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Fishing Report: March, 25, 2011

Coastwide - A small-craft advisory remains in effect through Sunday as more rain, stiff winds and 10-plus-foot surf is forecast, which will keep anglers at bay.

Chinook salmon fishing opened March 15 and will remain open through April north of Humbug Mountain, with Coos Bay and Winchester Bay hot ports during the later part of the season. Fishing has been poor since the season started because of bad weather.

Bottomfishing has been tough recently because of bad weather, but look for excellent catches to occur once the seas subside. Near-shore catches of lingcod and black rockfish should be excellent.

The marine aggregate limit in Oregon remains seven rockfish a day and two lingcod a day with a 22-inch minimum.

Sport crabbers are allowed on the ocean, but few are fishing for Dungeness these days because of treacherous seas. Bay crabbing has been just fair at best thanks to high runoff from local streams all week. Look for bay crabbing to be poor into next week at best.

All shellfish fishing is open coastwide, including the popular Clatsop County beaches, but clammers should be mindful of sneaker waves. Mussel harvest also is open coastwide. For more information and updated closure information, call the shellfish hotline at 800-448-2474.

BROOKINGS - The port is generally cleaned up after the March 11 tsunami, but little fishing has occurred because of rough seas. Surfperch fishing had been good around the Winchuck River mouth on calmer surf days, and look for more perch fishing some time next week. Clam necks and prawns are good baits.

GOLD BEACH - Surfperch fishing has been good at Nesika Beach with shrimp and prawns, but be careful of rough surf.

WINCHESTER BAY - Sturgeon fishing remains slow. Crabbing has been fair, largely because of high freshwater levels in the bay.

CHARLESTON - Chinook salmon season is open, but little effort so far because of rough seas. The lower area of Charleston continues to be fair for crabbing. Watch for sneaker waves while jetty fishing.

AGATE - Fishing for legal- and trophy-sized rainbows has picked up when water conditions improve. Trolling remains slow, so try still-fishing or wind-drifting with bait. Heavy wind days have not produced catches. No gas motors are allowed. Small electric motors are legal.

APPLEGATE - The trophy trout stocked there in late February have spread out and have been tougher to find. Trollers using Flatfish or Triple Teasers should do well for them, as well as for the large and trophy trout stocked there in late October. Good numbers of land-locked chinook are still available. The French Gulch boat ramp is usable. Hart-Tish Park is closed.

EMIGRANT - The lake got another 3,500 legal-sized rainbow trout last week, but the latest storms have slowed the trout bite, and the water is murky, harming trollers. Bank anglers fishing near the dam are faring well on worms or PowerBait. Bass fishing will improve with warmer weather.

A standing public-health advisory continues about eating all but trout from the lake because of elevated mercury levels.

HOWARD PRAIRIE - The lake is closed to angling until April 23.

HYATT - The lake is closed to angling until April 23.

DIAMOND - The lake is closed to angling until April 23.

EXPO - The pond is open year-round, and fishing has improved greatly after the recent release of 1,400 legal-sized rainbow trout. Find them with Panther Martin lures, worms and single salmon eggs.

LAKE of the WOODS - The lake is frozen, and ice fishing has been good. Worms or small jigs have worked best.

LOST CREEK - Trolling for trout has improved after last week's stocking of 25,000 legal-sized rainbow trout just in time for spring break. Focus on catching them near the Lost Creek Lake Marina and the Takelma boat ramp. Bank fishing has been best best with worms, single salmon eggs or PowerBait. Trolling will pick up once the fish get acclimated to the lake. The Stewart State Park boat ramp and the Takelma ramp are open.

FISH - Ice fishing has been good in the cove near the Forest Service boat ramp, but be wary of thinning ice. Worms and jigs are working best for rainbow trout. The resort is open Fridays through Sundays and ice augers can be rented there.

WILLOW LAKE - The lake was stocked with almost 5,000 legal-sized rainbow trout last week, and they are garnering some interest from anglers. No county facilities are open at the lake now.

SELMAC - The lake was stocked recently with legal-sized trout, and fishing has been good for them with most baits. Single salmon eggs and cheese have worked well.

