Willamette Valley/Metro – It’s been a chilly several days for metro steelheaders. The Sandy River in particular falls prey to bitter east winds from the Gorge, shutting down what bite was there, and making for uncomfortable conditions for those still in pursuit. There’s been a bit of a lull for action here, but a weather change will warm the water temperature and jump start the migration as we near peak season on this system. Pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) reports, “The wind has been blowing constantly out of the east between 20 and 30 mph with gusts of upwards of 40mph. The winds will finally settle down with the next storm front coming in from the south. This next storm will bring in some needed rain, but won’t put much snow on the mountain. The forecast is for the river to jump a little over a foot over the next couple of days. The river could become muddy with little visibility if the forecasted rain does materialize. The fishing has picked up a little with a few more fish being taken.”
You can see more of Jeff’s report and an upcoming forecast for the Sandy River and Northwest Oregon by becoming a paid subscriber HERE. Paid subscribers get on average, about FIVE TIMES the amount of information for fifty cents a week!
The Clackamas has been slow as of late as well. Although bitter temperatures aren’t as prolific on this system, they still have an impact on migration and success rates. It’s been tough lately, but this system is due to kick out better fishing in the coming weeks. River levels are expected to jump-starting tonight and may be challenging on the rise, but produce good results when they start dropping over the weekend. Cold, dry weather isn’t conducive to steelhead success, but fortunately, that’s about to change.
Reese Foxworthy of Clackamas with a mint-bright broodstock steelhead from the Wilson River caught in late December.
Plunkers working Meldrum Bar remain frustrated with slow catches. They have a front-row view to the sea lions carnage taking place in the Willamette right now however. The section 120 permit currently being utilized by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has accounted for the removal of 4 California sea lions so far, but mammals are only allowed for removal above the mouth of the Clackamas River. The effort to remove California sea lions in tributaries of the Columbia and the mainstem below the mouth of the Clackamas is currently stymied by the government shut down. Action plans aren’t likely to be adopted until 2020 anyway so relief is still about a year away.
Sturgeon fishing remains good in the Portland Harbor, cold weather doesn’t seem to stifle sturgeon success with fresh sand shrimp, frozen smelt, herring or anchovies a good option for anchor anglers.
The “Sultan of Sellwood,” John Shmilenko was fishing in earnest over the weekend, looking to achieve a lifelong goal of catching a January Willamette River spring Chinook. The odds are against him with the low run forecast this season, but that won’t stop the Sultan. He or she who marks the season’s first is showered with accolades and fame, for a short period of time anyway.
Northwest Oregon – Tillamook too has been slow as of late. Dropping flows and cold weather has slowed the bite on most river systems, even as we enter peak season. Of the few fish being caught right now, they are of quality size, mostly 3-salt returnees often tipping the scales at 12 pounds or better.
The Trask, Wilson and Nestucca have been the best prospects this week, but all have produced fair-at-best catches under the current weather pattern.
The Nehalem River often produces fair catches under these conditions. The big river clears up and steelhead feel more secure in such a larger river system that they are more apt to bite. Hardware and bobber and jigs or BnR Scampi can provide good sport under these conditions. The opportunity won’t last long however. The North Fork remains dismal.
Crabbing has been surprisingly good in Tillamook Bay recently.
Central and Eastern Oregon – From our friend Tim Moran:
Metolius River – It’s been a good so far this month on the Met. Trout and Whitefish are taking prince nymphs, red lightning bugs, San Juan worms, pheasant tails, small black and golden stones and red copper johns under and indicator or fished Euro style. Fish these on 6 or 7X tippets.
Fall River – The river is producing for those willing to put in the time.
Crooked River – Low and cold. Fishing is slow with pockets of decent fishing. Let the temps come up a little before heading out.
Columbia River above Bonneville Dam – Walleye are being caught in the river from Umatilla to Hood River. Blade Baits and plugs tend to get their share of fish this time of year.
John Day and Grande Ronde Steelhead – Fishing is slow on both systems. Both have been low and fish are not available in numbers.
Best of luck to all this weekend!
Get Tim’s full report by becoming a paid subscriber HERE.
