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Fishing report: Friday, April 15

OCEAN OUTLOOK

COASTWIDE: Friday’s forecast calls for winds to 5 knots and swells to 3 fee. Saturday calls for winds to build up to 10 knots and swells to hang out around 3 feet, plus rain. Sunday’s forecast looks identical to that of Saturday, so that collectively should make for some excellent ocean fishing opportunities for bottomfish through the weekend.

The general marine bag limit is five fish in aggregate, with copper, quillback and China rockfish no longer part of the daily limit for boat anglers. Bank anglers are under a different quota for those species and can still keep them. That includes those fishing off jetties. The lingcod limit is two fish over 22 inches.

Surfperch fishing is likely to be much improved through the weekend amid favorable conditions after nearly two weeks of rough stuff. Look for a good spring bite as they school up near river mouths and the beach for spawning. Sandshrimp and mussels are the best baits, with plastic sand worms and shrimp as secondary choices.

Razor clam digging is closed from Cape Blanco to the California border because of elevated levels of domoic acid in clams. However, the rest of the state, including bays, is open for clamming. A round of evening minus tides begins Wednesday. Before digging, call the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474.

Recreational crabbing is open in the ocean, and catches have been excellent in the ocean and bays such as lower Coos Bay at Charleston. Many Dungeness are starting to get soft shells from molting. Make sure to cull the soft ones because meat amounts are not ideal.

LAKE OUTLOOK

AGATE: The lake got another 3,000 legal-sized trout last month to complement the 1,000 legals released there two weeks earlier. Fishing around the ramp should be good through the weekend on Power Bait, worms or anything that smells like a hatchery food pellet. The lake was at 99% full Thursday, with turbid water. Electric trolling motors are OK. The park closes at dusk.

APPLEGATE: The Hart Tish Park boat ramp and dock are closed due to low water. The French Gulch and Copper ramps are usable. The lake is scheduled to be stocked with rainbow trout next week. Fish for rainbows with PowerBait or worms from the bank or slowly troll Tasmanian Devil lures spiced with a piece of worm. Bass fishing has been fair with plastic worms and grubs fished slowly off the bottom along rocky points and flats on warm days. The lake is filling slowly from poor inflow and is 40 feet below where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prefers it to be on its normal filling schedule. Outflows have been holding steady at 125 cfs.

DIAMOND: The ice is getting slushy and is not safe for venturing onto it. There's about 50 feet of open water in front of the resort, and that's likely it through the weekend. Look for the lake to thaw out by late April.

EMIGRANT: The lake is holding steady at 13% full, with very little angling activity. Some bank fishing for catfish with chicken livers has been reported, as well as some casting with grubs or plastic worms for bass off rocky points on nice days.

EXPO: State wildlife biologists stocked 1,500 legal-sized rainbow trout here again last week, and that should jump-start an April fishery that can get quite popular. Catch them with Panther Martin lures, single salmon eggs or worms under bobbers. Parking fees are required.

FISH: The ice has thawed and fishing for rainbow trout has been fair near springs with PowerBait. The water is cold. The lake was listed Thursday at 41% full.

HOWARD PRAIRIE: The lake is open to angling and is ice-free, but few are taking advantage of it. The lake level was up a hair to 11% full Thursday, and filling extremely slowly. Most action is near the dam access. The lake was stocked with 50,000 fingerling rainbows Oct. 8, and catches of them should be very good with worms and PowerBait as well as small streamers for fly-fishers. Anglers can keep five trout a day, with only one longer than 20 inches.

HYATT: The lake was up to 14% full Thursday and mostly ice-free, with some fishing in the dam area for trout. The limit is five trout a day, with just one over 20 inches. No fingerling trout were stocked last year, so trout numbers are very low. Some warmwater fish like black crappie are showing up in the catch.

LAKE OF THE WOODS: The lake is ice-free and already fishing fairly well for holdover rainbow trout in shallower water. These fish are cruising looking for meals in warmer water. Try PowerBait or small lures that look like minnows.

LOST CREEK: The lake will get a new complement of catchable, legal-sized rainbow trout this week, with stocking started Wednesday at the Takelma ramp. More stocking is planned this week as state fish biologists concentrate on adding more catchable trout to open waters early this year. Bank fish with PowerBait near the Takelma ramp, or at the Medco access point off Highway 62. Wind-drifting worms above Peyton Bridge has been good. The lake Tuesday was 28 feet below the normal level for filling at this time of spring, and that's a bad statistic with less than four weeks left in the normal filling season. Outflows have steadied at a bare minimum 700 cfs.

MEDCO: The lake is ice-free and was stocked last month with 2,000 legal-sized trout. Catch them on PowerBait or worms.

SELMAC: The lake was stocked with 1,000 legal-sized trout again this past week. Fish for them with worms or PowerBait.

WILLOW: The lake received another 2,000 legal-sized rainbow trout late last month, and that means game on for trout fishing with worms and PowerBait near the county boat ramp, where the fish were released.

RIVER OUTLOOK

ROGUE: Winter steelhead fishing has been decent on the upper Rogue amid historically low April flows, while the middle Rogue is seeing catches of spawned-out summer steelhead headed downstream. The lower Rogue has seen a few more spring chinook salmon caught this past week, and a few more are getting caught as they start moving upstream toward the upper Rogue.

But look for everything to change as flows are set to spike early next week for the first time all winter.

The middle Rogue around Galice will remain the best bet for the weekend, but that’s a lukewarm endorsement largely because of conditions that should bounce around through the weekend. Flows at Grants Pass were up to 3,000 cfs Thursday and will drop somewhat until Monday when flows are forecast to start rising there to about 7,200 cfs. That’s the first wash-out time for fishing the middle Rogue has seen since December. And that is with releases from Lost Creek Lake forecast to hold steady at 700 cfs as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers looks to recoup lost water volume in the reservoir.

Slowly drift-fishing roe, soaked yarn balls or pink plastic worms will be best at the heads of pools and in migration riffles. Plug fishing should be OK but in slower water than normal because of the cold temperatures. Lots of spawned-out summer steelhead and a few winter steelhead are in the catch. These all should be released unharmed. If killed, their meat quality is very poor and not worth the loss to the resource.

Flows at Dodge Bridge were up to 1,700 cfs Thursday and forecast to climb to about 3,000 cfs Tuesday. But be wary; past forecasts have been underwhelming. Upper Rogue fishing has been best with plugs and pink plastic worms. Lots of adults are now spawning in the mainstem river and boaters should try to avoid spooking them when passing through shallow steelhead redds.

In the lower Rogue the occasional fresh winter steelhead is getting caught by those plunking with Spin-Glo’s from the bank at places like Huntley Park and the old mill site. But that’s not inspiring. After the first springer of the year three weeks ago, catches have been light for springers.

Steelhead movement into Cole Rivers Fish Hatchery is still very poor due to extremely low flows.

The Hatchery Hole closes to all angling from April 1 to July 31. The Hatchery Hole is permanently closed to all chinook fishing.

The Rogue is closed to trout fishing to protect downstream migrating salmon smolts. They cannot be targeted even for catch-and-release fly-fishing at this time.

APPLEGATE: The river is closed to trout and steelhead fishing.

CHETCO: The river is now closed to fishing.