Willamette Valley/Metro- Columbia River sport anglers finally got a taste of what the possibilities are this week as flows finally began to subside enough to interest spring chinook into biting. Anglers fishing near the estuary did the best on Monday, claiming quick limits around Rice Island and Altoona. Limits were also experienced for some lucky boats at Davis Bar in the last few days with most fish being taken on trolled herring. Improved catch rates are likely to wane once again however as spring spill begins, sending the future crop of wild and hatchery salmon to sea under ideal conditions.
Although water conditions were pretty decent, the Willamette was a bit of a disappointment for most Spring Chinook anglers last weekend. There were a few flurries of fish caught from the Multnomah Channel, the Portland Harbor, downtown, Sellwood and up to Oregon City but expectations were a bit higher. It appears the run is a bit behind schedule and our best fishing is still yet to come. The river is on the rise again and the color could be better, but fish will be caught if you put some time in. Like the Columbia, a rise in the Willamette is expected which will further hamper weekend success.
Good catches of late winter and early summer steelhead continue on the Clack and many experienced anglers are reporting excellent fishing. Clackamas summer steelhead absolutely love bait and a whole sand shrimp will put more steelhead in the creel than any other offering, but do not disregard roe or the ever-popular pink worm. The river from McIver Park down to Barton has been the most productive as of late, but expect that to shift river wide as more summer fish enter the system.
Fishing for late winter steelhead on the Sandy remains fair to good and could continue for another week or two. Although summer steelhead are still returning to the Sandy, their numbers in the recent past have been less than impressive. That said, spring chinook will be on the heels of the last winter-run steelhead and the second half of May usually affords consistent fishing.
Middle Fork Willamette has dropped to fishable levels with redsides and summers available.
Redsides are responding to nymphs on the McKenzie. The water is high but will be dropping this week. Summer steelhead are entering the system.
Water in the North Santiam has cleared but remains cold which means slow steelheading.
Free family fishing events will occur on Saturday, April 21st at St. Lois Ponds, Hebo Lake and McNary Ponds (Hermiston).
Trout fishing is slow at Hagg Lake.
Northwest – Steelhead interest and success is beginning to wane on the north coast. After one of the most successful season in memory, the quality of fresh fish is beginning to fade as anglers look for other opportunities to fill their freezers.
The Wilson and Nestucca will remain the best options for consumptive opportunity with a rare late winter steelhead entering and an occasional summer fish available as well. Coho and steelhead smolt releases are underway so expect competition for your offerings on some hatchery fish streams.
The season’s first spring chinook is due to be caught. Unsubstantiated rumors are already circulating but no confirmed catches have happened so far. Weekend tides look favorable for upper bay anglers but another rain freshet may push chinook into the Trask, Wilson and Nestucca in that order of magnitude. The hatchery hole on the Trask often puts out the season’s earliest catches.
Sturgeon may also be an option on Tillamook Bay this weekend. The minus tide series may stimulate action in the west channel as well as the upper bay. Crabbing may not be productive, however clamming should produce good results in most estuaries and along Clatsop Beaches for razors.
There may be some offshore opportunity over the weekend although early morning bar crossings could be hazardous. A bounty of rockfish, lingcod and chinook await anglers when conditions allow. Crabbing may be fair to good in 30 to 50 foot of water although there is a clear absence of large keepers from the intense commercial effort all winter.
Southwest – When the ocean has laid down over the past week, allowing boats to fish offshore, catches of rockfish and lingcod have been excellent. One cabezon per day may be kept as part of the seven rockfish per day limit.
Casting from ocean beaches has been producing 15-fish limits of surf perch with best results near river or bay mouths.
Salinity levels have improved in Winchester Bay which has resulted in better catches of Dungeness crab. Spring chinook catches were decent early this week but dropped off as water levels once again started to rise.
Coos bay crabbers are seeing improved catches with boats doing well and dock nets and traps taking fair numbers.
Spring chinook anglers are enjoying a good week with the flow dropping to less than 9,000 cfs and the water temperature topping 50 degrees. Springers to 30 pounds have been landed. The river level is forecast to rise a little over the coming weekend and if that occurs, action may slow for a few days. Fishing has been spotty at best on the middle Rogue. Upper river anglers continue to take winter steelhead and the occasional spring chinook.
The latest update from Diamond Lake is that nothing has changed. That is, ice and snow still cover the water’s surface and the April 28th opener will require ice fishing gear.
Eastern – Deschutes level and flow have stopped to the seasonal norm and is providing good results for redsides. March Browns are hatching afternoons with trout responding accordingly, If one pattern doesn’t produce, keep changing flies to find the favored pattern.
The Crooked River was at perfect level and flow for fishing early this week and should be productive over the coming weekend.
Smallmouth bass fishing is fair to good and improving on the John Day River.
Soapbox Update: Bounty on the Bay is now open for 2012 registration!
It’s a great event that benefits a great organization. It’s all about the fish! Check out the registration web site at: http://www.tbnep.org/events/bounty-on-the-bay
SW Washington – The Cowlitz is producing good numbers of steelhead and spring chinook are starting to make a stronger appearance.
The Kalama and Lewis Rivers will also begin producing better numbers of spring chinook and summer steelhead over the next 8 weeks. Some spent winter run fish will also begin showing in the catches.
Although still way behind schedule, fish counts at Bonneville are beginning to swell, meaning improved opportunity ahead for Wind and Drano Lake anglers. Catchable numbers will be present by next week.
Clam diggers along the Long Beach Peninsula and north will have another opportunity for razors this weekend. Check newly released regulations at the WDF&W website for more specific information.