Baby Salmon Aren’t the Only Species Migrating West

By Bob Rees

After 20+ years on the Oregon Coast, a depleted stock of sturgeon that contributed to the loss of a huge component of my guide business and an opportunity to work for the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, I find myself in disbelief as to the state of our inland fisheries.

Spring Chinook fishing is downright depressing, when catches should be peaking in mid-May, estuary sturgeon fishing should also be going gangbusters and Tillamook Bay spring Chinook should also be taking off. May is off to a flat start, but that’s likely due to water conditions more than depressed numbers. The most recent bump in migrating spring Chinook over Willamette Falls and Bonneville Dam look fairly promising, actually. We may just make prediction afterall.

I think what’s most stark however is the tale of the Clackamas River. Nearly 30 years ago, when I was crawling up and down the banks of the Clackamas, conducting creel surveys for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the banks and river was alive with sportfishing activity and happy anglers. Annual catches for Clackamas River spring Chinook numbered between 3,000 and 5,000 fish. Last year, sport anglers took home fewer than 90. Next to no one fishes it compared to the 90’s, a metro opportunity gone wrong. Furthermore, Clackamas River spring Chinook are still being caught, just by the folks (like me) that have access to boats, and fish larger bodies of water such as the Willamette or even the lower Columbia during the months of June and July. That’s right, remember the white hot bite of 2015 during the drought conditions just above the Astoria/Megler Bridge? A lot of those fish that we caught were Clackamas and Willamette bound spring Chinook!

With the downfall of our tributary fisheries, we’re losing a critical part of our heritage that needs to be addressed, and soon. Nearly all of us avid anglers started our life-long passion from the bank. I spent countless hours on the Sandy and Salmon Rivers for winter and summer steelhead, coho and spring Chinook. Mr. Weeks from Math 10 at Mt. Hood Community College didn’t even question us when we walked into class 45 minutes late in October, he simply asked, “How many did you catch?” We’ve crafted, unintentionally, a big boat, big water, high caliber fishery that only a select few, relatively speaking, can participate in. Without tributary fisheries, we have no new recruits, we have fewer license and tag sales, it’s a social injustice that passionate anglers that don’t have boats and access to big water can’t participate in, and maybe most importantly, we have no future foot soldiers to take care of these fisheries when we’re gone.

The scenario that laid out 100 years ago for the commercial fleet, is now happening for the sport fleet. When gillnets wiped out salmon runs in most coastal estuaries, the commercial troll fleet started chasing them in the salt. Those mixed stock fisheries soon became over-fished too and we had our part when fisheries managers grossly over-estimated the number of coho we had available for harvest in the ocean. More sound fisheries management took place.

I hate writing about doom and gloom, that’s not really me. I’ll get a “check your gloom at the door” message once in a while from friend Chris Vertopoulos. And in reality, it’s not all doom and gloom but it’s important to keep in perspective about how it is now, and how it was just 20 years ago. Then go back even further to how it was 40 and 50 years ago, when the Pacific Northwest was considered the “Salmon Capital of the World.”

But more good news on the Western Front. Three more species just came off the over-fished list produced every other year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Try and gloss over the headline, “April 2018 was 3rdwarmest on record for the globe.” Oopps, there I go again. Bocaccio, Darkblotched Rockfish and Pacific Ocean Perch are all on the rebuilt list, ahead of the original rebuilding time line. 235 stocks of fish are monitored, 200 are not considered overfished, 44 have been “rebuilt” after depletion, and we have 35 left to rebuild. The complete report is here.

My father-in-law Barry, follows my musings, but it’s gratifying to know that he too is paying attention to the headlines. He sends me articles every once in a while, which in turn, only makes me ponder even more. It’s been all too long since he’s been out here fishing with me, pottery in New Mexico is his passion these days. He took the time to send me this article, on just how big our commercial operations are world-wide. Opening line is, “Humans are now fishing at least 55 percent of the world’s oceans — an area four times larger than the area occupied by humanity’s onshore agriculture.” Now that’s a stark reality check.

We can be thankful that we’re doing pretty good in the good ol’ US of A. We have Congressmen Warren Magnuson and Ted Stevens to thank for that. The Magnuson Stevens Act is still working, ahead of schedule you might say, thanks in large part to two Pacific Region forefathers that knew we had something special in our marine resources. No matter how good we have it now, weren’t we always taught to leave it better than we found it? It appears we still have a few more lessons to learn.

Barry, True and Nancy Slavin with Tillamook Bay springers. Come west Barry!

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Oregon Fishing update for May 19

Willamette Valley/Metro – After an all-out effort for the 2018 Willamette Salmon Quest, well over 30 boats participated in the signature Steelheader’s event tallying about a fish per boat average. Jerry Toman took first place with five spring Chinook taken in the Oregon City area, a rare success story given the poor water conditions we’re currently experiencing. Catch rates throughout the lower Willamette were pretty similar to the previous week, but effort was about half with water conditions deteriorating.

High flows from the snowmelt inundating the Columbia have backed up the Willamette River, causing lake-like effect and quelling the bite. Spring Chinook bite better in faster flows, which are a rare find right now throughout most of the lower river. The water has warmed dramatically as well, slowing the bait bite and even hardware isn’t producing all that well.

Mason Waddle, 10, of Longview, Washington won the Jake Stoneking Memorial award, given to the youngest angler to land a fish in the tournament. He was fishing with the Sultan of Sellwood, John Shmilenko and John’s wife Patti when the fish took a spinner near the Sellwood Bridge.

Despite good water conditions for shad, the fish haven’t shown up in fishable numbers just yet. When flows improve, effort and catch are likely to follow.

Spring Chinook passage at Willamette Falls and Bonneville Dam are still lagging, but has improved recently. It may be because of fluctuating water conditions. Regardless, the run is tracking behind expectations for this early, but adult returns have been running oddly late in recent years. Tens of thousands of spring Chinook are still due back to both river systems.

Oddly, the spring Chinook creel census on the Clackamas yielded no salmon catches, but steelhead catches remain better than a fish every 5 rods, but the bulk of the catch are wild, spent winter runs headed back downstream. Summer steelhead are available in catchable numbers however.

From Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920), of O2BFISHN Guide Service – This week report is very promising if you’re looking at chasing springers. There was a good bite over the weekend in the lower river. The river is above normal levels from Tippy Canoe down to the mouth. They are releasing so much water from Bonneville that its backing up the lower Sandy to almost flood stage levels. The Sandy has fish all thru out the entire river. Dodge has good numbers of both springer and summer steelhead.

Northwest Oregon – Spring Chinook catches remain sporadic, and the high tide exchange through the weekend should prove productive for upper bay anglers. Troll spinners and backtroll plugs on the outgoing tide, and troll herring at high tide around the mouth of the Wilson and at the Memaloose Boat Ramp hole.

Trask River bobber tossers are catching some spring Chinook at the hatchery hole, but the crowd can create some tension. The Trask itself is almost too low to float. The Wilson and Nestucca both have some summer steelhead available.

The halibut opener out of Garibaldi didn’t go all that well. Most coastal ports were down overall but limits weren’t unheard of. Bottomfishing hasn’t been overwhelming either, but that’s likely to change for the better in the near future.

Astoria area – The sturgeon opener was depressing, a fair amount of effort for little catch. High flows are likely to blame, coupled with the fact that the winter smelt run was sub-par, which likely kept big numbers of sturgeon for foraging in the lower Columbia this spring.

Southwest – From ODF&W

Bottom Fishing

There were several reports in the last couple of weeks of rockfish “boiling on the surface,” however they were hard to catch. There appears to be plenty of feed in the water, mainly crab larvae, which makes the rockfish a bit tougher to catch as they currently have plenty of food available. Reports indicate that lingcod are on the bite, with some good size fish still being caught.

The longleader gear fishery outside of the 40 fathom regulatory line has been authorized to continue in April through September. Recent catches from the offshore longleader trips often consist of a nice grade of yellowtail, widow and canary rockfishes. Reminder that the Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Area is closed to all bottomfish trips, including longleader trips.

The Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation area, approximately 15 miles west of Newport, is closed to bottomfish (groundfish) and halibut fishing year round.

Pacific Halibut

Central Oregon Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain)

Spring all-depth season: Remaining fixed open dates are: May 24-26, Jun 7-9, and June 21-23. If enough quota remains after the fixed dates, available back-up dates are: Jul 5-7 and July 19-21. Quota = 135,742 lbs.

Summer all-depth season: opens Aug. 3-4, every other Friday and Saturday, until Oct. 31 or quota attainment, whichever is earlier. Quota = 53,866 lbs.

Nearshore season: Opens June 1, seven days per week inside of the 40 fathom regulatory line, until Oct. 31 or quota attainment, whichever is earlier. Quota = 25,856 lbs.

Southern Oregon Subarea: opened May 1, seven days per week until Oct. 31 or quota attainment, whichever is earlier. Quota = 8,982 lbs.

Sport salmon fishing for Chinook opens this Saturday, May 19 in ocean waters from Humbug Mt. to the OR/CA border. The bag limit is two salmon per day (all salmon except coho). Minimum sizes are 24-inches for Chinook and 20-inches for steelhead.

Fishing continues to be hot at Diamond Lake.

Anglers are reporting good fishing at recently-stocked Lemolo Reservoir.

Both shad and smallmouth bass fishing are picking up in the mainstem Umpqua.

Many waterways open reopen to trout fishing on May 22.

2018 STOCKING SCHEDULE

STOCKING MAP

From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com

Some boat crabbers are making fair catches of Dungeness crabs near Charleston in Coos Bay and in Half Moon Bay in Winchester Bay.

Spring chinook fishing on the Umpqua remains very slow with just enough salmon being landed to keep some anglers fishing A few salmon have been hooked by bank anglers casting green or chartreuse spinners at Half Moon Bay and Osprey Point in Winchester Bay.

There are boat anglers trying every day, but so far only three redtail surfperch have been reported caught above Winchester Bay. The run is definitely late and could start at any time.

Although they are seldom reported, a few striped bass are being caught on the Smith River.

The hottest fishery in our area is for shad – and excluding a few short term lulls, for the last two weeks it has been red hot.

As usual, most of the bass fishing pressure in our area is occurring on Tenmile Lakes. Black crappies are starting to show up at the fishing dock at Tugman Park on Eel Lake – with a few bluegills and smaller bass as well. Loon Lake is fishing fair for crappies, bass and trout and very good for bluegills.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports – From our friend Tim Moran:

Wickiup Reservoir – Wickiup is picking up! Fishing was good mid-week and pressure was low. Reports were of 5 fish limits with fish to 20″.

Crane Prairie – Cranebows are coming to those who work at it.

Odell – Odell is hot right now! Limits are coming to those who figure out the daily pattern.

This is the BIG ONE – I was on the Big D yesterday and fishing was very good! We got all of our fish on the surface with salmon/golden stone imitations. Two of us hooked over 40 fish with the largest being a 23-inch brute that took me into my backing three times.

Good luck to all…I will be digging clams!

SW Washington – From WDF&W

Cowlitz River from I-5 Br downstream- 199 bank rods kept 1 steelhead and released 1 adult Chinook and 1 steelhead. 49 boat rods kept 3 adult Chinook.

Cowlitz River upstream from the I-5 Br: 133 bank rods kept 18 adult and 1 jack Chinook and 1 steelhead. 34 boat rods kept 3 adult Chinook and 3 steelhead.

Kalama River – 92 bank anglers kept 2 adult and 1 jack Chinook and 2 steelhead and released 1 steelhead. 51 boat anglers kept 7 adult Chinook and 1 steelhead.

Mainstem Lewis River – 5 bank rods and 1 boat angler had no catch.

North Fork Lewis River – 29 bank rods kept 1 adult Chinook. 6 boat rods kept 1 adult Chinook.

Lower Wind River – 15 bank rods kept 1 adult Chinook. 683 boat rods kept 184 adult and 8 jack Chinook and released 7 adult Chinook and 1 steelhead.

Upper Wind River – 1 bank angler had no catch.

