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Mail Tribune fishing report March 22, 2019

OCEAN OUTLOOK

COASTWIDE: Friday winds will climb to 25 knots, triggering a gale warning that will stay in effect through Friday afternoon before the winds drops to 10 knots amid rain. Wind waves will built from 7 feet in the morning to 10 feet in the afternoon. Saturday’s forecast calls for winds to die down to 10 knots but see a swell that starts at 10 feet and climbs to 13 feet with showers by late evening. Sunday’s forecast calls for winds dying down to 5 knots and swells dropping to 9 feet.

The marine aggregate rockfish daily limit for bottomfishers is five fish. Cabezon must be released unharmed until summer. Rockfish angling is open beyond the 30-fathom line. A descending device to help release rockfish caught in deeper water is mandatory on all boats.

Lingcod are done spawning, and males are guarding egg nests. They are aggressive and will take most jigs or frozen sardines. Fishing is very good when anglers can get out, particularly around rock piles and kelp beds.

Surfperch fishing has been very good at some south coast beaches when the surf abates, and some of the bigger redfin perch are starting to show. Nesika and Winchuck beaches have been the most consistent. Try casting Berkly Gulp sandshrimp, sand worms or prawns.

Recreational crabbing is closed from Bandon to the California border because of elevated domoic acid levels. The ban includes bays and estuaries. Bay crabbing has been good to very good in Charleston, with lots of red rock crabs in the catch.

A couple decent morning minus tides are coming Saturday and Sunday, then some good lows through Wednesday for clammers, where applicable.

Razor clamming is closed from Cape Blanco to the California border due to domoic acid levels. Also now closed are beaches from the Columbia River down to Tillamook Head, including Clatsop beaches, because of elevated levels of domoic acid. Bay clamming is open along the coast. Before digging, call the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474.

LAKE OUTLOOK

AGATE: The lake is listed at 97 percent full. However, the runoff into the reservoir has been very muddy, and visibility is poor, which makes fishing difficult. The water is warming and crappie fishing should be improving with jigs near submerged willows. No new rainbow trout have been stocked there yet this spring. The ramp is open. No gas motors are allowed. Electric trolling motors are OK. The park closes at dusk.

APPLEGATE: The lake was fishing fairly well for anglers trolling Wedding Ring lures spiced with a piece of worm or just a worm behind a flasher. Also, some fishing with PowerBait from the bank has been good along the lake’s back side. The lake’s surface temperature is up to 48 degrees. The lake level is now about 36 feet from full. The low-water boat ramp at French Gulch is usable. The Copper ramp is now usable. The Hart-Tish Park ramp won’t open until the concessionaire returns this spring.

DIAMOND: Ice fishing has remained good, with anglers spread out between the south end near the pizza parlor and straight out from the resort. The recent warm weather, however, is starting to erode the ice and the blanket of snow protecting ice from the sun has waned. Worms and small jigs, and chartreuse-garlic PowerBait have worked well. Vary depths until you get into the rainbows.

EMIGRANT: The lake is up to 62 percent full and growing, with visibility improving. Few anglers are venturing to the lake edge near the county park. Bass fishing should start improving with warmer weather. Focus on rock outcroppings and submerged willows. Expect trout fishing to improve this weekend after Wednesday’s release of 1,000 legal-sized rainbows at the county ramp. The far boat ramp closest to the RV park is open. There is no driving below the high-water line along the bank.

EXPO: The pond received its first stocking of the season two weeks ago, and what’s left of the 1,500 legal-sized rainbow trout are biting worms, PowerBait and small spinners. The occasional bass or panfish has been caught, but that should improve as water temperatures warm. Parking fees are enforced.

FISH: Ice fishing has been good but conditions are starting to deteriorate, with a coat of water and slush on top. Fishing had been good over the springs near the resort and off the Forest Service boat ramp, where a sno-park permit is needed to park. Worms, jigs and rainbow PowerBait are popular. Water levels were up to 49 percent of full. All tiger trout must be released unharmed, but catches of them have been rare through the ice.

HOWARD PRAIRIE: The lake is iced over and starting to melt. Winter ice fishing had been good near the dam. Worms and small jigs were working best. The lake was holdingsteady this week at 28 percent full.

HYATT: Ice fishing has been good, with a mix of trout and bass being caught largely on worms. Trout also are hitting small jigs. The lake was listed Thursday at 19 percent full.

LAKE OF THE WOODS: The ice is still about 20 inches thick but warm weather has made the top very mushy and wet, and that has chased some ice fishers away. Anglers are catching yellow perch and the occasional trout or kokanee farther away from the resort. Rainbows are biting worms in the top 8 feet of the water column.

