Willamette Valley/Metro – Sturgeon catches remained poor on the lower Columbia but the fishery above Bonneville should begin to heat up when weather patterns stabilize. Anglers are already looking forward to the 2011 spring chinook return. Columbia returns are expected to be down while another great year is in the works for Willamette anglers. A bigger component of the larger 5-year old fish is expected this season.
The lower Willamette is swollen and opaque. Fish passage has virtually stopped in the torrent. The January 1st sturgeon opener may not occur as scheduled and anglers can expect an additional 29% quota reduction in 2011 due to increased sea lion predation and reduced food resources.
Clackamas water levels were very high at mid-week. There are steelhead in the system but it will only fish on the drop. Eagle Creek will be the best bet for weekend foray’s and the run should be peaking about now.
Water levels on the Sandy are predicted to fall through the week and if accurate, the river should fish later this week. The bulk of the run isn’t due for several more weeks however.
Walling Pond and Walter Wirth Lake are scheduled to be planted with legal and larger trout.
Northwest – With north coast rivers reaching flood stage over the weekend, fishing effort was non-existent. Smaller streams will be the first to recover and should produce good results for steelhead.
The North Fork Nehalem was likely to come in by today and should fish well this weekend. Returns have been good for this system and it will likely produce the best results of all north coast streams.
The Necanicum and Three Rivers will also be top bets, along with Gnat Creek, Big Creek and the Klaskanine River. Bigger baits fished in softer water will be the rule this weekend and fish will likely be on the move until flows drop. Be prepared to cover a lot of water but plunking can also be a very effective tool when flows are up. Spin-n-glos tipped with bait or loaded with scent will produce the best.
The Kilchis River is also an option but steelhead returns are lower on this system than most in the district. The Trask River, especially at the Dam Hole, could produce fair catches of both wild and an occasional hatchery stray.
Chinook are still on the table for the Wilson and Kilchis Rivers but target bucks for best tablefare, leaving hens to seed future generations. Plugs should be effective in the higher flows, especially in the tailouts but bait will produce results as well.
Still not many anglers targeting sturgeon in Tillamook Bay but the estuary should have catchable numbers present. The west channel is the likely area of interception. Crab won’t be an issue.
Crabbers should focus their efforts on Netarts Bay or the lower Columbia River. The ocean won’t be an option in the foreseeable future.
Southwest – Rain has slowed crabbing in many smaller bays and estuaries although Winchester and Coos Bays have remained productive.
Recent heavy rains have put fresh winter steelhead in the Alsea River where anglers may expect success into March.
Siuslaw steelheaders will begin to find winters starting in January.
Steelhead were caught in the South Fork Coquille River late last week but it has since blown out with storm fronts passing through this week.
Umpqua steelheaders are taking a break this week with the river high, muddy and unfishable.
When there’s even a brief break in the downpour, try the Elk or Sixes rivers. The small systems fall quickly with the Elk inevitably a day or two ahead for coming into shape. Start high on the system when this occurs. Both fresh winter steelhead and bright chinook are in these rivers.
The lower Rogue, reported as high over the past weekend, had risen another foot by mid-day Tuesday. High, muddy water has stalled fishing efforts on the middle and upper Rogue while plunkers on the lower river are catching steelhead whenever the river is on the drop. Wild steelhead must be released until January 1st.
While plunkers enjoyed some success on the Chetco River over the past weekend, with the flow over 15,000 cfs, a break in precipitation will be required for any fishing opportunity here. There are some large fish in the system with an estimated 60-pound chinook caught and released last week. Boats out of Brookings have been making good catches of rockfish but conditions in the coming weekend will disallow launches.
Eastern – The Deschutes is high from recent east-side rainfall. Trout fishing is closed from Pelton to the Northern Reservation Boundary and steelheading closes on this stretch December 31st.
High and muddy, the Metolius may not fish until Christmas week.
The Grande Ronde remains a good option for steelheaders willing to travel but dropping temperatures could make for treacherous travel. Fishing conditions however may be ideal with anglers scoring results every 4 to 7 hours of effort.
SW Washington – Light effort and catch in the region this week as watersheds were inundated with rainfall, causing systems to jump their banks.
The Cowlitz will remain a top option when flows recede with the Kalama and Lewis a distant second option. The smaller Washougal may be a good bet as all of the district’s streams showing improved return rates over last year at this time.