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Fishing report: Friday, March 25

OCEAN OUTLOOK

COASTWIDE: Ocean anglers have been stuck in port thinking about lingcod, and a small-craft advisory that runs through this evening will have them dreaming a while longer. The 15-knot afternoon winds are expected to bring 12-foot swells, so there won't be much interest in crossing the bar until Saturday, when things are forecast to die down to five-knot winds and six-foot swells. Those swells would be good for jigging for lingcod in the shallows where they are spawning. Sunday is predicted to bring winds reaching 15 knots and swells up to eight feet, so Sunday morning looks like a go.

Lingcod are spawning and aggressive. The ling limit is two fish, and jigging just off kelp beds is very good. 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 have been poor in bays and will remain suspect into the middle of next week because of high freshwater content in bays. Ocean crabbing is open and good when the weather and waves allow for safe pot-pulling.

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 as officially full. It is still pretty murky, but some bass, crappie and perch have been caught with night crawlers or larger plastic worms fished very slowly around submerged structure. Fish the warmer days. The boat ramp is usable and closes at sunset. No trout stockings are planned this year.

APPLEGATE: The lake got 5,000 legal-sized rainbow trout two weeks ago, but no new stockings are planned for the remainder of the month. Trout and bass fishing have been slow amid fluctuating water levels, but bass fishing should improve next week as the days warm up and the fish get more active. Few anglers are venturing off the steep bank for trout. Trolling out of boats has been the best bet. The lake is at 1,957 feet above sea level, up 13 feet in just the past week thanks to steady inflows and reduced outflows to the Applegate River. Outflows are dropping daily and will stop at 1,800 cfs Sunday. If you go, troll for trout up to 16 inches with Wedding Ring lures spiced with a piece of worm and small flashers farther down in the reservoir. Watch for floating debris.

DIAMOND: Lake ice has weakened significantly, and no one is venturing onto it. Lots of snow and slush on the ice isn't helping. Pockets of open water are starting to form around the banks, where anglers can look for cruising fish looking for early bug hatches. They will eat worms under bobbers and take chartreuse PowerBait floated above the weed tops.

EMIGRANT: The lake was 89 percent full Thursday. Bass are starting to bite despite the cold water. Fish plastic worms or grubs very slowly around structure. Look for an improved bite next week amid very warm afternoons.

FISH: The lake was up a bit to 50 percent full Thursday, and the ice is not safe. Water is starting to open up around the edges, and soon anglers will be bait-fishing with worms or PowerBait for a mix of holdover rainbows, land-locked chinook and tiger trout, which must be released unharmed. When the water warms, start casting lures and flies that look like small chubs.

HOWARD PRAIRIE: The lake is ice-free and fishing fairly well from the bank near the dam for rainbow trout up to 19 inches. Worms under bobbers and PowerBait in the shallows are good bets as the bigger fish will be patrolling the shallows for early-emerging insects. The Willow Point boat ramp is open and usable, but the other public ramps remain closed. The water is cold, and the trout are somewhat sluggish. The lake is up to 55 percent full, up about 10 percent in the past week.

HYATT: The lake is open, and the ice has melted, but no boat ramps are open, and there is little activity there. The lake is at 54 percent full, up 4 percent in the past week. The best access should be near the dam, but cold water has trout lethargic and bass inactive.

LOST CREEK: Heavy inflows and fairly strong releases have the lake water in flux, and fishing has been slow for trollers and bank anglers near the Takelma boat ramp. The outflows have started to drop. The first 15,000 rainbow trout of the year were stocked here last week, split between the marina ramp and the Taklema ramp, where bank anglers are doing best with PowerBait or small Panther Martin spinners in water about 10 to 15 feet deep. Don't forget to try a Kastmaster or two, as well. Trollers should start with green Wedding Ring lures with a piece of worm. Land-locked salmon remain in the mix and they've been holding deeper than the trout. The lake is on the rise and it was listed Thursday at 1,860 feet above sea level, more than three feet higher than last week and 12 feet from full.

LAKE OF THE WOODS: The ice has deteriorated and is not safe for ice-fishing. There is a little open water around the shore but significantly more melting is needed before decent fishing can return. When more water melts, look for bait fishing to start for trout and perch in the shallows near the resort. 

WILLOW: Trout fishing is very slow, but look for fishing to improve now that the first 4,000 rainbow trout were stocked at the county ramp last week. Most of this weekend's catches will be around that ramp. The lake is almost full.

RIVER OUTLOOK

ROGUE: Rogue River anglers are looking for a mix of winter steelhead and spring chinook as the emerald-green waters start to recede river-wide. That should mean improving winter steelhead fishing conditions daily in the middle and upper Rogue while lower Rogue plunkers continue to run into early-run spring chinook at gravel bars.

The best bet, however, is the middle Rogue, which is starting to come alive with late-run winter steelhead from Grants Pass on down. Also coming are batches of hatchery winter steelhead present in the canyon area downstream of Grave Creek. Boat anglers will do well with roe, worms and watermelon corkies, as well as Mag Lip 3.5 plugs. Bankies can use side-planers effectively well into next week. Flows at Grants Pass were chugging along Thursday at 7,270 cfs, but the turbidity measured a perfect 6 NTUs. High-water spots near the bank and along current rips are the places to focus. Steelhead will be on the move, so it might work best for driftboaters to find a nice slot and let the steelhead come to them, particularly in the morning.

In the upper Rogue, the outflows from Lost Creek Dam will drop to 2,800 cfs this weekend, and that will have the water levels dropping. Flows at Dodge Thursday were still a smoking 5,270 cfs, but they will drop steadily for the next week despite some showers forecast for Sunday. Use the same baits and plugs as those in the middle Rogue. Pink and blue as well as gold are good winter steelhead colors for this time of year.

Another 179 fresh winter steelhead were captured this past week at Cole Rivers Hatchery, so the run is definitely moving. The count is up to 534 steelhead, the highest to date in the past three years and pretty close to average.

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

In the lower Rogue, plunkers are hitting a good number of fresh winter steelhead and spring chinook as water levels improve. Plunking will be the best game in town deep into next week. Flows at Agness were down to 16,300 cfs Thursday, and the turbidity has improved enough for plunkers to get at the migrating fish in four to six feet of water right along the bank in places like Huntley Park and Dunkelberger Bar. Lime-chartreuse and pearl-pink Spin Glo's have been top producers, and plunkers are using eight ounces of lead or more to keep their gear in place amid swift water. Boat fishing will be a bust until flows drop.

APPLEGATE: Water conditions are finally pulling into shape now that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is backing off on the lake outflows, which will be down to 800 cfs Saturday. That's the best conditions all month and will entice bank anglers to give the Applegate one last shot for winter steelhead this week. The season closes Thursday night. Another 121 fresh winter steelhead were captured at the trap near the dam this week, boosting the catch so far this season to 307 steelhead. Worms and corkies, yarn flies and bright lures are all good bets. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed. There is no fishing from a floating device.

CHETCO: The river was dropping into fishing shape Thursday for a last foray into winter steelhead fishing before the season closes Thursday night. Flows were at 4,700 cfs and dropping Thursday, so the weekend looks good for a mix of spawned-out steelhead and some dark, pre-spawning fish.  

ELK: The river was listed as low, clear and cold Thursday, so winter steelhead fishing should be poor. The season ends Thursday night.