LOST CREEK: The lake on Wednesday received 20,000 rainbows split between both boat ramps, and that has jump-started interest in spring fishing just before spring break. Both boat ramps are open. Most angling activity is occurring near the dam and the Takelma ramp. Fishing has been good for those trolling Wedding Ring lures spiced with a worm. Some are also using small flashers. The lake has crept up to less than 18 feet from full, but expect inflows to start going up again as warm weather increases snowmelt. Inflows are about twice that of the outflows, which have held steady at 1,050 cfs, and that appears to be on course at least through the weekend.

WILLOW: The lake is open, and angling activity is very light. But that should change with the stocking of 4,000 rainbow trout this past week at the county ramp. Fish them with worms and PowerBait while they get acclimated.

SELMAC: Bass fishing is poor but should improve as weather and water conditions warm.

RIVER OUTLOOK

ROGUE: The lower Rogue is starting to turn on for early spring chinook salmon for both boat and bank anglers, while the middle Rogue also has turned on for winter steelhead on both sides of Grants Pass. The upper Rogue still getting fresh and very late winter steelhead, but early spring chinook showings have slowed, while the middle Rogue has been improving almost daily for late-run winter steelhead. The upper Rogue has picked up a hair for winter steelhead, but migration has slowed to a point where the return so far to Cole Rivers Hatchery is under the 10-year running average.

That keeps the middle Rogue as the weekend’s best bet, but only because of distance to the lower Rogue and early springers. The middle Rogue has really come alive for winter steelhead from Gold Hill down to Rand. Bankies and boat anglers are doing best with night crawlers drifted through deeper steelhead runs. Places like Matson Park, Ennis Riffle and the mouth of the Applegate River have been consistently productive. Some plug anglers are also finding success on Mag Lip 3.0s, mostly light colors and chrome because the water remains quite clear. Flows at Grants Pass were up to 3,845 cfs Thursday and forecast to drop Saturday but spike again Sunday and that should turn off the bite.

In the lower Rogue, a good spring chinook bite has occurred from the top of tidewater all the way to Agness as the early showing for springers has been strong. Bankies and boat anglers are doing equally well, with pearl-pink and cop car Spin-Glo’s doing well for plunkers and Brad’s cut-plug baits working for boat anglers anchored in migration lanes. A fair number of hatchery fish have been caught. All wild springers must be released unharmed. Flows at flows at Agness dropped under 8,000 cfs Thursday and will drop more than 1,000 cfs more through Saturday before another rise in flows beginning some time Sunday. Winter steelhead are also getting caught, but the majority of anglers have switched focus to springers.

Upper Rogue winter steelheading continues to be somewhat underwhelming, largely because the run is so late this year after a fast January start. The latest counts from Cole Rivers Hatchery collection were not available early Thursday afternoon, but the count has been lagging behind the 10-year running average. Bank anglers will be fishing roe, worms and watermelon corkies or yarn balls soaked in egg juice. Boat anglers are fishing a mix of offerings, with roe out-producing plugs thanks largely to the cold water. No spring chinook catches have been reported.

Flows at Dodge Bridge were down under 2,200 cfs Thursday and forecast to bounce up and down all week. Flows at the old Gold Ray Dam site were down to 3,181 cfs and are forecast to rise again beginning some time Sunday if the rain develops as forecasted. Anglers riverwide may keep one wild steelhead at least 24 inches long a day and up to three a year now.

APPLEGATE: The river is fishing better for winter steelhead from Fish Hatchery Park on down, Cast pink rubber worms, pink jigs, egg flies or worms and watermelon corkies. However, just one winter steelhead has made it to the trap at the base of Applegate Dam, and that’s a surprise for this time of year. Fish with spoons, Blue Fox spinners, worms and corkies, and egg flies or large leeches. Flows at Applegate were at 382 cfs Thursday and 812 cfs at Wilderville.

No wild steelhead may be kept on the Applegate, and there is no fishing from a floating device. All cutthroat must be released. Rainbow trout longer than 16 inches are considered steelhead.

CHETCO: The river dropped to 1,4844 cfs Thursday and was forecast to spike a bit beginning Sunday. Late-run winter steelhead catches have been good, with steelhead distributed river-wide.

ELK AND SIXES: Both rivers were dropping and clearing, but the next rain should generate a spike in winter steelhead catches. Lots of fish present this year. Water levels were at 3.4 feet and clear Thursday at the Elk River Hatchery, with the water temperature at 49 degrees.

A redband rainbow trout fell for a golden stone fly imitation on the Metolius River near Camp Sherman.