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Fishing Report: Friday, Jan. 29

OCEAN OUTLOOK

COASTWIDE: This weekend's ocean anglers will once again be transformed into stormwatchers as yet another series of storms hit the coast. It starts today with 25-knot winds and 17-foot swells, followed Saturday by 10-knot winds and 15-foot swells. Sunday sees a bit of a break at 15-knot winds and 10-foot swells, but that's still more than enough to separate a man from his breakfast in short order. No advisories for the weekend were posted out of Brookings as of midday Thursday, but that could change quickly.

When the ocean calms down, good mid-winter fishing can be had. Cabezon are off the table for ocean anglers through June under the regular seasonal closure. Lingcod are now spawning and aggressive, so it's not uncommon to hit several in one location. 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 and bays are open to crabbing coastwide. Catches in the bays have tapered off during recent freshets. Look for Dungeness catches to improve once freshwater flows dissipate and salinity levels in estuaries rise.

Razor clamming is closed south of Tillamook Head, while bay clams and butter clams are available coastwide. Mussels can now be taken coastwide. Before digging, check the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474 for updates.

LAKE OUTLOOK

AGATE: The lake was listed Thursday at 88 percent full and rising, but it's still quite turbid from high inflows. 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 amid fluctuating water conditions. Few anglers are venturing off the steep bank for trout, with trolling out of boats has been the best bet. The Corps of Engineers has been aggressive this past week in knocking the lake's surface level down these final few days before the lake's filling schedule begins Monday. The lake is down 10 feet from where it was last week. 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: Warm weather has weakened the ice and ice fishers are steering clear amid warm temperatures. If and when fishing resumes, use PowerBait or small white crappie jigs spiced with a piece of Berkley Gulp maggots. The resort is open, and most of the fishing action so far this winter has occurred 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 has risen and muddied quite a bit this past week, which has pushed most angling effort away. The lake was at 41 percent full this week.

FISH: The lake is up a hair to 35 percent full and is cloaked with snow and slush that should be avoided until colder weather refreezes the lake. When ice fishing resumes, focus closer to shore because the middle of the lake freezes last. 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 thin ice, and the warming weather means ice anglers should steer clear for now. The lake is up slightly to 21 percent full. When ice conditions improve, the best access is near the dam.

HYATT: The lake is open, but the snow and ice has been melting regularly during the days this past week, so anglers should be very wary of venturing out onto the lake until colder weather prevails. 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 17 percent full.

LOST CREEK: Water conditions settled down after rain raised and dirtied the reservoir last weekend. 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 at times for land-locked chinook salmon in 40 to 50 feet of water. The lake's surface level was up just two feet this past week as the Corps follows its normal filling schedule for the lake.

LAKE OF THE WOODS: Good ice conditions are welcoming anglers who are catching more perch than trout near the resort. Use PowerBait, worms and small 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 battling high and dirty water river-wide, and conditions will remain out of shape for most fishing opportunities into Tuesday or Wednesday based on flow forecasts that put the Rogue way up — but under flood stage river-wide.

Until then, the best bet is the only green water around, and that's from the mouth of Big Butte Creek up to the Hatchery Hole. There are plenty of late-run summer steelhead in that section, but most are dark and unedible at this time. However, fresh winter steelhead already have shown themselves at Cole Rivers Hatchery so there should be some in that mile-long stretch of fishable water. Catch them on roe, worms and corkies or big pink worms under bobbers. The water's a bit cold for fly-fishing, but they will take leeches or egg flies.

Flows at Dodge Bridge will be rising quickly today and peak Saturday at about 16,000 cfs before settling back down to about 5,500 cfs Tuesday. Beginning Monday, anglers river-wide will be able to keep one wild steelhead over 24 inches long per day and up to five per year on the Rogue.

When things pull into shape, the middle Rogue will be the happening place. Flows at Grants Pass were high and barely fishable the past few days, but the river is forecast to be up and out of shape today and peaking Saturday at about 22,000 cfs before settling down to about 6,500 cfs Tuesday. That should be prime middle Rogue fishing conditions with roe and corkies or worms and watermelon corkies for bait anglers. Driftboaters and side-planers will still rely on bigger, darker and rattling plugs, and catches should be very good all the way down to Grave Creek.

In the lower Rogue, plunkers had been doing very well earlier this week before the high water chased them away. Bankies have done best using pink-pearl Spin-Glo's fished right against the bank in four to six feet of water. Flows at Agness were forecast to peak below flood stage Saturday, then drop back down to about 16,000 cfs Thursday. Could be a fishless week for the lower Rogue under those conditions.

CHETCO: Winter steelhead fishing had been good, with a mix of roe, sandshrimp and even plugs all attracting fish until high flows started chasing anglers away. Flows were rising steadily Thursday and are forecast to peak tonight at about 25,000 cfs before dropping back to about 5,000 cfs Tuesday. That means Tuesday and Wednesday should see some excellent high-water fishing success for driftboaters side-drifting roe and other baits.

ELK: The river was high but green and fishable until Thursday before rain pushed water levels up, and it's likely out of shape for winter steelhead fishing today.

APPLEGATE: Water conditions are high and likely will be out of shape until early next week at best. When the river falls into shape, look for winter steelhead from the fish trap at the base of the dam all the way to the mouth. Watermelon corkies with worms are historical early-season favorites for winter steelhead, particularly after rain. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed.