Oregon Fishing Report for January 20

Willamette Valley/Metro – Sandy River steelheaders saw some fair action last week, and guides were able to keep it hush for most of the time. The word is out now however, some good catches were falling downstream of Dabney State Park. High flows call for big beads and brilliant colors, but as flows drop, make your offerings smaller and more subtle. We’re entering peak season for steelheaders here, with numbers growing into mid-February.

The Clackamas hasn’t been as productive, but effort has been light as well. Broodstock steelhead should start to show in better numbers through late February, but anglers haven’t been impressed just yet.

Both the Clackamas and Sandy Rivers reached ideal levels early this week, but were on the rise again, threatening weekend opportunities. Anglers did take advantage of good conditions and found steelhead on Monday and Tuesday.

The Willamette remains high and muddy, which is ok for sturgeon, and challenging for steelheaders. It won’t get any better for the foreseeable future either.

Two salmon, technically spring Chinook, have passed Bonneville Dam already. No need to get excited just yet.

The Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show is coming up February 7 – 11. Look for exhibitor information in an upcoming issue of the Portland Tribune.

Northwest – After a tough week last week, steelheaders were finding some fresh run fish on the Wilson early this week. Some quality sized broodstock fish hit the deck on the Wilson, and the Nestucca River is starting to show signs of life as well. The upper drifts above Mills Bridge produced early in the week, but water levels are expected to remain stable into the weekend.

The North Fork Nehalem produced some surprising catches over the weekend, especially for anglers able to fish from the disabled platform. Returning hatchery fish stack here in good number before entering the hatchery.

Most north coast streams that harbored early returning steelhead should start to see some spawned out fish headed back to sea. There are commonly a few late returning bright hens that can produce fair table fare, but most anglers will be focusing on wild fish on the Kilchis, Trask and mainstem Nehalem Rivers, while those still seeking a hatchery fish option will stick to the Wilson and Nestucca systems.

Still no sign of a calming sea, so bottomfish will continue to get a reprieve after a productive New Year’s Day. Some commercial crabbers got out to set gear, but huge seas will likely prevent them from retrieving it for the foreseeable future.

Tides will be favorable for late morning crabbing on the coastal estuaries, and with commercial pots not set just yet, it should remain productive. Netarts and Tillamook Bays will likely produce the best catches.

Crabbers working the lower Columbia River are still faring good results. Weekend tides should be productive too.

Steelhead in the Klaskanine and Necanicum Rivers, as well as Big and Gnat Creek should be completing their spawning cycle. Down-runners will make up the bulk of the catch, but do provide good sport, along with an occasional fresh fish.

Southwest – From ODF&W outdoor report:

2018 Sport Groundfish (beginning Monday, Jan. 1, 2018)

Bottomfish fishery

Open at all depths, Jan-Mar and Oct –Dec. Only open inside of 30 fathom line Apr-Sept.

General Marine Fish daily bag limit is 5 fish; no sub-bag limits except for cabezon when open.

Cabezon opens July 1, with a 1 fish sub-bag limit.

Lingcod daily bag limit is 2 fish, separate from the General Marine fish bag limit. Minimum size of 22 inches.

Yelloweye rockfish prohibited at all times and in all waters.

Flatfish daily bag limit is 25 fish for species of sanddab, sole, flounder, etc. Does not include Pacific halibut.
Open all depths year round.

Anglers are reporting fair surfperch fishing from southern Oregon beaches.

Anglers from Winchester Bay are reporting good surfperch fishing in the Triangle and south jetty areas.

With steelhead rivers vacillating between low and clear, and high and muddy, anglers may want hit Garrison Lake for some trout fishing.

Lost Creek Reservoir is a winter trout fishing hot spot in the Rogue Valley.

Winter steelhead should pick up on the Coos and Coquille rivers once we get some significant rain.

Winter steelhead fishing has been good on the Umpqua.

Anglers have been catching trout up to 19-inches while trolling in Tenmile Lakes.

Anglers have been catching some surfperch when ocean swells have been small.

Ocean fishing for bottomfish has been great when conditions allow.

