COASTWIDE: A small-craft advisory is in effect through Saturday afternoon, and the forecast reflects that. Today the forecast calls for 10-foot swells and five-knot winds, followed Saturday by more of the same. Sunday will bring five-knot winds and eight-foot swells. Still not good conditions. Too bad, because lingcod fishing was very good out of Brookings earlier this week when conditions were favorable.
Rockfish anglers have new bag limits for 2017. Canary rockfish now are 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.
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.
Some bay crabbing may occur in some of the more calm recesses of Coos and Winchester bays, but stay away from the jetties during the high-swell periods. Sneaker waves are prevalent under these conditions.
Razor clamming is closed along the coast because of domoic acid. Bay clams and butter clams are available coastwide, and mussels are open coastwide. There are no minus tides this week. Before digging, check the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474.
AGATE: The lake was listed Thursday at 92 percent full. There has been 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 should start to improve with the more stable weather patterns forecast until the middle of next week. Inflows Thursday were down to 1,200 cfs and outflows were under 1,000 cfs for the first time in a while. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to walk the outflows down to less than 600 cfs by Monday morning and hold there. Those who go can 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. The lake elevation Thursday was listed at 1,903 feet above sea level. The Corps will begin its lake-filling schedule Wednesday.
DIAMOND: The ice is about six inches thick, and ice 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 58 percent full, and the county boat ramp is usable again, but fishing is very slow amid cold and very turbid water.
FISH: The lake was holding steady at 50 percent full Thursday, and ice fishing has been very good for a mix of rainbows and tiger trout. Tigers 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 52 percent full.
HYATT: Ice is forming, but anglers are still staying away. The lake is 55 percent full.
LOST CREEK: Heavy inflows from the last storm have waned, and that is bringing a little normalcy to the reservoir for the first time this month. Flows in were down to 1,923 cfs and the outflows were starting to get cut Thursday from 1,450 cfs. The Corps plan is to get outflows down to 1,150 cfs Saturday morning. The lake was listed Thursday at 1,822 feet above sea level, which is a bit above the Corps' regular filling schedule. Midwinter is often a good time for trolling near the dam with a red or green Wedding Ring with a worm. Warmer days are best. Fishing above Peyton Bridge should improve daily until the next rains come.
LAKE OF THE WOODS: Ice-fishing conditions are excellent, and anglers primarily are catching perch with worms near the resort. Few trout or kokanee have showed up in the catch. For them, try deeper water. The resort is open on weekends.
WILLOW: Trout fishing has been something of a bust lately because anglers are staying away and waiting for ice to develop.
EXPO: The pond at the amphitheater still has 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 was in good shape for winter steelhead fishing river-wide, with plunking better in the lower and middle Rogue, while side-drifting eggs or pulling plugs is best in the upper Rogue. So the best bet this week depends on how you like to fish.
In the upper Rogue, water flows at Dodge Bridge were at 2,400 cfs, and that will drop to around 2,100 cfs by Saturday after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes its latest release change at Lost Creek Lake. Flows will drop slightly into midweek, providing excellent winter steelhead fishing conditions for the first time this year.
Just two more winter steelhead were counted Wednesday at Cole Rivers Hatchery, bringing the count to six. Flows at the former Gold Ray Dam site were still a bit high at 3,600 cfs, largely due to continued decent flows out of Little Butte and Bear creeks. Try side-drifting roe and pulling Mag Lip 3.5 plugs in deeper, slower runs and along the inside turns on gravel bars. Fresh winter steelhead will still be on the move but look for them to start hunkering down at tailouts and near creek mouths.
Flows at Grants Pass were at 4,800 cfs Thursday and are forecast to dribble down into early next week. That's excellent conditions for winter steelhead fishing from both boats and the bank. Bankies plunking or side-planing with Mag Lip 3.5 and 3.0 lures in gold and black or pink and blue were catching fish from Finley Bend down to Rand. Boat anglers are starting to do better downstream from the mouth of the Applegate River. Water clarity was excellent.
In the lower Rogue, plunkers and side-planers were on just about every decent gravel bar downstream of Quosatana late this week and doing well for winter steelhead on plugs or No. 2-sized Spin-Glo's
APPLEGATE: The river is open for steelhead fishing, and conditions will finally start getting good as the Corps drops outflows from Applegate Lake from 920 cfs Thursday to just under 600 cfs Monday. Casting spoons or spinners for steelhead will be best, along with worms and watermelon corkies. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed.
CHETCO: The river was down to 3,570 cfs and dropping Thursday, making for good winter steelhead conditions. Fish are distributed river-wide.