A few winter steelhead are entering the Hood River. While the run won’t peak until March, anglers can expect a few bright fish as early as this month.
Rainbow trout broodstock have been stocked in North and South Twin lakes recently, and anglers report excellent fishing in South Twin.
Trout fishing in the upper ends of the Deschutes and Crooked River arms of Lake Billy Chinook is typically good in the winter months.
For anglers willing to brave the winter weather, might have the place to themselves and a reasonable chance of catching a steelhead.
Ice fishers have found success at Kinney Lake catching rainbows up to 16-inches.
Some early steelhead are being caught in the Wallowa River.
Trout anglers should check out Willow Creek Reservoir, which typically stays ice-free and offers some good mid-winter trout fishing.
The Klamath River below Keno Dam remains the best bet in the Klamath Basin.
Yellow perch fishing has been fair on Dog Lake, where there are reports of 4.5 inches of ice. But it’s still early in the season, so please use extra caution when venturing out on the ice.
Fly-fishers can target redband trout on the Blitzen River throughout the year. Large streamers and other nypmhs work well anytime. There also are periodic hatches, so keep a selection of dry flies handy.
Ice fishing is underway on Pilcher and Wolf Creek reservoirs, where anglers are catching trout in the 10- to 15-inch range.
In the Hines District, anglers are taking advantage of good ice conditions on the Burns Gravel Pond, Chickahominy Reservoir and Malheur Reservoir. Anglers are reporting catches of some fish up to 18-inches on the Malheur R.
Southwest – From ODF&W
Half-pounders are worth targeting on the middle Rogue throughout the winter from Galice downstream to Graves Creek.
Winter steelhead season in the Umpqua is in full swing, although the rivers might a little high for the weekend.
Anglers are catching hatchery and wild steelhead in the Coos and Coquille basins.
Yellow perch are usually the first warmwater species to become active in late winter/early spring in Tenmile Lakes.
Late winter/early spring can typically be good for surfperch fishing on Coos County beaches, when surf conditions allow.
Reports of ice-fishers having some success on Diamond Lake. Always proceed with caution when venturing out on to the ice.
Bottomfishing has been good when the ocean lays down and anglers have been able to make it out.
Bottomfish anglers may now fish at all depths for the remainder of the year. Fishing for lingcod and rockfish has been good when the ocean is calm enough to fish. The daily bag limit for marine fish is 5 plus 2 lingcod. The retention of cabezon is closed until July 2019.
Anglers may also choose to fish the offshore longleader fishery outside of the 40-fathom regulatory line, which is open year round. The longleader fishery has a daily bag limit of 10 fish made of yellowtail, widow, canary, redstripe, greenstripe, silvergray, and bocaccio rockfish. No other groundfish are allowed and offshore longleader fishing trips cannot be combined with traditional bottomfish, flatfish or halibut trips.
From Pete Heley at www.PeteHeley.com
The main outdoor-related topic of conversation continues to be the new licensing system the ODFW started this year. While the new system seems to be a major step backward from the previous system which was in effect through mid-December of 2018, the ODFW does seem to be doing a pretty good job of fixing the numerous “glitches” as they are pointed out. At some point, one would hope that the long waiting times to reach the help line would shorten greatly. Currently the recording on the help line states that it operates seven days a week – even though it is closed on Saturdays and Sundays – which is very bad news for somebody that needs to enter a SSN that is new to the system.
Trout plants in our area begin early next month, but many local waters are multi-species lakes and are open all year.
Some of the best multi-species lakes are: (1) – Eel Lake – has rainbow and cutthroat trout, landlocked coho salmon, bluegills, black crappie, largemouth bass and a few brown bullheads and smallmouth bass. Eel Lake is not frequently stocked with trout, but has fair numbers of native, searun and carryover trout. It’s warmwater fisheries typically get going in the late spring, but they caught a few largemouth bass last week. Landlocked coho in the lake are not legal to keep. The fishing dock in Tugman Park is one of the lake’s best fishing spots for warmwater fish.
Washington – No new info from WDF&W, but HERE is the December 24th report.