Drano Lake – 39 bank rods kept 2 adult Chinook. 697 boat rods kept 230 adult and 2 jack Chinook and released 11 adult Chinook.

Klickitat River – 25 bank anglers kept 2 adult Chinook

There is always more Oregon fishing information delivered earlier on our site, The Guide’s Forecast.  You can also sign-up for our weekly emails here.

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Oregon Fishing Reports for May 11

Willamette Valley/Metro – With the hit-or-miss action on the Willamette, anglers can go from hero to zero overnight in just about any stretch of the river now that it’s peak season. The last few years have shown the season’s best catches happen around mid-May, and that will likely be the case this year as well. With not even 10% of the run over Willamette Falls, tens of thousands of spring Chinook are still due back to the system. That should make for a pretty good fishery for the rest of the month. The river is fast approaching 60 degrees, which is the trigger for mass migration across Willamette Falls. Look for fish to move into the system with vigor, and almost equally receptive to hardware in the warming waters.

All reaches of the Willamette are producing. From St. Helens (Multnomah Channel) to Oregon City, despite sporadic action, fish are present in good number and seem selective on which day they decide to bite best. Sand shrimp remains a key bait in the upper reaches, and 360 rotating flashers with spinners should continue to produce in the warming temperatures.

The Willamette Salmon Quest is this weekend, and the Association of Northwest Steelheaders is sponsoring the event with guided and self-guided options still available. A banquet and presentation on the Quest for 100K initiative will follow at Camp Withycombe on Saturday, May 12th. Visit www.nwsteelheaders.org for more info.

With the warming Willamette, shad should start making a good showing this week. It’s the perfect fishery for youngsters although the non-native species doesn’t make for good table fare. Great sport and unbeatable crab bait should be reason enough however.

From Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920), of O2BFISHN Guide Service – The weather is going to get hot over the weekend and the temp will range from the low 80’s to upper 80’s. There will some quick snow melt and the river could jump in river level. There was a good number of summer steelhead caught and a few springers.

The Sandy and Clackamas Rivers will start to see growing numbers of summer steelhead and spring Chinook in the coming weeks. The Sandy will likely be the better option for the next few weeks, as the Clackamas has become more productive in June and July.

The famous Drano Lake fishery is off and running. With Bonneville counts jumping significantly, the Drano Lake bite has been good. It’s combat fishing however, so be prepared.

Northwest Oregon – Spring Chinook catches in Tillamook remain sparse, but fish are present upstream to the Trask hatchery. May 10th often marks the more consistent fishing for spring Chinook, but even this fishery has become more statistically unreliable in recent years. Stronger tides next week should put the focus on the upper bay, where springers are sure to stage before entering the Trask River.

Bank anglers should be able to find some spring Chinook in the Trask, a rare springer in the Wilson and Nestucca systems, and an occasional summer steelhead in the Nestucca and Wilson Rivers.

Bottomfishers reported surprisingly sporadic results despite a perfect ocean. Crabbing reports varied as well. Halibut south of Cape Falcon opens today through Saturday, it’s anybody’s guess how successful anglers will be. Newport has been the most productive port in recent years.

Astoria area – Bottomfishing was very slow despite perfect conditions late last week. The season’s first retention period takes place on May 14th and 16th of next week from Buoy 10 to the Wauna Powerlines. Check regulations before going.

Southwest – From ODF&W

Bottom Fishing

Weather last week cooperated and allowed some anglers to get out and target bottomfish. There were several reports of rockfish “boiling on the surface,” however they were hard to catch.

The longleader gear fishery outside of the 40 fathom regulatory line has been authorized to continue in April through September.

Recreational Pacific halibut fisheries began opening on May 1. Reminder that similar to the bottomfish fishery listed above, descending devices are mandatory when fishing for or retaining Pacific halibut. Early reports from the first Columbia River all-depth opening are that there was success with most fish ranging from 30-40 inches in length. This weekend (May 10-12) is the first opening for the Central Oregon Coast all-depth halibut. Make sure to check the weather forecast before departing.

Columbia River Subarea (Leadbetter Point, WA to Cape Falcon, OR)

The all-depth Pacific halibut fishery will be closing at 11:59 pm on Friday, May 11, due to projected attainment of the quota. News release.
Nearshore season: opens May 7, every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday inside the 40 fathom regulatory line, until Sept. 30 or quota attainment, whichever is earlier. Quota = 500 lbs.
Central Oregon Coast Subarea (Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain)

Spring all-depth season: Fixed open dates are: May 10-12, May 24-26, Jun 7-9, and June 21-23. If enough quota remains after the fixed dates, available back-up dates are: Jul 5-7 and July 19-21. Quota = 135,742 lbs.

Summer all-depth season: opens Aug. 3-4, every other Friday and Saturday, until Oct. 31 or quota attainment, whichever is earlier. Quota = 53,866 lbs.
Nearshore season: Opens June 1, seven days per week inside of the 40 fathom regulatory line, until Oct. 31 or quota attainment, whichever is earlier. Quota = 25,856 lbs.
Southern Oregon Subarea: opened May 1, seven days per week until Oct. 31 or quota attainment, whichever is earlier. Quota = 8,982 lbs.

Sport salmon fishing for Chinook in ocean waters from Cape Falcon (just North of Nehalem Bay) to Humbug Mt. (just South of Port Orford) is open for two salmon per day (all salmon except coho). Minimum sizes are 24-inches for Chinook and 20-inches for steelhead.

Anglers are also reminded that within the 15 fathom depth contour off Tillamook Bay (Twin Rocks to Pyramid Rock) that all Chinook Salmon must have a healed fin clip. Salmon fishing has been very slow to date.

Surfperch fishing has been good when the ocean swells have been small.

Fishing have been incredible at Diamond Recently. Most anglers were taking home limits of fishing averaging 15-inches.

Shad are starting to arrive in the mainstem Umpqua and fishing should be good.

With the onset of warmer temperatures, look for bass, perch and other warmwater fishing to pick up.

The Smith River is one of the few places in Oregon to find striped bass. Patient and persistent anglers can look for the bite to pick up as spring progresses.