From our friend Pete Heley:

The ODFW is also encouraging anglers to turn in their combined angling or “salmon “ tags. While there isn’t a financial penalty for not doing so, the information helps the ODFW make better fish management decisions. One-day and multi-day licenses also have space to track salmon, steelhead and halibut harvest. Anglers who purchased these documents are also encouraged to return them to ODFW.

Combined Angling Tags, Hatchery Salmon/Steelhead Harvest Cards and one-or multi-day licenses can be turned in to most POS agents or at any ODFW office located throughout the state. The cards can also be mailed to any ODFW office or to ODFW Headquarters, 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE, Salem, OR 97302.

Steelhead angling remains tough, but the rain predicted for this week should help. Tenmile Creek has shown some improvement. While most anglers are using salmon roe or sand shrimp, an angler fishing the confluence of Eel and Tenmile creeks caught three hatchery steelhead in three casts last week while fishing a pink plastic worm below a bobber.

The warm temperatures last weekend allowed a number of anglers to make very good catches of largemouth bass at Tenmile Lakes.

Pete Heley works parttime at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from ‘A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.

Eastern – From our friend Tim Moran:

Crooked River –  The weather this past weekend on the Crooked was spectacular!  The river is a little low and very clear for this river.  Fishing is good with nymphs.  We caught most of our fish on size 18 red serendipity’s and a size 20 non-bead head sparkle pheasant tails.  Fish were in the seams and deeper tail-outs.  Rainbows ran 9 to 13″ and we got some big whitefish too!  There was a Blue Wing Olive hatch in the afternoon. We scored on size 22 emerging BWO’s to get our strikes.

Fall River – The Fall River is loaded with fish and some of the Rainbows are Steelhead size.  This is great for the potential of hooking big fish…the difficulty will be landing them as 6 and 7x tippet is required for this fishery most of the time.  Fishing near the hatchery and down below the falls was good this past weekend.  We sight cast’d to fish up near the hatchery and caught several on very small 20 to 22 sparkle pheasant tail nymphs.  We ditched the plastic ball indicators and went with a very small piece of tan yarn and some float-ant.    These fish are wary and see a lot of nymphs so leave the metal headed nymphs in the fly box and fish small and stealthy.

Colder weather returns to central and eastern Oregon next week so the fishing may be a bit more challenging.  Good luck to everyone who get’s out on the water this week!

SW Washington – Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – From the I-5 Br. downstream: 5 bank rods had no catch. Upstream from the I-5 Br: 19 bank and 1 boat rods had no catch.

Early hatchery steelhead returns to date. Kind of a mixed bag from the same time last year.

2018 hatchery returns vs. 2017 hatchery returns

Elochoman River – From Shane McEneny, WDFW Fish Hatchery Specialist 4 – This year’s return is coming back from a plant of only 65k smolts but is the first year since before 2009 that the fish were reared with predator netting and fencing. Numbers of returning adults have been phenomenal as we are close to 600 trapped for the season with anticipations of reaching 1,000. We are surplussing and recycling adults which we haven’t done for years and the fishing pressure has been enormous with a lot of happy fisherman. Next winter’s return will come back from a plant of almost double the smolts.

Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam – No effort was observed for steelhead.

Sturgeon

Bonneville and The Dalles pools – Boat anglers are catching some legals. The Dalles Pool was the best with a legal kept per about every 3 rods.

Bass and Walleye

Bonneville Pool – No effort was observed for either specie.

The Dalles Pool – Bank and boat anglers are doing well for walleye. No effort was observed for bass.

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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Quest for 100k Campaign

Join your fellow fishing community members at the launch of the Association of Northwest Steelheader’s Quest for 100k campaign. The goal of the campaign is to get 100,000 adult spring Chinook back to the Willamette River Basin each and every year by 2028. This goal can only be achieved if all Oregonians work together in achieving this.

Date & Time:  Tuesday, January 9th, 2018, doors open at 6:30 p.m. and program goes until 8:30 p.m.

