COASTWIDE - Calm seas are forecast through the weekend, so anglers looking to replace steelhead fishing with big lingcod and rockfish catches will have the conditions they need. Near-shore ling fishing has been very good at places such as Brookings and Gold Beach. Black, white and red jigs should work best. Winds and swells are forecast to be low by Oregon coast standards into early next week.
The marine aggregate limit in Oregon is seven rockfish a day. No cabezon may be kept until July. 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 crabbing, and sport crabbers are starting to take advantage of the calmer waters to drop pots on their way to bottomfishing reefs. Meat content is a bit light in March. Look for interest in bay crabbing this weekend in Coos Bay and the Coquille River bay at Bandon.
Mussel harvesting is open all along the Oregon Coast after state Department of Agriculture officials lifted a closure that had been effect from Cape Arago to the California border because of elevated levels of paralytic shellfish toxin that have finally abated. The closure had been in place for five months. All other shellfish harvesting also is open statewide.
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 really picked up amid favorable surf conditions at Nesika Beach this past week, with surf anglers casting sandshrimp, scented rubber 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 - 1,000 legal-sized and 100 larger rainbow trout were planted at the boat ramp last month. The water remains murky, so fish for them with something they can smell, such as worms or PowerBait. The lake is 91 percent full. No gas motors are allowed. Small electric motors are legal. The lake is open year-round.
APPLEGATE - Trout fishing has been slow, with little effort, and water temperatures continue to be cold. A few anglers are targeting what's left of the 1,000 legals and 200 larger rainbow trout stocked there in January. Try trolling Wedding Rings or Triple Teasers with a piece of worm. PowerBait or wind-drifting worms also are good bets. Bass fishing is slow. No winter steelhead have been released yet in the lake, but releases are planned for the end of March and perhaps early April after the Applegate River season closes. The Copper ramp is not usable, and Hart-Tish Park is closed. French Gulch is open.
DIAMOND - The lake still is open for ice fishing, with a 5-inch sheet of ice covered by 14 inches of snow. Most of the action is near the resort because that area has the best access. Catches are best in about 20 feet of water. Anglers are either dangling worms less than 10 feet below the ice or fishing PowerBait off the bottom. Some are doing well with white or pink jigs. Last summer's fingerlings are now more than 8 inches long, but most of the rainbows being caught are 12 to 16 inches long. Show caution when on the ice. The lake is open year-round.
EMIGRANT - The lake was infused last month with 351 adult summer steelhead from Cole Rivers Hatchery but interest in them has waned as many have spawned out or are of poor quality. They were released at the county park boat ramp, and they have since spread out. Boat anglers can them nosing into feeder creeks they will use, or have used, as spawning streams. They are legally considered rainbow trout, so no steelhead tag is necessary, and anglers can keep just one over 20 inches long per day. 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 - The pond last week received its first 1,400 legal-sized rainbow trout of the season, and interest among anglers has followed. Catches are best with worms, PowerBait, small Panther Martin lures or streamer flies. 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.
LAKE OF THE WOODS - The lake is frozen, but ice fishing is slow.
LOST CREEK - A handful of anglers are taking advantage of recent balmy weather to troll near the dam, but they are getting at or near limits of trout 13 to 16 inches long, along with some smaller spring chinook stocked there. The chinook are 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 another four feet to 1,849 feet above sea level, or 23 feet from full. Inflows have picked up after recent rain and snow at higher elevations, and the surface temperature shot up 7 degrees this week to 50 degrees.
ROGUE - More bluebird weather has put the brakes on mid-March winter steelhead fishing in the middle and upper Rogue, while lower Rogue anglers are in the hunt for early springers.
That keeps the best bet where it usually belongs in March — along the middle Rogue, where steelhead numbers are best and the conditions are the least troublesome.
Decent schools of winter fish bound for the Applegate River and other Rogue tributaries are spread out among the canyon waters from Galice to Grave Creek, where driftboaters are doing better for steelhead than anyone else on the river. Side-drifting roe or small yarn balls works best, with not much good plug water in that stretch. Bank anglers working places such as Chair Riffle with sideplaners or drift anglers using worms and corkies at Ennis Riffle are finding steelhead, but the catch is light.
The stretch from Lathrop's Landing to Robertson Bridge also has gotten worse for bank and boat anglers targeting steelhead headed for the Applegate because the flows at Grants Pass are down to a summer range of 2,243 cubic feet per second. Forecasts call for more of the same until at least mid-week.
The lower Rogue at Agness was down a third from last week to 4,402 cfs. That has slowed winter steelhead fishing. The first handful of springers were caught this past week, but they have all been wild fish that must be released. Spinning anchovies with a Rogue blade set-up is the rig of choice. Focus on migration lanes 4 to 8 feet deep. More water is needed to get more springers moving. A few bankies are still getting winter steelhead at places such as Lobster Creek and Dunkelberger Bar, with large Spin-Glo's and Hot Shots working best in 4 to 6 feet of water.
In the upper Rogue, anglers have lost the color, extra depth and warmer water they had two weeks ago, and fishing for winter steelhead has tailed off. Flows out of Lost Creek Lake remain at about 1,050 cfs a day. Flows Thursday were down to 1,529 cfs at Dodge Bridge, where Highway 234 bisects the Rogue, and a paltry 2,108 cfs at the old Gold Ray Dam site. Some driftboat fishing has been OK, largely for those fishing plugs in deeper runs and under trees. The steelhead are hiding, but they will bite if you get a plug in their face. Bank angling has been predictably poor until some rain raises and colors the river again.
The first spring chinook of the upper Rogue was caught March 7 by a guy casting a Panther Martin lure — on purpose — at the Hatchery Hole in early morning. None have reached the hatchery collection pond yet.
The river is open to the harvest of wild steelhead riverwide, with anglers allowed to keep one wild steelhead longer than 24 inches a day, and no more than five a year. Only fin-clipped hatchery springers can be kept.
CHETCO - The river was down to about 1,900 cfs Thursday, and that has dropped winter steelhead fishing and migration to a crawl. There are plenty of spawned-out kelts, some dark pre-spawners and a few bright steelhead around, but effort is light. Forecasts call for the river to jump dramatically mid-week and then drop, so next weekend could bring the last flurry of steelhead fishers to the Chetco.
APPLEGATE - Water conditions remain low and clear, and that continues to make winter steelhead fishing spotty river-wide. Flows Thursday were down to 243 cfs at Applegate and 403 cfs at Wilderville. No wild steelhead may be kept, and no fishing from a floating device is allowed.
ElK - The river remains low and clear with poor winter steelhead fishing.
ILLINOIS - The winter steelhead bite has fallen off amid low and clear water conditions. 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 - The South Umpqua has dropped to 1,650 cfs at Riddle, causing poor winter steelhead fishing conditions. The North Umpqua was down to 2,000 cfs at Glide.