crabbing season is open, and good Dungeness catches can be expected in estuaries such as Bandon, Coos Bay and Winchester Bay.

Anglers can venture past the 30-fathom line for bottomfishing, but few will bother when conditions improve because near-shore fishing will be good for black rockfish and the occasional lingcod.

A new marine aggregate limit in Oregon is in effect. It remains seven rockfish a day, but only three can be blue rockfish, and all china, quillback and copper rockfish must be released. If you don't know the difference, get a guide book or don't keep anything other than black or blue rockfish. The lingcod limit is two a day with a 22-inch minimum, and that is separate from the marine aggregate.

Razor clamming is closed from the California border to Heceta Head near Florence because of elevated bacteria levels. A series of good minus tides for clammers begins Sunday. Mussel harvest is open along the entire Oregon Coast. Call the state shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474 for updates before digging.

COOS BAY: Black rockfish catches have improved, and fishing is best around slack tides. Work the south jetty area hard. Crabbing is best near the jetties. 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: Offshore fishing looks OK today for locals and pretty iffy the rest of the weekend thanks to stiff winds. It should be decent for black rockfish and lingcod near rock outcroppings and kelp beds. Look for improved lingcod catches as more fish move toward shore.

GOLD BEACH: Surfperch fishing is doing well and should improve as the larger redfins start moving toward estuaries for spawning. Spots such as Nesika Beach and the mouth of the Rogue River have been good this winter.

LAKE OUTLOOK

AGATE: The lake has inched up to 68 percent full and is starting to settle out after the big influx of water earlier this month. The boat ramp is usable, but the lake likely won't fish well until it is stocked with rainbows next month. The Jackson County Parks Department closes access at dusk.

APPLEGATE: The lake is fishing poorly for holdover rainbow trout 10 to 14 inches long. The water level dropped this past week as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers purged some of the excess inflow captured during early February's heavy rains. The surface level now is 1,934 feet above sea level, which is still above the filling curve. Anglers can prospect for trout by trolling Wedding Ring lures spiced with worms between 30 and 45 feet deep. Hart-Tish Park and its boat ramp are closed but the French Gulch ramp is open for launching. Bass fishing is slow.

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

DIAMOND: The lake is ice-free, and some bait fishing is possible along the shores near the resort. The north ramp is also accessible because of a dearth of snow, and about 20 boats were on the water Sunday catching rainbows 12 to 15 inches. The limit is eight trout longer than 8 inches per day, but only one can be longer than 20 inches.

EMIGRANT: The county park boat ramps are usable but there is virtually no fishing effort at the reservoir. The lake rose dramatically this month and it is now 65 percent full thanks only to minimum flow releases to Emigrant Creek.

FISH: The lake has inched up to 53 percent full and is still ice-free, allowing for some bank and boat fishing near the resort. Look for catches of rainbow trout and chinook with worms, PowerBait or jigs. Tiger trout must be released unharmed. Chinook are legally considered trout here and can be kept as part of the five-trout daily limit. The chinook are in the 12- to 14-inch range. A sno-park pass is required to park at the Forest Service lot near the ramp.

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

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

LOST CREEK: The lake remains under a blue-green algae advisory that has chased anglers off the lake. When the advisory is lifted, look for good trolling for holdover trout upstream of Peyton Bridge and near the spillway access area. The lake level had risen just two feet to 1,844 feet above sea level Thursday, and the vast morass of floating logs and other debris is packed in around the dam's spillway.

LAKE OF THE WOODS: The lake remains ice-free, and some fishing is going on in open-water near the resort with PowerBait. Look for a mix of rainbows, kokanee and perch near the resort.

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. The lake is now full, the first to reach capacity in Jackson County.

RIVER OUTLOOK

ROGUE: The Rogue has slowed river-wide for winter steelhead this past week amid dropping, cooling and clearing water. But look for that to change if the rains forecast for today and Saturday succeed in adding some color and warmth to the Rogue. If so, look for very good winter steelhead fishing river-wide, so the best bet is either the middle Rogue from Lathrop's Landing down to Robertson Bridge or whatever stretch of the Rogue you like best. They all should have fish in them.

The rain might also lead to the first spring chinook salmon of the year in the lower Rogue, where no confirmed springer catches have come so far this year.

In the upper Rogue, the flows out of Lost Creek Lake were down to 1,050 cubic feet per second this week, and that's slowed everything down. Still, 41 winter steelhead were counted Monday at Cole Rivers Hatchery, upping the season total so far to 230 fish. Flows at Dodge were a skimpy 1,310 cfs, and forecast to climb some through Saturday. The stretch from Takelma to Dodge still has a large root wad in the channel, causing some heartache for driftboaters. Fishing is best with a mix of offerings, ranging from roe, egg flies or pink worms side-drifted under bobbers to small rattleless plugs.

The lower Rogue is cold and clear, but bankies and boat anglers were still running into winter steelhead in the Agness area. Flows at Agness were down this week to 3,766 cfs this week, convincing some plunkers to go to size 4 Spin-Glo's in pearl-pink and cop-car colors, with plug anglers using deep-divers in deeper water. Lots of side-drifting of roe for winter steelhead, as well.

In the middle Rogue, winter steelhead fishing really dropped off this week largely because the flows at Grants Pass were not only down to 1,814 cfs, but it's gin-clear water measured in the mornings below 45 degrees.

APPLEGATE — Winter steelhead fishing is slowing down as conditions deteriorate, but look for the next few days of rain to perk up the action. Flows out of Applegate Lake were down to 349 cfs Thursday after being as high as 910 cfs last week. Steelhead are hunkering down in deeper runs and holes, so tossing spinners or tumbling spoons are probably the best tactics. Another 226 winter steelhead were collected Monday at the trap near the base of the dam, bringing the early-run count to a stout 387 fish. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed, and there is no fishing from a floating device.

CHETCO — The river was down to 861 cfs, with poor fishing this week. Rain should improve things. Spawned-out winter steelhead are starting to show up in the catches. Roe and sandshrimp have worked best for driftboaters, with plugs OK fished farther than normal off the bows of driftboats. Plunking is slow. Fish are distributed throughout the system.

UMPQUA — Winter steelhead fishing has slowed amid low and cold flows.

ELK/SIXES — The Elk and Sixes were low, cold and clear this week amid poor winter steelhead fishing conditions.