Where: Camp Withycombe 15300 SE Minuteman Way Clackamas, Or 97015-9372

FREE TICKETS on the Steelheader’s home page at http://www.nwsteelheaders.org

 

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Oregon Fishing Reports for January 5

Willamette Valley/Metro – Be sure to get your 2018 fishing license, tag and Columbia River endorsement before you go out this winter. A shellfish license is also needed if you’re going to crab, clam or dig sand shrimp.

With the Clackamas and Sandy Rivers just now coming into fishable shape, steelheaders will be anxious to get after returning broodstock steelhead that should be getting more abundant through January. There should be fishable numbers on both of these systems by the weekend.

The recent high water event should have steelhead well distributed to Dodge Park on the Sandy River, and Feldheimers on the Clackamas. High water calls for colorful baits and larger offerings. As flows drop, so should the size of your offering. Wild coho are spawning now, so steelhead may be receptive to single hard and soft beads so pack a variety of gear with you to match the water conditions.

Interest is low for sturgeon in the lower Willamette. Action is good however as even a few degrees warmer than the Columbia will draw in fish for the winter.

Steelheaders working the Willamette River at Meldrum Bar should start to see better action by the weekend, but interest remains low.

Free tickets are now available for the Association of Northwest Steelheader’s Quest for 100k campaign, and an update on the sea lion legislation on the Willamette and Columbia systems taking place at Camp Withycombe on January 9th at 6:30 p.m. Visit their home page at http://www.nwsteelheaders.org for more details.

Northwest – Following the recent high water event, steelheaders working the smaller streams are still finding mediocre results for what should be peak season. The North Fork Nehalem and Three Rivers will likely begin to fade, but the Wilson River produced nicely before the high water event, and was producing fair results at mid-week, but not as good as prior to the rain event. Broodstock steelhead are now being caught with some regularity from Vanderzanden’s to Sollie Smith Bridge. A few strays are also being caught on the Trask River as well, but most fish are wild here.

Those recreating over the New Year’s holiday found fair success for crab in Tillamook and Netarts Estuaries, but the big story was calm seas on the bottomfish opener January 1st. Those that ventured out of Garibaldi southward to Three Arch rocks were rewarded with good action for sea bass and lingcod. The new daily limit for rockfish is five fish per person, with an additional 2 lingcod allowed. Crabbing, still closed to the commercial fleet until January 12th, was equally productive. Rough seas have once again dominated the seascape however, closing what small window opened up last weekend.

I continually see pots ocean-bound DAILY on the strong tides like what we had last weekend. If you don’t weight your pots correctly, or place them in an area where strong flows will occur (especially on a minus tide), you WILL LOSE THEM! No, they did not get stolen, you just crabbed inadequate gear.

Chinook season is now closed, and won’t open up again until April 1st. Wild steelhead should start to show in all of the district’s river systems this week, but better numbers will enter in February and March.

Southwest – From ODF&W

The recreational bottomfish fishery reopened Jan. 1, 2018. For details see the Sport Groundfish Seasons Webpage.

Open at all depths, with a general marine fish daily bag limit of 5 fish.
Anglers are reporting fair surfperch fishing from southern Oregon beaches.
Anglers from Winchester Bay are reporting good surfperch fishing in the Triangle and south jetty areas.

With steelhead rivers vacillating between low and clear, and high and muddy, anglers may want hit Garrison Lake for some trout fishing.

Winter steelhead should pick up on the Coos and Coquille rivers once we get some significant rain.

Winter steelhead fishing has been good on the Umpqua.

Anglers have been catching trout up to 19-inches while trolling in Tenmile Lakes.

Anglers have been catching some surfperch when ocean swells have been small.

Ocean fishing for bottomfish has been great when conditions allow.
From our friend Pete Heley

Beginning Jan. 1, the daily bag limit for Marine Fish will be 5 with a 2 lingcod limit IN ADDITION to the 5 fish marine bag limit. Yelloweye rockfish retention prohibited at all times and in all waters. An offshore longleader fishery will have a daily bag limit of 10. Check the ODFW website for keepable fish species when using this method.

The ALL-DEPTH bottomfish season runs from Jan. 1st through March 31st and from Oct. 1st through December 31st. In other words, bottomfishing at depths greater than 30 fathoms IS CLOSED from April 1st through Sept. 30th. This all-depth closure affects retention such marine fish as rockfish, greenlings, lingcods, skates and sharks.

