Willamette Valley/Metro- The only keeper sturgeon tallied in last weekends creel check occurred in the Portland to Longview stretch. The Bonneville stretch is effectively over for the next few months. Some good sturgeon fishing is likely to occur however above Bonneville, where in recent years, good adult populations have fueled a strong but short consumptive fishery.
Fishery managers are busy calculating 2011 predictions due out next week. Season shaping for salmon and sturgeon will occur over the next several months so stay tuned for public meetings. Now is a good time to purchase your 2011 licenses and tags.
With the river high, steelhead are crossing Willamette Falls in single digits daily. Plunkers at Meldrum Bar have been picking up a few winters.
McKenzie water levels have dropped but remain high for fishing.
The Santiam system is too high and the water too cold for the system to fish well.
Early hatchery winter steelhead are available in the Clackamas with drift fishing most productive. It’s best to wait until the water level starts to drop. Higher river levels remain in the forecast, making Eagle Creek an attractive option through the weekend.
A few early Sandy winter steelhead have been caught but results will improve in the coming weeks.
Northwest – High water levels this week have kept most anglers focusing on smaller river systems. Charlie Wooldridge of Bay City landed a chrome chinook buck in the 20-pound range early last week fishing the lower Kilchis River using a Flatfish wrapped with sardine fillet. A few hatchery winter steelhead are also available but this system doesn’t get the planted numbers other north coast systems do.
The Wilson has been high for much of the week but anglers did get out over the weekend. Chinook are still being caught on the Wilson but with all the early positive news for steelhead, anglers are switching over to target early fish.
The North Fork Nehalem hatchery has been a steelhead highlight on the north coast recently. In the lower flows, bobbers and jigs produced well. Fishing near the hatchery will likely remain productive for the next few weeks, especially as fish get recycled back downstream by hatchery personnel.
Necanicum anglers have been tangling with steelhead as this system closely mimics the North Fork Nehalem when returns are good. Three Rivers, a Nestucca River tributary near Hebo, is also peaking right now and anglers fishing near the hatchery should produce good weekend catches.
A brief window of offshore opportunity early this week produced magnificent crab catches in the ocean out of Garibaldi and Depoe Bay. A delay in the commercial crab opener contributed to sport success. Anglers sticking close to shore had good conditions for ling cod and rockfish. Anglers aren’t likely to see ocean conditions like that again for a long time, certainly not this weekend.
Southwest – Ocean crabbing opened at the beginning of December and has been productive for quality Dungeness when ocean conditions have allowed the activity.
Boats launching out of Depoe Bay have been taking limits of ling cod, rockfish and crab for many boats, good catches for others.
Trollers targeting wild coho at Siltcoos Lake have had poor results over the past week.
Rockfishing has been good off the South Jetty at Winchester Bay when wave action has allowed safe access. High water has hampered fishing on the Umpqua system.
Crabbing has remained good in lower Coos Bay despite recent rains. Winter steelhead had been caught on the South Coos and East Millicoma prior to the water levels rising.
Drift gear allowed anglers to hook a good number of chinook on the Elk River over the past weekend. Rain this week should improve prospects with winter steelheading improving. Ocean trolling at the mouths of the Elk and Sixes is closed.
Winter steelhead are entering the Rogue but high water has prevented fishing around Agness. Anglers are taking some chinook on plugs in the Grants Pass stretch where a few steelhead have been caught. High flows have slowed fishing on the upper Rogue.
Rockfishing has been excellent out of the Port of Brookings when the ocean is calm enough to recreate on. Salmon and steelhead are available in the Chetco although chinook catches (and bright fish availability) are winding down as steelhead action is ramping up. Checking the river level and flow before you hit the river will determine whether anglers pack drift or plunking gear.
Eastern – Nymphing has been most effective for trout on the lower Deschutes. Summer steelhead remain available above Maupin but are pretty well colored up. There was snow on the ground at Maupin on Tuesday this week.
Crescent Lake has produced some large mackinaw to trollers launching in the snow.
The Grande Ronde remains a good option for cold weather steelheaders. A slight warming trend should produce better catches with current creel statistics indicating a fish for every 4 to 7 hours of effort.
SW Washington – Steelhead remain the most viable species to pursue with the Cowlitz a top option for district river systems. Side-drifters will likely take the bulk of the catch, especially in higher flows.
The Kalama and Lewis Rivers are also options but these systems typically get smaller returns than the Cowlitz. They also receive less effort so catch rates can be similar to the more popular system.
Don’t overlook the Washougal this time of year. This smaller system can produce quality catches, especially on a good return year.