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Fishing Report: Jan. 3, 2014

COASTWIDE - Forecasts call for 20-knot winds and choppy seas today, but then the ocean is predicted to lay down for what appears to be a very good weekend for bottomfishing along near-shore reefs for lingcod and black rockfish.

Just make sure to release those cabezons, because the rules have changed now that it's 2014.

For clammers, there are some nice evening minus tides today and Saturday, but they are well after dark when clamming is not encouraged because of the potential for sneaker waves in the dark.

Mussel harvest is closed from Cape Arago south to the California border, while razor clam digging is open along the entire coast.

The halibut season for all of Oregon is closed. Ocean chinook salmon fishing is also closed coastwide.

The marine aggregate limit in Oregon is seven rockfish a day. The lingcod limit is two a day with a 22-inch minimum, and that is separate from the marine aggregate.

Bay crabbing has remained steady in the Coquille and Coos bays because dry weather has kept salinity levels high. In Coos Bay, the best crabbing is along the North Spit. Recreational ocean crabbing is open but effort since the Dec. 1 opening has been light. Commercial crabbing now is open off the Oregon coast.

BROOKINGS - Ocean salmon fishing is closed. Jigging for black and blue rockfish as well as lingcod has been very good when anglers have been able to sneak outside of the estuary. This weekend should provide a good opportunity for that. Consider hitting near-shore reefs early Saturday and Sunday when pretty flat seas are forecast.

GOLD BEACH - The bay fishery is over. Surfperch fishing has been slow.

AGATE - The lake still has a few holdovers from the fall stocking of legal-sized and larger rainbow trout, and anglers have caught a few of them wind-drifting worms or casting spinners. Trolling is slow. Fishing for largemouth bass and crappie has been slow and will remain slow through winter, particularly during cold snaps. The lake is holding steady at 13 percent full. No gas motors are allowed. Small electric motors are legal.

APPLEGATE - The lake's boat ramps are all exposed and unusable because of extremely low water conditions. The lake is about 22 feet shy of normal low pool. Bank fishing is poor because the banks are steep and wind waves are creating muddy shores. Look for fishing to improve after the reservoir rises about 10 feet so the French Gulch ramp can be usable.

DIAMOND - The lake now sports about 5 inches of ice and the ice-fishing season has been good, with most of the activity straight off the Diamond Lake Resort marina. Worms dangled a few feet below the ice is a good place to start, then work your way down until you find the depth. PowerBait off the bottom works well, but it's tough to keep it from tangling in your leader. Most of the rainbows are 12 to 16 inches long, and last year's fingerlings are longer than 10 inches. The limit is eight trout per day over 8 inches, but only one can be longer than 20 inches. The lake is open year-round.

EMIGRANT - Bass fishing has been slow, and the prognosis looks very poor amid low and cold water conditions. Trout fishing is also slow. Try small spinners, worms and streamer flies. The lake has dropped to 22 percent full, which is just below the normal low pool. Trout are scattered and effort has been nearly nonexistent during recent cold weather.

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

EXPO - Fishing for stocked trout has been slow, with little effort despite the recent influx of legal-sized trout. Fish them with worms, small spinners or streamer flies.

FISH - The lake is iced over, and fishing for trout and chinook salmon is fair to good with worms under the ice near the Forest Service boat ramp and the resort. A few tiger trout will get caught this winter, and they must be released unharmed. The chinook are legally considered trout and can be kept as part of the five-trout daily limit.

HOWARD PRAIRIE - The lake is closed.

HYATT - The lake is closed.

LEMOLO - Lemolo is closed until spring to fishing.

LOST CREEK - The lake is no longer under a blue-green algae advisory. The Takelma boat ramp near the dam is open and accessible, but the water level is too low for effective use of the marina ramps. The lake is hovering about 3 feet below the regular low-water elevation of 1,812 feet above sea level, and the surface temperature has stayed at 43 degrees — that's about as cold as it can get. Look for good trolling with Wedding Ring lures and worms along the dam's face, near the intake tower and directly across from the marina. Vary your depths.

WILLOW - The lake is open to fishing but it's getting little use.

ROGUE - The broken-record mantra of "need rain to fish" will continue another week, but the first real rain of winter is forecast to swell area streams next weekend. That hopefully will get winter steelhead moving into the valley and get the fishing report to wax on positively about the upcoming fishery.

Until then, it's the same-old, same-old for the Rogue.

The upper Rogue River continues to kick out a few summer steelhead for driftboat anglers, but only the occasional one is bright. Some spawned-out fish have been showing up in the catches, as well.

The middle Rogue remains even slower than spotty for summer steelhead thanks to low and cold water conditions, with no sign of the early-run winter steelhead that occasionally show by now. The lower Rogue is seeing a few winter steelhead caught by anglers side-drifting roe, but the low, clear and cold water conditions have kept all but the diehards off the water.

That keeps the best bet on the upper Rogue, but only for those looking to kick off 2014 with a picture of a relatively dark summer steelhead.

The cold weather has broken, but the water remains very low and cold, seriously hampering steelhead migration.

New Year's Day lifted the artificial flies and lures restriction for the upper Rogue downstream of the Shady Cove boat ramp, so bait fishing is now legal riverwide for steelhead. Most anglers prefer side-drifting eggs or yarn flies for late-run summer steelhead and early-run winter steelhead, but it's just summer steelhead here for now.

Flows have dropped even lower thanks to another stretch of no rain and no stepped-up water releases from Lost Creek Lake. Flows at Dodge Bridge dropped this past week to 1,310 cubic feet per second. Flows also were down slightly to 1,556 cfs at the old Gold Ray Dam site. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to hold its releases at 1,150 cfs into next week.

All wild steelhead must be released unharmed upstream of the Hog Creek boat ramp, so lower Rogue anglers can keep one wild steelhead a day that is at least 24 inches long. All wild coho must be released unharmed riverwide.

In the middle Rogue, a few optimistic steelheaders are using a mix of flies, bait, Panther Martin lures and crayfish plugs to catch an occasional summer steelhead, but action is extremely slow. With no early winter steelhead around, most of the catches are dark or spawned-out wild steelhead that should be handled delicately. Flows at Grants Pass were down even more to 1,556 cfs, but that's still brutally low for January.

The Agness area has remained very slow for halfpounders, despite low-flow conditions that usually help halfpounder catches. Flows at Agness were down to 1,823 cfs Thursday, which is ideal for swinging streamer flies for halfpounders and adult steelhead. That level is almost unheard of for January. The frigid air and water temperatures have kept most anglers away.

A few winter steelhead are being caught downstream of Agness by a handful of anglers side-drifting very small clusters of roe and using 6-pound leader. Rain is seriously needed.

CHETCO - Water conditions continue to be extremely low and cold, with a flow of just 294 cfs of water Thursday. That's a new all-time low mark for Jan. 2. A small spike in flow is anticipated midweek next week, but no significant rain is predicted until next weekend.

ELK - Very low and cold water conditions have slowed early winter steelhead and late fall chinook fishing effort to virtually nothing. For the past two weeks, the water has remained gin clear in the low 40s at Elk River Hatchery. The river can't get much colder than that. When the rains resume, look for winter steelhead to be well spread out and late fall chinook fishing to be over for the season.

SIXES - The river was super low and super clear and super poor for fall chinook fishing.

APPLEGATE - The river is open for winter steelhead fishing, but the low and cold flows plus the lack of winter steelhead has interest very low.

COQUILLE - A few winter steelhead were being caught around Coquille before the extremely cold conditions hit.