Crabbing continues to be very good, especially in the ocean, but the reopening of the commercial crab season on Jan. 15th will undoubtedly have a negative effect on recreational ocean crabbing.

For the third consecutive year the Oregon Coast Anglers will be collecting used Christmas trees this year. The trees will be placed by high school students in tributaries of the Umpqua and Smith rivers to provide more favorable habitat for young salmon and steelhead. The ODFW will coordinate with the OCA in picking the actual sites for tree placement.

Pete Heley works part-time at the Stockade Market & Tackle, across from ‘A’ Dock, in Winchester Bay where he is more than happy to swap fishing info with anyone.

Eastern – Here’s friend Tim Moran’s treasure trove of information from mostly the central and east side of the state, and a little bit of clamming action too!

Hi Guys, here’s my fairly sparse….Fishing report (my clamming report was great on NYE and SLOW on Tuesday night) Gearhart to Fort Stevens.

Grande Ronde River – Steelhead fishing near Troy is good at times. Fishing nymphs and beads/egg fly patterns is the way to go. Spin fishermen should be focusing on beads and jigs. Warmer air temps this week should get the fish in a biting mood.

Wallowa River – Steeelhead are being caught from Minam Park downstream. Fish are also being caught above the park along the highway. The Rondowa area has put out some very good days as well. The weather will be warmer this week with a little rain which should make for good conditions.

Crooked River – Flows are stable and low. Fishing is good with nymphs. Keep them small and use a small yarn indicator or a dry fly. There should be some BWO and midge hatches in the early afternoon. Fish size 20 and 22 to get these fish to strike. Size is usually the key.

It’s still pretty slow out there but any river that’s flowing in central/eastern Oregon is going to have catchable trout in them. This is a great time to scout as there aren’t many people or snakes about.

I’ll be out on the river next week with a firsthand report.

Until then…tight lines and good luck everyone!

 

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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Quest for 100k and State of the Sea Lion Bill

Join the Association of Northwest Steelheaders on Tuesday, January 9th, 2018 for the Quest for 100,000 Willamette River bound spring Chinook and an update on our collective efforts to save Willamette Basin wild winter steelhead from extinction. We’ll update you on the status of the section 120 permit to remove wild steelhead chomping sea lions at Willamette Falls, and change the way we address pinnipeds predation in the Willamette and Columbia River watersheds.

Tickets are FREE and available from the Steelheader’s homepage here!

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Oregon Fishing Reports for December 29th

Willamette Valley/Metro – Following the wintery blast, temperatures warmed and coupled with a good batch of rain, caused metro rivers to rise and become out of reach for most steelheaders. Action wasn’t great anyway, as most of the metro steelhead stocks have switched to later returning broodstock fish, which are due to peak later in January and February. Action should improve following the current rain freshet.

Plunkers that commonly work Meldrum Bar for winter steelhead this time of year are largely giving up. Steelhead are scarce on the Willamette, and sea lions are working steelhead and sturgeon in the area, further depressing anglers. The river is scheduled to rise over the weekend, further dampening prospects.

There should still be good numbers of broodstock trout available this week in Walling Pond, Junction City Pond, Timber Linn Lake, Sunnyside Park Pond, Henry Hagg Lake, Blue Lake, Mt. Hood Pond, Huddleston Pond, Canby Pond. Over 100 large trout were planted in nearly each of these bodies of water (except Mt. Hood Pond and Canby Pond). Henry Hagg Lake remains a great all-year option for various sizes of trout now as well.

Free tickets are now available for the Association of Northwest Steelheader’s Quest for 100k campaign, and an update on the sea lion legislation on the Willamette and Columbia systems taking place at Camp Withycombe on January 9th at 6:30 p.m. Visit their home page at www.nwsteelheaders.org for more details.

Northwest – Early season steelhead were falling with more regularity prior to the cold snap on the Oregon Coast. The North Fork Nehalem, Three Rivers near Hebo and the Wilson River should have catchable numbers of fish present.

