COASTWIDE: Ocean conditions are a mess for at least the next few days. A storm warning is in effect until this afternoon, with 40-knot winds and 13-foot wind waves forecast. The wind will die down some Saturday to 12 knots, but the 12-foot swells should keep boats at bay. Sunday looks like more of the same, with winds building to 20 knots with 12-foot swells.
Good lingcod catches have occurred recently out of Brookings when the weather has allowed. Black and blue rockfish catches have been good to very good. Beginning Saturday, the recreational fleet will be relegated to waters within the 30-fathom line.
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.
Crabbing is open along the entire Oregon Coast. Bay crabbing has been poor because of heavy freshwater flows. Ocean crabbers are averaging just under three crabs per day.
Razor clamming is closed along the entire coast because of domoic acid. Bay clams and butter clams are available coastwide, and mussels are closed south of Cape Arago near Charleston. Before digging, check the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474.
AGATE: The lake was listed as full Thursday. Spring fishing has been pretty good for crappie, yellow perch and the occasional bass. A carp was caught two weeks ago, indicating yet another illegally stocked fish in the lake. No gas motors are allowed. Electric trolling motors are OK. The park closes at dusk.
APPLEGATE: Trolling for rainbows has improved a bit, but fishing is slow overall. Inflows Thursday were down to 1,200 cubic feet per second, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is releasing 900 cfs of water as the lake is finally a few feet lower than its normal filling schedule. Trollers might 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. Bank fishing with worms was slow earlier this week. The French Gulch ramp is open.
DIAMOND: With recent rain and warming conditions, the ice has plenty of slush on top, which has kept anglers away this week. When the ice starts to break up, fish PowerBait or worms for trout cruising the shallows in search of warmer water and bugs.
EMIGRANT: Another 1,000 legal-sized rainbows were released this week at the county boat ramp to go along with the 1,000 legals released there three weeks ago. That's brought some interest from trollers and bank anglers. The lake was listed Thursday at 96 percent full. Spring bass fishing is picking up for those casting plastic worms or slowly worked crankbaits in the shallower water around willows and other structure.
FISH: The lake was up a hair this week to 62 percent full, and close to one-half of the lake is ice-free. Catches from shore have been mostly holdover rainbows and the rare tiger trout. Tigers must be released unharmed. A mix of worms and PowerBait have been the best baits.
HOWARD PRAIRIE: The ice melted off two weeks ago, and the Willow Point boat ramp is open for early-season anglers, some of whom have been catching some large, over-wintering rainbows by slowly trolling Tasmanian Devils and other lures. Some big rainbows were also caught the past few days by bank anglers fishing with PowerBait. The lake was listed Wednesday at 93 percent full.
HYATT: Ice is starting to melt and break up, yet most anglers are staying away in favor of Howard Prairie. The lake is 63 percent full.
LOST CREEK: The first 20,000 legal-sized rainbows of the year were released two weeks ago, split between the marina and Takelma boat ramps. That generated some weekend interest from boat and bank anglers. Outflows dropped to 4,100 cfs earlier this week as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers grapples with inflows of more than 3,500 cfs. That has pushed anglers back down to the dam area, where trolling has been decent with red or green Wedding Ring lures with a worm.
LAKE OF THE WOODS: Ice-fishing conditions are sketchy at best as rain and warm weather have warmed the lake.
WILLOW: The lake got 4,000 legal-sized rainbows last week at the county boat ramp. Catch them early on PowerBait or worms near the ramp before they disperse.
EXPO: The pond received another 1,500 legal-sized trout this week to go with the same number released last month. That has anglers interested in the new-look Expo Pond. Fishing is best with worms and bobbers or Panther Martin lures. Access the pond through Gate 5 off Peninger Road. The $4 day-use or $30 year-long parking fees are now in effect.
ROGUE: Water flows continue to be high but dropping river-wide, creating late-run winter steelhead opportunities in the upper and middle sections, while the lower Rogue is picking up for spring chinook but still not that great.
That makes fishing local a good mantra for next week after a weekend of rising water levels should slow the steelhead and chinook bites.
The Corps of Engineers has kept the outflows from Lost Creek Lake steady at 4,100 cfs, so the flows have good clarity and good migration conditions for winter steelhead that are on the move. Cole Rivers Hatchery technicians counted 292 new winter steelhead Wednesday in the hatchery trap, the highest one-week draw so far this season. That kicks the count to date to 1,129 steelhead there, down slightly from the 10-year average of 1,361 steelhead to the hatchery by now.
Flows Thursday were down to 54,012 cfs at Dodge Bridge, the lowest in several weeks. It's forecast to go up today and Saturday, peaking late Saturday around 6,600 cfs before dropping throughout much of next week. That makes the weekend not so great but next week looks to be the best upper Rogue conditions so far this winter steelhead season. As the water drops, fish inside turns on gravel bars for migrating winter steelhead with yarn balls, eggs and plugs.
Still no springers have been reported in the upper Rogue, and none have been found in the hatchery trap. Also no summer steelhead.
In the middle Rogue, flows at Grants Pass Thursday were under 6,000 cfs, and fishing has been fairly good for winter steelhead either by side-drifting yarn balls or larger, rattling plugs. Bankies have done fairly well with plugs. Many of the fish are dark. Flows are forecast to peak early Sunday at about 9,000 cfs in Grants Pass, then drop well into good shape for next week.
In the lower Rogue, spring chinook fishing remains slow to fair amid lots of water and lots of boat anglers. About 120 boats were in the river Thursday from the top of tidewater to Agness, and five fin-clipped chinook were caught and kept. The catch rate is about 20 percent for hatchery chinook, with all wild chinook released unharmed. Flows at Agness were about 10,600 cfs Thursday and forecast to peak sometime Sunday around 18,000 cfs.
Surfperch fishing off the Rogue sand spit has been great with Berkley Gulp sandshrimp.
APPLEGATE: The river is closed to all angling.
CHETCO: The river is closed to all angling.