Check the 2018 stocking schedule.

From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com

The very popular run of female surfperch that spawn in the three miles of Umpqua River above Winchester Bay has not started in earnest as of last weekend. It should happen any day.

The South Jetty at Winchester Bay is still producing good lingcod fishing, as well as decent fishing for greenling, rockfish and striped surfperch.

Some nice smallmouth bass bailed out a fishing trip on a cool, windy day last week on Woahink Lake.

Most of the waters in central Oregon are now open and fishable, but kokanee fishing in Wickiup Reservoir has been very slow – to the point where nobody is complaining about the daily five kokanee limit.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports – From our friend Tim Moran:

Wickiup Reservoir – Wickiup is still slow. The average is only 2 to 6 fish per day… my thinking is that for whatever reason this lake just doesn’t have the numbers it used to. But there’s plenty of food so the koke’s that are there are growing large.

Lake Billy Chinook – reports from there are the kokanee fishing has picked up there and some people are getting limits.

Deschutes River – This is the big news! the salmon fly hatch is in full bloom! And with the warm weather this weekend it should be good fishing but probably very crowded.

Prineville Reservoir – Trout and warm water fishing is really heating up at Prineville. Crappie are staging in pre-spawn and are taking small rubber jigs tipped with a little piece of worm.

It’s going to be warm this weekend and a great weekend to get out on the water so take mom fishing!

SW Washington – From WDF&W

Salmon/Steelhead

Many of the district’s systems remain sub-par for this time of year. The Cowlitz and Lewis should be going full steam ahead right now, but are under-performing given the recent year’s history. It should be peak catches, and if that’s the case, it’s clear that the prediction is coming to fruition, less than impressive.

Trollers working Drano Lake have a different story however. Catches for the popular fishery have predictably blossomed since counts at Bonneville have taken off. The Wind River fishery is taking off as well. and should remain productive for the next several weeks.

There is always more Oregon fishing information delivered earlier on our site, The Guide’s Forecast.  You can also sign-up for our weekly emails here.

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Oregon Fishing Updates for April 28th

Willamette Valley/Metro – With the Willamette finally clearing, anglers were out in force this week, with high hopes of spring Chinook success given the prefect water conditions and prime run timing. Many were rewarded with quality springers from St. Helens to Milwaukie as it’s clear that the run is well underway.

Not surprisingly, trolled herring stole the show, but plugs and prawns played a role in success as well. The water remains a bit too cold for spinners just yet, but that will change when the Willamette reaches 57 to 59 degrees in the coming weeks.

Oregon City was surprisingly slow to start, but given the long period of time that the sea lions were unable to feed in the turbid river, fish were running for their lives with no inspiration for taking an angler’s bait. As the water cleared, and the pinnipeds headed for the falls, success rates jumped this week, from the West Linn Bridge to Meldrum Bar.

Sturgeon fishing remains excellent in the lower reaches of the Willamette, but no catch and keep season is on the horizon.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920), of O2BFISHN Guide Service reports, “The river should only get better with fresh rains and the water temp is running around 48 degrees. The one thing that you want to look out for is the swimmers and sun bathers that are turning up with the warmer weather. I also had a client who hooked their first springer only to have it come off. There are springers all throughout the river.”

The Clackamas is much the same, with some summer fish, a few late run winter steelhead and a rare spring Chinook. Catches should improve in the coming weeks, but a significant bump in water levels is likely, following the unseasonably warm weather we’re currently experiencing this week that will certainly melt low-level snow.

Counts are starting to bump at Bonneville Dam, but passage remains depressed here. That said, catches in the Sunday test net fishery downstream are very encouraging. There seems to be a lot of fish in the lower reaches that are slow to migrate upstream. That should change in the coming weeks. There’s still no hope for additional time until half of the run passes Bonneville Dam so managers can get an accurate idea how robust the run is coming in at.

Northwest Oregon – Last week, I reported the winter steelhead run to be over on the north coast. The few motivated anglers fishing proved me very wrong.

Late season steelheaders on the Wilson and likely the Nestucca found a strong surge of winter steelhead late last week. One boat reported double-digit success with a 6-fish limit in no time on Thursday. All the action happened between Mills and Sollie Smith Bridge with most fish between 7 and 9 pounds, but fresh from the salt. That late surge has to be the last of the season, but summer steelhead and spring Chinook shouldn’t be far behind.

The offshore weekend weather forecast looks friendly for saltwater anglers seeking bottomfish. Lingcod success is starting to taper, but sea bass action is fast and furious. Charter operators are mastering the offshore long-leader fishery that enables anglers a 10 rockfish limit for a select group of slope species.

Halibut seasons were set at the Friday commission meeting in Salem, but commissioners went off the rails with a proposal to re-open mainstem Columbia gillnetting for summer Chinook this year, contradicting the already adopted and very publicly vetted policy currently in place.

Central and Eastern Oregon – Our friend Tim Moran reports:

Tim Reports, “Wickiup is slow but the kokanee are big, 16 to 22 inches. Most are fishing all day for 4 to 6 fish. We picked up two in four chances this morning and got two more this evening. The biggest was 18 “. All the fish have come trolling with no weight 100 feet behind the boat. Bladed flashers with hoochies tipped with white corn are drawing the strikes. Trolling for brown trout has been good in the mornings and evenings. Fish are averaging 18 to 20 inches. Trolling Rapalas is the ticket.

Fishing has been good at south Twin. Lots of limits. Trout are running 10 to 14 inches with the occasional brute! Worms and power bait were taking most of the fish, they are suspended just off the bottom.

As I’m up at the lake I haven’t gotten any reports from my other sources, so that’s what I know!”

Southwest – From ODF&W

Bottom Fishing

Weather this last couple of weeks has prevented most anglers from fishing for bottomfish. Reports from the last week prior to the series of systems moving through indicated that the lingcod bite had slowed somewhat, but many anglers were still able to get their limits. Rockfish fishing had been a lot more hit and miss with anglers spending more time to catch close to their limit. Reminder that as of Sunday, April 1, the bottomfish fishery is restricted to inside of the 30 fathom regulatory line.

