Willamette Valley/Metro- Although bank anglers are catching a few keeper sturgeon in the Bonneville Pool, boat anglers continue to produce good results with nearly a fish per boat average over the weekend. Although cooler temperatures may slow the bite, it remains the best prospect for keepers in the region.
Sport caught spring chinook have been reported and officially tallied in the mainstem Columbia downstream of Portland. It’s a sure sign that a good return is imminent. Anglers should continue to pursue their quarry downstream of St. Helens for the best opportunity to intercept a Willamette bound salmon which are in greater concentrations than later returning Columbia fish.
Over 2,300 winter steelhead have crossed at Willamette Falls. Plunking has been slow at Meldrum Bar.
Sturgeon retention days were announced on Tuesday with the Willamette reopening three days per week (Thursdays – Saturdays) beginning February 17th and continuing until a harvest guideline of 2,550 keepers is obtained. With the prolonged closure and given the concentration of keepers in the lower Willamette, this season likely won’t last long.
McKenzie fly fishers continue to find foot-long redsides on the lower river. Trout are responding to deep-dredged nymphs as the water remains cool.
Steelheading is spotty on the Sandy where water conditions are a combination of clear and roiled depending upon river current.
Clackamas water is in fairly good shape but steelheading has been very slow.
The Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show runs through Sunday at the Portland Expo Center.
Northwest – A slight rise in river levels improved catches after the weekend on an already shiny season for north coast steelheaders. Broodstock and wild steelhead continue to bite best on the Nestucca and Wilson systems. Broodstock collection is ahead of last year at this time but more wild fish are needed from the Wilson and Nestucca into the month of April.
Joel Aylor of Sisters Oregon landed a mint-bright 7 pound wild steelhead on the Nestucca last week. He caught the fish below First Bridge on a K-11X Kwikfish near the head of the hole where steelhead concentrate in lower flows. This fishery should begin to peak over the next several weeks.
A stronger weather system is on tap for next week, which should really jump start late season catches on many north coast streams.
Sturgeon anglers have fared well on Tillamook Bay with another set of good tides starting over the weekend. These tides should also produce good catches of razor clams along north coast beaches if the surf cooperates.
Brief periods of calm weather has allowed for some offshore fishing to take place. Ling cod catches have been steady out of Depoe Bay and Garibaldi when weather allows. Although ocean crabbing has only been fair, it remains one of the best options on the north coast with the exception of the lower Columbia River. Ocean conditions don’t look favorable over the weekend with the next weather system bringing winds from the south.
Southwest – Crabbing has been good in Winchester Bay having improved following the freshet. The mainstem Umpqua has sufficient level and flow to maintain decent steelheading conditions and catches have been worthwhile. North and South Umpqua levels are low, the water clear and steelheading is poor to slow. Low water tacticians have been taking a few on the East Fork Millicoma.
Coos Bay is producing good catches of Dungeness. When ocean conditions have allowed, anglers have made good catches of rockfish from the jetties.
Steelhead catches have slowed on the Coquille as the water level has continued to drop.
Elk and Sixes river remain too low and clear to fish well. Rain is needed to re-fire the winter steelhead fishery here.
Catches of winter steelhead have been good on the middle and lower Rogue over the past week. With no major fluctuation in water levels, it should remain productive in the weeks to come. Winter steelhead have started entering the upper river but fishing conditions are tough. The hatchery reported several entering the facility last week. Precipitation would improve fishing conditions river wide.
Rockfish limits are being taken nearshore out of Brookings Harbor and ling cod catches are improving. Herring should be entering any time. Steelheaders skilled in low-water techniques have continued to take a few fish from the clear waters of the Chetco but overall it is slow. The river flow is forecast to drop to less than 1,000 cfs this week.
Eastern – Now that the water level has dropped somewhat, prospects for trout on the lower Deschutes have improved.
Walleye prospects improve dramatically this month with some of the largest fish of the season taken this time of year. Water temperatures will dictate technique but trophy fish are likely to fall in the coming weeks.
Kokanee anglers are anxious to fish Wallowa Reservoir which is forecast to produce the largest fish in the state and possibly yet another world record.
Steelheaders working the Umatilla have seen an improvement in steelhead catches. Pending weather changes, fishing should remain good, especially in the afternoons, when temperatures are on the rise.
SW Washington – Area rivers remain in good shape for what few steelheaders are taking advantage of. Fair catches are coming from the Kalama with steelhead also available in fair numbers on the Lewis system.
The Cowlitz remains fair but should improve in the coming weeks. The river remains somewhat turbid however.
Great numbers of smelt are reported from the Cowlitz River although commercial and sport dippers are not allowed to harvest this season. The glut of smelt could draw sturgeon to the area for anglers to take advantage of.