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Fishing Report: Friday, Jan. 15

OCEAN OUTLOOK

COASTWIDE: This weekend's ocean conditions will be better observed from high on land than on the water. Today's forecast of 15- to 25-knot winds and wind waves of up to 12 feet will be the calmest of the weekend. Saturday is predicted to see 30-knot winds and 11-foot swells out of Brookings, and Sunday's forecast is for gusts of up to 55 knots and swells up to 19 feet.

Cabezon are off the table for ocean anglers through June under the regular seasonal closure. Lingcod are now spawning. Anglers can keep up to one canary rockfish as part of the seven-fish bottomfishing aggregate limit, but anglers should keep canaries only if they are bleeding and likely to die if released. The canary quota is low enough that, if met, could curtail rockfish catch limits later this year.

The ocean is open to crabbing coastwide. The bays also are open to crabbing, but catches have tapered off during recent freshets. look for Dungeness catches to improve in bays once the next wave of storms dissipate and salinity levels in estuaries rise.

Near-shore jigging for black rockfish and the occasional lingcod has been good when anglers can get out, but that's been a rarity so far this year.

Razor clamming is open south of Tillamook Head, while bay clams and butter clams are available coastwide. Mussels are now open coastwide. Some decent afternoon minus tides begin Wednesday, but rough surf means diggers should be very aware of waves. Before digging, check the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474 for updates.

LAKE OUTLOOK

AGATE: The lake was listed Thursday at 60 percent full. The boat ramp is usable. No trout stockings are planned, and bass fishing is slow.

APPLEGATE: The lake is fishing poorly for smallmouth bass and trout. The lake level is rising slightly and was listed Thursday at 1,890 feet above sea level because outflows are just slightly ahead of the 800-cfs outflows. Applegate doesn't start filling until Feb. 1, so expect much of the same through January. Troll for trout up to 16 inches with Wedding Ring lures spiced with a piece of worm and small flashers, especially on warmer and cloudy days. The Forest Service has improved conditions at the French Gulch ramp, adding gravel to make the ramp usable for small boats. However, the approach can get slippery, so four-wheel-drive vehicles are encouraged. The Copper ramp is usable.

DIAMOND: A few ice fishermen are venturing out onto the lake but they're battling lots of snow to get down to the ice. The resort is open and most of the fishing action is occurring around the resort. The lake's new limit is five trout per day. The fingerlings stocked in spring are eclipsing the 8-inch minimum size and should be around 12 inches or more by spring.

EMIGRANT: The lake is rising slightly but it remains very low and murky, which has pushed most angling effort away. The lake was at 23 percent full this week.

FISH: The lake is holding steady at 32 percent full and is cloaked in ice and deep snow. No real ice-fishing effort has occurred so far. A sno-park permit is required to park at the Forest Service ramp. The parking lot is plowed, but the ramp is closed. The resort is open on weekends.

HOWARD PRAIRIE: The lake is covered with heavy snow and ice. The lake is holding steady at 17 percent full. The best access is near the dam.

HYATT: The lake is open but it is covered with snow and ice. The best access likely will be near the dam because most areas won't be plowed for winter access. The reservoir was up a hair to 14 percent full.

LOST CREEK: Water conditions have settled and bank anglers using everything from PowerBait and worms to Kastmaster lures have been picking up trout near the Takelma ramp, which is open. Trollers using green Wedding Ring lures with a piece of worm have done well for land-locked chinook salmon in 40- to 50-feet of water. The lake's surface level is up slightly to 1,814 feet above sea level as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is slowly filling the reservoir to ensure that the lake can capture a big storm event fueled by a hefty upstream snowpack.

LAKE OF THE WOODS: The lake is icing over and cloaked with snow. While only a few people have ventured onto the lake, those who do are finding good catches of trout and perch with PowerBait, worms and jigs.

WILLOW: Trout fishing is very slow. The boat ramp remains usable, and the lake is open year-round. Water levels have improved.

RIVER OUTLOOK

ROGUE: Rogue River anglers are still chasing late-run summer steelhead in the upper Rogue and early-run winter steelhead in the middle Rogue, but the recent storms have water conditions fluctuating regularly. The lower Rogue has been on-again, off-again for winter steelhead based largely on water conditions and whether the ocean surf cools down enough for fresh steelhead to head upriver.

The best bet is now the middle Rogue, where catches of a mix of spawned-out summer steehead and fresh winter steelhead have ebbed and flowed based on water conditions. Flows at Grants Pass were at a prime 5,065 cubic feet per second Thursday, but they are forecast to rise today and then drop Saturday before climbing again Sunday. The steelhead bite is far better as the water drops, so the latest forecasts mean anglers should target the middle Rogue Saturday. Winter steelhead that were in the lower Rogue are now scattered from Rogue River on down to Grave Creek, with the Robertson Bridge run and the Hog Creek run the most popular for driftboaters fishing a mix of roe and corkies or plugs. The water is cold, so fish the slower slots. Spawned-out summer steelhead heading back downstream are starting to show up in the Grants Pass area, and these fish should be released unharmed. Anglers can keep one wild steelhead 24 inches or longer per day now from Hog Creek on down.

In the upper Rogue, anglers are busying themselves with the "retread" summer steelhead released two weeks ago at the TouVelle State Park boat ramp and the Modoc Unit of the Denman Wildlife Area. More of these retreads showed up Tuesday at Cole Rivers Hatchery, so they are spread out. Many of these fish are dark and of poor quality, but they are biting roe, yarn balls and plugs. Flows out of Lost Creek Lake remained steady at 1,200 cfs, and the flows at Dodge Bridge were up to 3,130 cfs and forecast to rise today and drop again Saturday. Flows at the old Gold Ray Dam site were at 4,180 cfs Thursday and forecast to bump up today.

Worms and watermelon corkies and small egg clusters will be popular upper Rogue baits now. But don't forget Mag Lip 3.0 and 3.5 lures, with purple and pink variations among the most popular. Water color is good and a little green thanks to a tiny bit of turbidity still coming out of Lost Creek Lake. 

In the lower Rogue, plunkers and boat anglers were still picking up winter steelhead this week but, low and clear conditions coupled with a rough bar have made for very few fresh steelhead showing up in the mix. Bankies have done best using pink-pearl Spin-Glo's fished right against the bank in four to six feet of water. Bank anglers using black-and-white Hot Shots also were starting to do well this week from Agness on down. Flows at Agness were down to 5,800 cfs and dropping slowly Thursday.

CHETCO: Winter steelhead fishing has been good, with a mix of roe, sand shrimp and even plugs all attracting fish. Flows Thursday were high at more than 8,000 cfs but flows were forecast to drop through the weekend, and that should bode very well for winter steelhead anglers. Steelhead are well spread out from the forks on down. Anglers can keep one wild winter steelhead a day and five per season here.