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Fishing Report: Feb. 3, 2012

COASTWIDE - Double-digit swells again are forecast for the Southern Oregon coast this weekend, making it look bleak to plan a coast ocean-fishing trip. Locals, however, might find a calm morning to slip out for black rockfish and lingcod, and lingcod catches are typically very good now as the big adults move in close for the spawn.

Ocean crabbing conditions remain poor largely because of the big swells. Dungeness will be making their way toward estuaries now that salinity levels are increasing in bays. Crab meat condition is excellent now, and the entire Oregon Coast is open for crabbing.

The marine aggregate limit in Oregon is seven rockfish a day. New for 2012 is a rule that bans cabezon harvest until April to provide a chance to stretch out the cabezon quota.

Lingcod fishing had been excellent when anglers have gotten out. 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.

For clamming, the entire Oregon Coast is open, but no minus tides are in the immediate future. Watch for sneaker waves.

BROOKINGS - The bar has been rough and there's not been much fishing action of late for ocean anglers. A few locals are sneaking out and catching some lingcod off kelp beds and near the north jetty on good mornings, but effort has been light.

COOS BAY - Crabbing had picked up now that the heavy freshwater content in the bay has waned. Sturgeon fishing is fair near the Highway 101 bridge and should improve.

Lingcod jigging near Cape Arago had been very good when the weather allows. 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 that could make clamming hazardous.

WINCHESTER BAY - Sturgeon fishing had improved below the Highway 101 bridge, but catches remain somewhat slow. Crabbing has improved in the triangle area now that more crabs are moving throughout the bay.

AGATE - A batch of legal-sized and larger trout was stocked recently for the winter trout fishery. However, the bite has fallen off largely because of the strong influx of water from the recent storm. The lake is now at 43 percent full, up from 31 percent less than two weeks ago. When the inflow stabilizes, fish worms or PowerBait near the dam. No gas motors are allowed. Small electric motors are legal.

APPLEGATE - Heavy inflows from this past week's storms will turn trout off the bite for a while, but the lake could settle down by the weekend for trout fishing. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began its filling mode Wednesday at the lake, with outflows reduced. The lake was 84 feet from full Thursday. 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 was slow.

EMIGRANT - The lake is now 58 percent full, and rainbow trout are available. Troll slowly with Triple Teasers or Wedding Ring lures with worms or use PowerBait from the bank.

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

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

LOST CREEK - The lake has risen to an elevation of 1,830 feet above sea level — or 42 feet from full — on Thursday as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues its filling mode while keeping an eye on inflows during recent storms. Outflows were forecast to remain at 2,000 cubic feet per second through the weekend. The trout bite was slow this past week, and effort has been light. Trolling should 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. 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 thick, and ice fishing has been good this past week near the resort, with catches of trout and perch.

FISH - The ice thickness has improved greatly in the past week, but anglers should still be careful of soft spots.

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 now available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

ROGUE - The entire Rogue is open and viable for winter steelhead fishing as water levels stabilize and fresh steelhead present themselves riverwide. That means the best bet likely is the closest bank to you, particularly for those trying to catch a few steelhead before Sunday's Super Bowl. With kickoff not until 3:20 p.m., it's a good morning to steelhead fish, regardless of where you are.

The lower Rogue has been a plunkers' paradise of late, but water levels are dropping and clearing. That's changing the game somewhat. At Huntley Park and lower river bars, plunkers have switched from Spin-Glo size 4s instead of 2s. The focus for plunkers and anchored boaters is water 4 to 6 feet deep and on the inside turns of gravel bars. As the week progressed, more fish started getting caught in the Agness area, where the flow was just a sliver above 7,000 cfs Thursday afternoon.

In the middle Rogue, bank and boat anglers are finding a mix of fresh winter steelhead and some spawned-out summer steelhead kelts working their way downstream. Most of the action has been from Lathrop's Landing to Robertson Bridge for boat and bank anglers looking to intercept winter steelhead heading up the Applegate River. Bank anglers are fishing side-planers with K-11 Kwikfish at Griffin Park and elsewhere, but water conditions were dropping fast enough that side-planing has slowed. Look for it to improve when water flows increase.

In the upper Rogue, anglers are faring pretty well on winter steelhead throughout the stretch, with bank anglers getting steelhead at the Hatchery Hole as well as Casey State Park and the High Banks area just upstream of the Takelma Boat Ramp. Flows out of Lost Creek Lake were holding steady at 2,000 cfs, with flows Thursday at 2,586 cfs at Dodge Bridge and 3,090 cfsat the old Gold Ray Dam gauge site. Winter steelhead are hitting everything from yarn balls and roe to various Kwikfish plugs and crayfish imitation plugs.

Riverwide, anglers now can keep one wild winter steelhead at least 24 inches long as part of the two-fish daily limit. The minimum size for hatchery fish to be deemed legal adults is 16 inches long. Only five wild winter steelhead can be kept annually.

APPLEGATE - The river was dropping into very good fishing shape and will continue through the weekend as the Corps of Engineers drops the outflows 100 cfs per day at Applegate Dam through Monday. Look for winter steelhead to be hanging out in deeper holes and under over-hanging trees. Fly-fishing single-egg patterns and larger streamers should be good, and those casting spinners or spoons should find steelhead as well. There are more fresh steelhead on the lower stretch of the river now, but they are pretty well dispersed for this early in the season. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed and there is no fishing from a floating device.

UMPQUA - The South Umpqua was fishing very well for winter steelhead, with flows Thursday at 1,771 cfs at Tiller and 4,126 cfs at Roseburg. Only hatchery winter steelhead can be kept, and a decent run of hatchery fish is expected this year. Side-drifting roe or yarn balls from driftboats has been best.

The North Umpqua was good for winter steelhead along the lower end, with flows of almost 6,000 cfs at Winchester Dam. The main-stem river had fished very well for winter steelhead prior to last week's storms. All wild steelhead must be released riverwide.

CHETCO - After an excellent week of winter steelhead fishing, the Chetco's flows were dropping and clearing to where it will put a dent in winter steelhead fishing this weekend. Flows Thursday at Ice Box were at 2,239 cfs, but anglers were still hitting fish on plugs or side-drifting roe. Winter steelhead were well dispersed. Catches will drop significantly if the water flows continue to drop.

Anglers can keep one wild steelhead a day and up to five per year as part of the two-fish daily limit.

ILLINOIS - Winter steelhead fishing was slow this past week despite good conditions. Side-drifting yarn balls should work best. No bait is allowed.

Anglers may keep one wild steelhead a day and five per year.

ELK/SIXES - Both rivers had dropped significantly, and winter steelhead fishing has slowed amid low and clear water. Winter steelhead are well dispersed through both rivers. Anglers can keep one wild steelhead a day and up to five per season on either river.