Willamette Valley/Metro- Fewer than 100 winter steelhead have crossed at Willamette Falls although plunkers at Meldrum Bar have had some good days. Sturgeon fishing has continued to deliver lots of shakers and a fair number of keeper-sized fish. The stretch from St. Johns Bridge to the lower Multnomah Channel have been most productive. This will be the last full week of a 7-day per week fishery in the Willamette and Columbia River from Wauna Powerlines to Bonneville.
Pro guide Joe Salvey (503-349-1411) reports a good sturgeon bite in the lower Willamette and Multnomah Channel with sand shrimp and smelt top baits.
While the North Santiam is high, the water has cleared. A few wild steelhead have been caught and released.
Clackamas steelheaders have been taking a few very early fresh winters at the mouth, from Eagle Creek and in the stretch below the creek.
A brace of hatchery winter steelhead were taken at the Sandy River by a pair of anglers on December 15th. It’s still early but the season has officially started. Wild fish are most prevalent in the catches but more broodstock fish will become available in the new year.
Pro guide Brandon Glass (503-260-8285) reports that catching on the Sandy has picked up from Oxbow up to Cedar Creek.
Pro guide Trevor Storlie (503-695-6515) reports that the majority of steelhead present are natives but hatchery fish will be entering after the first of the year.
Huddleston Pond (Willamina) and Sheridan Pond are scheduled to be stocked with rainbows 16-inches or better.
Northwest – Monday produced well for North Fork Nehalem anglers fishing near the hatchery. The run overall has been disappointing although river levels have cooperated for much of the season. Navigational hazards will be an ongoing issue as high winds will once again sweep the north coast mid-week.
The Necanicum, a late December staple, remains accessible from the gravel pit to the Relief Pitcher take-out. This leaves the rest of the river open to bank anglers and fish are available but private property dominates the bank so be aware of where you are fishing.
Favorite rivers along Highway 30 include Gnat Creek and Big Creek. These rivers are good choices when other north coast streams are too high to fish. Friday and Saturday should be productive on these rivers.
Most Tillamook area rivers remain troublesome for driftboaters. The Wilson has yet to clear due to mudslides near Lee’s Camp and the Trask still has a log jam at the Railroad Bridge downstream of Loren’s Drift. On the Trask, bank anglers often find success at the Dam Hole in high water conditions. The Kilchis, one of the best options, still has boating hazards downstream of Kilchis Park.
The Nestucca was in good shape early in the week but scheduled to rise again at mid-week. It may drop back in shape by the weekend with wild and hatchery fish well distributed from 4th bridge to Cloverdale. There were a few chinook still in the system late last week but the quality of fish is on the decline.
Hatchery winter steelhead have been taken from the Siletz and Alsea rivers over the past week. The Alsea typically receives hatchery fish earlier in the season while Siletz fish return in higher numbers starting in late January.
Sturgeon anglers will find favorable tides beginning today but by the weekend, low slack will occur after sunset. Sand shrimp will be a top bait but storms may prevent pumpers from attaining adequate supplies for the weekend needs. Check availability before planning a trip.
It’s already clear that the ocean crab harvest will be down from previous years. Low success rates amongst the commercial fleet is an indicator that sport crabbing in the estuaries will be more challenging this year.
Southwest – Whale watching officially kicks off on December 26th. Watch for "Whale Watching Spoken Here" signs to find trained volunteers.
A strong tidal series is forecast for the coming weekend with the exchange predicted to exceed ten feet although low tides will occur after sundown.
South coast rivers are on the rise this week with heavy rainfall. This will have a detrimental effect on winter steelheading on the mainstem Umpqua which had improved as the water here was dropping and clearing. Over the weekend, steelheaders fishing above Elkton took fish to 16 pounds although averaging several pounds smaller.
Coquille anglers caught hatchery steelhead with the largest scaling 18 pounds over the past weekend.
Anglers will experience good results for Chinook on the Elk and Sixes when precipitation moderates and these volatile rivers are on the drop.
Steelhead fishing was fair to good on the lower Rogue prior to the water rising and will deliver again once the river starts to drop. This fishery lasts into springtime.
The Chetco rose from 2.6 to over six feet from December 16th to the morning of December 18th with the flow approaching 6,000 cfs. Regular readers know this river fishes best around 4,000 cfs and dropping. Fresh winter steelhead are entering now.
Eastern – John Day anglers continue to catch a mix of hatchery and wild fish in the John Day Pool itself. Trollers are taking the bulk of the summer runs but bank anglers are also taking a few.
Anglers fishing the Grande Ronde and lower Imnaha Rivers are landing steelhead at an average of 1 fish for every 9 or 10 hours recreating. These catch rates should remain stable if temperatures don’t fluctuate too much in the coming week. Cold temperatures may cause icing however.