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Fishing Report: March 22, 2013

COASTWIDE - Today's stiff winds are forecast to drop from 20 knots to 10 knots Saturday, with swells starting to calm in the morning but building as the early afternoon winds pick up again.

Jigging for big lingcod has been excellent this past week as many coast anglers have turned away from late-run winter steelhead for some time on the ocean. Near-shore ling fishing has been very good at Brookings and Gold Beach, with black, white and red jigs working best.

The marine aggregate limit in Oregon is seven rockfish a day. No cabezon may be kept until July. The lingcod limit is two a day with a 22-inch minimum, and that is separate from the marine aggregate.

The ocean is open to sport and commercial crabbing, and sport crabbers are starting to take advantage of the calmer waters by dropping a few crab pots on the way to bottomfishing reefs. Meat content is a bit light in March. Look for bay crabbing to pick up this weekend in Coos Bay and the Coquille River bay at Bandon.

Mussel harvesting is open along the entire Oregon Coast. All other shellfish harvesting is open statewide, as well. Eating whole, recreationally harvested scallops is not recommended, however. Coastal scallops are not affected by toxin closures when only the adductor muscle is eaten. If you don't know what an adductor muscle is, don't eat scallops.

BROOKINGS - Ocean jigging has been excellent for big lingcod and rockfish at near-shore rocks along kelp lines. Anglers have even reported catching several chinook salmon accidentally while jigging for lings. They must be released.

GOLD BEACH - Surfperch fishing really picked up amid favorable surf conditions at Nesika Beach this past week, with surf anglers casting sandshrimp, scented rubber crayfish and clam necks for some nice redtails. Fish both sides of the high tide, with the last hour of the incoming tide often best. Keep your eyes open for sneaker waves.

AGATE - Last month, 1,000 legal-sized and 100 larger rainbow trout were planted at the boat ramp. The water is murky, so fish for them with something they can smell, such as worms or PowerBait. Most of the action will be around the ramp. The lake is 91 percent full. No gas motors are allowed. Small electric motors are legal. The lake is open year-round.

APPLEGATE - Trout fishing has been slow, and water temperatures continue to be cold. A few anglers are targeting what's left of the 1,000 legals and 200 larger rainbow trout stocked there in January. Try trolling Wedding Rings or Triple Teasers with a piece of worm. Floating PowerBait or wind-drifting worms are also good bets. Bass fishing is slow. No winter steelhead have been released yet into the lake, but releases are planned for the end of March and perhaps early April after the Applegate River season closes. The Copper ramp is unusable, and Hart-Tish Park is closed. French Gulch is open.

DIAMOND - The lake is open for ice fishing, and it sports a 5-inch sheet of ice covered with 14 inches of snow. Most of the action is near the resort because that area has the best access. Catches have been best in about 20 feet of water. Anglers are either dangling worms less than 10 feet below the ice or fishing PowerBait off the bottom. Some are doing well with white or pink jigs. Last summer's fingerlings are now more than 8 inches long, but most of the rainbows being caught are 12 to 16 inches long. Show caution when on the ice. The lake is open year-round.

EMIGRANT - The lake was infused this week with its first 3,500 legal-sized rainbows of the season, and they were all stocked at the county park boat ramps. Look for those fish to mill around there through the weekend. Try for them with flies, worms, small spinners and PowerBait. A few of the 351 adult summer steelhead released into the lake from Cole Rivers Hatchery are still garnering interest among anglers near creek mouths. They are legally considered rainbow trout, so no steelhead tag is necessary. Anglers can keep just one longer than 20 inches per day. Try small spinners, worms and streamer flies. The water is murky and the lake is almost two-thirds 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 - The pond received its first 1,400 legal-sized rainbow trout of the season two weeks ago, and interest among anglers has followed. Catches are best on worms, PowerBait, small Panther Martin lures and streamer flies. The pond is open year-round.

FISH - Ice fishing near the resort and off the Forest Service boat ramp has been good with jigs, worms and PowerBait. The ice is firm. All tiger trout must be released unharmed. The lake was listed Thursday at 62 percent full. The lake is open year-round.

HOWARD PRAIRIE, HYATT and LEMOLO - Fishing is closed until April.

LAKE OF THE WOODS - The lake is frozen, but ice fishing is slow.

LOST CREEK - A handful of anglers are taking advantage of recent balmy weather to troll near the dam, where they are finding a mixture of holdover trout as well as part of the 25,000 legal-sized rainbows stocked there this week. The stocking occurred at the two boat ramps, so fishing is best around them. Anglers also are running into schools of small spring chinook stocked there. The chinook are undersized and should be handled as little as possible. Bank anglers are doing best with PowerBait, while trollers are using Wedding Rings with worms or Triple Teasers. The lake's surface elevation is up another 4 feet this week to 1,853 feet above sea level, or 19 feet from full. The surface temperature dropped to 47 degrees after peaking last week at 50 degrees.

ROGUE - This week's rains have raised and colored the river enough to get spring chinook and winter steelhead on the move, bending rods from the Hatchery Hole down to the top of tidewater.

That puts the best bet where it usually belongs in March — along the middle Rogue, where steelhead numbers are best and some early spring chinook are getting anglers antsy for a good springer run.

Decent schools of winter fish bound for the Applegate River and other Rogue tributaries are spread throughout the canyon waters from Galice to Grave Creek, where driftboaters have been doing better for steelhead than anyone else on the river the past week. Side-drifting roe or small yarn balls works best.

Bank anglers working places such as Chair Riffle with sideplaners, and drift anglers using worms and corkies at Ennis Riffle, are finding steelhead, but the catch is light.

The Lathrop's Landing to Robertson Bridge stretch also has gotten worse for bank and boat anglers targeting steelhead headed for the Applegate because the flows at Grants Pass were down to a summer-range of 2,100 cubic feet per second Wednesday. They're forecast to peak early this morning at around 5,200 cfs before dropping steadily through the weekend. That should greatly improve the bite.

Flows in the lower Rogue at Agness ramped up to about 7,500 cfs and will start to drop today, triggering what should be the first good weekend of spring chinook fishing. Boat anglers anchored in migration lanes should spin anchovies with Rogue blade rigs.

Bankies working places such as Huntley Park should get some action on large Spin-Glo's. Focus on migration lanes in water 4- to 8-feet deep.

In the upper Rogue, rains have added enough color, warmth and flow to the river to get a robust steelhead bite going on. A few spring chinook have been rolling in holes the past week, but catches of them so far have been very light despite the first chinook of the year getting caught March 7 at the Hatchery Hole. None have reached the hatchery collection pond yet.

The river is open to the harvest of wild steelhead riverwide, with anglers allowed to keep one wild steelhead longer than 24 inches a day, and no more than five a year. Only fin-clipped hatchery springers can be kept.

CHETCO - Late-run winter steelhead fishing this weekend will be a mix of spawned-out kelts and a few large, late-run fish that have already colored up. Side-drifting roe will work best.

APPLEGATE - Water conditions will improve with this week's rains, and steelhead fishing should turn on. Flows will drop through the weekend, enticing steelhead to migrate and fill each section of the river. No wild steelhead may be kept, and no fishing from a floating device is allowed.

ElK - The river is forecast to crest today for some decent late-run winter steelhead fishing, but effort likely will be light through the weekend.