Recreational Pacific halibut fisheries begin opening on May 1. Reminder that similar to the bottomfish fisheries, descending devices are mandatory when fishing for or retaining Pacific halibut. Additional information and details can be found on the 2018 Halibut Season map. https://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/finfish/halibut/seasonmaps/2018_halibut_map.pdf

The Family Fun Day, including a kid’s fishing event, at Upper Empire Lake will happen this Saturday, April 28 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Kids age 12 and older will need a fishing license to fish at the event.

During the shoulder season between winter steelhead and spring Chinook fishing, turn your attention to trout and warmwater fishing in area lakes and reservoirs.

Hyatt Lake and Howard Prairie Reservoir both will be stocked with 7,500 legal-size trout this week.

With the onset of warmer temperatures, look for warmwater fishing to take off in places like Johnsons Mill Pond, maistem Coquille, Tenmile Lakes, Fords Pond, Galesville Reservoir, Agate Lake, Applegate Reservoir, Emigrant Reservoir, Lake Selmac, Lost Creek Reservoir, Willow Lake and others.

The Smith River is one of the few places in Oregon to find striped bass. Patient and persistent anglers can look for the bite to pick up as spring progresses.

Anglers have reported catching rockfish, greenling and striped surfperch inside Coos Bay near the north jetty and other submerged rock structures.

2018 STOCKING SCHEDULE AND STOCKING MAP

From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com

Spring chinook fishing has improved somewhat on both the Umpqua and Rogue rivers but no genuine lunkers have yet been reported on either river. Bank anglers casting large spinners for springers at Winchester Bay have yet to report any salmon taken. In the last two weeks most of the Umpqua River springers have been taken between Wells Creek and Elkton. Fishing is improving as the river drops and clears and shad could start biting at any time.

Smallmouth bass should start biting on both the Umpqua and Coquille rivers and muddy water can be both a blessing and a curse – limiting which lures are effective, but warming up much quicker than clear water. Smallmouths in Woahink Lake should be gradually moving into shallow water over the next few weeks as their spawn approaches.

It looks like its going to be two to four weeks before the coastal largemouths get serious about spawning, but largemouth fisheries in the Medford area should be in their immediate pre-spawn stage, while spawning largemouths in the Roseburg area will lag their Medford-area brethren by about a week.

Numerous lakes in our area were planted last week and cool weather limited fishing success, so there should be plenty of stocked trout left. The only lake in our area stocked this week is Upper Empire Lake which received 2,000 trophy trout and will receive 2,500 legal rainbows next week.

With a slightly lower quota than last year, all-depth halibut for the central Oregon coast is set to begin its 3-day openers this year on May 10th.

SW Washington – From WDF&W

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – From the I-5 Bridge downstream: 143 bank rods kept 1 adult spring Chinook and 6 steelhead and released 1 steelhead. 18 boat rods kept 2 adult spring Chinook. Above the I-5 Bridge: 195 bank rods kept 7 adult spring Chinook and 22 steelhead and released 2 steelhead. 91 boat rods kept 3 adult and 1 jack spring Chinook and 20 steelhead and released 1 steelhead.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 629 winter-run steelhead and 90 spring Chinook adults and two jacks during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. During the past week, Tacoma Power employees released eight winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and they released 66 winter-run steelhead and 23 spring Chinook adults into the Cispus River, near Yellow Jacket Creek. Tacoma Power also released 14 winter-run steelhead and 20 spring Chinook adults into Lake Scanewa near Randle.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 6,280 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, April 23. Water visibility is five feet and the water temperature is 42.8 degrees F. Bank anglers should note the south side of the river from Mill Creek to the Barrier Dam is closed to all fishing from May 1 through June 15 per permanent regulations.

Kalama River – 29 bank anglers kept 1 adult spring Chinook and released 5 steelhead. 10 boat anglers kept 1 adult spring Chinook and released 3 steelhead.

Lewis River mainstem – 39 bank rods kept 1 adult spring Chinook. 16 boat rods kept 1 adult spring Chinook and released 1 adult spring Chinook.

North Fork Lewis River – 56 bank rods kept 1 adult spring Chinook 43 boat rods kept 7 adult spring Chinook and released 1 steelhead. Under current permanent rules, the Lewis (including North Fork) closes for spring Chinook effective May 1. Also, the area from Johnson Creek upstream to the dam is closed to all fishing during the month of May.

Wind River – 12 boat anglers had no catch.

Effective May 1 through June 30, from the mouth to the Hwy. 14 Bridge each angler aboard a vessel may deploy SALMON/STEELHEAD angling gear until the daily SALMON/STEELHEAD limit for all anglers aboard has been achieved. In addition, anglers with a Two-Pole Endorsement may fish for salmon and steelhead with two poles during the same period.

Beginning May 1, anti-snagging rule will be in effect from the Hwy. 14 Bridge upstream. When the antisnagging rule is in effect, only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained. Wind River from 100 feet above Shipherd Falls upstream to boundary markers approximately 800 yards downstream from Carson National Fish Hatchery (except closed 400 feet below to 100 feet above the Coffer Dam) –From May 1 through June 30, the salmon and steelhead daily limit will be a total of 2 chinook or hatchery steelhead or one of each. Unmarked chinook may be retained in this section of the Wind. Night closure and anti-snagging rule will be in effect. Only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained.

Drano Lake –2 bank anglers had no catch. 57 boat anglers kept 8 adult spring Chinook

Effective May 1 through June 30, each angler aboard a vessel may deploy SALMON/STEELHEAD angling gear until the daily SALMON/STEELHEAD limit for all anglers aboard has been achieved. In addition, anglers with a Two-Pole Endorsement may fish for salmon and steelhead with two poles during the same period.

Klickitat River – 5 bank anglers had no catch.

There is always more Oregon fishing information delivered earlier on our site, The Guide’s Forecast.  You can also sign-up for our weekly emails here.

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Do you want to see 100,000 spring Chinook back to the Willamette?

We won’t get this across the finish line without you. NOW is the time to join the Association of Northwest Steelheaders.