Returning numbers thus far have been depressed, the North Fork Nehalem has reported fewer than 300 fish to date collected in their trap.

The Wilson appears to be a bright spot, relatively speaking anyway. Coupled with early season “brats,” are some quality broodstock fish tipping the scales well into the teens. This component of steelhead will surge in the coming weeks, providing great opportunities for anglers through March. Wild fish numbers should also improve on the Wilson.

The Trask and Nehalem should also start to see growing numbers of wild fish as well. Of course all wild fish must be released unharmed. These larger wild fish are more apt to take hardware, especially when water temperatures warm.

Retention of Chinook on the north coast closes starting January 1st.

Tide exchanges will be on the increase this week, making bay crabbing more challenging.

The ocean opens back up for bottomfish on Monday. Now, we just need a cooperative ocean forecast to excite anglers. Ocean crabbing should be excellent until the commercial fleet starts soaking pots starting January 12th.

Columbia River fishing report – no fishing to speak of, but crabbers will take a crack at lower Columbia opportunity over the New Years weekend, it should be good.

Be mindful of the strong minus tide over the weekend, you’ll need to make sure you retrieve your gear by high slack, or risk losing it to the intense outgoing.

You may want to bring your clam shovel or gun however. Clatsop beaches may be ripe for the picking come Sunday night. The swell should lie down, motivating razors to feed near the surface, where diggers should have good access to them.

Great opportunities for both fresh Dungeness crab AND razor clams don’t come along simultaneously all that often.

Stay safe!

Southwest – From Pete Heley at www.PeteHeley.com

12/21
The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announce that recreational crabbing is now open from Cape Blanco, north of Port Orford, to the Columbia River. Crab samples taken from the area indicate that levels of the marine biotoxin domoic acid have dropped below the alert level.

12/22
The commercial Dungeness crab fishery will open on most of Oregon’s coast on Jan. 15, 2018. Dungeness crab will be ready to be harvested from Cape Blanco to the Columbia River, and north into Washington.

12/24
Gary Wolfer reported that he took advantage of calm ocean conditions to crab the ocean outside of Winchester Bay. Gary and two friends ended up with a boat limit (36) of crabs and most of them were well over the 5 3/4-inch minimum legal size.

Whale Watching Week starts December 27th. Although the “official” whale watching site is located in Depoe Bay, it isn’t the best Oregon location to actually view migrating whales. There are better whale-viewing sites in our local area including Shore Acres Park (just south of Charleston), Cape Perpetua (north of Florence) and Face Rock (just south of Bandon).

But many people consider the very best spot to view migrating gray whales along the entire Oregon coast is from the viewing area overlooking the mouth of the Umpqua River in the Umpqua Lighthouse State Park in Winchester Bay.

From ODF&W

Beginning Jan 1, 2018, the recreational bottomfish fishery will reopen with a 5 fish daily bag limit, no sub-bag limits (except cabezon when open).

Due to in-season regulation changes, for the remainder of 2017 anglers may NOT catch or retain lingcod, any species of rockfish, cabezon, greenling, or other bottomfish species except for flatfish species like sanddab and starry flounder. Surfperch fishing is not impacted by this closure, and remains open.

Anglers are reporting fair surfperch fishing from southern Oregon beaches.

Anglers from Winchester Bay are reporting good surf perch fishing in the Triangle and south jetty areas.

With steelhead rivers vacillating between low and clear, and high and muddy, anglers may want hit Garrison Lake for some trout fishing.

Expo and Reinhart ponds have been recently stocked with rainbow trout.

Winter steelhead should pick up on the Coos and Coquille rivers once we get some significant rain.

Winter steelhead fishing continues to pick up on the Umpqua.

Anglers have been catching trout up to 19-inches while trolling in Tenmile Lakes.

Anglers have been catching some surfperch when ocean swells have been small.

Eastern – Waterbodies are starting to ice over, but ice thicknesses are unknown. Use caution when venturing out on the ice.

