Willamette Valley/Metro – A valid 2013 fishing and shellfish license is required for the new year; available both at local retail stores and through the ODF&W web site.
Water conditions have stabilized on the valley rivers and anglers will observe a slow drop for the next few days. The Willamette is clearing up and should provide some better fishing for the start of the New Year for both sturgeon and winter steelhead. Steelhead fishing at Meldrum Bar will likely improve with this week’s dryer weather. Catch and release sturgeon fishing is fair but steady.
The Clackamas River is holding at optimum flow for boaters and bank anglers alike. “Average” would be a good word to describe last week’s steelhead catch and this week should produce similar results.
Sandy River anglers experienced respectable steelhead fishing last week and that will likely continue through the middle of this week when flows drop below prime. Low water tactics will then be in order and should account for a few fish till the next rainstorm. East winds have been a problem this week.
Water levels will be dropping over the coming week on the Santiam system. There are few steelhead around although winter counts have started to pick up at Willamette Falls.
Northwest – With a dramatic improvement in the weather, anglers have taken to area streams with steelhead on tap for the next several months. Although anglers will transition from the early run steelhead to later returning wild and hatchery broodstock fish, both are available during the month of January.
Larger systems will fish well into the weekend with the Wilson, Nestucca and Trask offering the best opportunities for quality wild and hatchery steelhead. Several wild fish were taken at the Dam Hole on the Trask River late last week; this spot often produces best in higher flows. The Wilson produced fair results for anglers targeting steelhead using high water techniques.
Smaller systems such as the North Fork Nehalem, Necanicum, Kilchis and Three Rivers all have fish but are skittish due to low, clear water. Bobber and jigs or small baits may still take fish throughout the week and weekend. The peak return of adults to these systems has passed and anglers will start to find more spent fish in the coming weeks.
A late-season flurry of winter chinook were taken in the Ghost Hole last week, a last hurrah as these fish are no longer allowed to be pursued on any north coast system until early April. Steelhead anglers may still encounter chinook while pursuing steelhead on north coast systems but chinook must be released unharmed.
Soft late-afternoon high tides will bode well for crabbers but the commercial season has opened which will slow the recreational catch. Larger adult males often move offshore this time of year anyway. Tillamook was slow for crabbing last weekend but the lower Columbia still produced fair results. Commercial gear is working the lower Columbia at this time however.
Despite a cool, east wind influence, no reprieve is in sight for offshore recreation.
Southwest– Winter steelhead have started entering most southwest rivers. With little precipitation in the forecast, they should remain in good condition and productive for the coming week.
As good as offshore bottom fishing can be in the winter, opportunities are rare and ocean forecasts for the coming week aren’t optimistic.
Steelheading has been fair to good on the Alsea over the past week.
Large steelhead have been spotted at the fish ladder on the North Umpqua at Roseburg. While these steelhead are predominately wild, the South Umpqua offers the best shot at a hatchery keeper. The Umpqua system will be dropping and clearing this week.
The Coos River is coming into good condition for fishing. Millicoma steelheaders have been reporting spotty results.
Good fishing on the Coquille over the past Sunday made for a crowded river on New Year’s Eve but steelheading slowed.
Winter steelhead have been entering the lower Rogue for weeks. The level will be dropping this week with flows optimum and fairly stable by the coming weekend. Expect low clear water on the Grants Pass stretch with flows fairly steady and winters passing through. Expect low, clear water on the upper Rogue.
While plunking was the order of the day on the Chetco over the past weekend, with the water dropping and clearing this week, side-drifters are likely to be most successful through the coming weekend.
The Elk River has produced a mix of late chinook and winter steelhead over the past weekend but is now low and clear.
Diamond Lake opened to year-around fishing on New Year’s Day. About two inches of ice is covering the lakes surface under three feet of snow. Access is with snowshoes only until the ice thickens but fishing should be good.
Eastern – Results for redsides are fair to good on the lower Deschutes with midge, caddis and Blue-Winged-Olive patterns effective. Steelheading is slow. Middle Deschutes waters will be gradually on the rise this week.
Crooked River fly anglers are doing well with best results coming on Blue-Winged-Olive patterns during the afternoons when air temperatures have increased although some days it doesn’t get above freezing.
Soapbox Update: Here’s a great op-ed article from Carmen McDonald: http://www.ifish.net/board/blog.php?b=40
SW Washington– As is typical this time of year, early season steelheading is slowing for quality fish with just a few fresh fish remaining on the Cowlitz, Lewis, Kalama and Washougal systems, in order of preference. Returns were unimpressive in the early season, likely to mimic late season returns as well.
Smelt often make their way into the mainstem Columbia this time of year but will remain off-limits to dippers and netters again this year. There will have to be substantial evidence of a burgeoning population in order to justify another consumptive opportunity.