COASTWIDE: Today's forecast calls for a gale watch through late tonight, with winds up to 25 knot, swells up to 7 feet and rain. The wind will die down to 5 knots Saturday, but 9-foot swells will keep most anglers off the water. Sunday looks like winds back up to 15 knots and swells running 5 to 8 feet.
Bottomfishers are back in business coast-wide with the new five-fish marine aggregate rockfish daily limit. Lingcod fishing is also in full swing, with some good early catches this week amid very calm seas. Anglers can fish all depths through March, but look for most catches close to shore, off kelp beds or on near-shore reefs.
Anglers may still fish for midwater rockfish species outside 40 fathoms using 30-foot leaders and floats to stay off the bottom. The midwater species limit is 10 per day, so this will be an attractive alternative for bottomfishers.
Surfperch fishing is likely to be decent off beaches and the Rogue River sand spit off the South Jetty during calmer ocean days.
Crabbing is open in the ocean and estuaries from Cape Blanco near Port Orford to the Washington border after tests show domoic levels in Dungeness there are under alert levels. However, south coast beaches from Cape Blanco to the California border are closed because domoic levels are above closure levels.
The recreational harvest of razor clams is closed from Cascade Head to the California border due to domoic acid, including all beaches and bays. Clatsop County beaches are open, and the digging has been very good. Bay clams are open throughout the Oregon Coast. Some late-evening minus tides are in the offing tonight and Saturday and that will be it for a while. The recreational harvest of mussels is open along the entire coast. Before digging, check the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474.
AGATE: Fishing has been good for recently stocked rainbow trout, which do well here in the winter but can't make it through hot summers, so now is the time to fish here. The lake is holding steady at 25 percent full. Fishing pressure is light. Fish PowerBait or worms under bobbers off the bank or anchored in 10 feet or so of water. No gas motors are allowed. Electric trolling motors are OK. The park closes at dusk.
APPLEGATE: Fishing pressure has been light, with water levels so low that boats can no longer launch effectively at the French Gulch area. All other boat ramps are out of the water. So the only angling this winter will be from the bank, with catches best where tributaries flow into the lake, but getting to those places can be dicey because of mud. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has dropped water releases from 200 cfs to 150 cfs, as the lake is far below its normal early January flood-control level. Try still-fishing with small bits of PowerBait and very light weight off the bank in the French Gulch area.
DIAMOND: The ice is not safe to walk on. Some steady cold, dry weather will be needed to jump-start the ice-fishing season. When ice fishing returns, small jigs, PowerBait and worms all work very well. All tiger and brown trout must be released unharmed.
EMIGRANT: The lake was listed Thursday at 30 percent full and fluctuating amid cold and dry weather. Fishing pressure is light, and some mid-day bass fishing has been very good in what's left of the pool near the bottom of the reservoir. The county boat ramp is open during daylight hours. Some holdover trout are available.
EXPO: Another 1,000 legal-sized rainbow trout and 150 18-inchers were stocked just before Christmas and anglers are still finding them. Worms and PowerBait are the staples. There is a $4 day-use fee to park there off Gate 5.
FISH: The ice is not safe for angling. When it it, fishing for rainbow trout should be good with worms and jigs near the Forest Service ramp. Tiger trout must be released unharmed. Sno-Park permits are required.
HOWARD PRAIRIE: Trout anglers are waiting for the ice to develop for ice fishing, which should be good once the ice thickens thanks to good stocking levels and decent numbers of holdover trout. The marina is closed. The lake was listed at 69 percent full, very high for this time of year.
HYATT: BLM has closed the boat ramps at its recreation area. The lake is holding steady at 43 percent full. Any fishing now is off the bank in ice-free areas.
LOST CREEK: Flows out of Lost Creek were holding steady Thursday at 1,400 cubic feet per second, keeping the lake elevation Thursday at 1,814 feet and rising slightly as inflows are eclipsing outflows. The few anglers on the lake are finding trout by trolling near the dam and around the island off the Takelma boat ramp.
LAKE OF THE WOODS: The ice is not safe for angling. When it improves, ice-fishing for perch and rainbow trout should be good right off the resort with worms and small jigs.
ROGUE: Frigid temperatures and clear water have slowed summer steelhead fishing in the upper Rogue, while the middle Rogue is seeing a sporadic early winter steelhead show for driftboaters and side-planers. The lower Rogue has been slow for fresh steelhead, while anglers river-wide wait for a freshet to shake things up.
At least some relief could come today in the form of a storm front expected to dump a little, but not a lot, of rain in the valley. That makes the best bet the middle Rogue, where prospecting for winter steelhead will send anglers to waters from Grants Pass all the way to Rainie Falls. Driftboaters should slowly drag small clusters of roe or worms and corkies through slower, deeper water. Plug fishing will improve once steelhead start moving. Water conditions at Grants Pass Thursday were brutal: 1,930 cfs of 41.4-degree water with 1 NTU of turbidity. All must improve for decent steelheading conditions.
In the upper Rogue, the entire stretch is open to bait-fishing again, and most of the catches this past week have been spawned-out or close to spawned-out summer steelhead. Most of these fish are in poor condition and must be released gently so they can survive and return next year. Flows at Dodge Bridge were down to 1,552 cfs Thursday and forecast to bump up some Saturday before dropping again. Flows at the former Gold Ray Dam site were poor at 2,034 cfs, meaning there is some decent flow coming out of Little Butte and Bear creeks, the two most influential tributaries to the upper Rogue below Shady Cove.
All wild coho must be released, but that's rarely an issue. Hatchery coho are notoriously poor biters and are usually poor eating quality when caught in the upper Rogue.
In the lower Rogue, a few winter steelhead have been caught by bank and boat anglers recently but effort and success have been light. Flows at Agness were under 3,000 cfs Thursday, and that's extremely poor for early January.
APPLEGATE: Some early but bonafide winter steelhead were caught this week at Fish Hatchery Park as well as at Turtle Lane, so a few are present in the lower river. Most of the fish are spawned-out summer steelhead and should carefully be released. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed, and there is no fishing from a floating device. Side-drifting worms and corkies or casting spinners or spoons will be best. Fly-fishing with egg flies can also be good, but the cold water has the steelhead a bit less active than ideal.
CHETCO: Flows were low and clear and forecast to bump up Saturday, and that could mean decent winter steelhead fishing Sunday and Monday with a mix of side-drifting roe and plugs from driftboats.
ELK: Look for winter steelhead fishing to pick up this weekend if rains materialize as forecast. Steelhead already are spread throughout the system, and a freshet will bring in more fish. Bait fishing has been best.