Ocean Outlook

Coastwide - Hazardous seas warnings remain in effect through today, but they might as well be called for all weekend as stiff winds and big swells remain the rule on the Oregon Coast. A few locals might find a morning to sneak out for some near-shore bottomfishing next week, but it's definitely not worth the drive from the Rogue Valley quite yet.

The marine aggregate limit remains seven rockfish a day and two lingcod a day with a 22-inch minimum.

Sport crabbers are invited back to the ocean now, but few are fishing for Dungeness because of rough weather. Ocean crabbing near river mouths can be very good in December, with good meat quality in local crab. Just be mindful of a rough ocean.

Bay crabbing will start to slide off as freshets alter the salinity in estuaries, pushing the crabs out to the ocean. Deeper-water ports like Coos Bay and Winchester Bay are better bets than smaller ones.

All shellfish fishing is open coast-wide, including the popular Clatsop County beaches. Mussel harvest also is open coast-wide. For more information and updated closure information, call the shellfish hotline at 800-448-2474.

PORT ORFORD - Ocean trolling for chinook off the mouth of the Elk and Sixes rivers is over now.

BROOKINGS - Anglers sneaking out of port in early mornings when the surf has died down should see near-limits of bottomfish by staying close to shore and jigging near kelp beds. Glow-in-the-dark jigs are a good bet. All cabezon must be released unharmed.

WINCHESTER BAY - Sturgeon fishing remains slow, but good catches of bottomfish have been reported off the south jetty.

CHARLESTON - Bay crabbing remains excellent in the lower stretches of the estuary between storms. Crabbing slows amid freshets.

AGATE - Fishing for legal- and trophy-sized rainbows is slow, and angling effort has been very light at the lake. Trollers could do well. The lake remains just a hair above 20 percent full. No gas motors allowed.

APPLEGATE - Trollers using Flatfish or Triple Teasers are still doing fairly well when targeting the large and trophy trout stocked there in late October. Not much effort recently, but sunny days should bring a few trollers to the lake. The French Gulch boat ramp is usable, but Hart-Tish Park is closed. Bank fishing is tough because the lake is so low. Focus off points and look for schools of land-locked chinook stocked there.

EMIGRANT - The lake is down to less than one-quarter full, hurting angling effort there. Poor weather has kept most trollers home, but sunny afternoons should lure a few bank anglers near the dam. Trolling for trout is fair, with most of the action on the lower third of the reservoir near the dam. Troll 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 is open year-round and fishing 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 but the ice isn't thick enough for ice fishing yet.

LOST CREEK - Trolling for trout 15 to 17 inches remains very good near the dam, where most of the action is. 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 no longer usable and is closed. The Takelma Ramp will remain open throughout the winter.

The lake remains under a public-health advisory against water contact because of a blue-green algae bloom.

FISH - The lake is iced over and nobody has been seen fishing on it yet.

WILLOW LAKE - The public-health advisory against water contact was lifted this week, but the boat ramp and county facilities remain closed.

FOURMILE - Winter conditions exist, and access is blocked at Highway 140 due to snow depth.

SELMAC - Trout are biting, but effort remains quite light. Try worms, Panther Martin lures, single salmon eggs floated off the bottom or PowerBait.

LEMOLO - The lake is closed to angling until the fourth Saturday in April.

MEDCO - Fishing for rainbow trout has been good off the bank with PowerBait, but effort is light.

ROGUE - The upper Rogue has slowed for late-run summer steelhead thanks largely to rising flows, while steelhead and coho fishing has stalled in the middle Rogue thanks to turbid water caused in part by high flows through the former Gold Ray Reservoir site. The lower Rogue has seen a good kick of winter steelhead, keeping plunkers and boat anglers busy from Quosatana Creek down to Huntley Park.

That means extremism is the word of the weekend, because the best bet is either the very top or the very bottom of the Rogue. Just fish the stretch closest to where you live.

For you coastal-minded steelheaders, winter steelhead catches have been strong. Bank anglers are plunking with large Spin-Glo's and finding lots of 8-pound steelhead, with a high percentage of wild fish that must be released unharmed now. Drift-fishing off the bank with worms or roe and yarn also has been good. The water is high but it has nice color to it thanks to the turbidity filtering out by the time it gets to Agness.

Boat anglers in the lower Rogue have done well, accounting for about 80 percent of the catch. Plugs worked along the inside turns of gravel bars is the December ticket around Lobster and Quosatana creeks, as well as just upstream of Huntley Park.

In the far upper Rogue, side-drifters and plug fishermen are catching late-run summer steelhead and the occasional coho upstream of the mouth of Elk Creek. Downstream of Elk Creek, the flows and turbidity were difficult and the conditions were poor for fishing. Flows out of Lost Creek Lake were jacked up to 4,000 cubic feet per second of water Thursday, making conditions pretty marginal even in the clearer water.

Bank fishing is slow under those flows, as well.

From the Hatchery Hole to the Shady Cove boat ramp, anglers are fishing with worms or roe side-drifted from boats. From the Shady Cove ramp downstream to the former Gold Ray Dam site, anglers are relegated to artificial flies and lures but no bait, so most are fishing with plugs now.

High flows running through the former Gold Ray Dam impoundment area have made fishing efforts moot from the mouth of Bear Creek down past Grants Pass. Look for those conditions to remain at least through the weekend.

UMPQUA - The upper mainstem Umpqua was rough fishing this week with the highest water flows so far this season. The lower Umpqua remains slow for sturgeon. The South Umpqua has risen and could be out of shape for early-season winter steelhead fishing this weekend.

COQUILLE - Winter steelhead were caught this week around the city of Coquille, Laverne Park on the North Fork and all the way to Powers on the South Fork, which gets the lion's share of the action thanks to a robust hatchery release there. More rains could make for rough conditions through the weekend.

The wild coho salmon season in the river is over.

ELK/SIXES - Both rivers were up and high, but anglers were catching chinook salmon and a few early winter steelhead Thursday. The Elk's flows were over 5 feet on Thursday, but the water was clear enough for good fishing in migration lanes. More rains could swell the Sixes into unfishable conditions this weekend if the rains materialize as forecast.

Plugs have out-worked bait.

CHETCO - The river was running extremely high but dropping fast Thursday, and fishing for winter steelhead could be good if the heavy rains stay off the coast. Steelhead have been found throughout the system. Also, plenty of coho have been caught in the Nook and Redwoods areas on plugs, including a few stray hatchery coho there. A few immense fall chinook were caught last week, but the chinook run is definitely winding down. Plugs are working best, but plunking with larger Spin-Glo's should be good as the water drops.