COASTWIDE: A small-craft advisory is in effect through this evening, and sketchy weather conditions will follow for a couple days. Saturday calls for rain, 10-knot winds and eight-foot swells, with 15-knot winds and 11-foot swells forecast for Sunday.
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.
Rockfish anglers must carry at least one descending device and use it when releasing any fish caught in 30 fathoms of water or deeper. Anglers can venture past the 20-fathom line.
Crabbing is open along the entire Oregon Coast and estuaries. Crabbing has been poor, however, because of heavy freshwater flows that are pushing Dungeness either low in the estuary or out to sea. Ocean crabbing remains open, and crabbers are averaging about three crabs per day in the ocean.
Razor clamming is closed along the entire coast because of domoic acid. Bay clams and butter clams are available coastwide, and mussels are now closed south of Cape Arago near Charleston. Before digging, check the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474.
AGATE: The lake was listed Thursday as 97 percent full, down from full last week. There has been little angling interest of late, and water clarity 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 be pretty good this weekend as water levels finally settle out. It was listed Thursday at an elevation 1,925 feet above sea level, down eight feet from last week and about eight feet shy of the regular filling schedule as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers preps for more storms and heavy snowmelt. That's 62 feet from full. Outflows were at 1,060 cubic feet per second Thursday and scheduled to be walked down to 590 cfs Sunday. Trolling for rainbow trout should improve with the better weather. Try a Wedding Ring lure spiced with half a worm. Fishing off the bank higher up in the reservoir has been good at times for those using PowerBait or worms under bobbers with varying leader lengths.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 78 percent full and rising slowly. Spring bass fishing should start heating up with the warmer days. Try afternoon fishing with plastic worms slowly near structures.
FISH: The lake was holding at 53 percent full Thursday, and ice fishing is still decent for rainbow trout near the Forest Service ramp. Catches are 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 ice is not thick enough for ice fishing, and water levels are rising. The lake was listed Wednesday at 67 percent full.
HYATT: Ice is forming, but anglers are staying away. The lake is 62 percent full.
LOST CREEK: Outflows will drop through the weekend as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stabilizes the lake level after yet another series of storms. Flows were at 2,150 cfs Thursday, and they'll be down to 1,575 cfs Sunday. The lake already was at the 1,850-foot elevation, which is right at the regular filling schedule after being about five feet ahead of that schedule last week. Fishing pressure was very light this past week. Early March 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 waiting for ice to develop.
EXPO: The pond is set for its first complement of 1,500 legal-sized trout Tuesday, and that should jump-start fishing at the pond. When they get there, try for 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 upper Rogue was starting to pull itself into good fishing shape for winter steelhead this week, while the middle Rogue has finally gotten decent conditions for a mix of adult winter steelhead and lots of halfpounders. The lower Rogue is in decent shape for plunkers, one of whom got the first spring chinook salmon of the season, but the river is going to rise and dirty again later this weekend.
That makes the best bet the upper Rogue, and it's going to be good today, but rain will start rising the river Saturday. Flows Thursday were at 3,164 cfs at Dodge Bridge, and it's forecast to be about 5,200 cfs Sunday. Fishing on the rising river isn't typically that good for steelhead, but anglers might run into a few off-channel with plugs if the turbidity stays low. Fish Mag Lip 3.0s and 3.5s. The rattle helps in dirty water.
Flows at the old Gold Ray Dam site were at 4,800 cfs Thursday and forecast to hit 8,000 cfs Sunday. This stretch, like farther upstream, will fish decently for winter steelhead today but drop out of shape starting Saturday.
Cole Rivers Hatchery techs counted 23 summer steelhead Tuesday, pushing the year to date to 4,022 fish. They also counted 58 fresh winter steelhead, boosting the count so far to 315 steelhead. That's almost twice the running 10-year average for this week of the season, but it is still early.
Flows at Grants Pass Thursday were at 5,500 cfs and dropping, with the turbidity at Grants Pass down to 6 NTUs. That has made for some decent driftboat fishing with a mix of plugs, worms and watermelon corkies and roe. Bankies are getting into the mix, and side-planing is decent in the Rand area. Lots of halfpounders getting caught but they will be heading downstream very soon. Flows are forecast to be up Saturday and peak late Sunday at about 8,000 cfs.
In the lower Rogue, plunkers and side-planers were in business all week and doing OK for late-run winter steelhead. The first spring chinook of the season was caught Feb. 24 at Huntley Park by a plunker. It was wild and was released. All wild chinook must now be released river-wide. Flows at Agness were at 11,700 cfs and forecast to increase Saturday and peak Monday around 22,000 cfs. Expect more spring chinook to get caught in the lower Rogue next week.
APPLEGATE: The river was finally in decent fishing shape this past week, and winter steelhead are distributed river-wide. Flows out of the reservoir were dropped Thursday to 1,060 cfs and were scheduled to drop to 590 cfs by Sunday. Flows at the town of Applegate were at 1,500 cfs. That's nice for pitching spinners and spoons. Flows will go up Saturday and Sunday from tributary flow, however. Another 54 fresh winter steelhead were captured this week at the trap at the base of Applegate Dam, boosting the capture to 60 so far. That's a bit off the 10-year average of 75 for this week. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed, and there is no fishing from a floating device.
CHETCO: The river was flowing at 2,275 and fishing very well for a mix of bright and dark winter steelhead. The river was forecast to rise Saturday and peak Sunday at about 8,000 cfs. Look for more good winter steelhead fishing as the river drops next week.