COASTWIDE - Stiff winds and rough seas continue to be the rule this month along the Oregon Coast, but Saturday morning could present an opportunity to sneak out of South Coast ports such as Brookings and Coos Bay in search of some near-shore black rockfish and lingcod. Lingcod are starting to move into the shallows for spawning and jigging for them can be very good now.
The marine aggregate limit remains seven rockfish a day and two lingcod a day with a 22-inch minimum.
Sport crabbers are allowed on the ocean, but few are fishing for Dungeness because of rough weather. Ocean crabbing near river mouths can be very good in January, especially on calm days between rains. The meat quality in local crab remains very good.
Bay crabbing has improved daily all week now that river flows are down and bay salinity levels are up. Focus on Dungeness hotspots such as Winchester Bay and Coos Bay.
All shellfish fishing is open coastwide. Mussel harvest also is open coastwide. For more information and updated closure information, call the shellfish hotline at 800-448-2474.
BROOKINGS - Anglers could slip outside of the jetties for a little jigging for black rockfish and lingcod Saturday and Sunday mornings before the winds kick up. Glow-in-the-dark jigs are best.
WINCHESTER BAY - Sturgeon fishing remains slow. Crabbing has improved as freshwater levels have subsided.
CHARLESTON - Bay crabbing has been very good. The lower area of Charleston has been best. Watch for sneaker waves while jetty fishing.
PORT ORFORD - A few perch have been caught recently in the bay off the public docks there.
AGATE - Fishing for legal- and trophy-sized rainbows is slow, and angling effort has been very light at the lake. Trollers could do well. No gas motors allowed. The lake is more than three-fourths full thanks to recent rains.
APPLEGATE - Trollers using Flatfish or Triple Teasers are still doing fairly well when targeting the large and trophy trout stocked there in late October. Also, good schools of land-locked chinook are available. Not much effort recently, but sunny days should bring a few trollers to the lake. The French Gulch boat ramp is usable, but barely for larger boats. Car-toppers and shallow-launch boats are still fine. Hart-Tish Park is closed. The lake is 21 percent full.
EMIGRANT - The lake is up to 62 percent full and rising, which has thrown off the trout bite. Look for that to stabilize, especially during warmer evenings. Poor weather has kept most trollers home, but sunny afternoons should lure a few bank anglers near the dam. Trollers should try red Tazmanian Devils or Wedding Ring lures spiked with a piece of worm.
A standing public-health advisory continues about eating all but trout from the lake because of elevated mercury levels.
HOWARD PRAIRIE - The lake is closed to angling until the fourth Saturday in April.
HYATT - The lake is closed to angling until the fourth Saturday in April.
DIAMOND - The lake is closed to angling until the fourth Saturday in April.
EXPO - The pond remains good for large and trophy rainbow trout stocked there in late October. Chartreuse PowerBait or worms under bobbers are popular choices.
LAKE of the WOODS - The lake is frozen and ice fishing has been good. Worms or small jigs have worked best.
LOST CREEK - Trolling for trout 15 to 17 inches remains good near the dam. Troll Wedding Ring lures with worms or Triple Teasers. The lake is being drawn down for flood-control purposes. The Stewart State Park boat ramp is open because water levels have risen back to the ramp concrete. The Takelma Ramp will remain open throughout the winter.
FISH - The ice is 4 to 5 inches thick and anglers have been fishing the cove near the Forest Service boat ramp with good success. Worms and jigs are working best for rainbows. The resort is open Fridays through Sundays, and ice augers can be rented there.
WILLOW LAKE - The public-health advisory against water contact is over, but the boat ramp and county facilities remain closed.
SELMAC - Trout are biting, but effort remains light. Try worms, Panther Martin lures, single salmon eggs floated off the bottom or PowerBait.
ROGUE - Late-run summer steelhead are on the move in the upper Rogue now that flows are starting to drop, but the water is still a bit turbid. The middle Rogue has been good at times for fresh winter steelhead, but much of the time the water has been just barely fishable due to turbidity, and the lower Rogue is starting to drop into very good conditions for winter steelhead fishing either from boats or the bank.
That makes the middle Rogue the best bet, as long as the water starts to clear more. Flows out of Lost Creek Dam have been running at 5,000 cubic feet per second for more than a week as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gets rid of the runoff stored from the earlier storms. But flows started to drop Thursday and releases will be at 3,500 cfs Saturday. If the drop in water adds clarity, look for great driftboat fishing with plugs or bait (roe or worms and watermelon corkies) from the mouth of the Applegate on down. Bankies should use side-planers or kites at places like Griffin Park.
Most of the winter steelhead have been 7 to 8 pounds, but a few in the 15-pound range have been caught in the middle and lower sections.
Downstream of the Hog Creek boat between Merlin and Galice, anglers can now keep one wild steelhead at least 24 inches long a day as part of their two-fish daily limit. That limit goes riverwide Tuesday. The wild steelhead season limit here is five.
In the upper Rogue, no bonafide winter steelhead have shown up yet, but the late-run summer steelhead have been flocking into Cole Rivers Hatchery this past week. Flows out of the dam have been somewhat turbid this week, and that has harmed success and kept most anglers focused on waters upstream of Shady Cove. That should change as the river drops.
The lower Rogue has been high, but conditions have been good enough to fish for winter steelhead for the past two days, and anglers have done well. Bankies using Spin-Glo's and plunking off gravel bars have done better than boat anglers with plugs, but look for another solid weekend of plunking as well as fishing with roe there.
ILLINOIS - Winter steelhead fishing has been very good for driftboaters using Cop Car Hot Shots. Anglers can keep one wild steelhead at least 24 inches long per day, and up to five per year. No bait is allowed.
APPLEGATE - Winter steelhead fishing has been spotty on the lower Applegate. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed.
UMPQUA - The South Fork of the Umpqua was fishing fabulously well this week for driftboaters, who have been nailing winter steelhead either side-drifting roe or pulling plugs like the black and silver HotShot or a silver and pink Kwikfish size 11. Water levels at Riddle on Thursday were at 1,700 cfs Thursday, down from about 6,100 cfs last week. As the water continues to drop and clear, go with lighter leaders as small as 6-pound test. All wild steelhead must be released.
The North Umpqua is starting to drop quickly but it's a tough place to fish in high water. Look for winter steelhead catches to pick up when water conditions improve. It might take a while for the mainstem Umpqua to clear up enough for winter steelhead fishing.
COQUILLE - The South Fork of the Coquille fished well this week but the river was getting awfully low and clear. But steelhead are available and are still hitting plugs or roe worked through traditional holes. Another rain will jump-start the steelheading success there.
The wild coho salmon season in the river is over.
ELK/SIXES - The Elk and Sixes were both dropping to low and clear conditions and more rain is needed to jump-start the fishery. Catches had been good earlier this week, with the catch a mix of fresh winter steelhead and the occasional spawned-out chinook waiting to die.
Anglers can keep one wild steelhead a day and up to five per year on the Elk and Sixes.
CHETCO - The river was down to 1,700 cfs and dropping, but anglers were still hitting the river hard for winter steelhead. Fish in the 17-19 pound range are getting caught almost daily. Roe is out-producing plugs.