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Fishing Report: Dec. 7, 2012

COASTWIDE - Stiff winds and choppy seas are forecast into early next week, but no small-craft warnings have been issued. Today's morning chop looks doable, but then two weak fronts will move in and churn up the near-shore waters.

The ocean is now open to sport crabbing, but the commercial season has been delayed until Dec. 15 to ensure good meat quality in the Dungeness.

The marine aggregate limit in Oregon is seven rockfish a day, and no cabezon may be kept for the rest of 2012. The lingcod limit is two a day with a 22-inch minimum, and that is separate from the marine aggregate.

Dungeness crab catches have plummeted this week because of heavy influxes of fresh water into bays. Look for poor bay crabbing conditions well into next week.

GOLD BEACH - Rain and wind have blown away the bay fishery, as well as the stretches upriver of the estuary, for now. Perch fishing has been poor.

BROOKINGS - Bay effort is nonexistent because of high water levels in the Chetco River.

AGATE - Trout-fishing effort has slowed dramatically amid murky water conditions from recent inflows. Some of October's stocking of 1,000 legal-sized and 100 larger rainbow trout still are available. Catching will be best still-fishing with worms or PowerBait. The lake level has more than doubled to 59 percent full. Fish spinner baits or plastic worms for bass during the middle of the day. No gas motors are allowed. Small electric motors are legal. The lake is open year-round.

APPLEGATE - Heavy inflows are starting to abate, and fishing should resume once the reservoir stabilizes after two weeks of persistent rains. Fishing pressure is very light, with a few anglers still targeting what's left of the 1,000 legals and 200 larger rainbow trout stocked there last month. Trolling Wedding Rings or Triple Teasers with a piece of worm is working well. PowerBait or wind-drifting worms also are good bets. Bass fishing is slow. The Copper ramp is no longer usable, and Hart-Tish Park is closed.

DIAMOND - The lake closed Oct. 31 but will reopen Jan. 1 under new rules that make the lake a year-round fishery.

EMIGRANT - Fish are more concentrated with the low water levels. Smallmouth bass fishing is best off rocky banks, and a few largemouth have been taken in the willows. The lake is up to 37 percent full. The lake is open year-round.

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

EXPO - Fishing and interest have waned now that anglers have picked through most of the fall stocking of 500 legal-sized and 100 larger trout. Catch what's left of them on worms under bobbers or small Panther Martin lures. The limit is five trout per day with only one over 20 inches. The pond is open year-round.

FISH - Trolling for trout was fair at best with Triple Teasers or other lures spiked with a piece of worm. A few big rainbows are available, as well as legal-sized chinook. For bank anglers, chartreuse PowerBait should work near the resort and Forest Service boat ramp. The lake is open year-round. It was listed Thursday at 57 percent full, up 5 percent in the past week. The lake is open year-round.

HOWARD PRAIRIE - Fishing is closed until April.

HYATT - Fishing is closed until April.

LAKE of the WOODS - Fishing for rainbow and brown trout has been fair near the resort. PowerBait has been the top choice. Evening fishing has been best. The lake is open year-round.

LOST CREEK - A persistent advisory against water contact at the lake has kept most anglers away. Those who fish there are encouraged to practice catch-and-release fishing until the blue-green algae advisory is lifted. The lake was up to more than two feet above minimum pool this week.

ROGUE - Post-storm woes have hit the Rogue River, meaning anglers will battle dirty tributary water and heavy water releases from Lost Creek Lake into next week, leaving most fishing opportunities limited riverwide for now.

The best bet is the stretch of the upper Rogue from Cole Rivers Hatchery down to Casey State Park. That's where the only clean water will be today as tributary flows ebb. And it won't get much better anytime soon.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday started ramping up its outflows into the upper Rogue to 5,000 cubic feet per second. That's enough by itself to render most summer steelhead waters too high for fishing. At least the water is clear, and that will help improve turbidity levels as the water drops into shape.

Driftboaters are reminded that the Hatchery Hole is off-limits to boat fishing. That leaves the Sand Hole and the old Bridge Hole as the two best places to look for late-season summer steelhead. There will be a mix of spawned-out summer steelhead and big pre-spawn fish that had dominated the catch just before the storms hit. Plug fishing had been very good, with side-drifted black jigs under bobbers also working well. When fishing high water, focus on tailouts and slower water closer to shore. Flows upstream of Dodge Bridge likely won't get below 7,000 cfs through the weekend, and that makes float trips somewhat problematic there. It only gets worse the farther downstream you go. And that's too bad.

Hordes of summer steelhead have shot into Cole Rivers Hatchery collection ponds when storm waters have dropped significantly. This past week's high waters also prevented the release of a few hundred retread summer steelhead at TouVelle State Park.

In the middle Rogue, there are some slower stretches that can fish very well for late-run summer steelhead and early winter steelhead at 6,000 cfs, but that likely won't happen until some time early next week. Another dry period is forecast, but anglers won't see significantly lower flows until the Corps shaves off enough of the captured inflow. Even Thursday, as releases kicked up to 5,000 cfs, the inflows at the reservoir were around 8,000 cfs. The reservoir has risen close to 20 feet since the first of the storms hit, and it could take a while to get back to that minimum-pool level normally reached during December flood-control periods.

When the middle Rogue does pull into shape, look for fresh winter steelhead downstream of the mouth of the Applegate, as well as at Galice-area favorites such as Ennis Riffle and Grave Creek from the mouth of the creek down to the break. Side-drifting roe and corkies will be the ticket for driftboaters, while plunkers and side-planers using large Spin-Glo's and K-11 Kwikfish will likely get the first winter steelhead action in water 4- to 6-feet deep along the inside turns of gravel bars.

Plunkers will start working the lower Rogue gravel bars next week, and they can expect to see plenty of winter steelhead once conditions remedy themselves. Agness flows exceeded 50,000 cfs earlier this week, coming a few feet from minor flooding levels before dropping rapidly. Flows still remain high, and turbidity is a significant downer today.

So watch for yo-yo-ing flows, with dropping water levels far more fish-friendly than rising levels. Only fin-clipped halfpounders, fin-clipped cohos and fin-clipped adult summer steelhead may be kept, but the stretch is open to retention of wild fall chinook. Any steelhead under 16 inches long is considered a halfpounder.

All wild steelhead must be released unharmed riverwide.

UMPQUA - The mainstem, South and North Umpquas all are up and way out of shape for fishing for the foreseeable future. When the rivers drop and clear, look for some very good early winter steelhead fishing in the lower South Umpqua on roe and plugs for driftboaters, spinners and Spin-Glo's for bank anglers.

COOS - The river was rising rapidly Thursday and is likely out of shape for winter steelhead fishing into next week.

COQUILLE - The river was over its banks earlier this week and is likely out of fishing shape into next week. When it recedes, look for fresh winter steelhead through the South Fork and West Fork.

CHETCO - The river was at more than 11,000 cfs Thursday afternoon but was dropping quickly and could very well be in good shape for high-water winter steelhead fishing this weekend. Boat fishermen will do best with plugs in migration lanes from the forks on down to tidewater. Plunkers will also do well in about 4 feet of water, but make sure you move out every few hours because of continued dropping water levels.