COASTWIDE - Fifteen-knot winds and some chop on the surface means it will take some decent sea legs to fish out of South Coast ports this weekend. When the seas have calmed down, anglers have been doing very well on rockfish at near-shore reefs, with some lingcod starting to show up in the catches.
The marine aggregate limit in Oregon is seven rockfish a day, and no cabezon may be kept until July. Retention of cabezon is allowed July 1 through Sept. 30. The lingcod limit is two a day with a 22-inch minimum, and that is separate from the marine aggregate.
The ocean is open to sport and commercial crabbers. Dungeness crab catches have been good in bays, and look for very good crabbing conditions into early next week as no significant rains are forecast until Monday. Charleston has the best public crabbing off docks.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture has kept mussel harvesting open from the Columbia River to Cape Arago in Coos County, but a closure is in effect from Cape Arago to the California border because of elevated levels of paralytic shellfish toxin. All other shellfish harvesting is open from the Columbia River to the California border.
Eating whole, recreationally harvested scallops is not recommended, however. Coastal scallops are not affected by toxin closures when only the adductor muscle is eaten. If you don't know what an adductor muscle is, don't eat scallops.
GOLD BEACH - Surfperch fishing was good at Nesika Beach this week, with beach-casters tossing sandshrimp, fake crayfish and clam necks for some nice redtails. Fish both sides of the high tide, with the last hour of the incoming tide often best. Keep your eyes open for sneaker waves.
AGATE - The first trout stocking of the season happened earlier this week when 1,000 legal-sized and 100 larger rainbow trout were stocked at the boat ramp. The water is murky, so fish for them more with worms and PowerBait. Most of the action will be around the ramp. The lake is 87 percent full. No gas motors are allowed. Small electric motors are legal. The lake is open year-round.
APPLEGATE - Reservoir levels are starting to climb as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fills the reservoir. Trout fishing has been slow, but the water is cold, and there's been little effort for what's left of the 1,000 legals and 200 larger rainbow trout stocked there last month. Try trolling Wedding Rings or Triple Teasers with a piece of worm. PowerBait or wind-drifting worms are also good bets. Bass fishing is slow. The Copper ramp is no longer usable, and Hart-Tish Park is closed. French Gulch is open.
DIAMOND - The lake is open for ice fishing. Most of the action is near the resort because that area has the best access. Anglers are fishing worms just below the ice or PowerBait near the bottom. Some are doing well with white or pink jigs. Last summer's fingerlings are now more than 8 inches long, while most of the catch are rainbows 12 to 16 inches long. Show caution when on the ice. The lake is open year-round.
EMIGRANT - The lake was infused last week with 351 adult summer steelhead from Cole Rivers Hatchery. They were released at the county park boat ramp, so fishing should be best near there. They are legally considered rainbow trout, so anglers can keep just one over 20 inches long per day, and no steelhead tag is required. Try small spinners, worms and streamer flies. The water is murky and the lake is almost two-thirds full. The lake is open year-round.
A standing public-health advisory continues about eating all but trout from the lake because of elevated mercury levels.
EXPO - Fishing and interest have waned dramatically since anglers have picked through most of the lake's fall stocking. The pond is open year-round.
FISH - Ice fishing near the resort and off the Forest Service boat ramp has been good with jigs, worms and PowerBait. The ice is firm. All tiger trout must be released unharmed. The lake was listed Thursday at 62 percent full. The lake is open year-round.
HOWARD PRAIRIE, HYATT and LEMOLO - Fishing is closed until April.
LOST CREEK - The public advisory against water contact because of blue-green algae has been lifted, and that has created a little flurry of trout fishing off the bank and from boats. Anglers putting in their time are catching a limit of rainbows 12 to 15 inches long, as well as some smaller spring chinook stocked there. The chinook remain undersized and should be handled as little as possible. Bank anglers are doing best with PowerBait, while trollers are using Wedding Rings with worms or Triple Teasers. Stepped-back water releases have put the reservoir back on its filling pattern, and the surface elevation is up to 1,831 feet above sea level, or four feet higher than last week.
ROGUE - Low water conditions have plagued winter steelhead anglers riverwide lately, with upper Rogue flows at mid-October levels and lower Rogue flows almost as bad.
The best bet seems to be the middle Rogue, where driftboaters working the deeper canyon waters around Galice continue to pick up steelhead, but action is very on and off.
Mid-February is supposed to be a hot time in the middle Rogue, where anglers working from the mouth of the Applegate River on down run into good mixes of Rogue and Applegate-bound fish. However, the water is extremely low and clear, which makes the fish skittish.
Worms and small corkies and very small clusters of roe should be fished with leaders as thin as 6-pound test until rains raise and color the river a bit. Flows are not forecast to change until Monday, when a light storm will cause a small spike in water levels and, maybe, steelhead action.
Flows at Grants Pass were a stingy 2,360 cubic feet per second Thursday, and down to 2,020 cfs at the old Gold Ray Dam site.
In the lower Rogue, bankies have fared decently at traditional hotspots such as Huntley Park and Canfield Riffle, with large Spin-Glo's and Hot Shots working best. Driftboaters are finding fish by side-drifting tiny chunks of roe on light leaders. Stay in water less than 6 feet deep. Boat anglers fishing Kwikfish plugs or side-drifting roe have fared well from Lobster Creek on down, but action above Quosatana Creek has been slow.
Flows at Agness were down to about 4,550 cfs Thursday and forecast to dart up a little by mid-week.
In the upper Rogue, anglers ran into a good spate of winter steelhead last weekend, but catches have waned. Flows at Dodge Bridge were down to 1,500 cfs, which has slowed migration. A few upper Rogue driftboaters have been catching a winter or two a day in the Shady Cove area, and a couple of winter steelhead were caught by bank anglers at the Hatchery Hole earlier this week.
The river is open to the harvest of wild steelhead riverwide today, with anglers allowed to keep one wild steelhead over 24 inches a day, and no more than five a year.
CHETCO - The river was down to 1,261 cfs Thursday, which puts the kibosh on winter steelhead fishing until some rains come. The river is forecast to jump to about 2,200 cfs late Monday, and that should trigger the movement of some fresh fish and a decent bite for a few days. When that happens, side-drifting roe from driftboats will be the method of choice, with fish distributed throughout the system.
APPLEGATE - Water conditions are low and clear riverwide, putting a screeching halt to winter steelhead fishing. Steelhead were biting spinners and spoons in deeper holes on the upper section, but the lower river remains poor. Flows out of Applegate Lake dropped Thursday to 273 cfs as the Army Corps of Engineers fills the reservoir. No fishing from a floating device is allowed.
ElK/SIXES - Flows are low and clear but could improve with rain next week.
ILLINOIS - Winter steelhead fishing has slowed dramatically riverwide because of low flow conditions. The bite will turn on with significantly more water that has some decent color to it. Fishing is restricted to artificial flies and lures. Anglers fishing above Klondike Creek can keep one wild steelhead over 24 inches long per day and five per year. The mainstem Illinois and its tributaries are closed upstream of Pomeroy Dam.
UMPQUA - Flows in the mainstem Umpqua were down to 5,455 cfs Thursday at Elkton. The South Umpqua was a skinny 2,100 cfs at Winston. More rain is needed to jump-start the winter steelhead fishery.