The Steelheaders and member of the NW Guides and Anglers Association spent all day on Capitol Hill last week, making the rounds to all of Oregon’s members of Congress, talking fish conservation, including an appropriate amendment to the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Fishing guides, anglers and Association members don’t just dress up in suits without a damn good reason. This is the sacrifice we make for more fish and better fisheries.

Plane tickets don’t grow on trees so please consider becoming a member of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders or DONATING to our Quest for 100K initiative. One of the best ways to get involved is to participate in this year’s Willamette Salmon Quest, a fun fishing tournament in which the proceeds go to funding our campaign, including our efforts to remove problematic sea lions from the population.

Thank you and PLEASE CONSIDER one or more of the above actions. Our fish and fisheries need you NOW!

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Oregon Fishing Update for April 21

Willamette Valley/Metro – Although not many had high expectations of good fishing for the surprise Saturday opener on the mainstem Columbia, persistent anglers found fair numbers of fish from Longview to Multnomah Falls on Saturday. Trollers took to the water in the gorge, where catches often are the most productive in the lower river if the fish are there. Numerous boats tallied keepers, with most agreeing it was the best fishing of the season. That of course is no surprise as test netting on April 8th showed a strong influx of fish. The April 15th test netting showed that the river had a LOT of spring Chinook present, counts should jump soon.

Also no surprise is the lack of fish over Bonneville Dam. With water temperatures still cold, and flows high, fish are slow to pass the facility. Fishery managers struggled with the additional day of opportunity on a joint-state call last week, but Oregon fishery managers felt assured that buffers put in place would be sufficient to bring the sport quota closer to its allocation without compromising upriver fisheries and conservation goals. More opportunity isn’t likely until early May, when managers have a better idea as to how the run is performing compared to pre-season expectations. If the latest test net results are any indication, the run looks to be coming in fairly strong.

The Willamette River was a chocolatey mess all week, but may improve over the weekend. Anglers should find good success when it does clear as spring Chinook action should be approaching the peak period.

The Sandy and Clackamas Rivers will experience a lull in action, but both should start producing a few spring Chinook and summer steelhead in the coming weeks.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920), of O2BFISHN Guide Service reports, “This week report is a mixed bag of fish. Reports of summer steelhead showing up as well as springers and some late native winters. Beads and small jigs have been the ticket for most fish. For springers small bait when the river is low on the clear side, use of prawns, shrimp and eggs about quarter size.”

Northwest Oregon – Tillamook steelheaders have seen the last of their winter fish come and go. Prior to the recent river rise late last week, anglers reported good catches on the Wilson and Nestucca Rivers. One guide reported a double digit day on the Wilson last Thursday, boating 5 keepers with just one other boat on the water. The river went out again the very next day.

Winter steelhead season is all but over in Tillamook County, but the season’s first spring Chinook should hit the deck (or bank) any day now. The first fish is often landed on the Trask River in high water years.

Summer steelhead will return to the Wilson and Nestucca Rivers, but peak for that run is still six weeks away.

Bottomfishing was an option for cautious anglers at mid-week, with good lingcod and sea bass fishing had by those that ventured out of Garibaldi. Seas are expected to remain uncomfortable into the weekend.

Morning minus tides may offer up some clamming options in Tillamook and Netarts Bays this week and weekend. Razor clam diggers may also find some success along Tillamook and Clatsop County beaches on the morning tide.

Sturgeon seasons are crafted – Oregon and Washington fishery managers inked a series of catch and keep sturgeon dates from mid-May through early June. Open dates are:

May 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28, 30, June 2 and 4.

Managers modeled more open days this year than last, since catch rates aren’t as explosive in May as they are in June. Of course those dates are subject to change if anglers achieve the quota sooner than expected.

Central and Eastern Oregon – Our friend Tim Moran reports:

This weekend is the traditional opening for trout in Oregon (even though most lakes and streams are now open year-round)  Some of the favorite haunts do open this weekend but keep in mind ODFW has thrown a curve ball in 2018.  Many of your favorite lakes including Crane Prairie, Wickiup and Odell open this year on SUNDAY April 22nd.  Don’t be the guy out there trolling around on Saturday or all you will get is a ticket and probably a “voluntary” boat inspection!

Wickiup Reservoir – Wickiup has had very good opening day and early season fishing for large kokanee for a few years now.  It will not put out the numbers that other lakes do but the average fish the last two years has been around 16 inches with brutes to 24 inches.  This is where I’ll be for a week! Brown trout will be on the prowl too.  Fish the sides of channels and over the flooded plains and stumps on the left towards the dam. We are fortunate to have such a great trophy fishery for brown trout and leaving these behemoths to spawn will ensure their future – besides kokanee taste a lot better!

Crane Prairie – Crane almost always fishes good on the opening.  You can fish worms or power  bait floated off the bottom in the channels or suspend worms or dragon fly nymphs off the bottom in the coves near any areas with lots of sunken woody debris.

Odell – Odell is another kokanee factory and lots of people fish it for the sheer numbers.  Kokanee to 16 inches are rare but limits are not.  Fish it with two shallow rods out the back like you would at Wickiup and then stage your next two rods with either down riggers or lead.

South Twin – It’s open all year now but always draws a crowd on opening day.  The boys from Central Oregon Fishing Report in Bend fished it last week and did very well suspending worms off the bottom.  You can find them on FaceBook and watch their video.  Power bait usually is very good too.  This is a great place to get your kids out and get them into fishing and camping!

This should be a great weekend as it looks like the weather is turning just in time.  Best of luck to everyone!

Southwest – From ODF&W

Bottom Fishing

Weather this last couple of weeks has prevented most anglers from fishing for bottomfish. Reports from the last week prior to the series of systems moving through indicated that the lingcod bite had slowed somewhat, but many anglers were still able to get their limits. Rockfish fishing had been a lot more hit and miss with anglers spending more time to catch close to their limit. Reminder that as of Sunday, April 1, the bottomfish fishery is restricted to inside of the 30 fathom regulatory line.

The longleader gear fishery outside of the 40 fathom regulatory line has been authorized to continue in April through September. Recent catches from the offshore longleader trips often consist of a nice grade of yellowtail, widow and canary rockfishes. Reminder that the Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation Area is closed to all bottomfish trips, including longleader trips.

The Stonewall Bank Yelloweye Rockfish Conservation area, approximately 15 miles west of Newport, is closed to bottomfish (groundfish) and halibut fishing year round.

River conditions are almost perfect on the lower Rogue, and spring Chinook fishing has started to turn on.

Winter steelhead fishing on the middle and upper Rogue continues to be fair to good.

The North Umpqua is looking really good for steelhead fishing, which should be good through the end of the month.

The Smith River is one of the few places in Oregon to find striped bass. Patient and persistent anglers can look for the bite to pick up as spring progresses.

Fishing for bass and other warmwater fish has been getting better, especially on warm afternoons. Consider Agate Lake, Emigrant Reservoir, Expo Pond, Lake Selmac and Reinhart Park Pond.

Anglers have reported catching rockfish and lingcod inside the Umpqua jetty and in Coos Bay near the north jetty and other submerged rock structures.

From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com

There was some good news last week regarding ocean salmon fishing. The ocean chinook season, which normally runs from March 15th through October 31st, but this year was only slated to run from March 15th through April 30th has been extended to its normal October 31st closing date.

The ocean finclipped season will start on June 30th and run through September 3rd – if the 35,000 finclipped coho quota has not been reached.

The ODFW forecast for coho is down this year for both the Oregon coast and Columbia River, – largely due to poor ocean feed conditions.

Commercial troll fishing for Chinook will be open intermittently along the whole Oregon coast from May through the summer. In 2017, all commercial salmon trolling was closed south of Florence.

Winchester Bay’s South Jetty continues to provide fair fishing for striped surfperch, greenling and rockfish and good fishing for lingcod. Muddy Umpqua River water can best be dealt with by fishing near high tide when the clearer ocean water is most evident.

Trout plants this week in the Florence area include Alder Lake (850 legals, 511 trophies); Dune Lake (850 legals, 711 trophies); Perkins Lake (325 trophies); Siltcoos Lagoon (881 trophies); Siltcoos Lake (1,000 trophies) and Sutton Lake (1,500 trophies) Trout plants in Coos County include South Tenmile Lake (3,000 legals); Powers Pond (3,000 legals; and Lower Empire Lake (2,000 trophies). Upper Empire Lake is slated to receive 2,000 trophy rainbows next week. Garrison Lake, in Port Orford, was also stocked (3,000 legals, 200 trophies).

Recent cool temperatures has put the “kibosh” on warmwater fishing success. Spawning crappie have yet to show up at the upper end of Loon Lake or the lower end of Eel Lake.

If and when the Umpqua River clears and drops there should be fishable numbers of shad in the river.

SW Washington – From WDF&W

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – From the I-5 Br downstream: 120 bank rods kept 2 adult spring Chinook and 2 steelhead. 17 boat rods kept 1 adult spring Chinook. Above the I-5 Br: 146 bank rods kept 14 adult spring Chinook and 20 steelhead and released 2 steelhead. 199 boat rods kept 3 adult spring Chinook and 49 steelhead and released 4 steelhead. Most of the spring Chinook were checked at the barrier dam; steelhead at the trout hatchery.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 775 winter-run steelhead, 39 spring Chinook adults and two jacks during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. During the past week, Tacoma Power employees released 40 winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and they released 14 winter-run steelhead and one spring Chinook adult into the Cispus River, near Yellow Jacket Creek. Tacoma Power also released 33 winter-run steelhead and one spring Chinook adult into Lake Scanewa near Randle.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 6,340 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, April 16. Water visibility is 6 feet and the water temperature is 44.6 degrees F.

Kalama River – 33 bank anglers released 1 steelhead. 7 boat anglers had no catch.

Mainstem Lewis River – 15 bank rods released 1 adult spring Chinook. 1 boat angler had no catch.

North Fork Lewis River – 20 bank rods had no catch. 17 boat rods kept 3 adult spring Chinook and released 2 steelhead.

Wind River – 3 boat anglers had no catch.

Drano Lake – 4 boat anglers had no catch.

Klickitat River – 4 bank anglers had no catch.

There is always more Oregon fishing information delivered earlier on our site, The Guide’s Forecast.  You can also sign-up for our weekly emails here.

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Oregon Fishing Update for April 14

Willamette Valley/Metro – Now with the Columbia closed, effort will shift to the Willamette River but recent rains have put the Willamette out as far as turbidity, for the near future. On the Willamette, this year’s catches are tracking ahead of last year’s, but behind the 5-year average, which was to be expected. The middle reach of the Willamette, from downtown Portland to Milwaukie, continues to produce the best catches for those trolling herring. Anglers will be lucky to get back on the water by the middle of next week given the upcoming weather forecast.

The Columbia closed with a thud. Catches had just begun to improve until upper basin water releases cooled the bite. The Westport area was putting out good catches and anglers fishing in the I-5 reach were seeing some improvement as well. Anchor anglers seemed to be out fishing trollers for the last few days of the season. Due to the uncertainty of the run, managers are taking a precautionary approach and adopted the following season:

The Clackamas River will remain out of reach for a while longer, but when it does come back into shape, late running winter steelhead should be available. Although clearly a down year, opportunity should exist into May, with some summer steelhead in the mix. Better spring Chinook fishing likely won’t happen until May.

Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920), of O2BFISHN Guide Service reports, “The Sandy is also blown out and may stay that way until after the weekend. Anglers here are catching mostly wild winter steelhead requiring release, but a few summer steelhead and spring Chinook should start showing in the catches.”

Trojan, Harriet and Salmonberry Lakes, as well as Haldeman Pond will all be stocked with trout this week.

Northwest – Rain pummeled the north coast as well, but storms have subsided and rivers should be fishable by Friday. Late run winter steelhead should be available on most systems, although some rivers and river reaches closed on April 1stso check regulations before going out.

The Nestucca, with the Wilson a distant 2nd, should produce fair catches for end-of-season steelhead. Anglers are likely to find a mix of both returning spawned out fish, as well as a rare fresh one. Some summer steelhead should start to show in both of these systems as well.

