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Fishing and Hunting Report

River Outlook

ROGUE — Winter steelhead fishing has been a bit sporadic the past few days as wild fish move into spawning tributaries and hatchery steelhead continue their quest to reach Cole Rivers Hatchery. Anglers in the lower Rogue are having trouble with spring chinook and middle Rogue steelheaders seem disinterested in fishing much now. 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 27, the winter steelhead count was 9,075 fish. Flows have dropped this week in the upper Rogue, and that's helping the catch as well. Releases from Lost Creek Lake were down to 1,860 cubic feet per second Wednesday, and flows at Gold Ray Dam were down to 2,555 cfs — about 1,000 cfs less than last week. The drop has slowed the migration, but these fish are holding in riffles and ready to get caught. The flows more than manageable for roe, yarn flies and plugs. Fly-fishing has picked up under these conditions as well, and the 45-degree temperature of water out of Lost Creek Lake also helps.

In the middle Rogue, steelhead fishing has really dropped off as steelhead hit spawning tributaries en masse. A few hold-outs are fishing downstream from Savage Rapids Dam and anglers there are reportedly seeing spring chinook salmon rolling there, but no spring chinook catches have been confirmed.

Flows at Grants Pass were down to 2,808 cfs on Wednesday, about 1,600 cfs lighter than last week. That makes late-season steelhead fishing open for the entire arsenal of roe, egg flies, yarn, plugs, pink plastic worms and nightcrawlers.

In the lower Rogue, spring chinook fishing has slowed from its already sparse showing. Fresh fish started moving into the bay in decent numbers, but the water is low, cold and clear. The springers have not been biting well, but a string of warm days later this week could burst the temperature into the lower 50s and trigger a bite. If it does, anchovies with blades on the front are likely the best, followed a distant second by spinners and beads.

So far, the best fish brought into the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach was a 36-pounder.

A few spring chinook have been reported as high as Rainie Falls, but nothing dramatic yet. Steelhead fishing has slowed in the Lower Rogue Canyon, but downers are plentiful. Halfpounders are starting to make their mass exodus back to the Pacific.

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 — The river is closed to fishing until May 19.

CHETCO — The river is closed to all fishing until May 19.

ELK/SIXES — Both rivers were closed to all angling until May 19.

ILLINOIS — The Illinois is closed to all angling until May 19.

UMPQUA — The North and South Umpquas continue to fish fairly very well for winter steelhead amid dropping water conditions. Some fresh fish remain present in both systems. The South Umpqua is fishing best for driftboaters. The South Umpqua remains open to winter steelhead fishing through April. The North Umpqua has taken off for winter steelhead in recent weeks 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. The first few spring chinook have crossed Winchester Dam.

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

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

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 jumped to almost 50 degrees, and that's starting to wake up the trout and bass. The lake was stocked recently 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 12 feet from full. The smallmouth bite has picked up this past week along the edges of the lake and in sunny coves, and it should be improving daily with more sunny days.

EMIGRANT — Winter weather conditions have broken the lake but water conditions have remained cold for a warmwater bite in the willows. Look for better bass, perch and bluegill fishing by the end of the weekend if warm weather continues to improve lake conditions.

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 was quite flat Wednesday and fishing was very good for black, blue and vermillion rockfish. The lingcod bite has slowed a bit but it still remains very good out of Brookings when weather conditions allow for easy passage.

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 www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/shellfish/razorclams online.

Hunting Outlook

JACKSON — Spring bear season opened Sunday, and success should be better than average. 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, and a new regulation this year allows some hunters to buy two tags. With low snow levels cougars tracks maybe easily located along ridge lines. Predator calls have been successful.

Spring turkey season starts April 15, and hunters should expect an average year. The special Youth Turkey Hunt is this Saturday and Sunday.

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 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.