From our friend Tim Moran:

Deschutes River – Warm Springs to Maupin – Steelhead are still available but they’re going to act like trout in the colder temps. Nymph fish with stones, jig flies and beads. I use a 10′ 6 wt. for trout and Steelhead so I only have to carry one rod. Middle Deshutes below Benham Falls – swing wooly buggers and small streamers for browns and bows. Fishing won’t be red hot but your chances are better than sitting in-doors.

Metolius River – It’s fishing good below Allingham Bridge (closed above). Not too many fish looking up this time of year but it’s a great winter nymph fishery. Fish blue prince, golden stones and zebra midge nymphs in size 14 and smaller. If you get a hatch then it’s probably a BWO in size 22 or a 22 to 24 midge.

Grande Ronde River – Steelhead fishing has slowed due to temps but is still worth the effort. Fish nymphs and beads/egg fly patterns to entice strikes. The river is holding at about 950 cfs but with rain in the forecast it going to rise this weekend. The rain should help the water temp and fishing next week on the drop should be good!

Crooked River – Fish a small (really small) nymph and small and a smaller one below it. Drop shot-ing is very good this time of year. fish with a split shot on the bottom og your rig and the flies above. keep the first fly about 6 inches above the split shot and the second one 18″ above that. fish slow and keep your casts short.

Krumbo Reservior – Got some solid news about this winter gem. It is a good winter fishery with rainbows to 20″. Fish near the dam and near the inlet. Access can be difficult this time of year but fishing can be good from the bank or small boat.

SW Washington – From WDF&W, Anglers can find late-stock coho through the end of December, although this year’s return is only so-so. Hymer recommends the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers for those set on catching coho. For fall chinook, the North Fork Lewis should continue to produce catchable fish through December. Any chinook, with or without an adipose fin, may be retained on the Lewis.

The winter steelhead fishery is up and running after drawing a gathering of hardy anglers for the traditional Thanksgiving opening. River conditions have been up and down since then, so it’s always a good idea to check the Northwest River Forecast or other sources before heading out.

“Most anglers do best when water levels are rising or dropping,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. “It’s a lot harder to catch steelhead in the peaks and troughs.”

Best bets for steelhead in the month ahead include the Cowlitz, Lewis (including the north fork), Kalama, Grays, Washougal and Elochoman rivers, along with Salmon Creek in Clark County, Hymer said. Above Bonneville Dam, Rock Creek in Skamania County is also a good place to catch steelhead.

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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It Pays to Angle for Bigger Fish

By Bob Rees

The passage of HR 200 out of the House Natural Resources committee last week was somewhat deflating. Although there wasn’t drastic changes to the long heralded, hugely successful, bi-partisan supported Magnuson Stevens Act, there were some serious underpinnings that should create a “disturbance in the force,” for anglers that have enjoyed the fruits of our efforts for the last 20 years.

Now, it’s hard to argue that all is good on the western front when the ODF&W commission earlier this month decided it was necessary to reduce the daily bag limit from seven rockfish species to five. The decision was important because since the severe decline of salmon opportunity in our ocean fisheries over the last 3 decades, coastal communities, charters and guides have come to rely on bottomfish as a reliable source of revenue. Last year, ocean salmon fishing AND albacore fishing was challenging, causing additional pressure on bottomfish stocks just so anglers had something to go home with. Just think of the consequences of that situation if our fleets didn’t sit idle during the crisis two decades ago, in order to rebuild these once-depleted stocks of fish.

They are again abundant, and enjoyed by countless numbers of anglers, but facing another tough ocean salmon season, and a wildcard of an albacore season, anglers are already chomping at the bit for the January 1st opener to get back after ‘em. Despite the fact it’s currently closed, ocean enthusiasts such as myself, still check the offshore forecast and the bar observations just to see if it’s possible to recreate on the ocean during this time of year. It’s an anglers dream, low effort, high yield (the commercial fleet remains closed out of the crabbing opportunity due to low meat content). The feeling of having the bottomfishing grounds all to yourself on a calm winter ocean is enough to drive the most cabin-feverish-of-fishermen to serenity, pure bliss. The trip back to port with a fish box full of taco meat, and the anticipation of pulling crab pots laden with fresh ocean-caught Dungeness crab makes Santa’s visit seem meaningless. Don’t share that with your children…

To the ODF&W’ commission and staff’s credit, they did approve of a generous 10-fish limit on certain targeted species of rockfish in the ocean. It’s a developing fishery, but I’ve felt how heavy a bag full of fillets from 10 sea bass can be, talk about a bounty! For more information about this pretty cool opportunity, check out the regulations and species you can target by going here.

