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Fishing and Hunting Report

River Outlook

ROGUE — The Rogue is really pulling into very good steelhead fishing from Agness all the way into the upper Rogue, while the first spring chinook of the season are getting caught in the lower Rogue just out of tidewater.

But the best bet for now is winter steelhead fishing in the Grants Pass area, which is teeming with fresh fish and anglers who finally have good conditions for steelheading after a lot of high and dirty water.

The best bet is the Merlin area, where steelhead fishing has been very good with roe, corkies or yarn-eggs. A few fish have been caught on pink rubber worms or live worms with a watermelon corkie (an old local favorite in high-water times). Fish are pretty well spread out and on the move, so the best bet is either to hit one place hard all day or stay mobile and prospect for steelhead, then pound a run when you find them.

While the water color is good, flows are high. Flows at Grants Pass finally dropped to 6,500 cubic feet per second Wednesday, while the flows at Gold Ray Dam were a hefty 5,000 cfs. With 2,024 cfs coming out of Lost Creek Lake, the picture remains pretty clean for the upper Rogue —lots of tributary runoff right now. That gets the fish moving as well.

The latest update at Gold Ray Dam, March 8, shows just shy of 4,000 winter steelhead over the dam and into the upper Rogue. Prospect for these fish with roe or roe-and-sandshrimp. Another good idea is to high-grade plug spots, particularly inside turns where flows are slower.

The lower Rogue is starting to see the first of the spring chinook, and conditions are good for early-season fish. Flows at Agness were more than 11,000 cfs and the water remained a good green color. Migrating springers hug the inside turns of gravel bars, much like steelhead do, but in deeper water. Jump in front of them with anchovies with spinners.

Downstream from the hatchery to the mouth, anglers may keep one wild steelhead a day over 24 inches, and no more than five of those per season. Fin-clipped hatchery fish over 16 inches can be kept as adults, and up to two a day for those (except it's just one hatchery fish if you keep a wild steelhead that day).

Many of the steelhead are cookie-cutter, 5-7 pounders for which the Rogue is famous. Some big steelhead in the 15-plus pound range, however, have been caught already this year.

For daily flow reports out of Lost Creek Lake, call 800-472-2434.

APPLEGATE — Fresh steelhead are present throughout the Applegate, and fishing is real hit-and-miss. Flows were a bit high but dropping, with the river Wednesday running 1,100 cfs at Applegate and 1,600 cfs at Wilderville. More bait than spoons or flies at this level.

Fly-fishing will improve as the water level drops. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed, and no fishing from a floating device. Most of the Applegate is on private lands and access is limited.

CHETCO — The river was flowing over 3,200 cubic feet per second Wednesday and dropping, making for very good conditions to catch a lot of pretty dark winter steelhead. The river is loaded with late-run spawners and spawned-out kelts, with roe and plugs working well. The fish are well distributed.

Angler can keep one wild steelhead a day and up to five a year as part of their limits, but wild kelts should be released unharmed. Hatchery steelhead are less prevalent than wild steelhead.

ELK/SIXES — Both rivers were dropping and fishing fairly well for late-run winter steelhead. Winter steelhead are well-distributed throughout both rivers. The Elk and Sixes get a late splash of fish each February and March, and these steelhead are aggressive biters of plugs.

ILLINOIS — The Illinois dropping and again loaded with wild winter steelhead, biting yarn patterns and corkies. Still too high for effective spoon fishing. Virtually all the steelhead are wild and must be released unharmed. Also, no bait is allowed.

UMPQUA — The North and South Umpquas were fishing very well for winter steelhead, despite high-water conditions on both streams. The South Umpqua is fishing best, with driftboaters logging triple-digit days side-drifting roe or high-grading with plugs. The North Umpqua has taken off for winter steelhead this week in the lower and middle sections, with roe out-producing plugs and flies.

Sturgeon fishing has slowed in the estuary now that the flows are clearing.

