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Fishing Report: Feb. 17, 2012

COASTWIDE - Rough seas and heavy swells are in the offing at least through Sunday morning because of a strong storm front moving south from Canada. That should make for poor ocean-fishing conditions through the weekend.

Ocean crabbing conditions will be poor again for this weekend. Dungeness had been making their way into Oregon bays and estuaries, but look for upcoming rains to push crabs back into the lower estuaries next week. Crab meat condition is excellent, 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. The next minus tide sequence begins today and runs through Tuesday. Afternoon minus tides should provide an excellent weekend of clamming coastwide. Watch for sneaker waves.

BROOKINGS - The bar has been rough in the afternoons, and a small-craft advisory remains in effect through tonight. A few locals are sneaking out and catching lingcod off kelp beds and near the north jetty on good mornings, but effort has been light.

COOS BAY - Crabbing has been good recently, with good catches near the north jetty and off the public docks in Charleston, though rain might put a damper on that for a while.

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, and that should continue through the weekend, but focus on mornings before the winds kick up.

Clamming will be good this week around Charleston, with a series of minus tides beginning this afternoon.

WINCHESTER BAY - Sturgeon fishing has slowed below the Highway 101 bridge. Crabbing had improved in the triangle area, but crabs could move lower in the estuary should weekend rains materialize.

AGATE - A fresh batch of legal-sized trout were stocked Thursday to jumpstart a late-winter fishery. The lake is shallow enough that it warms quickly and makes for good February and March trout fishing. Bank anglers fishing near the boat ramp will do well with worms dangled a few feet under bobbers. Some PowerBait fishing could be good, as well. The trout should be around the ramp through the weekend, then they'll spread throughout the lake. The lake is now at 45 percent full. Now that inflows have stabilized, wind-drift worms through the lower section of the lake or use PowerBait near the dam. No gas motors are allowed. Small electric motors are legal.

APPLEGATE - Stabilized in-flows have given the rainbows a chance to get back on the bite but effort remains light here. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has dropped water releases today to 100 cubic feet per second in an attempt to speed the filling of the reservoir. 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 - The lake is now inching toward two-thirds 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.

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. No fresh fish have been stocked recently.

LOST CREEK - The lake rose less than a foot this past week as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continued its filling mode. Outflows were scheduled to be down to 900 cubic feet per second beginning today. Releases were exactly twice that less than two weeks ago. The trout bite was slow this 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 work well, especially with small flashers. The boat ramp at Stewart State Park now is 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 was good this past week near the resort, with catches of trout and perch.

FISH - The ice has thickened well, and ice fishing is very good near the Forest Service ramp and near the resort. A brown trout of more than 4 pounds was caught this past week through the ice.

WILLOW - Trolling slowly with various types of lures or even wind-drifting has proven to be good for rainbow trout for the few anglers going after them here. The lake is usually above the air inversions and clear even when Medford sees cloudy days. Access to the county boat ramp is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

ROGUE - Winter steelhead are spread throughout the entire river, and anglers riverwide have catching fresh winter steelhead in spite of low, cold flows. With flows down in the upper Rogue and good schools of winter steelhead moving through the lower Grants Pass area, the best bet for the weekend appears to be the middle Rogue.

Wednesday was a dynamite day to be at Griffin Park, where bank and boat anglers jumped a nice pod of winter steelhead, likely bound for the Applegate River. Bankies casting tiny pieces of roe and yarn flies did well, as did those using worms and watermelon corkies. Boat anglers side-drifting yarn flies or using K-11 Kwikfish plugs did well, too. Elsewhere in the middle Rogue, the Whitehorse Park area and the Galice area all fished fairly well this past week. But the issue will be whether the dropping water drops too much. Flows at Grants Pass were a paltry 2,100 cfs, and that's not trending well.

In the upper Rogue, winter steelhead fishing has been a bit erratic, with anglers working everyplace from the Hatchery Hole down past the old Gold Ray Dam site. Bankies are getting fish side-drifting yarn flies or tossing Blue Fox spinners. A few new side-planers using K-11 Kwikfish have popped up near the Gold Ray Dam area, as well. Driftboat anglers are doing about as well side-drifting yarn balls, roe or worms and corkies as they are using plugs like K-11 Kwikfish. The deeper, slower runs seem to be holding steelhead best. However, flows are becoming an issue for the upper Rogue.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is dropping the outflows at Lost Creek Dam to 900 cfs today. Flows Thursday at Gold Ray Dam were barely above 1,800 cfs, and that will make the upper Rogue pretty skinny for February.

The lower Rogue saw few fresh steelhead moving into the lower 15 miles of the river, where catches were equally poor from the bank and boats. Even so, the Agness area continued to fish fairly well with K-11 Kwikfish, WeeWarts and crayfish patterns with bigger lips.

Anglers riverwide can 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 - It looks like somewhat poor conditions until Monday, when flows should start to drop after rising Sunday. The out-flows at Applegate Dam were shaved in half to 100 cfs today, and that won't help much. The lower river still has the most steelhead, but most are in deeper pools or in runs under overhanging brush, making them tough to target.

Fly-fishing single-egg patterns and larger streamers should be fair, and those casting spinners or spoons should find steelhead, as well.

All wild steelhead must be released unharmed, and there is no fishing from a floating device.

UMPQUA - The South Umpqua had been fishing quite well for winter steelhead but conditions have fallen off largely because of flows. The flows at Tiller were a paltry 695 cfs, with flows at Roseburg up to 2,009 cfs. Fishing for winter steelhead remains best on the lower stretch.

The North Umpqua has dropped off for winter steelhead along the lower end.

The mainstem Umpqua has been one of the better winter steelhead fisheries so far this season, but it could use some more water. Flows at Elkton, however, were at 5,600 cfs Thursday. A mix of side-drifting yarn flies or roe and plugs was working well.

All wild steelhead must be released basin-wide. The South Fork has the most hatchery fish, with a few strays in the lower North Umpqua.

CHETCO - Water conditions were low and clear, and that has driftboaters using 8-pound leader and No. 4 hooks with super-tiny piece of roe and corkies. The steelhead are spread out riverwide, but they're in deep holes or beneath choppy water. 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 as water conditions dropped. No bait is allowed. Anglers may keep one wild steelhead a day and five per year.

ELK/SIXES - Both rivers are low and clear, and fishing for winter steelhead is tough in those conditions.