Fishing Report: Friday, Dec. 23
COASTWIDE: A small-craft advisory is in effect through Saturday night as the Christmas weekend sports windy, rough and even some rainy conditions off the South Coast. Today's forecast calls for winds up to 20 knots and 10-foot swells, followed Saturday by 100-knot winds and 11-foot swells pocked by rain. Sunday looks a little better, with five-knot winds and swells starting at 9 feet but dropping throughout the day.
Rockfish anglers can venture past the 20-fathom line, but lingcod and rockfish catches have been good close in. Anglers can keep one cabezon a day as part of their seven-fish aggregate limit. Look for that aggregate limit to change for 2017.
Recreational crabbing is open coastwide now that domoic levels off the Central and North coastal areas finally have dropped into the safe-to-eat zone. Razor clamming, however, remains closed along the coast because of domoic acid. Bay clams and butter clams are available coastwide, and mussels are finally open coastwide. Before digging, check the shellfish hotline at 1-800-448-2474.
AGATE: The lake was listed Thursday at 55 percent full, having shot up the past weeks after heavy rains. There remains little angling interest of late. Fishing is fair at best for a mix of bass, crappie and perch. No gas motors are allowed. Electric trolling motors are OK.
APPLEGATE: Trolling for rainbows has slowed and anglers have avoided the reservoir as it has seen a big influx of runoff after recent storms. Inflow was down to 1,440 cubic feet per second Thursday afternoon. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to gradually drop releases from 1,450 cfs Thursday morning to 750 cfs Monday evening. When the inflow settles down and the lake level stabilizes, look for some decent trolling for trout with Wedding Ring lures spiced with half a worm. The French Gulch ramp is the only usable ramp at the lake.
DIAMOND: The lake's ice has remained slushy from sunny days and is not safe for ice fishing.
EMIGRANT: The lake was listed Thursday at 38 percent full and growing, and the county boat ramp is usable again, but fishing is very slow amid cold and very turbid conditions.
FISH: The lake was up to 46 percent full Thursday, but ice is starting to form. Fishing has been slow for what's left of the 900 trophy trout stocked at the boat ramp in late September. The resort is closed. Tiger trout as big as 18 inches have been caught, but they must be released unharmed.
HOWARD PRAIRIE: The water is starting to freeze and it is not safe for ice fishing. Not much interest here of late. The resort is closed and so are all the boat ramps. Holdover trout are in the 14- to 19-inch range. The lake was listed Wednesday at 49 percent full.
HYATT: Ice is forming and anglers are staying away. The lake is 49 percent full.
LOST CREEK: Fishing had been somewhat disrupted by the yoyoing of the reservoir levels but things are starting to calm down now. The lake was listed Thursday at 1,816 feet above sea level and the outflows remained at 3,100 cfs as the Corps looks to slowly shave 4 feet off the reservoir for flood control. Trolling has been best upstream of Peyton Bridge in the Red Rock area with a red or green Wedding Ring with a worm. Warmer days are best. Outflows are holding at 3,100 cfs for now, but that could get bumped up as soon as Sunday depending upon how much runoff occurs today and Saturday.
LAKE OF THE WOODS: The lake is icing up but slushy and not good for fishing.
WILLOW: Trout fishing has been something of a bust lately as anglers are staying away and waiting for ice to develop.
EXPO: Fishing in the pond at the amphitheater is still decent for the 1,500 one-pound trout stocked for Thanksgiving weekend. Catch them with bobbers and worms or PowerBait. Access the pond through Gate 1.5 off Peninger Road. No boats or float tubes are allowed.
ROGUE: The first winter steelhead are showing up in the lower and middle Rogue already and conditions are primed to see the first winter steelhead of the year in the upper Rogue before your 2016 fishing license expires.
That makes the best bet the middle Rogue around Grants Pass, where some bright and feisty winter steelhead have been caught the past few days by bank anglers fishing the post-rain stalwart of nightcrawlers and watermelon corkies. Boat anglers are getting some winter steelhead with Mag Lip 3.5 lures in shallow waters. That's where to intercept these migrating steelhead. Some late summer steelhead are also in the mix, but they are of poor quality to keep. Flows at Grants Pass were 4,775 cfs and the turbidity was a fishing-friendly 6 NTUs. Flows are forecast to peak around 7,000 cfs and start to drop Christmas Day, and that should be perfect for plunkers at Griffin Park, Rainbow and Chair riffles.
In the upper Rogue, it's still 2016, so that means upstream of the Shady Cove boat ramp is open for all things steelhead, with side-drifting roe most popular and effective since the flies-only season ended Nov. 1. Catches have been best with roe or roe-soaked yarn balls side-drifted from driftboats. Those fishing plugs such as Mag Lip 3.0 or crayfish plugs were also running into some nice steelhead and some surprisingly bright hatchery coho salmon. Wild coho and chinook must be released unharmed.
Downstream of the Shady Cove ramp is open for artificial lures but not bait. Effort there has been lighter than upstream of Shady Cove, and there definitely are fewer steelhead down lower than higher up. Fishing deeper, somewhat slower runs has been most effective. Fall chinook are no longer spawning, so it's not as simple as fishing below spawners. Plastic egg flies or juiced-up egg balls are also working well for side-drifters.
Flows at Dodge Bridge were at 3,650 cfs and clear Thursday and forecast to come up Friday and Saturday after a small storm hits the region. When flows start to drop again Sunday, start prospecting for winter steelhead along the inside turns of gravel bars. Flows at the old Gold Ray Dam site were at 4,675 cfs and rising, likely to peak early Sunday around 6,500 cfs. That's OK for steelhead fishing, but the water likely will be turbid from Little Butte Creek and Bear Creek flows.
In Agness, the Rogue was still at 10,800 cfs Thursday and rains are forecast to get it up to around 17,000 cfs by late Saturday. When it starts to drop, plunkers using larger Spin-Glo's should have success again. Decent early winter steelhead catches have been seen this week, mostly with brown trout and cop car colors. Boat anglers had been doing OK on Mag Lip 3.5 lures in gold and various black bills, but that might not resume until flows drop early next week.
APPLEGATE: The river is open for trout fishing but closed for steelhead and coho salmon, both of which are present now. All wild trout must be released unharmed. No fin-clipped rainbows are stocked there. Flows were dropping and will continue to drop through the weekend. Expect to see some fresh winter steelhead when that season opens Jan. 1. Until then they are off-limits.
CHETCO: The river was at 1,900 cfs Thursday after a few days of some very good winter steelhead fishing riverwide for those side-drifting eggs from driftboats. Flows are forecast to peak around 4,000 cfs Saturday afternoon from rains forecast to hit late Thursday and run through Friday.