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Fishing Report: Friday, March 4

OCEAN OUTLOOK

COASTWIDE: The ocean is becoming its surly self again, with hazardous seas today giving way to gale-wind warnings Saturday and a storm watch Sunday. Today will see 20-knot winds and 17-foot swells. No fishing today.

When the water does calm down, lingcod are spawning and aggressive. Anglers can keep up to one canary rockfish as part of the seven-fish bottomfishing aggregate limit, but anglers should release canaries to ensure the quota is not filled, which could close the bottomfishing season.

The ocean and bays are open to crabbing coastwide. Catches were decent this week in the bays, but that should slow down this weekend as more freshwater is forecast for bays. Stick to deep-water ports and crab farther down in those systems.

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

LAKE OUTLOOK

AGATE: The lake was listed Thursday at 93 percent full and is likely to top off by the end of next week if the rains come in as forecast. The boat ramp is usable but the water is murky and not good for warmwater fishing. No trout stockings are planned.

APPLEGATE: The lake will get its first infusion of fresh rainbow trout next week when 5,000 legal-sized rainbows get stocked. Trout and bass fishing has been slow amid rising water conditions. Few anglers are venturing off the steep bank for trout. Trolling out of boats has been the best bet. The lake is at 1,938 feet above sea level, up 10 feet in the past week as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers begins its filling schedule. The outflow was raised Thursday to 750 cubic feet per second, and the inflow is up over 1,000 cfs, but look for that to spike next week. If you go, 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.

DIAMOND: Lake ice softened this past week, and early Thursday rains sure didn't help. That means the ice is likely not safe for ice fishing this weekend.

EMIGRANT: The lake rose and muddied even more this past week, which is keeping anglers away. The lake was at 66 percent full and rising Thursday.

FISH: The lake was up to 42 percent full, and the ice has softened again with this week's rains, so it's likely not a good choice for ice fishers.

HOWARD PRAIRIE: The lake's ice remains poor amid growing inflows and relatively warm weather. Anglers can bank-fish around the dam or other access points where there's open water, but effort is extremely light. PowerBait or worms about five feet under a bobber are good ideas. The lake is up to 38 percent full, and the rising water will break up more ice along the edges and weaken other spots. If ice conditions improve, the best access is near the dam.

HYATT: The lake is open, and the ice has melted along the shoreline. The lake is 36 percent full, up 4 percent in the past week. The best access is near the dam.

LOST CREEK: Rising inflows next week could hamper bass fishing, but trout fishing remains decent as anglers await the first infusion of fresh rainbows later this month. 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 this winter for landlocked chinook salmon in 30 to 40 feet of water, but fish are starting to bounce around within the water column. The lake is on the rise thanks to a hold on the outflows Thursday to 1,600 cfs, about 1,000 cfs lower than the inflows. The lake was listed Thursday at 1,851.3 feet above sea level, about 4.5 feet higher than last week.

LAKE OF THE WOODS: Ice conditions have deteriorated amid recent rains, and next week will bring rain after weekend snow, so it's too early to tell whether ice fishers will return next week.

WILLOW: Trout fishing is very slow. The boat ramp remains usable, and the lake is open year-round. The lake is 93 percent full.

RIVER OUTLOOK

ROGUE: Rogue River anglers can expect more hits than misses for winter steelhead fishing this next week, with today and Saturday offering the best chances at winter steelhead fishing river-wide and then a series of storms will muck up the river and the action from the beach to Big Butte Creek. That makes the best bet the Grants Pass area until Saturday afternoon, and then the Hatchery Hole on the far upper Rogue for the diehards who need to wet a line despite poor angling conditions.

The most action along the middle Rogue will be from the mouth of the Applegate River on down. Side-drifting roe with a small piece of cocktail shrimp added to it has been the most popular offering for driftboaters, while bankies casting worms and corkies or side-planing with plugs have done well. No spring chinook have been seen, but that could change after the next few freshets.

Flows Thursday were a fairly pedestrian 3,400 cubic feet per second, but rains forecast for this weekend have flows on the rise and will put the river out of fishing shape Sunday. It's likely to stay bad, unless the weekend wave comes in less wet than forecast. If so, then there might be a short window of winter steelhead fishing Tuesday for side-planers and driftboaters hugging the inside lanes on gravel bars. After that, stay away as flows are set to peak later next week at about 2.5 feet below flood stage at Grants Pass. Just step back away from the bank.

The upper Rogue is a light mix of early winter steelhead and late summer steelhead, with not much action on either version of steelhead this past week. Flows Thursday were a very steelheader-friendly 2,300 cfs, but it will disappear Saturday afternoon as river levels rise despite releases of just 1,600 cfs from Lost Creek Lake. It'll rise and ebb a bit midweek, but the color will probably keep anglers out. Flows at Dodge are forecast to peak about 15,500 cfs late next week. That's still nicely below flood stage.

Another 38 winter steelhead reached Cole Rivers Hatchery this past week, upping the early-season total to 117 fish. That seems low, but it's still the highest in the past three years (largely because flows the past two years were so low at this time of year). Egg-soaked yarn balls and plugs are the best bait bets.

Anglers river-wide can keep one wild winter steelhead 24 inches or longer per day and five per year.

In the lower Rogue, a few wild springers and a few winter steelhead were caught this past week before major winds and sideways rain sent everyone home Wednesday. After a calm and fishable Thursday, more gale-force winds are forecast for today, and water will go out for all of next week. Flows are forecast to peak just at flood stage late next week at Agness. When things settle down, expect some decent early-season spring chinook fishing and expect to put the steelhead rods away until fall.

CHETCO: The river was up and out of shape Thursday and forecast to drop today to borderline fishing conditions for winter steelhead. Whether the turbidity settles out will determine whether it's worth fishing. Then water flows are forecast to be out all week.

ELK: The river was at the high end of winter steelhead fishing Thursday and likely should be good until Sunday, when it's forecast to jump and likely stay out of shape all week.

APPLEGATE: Water conditions fell off Thursday when the Corps of Engineers doubled the water releases from Applegate Lake, turning off what has been a decent winter steelhead bite from Murphy Dam on down. Fishing should improve today and Saturday before tributary flows ramp the river out of shape for winter steelhead. The first 63 winter steelhead were captured this week in the trap at the dam's base, so fish are distributed throughout the river. Watermelon corkies with worms are post-storm favorites for winter steelhead. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed. There is no fishing from a floating device.