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Mail Tribune Fishing Report, Feb. 19, 2021

OCEAN OUTLOOK

COASTWIDE: A small-craft advisory is in effect ended Thursday night, but Friday’s forecast is still a bit rough. The forecast calls for winds up to 5 knots, a West swell that will hit 8 feet and showers. That’s followed Saturday by winds up to 10 knots and the swell growing to 10 feet with a late chance of showers. Sunday calls for much of the same.

The general marine bag limit is six fish in aggregate. Anglers must release all copper, quillback and China rockfish when fishing from a boat. Boat anglers can not keep cabezon until July 1. The lingcod limit is two fish over 22 inches.

Surfperch fishing was slow this week as rough seas continue to pushed fish off the beach.

Recreational crabbing is open coastwide.

Razor clamming is closed along the entire Oregon Coast. Bay clamming is open on the south coast. Afternoon minus tides are forecast Sunday and should be good for clammers through at least Wednesday. Friday and Saturday minus tides will occur after sunset. Be very careful of sneaker waves. Before digging, call the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474.

LAKE OUTLOOK

AGATE: The lake is 46% full and extremely turbid. Electric trolling motors are OK. The park closes at dusk.

APPLEGATE: The lake last received rainbow trout in July. The Hart Tish Park boat ramp and dock are closed, but the low-water access at French Gulch and Copper are open. Fish for rainbows with PowerBait or worms from the bank or slowly troll Tasmanian Devil lures spiced with a piece of worm. Bass fishing on nice days has been fair with plastic worms and grubs fished slowly off the bottom along rocky points and flats. The reservoir was 85 feet from full Thursday. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has held water releases at 200 cfs as it begins to fill the reservoir.

DIAMOND: The lake has a combination of hard ice, slush and snow. Ice fishermen are hitting the area near the resort as well as the south end. Worms dangled about 5 feet under the ice is a good first bet for those who choose to venture onto the ice.

EMIGRANT: The lake is 7% full and still of no real use to boaters and anglers. No trout stocking is planned until spring.

EXPO: The pond hasn’t been stocked with trout since last June. Some bass and panfish are available. Parking fees are required.

FISH: Ice fishing has been fair off the Forest Service ramp and around the resort. Fish around the springs if you can find them. That’s where the rainbows are hovering. All tiger trout must be released. The lake was listed Thursday at 40% full.

HOWARD PRAIRIE: The lake is holding steady at 9% of capacity with no usable boat ramps and very little interest from anglers other than from the bank near the dam. The ice is not safe for ice fishing.

HYATT: The lake is at 11 of capacity, with some ice fishing occurring near the dam, but there is some soft ice and open water along the shore. Snow is forecast through the weekend. Be careful.

LAKE OF THE WOODS: Some ice fishing is occurring right off the resort ramp area. Catches have been very good for perch, with the occasional nice rainbow trout. Worms and small jigs are working best. Augers and snow shelters are available for rent at the resort.

LOST CREEK: The lake last received legal-sized and trophy trout in October, and anglers are still catching them on the lower end of the lake. The boat ramp at the Takelma day-use area is open, while the marina is closed. Fish near the Taklema area and near the dam trolling worms behind flashers. Wind-drifting worms above Peyton Bridge has been good, but remember the no-wake boating rules. The lake was listed Thursday at about 11 feet above the normal bottom pool and filling at the best rate so far this season. Outflows are stable at 1,100 cfs.

WILLOW: The lake is open, but fishing pressure is very light.

SELMAC: The last was stocked last week with 5,000 legal-sized rainbow trout for the spring fishery. For trout, fish with worms or PowerBait.

MEDCO: Ice is forming but there is some open water.

RIVER OUTLOOK

ROGUE: The heavy rains forecast through Saturday could be the blessing or the curse that winter steelhead anglers have been awaiting river-wide, as the storm is expected to rise the Rogue enough to get winter steelhead significantly on the move...if they’re here.

The best bet will be the middle Rogue, as this is prime time to fish the waters from Merlin to Galice either with bait or plugs from boats or corkies cast from the bank or plugs fished off side-planers along the bottoms of gravel bars.

Flows and turbidity will be the driving issues. Flows are forecast to climb to around 7,000 cfs by Saturday before starting to drop Sunday. That could make Sunday good and early next week very good as steelhead should continue to move. Turbidity levels at Grants Pass really should be under 13 NTUs for decent success. The level was 7 NTUs Thursday.

For plugs, use MagLip 3.5s or 3.0s, with Misty River colors as well as gold, black and chartreuse.

The upper Rogue is rising and already it has drawn the first 25 winter steelhead into the Cole Rivers Hatchery trap. That’s a bit late but that is based on past low and cold flows and not necessarily steelhead numbers this year. Flows at Dodge Bridge were down to 2,200 cfs Thursday low and cold, but forecasts call for flows up to 4,000 cfs Saturday there. Consider just 1,100 cfs is coming out of Lost Creek Lake, expect turbid waters to be a problem.

The entire angler arsenal is available in the upper Rogue now. Plugs, roe, yarn balls soaked in egg juice and even worms with watermelon corkies are all decent bets. Look for fly-fishing to be poor until flows ebb later next week.

In Agness, flows Thursday were at 8,700 cfs and forecast to jump to about 16,000 cfs late Saturday before dropping. That could make for some very good plunking for winter steelhead next week at places like Dunkelberger, Lobster, and Quosatana bars. Fresh fish have been moving in earlier this week so that should bode well for next week. Chartreuse, flame chartreuse and Gray Ghost Spin-Glo’s are the plunkers bait of choice. Still no spring chinook salmon caught so far.

Anglers riverwide can keep one wild winter steelhead a day and no more than three a year. The wild steelhead can be part of the daily two-fish limit, which includes hatchery fish.

APPLEGATE: Fresh winter steelhead were caught recently in the lower sections of the river with roe and spoons. The river opened Jan. 1 and is open through March. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed.

CHETCO: The river was at 4,300 cfs and rising but the forecast are not as troublesome as inland for winter steelhead anglers. Fishing has been a bit sporadic and steelhead are spread out river-wide.

ELK/SIXES: Water levels were in excellent shape for winter steelhead fishing, but catches have remained low due to low numbers of steelhead so far this season.

UMPQUA: The mainstem Umpqua is closed to all retention of wild chinook salmon, including jacks.

Fishing guide Brady Rogers nets a steelhead for Jeff Wilson on the Rogue River near Dodge Bridge. Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune