COASTWIDE - Heavy winds are forecast to ease Saturday into some possibly decent conditions for early-morning bottomfishing for black rockfish and lingcod. However, the forecast can change dramatically, so locals can keep an eye on river bars for short trips outside, but it's not likely worth a coastal trip for inlanders.
Ocean crabbing conditions remain poor and hazardous. Dungeness not only will be moving out of estuaries, they also will be skirting away from river mouths until estuary salinity levels improve after the flood surges abate. Crab meat condition is excellent now and the entire Oregon Coast is open for crabbing.
The marine aggregate limit in Oregon is seven rockfish a day. New for 2012 is a rule that bans cabezon harvest until April.
Lingcod fishing has been excellent when anglers can get out. Look for lingcod to be around kelp beds and near jetties when the ocean subsides enough for jigging. The lingcod limit is two a day with a 22-inch minimum, and that is separate from the marine aggregate.
For clamming, the entire coast is open. The next minus tide series is Feb. 5-9 starting in the afternoons. Watch for sneaker waves.
BROOKINGS - The bar has been rough and at times closed this past week thanks to heavy flows in the Chetco River and surf surge during recent storms. If locals are able to sneak out Saturday morning, look for black rockfish and lingcod at near-shore rock piles and off the south jetty.
COOS BAY - Crabbing had been poor in the estuary and will remain so until a few days after heavy freshwater inflows subside. Sturgeon fishing is slow.
Lingcod jigging near Cape Arago had been very good when the weather allows. Black rockfish catches had been good along the inside of the north jetty, but look for poor fishing conditions well into next week.
Clamming has been a bust around Charleston during the current storm surges.
WINCHESTER BAY - Sturgeon fishing had improved below the Highway 101 bridge, but sturgeon fishing conditions will be poor well into next week. Crabbing had improved in the triangle area, but look for poor Dungeness catches into next week because of high water in the estuary.
AGATE - A batch of legal-sized and larger trout was stocked for the winter trout fishery. Look for good fishing for them around the lower section of the lake when the weather calms down. The lake is 31 percent full. Worms or PowerBait will be best. No gas motors are allowed. Small electric motors are legal.
APPLEGATE - Heavy inflows from this week's storms will turn trout off the bite for a while until things settle down. The facilities at Hart-Tish Park are closed and the low-water ramp at French Gulch is open and usable, as is the Copper ramp. For winter trout fishing, troll Triple Teasers or Wedding Ring lures with worms. Bass fishing was slow.
EMIGRANT - The lake is 50 percent full, and rainbow trout are available. Troll slowly with Triple Teasers or Wedding Ring lures with worms, or use PowerBait from the bank.
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 for the season.
HYATT - The lake is closed for the season.
DIAMOND - The lake is closed for the season.
EXPO - Fishing is fair for stocked rainbow trout with Panther Martin lures, PowerBait and worms under bobbers.
LOST CREEK - The lake has risen about nine feet in the past two weeks as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers begins filling the reservoir while keeping an eye on inflows during recent storms. The trout bite will be slow until the water clears and water levels steady. When they do, trolling will be best near the face of the dam and upstream of Peyton Bridge near the top of the reservoir. Worms on Wedding Ring lures trolled slowly at varied depths often work well, especially with small flashers. The boat ramp at Stewart State Park is now usable. The Takelma ramp near the dam also is open, but it can be difficult to maneuver large boats and trailers there.
LAKE of the WOODS - The lake's ice is unsafe for ice fishing, and about half of the lake has open water.
FISH - The boat ramp remains accessible, and the lake is primarily ice-free.
WILLOW - Fishing is fair for legal-sized and larger rainbow trout stocked there earlier this year. Troll deep and slow, or fish PowerBait off the bottom. Access to the county boat ramp is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
ROGUE - The far upper Rogue was fishable for winter steelhead Thursday, and the middle Rogue was on the cusp of what could have been good winter steelhead fishing conditions Thursday, but rains were bringing muddy water down to the Grants Pass area. The lower Rogue was turning on for plunkers using Spin-Glo's in water two to three feet deep and close to the bank, but that option could wash out if turbidity from upstream doesn't settle out as it moves through the Lower Rogue Canyon.
That leaves a mixed best bet. For the immediate future, it's the far upper Rogue upstream of Elk Creek in search of early winter steelhead moving through. A few dozen winter steelhead have hit the Cole Rivers Hatchery trap and fresh fish are on their way. Fish slower water along the inside turns of gravel bars and at tailouts because these steelhead will be moving and not holding. Plugs should out-fish roe for the foreseeable future, but look for soaked yarn balls to fish well as water drops and the steelhead slow down.
Conditions in the upper Rogue were marginal Thursday, with flows of almost 2,100 cubic feet per second out of Lost Creek Dam. By the time you get to Dodge Bridge at Highway 234, the flows were up to 5,360 cfs. But the key statistics for Thursday on the upper Rogue were at the old Gold Ray Dam site, where the flow was more than 6,000 cfs and the turbidity was listed at 22 NTUs and rising. That's too dark for decent winter steelhead fishing. When that number gets below 14 NTUs, then the rest of the upper Rogue should turn on for steelhead.
In the middle Rogue, the turbidity level was listed Thursday at 14.3 NTUs, and the plunkers started getting some action. Look for the middle Rogue to pull into fishable shape as early as Sunday, depending upon how much new rain hits through today. When it does, plunkers and side-planers should see action in shallow water at Griffin Park, near the mouth of the Applegate River and elsewhere.
The lower Rogue was hot for plunkers Wednesday and Thursday from Agness all the way down to Huntley Park in water three-feet deep and shallower. But the muddy water headed downstream threatens that success. Boat anglers stayed off the water this past week.
APPLEGATE - The river was up and rolling Thursday as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers looked to dump some of the past week's water capture, with releases at 1,300 cfs. The fish trap at the base of Applegate Dam has not yet been opened. When the water drops, fish for winter steelhead with spoons, and worms with watermelon corkies.
All wild steelhead must be released unharmed, and there is no fishing from a floating device.
UMPQUA - The North Umpqua is way up and out of shape for winter steelhead fishing, as is the South Umpqua and mainstem Umpqua. When the South Umpqua drops and clears, look for some good winter steelhead catches in the lower half of the river, but don't be surprised if some fish make it far up into the system some time next week. Fishing will be best by side-drifting roe along the inside turns of gravel bars and tailouts. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed.
CHETCO - The Chetco was up to 12,000 cfs Thursday, and flows will yo-yo for the next few days. Plunkers could find some excellent catches once the water starts to drop significantly. The river's turbidity is OK, but look for plunking to really take off once flows drop below 8,000 cfs.
ILLINOIS - Winter steelhead fishing conditions should be good by Sunday based on forecasts, and plenty of winter steelhead should be available. Side-drifting yarn balls should be good. No bait is allowed. Anglers may keep one wild steelhead a day and five per year.
ELK/SIXES - Both rivers were way up and out of shape for winter steelhead fishing this week. The Elk's water clarity remained good, but flows were too high for most fishing. When they drop into shape, these rivers both will fish well for winter steelhead. Anglers can keep one wild steelhead a day and up to five per season on either river.