No word on the season’s first spring Chinook, but it could be any day now. Action won’t improve until mid-May however.

Surf perch fishing is often productive this time of year but swell heights are forecast to be too high for safe fishing conditions. Needless to say, bottomfishing will not be an option either for the foreseeable future.

Many district lakes received large plants of rainbow trout last week and this week. Action should be good when the weather cooperates.

Central and Eastern Oregon – Our friend Tim Moran reports:

Crescent and Odell Lakes – Lake trout fishing is picking up for those who aren’t afraid of the cold temps.  The fish are coming out of winter and some of the fish pics I’ve seen are massive! .

Ochoco Reservoir – Fishing has been great between storms.  Most trout are coming still fishing a worm floated off the bottom or trolling a worm and a flasher slowly.  Trout are running 10 to 12 inches with the occasional lunker!

Metolius River – Fishing is good.  there are BWO hatches from noon to about 2:30.  There are also some beautiful yellow mayflies coming off and the trout are keying in on them as soon s the hatch starts.

John Day River – Smallmouth are waking up and fishing is good (for Early Spring) when the river is in shape.  It blew out like every river in Oregon did last week that doesn’t have major flood control.

Davis Lake – If the weather turns around soon, Davis should fish good.  I love this lake in the spring.  Rumor has it that the trout fishing is coming back so I’ll be out there soon hunting for those awesome rainbows.

Deschutes River – Before the big storm last weekend the Big D was fishing really well.  BWO’s and size 12 brown caddis flies were fishing good in the afternoon and girdle bugs and Jimmy Legs with a smaller trailing nymph were taking trout all day.

That’s all for now…good luck this weekend everyone!   I’ll be in Cabo chasing Dorado and Marlin come Thursday…I know….but someone has to do it!

Southwest – From ODF&W

Bottom Fishing

Weather this last weekend kept most anglers off the ocean. However, reports over the previous couple of weeks indicated that the lingcod bite has slowed somewhat, but many anglers are still able to get their limits. Rockfish fishing has been a lot more hit and miss with anglers spending more time to catch close to their limit. Reminder that beginning Sunday, April 1, the bottomfish fishery is restricted to inside of the 30 fathom regulatory line. In the flatfish fishery, creels typically include sanddabs, sand sole and Petrale sole.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will finalize the recreational halibut fisheries at their April 20 meeting.

River conditions are almost perfect on the lower Rogue, and spring Chinook fishing has started to turn on.

Winter steelhead fishing on the middle and upper Rogue has been good.

Winter Steelhead fishing has been good on the North and South Umpqua rivers, and should be good again if the water drops.

Several waterbodies have been stocked with trout. Check the reports to find a location near you.

Many lake and reservoirs are scheduled to be stocked this week and should make for some great fishing.

Fishing for bass and other warmwater fish has been getting better, especially on warm afternoons. Consider Agate Lake, Emigrant Reservoir, Expo Pond, Lake Selmac and Reinhart Park Pond.

Anglers have reported catching rockfish and lingcod inside Coos Bay near the north jetty and other submerged rock structures.

From Pete Heley at PeteHeley.com

Quite a few area lakes received trout plants this week. Loon Lake and Lake Marie each received 1,000 legal rainbows.

Winchester Bay’s South Jetty continues to offer good fishing for lingcod and rockfish – as does virtually every saltwater jetty in Oregon.

Redtail surfperch, often called “pinkfins” and walleye surfperch have been biting well on the beach adjacent to the second parking lot south of the Triangle.

The much-anticipated run of female redtail surfperch up the Umpqua River usually starts around the first week in May and lasts until late July

The first shad should be bending rods on the Umpqua River near Sawyers Rapids and Yellow Creek within the next couple of weeks.

Spring chinook fishing on the Umpqua and Rogue rivers continues to be slow, but it is still early in the season and fishing should improve.

On the Smith River, stripers seem to school up in a few holes on the North Fork about three miles upstream of where the North Fork Smith River enters the mainstem Smith River.

On the Coquille River in the spring, muddy water is often a factor limiting fishing success.

SW Washington – From WDF&W

 

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – From the I-5 Br downstream: 42 bank rods kept 3 steelhead and released 1 cutthroat. 3 boat anglers kept one adult spring Chinook. Above the I-5 Br: 129 bank rods kept 12 adult spring Chinook and 6 steelhead and released 1 steelhead. 99 boat rods kept 34 steelhead and released 3 steelhead. Most of the steelhead were sampled at the Trout Hatchery while most of the salmon were checked at the salmon hatchery.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 228 winter-run steelhead and two spring Chinook adults during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. During the past week, Tacoma Power employees released 13 winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton and they released one winter-run steelhead into the Cispus River near Yellow Jacket Creek. Tacoma Power released 20 winter-run steelhead into Lake Scanewa near Randle. River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 6,370 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, April 9. Water visibility is nine feet and the water temperature is 44.1 degrees F.

East Fork Lewis from mouth to top boat ramp at Lewisville Park and Washougal River from mouth to Mt. Norway Bridge – Open to fishing for hatchery steelhead Monday April 16. Through the first Friday in June, selective gear rules are in effect; no bait may be used.

Kalama River – 23 bank anglers kept 1 steelhead. 7 boat anglers had no catch. Now closed to retention of steelhead through May 15.

North Fork Lewis River – 24 bank anglers had no catch.

Wind River – 1 boat angler had no catch.

Drano Lake – 5 boat anglers had no catch.

Wed. April 11 is the first of the scheduled Wednesday closures that run through June. Effective April 16 through June 30, bank fishing only west of a line projected from the easternmost pillar of the Hwy. 14 Bridge to a posted marker on the north shore.

Klickitat River – 4 bank anglers had no catch. Open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays only through May. Trout Tacoma Power released 4,020 rainbow trout into Mayfield Lake. They are part of the 72,000 fish expected to be planted between April and August.

There is always more Oregon fishing information delivered earlier on our site, The Guide’s Forecast.  You can also sign-up for our weekly emails here.

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