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Fishing Report: Dec. 9, 2011

COASTWIDE - Ocean conditions look potentially good for Saturday, but the weather can change quickly here in December.

Bottomfish anglers may venture past the 20-fathom line for the remainder of the month, but few have bothered recently to make deep-water runs. Those who do are finding a nice mix of black rockfish and lingcod.

The marine aggregate limit in Oregon is seven rockfish a day. Cabezon can no longer be kept by boat anglers because the quota has been met. The lingcod limit is two a day with a 22-inch minimum, and that is separate from the marine aggregate.

The ocean is closed to recreational crabbing until Thursday. The commercial season also is scheduled to start Thursday, Dec. 15.

For clamming, the entire Oregon Coast is open. A minus tide series started yesterday and is forecast to run until Wednesday, Dec. 14. With the heavy winter surf, beach diggers should watch closely for sneaker waves.

BROOKINGS - A few anglers have been venturing out this week for bottomfish and were finding very good results off near-shore kelp beds. A few lingcod also have been in the mix.

COOS BAY - Crabbing is excellent now. Freshwater flows remain low and salinity remains high. Good catches have been reported at the public docks in Charleston, and the Dungeness meat levels have improved.

Good catches of rockfish have come when anglers have been able to get across the bar, and this weekend could present some decent conditions — especially early in the morning before the winds kick up. Fishing for black and blue rockfish off or near the north jetty has been good at the high and low slack tides.

WINCHESTER BAY - Sturgeon fishing is slow. Crabbing has become very good in the triangle area as river flows have dropped.

AGATE - A batch of legal-sized and larger trout was stocked recently for the winter trout fishery. Look for very good fishing for them around the lower section of the lake, which is about 40 percent full. Worms or PowerBait will be best. No gas motors are allowed. Small electric motors are legal.

APPLEGATE - The facilities at Hart-Tish Park are closed and the low-water ramp at French Gulch is open and usable, as is the Copper ramp. For winter trout fishing, troll Triple Teasers or Wedding Ring lures with worms. Bass fishing is slowing amid cold waters.

EMIGRANT - Lots of yellow perch in the catches, but still enough crappie to keep things interesting.

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 for the season.

HYATT - The lake is closed for the season.

DIAMOND - The lake is closed for the season.

LEMOLO - The lake is closed for the season.

EXPO - Fishing remains fair for stocked rainbow trout with Panther Martin lures, PowerBait and worms under bobbers.

LOST CREEK - The lake remains under a voluntary advisory against water contact following a bloom of blue-green algae. Fishing effort has dropped substantially. The boat ramp at Stewart State Park is unusable, but the Takelma ramp near the dam is supposedly operable at all water levels. The lake is down slightly more than four feet below its normal winter level.

FISH - For late-fall trout fishing, troll Triple Teasers, Tasmanian Devils and Wedding Rings with worms. Bank fish with worms or PowerBait. The lake is still mostly ice-free but the water is cold. The Forest Service ramp near the resort remains open.

WILLOW - Fishing is fair for legal-sized and larger rainbow trout stocked there earlier this year. Troll deep and slow, or fish PowerBait off the bottom.

ROGUE - The upper Rogue is still holding its own for late-run summer steelhead and even a few coho amid stable but cold river flows, while the middle Rogue is slow for steelhead and halfpounders thanks to cold conditions, and the lower Rogue is nearly stagnant from low and cold flows. This could be the mantra for as long as another week as cold and dry conditions put a vise grip on Southern Oregon's mid-December fishing.

That keeps the best bet at the upper Rogue, mainly because the hatchery steelhead are still good enough for the smoker and nothing else is really worth driving to until another flurry of rain jump-starts the fishery, and forecasts are calling for dry weather for at least another week.

Flows out of Lost Creek Lake were steady at about 1,450 cubic feet per second of 43-degree water Thursday, leaving the upper Rogue low and cold. Still, big, late-run winter steelhead were biting throughout the stretch.

It remains artificial flies and lures only from the Shady Cove Park ramp down to the old Gold Ray Dam site. That means good opportunities for those fishing plugs, and hard-plastic, single-egg flies will usually work well around spawning redds. Fishing was good on this stretch this week with K-11 Kwikfish and Rebel crayfish plugs, black jigs under bobbers and fake egg clusters side-drifted from boats. No bait is allowed in that zone until Jan. 1.

Bait fishing is allowed upstream of the Shady Cove ramp, and driftboaters this week have done fairly well side-drifting tiny clusters of roe behind salmon redds. Small pieces of roe are best.

The upper Rogue is seeing a steady stream of coho salmon, but they are tough to get to bite. Purple or red plugs can work well, but coho are notoriously poor biters. All wild coho must be released unharmed.

In the middle Rogue, steelhead fishing has slowed to a crawl near creek mouths where wild summer steelhead are waiting to spawn. It's still a little early for them to enter the spawning streams, so focus on these areas for catch-and-release fishing. Small egg clusters, streamer flies on sink-tip lines and plugs all work well for summer steelhead. Slow, deep presentations of flies, bait and lures work best because the cold water has left steelhead sluggish.

The vast majority of them are wild there and must be released unharmed.

In the lower Rogue, low and clear conditions have nearly shut down early season winter steelhead fishing at lower-river gravel bars. Anglers can see the steelhead in riffles and tail-outs, but they are very skittish.

The Agness area remains slow for adult summer steelhead and halfpounders in riffles. Fish mornings and evenings with streamer flies, worms, eggs or plugs.

Chinook fishing is closed from the Hog Creek boat ramp up to the hatchery.

APPLEGATE - The river is open to trout fishing. All wild trout, including cutthroat, must be released unharmed. It is illegal to target summer steelhead in the lower Applegate.

UMPQUA - The North Umpqua is slow for summer steelhead amid cold and low flows, but a few more fish have moved into the Swiftwater area of late. Only unweighted flies may be used in the fly water now. The South Umpqua is open, but flows are low and early-run winter steelhead haven't made it up there yet.

CHETCO - The river was flowing at just above 1,000 cfs Thursday, and that has slowed late-season fall chinook and early-season winter steelhead fishing. Some chinook are holding in upper river holes and they can be caught on flies and plugs, but the action is erratic.

ELK/SIXES - Both rivers were very low and clear, making for difficult fishing conditions for late-run chinook and early winter steelhead. Forecasts are for dry weather for at least a week, and river forecasters are looking for some very low flows next week.