COASTWIDE: A hazardous seas warning is in effect through Saturday morning. Today the forecast calls for 30-knot winds and 14-foot swells, followed Saturday by more of the same. Sunday will bring 25-knot winds and seven-foot wind waves. Still not good conditions. When conditions have allowed, locals have been sneaking out of Brookings and Coos Bay to find good lingcod catches near shore.
Rockfish anglers have new bag limits for 2017. Canary rockfish 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-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.
Domoic acid has reared its ugly head among Dungeness crabs, triggering a closure from Coos Bay's north jetty north to Heceta Head. That closure is indefinite and includes Winchester Bay. However, Coos Bay and the ocean and bays south to the California line remain open, as are the bays and ocean north of Heceta Head.
Razor clamming remains closed along the coast because of domoic acid, as well. Bay clams and butter clams are available coastwide, and mussels are open coastwide. No minus tides are predicted this week. Before digging, check the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474.
AGATE: The lake was listed Thursday at 93 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. The park closes at dusk.
APPLEGATE: Trolling for rainbows likely will slow down again next week as another storm front moves in and starts moving water levels up and down. The reservoir is now officially in filling mode, however inflows Thursday were down to 700 cfs and outflows were at 960 cfs. The lake surface level was right at 1,900 feet above sea level Thursday. Later next week, 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.
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 60 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 51 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: Increased inflows beginning Saturday and running deep into next week mean that the trout bite that is normally pretty good in mid-winter will get erratic again. Look for catches to remain best for those trolling near the dam, and upstream of Peyton Bridge likely will be somewhat turbid in the coming days. Inflows were down to 1,730 cfs and the outflows were holding at 1,150 cfs. The lake was listed Thursday at 1,824.4 feet above sea level, which up about 2-1/2 feet in the past week. Midwinter is often a good time for trolling near the dam with a red or green Wedding Ring lure 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 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 this week for the first time in this calendar year, but another round of rainstorms is expected to play a little havoc for steelheaders fishing any day but Super Bowl Sunday. Look for the Rogue to rise and bound around after that all week.
That makes the upper Rogue the best bet, largely because water levels are more affected by Lost Creek dam operation there than elsewhere in the basin. With an outflow of 1,150 cfs, flows at Dodge Bridge were at 1,903 cfs Thursday. That will start increasing later today and is forecast to peak early Sunday at about 4,000 cfs. That flow is definitely manageable for anglers. However, more than two-thirds of that water should be tributary flow, and that could harm turbidity.
Just two more winter steelhead were counted Wednesday at Cole Rivers Hatchery, bringing the count to eight. Flows at the former Gold Ray dam site were great Thursday at 2,679 cfs, and that stretch should fish well for winter steelhead today. 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, so hug those inside corners of gravel bars.
Flows at Grants Pass Thursday were at 3,245 cfs, and the water was a pretty clear 4 NTUs. Flows are forecast to peak at 6,000 cfs late Saturday, and that could make conditions OK for plunkers and side-drifters later in the morning if the turbidity drops below 14 NTUs. All this week catches have been decent, but not hot, for a mix of smallish adult steelhead and halfpounders for boaters and bankies fishing with Mag Lip 3.5 and 3.0 lures in gold and black or pink and blue.
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 to around 950 cfs. Expect more winter steelhead in the lower river. Cole Rivers Hatchery technicians this week checked the fish trap at the base of Applegate Dam and it was empty of winter steelhead. 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 in good condition and fishing well for winter steelhead Thursday, but forecasts call for it to rise and probably fall out of fishing shape for several days.