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Fishing Report: Jan. 13, 2012

COASTWIDE - Winds are expected to become southerly tonight ahead of a cold front that will swoop down to Southern Oregon ports from the north. Saturday morning looks potentially fishable in the ocean, but a steep northwest swell is forecast to develop Sunday and trigger stormy seas and possibly gale-force winds next week.

Ocean crabbing conditions are relatively poor because of the choppy seas and swells. Ocean crabbing is open north of Gold Beach. Crabbing opens south of Gold Beach Sunday after a 45-day delay to give the Dungeness more time to fill with meat. The crabs should be in great shape now.

The marine aggregate limit in Oregon is seven rockfish a day. New for 2012 is a rule that bans cabezon harvest until April to stretch out the cabezon season. Lingcod fishing has been excellent when anglers have gotten out. The lingcod limit is two a day with a 22-inch minimum, and that is separate from the marine aggregate.

For clamming, the entire Oregon Coast is open. The next minus tide series is Jan. 19 through 25 starting in mid-afternoon. Watch for sneaker waves.

BROOKINGS - Lingcod fishing has been good when anglers can get out. Black rockfish catches are fair to good.

COOS BAY - Crabbing has been excellent this past week in the estuary as high salinity content has kept the crabs in the bay. Look for good crabbing off the public docks in Charleston and Empire, as well as near the jetties. The Dungeness meat levels are good. Lingcod jigging near Cape Arago has been very good when the weather allows. Black rockfish catches have been good along the inside of the north jetty.

Clamming remains very good around Charleston, Clam Island and Pigeon Point even without minus tides.

WINCHESTER BAY - Sturgeon fishing has improved below the Highway 101 bridge. Crabbing has improved in the triangle area since salinity levels have improved in the estuary.

AGATE - A batch of legal-sized and larger trout was stocked for the winter trout fishery. Look for very good fishing for them around the lower section of the lake, which is 31 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 has slowed.

EMIGRANT - The lake was stocked with rainbow trout for the winter fishery. The lake is 45 percent full.

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.

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

LOST CREEK - The lake's voluntary advisory against water contact ended Wednesday, and anglers are starting to come back to the lake for the normally good winter trolling for rainbow trout. Trolling is usually best near the face of the dam and upstream of Peyton Bridge near the top of the reservoir. Worms on Wedding Ring lures trolled slowly at varied depths often work well, especially with small flashers. Vary your depth. The boat ramp at Stewart State Park has been usable since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began filling the lake Jan. 1. The Takelma ramp near the dam also is open, but it can be difficult to maneuver large boats and trailers there.

LAKE of the WOODS - The lake's ice is unsafe for ice fishing, and about half of the lake has open water.

FISH - The boat ramp remains accessible, and the lake is primarily ice-free thanks to warm weather.

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. Access to the county boat ramp is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

ROGUE - The upper Rogue is a hodgepodge of late-run summer steelhead and some coho salmon, while a few winter steelhead have shown up in the middle Rogue, and the lower Rogue continues to be decent for winter steelhead, but all three areas are suffering from chronically low, clear and cold water.

The best bet, then, remains the lower Rogue for winter steelhead but only because the winter steelhead are pretty thick there and they are on the move ... albeit slowly.

Guides fishing upstream of Lobster Creek are faring best, with most of them anchoring and fishing small Kwikfish or WeeWarts in migration lanes 5 to 6 feet deep. Plunkers using small Spin-Glo's spiced up with sandshrimp (claws down, of course) and roe are doing OK at places such as Canfield Riffle and the Willows. Most of the fish have been on the smallish size so far — 4- to 6-pounders.

Anglers can now keep one wild steelhead a day and up to five per year downstream of the Hog Creek boat ramp, provided the wild steelhead is at least 24 inches long. Upstream of that ramp remains catch-and-release only for all wild steelhead.

The middle Rogue should see more fresh winter steelhead with the next storm, which is forecast to hit the region Wednesday. If the river rises as forecast, it should draw good numbers of winter steelhead from the lower Rogue.

Focus on water from Carpenter Island down to Grave Creek. Also, side-drifting and dragging roe in the canyon areas should improve weekly.

In the upper Rogue, bait fishing returned riverwide, and that has anglers out fishing for late-run summer steelhead and coho salmon. Most of the steelhead and coho are pretty ratty in January and not quite smoker-worthy, but they will bite roe, plugs and small spinners. Flows out of Lost Creek Lake remained at 1,100 cubic feet per second, and that has kept the mainstem flowing pretty low so far.

For coho, use purple or red plugs. All wild coho must be released unharmed.

APPLEGATE - The river is open for winter steelhead fishing, but no confirmed reports of winter steelhead have been received so far. Some late-run summer steelhead are in the lower stretches near tributaries. Flows out of Applegate Dam are a thin 109 cfs, dropped by almost 10 percent because of very low in-flow. Look for some early winter steelhead to move in once another rainstorm draws fresh fish to the middle Rogue, as soon as next weekend if storms materialize as forecast. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed, and there is no fishing from a floating device.

UMPQUA - The North Umpqua has slowed for steelhead in the lower section below the fly water, with low and cold flows harming catch rates and effort. A few winter steelhead are nosing into the lower South Umpqua, and fishing is fair to good with small roe clusters. Look for a good shot of fish to move up the South Umpqua next week should rains materialize as forecast. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed.

CHETCO - The Chetco continues to drop and clear, and flows will level off Sunday for a few days before the next storm moves in and swells the river much like the last storm did. Until then, catches of winter steelhead will remain somewhat spotty, with guides side-drifting roe finding the best success. Plug fishing is fair amid very clear water. Plunking has slowed down and some more water with some color is needed to jump-start the steelhead fishery again. Anglers may keep one wild steelhead a day and five per year.

ELK/SIXES - Both rivers were dropping and clearing, and winter steelhead catches are slowing, as well. Some rains are forecast mid-week next week, and that should trigger a good influx of fresh winter steelhead to both streams. The Elk was at a gauge height of 3.3 feet and falling slowly Thursday. Flows at 5 feet and dropping are best for winter steelhead. Driftboat anglers are using Hot Shots and Wee Warts more than roe now.

COQUILLE - The South Fork had been good for winter steelhead after the most recent freshet, but water levels are dropping and cooling significantly. That has slowed the catch the past few days. Driftboaters fishing plugs have done best.

WINCHUCK - The winter steelhead bite is slow now that the river has dropped and cleared. Not many winter steehead have entered the system yet.

ILLINOIS - Fresh winter steelhead are available in the lower half of the river but dropping flows has significantly slowed the migration.

COOS - Winter steelhead fishing has tapered off significantly thanks to low and clear fishing conditions. Any new rains should create some steelhead flurry.