COASTWIDE: Ocean conditions will be pretty good today and Saturday but will start to get a bit sketchy Sunday. Look for 10-knot winds and four-foot swells today, followed Saturday by 10-knot winds and three-foot swells. Sunday’s forecast calls for swells up to nine feet and 10-knot winds.
Rockfish anglers have new bag limits for 2017. Canary rockfish have been declared rebuilt and are now part of the seven-fish marine bag limit, and there is no sub-limit on them, so anglers can have canaries make up their entire seven-fish daily limit if they choose. However, anglers can keep no more than six black rockfish as part of that seven-fish aggregate limit. Also, there’s a new, combined, four-fish sub-bag limit for a combination of blue/deacon, China, copper and quillback rockfish. There is no change to the two-fish lingcod daily limit. Cabezon are off-limits to anglers.
Also, rockfish anglers must carry at least one descending device and use it when releasing any fish caught in 30 fathoms of water or deeper to increase survival rates for released fish in deep water. Anglers can venture past the 20-fathom line.
Recreational crabbing is open coastwide now that domoic acid levels off the central and north coast finally have dropped into the safe-to-eat zone. Razor clamming, however, remains closed along the coast because of domoic acid. Bay clams and butter clams are available coastwide, and mussels are open coastwide. Before digging, check the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474.
AGATE: The lake was listed Thursday at 94 percent full, having shot up 30 percent in the past week thanks to rain and snowmelt. There remains little angling interest of late, and water turbidity is poor. Fishing is fair at best for a mix of bass, crappie and perch. No gas motors are allowed. Electric trolling motors are OK.
APPLEGATE: Trolling for rainbows likely will be slow until the next storm front moves through late next week thanks to barometric pressure changes and rising inflows. When the inflow settles down and the lake level stabilizes, look for some decent trolling for trout with Wedding Ring lures spiced with half a worm. The French Gulch ramp is the only usable ramp at the lake.
DIAMOND: The lake ice is about six inches thick and supporting a strong early season for ice fishing. Fishing has been good for rainbows with worms or PowerBait. Vary your depths. Anglers using portable fish-finders are marking good numbers of trout. All tiger trout must be released unharmed.
EMIGRANT: The lake was listed Thursday at 53 percent full and growing, and the county boat ramp is usable again, but fishing is very slow amid cold and very turbid conditions.
FISH: The lake was up to 50 percent full Thursday, and ice fishing has been very good for a mix of rainbows and tiger trout, which must be released unharmed. A mix of worms, PowerBait and ice flies have been good.
HOWARD PRAIRIE: The water is freezing, but the ice is not thick enough for ice fishing. When it is, holdover trout are in the 14- to 19-inch range. The lake was listed Wednesday at 51 percent full.
HYATT: Ice is forming, but anglers are still staying away. The lake is 54 percent full.
LOST CREEK: Look for good fishing into early next week until the inflows kick up again with the next storm. The lake was listed Thursday at 1,817 feet above sea level, and the outflow was at 2,200 cfs Thursday. The lake has risen four feet the past week. Trolling will be best near the dam with a red or green Wedding Ring with a worm. Warmer days are best. Fishing above Peyton Bridge will be better when inflows settle more and the debris clears.
LAKE OF THE WOODS: The lake’s ice-fishing conditions are excellent, and anglers primarily are catching perch with worms near the resort. The resort is open.
WILLOW: Trout fishing has been something of a bust lately because anglers are staying away and waiting for ice to develop.
EXPO: Fishing in the pond at the amphitheater is still decent for some of the 1,500 one-pound trout stocked at Thanksgiving. Catch them with bobbers and worms or PowerBait. Access the pond through Gate 1.5 off Peninger Road. No boats or float tubes are allowed.
ROGUE: The Rogue will pull itself into shape for at least a few days of winter steelhead fishing before the next storm moves into Southern Oregon Tuesday and pushes the river out of steelheading shape. Until then, it’s a quest for clear water.
That makes the best bet the far upper Rogue from the Hatchery Hole down to the mouth of Big Butte Creek, which is the first upper Rogue source of muddy water. The first two winter steelhead of the season were counted Wednesday at Cole Rivers Hatchery, so you know there are others. Flows out of Lost Creek Lake were at 2,200 cubic feet per second Thursday, and that makes for fine conditions at the Hatchery Hole and on down to Casey State Park. After that, it’s a crapshoot.
Flows at Dodge Bridge should be down to about 4,000 cfs today. That could mean fishing down to the mouth of Elk Creek could be OK today and likely good through the weekend, with side-drifting roe and pulling Mag Lip 3.5 plugs good. Flows at Dodge are forecast to be down to 3,000 cfs by the end of Saturday, and that appears promising for early prospecting for winter steelhead.
Flows at Gold Ray Dam, fueled by big pushes out of Little Butte Creek and Bear Creek, were at 7,500 cfs Thursday but dropping. It’s forecast to be about 6,000 cfs Saturday and around 4,000 cfs Sunday. That makes Sunday and Monday a good bet for that run for winter steelhead.
Downstream from there gets iffy. Flows at Grants Pass were 13,100 cfs Thursday, which included 74 NTUs of mud. It needs to get to 14 NTUs for winter steelhead fishing to get decent again. Flows were forecast to drop to about 5,000 cfs Sunday, and that would be fine for winter steelhead fishing as long as the turbidity improves.
When it does, plunking and side-drifting at all the Galice-area haunts will be very good. Hang in those inside corners in four or five feet of water to hit those steelhead that will definitely be on the move.
Cold water has plagued early-season winter steelhead fishing river-wide this week, and things won’t get much better once it warms because two more storm fronts are moving in and should render the Rogue largely unfishable next week.
The entire Rogue is now open to bait-fishing and all artificial lures. However, only hatchery steelhead can be kept upstream of the Hog Creek boat ramp. Downstream of Hog Creek, anglers can keep one wild steelhead a day as long as it is at least 24 inches.
The lower Rogue will pull into shape for plunking Sunday and be good for a few days. Winter steelhead catches have been very good in the Agness area until the high water blew everything out.
APPLEGATE: The river is open for steelhead fishing, but effort has been light. Flows out of Applegate Dam were over 2,000 cfs Thursday and will be walked down to 1,550 cfs by Sunday. A few winter steelhead should be in the lower river.
CHETCO: The river was down to 8,700 cfs and muddy Thursday and it was forecast to continue dropping and clearing through the weekend. It could be fishable higher up in the system later today or Saturday. Side-drifting roe will be good. Early winter steelhead fishing has been a bit slow but look for it to pick up between storms.