COASTWIDE - Forecasts call for variable winds and choppy seas through the weekend, which opens up the possibility of some morning fishing along near-shore reefs for lingcod and black rockfish.
For clammers, some nice evening minus tides are forecast for late next week, and those could make for some good digging right around dark. Mussel harvest is closed from Cape Arago south to the California border, while razor clam digging is open along the entire coast.
The halibut season for all of Oregon is closed.
Chinook salmon ocean fishing is over following the Nov. 30 closure off the Elk and Sixes river mouths.
The marine aggregate limit in Oregon is seven rockfish a day. The cabezon season has been extended because close to half of the quota went unfilled in the regular season, which was supposed to have closed Sept. 30. The limit remains one per day at least 15 inches long, and it counts against the seven-fish marine aggregate limit. But that is only through New Year's Eve, as the 2014 season starts Jan. 1. The lingcod limit is two a day with a 22-inch minimum, and that is separate from the marine aggregate.
Bay crabbing has remained steady in Coquille and Coos bays because good salinity levels have held steady. In Coos Bay, the best crabbing is along the north spit. Recreational ocean crabbing is open but effort since the Dec. 1 opening has been light. Commercial crabbing is open off the Oregon Coast.
BROOKINGS - Ocean salmon fishing is closed. Jigging for black and blue rockfish as well as lingcod has been very good when anglers have been able to sneak outside of the estuary. This weekend looks promising for hitting near-shore reefs early today and Saturday, but watch for the seas to get choppy quickly.
GOLD BEACH - The bay fishery is over. Surfperch fishing is slow.
AGATE - The lake still has a few holdovers from the fall stocking of legal-sized and larger rainbow trout, and anglers have caught a few of them wind-drifting worms or casting spinners. Trolling is slow. Fishing for largemouth bass and crappie will remain slow through winter, particularly during cold snaps. The lake is holding steady at 13 percent full. No gas motors are allowed. Small electric motors are legal.
APPLEGATE - The lake's boat ramps are all exposed and unusable because of extremely low water conditions. Bank fishing is poor because the banks are steep and wind waves are creating muddy shores. Look for fishing to improve after the reservoir rises about 10 feet, which will make the French Gulch ramp usable.
DIAMOND - The lake now sports about 5 inches of ice, and the ice-fishing season has begun, with most of the activity straight out from the Diamond Lake Resort marina. Worms dangled a few feet below the ice is a good place to start, then work your way down until you find the depth. PowerBait off the bottom works well, but it's tough to keep it from tangling in your leader. Most of the rainbows are 12 to 16 inches long, and last year's fingerlings are longer than 10 inches. The limit is eight trout per day over 8 inches, but only one can be longer than 20 inches. The lake is open year-round.
EMIGRANT - Bass fishing has been slow, and the prognosis looks very poor amid low and cold water conditions. Trout fishing is slow. Try small spinners, worms and streamer flies. The lake has steadied at 23 percent full, which is just below the normal low pool. Trout are scattered and effort has been nearly nonexistent during recent cold weather.
A standing public-health advisory continues about eating all but trout from the lake because of elevated mercury levels.
EXPO - Fishing for stocked trout has been slow with little effort despite the recent influx of legal-sized trout. Fish them with worms, small spinners or streamer flies.
FISH - The lake is iced over, but most anglers are heading to Lake of the Woods until the ice on Fish Lake gets thicker. When it does, look for a good mix of rainbow trout, predatory tiger trout and land-locked chinook salmon. The chinook are legally considered trout and can be kept as part of the five-trout daily limit. The tiger trout must be released unharmed.
HOWARD PRAIRIE - The lake is closed.
HYATT - The lake is closed.
LEMOLO - Lemolo is open through Dec. 31 with a daily limit of five trout. From Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, all brown trout must be released. There is some open water accessible from the bank and that could offer good brown and rainbow trout catches.
