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Fishing and Hunting Report

River Outlook

ROGUE — The Rogue is fishing quite well for winter steelhead in the middle and upper reaches, while early spring chinook are starting to show some promise in the lower Rogue despite water temperatures that need to warm a bit before the bite can really turn on. That leaves the best bet the upper Rogue for now, where fresh steelhead continue to pour over Gold Ray Dam at a pretty constant stream.

A few hundred fresh steelhead continue to cross the dam daily, and that's good news for upper Rogue anglers. Through March 21, the winter steelhead count was 7,964 fish. Flows have dropped this week in the upper Rogue, and that's helping the catch as well. Releases from Lost Creek Lake were steady at 2,102 cubic feet per second Wednesday, and flows at Gold Ray Dam were down to 3,650 cfs. That's more than manageable for roe, yarn flies and plugs. Fly-fishing, however, is a bit slow at this flow, and the 44-degree water coming out of Lost Creek Lake isn't helping fly-fishers either.

In the middle Rogue, steelhead fishing continues to hold on quite well, with good catches of bright fish daily throughout the stretch. Fresh steelhead still are out-numbering spawned-out fish, but that should change within the week. Flows at Grants Pass were at 4,400 cfs on Wednesday, perfect for drift-fishing from driftboats with roe, corkies and yarn. Black and white plugs are working in deeper, slower waters as well.

In the lower Rogue, spring chinook fishing has yet to really take off. Fresh fish started moving into the bay in decent numbers Tuesday, but one or two chinook are getting caught daily. The culprit seems to be water temperatures still sitting at 50 degrees. However, with bright and warm days ahead, look for the temperature to climb up a few degrees and trigger a decent bite as early as this weekend. So far, the best fish brought into the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach is a 36-pounder.

A few spring chinook have been reported as high as Rainie Falls, but nothing dramatic yet. Steelhead fishing is too good to bother prospecting for chinook.

Halfpounders remain in the Lower Rogue Canyon, but few are targeting them. They have yet to make their mass exodus back to the Pacific. When they do, catches of these 14-15 inch fish should be great for a few days around Agness.

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).

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

APPLEGATE — Fresh steelhead are present throughout the Applegate, and fishing is improving daily. Flows were dropping into perfect shape, with the river Wednesday running 517 cfs at Applegate. At that level, the entire arsenal is at hand. Bait, spoons, nymphs, egg flies, rubber worms, worms and watermelon corkies and plugs all work well at this time of year and flow 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.

The Applegate closes for the season Saturday.

CHETCO — The river was flowing at about 2,800 cubic feet per second Wednesday and dropping, making for decent 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. More than half the steelhead caught now are spawned-out kelts that should be released unharmed.

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.

Fishing on the Chetco closes for the season Saturday evening.

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 in late March, and these steelhead are aggressive biters of plugs.

Both rivers close to steelhead fishing Saturday evening.

ILLINOIS — The Illinois is 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.

The river closes to steelhead fishing Saturday evening.

UMPQUA — The North and South Umpquas continue to fish very well for winter steelhead amid very good conditions. The South Umpqua is fishing best, with driftboaters logging double-digit steelhead 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. The upper end of the main-stem Umpqua also has decent steelhead fishing, but the majority of the fish caught are spawned-out or dark.

A few spring chinook have been caught recently in the lower section of the main-stem Umpqua. Nothing red-hot yet.

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 closes Saturday night.

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.

The river closes to steelhead fishing Saturday evening.

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 held steady at 45 degrees, and the lake was stocked last week with 25,000 fresh legal-sized rainbow trout. The fish were distributed at Takelma Boat Ramp and the marina. The lake is now less than 15 feet from full, but look for continued filling as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to release most of the inflow at this time. The smallmouth bite has slowed this past week, but it should be improving daily with more sunny days.

EMIGRANT — Winter weather conditions have broken the lake and water conditions are improving daily. 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. The pond also will get a complement of legal-sized rainbows and grade-out steelhead this week. Trout catches should be good, but catches on the old winter steelhead released there in January remain 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 during as warming temperatures have gotten fish moving.

Ocean Outlook

The ocean outside of Brookings has gotten choppy and rough this past week, which has kept most pleasureboats at bay. When the ocean subsides, look for more good lingcod fishing near shore, with good numbers of black and blue rockfish in the mix. 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 crabs this season has 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. A few striped bass also have been caught near shore around Ophir this past week. However, wait for the surf to die down at least two days before trying.

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 the ODFW razor clam web page at www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/shellfish/razorclams.

Hunting Outlook

JACKSON — Spring bear season begins Sunday, and hunters who drew controlled tags need to buy them by Saturday evening. The South Coast is brimming with bears. Hunters should focus around fresh grasses and on south slopes for bear activity. Cougar hunters are reminded to buy a 2007 cougar tag. With low snow levels cougar tracks maybe easily located along ridge lines. 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.

SOUTH COAST — Spring break brings whalewatching to the South Coast. Look for spouts past the surf line at places like Harris Beach and Cape Arago.

GENERAL — The Oregon Coast Birding Trail Guide at www.oregoncoastbirding.com 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.