COASTWIDE: Weekend weather is predicted be poor for ocean fishing. A gale advisory is in place through Saturday afternoon, with 25-knot winds and six-foot swells forecast for today, and 10-knot winds with 11-foot wind waves Saturday. Sunday things settle down a bit but not much, with winds up to 15 knots and swells up to nine feet.
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. Bay crabbing has been poor, however, because heavy freshwater flows are pushing Dungeness either low in the estuary or out to sea. Ocean crabbers are averaging about 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 now 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. 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 has improved a bit with the better weather but inflows remain pretty high compared to outflows. Flows in Thursday were 2,300 cubic feet per second, with just 765 cfs out. That has shot the reservoir up to a surface elevation of 1,949.5 feet. That's up almost 20 feet from last week and 1.5 feet above the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' normal filling schedule for mid-March. Trolling for rainbow trout should improve with 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: Despite temperatures this past week around 50 degrees, the ice remains thick enough for ice fishing. There was little interest this past week, but 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 Wednesday at 88 percent full and rising slowly. Spring bass fishing should start heating up with the warmer days, and a few boats have been out on the water on late afternoons with nice weather. Try afternoon fishing with plastic worms fished slowly near structure.
FISH: The lake was holding steady at 54 percent full, 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 worked well.
HOWARD PRAIRIE: The ice is not thick enough for ice fishing, and water levels are rising. The lake was listed Wednesday at 74 percent full and rising rather quickly amid warm temperatures and rain.
HYATT: Ice is holding, but anglers are staying away. The lake is 63 percent full.
LOST CREEK: Outflows jumped to 4,000 cfs Thursday as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers grapples with heavy inflows into a reservoir already almost three feet higher than normal for mid-March. Inflows were up to 5,235 cfs amid warm weather and some rain on snow. 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. Look for vast angling improvements near the marina and the Takelma ramp next week after 20,000 legal-sized rainbows are released, split between the two ramps. Fishing above Peyton Bridge should improve once inflows subside.
LAKE OF THE WOODS: Ice-fishing conditions remain good, 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. But look for that to change next week as the lake gets its first trout infusion of the season with 4,000 legal-sized rainbows released at the county boat ramp. Catch them early on PowerBait or worms near the ramp before the trout disperse.
EXPO: The pond received its first complement of 1,500 legal-sized trout last week, and that has jump-started fishing at the pond. Try for them off the grassy area (that's where they were stocked) with bobbers and worms or PowerBait. Access the pond through Gate 5 off Peninger Road. The $4 day-use or $30 year-long parking fees won't be enforced until April 1.
ROGUE: Water flows are high river-wide largely due to heavy outflows from Lost Creek Lake and tributary runoff, leaving the middle and upper Rogue marginal for winter steelhead and the lower Rogue pretty good for plunkers trying to usher in the spring chinook season. That makes the best bet the upper Rogue with a close eye on flows.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jumped the outflows from Lost Creek Lake to 4,000 cubic feet per second Thursday, largely because warm mountain weather had inflows at the reservoir up to 5,235 cfs. The lake already is close to three feet above the regular filling schedule, so expect the Corps to continue these higher-than-normal releases. The upper Rogue is getting more winter steelhead into the mix. Cole Rivers Hatchery technicians counted 157 new winter steelhead Wednesday in the hatchery trap, upping the count there to 498 winter steelhead. That's comfortably above the running average of 426 to date. Also, the 23 summer steelhead counted in the mix are old, worn-out steelhead just begging to die.
Flows Thursday were at 5,500 cubic feet per second at Dodge Bridge, and it's forecast to rise today and drop Saturday before rising again Sunday. That makes Saturday the go-day for steelheaders in the upper Rogue. At the old Gold Ray Dam site, flows Thursday were cooking along at 6,725 cfs and forecast to hit about 8,200 cfs today.
That means fishing the upper Rogue is like plunking from your boat. Park in a good migration lane and use Mag Lip 3.0 or 3.5 plugs.
No springers have been reported in the upper Rogue and none have so far been found in the hatchery trap.
In the middle Rogue, flows at Grants Pass Thursday were over 7,600 cfs and forecast to be on the rise today. Forecasts call for today's peak to be around 8,200 cfs before dropping Saturday. A few winter steelhead are getting caught, but most guides have been canceling trips because of poor conditions. When conditions improve, try for steelhead by side-drifting roe or fishing with plugs. Side-planers can expect some action Saturday at Rand, Rainbow and Griffin Park.
In the lower Rogue, the first hatchery springer of the year got introduced to a barbecue Tuesday in the lower Rogue, caught by a boat angler fishing plugs. Look for springers to start showing up in the lower Rogue once this latest batch of higher water ebbs. In the meantime, surfperch fishing off the Rogue sand spit has been great with Berkley Gulp sandshrimp.
APPLEGATE: The river was in decent fishing shape heading into the final two weekends of open steelhead fishing here. Flows out of the reservoir were back up above 1,000 cfs Thursday, but flows at the town of Applegate were just 1,100 cfs. That means the river is high but the color is good, which should bode well for those casting spinners and spoons for winter steelhead. Just 34 fresh winter steelhead were captured this week at the trap at the base of Applegate Dam, boosting the capture to just 96 so far. That's quite a bit off the 10-year average of 227 for this week. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed, and there is no fishing from a floating device.
CHETCO: The river was flowing Wednesday at 4,470 cfs and rising Thursday, making late-season winter steelhead fishing a bit tough.