MEDCO - Fishing for rainbow trout has been good off the bank with PowerBait.

ROGUE - Recent storms have made weekend predictions about where to fish and what to target tough along most of the Rogue, but the conditions could be best at the extremes and the worst smack-dab in the middle.

That means the best bet is winter steelhead in the upper Rogue, but just how far up depends upon how much rain and runoff occurs over the next couple days. The flows out of Lost Creek Lake are a steelheader-friendly 2,300 cubic feet per second, but in-flows from Big Butte Creek, Elk Creek, Little Butte and Bear Creek had flows at more than double that Thursday afternoon at Gold Ray Dam. The flow's OK, as long as anglers use yarn flies or rattle plugs and fish near shore in slow water. But the turbidity could run anglers off the water quickly.

That's what happened Thursday on the middle Rogue, where winter steelhead fishing should be in its prime. Instead, muddy water sent everyone to the upper Applegate River in search of big steelhead there. Fishing bright plugs or yarn flies had been decent for winter steelhead in lower water, but a frustratingly large catch of pikeminnows over the weekend made for some tough days. They are trash fish that eat smolts and are unprotected in the Rogue.

When the turbidity improves on the middle Rogue, look for fresh winter steelhead from the mouth of the Applegate River down to the Galice area. Fresh waves of late-run winter steelhead should be moving through as the water drops. Focus on inside migration lanes. Side-drift roe, yarn balls scented with egg juice and even pink rubber worm. For pluggers, K-11 Kwikfish swim best in high water, and rattling plugs work better in darker water conditions and pikeminnow love the silver with a pink stripe.

In the lower Rogue, everything could blow out over the weekend. High flows and turbidity could get bad fast, depending upon how much rain falls through Saturday. Spring chinook fishing had been quite good this week from Agness down to the top of tidewater. One guide caught five on Wednesday and four were fin-clipped hatchery fish that could be kept, but most of the catch seems to be one-to-three or one-to-four hatchery fish versus wild fish. Anchored boaters are doing well with anchovies, while plunkers have done well with Spin-Glo's and egg/sandshrimp combinations.

Anglers cannot yet keep wild spring chinook on the Rogue. However, anglers may now keep one wild steelhead per day as long as it is at least 24 inches long. The annual limit is five.

ILLINOIS - Water conditions were high and out for winter steelhead fishing Thursday, with flows at Kerby expected to be high until Tuesday, according to forecasts. Winter steelhead fishing could improve by mid-week. Use Spin-Glo's and yarn balls, then Little Cleo's when the water clears up more. No bait is allowed. Anglers can keep one wild steelhead at least 24 inches long per day, and up to five per year between Briggs Creek and Pomeroy Dam.

APPLEGATE - Late-season winter steelhead fishing is very good with good numbers of steelhead throughout the system. The latest storms have really drawn steelhead in, with catches best higher in the system. Some very large steelhead have been caught in recent days, and one pushing 20 pounds was captured last week in the fish trap beneath Applegate Dam. Fish with roe and egg flies until the water drops, then switch to spoons. Fishing on the Applegate ends Thursday. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed, and there is no fishing allowed from a floating device.

UMPQUA - The South Umpqua and North Umpqua were high but fishing fairly well for winter steelhead last week. The South remains one of the better winter steelhead streams to float outside of the Rogue River basin.

ELK/SIXES - The Elk and Sixes were both in excellent shape for late-season winter steelhead fishing. The Elk was a hair under 5 feet at the Elk River Hatchery gauge and falling slowly late this week, with emerald-green water at a perfect 47 degrees. Late-season catches are good on jigs, roe and Kwikfish. Anglers can keep one wild winter steelhead a day.

CHETCO - The river was up above 4,000 cubic feet per second and forecast to rise more today, but late-season winter steelhead catches have been fair. Fish are spread throughout the system, and spawned-out kelts are starting to be prominent in the catch. These are of poor edibility and should be released. Anglers may keep one wild winter steelhead from the Chetco a day and five per year.