Now onto the subject at hand, we have bigger fish to fry.

So this crappy house bill passes through committee and may likely get a house floor vote in early January, nuf said. Special interests, embarrassingly, some sportfishing groups in the gulf states, are advocating for measures that would compromise the rebuilding successes of the red snapper stocks by allowing states to bypass scientifically credible catch limits that keep the population from being over-fished in the first place. Far be it from me to not appreciate a more fair allocation of fish to the sportfishing fleet, but to do it at the cost of future fishing opportunity? That’s poor policy. Furthermore, the fishery is so contentious, managers have split the quota between the recreational fleet, and the charter fleet, only further fracturing factions of anglers that should be working together to solve these issues collectively. That serves no one.

Angler Dan Hogan with a rockfish caught out of Garibaldi

Can you imagine, in our long-fought battle in prioritizing sportfishing economics on the mainstem Columbia River, that us anglers would endorse a measure that overfishes a rebuilding run of Snake River wild spring Chinook? Could you really feel good about harvesting even a single spring Chinook that you knew would compromise the rebuilding of this unique strain of fish that your children or grandchildren may never have a chance to fish for? It would be like poaching more salmon or crab than you’re allowed to, the stress of getting caught far outweighs the enjoyment of the illegal bounty.

So, will brighter minds prevail? Thankfully, the Senate is often seen as a chamber where cooler minds prevail. Senators represent a larger constituency in each state, and therefore have to vet legislation to a great degree, and how that will impact the larger population of their state. One of those key Senators, Senator Dan Sullivan has stated that the fight for a sensible solution is not over. Being from Alaska gives him a lot of street cred, and in the Senate, even more so.

Hopefully, Senator Sullivan will work with other west coast Senators and embrace the sensible bi-partisan principles that crafted the bill in the first place. Ted Stevens (of the Stevens portion of Magnuson Stevens) was a staunch Republican from Alaska, while Warren Magnuson was a Democrat from Washington. Both Senators saw the sensible solution in bringing about the tools necessary for recovering west coast groundfish stocks and brought along with them, their respective parties. Let’s hope for a win-win in 2018 that keeps our waterfronts working and our fish populations abundant, we all deserve a promising future in our great animal kingdom.

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Oregon Fishing Reports for December 22nd

Willamette Valley/Metro – With little to fish for on the mainstem Columbia and Willamette Rivers, anglers are biding their time for more abundant winter steelhead runs, and a reasonable chance at a spring Chinook, which won’t come for at least another 2 months.

The Willamette River spring Chinook prediction is in, calling for nearly 56,000 salmon to return to the mouth of the Columbia, of which some will be caught in the Columbia itself before entering the Willamette. Last year, the run was under-predicted, and came in at just over 50,000 fish, a respectable number, but far from a robust 100,000 like we’ve seen in some years past.

Save the date: And speaking of 100,000 spring Chinook, the Association of Northwest Steelheaders will be launching their Quest for 100k campaign, an effort to return 100,000 of the region’s most prized possessions each year to the Willamette Basin. Tickets are free for the January 9th event, starting at 6:30 p.m. The launch presentation will take place at Camp Withycombe in Clackamas, get your tickets NOW, and get your tickets HERE.

Steelheaders working the Sandy River are finding a few early season biters downstream of Dodge Park. The bulk of the run is still 6 weeks away.

Clackamas River anglers found willing fish as temperatures warmed early this week. Catches are still light however and a warming trend coupled with a rain event rose river levels significantly earlier this week. Both the Sandy and Clackamas should be fishable by the weekend.

Christmas break broodstock trout to 10 pounds will be stocked at Henry Hagg Lake, Blue Lake near Fairview, Mt. Hood Community College Pond, Huddleston Pond, and Canby Pond. The limit is one trout per person over 20 inches.