LOST CREEK - The lake remains under a voluntary advisory against water contact because of blue-green algae, but that advisory could be lifted as early as today. If so, the Takelma boat ramp near the dam is open and accessible, but the water level is too low for effective use of the marina ramps. The lake is hovering about 3 feet below the regular low-water elevation of 1,812 feet above sea level, and the surface temperature has stayed at 43 degrees — that's about as cold as it can get. When anglers return to the lake, look for good trolling with Wedding Ring lures and worms along the dam's face, near the intake tower and directly across from the marina. Vary your depths.
WILLOW - The lake is open to fishing but it's getting little use.
ROGUE - The upper Rogue River continues to kick out a few summer steelhead for driftboat anglers, but only the occasional one is bright. Some spawned-out fish are already showing up in the catches.
The middle Rogue remains even slower than spotty for summer steelhead, and thanks to low and cold water conditions there's been no sign of early-run winter steelhead that occasionally show by now. The lower Rogue is seeing a few winter steelhead caught by anglers side-drifting roe, but the low, clear and cold water conditions have kept all but the diehards off the water.
That keeps the best bet on the upper Rogue, but only for those who count a fishing trip among their Christmas traditions.
Cold weather along with very low and very cold water has all but halted steelhead migration.
Upstream of the Shady Cove boat ramp, the river is open to the use of bait, which has steelhead anglers there using a variety of tactics. Most are fishing small clusters of roe or side-drifting scented yarn balls.
Downstream of the Shady Cove ramp, anglers are relegated to artificial flies and lures only, with plugs, egg flies and most plastic eggs popular now. Anglers can side-drift egg flies, and that will dominate the action down to Fishers Ferry. Downstream of Fishers Ferry, bait is legal for summer steelhead.
Some plug action has worked well in this stretch, too, with crayfish and smaller Kwikfish patterns working best. A few coho are getting caught at places like the mouth of Bear Creek, Casey State Park and the Sand Bottom Hole, but most are wild and virtually all are inedible.
Flows have dropped thanks to another stretch of dry weather and no stepped-up water releases from Lost Creek Lake. Flows at Dodge Bridge ticked up a hair this past week to 1,370 cubic feet per second, but that's not enough to make a difference. Flows were also up slightly to 1,586 cfs at the old Gold Ray Dam site. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to hold its releases at 1,150 cfs into next week.
All wild steelhead and wild coho must be released unharmed riverwide.
Beginning Wednesday, steelhead anglers will be allowed to use bait downstream of the Shady Cove boat ramp. That prospect should get some more driftboat anglers interested in a float there.
In the middle Rogue, a few optimistic steelheaders are using a mix of flies, bait, Panther Martin lures and crayfish plugs to catch an occasional summer steelhead, but action is extremely slow. With no early winter steelhead around, most of the catches are dark or spawned-out wild steelhead that should be handled delicately. Flows at Grants Pass were up a hair to 1,682 cfs, but that's still brutally low for Christmas week.
The Agness area has been very slow for halfpounders, despite low-flow conditions that usually help halfpounder catches. Flows at Agness were up a sliver to 2,009 cfs, which is ideal for swinging streamer flies for halfpounders and adult steelhead. That level is almost unheard-of for late December. The frigid air and water temperatures have kept most anglers away.
A few winter steelhead are being caught downstream of Agness by a handful of anglers side-drifting very small clusters of roe and using 6-pound leader. Rain is seriously needed.
CHETCO - Water conditions continue to be extremely low and cold, with a rate of 421 cubic feet per second earlier this week and no forecast for spikes in flows. Winter steelhead are around in the lower river, but the clear and cold water has made it tough fishing for bankies and boat anglers.
ELK - Very low and cold water conditions have reduced fishing effort for early winter steelhead and late fall chinook to virtually nothing. For the past two weeks, the water has been gin clear and in the low 40s at Elk River Hatchery. The river can't get much colder than that. When the rains resume, look for winter steelhead to be well spread out.
SIXES - The river was super low and super clear and super poor for fall chinook fishing.
APPLEGATE - The river is open for trout fishing. All wild rainbow and cutthroat trout must be released unharmed. It is illegal to target steelhead when they reach the river during trout season, but legal steelhead fishing opens New Year's Day.
COQUILLE - A few winter steelhead were being caught around Coquille before the extremely cold conditions hit.