COOS — Steelhead fishing is good amid high but clean water conditions. The season runs through March.

COQUILLE — The South Fork has dropped and was fishing much better for late-run winter steelhead. Most of the fish are dark now, but there are some good, fresh winters in the mix. Fish plugs from driftboats, or small clusters of roe in deeper, slower water.

Lake Outlook

HOWARD PRAIRIE — The lake is closed to angling.

HYATT — The lake is closed to angling.

LOST CREEK — The lake's surface temperature has improved slightly to 48.5 degrees, but a strong in-flow has stirred the reservoir and made for fair trout fishing and slow bass fishing. The lake is now less than 20 feet from full, but look for it to drop again when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers increases flows captured from last week's rains and snow melt.

EMIGRANT — Winter weather conditions are starting to break on the lake and some mid-day bass fishing has been good around willows and in the shallows. Perch are biting, primarily because there's just so many of them in the lake. Crappie fishing is poor, and trout fishing is fair for trollers and still-fishermen who find a little clean water to ply.

A health advisory has been issued about eating all but trout from the lake because of elevated mercury levels.

APPLEGATE — Trout fishing has improved for both legal-sized rainbow trout and stocked salmon, which tend to school at rocky points.

Anglers can keep up to five rainbow trout or stocked salmon a day, but only one fish can be more than 20 inches long. Also, no bass between 12 and 15 inches can be kept, and only one bass larger than 15 inches can be kept.

EXPO POND — One of the ponds near Gate 5 was stocked earlier this year with excess summer steelhead from Cole Rivers Hatchery. But catches on them has been poor. Only one of these steelhead over 20 inches can be kept daily, and they are legally considered trout that do not have to be added to a salmon/steelhead tag.

KLAMATH/ AGENCY LAKES — Fishing for large Klamath trout has improved throughout the lake as warming temperatures have gotten fish moving.

Ocean Outlook

The ocean outside of Brookings has been excellent for bottomfishing this week as surprisingly flat seas have drawn anglers offshore. Lingcod catches have been huge, with anglers catching and releasing many fish while culling out their two big lings for the daily limit. Lots of big black rockfish as well. Most of the action is closer to shore, mainly in waters 70-80 feet deep.

Dungeness crabs are very plentiful throughout South Coast estuaries, but the vast majority of crab this season have been undersized.

Perch fishing has been good off the beach at Kissing Rock near the mouth of Hunter Creek as well as the rock bay at Ophir. But wait for the surf to die down at least two days before trying again.

The entire Oregon coast is now open for razor clams, bay clams and mussels. Before doing any clamming, check for any updated health advisories by calling the Oregon Department of Agriculture's Shellfish line at 800-448-2474 for updates. For more information about razor clams and current status of particular areas see www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/shellfish/razorclams online.

Hunting Outlook

JACKSON — Cougar hunters are reminded to buy a 2007 cougar tag. With low snow levels cougars tracks maybe easily located along ridge line, Predator calls have been successful for both cougars.

Watchable Wildlife

ROGUE — A covered viewing station on the Denman Wildlife Area provides a good opportunity to view waterfowl, egrets, raptors and songbirds. The structure was built by the Oregon Hunters Association and is accessed by a paved, wheelchair-accessible pathway. It is on Whetstone Pond, just north of the ODFW office.

GENERAL — The Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide at www.oregoncoastbirding.com is a Web site that highlights great birding opportunities all along the Oregon coast. It's divided into sections of coastline, and the north coast is only a click away from the main home page. Links to checklists and sponsors can be found on the home page as well.

COAST — Gray whales are migrating south from the Bering Sea on their way down along the Pacific coast to the Baja area. Late December and early January is the peak of the migration season, but the migration continues through March. There are a number of excellent places to view the whales from. From north to south, including Harris Beach near Brookings and Cape Arago near Charleston. Binoculars are recommended.