Fishing Report: Friday, Dec. 16

OCEAN OUTLOOK

COASTWIDE: Sturdy winds, some rain and medium seas will await ocean anglers trying to escape from high river flows to get some fishing in this weekend. Today's forecast calls for 10-knot winds and 4-foot swells, followed Saturday by similar winds and slightly higher swells. Sunday will see winds up to 15 knots and 5-foot swells.

Rockfish anglers can venture past the 20-fathom line, but lingcod and rockfish catches have been good close in. Anglers can keep one cabezon a day as part of their seven-fish aggregate limit. Look for that aggregate limit to change for 2017.

Recreational crabbing is open along the Southern Oregon from Floras Creek (just north of Port Orford) to the California border. Razor clamming is closed along the coast because of domoic acid. Bay clams and butter clams are available coastwide, and mussels are finally open coastwide. Before digging, check the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474.

LAKE OUTLOOK

AGATE: The lake was listed Thursday at 41 percent full, having shot up the past two days after heavy rains. There remains little angling interest of late. 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 has slowed and anglers have avoided the reservoir as it has seen a big influx of runoff from this week's storms. Inflow was at about 8,000 cubic feet per second Thursday afternoon, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers releasing more than 2,100 cfs. 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's ice has turned slushy after recent rains, but look for some freezing to return this weekend. Some open water exists, but there is no angling effort at Diamond now and likely won't be until the ice gets thick enough for the ice-fishing season. The 300,000 fingerlings stocked last spring have reached legal size. All tiger trout must be released.

EMIGRANT: The lake was listed Thursday at 30 percent full and growing, and the county boat ramp is usable again, but fishing is a bust and the water is very turbid.

FISH: The lake was up to 45 percent full Thursday, but ice is starting to form. Fishing was fair for what's left of the 900 trophy trout stocked at the boat ramp in late September. The resort is closed. Watch for stumps in the water. Fish worms under bobbers or use PowerBait. Tiger trout as big as 18 inches have been caught, but they must be released unharmed.

HOWARD PRAIRIE: The water is starting to freeze in spots, and anglers by and large are staying away until the lake freezes over. Some fishing can be done near the dam with worms or PowerBait. The resort is closed, but other ramps are open. Holdover trout are in the 14- to 19-inch range. The lake was listed Wednesday at 48 percent full.

HYATT: Ice is forming and anglers are staying away. The lake is 48 percent full.

LOST CREEK: Fishing had been fairly good at the lower end of the lake until the recent storm brought massive inflow, and that has disrupted angling and will continue to do so until water levels settle down. The lake jumped more than two feet this week, but inflows were down to 7,300 cfs Thursday afternoon. Outflows are at more than 2,000 cfs, and look for that to yo-yo as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to shave off the excess water it stored during the storm. When it settle down, trolling will be best near the dam. Landlocked salmon have been holding deeper than the trout. Bass fishing is slow.

LAKE OF THE WOODS: The lake is icing up but slushy and not good for fishing.

WILLOW: Trout fishing has been something of a bust lately as anglers are staying away and waiting for ice to develop.

EXPO: Fishing in the pond at the amphitheater is still decent for the 1,500 one-pound trout stocked for Thanksgiving weekend. 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.

RIVER OUTLOOK

ROGUE: The entire Rogue is a complete bust for late-run summer steelhead, coho and early winter steelhead thanks to this week's heavy rains and melting snow. The bitter cold that is descending upon the region will help to drop the flows, but it will make for dangerous travel.

That makes the best bet for the weekend likely the only bet, and that's the water from Cole Rivers Hatchery to the mouth of Big Butte Creek. While flows will be bouncing around as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works to slough off extra water stored this week in Lost Creek Lake, at least the water will be clear enough for fishing. Boat anglers will do best with plugs in the New Bridge Hole area, while bank anglers will hit the Hatchery Hole for a mix of summer steelhead and coho.

Upstream of the Shady Cove boat ramp is open for all things steelhead, with side-drifting roe most popular and effective since the flies-only season ended Nov. 1. Catches have been best with roe or roe-soaked yarn balls side-drifted from driftboats. Those fishing plugs such as Mag Lip 3.0 or crayfish plugs were also running into some nice steelhead and some surprisingly bright hatchery coho salmon. Wild coho and chinook must be released unharmed.

Downstream of the Shady Cove ramp is open for artificial lures but not bait. Effort there has been lighter than upstream of Shady Cove, and there definitely are fewer steelhead down lower than higher up. Fishing deeper, somewhat slower runs has been most effective. Fall chinook are no longer spawning, so it's not as simple as fishing below spawners. Plastic egg flies or juiced-up egg balls are also working well for side-drifters.

Flows at Dodge Bridge were at 12,400 cfs and dropping Thursday afternoon after peaking early Thursday at close to 20,000 cfs, which is just under flood level. Flows are forecast to continue dropping and could be close to fishable Monday depending upon the turbidity and any release changes at Lost Creek Lake.

At the former Gold Ray Dam site, flows were at 23,000 cfs and dropping Thursday after peaking at 33,000 cfs. That's just below the maximum level before the Corps severely curbs Lost Creek Lake outflows. Grants Pass was at 40,000 and dropping Thursday afternoon, a few feet shy of flood level. Look for it to be a bit over 5,000 cfs Monday, and that could be fishable.

In Agness, the Rogue peaked over 100,000 cfs by midday Thursday, and that appears on NOAA map grids as the highest flows recorded for Dec. 15 at the Agness gauge. It will be high and turbid most of the week at least, but when it drops look for the lower Rogue to be excellent for winter steelhead, especially for plunking the inside turns of gravel bars in four to six feet of water.

APPLEGATE: The river is open for trout fishing but closed for steelhead and coho salmon, both of which are present now. All wild trout must be released unharmed. No fin-clipped rainbows are stocked there. Flow were extremely high and will remain so at least through the weekend as the Corps of Engineers will need to release water stored from this week's storms.

CHETCO: The river was at 20,000 cfs and dropping Thursday afternoon after reaching an all-time high for Dec. 15 earlier that day. When the water finally gets fishable again, look for fresh winter steelhead river-wide, with fishing best side-drifting roe from driftboats.

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