COASTWIDE: Ocean conditions say stay away loud and clear this weekend, unless you're there to watch big surf from a high perch. Today will bring 25-knot winds and 17-foot swells, and that's the calmest day of the weekend. Saturday will bring 20-knot winds and swells up to 27 feet, while Sunday sees the swells drop to 18 feet but the winds will be gale-force and up to 40 knots. Those are not typos.
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.
Some bay crabbing may occur in some of the more calm recesses of Coos and Winchester bays, but stay away from the jetties.
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 92 percent full, having actually dropped two percent this past week despite heavy rain. 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. Inflows Thursday were up to 2,764 cfs and outflows were still at a heavy 1,300 cfs and not forecast to change as of Thursday. 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 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 56 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 holding steady at 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: Heavy inflows from the latest storm have disrupted trout fishing, but some action has occurred down near the dam. Inflows were just under 3,000 cfs and outflows were getting walked down from 2,100 cfs Thursday to 1,450 cfs by Saturday afternoon. The lake was listed Thursday at 1,818 feet above sea level, which is actually a hair under the regular filling schedule. That is what precipitated the decrease in outflows. When conditions settle down, 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 and the debris clears.
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 up and out of shape downstream of the mouth of Big Butte Creek, meaning all the action will be in the far upper Rogue in and around the Hatchery Hole for a mix of late-run summer steelhead and early-run winter steelhead until tributary flows settle down.
Two more winter steelhead were counted Wednesday at Cole Rivers Hatchery, bringing the count to four. When the river settles down, expect to see winter steelhead river-wide.
Flows at Dodge Bridge were at 7,270 cfs Thursday and dropping, but not fast enough to fish today. It's possible that water will be low enough Sunday for winter steelhead fishing, but that will depend largely on clarity.
Flows out of Lost Creek Lake were getting walked down from 2,100 cfs Thursday morning to 1,450 cfs Saturday afternoon as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gets the lake back on its filling schedule. That will mean the majority of flow will be tributary flow into late next week and that will make turbidity levels suspect.
When fishing returns, 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 be on the move.
Flows at Gold Ray Dam, fueled by big pushes out of Little Butte Creek and Bear Creek, were at 8,861 cfs Thursday but dropping. It might not be fishable until midweek thanks largely to dirty flows out of Little Butte and Bear creeks.
Downstream from there gets really iffy. Flows at Grants Pass were at 1,950 cfs Thursday and they are not forecast to go below 10,000 cfs until Tuesday. As elsewhere, turbidity levels will play a huge role. When turbidity measurements at the Grants Pass water-treatment plant drop to 14 NTUS, it's time to get out there for winter steelhead. 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.
Agness was above flood stage and not looking good for plunkers or driftboat anglers until deep into next week.
APPLEGATE: The river is open for steelhead fishing, but effort has been almost nonexistent this past week. Flows out of Applegate Dam were at 1,300 cfs Thursday, but tributaries put the flows a 3,650 cfs at the town of Applegate, and flows 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.