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Fishing Report: Jan. 20, 2012

COASTWIDE - Heavy winds and stiff rains have left South Coast ports either closed or unusable. A hazardous season warning will be in effect through Saturday, with winds at 40 knots forecast for the weekend. That could put nearshore bottomfishing out of whack for a week or more, depending on the severity of the newer, weaker fronts forecast to move in.

Ocean crabbing conditions are extremely poor and hazardous because of the storm. Dungeness not only will be moving out of estuaries, they also will be skirting away from river mouths until estuary salinity levels improve after the flood surges abate. Crab condition is excellent now, and the entire Oregon Coast is open for crabbing.

The marine aggregate limit is seven rockfish a day. Cabezon harvest is banned until April.

Lingcod fishing had been excellent until the recent storms. Look for lingcod to be around kelp beds and near jetties when the ocean subsides enough for jigging. The lingcod limit is two a day with a 22-inch minimum, and that is separate from the marine aggregate.

BROOKINGS - Lingcod fishing has been good when anglers can get out. Black rockfish catches were fair but the port is closed until water flows at the Chetco River gauge at Ice Box reads flows of less than 30,000 cubic feet per second. That level is not forecast to be reached until this afternoon.

COOS BAY - Crabbing had been excellent before this week's high water. Flooding in the Coos and Millicoma rivers have flushed most of the Dungeness out of the estuary. Crabbing off the public docks could be poor for a week or more as Dungeness wait for salinity levels to drop in the bay before moving back in. Coos Bay typically is the first to rebound for crabbers in the region because it is a deep-water port.

Lingcod jigging near Cape Arago had been very good before the weather turned. Black rockfish catches had been good along the inside of the north jetty, but look for poor fishing conditions well into next week.

Clamming will be a bust around Charleston during the current storm surges, which could make clamming hazardous.

WINCHESTER BAY - Sturgeon fishing had improved below the Highway 101 bridge, but sturgeon fishing conditions will be poor well into next week. Crabbing had improved in the triangle area but look for poor Dungeness catches into next week thanks to high water 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 at 31 percent full. Worms or PowerBait will be best. No gas motors are allowed. Small electric motors are legal.

APPLEGATE - Heavy inflows from this week's storms will turn trout off the bite for a while until things settle down. 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 slow.

EMIGRANT - Trout fishing is fair when weather allows. 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 algae advisory ended last week but anglers have steered clear of the reservoir during the current rainstorms that are causing the lake to rise quickly as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers moves into flood-control mode. The trout bite will be slow until the water clears and surface levels steady. When they do, trolling will be 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 works well, especially with small flashers. Vary your depth. The boat ramp at Stewart State Park is now 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.

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 only fishable water on the Rogue now is the roughly one-mile stretch from the Cole Rivers Hatchery dike down to just upstream of the mouth of Big Butte Creek. The rest is flowing high, dirty and out of shape for winter steelhead fishermen itching for the receding water to yield excellent catches in the middle Rogue later this week.

That leaves the best today as the only bet ... the run between the hatchery and Casey State Park. The reach should have some late-run summer steelhead in it. Flows out of Lost Creek Lake are at 1,000 cfs, but the Corps will likely bump up water flows as the rains subside, and that could make flows too fast for effective fishing.

The middle Rogue should come into its own early next week as runoff dies down and the water clears up. Water levels at Grants Pass could be decent as early as Sunday, but turbidity levels are unpredictable. Winter steelhead should be well dispersed, especially downstream from the mouth of the Applegate River near Whitehorse Park. Turbidity levels generally need to be lower than 14 NTUs for the water clarity to support winter steelhead fishing. When it clears, a mix of plug and roe fishing from boats will be good, as will plunking with roe and Spin-Glo's or side-planing with K-11 Kwikfish, WeeWarts and other plugs. Darker colors will work best, and focus on migration lanes four to six feet deep.

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

The lower Rogue at Agness is way up, and fishing for winter steelhead will be poor well into next week, depending upon how quickly the water can clear.

A few late coho remain in the mix in the upper Rogue. For coho, use purple or red plugs. All wild coho must be released unharmed.

APPLEGATE - The river was up and rolling Thursday as a mix of intense runoff and increased flows from Applegate Lake blew the river out. Once the river drops and clears, look for winter steelhead to be distributed as high as the town of Murphy, but most likely will be moving in from the Rogue early next week. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed, and there is no fishing from a floating device.

UMPQUA - The North Umpqua is way up and out of shape for winter steelhead fishing, as is the South Umpqua and mainstem Umpqua. When the South Umpqua drops and clears, look for some good winter steelhead catches in the lower half of the river, but don't be surprised if some fish make it far up in the system some time next week. Side-drift roe along the inside turns of gravel bars and tail-outs.

All wild steelhead must be released unharmed.

CHETCO - The Chetco was forecast to peak around 60,000 cfs late Thursday night, then drop quickly. Conditions look like they could be close to fishable Sunday afternoon, depending on turbidity. But another freshet is forecast to pump the river back over 10,000 cfs Monday, with conditions back in shape for winter steelhead fishing later next week. Anglers may keep one wild steelhead a day and five per year.

ELK/SIXES - Both rivers were way up and out of shape for winter steelhead fishing this weekend amid some of the highest rainfall figures ever recorded at Elk River Hatchery.

When they drop into shape, these rivers both will fish well for winter steelhead. Anglers can keep one wild steelhead a day and up to five per season on either river.