Northwest – Fishing on the north coast is still quiet, but fish seem to be staging in the lower reaches of many of the rivers. The rain event earlier this week should stimulate most of the districts early season prospects with the North Fork Nehalem, Three Rivers near Hebo, and the Wilson River likely to fish good Friday and through the weekend. Some broodstock fish should begin to show on the Wilson, but most of the early season fish are made up of cookie cutter 6 to 8 pound fish.

The Trask, mainstem Nehalem and the Nestucca should have a few wild steelhead available, but that fishery won’t peak for several more weeks either. There is an occasional hatchery steelhead being taken at the mouth of Three Rivers or Three Rivers itself near Hebo.

Soft tides this weekend should be good for estuary crabbers. Tillamook and Netarts Bays should produce the best results, and the ocean weather may also lay down, enabling another shot at the ocean bounty before the commercial fleet starts soaking pots in mid-January, the fleet just got delayed again, until January 15th. Tomorrow (Friday, 12/22) would be your window.

Bottomfishing remains closed until January 1st so don’t let calm seas tempt you.

Southwest – From Pet Heley at www.PeteHeley.com

It appears that the three coastal coho lakes are receiving very few fresh salmon and the fishing is basically for salmon already in the lake that have not yet ascended the lakes’ tributary streams where they are off limits to anglers. Yellow perch are available in all three lakes as are rainbow and cutthroat trout with most of the trout coming out of Siltcoos and Tenmile lakes.

Anglers fishing Tenmile Creek for winter steelhead have encountered a few coho salmon which are illegal to keep or even target. It will happen more often when Eel Creek opens to steelhead angling on January 1st.

Jetty anglers tired of only being able to keep only striped are looking forward to January 1st when they, once again, can keep lingcod, rockfish and greenling, but the primary catch on most jetties will still be striped surfperch.

Anglers fishing the surf along area beaches have enjoyed fair to good perch fishing, but the fishing success has varied greatly.

Recreational crabbing continues to be superb along the open portions of the Oregon coast. Pretty much all of Coos Bay has been productive, but most of the crabbing pressure has been between Empire and Charleston.

The best crabbing has been in the ocean and it has been almost unbelievable. Many crabbers who have ventured only a short distance out into the ocean have reported catching their boat limit of crabs before completing the first pull of their gear.

From ODF&W

With the Chetco, Elk and Winchuck rivers running low and clear, anglers may want hit Garrison Lake for some trout fishing.

Expo and Reinhart ponds will be stocked this week in time for Christmas.

Winter steelhead should be arriving to Coos and Coquille rivers.

Winter steelhead fishing is picking up on the Umpqua.

Trolling for wild coho and holdover rainbow has yielded some quality fish in Tenmile Lakes.

Eastern – No central or eastern Oregon fishing report this week, it’s bitterly cold out there!

SW Washington – Under permanent regulations, December 31 is the last day to fish for steelhead and salmon in Mill Creek (Cowlitz River tributary) and salmon in Abernathy, Blue, Cedar, Coal, Germany, Goble, Mill (Cowlitz Co.), Mulholland, Rock Creek (Skamania Co.), Salmon (Clark Co.), Skamokawa creeks, the Elochoman, Grays (including West Fork), Coweeman, East Fork Lewis, and Washougal (including West/North Fork) rivers plus Drano and Mayfield lakes.

Cowlitz River – From the I-5 Br. downstream: 8 bank rods had no catch. Above the I-5 Br: 14 bank rods kept 3 adult coho and released 1 adult coho, 1 steelhead, and 5 cutts. 1 boat angler had no catch. Last week,

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 12,300 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, December 18. Water visibility is five feet and water temperature is 46.4 degrees F.

Lewis River (including North Fork) – Starting January 1, the adult salmon daily limit will be one hatchery Chinook. All other permanent regulations are in effect.

Columbia River mainstem – Starting January 1, anglers may retain up to two hatchery adult Chinook per day on the mainstem Columbia from the I-5 Bridge downstream. Upstream of the I-5 Bridge will close to fishing for salmon.

 

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