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Fishing report: Friday, Dec. 22

OCEAN OUTLOOK

COASTWIDE: Today's forecast calls for calm seas, with 5-knot winds and 2-foot wind waves, followed Saturday by winds up to 10 knots and 3-foot swells. Sunday calls for 16-knot winds and swells building to 8 feet.

Bottomfishing closures in place since September won't be lifted until Jan. 1 when the new quotas come into play. Until then, the only ocean bottomfishing now allowed is outside the 40-fathom line, with 30-foot leaders, and floats are required to keep baits off the bottom and focused on midwater rockfish species. No lingcod, cabezon or other bottomfish can be targeted, even from jetties. Also open is fishing for sanddab and surfperch. Surfperch fishing is likely to be decent off beaches and the Rogue River's sand spit off the South Jetty during calmer ocean days such as today and Saturday.

Crabbing is now open in the ocean and estuaries from Cape Blanco near Port Orford to the Washington border after tests show domoic levels in Dungeness there are under alert levels. However, South Coast beaches from Cape Blanco south to the California border remain closed because domoic levels continue to be above closure levels.

The recreational harvest of razor clams is closed from Cascade Head to the California border for elevated levels of domoic acid, including all beaches and bays. Clatsop County beaches are open, and the digging has been very good. Bay clams are open throughout the Oregon Coast.  No minus tides will be present through the remainder of December. The recreational harvesting of mussels is open along the entire coast. Before digging, check the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474.

LAKE OUTLOOK

AGATE: Fishing has been good for recently stocked rainbow trout, which do well here in the winter months but can't make it through hot summer temperatures, so now is the time to fish here. The lake is holding steady at 25 percent full, thanks to very little recent rains. Fishing pressure is very light. Fish PowerBait or worms under bobbers either off the bank or anchored in 10 feet or so of water. No gas motors are allowed. Electric trolling motors are OK. The park closes at dusk.

APPLEGATE: Fishing pressure has been very light, with some catches of rainbow trout for those trolling in the French Gulch area. The only boat access now is the lower ramp at French Gulch. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has held water releases at 200 cfs to keep the lake at its normal winter flood-control level. Try still-fishing with small bits of PowerBait and very light weight off the bank in the French Gulch area.

DIAMOND: The ice is hardening and could be good for ice fishing very soon. Typically ice anglers stay off the lake until the resort drills some good test-holes and information about those tests were not available Thursday. When ice fishing returns, small jigs, PowerBait and worms all work very well. All tiger trout must be released unharmed.

EMIGRANT: The lake was listed Thursday at 30 percent full and fluctuating amid cold and dry weather. Fishing pressure is light, and some mid-day bass fishing has been very good in what's left of the pool near the bottom of the reservoir. The county boat ramp is open during daylight hours. Some holdover trout are also available.

EXPO: Another 1,000 legal-sized rainbow trout and 150 18-inchers are scheduled to be stocked today at the pond. Fishing should be very good for them later today once they settle a bit. Worms and PowerBait will be staples. These fish have never seen bugs, so nymph flies such as woolly buggers or leeches don't work for a while. Catch them on PowerBait, worms and bobbers or possibly small spinners such as Panther Martins. There is a $4 day-use fee to park there off Gate 5.

FISH: The ice is taking hold, but most anglers will want to see another inch or so develop before heading out to ice fish for rainbow trout. Tiger trout must be released unharmed. Sno-Park permits are now required.

HOWARD PRAIRIE: Trout anglers are waiting for the ice to develop more consistently for winter ice fishing, which should be good thanks to good stocking levels and decent numbers of holdover trout expected this winter. The marina is closed,  The lake was listed at 71 percent full, very high for this time of year.

HYATT: BLM has closed the boat ramps at its recreation area. The lake is holding steady at 42 percent full. Any fishing now is off the bank in ice-free areas.

LOST CREEK: Flows out of Lost Creek were holding steady Thursday at 1,500 cubic-feet-per-second, keeping the lake elevation Thursday at 1,812.4 feet, a few inches above where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers aims for the winter flood-control season. The few anglers on the lake are finding trout by trolling near the dam and around the island off the Takelma boat ramp. This is one of Southern Oregon's best winter trout fisheries and a popular place to get away from the fog.

LAKE OF THE WOODS: The lake has about 2 or 3 inches of ice now and resort workers plan to cut a test hole today to gauge thickness. Until then, it is not recommended to walk out on the ice. When it thickens, ice-fishing for perch and rainbow trout should be good right off the resort with worms and small jigs.

WILLOW: The lake got 3,000 legal-sized trout and 1,500 pound-sized trout in early June. Catch what's left on PowerBait or worms.

RIVER OUTLOOK

ROGUE: Despite frigid temperatures and clear water, the middle Rogue has started to kick out the first winter steelhead of the year despite no new rains to draw fish up, while the upper Rogue has plenty of dark but aggressive summer steelhead. The lower Rogue saw some fresh winter steelhead move in this week after the river rose and colored some, but they're scattered and effort in recent days has been light.

In the upper Rogue, a mix of late-run summer steelhead and another 620 steelhead set for recycling today at either Modoc or TouVelle State Park will be bending rods through the holidays. However, the vast majority are inedible, even those females that appear somewhat bright. Flows are low and cold, with just 1,588 cfs Thursday at Dodge Bridge and not forecast to rise until mid-day Tuesday. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday walked down its Lost Creek Lake outflows to 1,300 cfs. Flows at the old Gold Ray Dam site were a hair over 2,000 cfs Thursday and expected to drop below 1,800 cfs before blipping up a bit late Tuesday to about 2,000 cfs.

After a few weeks of good activity, summer steelhead have hunkered down. Just three summer steelhead and 27 cohos were counted this week at Cole Rivers Hatchery, making it the second-worst collection week of the year. When they're this sluggish, try fish plugs or large streamer flies to make them angry and defensive.

The Shady Cove boat ramp remains the demarcation line between bait and nonbait fishing through New Year's Eve. Then it's back to the full complement of baits and lures in anglers' arsenals. Downstream of Shady Cove, catches have been fair of late on plugs, mostly Mag Lip 3.0 and 3.5 in the Misty River or crayfish colors.

All wild coho must be released, but that's rarely an issue. Hatchery coho are notoriously poor biters and are usually poor eating quality when caught in the upper Rogue.

In the middle Rogue, bona fide early-run winter steelhead have been caught in the Grants Pass and Galice areas by bait-casters using small pieces of roe or corkies and worms. That's a nice early showing, despite no good rains to draw fish out of the lower Rogue. Flows Thursday at Grants Pass were at 1,949 cfs and gin-clear conditions.

In the lower Rogue, a few winter steelhead have been caught by bank and boat anglers recently after the water rose and drew in some fresh winter steelhead, but effort remains light. Flows at Agness were up to 3,784 cfs Thursday and forecast to drop steadily through the weekend.

All chinook fishing is closed upstream of the Hog Creek boat ramp near Galice.

APPLEGATE: The river is open to trout fishing, but all wild trout must be released unharmed. Most of the trout are steelhead pre-smolts. Anglers can start targeting steelhead Jan. 1, but the ban on keeping any wild steelhead remains year-round.

CHETCO: Flows were low and clear and forecast to drop steadily through the weekend. That will put a damper on early winter steelhead angling. A short spike in flows should bring a flurry of winter steelhead fishing mid-week next week should the flows materialize.